I’m an adventurer at heart. Both in my personal life and professional life. This has had me performing a diverse range of leadership roles in various capacities throughout my career, from managing technical teams at Top 4 corporate consultancies, to leading tours of 20-somethings all over Europe. At the peak of my IT career, at Deloitte, I was running a 24 x 7 Australia-wide technical delivery team servicing large government organizations and multi-national corporations.
In between, I’ve traveled all over the world, both in professional capacities as well as solo adventures, cultivating my interest in people and cultures – slowly developing the hunger to harness the digital era and work with people all over the world.
This experience has led me to my current passion, running Visionary Digital Studios.
We are an Australian company, with our team working in different cities across Australia’s East Coast. But we currently have a small network of partnerships and suppliers from India, London, Philippines and the US. We’re a young company, and have a long way to go – but I am loving every minute of it. The stress is so rewarding, and the triumphs are amazing.
Lots of hard work to come for me! But life is good ..
1. You are the Managing Director at Visionary Digital Studios Ppy Limited in Brisbane Australia. Please share with us your path to this role.
Sanjay Shah : My career over the last 10 years has had me managing senior technical teams all over Australia, in both small IT companies and large household consulting companies like Deloitte and Capgemini. In all honesty, I loved the corporate environment! But during the last few years I felt that I wanted to use my skills to build my own business – I wanted to implement a culture, and a brand, that represented more inspiring values. This is often very difficult to achieve in corporate environments which are driven by sales targets, outdated mindsets and status quo. I was able to use my sales, copywriting, project management and leadership experience to build the right team required to produce premium Animated Explainer Videos.
Of course – I’ve been lucky with some amazing mentors all the way – in person, online and formal education (I’m a graduate of timothymarc.com entrepreneurship training) – who’ve taught me how to build a business, how to lead and how to enjoy the process as it unfolds. We are now over a year into starting up, and really enjoying the roller coaster. Our core product is still custom Animated Explainer Videos. But we’ve also branched out into eLearning modules, and formed alliances with some exciting partners who share our vision. Looking forward to seeing where the path takes us!
2. Take us through a typical day, start to finish.
Sanjay Shah : I like to keep my schedule as fresh as possible. I’ve found that having a rigid, set routine makes me feel bored and gradually erodes inspiration from my thinking. So I switch it up often – but currently my typical Monday involves:
Morning (6am – 8:30am): Early start with a meditation session, and then a Spirulana green shake on the balcony (which overlooks the Pacific Ocean!). From there, I’ll either go to the gym or have a quick swim at the beach. Before I work, I read through a “manifesto” I’ve written for myself called a “Life Gyroscope”– this details a set of objectives and mindsets I have for both my personal vision and my vision for our company. It helps me to keep perspective on the bigger picture while going through the chaos of the day.
Business Day (9am – 5:30pm): Focus on project production activities, sales and team management tasks during the day, when I’m more likely to be able to easily communicate with our team/customers/potential customers. I’ll either work from my balcony at home, or at my co-working space, which has a super-inspiring group of people all working towards inspiring things.
Evening (5:30pm – 9:30pm): Focus on marketing and business improvement tasks after hours as this is often work I can complete on my own. I make sure I play at least 30 mins of Guitar a day (keeping my dream of playing lead guitar
in world-touring band alive!). During the week, I have dinner in front of a laptop, following content from my favourite online mentors (currently Timothy Marc, Gary Vaynerchuk, Simon Sinek).
Night: Half an hour or so of “Pleasure reading” which I’ve found gets me nicely tired. These days I’m loving Eastern Philosophy, but always have time for some intense fiction!
3. What was the best advice you received when you created Visionary Digital Studios?
Sanjay Shah : I was taught about the concept of “Resistance” – the emotion of fear that stops you from taking on massive endeavors, and blocks your productivity when you need it. Business is SO CHALLENGING – being able to recognize the resistance, that comes every step of the way helps me to embrace it and move through it, rather than succumbing.
4. What are your strategies for building awareness of your company, short and long term ?
Sanjay Shah : We are building a brand of “helping innovative people get exciting ideas into the world” around EVERYTHING we do. This means that we want to work with customers who have innovative ideas and see themselves as unique beyond their industry-norm. But we want to take this mindset a step further and ensure that the staff, suppliers and business partners we choose also have a vision beyond the mundane. Designing our marketing, processes and communications around this concept ensures that our company resonates with the exact type of people we’d like to have in our network, allowing us to work with people we love – both internally and externally. We’re still a young company, so infusing this mindset into everything we do is a continuing challenge, but one that guides our decision making processes every step of the way.
5. What is your proudest achievement?
Sanjay Shah : 5 years ago now I had a job as a Tour Manager, taking groups of 50 people all over Europe. That first tour, as I was pulling away from home-base in London, was probably the scariest experience I’ve ever been through! I was in charge of this group of people I’d just met, taking them through countries where I didn’t speak the language, and had barely even been to! Every day of that first tour around Europe was an absolute ordeal. But I miraculously got through it, and everything was fine. From that moment, I was addicted to the euphoria of leaning into my fear and living intense experiences (like running a business!).
6. What are your top 3 book recommendations?
Sanjay Shah : As I learn and grow, my favourite books change often. At the moment, my current list, in no particular order:
“Start With Why”, Simon Sinek – So many entrepreneurs are building businesses just to “get rich”, or even worse, to be “financially free”. Unfortunately, this generally means their current decisions are made through the lenses of “I don’t have enough” or “I’m financially-tied”. I’d like to see more business owners have a clear vision of WHY they do what they do – this book (and all of Sinek’s talks) showed me the value of this.
The War of Art, Steven Pressfield – not the easiest one to get through. But a great book to show you how to get through the difficult, boring and stressful times in business.
Anything written by Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss, Osho – 3 very different authors, who write about very different things. But I find that whenever I’m reading their works I get amazing insights and tangible breakthroughs in
running Visionary Digital Studios.
7. What other charitable causes are most meaningful to you & why?
Sanjay Shah : Currently I have a mandatory monthly “giving” fund – an amount of money I have to give away to charitable causes each month. To be honest, it’s no massive amount, but will continue to grow with the company. This allows me to keep my mindset on always looking for ways I can give money away (to use up the fund), rather than my old perspective of “how can I give the least and still get away with it!”
Longer term, I’m looking to connect to my heritage (Indian) and work my way into some humanitarian causes over there. I’ve grown up very Australian (like my accent!), but over the last few years have felt an increasing yearning to understand India and be involved in its evolution.
8. Who has been most influential toward your accomplishments, professional & personal ?
Sanjay Shah : I have been so lucky to have a handful of AMAZING mentors – both in life, and from books/content. None that I’ve ever formally asked for – but people who have been in my life and provided me with IMMENSE value, just because that’s the type of people they are. I’m a firm believer that “when the student is ready, the master appears” – and this has happened consistently for me over the last 10 years.
9. What is your advice for entrepreneurs who are 1-3 months away from launching a digital marketing business?
Sanjay Shah : For me, the business journey so far has been simply AWESOME, while consistently pushing my limitations. I have found the cost of all glory in life is a balancing amount of sweat and tears. So be mentally prepared for INTENSE challenges and remember to love every second of it, regardless of where you’re at.