The Secret to Success in Bollywood & Business, by Shah Rukh Khan

Shah Rukh Khan (aka SRK aka Badshah aka King Khan) is not only the Badshah of Bollywood, his popularity continues to soar around the world with fan following from various countries.

Not only is he spontaneous, he also has a great sense of humor; no wonder the audience love to listen to him, be it when compering, giving interviews, or even speeches on success & film-making.

At times, he may just throw humility aside and come across as an over-confident person. Shah Rukh was once standing near the sea-facing window of a posh Bandra hotel and said, “Too bad Sea Rock hotel is gone. I’d always dreamt of buying it during my struggler days.”

And he definitely can afford it today. I guess, its the competitive streak in him, the fierce desire to succeed, and self-belief which probably adds a touch of arrogance (is it a Scorpio trait?) to this Khan.

Also Read: Top Shahrukh Khan quotes that are witty, and also arrogant.

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There’s no denying that he is also one of the most knowledgeable & well-informed persons around, and also successful manages both this Bollywood assignments as well as his businesses. With success, SRK’s dreams have only gotten bigger.

Here’s SRK, the biggest star in Bollywood, owner of the Kolkata Knightrider team in IPL, promoter of Red Chillies Entertainment and Red Chillies VFX, brand ambassador of TAG Heuer (leading luxury watch brand) for the past several years, discussing his philosophy of success.

Also Read: The richest khan in Bollywood.

How to Succeed

Here’s what Khan feels about success.

“Success has two elements. First, it cannot be passed on, however much you try, whether you are a CEO of a company, or a parent. And the second thing about it is that the successful person actually actually does not know why he or she is successful.

Someone asked Warren Buffet, how he was so successful in his investments. Buffet said: ‘I take the right decisions’. The person asked: ‘And how do you take right decisions?’ He replies: ‘Experience’. He was further asked: ‘How do you get experience?’ Buffet said: ‘By making the wrong decisions’. So even Warren Buffet cannot explain the reason for success — no one can.”

So its not the profit, fame, the quest for excellence, that drives this khan, it’s something as basic as feeling good about what you do. Everything else just stems from it.

At times, it may take a bit longer to be successful (as in the case of Cricket) , or you may lose money (as in the case of RaOne) but you need to feel good doing it.

SRK says, “I could not have done RaOne 20 years back, but now I can afford to do it, and lose a bit of money if I need to, as long as it felt right. Of course I am in a lot of businesses now. Some of those things I do not feel good about, so I don’t like to do them, but once I feel good about my core business, I go for it.”


Funny: Here’s Why SRK is also Known as the ‘King of Romance’
SRK, the King of Romance

First Instinct Matters

At least this khan relies a lot on instincts, more than analysis.

Most of his work have been with first or second-time directors (Farah Khan, Aziz Mirza, Kundan Shah) as he believed them; neither does he interfere in the script or changes any song or scene.

“My philosophy is, don’t fix it if it ain’t broke. Any amount of fixing won’t work if it was going to go bad anyway. So there is a huge amount of instinct.”

SRK firmly believes that his first instinct will never go wrong. When Raju (Hirani) told SRK that ‘I have got a film, it is called Munnabhai MBBS’, he said yes to the film on just hearing the title without going through the details or reading the script. (SRK could not do the film because of his back problem, which required a surgery).

Breaking the Rules

So does the fact that SRK is an outsider in the Bollywood industry helps him break rules more often?

Here’s what SRK says, “I do not get the feedback that industry people get, because I am still an outsider. But I am very proud of it. I did not know how to be a hero and have not been groomed by my senior colleagues. I find it a little wrong when people assume my son will become an actor. Why? He will get a good education and then decide what he wants. I would love it if he became one, because I would be able to at least have a conversation. If they become economists, I may not.”

And because he has not been groomed by people on how a hero should be, he has done several different commercially viable films. “I can do a hockey film with 13-15 girls (Chak De India). If I was an insider, I would think, there is no hero-heroine or song — now, all those considerations do not come in my head.”

How Important is Networking?

Almost everyone stresses on the importance of networking nowadays, but what does the Khan feel about it himself?

“I detest networking, which is a wonderfully American concept. Of course, when I am doing a business, I sit with the business head and listen to him. But I never get emails from them. I never meet advertisers. I don’t spend even two minutes a month to sit down and say, ‘Should we pitch for this?’ If it happens, it happens.”

What is important is that you need to give the impression to people that you mean business, and will give it your best shot. Nothing else matters.

“I have never, ever gone for a networking meeting though I have been offered that time and again. If I meet someone and they assume that I am meeting them for work, they assume completely wrong. I do not have a PR drive, except when a film is due to release.”

There are many who suggest SRK to do a little image-building, but again he has a different take on this. “This is what I am and this is what I do. It won’t feel good if I have to ask for work. And there is no ego, but I am not going to ask for work, ask around what is happening or which business to get into.

Growing as a Person

The only way you grow is by learning more, and the King Khan has got a huge appetite for knowledge.

Here’s one instance. SRK knows a lot about hockey — he has played in school, he has done a film based on one.

So when he was watching a hockey match recently where India lost to Korea (it was around 5.30 am), he realized that the rules have changed a lot. So he just sat up for the next one and a half hour to learn the new rules, because it is important to know it.

“I am not going to play but I need to know, I have this huge yearning for wanting to know. That helps me a lot.”

Managing Diverse Businesses

With so many films, assignments, shows, endorsements, how does he manage all the diverse businesses that runs under Shah Rukh Inc?

If you are expecting a “head of business” type of replay, you’re mistaken.

“I do not manage anything. I think I am just extremely fortunate. My friends tell me: You know, Shah Rukh, you should give one hour for this business, two hours for this one, one hour for this one and then meet them again next week. I have never done that.”

Also Read: Shahrukh Khans landmark villa at Palm Jumeirah in Dubai

If you are in the corporate world, you may find it difficult to digest this answer, but then that’s the way SRK is. “If any meeting is important, I know it will find its way to me. It is highly important that I remain completely uncontrolled by time.”

Checkout this video of Shah Rukh Khan speaking at Yale University as Chubb Fellow.



Also Read: US Immigration authorities detain Shahrukh khan

Heart over Head

In any business, how much is dictated by the head and how much by the heart?

For the ‘King Khan’, any business is dictated more by the heart (95%) than head. “I have never done a business in my life and I will never do it with my head. I just do not understand number-crunching.”

‘SRK’ is the owner of the “Kolkata Knight Riders” team in IPL (Indian Premier League), but he says that he could not even afford it when he was first approached. Here’s how he got involved with it.

“Jay and Lalit came to me and said you should bid for it, it will be very interesting. The price they quoted five years ago was $40 million, which was Rs 240 crores. In my life, I had not earned that money. And nobody knew the model of the business. But I just love the English Premier League and I felt, these leagues should be there in India, they will help kids. Luckily it worked out fine and the brand was eventually worth $70-75 million.”

But the ‘Badshah’ remembers staying up all night thinking that even if his heart was into it, he cannot sell his family off. However, as the business model was very well designed by the IPL guys, finally it all went very well.

But he knows it was risky!

“It could have gone the other way. Losing Rs 35-40 crore rupees in one year is something I can ill afford. I am not one of those corporate guys who have lot more money than me. Actors do not take such risks for a bloody film, let alone for a cricket team. Most of it was love for sports.”

Not Driven By Numbers

The reason that Shah Rukh doesn’t look at numbers is because he finds it very limiting. “People like to analyse everything in tangible terms, but if your business is going to be intangible, the sky is not the limit.”

What he has learnt from his discussions with people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mukesh Ambani is that more than numbers, these guys are driven by the desire to transform the lives of people through their products and services, because it makes them feel good.

“I think the numbers create a finish line. I’ve made Rs 100 crore; should I aim for, Rs 150 crore or 200 crores next? Numbers are like pet dogs, they will follow. But if you follow numbers, I do not think you’ll get far.”

US Immigration Authorities Detain Shah Rukh Khan…Yet Again

Actor Shah Rukh Khan was detained by US authorities for nearly a couple of hours at the White Plains international overseas airport near New York, leading to an angry reaction from India. However the US customs and border protection authorities later expressed profound apologies in a letter for detaining the actor.

Krishna on Friday asked ambassador Nirupama Rao to take up the matter with the highest US authorities. Later, the US embassy in New Delhi apologised for any inconvenience or delay caused to the actor at the airport.

46-year-old Khan, who had been invited by the Yale University to deliver a lecture to students, had arrived on a private plane with Nita Ambani on Thursday. Ambani and others were given immediate clearance but Khan was detained by immigration authorities and freed after Yale University officials contacted homeland security and customs officials.

He was to deliver a lecture at the University and because of this episode he was a couple of hours behind schedule for the lecture at Yale University, where he was honoured as a Chubb Fellow.

Thirst for Knowledge

Shah Rukh Khan has a huge appetite for knowledge and loves to read. He is among the most updated and informed actors of the film industry. Talk to him for a while, and you’ll know that he’s an intelligent person and very well-informed. His study room is littered with books of all genres and he makes it a point to stay abreast of the latest news as well as gain knowledge from books.

His passion, love for his craft, thirst for knowledge, dedication, hard work are some of the reasons for his amazing success.

Final Thoughts

One of the most used word in business management is “Out of the Box Thinking”, but very few of them actually implement it. Though most would find it difficult to digest Shah Rukh Khan’s views on doing business, the fact remains that he’s not only the King of Bollywood, he also successfully manages his various businesses following his unique philosophy.