Right Selection started out as a specialist store selling management and personal development books. Gautam Ganglani has taken over the management of the business, founded by his father, which now also brings inspirational speakers to Dubai and other cities across the Middle East.
How did your family end up in Dubai?
My dad was based between the UK and West Africa. He had a passion for personal and corporate development books. Transiting through Dubai, he saw the potential for a different type of bookshop here, stocking the likes of Steven Covey [The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People]. He set it up in 1993 and there was a physical bookshop in Bur Dubai for 15 years. I studied business and finance in the UK. After, I travelled for three months. Then I joined him in the business in 1995; we decided I'd try it out for six months.
Six months turned into many years …
Dubai grew on me and I came to love the place. I've always had a passion for learning and networking. This job allows me to be around like-minded people. It's great to have a mentor, friend and spiritual guide in my dad. I am abundantly grateful for and proud of that.
Tell me how the business expanded.
We started displaying our books at events and seminars around the Gulf and we decided to take the business to the next level by inviting speakers over ourselves. We started in 2001 by bringing over Ron Kaufman and one thing led to another. The more successful the seminars, the more the book sales looked after themselves. From 2005 onwards, we started doing joint ventures and replicated the business in other cities. We now operate in nine cities and we bring across each speaker exclusively. So, for example, we are bringing John Gray [Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus] to Dubai, Bahrain and Chennai and Jack Canfield [Chicken Soup for the Soul] on a seven-city tour.
Are your speakers popular in the Middle East?
We have gone from strength to strength. In the corporate sphere, during times of recession, businesses want to train their employees so they are ripe and ready for when things pick up. During the more stable or boom times, companies want to inspire and motivate their people and inspire them to perform. They realise that people are their best assets. In the personal sphere, we had 543 delegates at the Jack Canfield seminar last year. We had to turn more than 25 people away at the door. For celebrity speakers, people's lives have been changed [through the books and] they want to be inspired in person. As long as you do effective marketing, you will get the right crowd. We do direct media, PR and social media. We also partner with associations. For example, 70 per cent of people who come and see John Gray are females. So we partner with women's groups such as the American Women's Association and they reach out to their female members.
You are a family business. Would you like your kids to take over one day?
My daughter is seven and we are expecting our second child in a couple of weeks so it's years ahead, but I'd be open to that.