Question: Dev Pragad, at only 36 years old, you have transformed the fortunes of Newsweek, a once alien media brand on the verge of a $25 million loss at the time, you turned it into a highly efficient, digital-first, profitable enterprise with revenue approaching, as you said now, more than a $100 million.
So this transformative work at Newsweek is something that students will look at. Coming from a young King’s alumni, what lesson do you want students to take away?
Young people, students are used to seeing older people achieve such greatness and they probably will still admire them. I would think that, but they would think, ‘well, they’ve spent so many years in their lives achieving all of this greatness’.
But at a young age to have done this much, is something that is massively inspiring to this generation of students and young people across the world. What closing thoughts will you offer students? In your regular, in your normal, humble, and very thoughtful way, what do you want to leave students with?
Dev Pragad: First of all, thanks to technology, age is actually an advantage because digital and technology have completely disrupted so many fields. Today, someone who can code can launch a business in their bedroom.
The number of billionaires who are in their 30s or multi, multi-millionaires who are in their 30s has exploded simply because those who can leverage their skill sets, empowered by their ambition, it’s quite limitless what you can do.
So I would strongly encourage everyone to think of their age as an advantage because there’s so much data available, you can leverage data, and access to technology to do better decision making in a way that’s faster and more agile than people who are not used to this framework of working.
Historically, you thought you got to gain experience and so on; all of that is true, but with the access to some of the new skill sets, I think age can actually be an advantage.
So putting that aside, the next thing is all about your ambition and your confidence to accomplish things and also good mentorship. I was privileged enough to have had the right opportunities at the right time and I have had a lot of great mentorship and people have given me advice and directions.
So if you’re hungry enough to get all of that and you have the right ambition, I think you can safely say the sky is your limit. Of course, you got to have the humility to know when you’re pushing on something that’s not going to work. You have to have wisdom; otherwise, you just come across as ignorant, not even arrogant, really ignorant.
So it’s to have that – this again goes back to the Ying Yang – confidence and humility. Confidence to push when you have to push and the humility to pull back, seek advice, and counseling and mentorship. I think these are some of the salient features I would really recommend to aspiring students and leaders.