For business leaders seeking success, the path can often seem challenging and complex. But as Manga Productions has shown, it’s not only about how to navigate the path, but also about how to create it. The journey of Manga Productions, which grew from a one-man endeavor to a global enterprise accumulating over 400 million views in just five years, offers an array of crucial lessons that can guide business leaders in their journey.
Investing in Talent Development
The first crucial lesson lies in their approach to talent development. At its inception, Manga Productions was merely an idea without a team. Dr. Essam Bukhary was brought on as the CEO, and he realized the need to build a team to bring his vision to life. However, instead of relying on hiring professionals already skilled in the industry, he took a different approach. He focused on finding young, raw talent that could be developed and nurtured into professionals.
Through partnerships with global giants in the field, especially in Japan, Manga Productions provided internship opportunities to young Saudis, equipping them with advanced animation techniques. Today, 85% of the company’s employees are graduates from these internship programs. As an entrepreneur, this strategy emphasizes the importance of investing in people and their growth. Nurturing and developing talent can not only create a more skilled workforce, but also build a team that is loyal and committed to your vision.
Embracing Cultural Differences
The next lesson is about embracing cultural differences. Collaborating with international partners in Japan, such as Toei Animation, and elsewhere posed a unique set of challenges for Manga Productions, primarily due to language barriers, cultural differences, and age gaps. But, instead of viewing these as hurdles, the company used them as stepping stones towards creating a unique blend of styles, a fusion of the East and the West.
This creative strategy is evident in projects like the “Future’s Folktales” TV series and “The Journey” movie, which were successful in garnering global recognition. For business leaders, this underlines the need to view diversity not as a challenge, but as a strength. Leveraging different perspectives can fuel innovation and set your company apart.
Building Capabilities from Scratch
Another key lesson from Manga Productions’ journey lies in their ability to develop capabilities from scratch. When they started, the company lacked a distribution partner that could take their Intellectual Property (IP) to global markets. Instead of relying on external companies, they decided to build this capability in-house.
Similarly, they took the initiative to create their licensing division. They developed various licensing deals, most notably with Virgin Megastore, a prominent retailer in Saudi Arabia. As an entrepreneur, this demonstrates the importance of developing capabilities internally, especially when external resources fall short. Doing so not only provides greater control and flexibility over operations, but also equips your business with the tools needed to compete on a global scale.
Staying True to Your Roots
While striving for international success, Manga Productions never lost sight of its cultural roots. The global market lacked high-quality Saudi and Middle Eastern content, and they saw an opportunity. They created authentic content deeply rooted in Arabian heritage and filled this gap. This strategy didn’t just meet unaddressed customer needs; it also allowed the company to create a unique niche for itself in the global market.
As an entrepreneur, recognizing gaps in the market and creating authentic offerings to fill those gaps can significantly set your enterprise apart. It’s about being true to your roots and leveraging your uniqueness to create a brand that stands out.
Nurturing the Next Generation of Leaders
Dr. Bukhary’s leadership philosophy provides another valuable lesson for business leaders. He believes that the success of a leader is not merely defined by their own achievements, but by their ability to empower others to exceed them. This belief is embedded in the company culture.
Manga Productions fosters an environment that values work-life balance and encourages originality, fostering a pipeline of next-generation leaders ready to take the helm. For business leaders, developing leadership at all levels of their organization ensures a bright future. It not only drives company growth but also ensures the sustainability of your business.
Dream Big, But Stay Grounded
Despite their astronomical success, Manga Productions continues to dream big. Dr. Bukhary envisions the company playing a significant role in the global entertainment industry while also contributing positively to society at large. This dream reflects the company’s commitment to not just making profits but also making a difference.
For business leaders, this teaches the importance of having a vision that aligns with wider societal benefits. Setting ambitious goals is crucial, but grounding them in a sense of social responsibility can ensure the longevity and relevance of your business.
Manga Productions’ journey, guided by Dr. Bukhary’s leadership, offers an array of valuable lessons for business leaders. From investing in talent development, embracing cultural differences, and building in-house capabilities, to staying true to one’s roots, nurturing leadership, and having big dreams grounded in social responsibility, the strategies employed by Manga Productions can serve as a robust blueprint for success in any industry.
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