July 12, 2021

TMTL: Trail Blazer Interview with Dhiren Bhatia

TMTL: Trail Blazer Interview with Dhiren Bhatia

On this episode of The Making of a Thought Leader podcast, host Surbhi interviews a trail blazer in his own right, Dhiren Bhatia. Dhiren is a persistent entrepreneur, a podcaster and productivity advocate. Dhiren is the founder of Cloudscape Technologies and shares how he got started to build his thought leadership consistently and systematically. If you are looking for some pearls of wisdom on how to keep up with building thought leadership, you are going to enjoy this episode a lot.


Surbhi (0:00)

Hello and welcome to the brand new episode of the making of a thought leader podcast. This episode is different as I am joined by a very special guest on the show today. His name is the Dhiren Bhatia. Dhiren is a persistent entrepreneur, a podcaster, and a huge productivity advocate. He is the founder of cloudscape technologies that helps brands generate revenue through modern technology systems both online and offline in a retail and F&B sectors. Dhiren is also a mentor to fellow entrepreneurs and shares openly and generously all that he learns around entrepreneurship, productivity, and even podcasting. This is going to be really exciting to talk to him about all these interesting topic. So let's welcome Dhiren on the podcast.

 

Surbhi (1:03) 

Welcome so much to the making of a thought leader podcast. It is my absolute pleasure to have you on board today. And it is not only your pleasure, but it's also honor, because you are the one who has instigated me to start this podcast. So let's welcome you and please tell the audience all about you, about Cloudscape and about Elevated Entrepreneur podcast.

 

Dhiren  (1:50) 

Who am I? My name is Dhiren. Thank you Surbhi for letting me introduce myself. I am the founder of cloudscape.ae. And over at cloudscape my team and I help retail and F&B brands get better with inventory management, and we help them get started with modern inventory management systems. And as I've already mentioned, I'm also the host of the elevated entrepreneur podcast, which is a podcast that I started in May 2020, just after COVID, helping share what I've learned from from my years as an entrepreneur, and also talking to other entrepreneurs in the retail F&B  space, who talk about what they've done and how they've built what they've built. So yep, that's me and my podcast.


Surbhi (02:35)

That's wonderful. And that is so impressive to think of the journey. And since I was a very close observer of your journey, it gives me immense pleasure and excitement to actually say that you know, how you build it very systematically. And one of the things that making of the thought leader podcast we discussed is about developing and nurturing your thought leadership systematically and consistently. So tell me something more about the niche of the thought leadership that you are after? What is the exact niche of your thought leadership that you are developing?

Dhiren (3:08)

That's a great question. Firstly, thought leadership. I think over the last few years, it's become this really buzzword that everybody's talking about. But I've learned from you. And as you mentioned earlier, that you've been very closely attached to the journey here at cloudscape. And so thanks to you, I've come to understand what that actually means, in practical terms, and what I've come to learn from you. And over the last few years, I've been doing this, I think leadership is basically the ability to stand up and have an opinion on something. And I've been able to do that, through Cloudscape. And through the elevated entrepreneur podcast now. You asked me specifically, what is the niche. So the niche word is a very interesting word. Because as a company, we aim to solve problems for retailers. And restaurant is specifically problems with inventory management. So that's the niche that we hold, and want to hold in terms of business. As a thought leader, both me and cloudscape are also targeting entrepreneurs at a wider level. So typically, people who are either already in retail or restaurants, or possibly the ones that want to get into retail, and restaurants. Again, all of these come under the bucket of entrepreneurship or entrepreneurs. Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur at some point. And so if I was to help you imagine this funnel where we start with entrepreneurs at the very top of the funnel, and then we work our way down into specifically retail and F&B. That's the niche that we're heading into.

Surbhi (4:38)

Yeah. How did it all come together for you? Like is there like any particular method that you followed or you know, you develop the system around connecting the two the bridging the two bit of it?

 

Dhiren  (4:59) 

Every single day. So if you remember our conversation almost two years ago, when I had asked you to help us with marketing over at cloudscape, one of the first things you said to us that is we need to be able to get a voice out, we need to be able to tell people, what is it that we're doing. And that's really where the journey started. So we started with understanding who exactly is that are we after. So even though I say we're after retailers, and restaurants as our ideal customer, within that, you've helped us create something called customer personas, when you understand who your customer persona is, you get to understand their pains, their desires, and their dreams. And when you get to understand their dreams and desires, now you can speak directly to that. So starting two years ago, we started this whole process of understanding who our core customer is, what are their pains and desires. And from there, we started to create our messaging. So our messaging, started with the cloudscape, elevated entrepreneur blog, we started creating blog articles that addressed these pains and dreams. And then from there, we moved into the podcast. And, again, having done this piece by piece, step by step, it's been a lot of learning is almost like peeling the onion a little bit. So every time you, you peel a layer, there's another layer, you get to that layer, you start to figure that out. And so if you look back in time, it all looks like a system. But I think all in all honesty, it's just doing it consistently step by step and figuring it out as you get to that point. And so the podcast is where we are today. It's been an amazing learning experience for me, thanks to you, again, to get us to this point in terms of pushing us because like you rightly said two years ago, if we don't, if we don't stand up and have a voice, people will never know who we are and what we do. So I think it all comes down to that right is to be able to stand up, have a voice and have most importantly a opinion. Right. And people wanted to listen to your opinion, whether it's right or wrong. It's not important. It's the fact that you have an opinion. And then you need to be able to share that opinion with your listeners and your core, your core customer.

Surbhi (6:55)
Correct. And I think, to your point, yes, yes. And so done it so well like that, because one of the things that we say is on the making of a thought leader podcast is that when you do something systematically and consistently, you ultimately actually go towards, you know, your unique opinion in that way. You're you're kind of following even if it is an onion layer that you're peeling, because of your unique experiences. And you know, knowledge or your unique being your unique self, you ultimately develop your opinion which in and it is not about right or wrong, it is just about you what you have to say as a unique person, and how does that appeal to a certain segment of your target audience. It can be the bullseye audience, because that's what you're after. And that's what you're training yourself to talk and solve their problems. So I think what you said is really, really spot on.

 

Dhiren  (10:00)

I am a mix of a lot of habits and a lot of processes, I also have to happen to have this odd belief that everything should be in its place in a place for everything. So with that in mind, and the idea of being consistent, yes, there are, there are certain things that I do. And I recommend that everybody does them as well. So just to go back one step, in terms of thought leadership, one of the key pieces that is very important is figuring out what kind of marketing you're doing. So we are at cloudscape, into into inbound marketing, into creating content that will attract people towards us. And so as part of that, a big part of that process is around content creation. So, for example, we publish a blog episode, every two weeks, we publish a podcast episode every two weeks. And we also have something called the elevated entrepreneur bullet, which is a newsletter that goes out once every two weeks. So there's content being created for that as well. So one of the key habits that we've instilled in our team is to be able to plan ahead, start creating the content, and thinking about what is it that we want to say, a few weeks and a few months out rather than trying to do it last minute, so that's one important process. And personally, for me, to be able to have that level of clarity, and to be able to move? As I said, with one foot in front of the other? Yes, I do, I do follow my own practices. I don't know if that's germane to being a good thought leader, but I'll share, because I think it's changed my life for the better. So journaling is one of them. I do journal every morning and every night. And I also happen to talk about not just journaling, but also this practice of being grateful for a lot of things. So having a gratitude journal, I think has been very key in my life. And like I said, that helps me give me the clarity, for the day for the week, for the month and for the year, and know where I'm headed. So that process is really important for me.

Surbhi (11:59)
That's wonderful. You know, you touched a very important point here about content and content thought leadership or thought leadership marketing is something that people always mix it up with content marketing. And you rightly pointed out that this is that is one big piece of what you do systematically and consistently over a period of time as the digital marketer I know the amount of discipline that it needs. I know and value that a lot in terms of planning content way ahead in time and sharing it consistently. Because it's such a noisy place out there. You're the problem that you're solving for your audience, you need to be there for them every day, literally. And with so many avenues that you are into like the blog and the podcast and newsletter. Does it feel overwhelming to you at this point in time? Like how do you balance the boat?

Dhiren (12:54)
It's a great question. It can definitely feel overwhelming at times. And sometimes you just question every day and you like really is it worth it. But I think it is absolutely worth it. When you get people emailing you and messaging you and just giving you such amazing feedback. And I know you're one of my biggest supporters that ever is. And some of the feedback that you've given me on a random day will just light up my day, in fact, in light up my whole life, because I'm smiling ear to ear, and that's the thing with content creation, you're not going to be recognized right away, you may not be recognized for a long time, but know that the things you say the opinions that you share are impacting people's life. So to answer your question, it does get overwhelming. But I think it's knowing that it's affecting and changing and helping even one person across the world is is is something fantastic. The other thing that you asked me was having so many pieces of content, how does that fit into this equation? I think going back to my point about knowing your customer, or other knowing who you're after, is really important. And because we have that clarity, or at least we have an idea of who we are after. I'm not saying that it is. It's right. But we feel it is. So right now we're heading in that direction. We feel that entrepreneurs and then by virtue of being entrepreneurs, retailers, and restaurant owners are who we are after. So with that in mind, and with that in up front and center, we've created all the different content streams so that we can address this one particular persona or customer if you like. And so for retail we have at one level, we have the cloudscape elevated entrepreneur blog, and we have the elevated entrepreneur podcast. Both of these are directed very much towards the retailer and the F&B business owner. And we talk specifically retail and F&B stuff. And we also interview other business owners who run similar businesses. And then the elevated entrepreneur bullet is a level higher that addresses the entrepreneur and all of us. And it talks about the systems and the apps and the books that we all need to listen to and read and consume to become better as entrepreneurs. So that's what the point of that content asset is.

 

Dhiren (15:00 )

Yeah, and I think it came from this vision of wanting to provide as much as helpful knowledge I can provide as a fellow entrepreneur. And so that's why we have all of these. And so I enjoy the process, because each of these has a very different purpose and has a very different perspective. And so having that upfront, and knowing who we're after, really makes the whole piece work, as opposed to not knowing who you are, after all doing content without you knowing your ideal customer.

Surbhi (15:26)
Yeah, changes the game that changes absolutely the game and also the conversation about, okay, now that you've built the persona, what next and I said, this is going to live through your entrepreneurial journey, because it's a living document, you don't sit with that persona, written once, and it's shoved into some of the files and folders, but you actually put it as a part of your employee handbook, and also stick it on the walls of your office. So everybody says the same language knows the same persona, and talks to the same person.

Dhiren (16:00)
You'd be surprised and that you mentioned as part of the employee handbooks that we've now grown from three people when you and I started talking to seven people, and everyone who started as one of their on-boarding journeys with me, we sit down, and we go through the personas as a loved one exercise, which is so important to them, it gives them so much more clarity, right from day one.

Surbhi (16:21)
So you're absolutely right, brilliant. It is a living, breathing document. Brilliant. Absolutely. I think you've taken a step ahead, instead of putting in the document, you're actually discussing with your employees as like a part of discussion, which is really, really great. Right? So that actually brings me to this asking you, what are the thought leaders around you who inspire you when why?

Dhiren (16:43)
There's a few, there's a few people that I follow. And again, it's a really interesting question, when you say, who are the thought leaders you follow? I don't think of them as thought leaders. I think of them as people who have done what I want to do. And I'm pretty much a step ahead of me and open, show me the way so that I can follow them. Because this is really famous author, Austin Kleon, who says, nothing is original, everything is borrowed. And everything is you can always take inspiration from something. And so the people that I'm going to list out are people that who I listen to who I learned from, and who I think are amazing at what they do. One of them is a gentleman named Pat Flynn, I know who you're familiar with. Pat Flynn is the founder of a business called Smart Passive income, and completely different business for me. But what he's doing is he's built he's figured out and is constantly and continuously building an online business that will help provide passive income from for him and for his family members. And so that, for me is a really interesting person to follow. I've taken a couple of his courses. And another really good thought leader is actually this. There's a podcast that I mentioned on my podcast, it's called the Two Bob's podcast. And it's run by two phenomenal gentlemen who talk about helping creative businesses or other design and creative agencies. And so those for me are also very interesting to listen to, because they can very different opinion, very different perspective. And, and they're not shy about sharing their opinion. So I enjoy that. I enjoyed listening to them. And there's a few other people that are read a lot of books about the key books that I can't recommend enough, is Built to Sell which is by fellow Torontonian. His name is John Warillow, again, thought leader in his own right. And he's done a phenomenal job of explaining how to productize your business. So I hope that everybody listening will give them a listen and give them a shout.

Surbhi (18:35)

Yes, yes, yes, absolutely. And this, this is something that I enjoy from your podcast as well, because every episode is really packed with. I mostly listen during the school runs. And I wish I had like this notepad to just write down the apps to use the people to follow the books, the quotes. And so everybody listening should definitely look up elevated entrepreneur podcast, because it's so much value of our resources, not only for retailers and F&B. But I think over a period of time, you have given a good mix of episodes for entrepreneurs at large. Thank you. So nice of you. Let's talk about thought leader. I know you were saying somebody who inspires, but there has to be some definition that you think, wow, I really want to follow this person. So who is a thought leader in your opinion?

Dhiren (19:22)

I think for me, a thought leader is someone who unless it's very easy for me to say that someone who knows what they're talking about, but the truth is, I don't think anybody knows what we're talking about. Everybody's learning, everyone's peeling that onion, one layer at a time. And like we said earlier, when we peel this onion, things change. And so I am who I am today because of certain pieces of information. But I'm not saying that these are going to be these are rocks in my life. These changes to my knowledge changes, my opinion changes. So I think it would be better for me to say that a thought leader for me is someone who is able to show me the path and has a particular piece that they own. So I prefer to listen to someone who speaks about a specific topic rather than being a generalist. For me that makes it really successful thought leaders. Not those who are trying to be everything to everybody, it can muddy the waters. However, if you were to stand up and speak about one thing, own that topic and go into different rabbit holes as I call them about the same topic, I feel those are the people I start to gravitate towards. Because they talk about one thing and they do a really good job at it.

Surbhi  (20:28)
Yes absolutely and that is phenomenal to unpack over few episodes as we go along on this podcast. On this podcast we talk about thought leadership and the marketing intersect. And both of these are like mammoth of a domain. So one of the things from my experience that I always end up sharing is the marketing piece. So we will dive in to the rabbit holes of marketing piece. Dhiren, I always look up to you for advice. So what do you want to tell the fellow entrepreneurs or individuals who may not be really looking at thought leadership as something they can develop and they want to develop?

 

Dhiren (21:11)
Well firstly, thank you. You are too kind. And I think that sort of gets me into my discussion point. We are all on a journey. And we are all figuring our ways out. So to someone who is just starting out, or who is thinking about thought leadership as this big elephant in the room, and they don’t know where to climb and how to climb, I  think the idea is really get to ground zero. And think about what is it that you like talking about. What is that you love talking about? And what puts a smile on your face? So someone asked me this, then if you would sit in a room and talk for hours and what is that one thing that you would talk about that puts a smile on your face. If you know that to start talking about that , whether its through a blog, whether its through a podcast, whether you do webinars, belive me, the fact here is and I’m talking to listeners is that its just the consistency, that’s going to get you the reach you are looking for. So now when I look back, a year ago, when I look back at my own achievement as a podcast, when I started the podcast, there were zero listeners. Today, we have about 3000 listeners across 51 countries. And again, this would not have been possible on day one, this would not have been possible on day 30. It’s only possible in the hindsight. So looking back in the rearview mirror makes it look much easier. So anybody who is thinking about anything of this sort, get started, put one foot in front of the other and then make it a habit. It could be as simple as just putting a post on LinkedIn, once every week, or once or twice a week. But just being consistent and knowing what you’re talking about. Or rather that one topic that you want to talk about. It think those are super important pieces that I could talk about, because these are how I started, what I do.

Surbhi (22:53)
And these are extremely valuable piece of information and advice. Thank you so much for sharing it in plain vanilla format. So this brings me to the part of where people can find you?

Dhiren ( 23:05)
That’s a great question. People can find me on LinkedIn, I am DhirenB on LinkedIn and Dhirenbh everywhere else on Instagram and Facebook. Happy to get a message, talk and share ideas. And if you are in Dubai, happy to meet for a coffee, just drop me a message. And you can also find me on the Elevated Entrepreneur podcast page, which is ElevatedEntrepreneur.fm and just drop me a message there.

Surbhi (23:30)
Wonderful. Thank you so much for being a part of the show, it means so much to me. This has been phenomenal. Thank you. It was so insightful today talking to you.

Dhiren (23:41)

Thank you for having me and it’s a pleasure. I look forward to listening to the episode and many more that are coming out soon.