The Tao of Tony Habre
For those unawares, WHITE Dubai - the Meydan super club - has been named Top 20 in the world by a renowned DJ Mag in a list of the World’s Top 100 Clubs, in a poll that was voted for by over 500,000 members of the international clubbing fraternity. On the back of this momentous occasion, we sat down with Tony Habre - the man credited achieving this accolade - to ask what really drives his success:
Explain what makes your business unique?
What make our business unique is that with each new venue, concept or project we embark on, we start from ground zero and build it up from there. We’re involved in every step of the creative process and in this way we can ensure that our years of expertise are put to excellent use and the end result is perfect each time.
What is the definition of 'true power' to you?
Having the time, experience and wisdom to use it correctly.
Do you believe that companies have a duty beyond that of simply making money? How so?
I believe wholeheartedly in the concept of corporate social responsibility. A company is made up of people and its business is usually to serve people or enhance their lives in some way. Of course money is made along the way, but without happy and satisfied staff and customers, or without engaging with your local community and environment, you’re (rightly!) not going to last long. Plus, if you’re in business just to make money, you’re not going to have any fun at all.
What's your personal five year plan? Is it separate to your business?
I wouldn’t say separate, no. My aim is for both my personal and business five year plans to work harmoniously together so I can achieve that elusive work/life balance we all seek. I’d also like more kids!
What's your decision making process?
As I grow older (and hopefully wiser!), my process has become a more sharply defined 50-50 split between instinct and calculation.
What is the most important/biggest decision you've ever had to make for your company?
That’s a difficult question to answer, largely because some decisions seemed huge at the time, then at a later date you realise it perhaps wasn’t that big of a deal. Same goes for decisions that you breezed through then looked back at and went, ‘Oh, yeah, that was actually a pretty big deal!’ Working across Lebanon and the UAE for many years has been a roller coaster ride, so an ongoing important decision for me is how do I keep the company going and maintain these levels of success.
How do you inspire others?
I begin by inspiring myself. In that way I’m in the right head space to try to inspire others. And only by growing as a person myself can I show others how they too can grow.
What advice would you give to someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
Be yourself and be humble - those are two qualities people will respect, relate to and admire.
What's one mistake you see other leaders making over and over again?
Being overconfident without having first done the proper research or groundwork. There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance.
What organisation outside of your own do you admire and why?
Richard Branson’s Virgin empire, because it’s a fully formed, roundly realised company that consistently gives back to the community. Virgin shows that companies can care, be profitable, and make a difference on a global scale – that none of those things are mutually exclusive.
What was the last gift you gave someone?
A laptop to my assistant. I realise that makes me sound like I only give work-based gifts, but it was honestly what she wanted!
Can you name a person who has had an impact on you as a leader? Perhaps someone who has been a mentor to you?
In my opinion, you need more than one mentor in life and in business so you can get more than one point of view, so I enjoy having a wide variety of people in my life I can turn to for advice. I also read a lot of autobiographies by people considered to be business or world leaders, and have got some great advice, anecdotes and acumen from them.
What's the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn't learn from your resume alone?
That I’m actually a pretty simple guy. I do genuinely enjoy the more simple things in life.
If you woke up and had 2,000 unread emails and could only answer 300 of them, how would you choose which ones to answer?
I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t ever find myself in that situation because I built and organised the company in such a way so that I’ll never wake up to face 2,000 or even 300 emails. My limit is about 20 per day, that way I know I’m giving each my full attention.
What did you want to be growing up?
A movie director.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Just to chill more. Things will happen, don’t worry about it and don’t be in such a rush to get there.