I tip my hat to creators who have made their own unique mark in the Indian digital space. The truth is I have seen many come and go. From my perspective, being a creator is a lot harder than it looks because it is an amalgamation of multiple skill sets that need to line up seamlessly to eventually become a success story. I can appreciate the hard work and dedication it takes to sustain that. Not to mention, a certain level of intelligence and humility. My guest in this episode, Riaan George, is a prime example of these qualities. He’s considered a formidable voice in the space of luxury and travel content in India. Riaan is one of the OG influencers that had started ‘influencing’ before Instagram was a thing. Formerly a journalist with L’Officiel magazine, he mindfully crafted his own brand and identity over time. This multi faceted influencer (he’s also a French teacher) is of the first male influencers in the country and can boast of unique opportunities like being the only lifestyle person ever invited by Apple from India to attend the Apple event in Cupertino. In this episode we chat breezily as always, covering his interesting journey and discussing how the content creation space has evolved over the years.
Riaan George’s Advice To Creators Who Want To Start Out Today
Please make sure you have a Plan B, another profession on the side. From the age of 20 you can’t say ‘this is my profession, I’m an influencer’ because tomorrow if a platform fails or stops or you become irrelevant or cannot post anymore, it should not be that you’re unable to feed your family or pay your bills.
Riaan On Building A Following
Be consistent with your content. Have good quality content. Make sure that you’re doing your research on what you’re posting. Don’t be generic. If everybody’s doing the same OOTD, you think of doing something different, and talk about some unique perspective of your life. What value can you add to people who are following you that prompts them to hit the share or the save button?
Riaan George On Why Consistency In Content Is Key
I’ve seen people come and go. They lose steam within one or two years because they have not managed to create a voice or have that consistency with posting. Everyone needs to realize, especially those in the lifestyle and fashion space, you have to grow beyond posting outfit pictures. You may be amazing, you may be a beautiful Instagram model, but if you’re only posting outfit pictures, you have a shelf life.
Riaan George On The Hardest Part Of His Journey So Far
The inevitable comparison and anxiety that comes with the social media game because one is always comparing oneself to others or what gig one has lost. It’s pretty much like in every other industry: you can’t do every gig and it does pinch you when you lose a gig, but that’s something that you learn over time to accept and move on.
Riaan George’s Advice On Building A Business
It’s important to have a reliable team, or in the beginning at least one person, even if it’s just an intern or an assistant to help you bounce your ideas and everything else rather than doing the whole thing solo. Even when I was a small-time creator back in the day, I always managed to keep an intern and then an assistant.
Riaan’s Tips On Traveling Like A Pro
- Have a grooming kit that’s ready. So at the last minute you’re not shifting things from the bathroom to the grooming kit. You just have to lift it and put it in the suitcase.
- Have a separate zipper case for socks and swimming trunks, etc. that you can just throw in.
- Always have a bag in the suitcase for used laundry.
- Pack light.
- Wear classics like dark denims that can be repeated.
- Wear a jacket on the flight so that’s one less bulky thing to pack.
Riaan George On Work Life Balance
One thing one can never accuse me of is being a workaholic or being overworked. We have strict policies for the team and I. We all start by 10 in the morning, so that we are not dragging our work onto the evening. I have inculcated this culture of work-life balance into my team so well, and it’s really working for us. I see that people are far more productive and happier and more motivated, so we make sure that we have our five days of work and our Saturdays and Sundays are sacrosanct.
Riaan George On The Ever-Changing Face Of Content
19 years ago, I had to do a hotel review in four pages of a magazine. Today I have to do a hotel review in seven seconds. So how do you do it? You have to do it. You have to find one hook, one thing that catches someone’s attention and show it.
Riaan George On The Importance Of Being Nice
It’s very important for creators to be nice. Goodwill is going to get you a long way. There are a lot of these self-styled celebrities in the creator space, but people are going to eventually get put off by their attitude. You have to realize that you should generally be nice in the industry because truly, for every person who’s being a diva, there are 10 other replacements. It’s as easy as that.
Rapid Fire With Riaan George
I would be remiss to not do a rapid fire round of questions given this exclusive access to the sharpest, most creative minds in the country. So thank Karan Johar for his Koffee influence or blame our insatiable appetite for bite sized content, but here’s presenting the relentless and fun rapid fire round. (ProTip: There’s one at the end of each episode so always stay tuned till the end)
What car would you buy?
If I had endless money, I would probably buy a Maybach and maybe a classic Porsche.
What watch would you buy?
A vintage Rolex. I’m a huge Rolex fan.
And in terms of fashion brands, what would you only dress in?
Uniqlo! I’m a very simple dresser. Even if something that I’m wearing is like expensive or branded, you’ll never even know.
Indian brands that get luxury right
Oberoi Hotels, ITC Hotels, Forest Essentials, Raghavendra Rathore
What does luxury mean to you?
So as I said earlier, it’s definitely not the price point. You can use this as the tagline! It’s definitely not the price tag. It’s about an interesting story, if there’s something that’s been personalized, something that’s been rare, something that’s heritage, something that’s new, something that’s trendy. You know, that could make it luxury.
Something that no one knows about you
That I secretly wish I was born in Shah Jahan’s court.
If there’s a movie made about you, who’d play you?
What inspires you?
I think travel definitely inspires me. Just getting on a plane.
Your dream destination?
My dream destination that I have not visited yet – I would say, Israel.
Your favorite destination so far?
France, because I lived there as a student, Sri Lanka, because I currently live there also partly and Turkey, for sure!
One holiday that is always etched in your memory
When I went with my full family to Paris.
And what made it special?
Because we were all together in my favorite destination!
How do you celebrate the highs in your life?
I go to church and say thanks.
And how do you cope with the lows?
I go to church and ask for help.
What makes you really happy?
Just being at home, listening to my music, having no agenda on a Sunday, that makes me so happy.
How do you cope with jet lag?
Lots of sleep and when I’m not sleeping: lots of water, lots of coffee.
Something you love doing in your work?
And something you really don’t like doing at work.
Transcribing those interviews.
Complete the sentence for me:
The road to success is_______
Definitely hard work!
Dream, build, or scale. What is your path?
I don’t know…as a creative person, definitely I would say dream.
I had such a great time interviewing Riaan whose story should educate and motivate any budding content creator listening. I hope you were taking sincere notes if you want to enter the world of travel or luxury or simply content because he gave many meaningful insights that are not so easy to come by usually!
Do tune in to the whole episode on Spotify to get insights into Riaan’s incredible journey. Also, there’s a lot more where this came from so stay connected on Instagram to get notified as your favourite founders and creators come and share their stories with us on the show. If you have any feedback for me or want to suggest a guest for my show, I’m all ears! Email me or DM me and I’d love to hear your thoughts on Dream Build Scale. Ciao, catch you on Thursday when the next episode drops!