Ali Merchant is a man who dons a number of caps – a philanthropist, a life coach, a multi-millionaire CEO of AM Infoweb, a Health Information Management Outsourcing company. He has a people-oriented approach that is clearly embodied in the tagline of his company – ‘We Believe in Relations, Business Follows’. He is a true people’s man and is big on sharing his insights for the benefit of everyone he comes across. In fact, Mr. Merchant has a personal website solely dedicated to writing about and bringing up trending topics and challenges faced by young professionals and how to tackle them. It was our pleasure to get an opportunity to interview Ali Merchant as he shared his knowledge people-driven business approach.

When you say “people”, who are you referring to?

Mr. Merchant replied, “They are everyone associated with me and my business starting from my clients, employees, shareholders, and everyone who becomes a part of my networking circle and also my family, in short – my stakeholders. It’s my family that gives me the strength to keep going, as they too have invested much emotionally and effort-wise to my physical and mental well-being. I know it sounds peculiar but that’s the truth. They are all equally important and thus, deserve the same level of consideration from my end.” This is a new way of looking at it and come to think of it, relevant to all of us. But, it’s the first time we’ve heard someone articulate the input of family from a business perspective so clearly.

How do you manage your relations with your stakeholders?

He says, “Once you have established a working relationship with your stakeholder which in itself is an exhaustive process, you have bridged a huge gulf which is now open for work traffic. I view the wearisome job of building this bridge as a long-term investment and transparency and integrity has earned me the trust of all of them. This trust keeps them from seeking other options and that’s another feather on the cap – loyalty. You have this, you have a business. Above everything, striving to know more about the challenges of your stakeholders and doing your best to resolve thosehelps in fostering deeper relations and the work dynamics feel more organic. To make your stakeholders feel comfortable and stress-free is a huge milestone in the long-term journey with each of them.” This has made us realize there is so much more to the concept of stakeholdership.

In your opinion, which values should be factored in to encourage strong relations with stakeholders?

“I am of the view, ethics is the king followed by his chiefs – trust, credibility, consistency in performance, shared values, mutual respect, and crisis-management skills. These are the basic qualities one needs to exhibit in order to win people over. Other elements like expertise, process, and quicker results have a secondary influence. Let me put it simply like this, if at any point in time you miss out on delivering the desired results for unforeseen reasons, having established a strong rapport with the client, you stand a greater chance of being considered for a rework. And this is how you benefit in the long run; you need to look beyond your short-term profits.”

It’s fairly common to come across CEOs who talk about ethics and values but Ali Merchant reinforces his ideas through his actions. His experience is proof that good business follows great relationships. We were honestly privileged to connect with a CEO who walks the talk, literally!