Dr. Simone Ahuja is the principal of Blood Orange, a marketing and strategy advisory boutique with digital media capabilities, and special expertise in innovation. Headquartered in Minneapolis with teams in Mumbai, Blood Orange uses an agile and cost-efficient content production framework built upon principles learned through extensive work in India. Dr. Ahuja is the author of Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth and the new book Disrupt-It-Yourself: Eight Ways to Hack a Better Business—Before the Competition Does.

Podcast Highlights

  • Who is Simone Ahuja?

Simone began in the traditional educational system and was originally in school to become a dentist. After finishing her schooling Simone realized that wasn’t where she wanted to end up and decided to pivot to something else. What she didn’t expect was to be afflicted by a bout of typhoid while traveling in India. By the time she recovered she decided to commit to the things that were calling her instead of just dipping her toes in the water. Simone started exploring film making, theater and comedy, teaching, and writing.

Oddly enough, Simone’s experience in dentistry prepared her quite well to deal with the anxiety of committing to something like becoming an entrepreneur. Simone didn’t have a lot of support in her decision to walk away from what could have been a profitable career, but it turned out well. In any entrepreneurial endeavor, there will be people who tell you that it can’t be done.

Not having mental barriers and trusting herself to make it happen has been Simone’s superpower. Combined with getting sick enough to make her consider her own mortality, Simone had enough motivation to commit to changing her life.

  • Why Blood Orange and innovation marketing strategy?

When you’re stressed or thinking too much with tension, it’s really hard to get into a flow state. Taking up improv theater taught Simone to relax her mind and enter a flow state, and that’s when things get funny. Around this time in her life, she decided to make a film about what’s changing in India and this lead to her becoming a market expert which drew a lot of attention from Fortune 500 companies. She started formulating her expertise and made a shift from filmmaker to market expert and started doing consulting work.

Until Simone started working on the second TV series for Best Buy, she had still been working as a dentist part-time. At that point, it still felt very risky to walk away from something so reliable. By taking the leap Simone felt more motivated to create a business that sustained itself and added value.

  • Disrupting Your Business

In larger organizations, change is very difficult and innovation takes time. Entrepreneurs have a leg up on older businesses because they are more agile, the trick is figuring out how to maintain that agility as your business grows. Even if you’re fairly small, you have to be willing to adjust your business to your client’s needs.

Entrepreneurs must have a deep sense of purpose, something that goes beyond a mission statement. The Why of what you are doing helps shape all your decisions.

Who is joining you in solving the problem? Don’t make assumptions about what the problem is, bring in the customer to help articulate what the problem actually is.

Be willing to make the necessary changes to your business in order to take it farther. If you’re doing something really different, it’s hard to really have an idea what the outcome will be like.

Stay connected to what you love so the work doesn’t become work anymore.

  • Why is disrupting ourselves necessary?

There are a lot of big problems that need to be solved. It’s not just big businesses that are going to solve those problems, it’s now the solopreneur and small businesses as well. Technology has enabled small entrepreneurial players to disrupt major industries themselves.

If you ever thought “somebody should do something about that”, you are that somebody. You can leverage the tools and ecosystems that you already have access to solve those problems.

Reference: Disrupt-It-Yourself: Eight Ways to Hack a Better Business—Before the Competition Does, Simone Ahuja

  • Simone’s Takeaway

All of us have that voice. One of the most important things you can do is find support and like-minded people or communities that can help you. The second thing is to take a little action and do the smallest experiment you can. Find someone you can help and build a low-resolution prototype, if they like and grow at least a little bit you continue the experiment. Little experiments carry very little risk and can give you a lot of valuable information to keep moving forward.





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