Offbeat: RAW agent, Bollywood star – The secret dreams of Prashant Puri

Adgully’s special feature section – ‘Offbeat’ – seeks to give a peek into the lesser known facets of our very well-known industry leaders. We present, in the industry leaders’ own words, an interesting read on areas that are not usually highlighted in regular media coverage – be it about their childhood days, secret skills that they possess, how they unwind from their hectic schedules, and much more. 

Prashant Puri is Co-founder & CEO of AdLift, a digital marketing solutions company headquartered in SF Bay Area with offices in Gurgaon. An alumnus from Columbia University, Puri is a digital marketing expert having an extensive 15 years of industry experience. With his ability of building websites into multi-million dollar enterprises, he played an instrumental role in setting up the company and taking it to a high growth trajectory. 

Recently, Puri also founded a new venture, Yral (pronounced ‘Viral’), which is a joint venture between cricketer Yuvraj Singh’s You We Can and AdLift. Yral is a platform that connects advertisers with celebrities by leveraging their social media network.  

In 2005, he successfully nurtured A&T Interactive into the second largest local search player by leading their foray into the digital marketing world. 

Puri is an avid skier and loves hitting the slopes every chance he gets. In summers, he enjoys the occasional rafting and kayaking.  

How were you as a child and which childhood trait do you still possess?
I’ve been told I was a hyperactive, funny little guy and I’m pretty sure, except for the “little” part, I haven’t changed much. I love a good sense of humour in others and I love making people laugh. My days are long and my high energy helps me get through them with a smile on my face (for the most part!). 

Which superhero did you look up to as a kid and why? Which superhero power you wish you possessed?
From what I can recall, RoboCop was one of the first superhero movies I had watched and loved as a kid. I was a huge fan back then and had also collected its merchandise that came out later. Alex Murphy’s character was a huge inspiration. I remember annoying everyone by using that robotic voice! 

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Although now I wish I had shapeshifting superpower like Mystique from ‘X-Men’. Having the ability to change appearance and become someone else sounds fascinating and supercool. But rather than having a super-power I’d prefer to be a Jack Bauer from ‘24’ or an undercover spy like in ‘The Americans’! 

What is your biggest fear and how do you face it?
My biggest fear is self-doubt – the intimidating inner critic – and I face it by not feeding it. I often look at others who have achieved more in less time and automatically my brain starts comparing. This tends to bring me down if I don’t push the stop button immediately. 

But now I have learned to compare myself to myself and see how far I’ve come and how much I have overcome. This boosts my morale and allows me to venture beyond my comfort zone. 

A skill you possess that no one knows about?
I am an avid skier and not many people are aware of it. 

What would one find in your playlist?
I have a playlist for every mood. You will find everything – from pop, EDM and Rock to peppy Punjabi songs. Sometimes I like to sit back and listen to old melodies, while somedays are about the latest Bollywood songs. 

Your go-to activity to relax?
Swimming with my wife and kids! I love hanging out with my family, listening to music or playing UNO. Long family road trips are most relaxing. 

What is the greatest lesson that you have learnt from life so far?
There are no mistakes in life, only lessons we need to master. Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgment, that’s about it. 

A social cause that you are most passionate about?
Education and Public Health. Issues surrounding access to education and health services are very close to my heart. To this end, I keep myself abreast about organisations working in this area. 

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What’s the one thing you would like to change about yourself?
I sometimes get so caught up in my work that I am unable to make time for things that I love. I need to learn to have work-life-balance. 

If not the CEO of AdLift, what would you have been?
An undercover RAW agent or a Bollywood star! 

What are three apps on your mobile you couldn’t live without?
I constantly check my phone for mails and messages so that’s two. Also, Uber has become a necessity these days. 

What’s the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
‘The Looming Tower’ on Netflix. It was a historically accurate account of terrorist attacks in the US. Having lived in the US during the aftermath of 9/11, it was interesting to see what led up to the most devastating attack in US soil. 

Which two organisations outside your own do you know the most people at and why?
I wouldn’t say two, but I know most of the people from BFSI segment. 

Two things about this industry you don’t like or don’t understand?
Liking or disliking would be harsh words to use. I would say there are gaps that could be filled out by continuous efforts. I think both brands and agencies should talk about the data that has created the difference during different phases. 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Somewhere in Europe, maybe. They have the best ski resorts with gorgeous architecture.

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