College: Duke University, London Business School
Occupation: Financial Manager
Current City: Dubai
Some people let the world take them by surprise. Others take the future by the reigns. Nikesh (Nicky) Daryani is among the latter group. In fact, he’s such a planner, he does it for a living. Even before he graduated from Jumeirah American School (JAS) in 1996, Daryani was laying out plans for his career in business and finance. Today, he helms his own single-family investment office, Daryani General Trading (DGT). “I am kind of doing what I dreamed of. I like to plan, so it was planned way ahead of time,” he laughs. And beyond that, he is also helping his alma mater with its future plans. As an American School of Dubai Legacy family and a member of the Board of Trustees, he works with the school’s community to develop alumni programs and other initiatives.
"There’s a lot going on right now at ASD, including a new early learning center for our first PreK program."
When ASD was founded in 1966, it opened in an apartment in Deira with eleven students and two teachers. Today it is a 23-acre campus and growing. In April of 2019, ASD broke ground on the new purpose-built early learning facilities, slated to open in August of 2020. This is exciting news for the coming year, Daryani says, but as a board member, he also has a responsibility to take the long view. “One of the main things we keep thinking about as board members is the stability of ASD in the long run. It’s been around for 53 years. We need to ensure not just that the school is stable and viable for the next two to three years, but for the next 20 to 30.
Before I let Daryani get back to his financial planning and ASD strategic planning and planning what to have for dinner that night, I ask him if he has a favorite book. The first title that pops into his head is an old standby for him, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
“The title makes it sound more superficial than it is,” he assures me. “It was published ages ago,” Daryani says, “but it’s very applicable even now.” Many agree — since it hit the shelves in 1937, Hill’s Think and Grow Rich has sold more than 100 million copies. Sometimes called the first book in the modern self-improvement genre, it outlines an ideology to help his readers succeed in any line of work by tapping into the power of their subconscious. Its principles are based on hundreds of interviews with the early 20th century’s most successful innovators and businessmen, including Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and Alexander Graham Bell.
“The bottom line, as Hill puts it: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
After giving it a flip, I venture to guess Daryani’s own copy might have chapter seven ear-marked: “Organized Planning (The Sixth Step to Riches).” Hill outlines how one can achieve great success with the right support network and a little practical planning ahead.
"To achieve the best results," Hill writes, "your planning process should be consistent and continuous. Plan your work, and work your plan”.