As we walk past them during a walk-through of The Quorum club in Gurugram, people pause their conversations to get up and have a little natter with Vivek Narain, 47. We have just had a chat in the club’s comfortable library. He apologises to me as he excuses himself once again but then again he takes pride in personally knowing the members of the club that he has started with his wife.
Narain was a banker on Wall Street in New York before moving to hospitality and then found himself at crossroads around 2014-15. “I was toying with the idea of starting a restaurant at the time when a lot of my friends were complaining that they found it difficult to meet new and interesting people in India. My wife and I spotted a lot of members only clubs coming up across the world and we decided to borrow from all over the world to create a place of belonging that would give people a reason and chance to meet interesting people,” says Narain, the founder and CEO of The Quorum members only club which is present in Mumbai and Gurugram.
One word that Narain, who majored in finance and economics, uses a lot when talking about The Quorum is “curate.” From their interiors, refreshments, events to members, Narain has worked closely with his wife to curate everything in this venture, including the casual chic vibe that oozes from the club. Narain was well aware of Soho House while conceptualising The Quorum and consciously made the decision to not create a club for the creative crowds. “We wanted a place where bankers, leaders, entrepreneurs would be able to meet young and upcoming talent and entrepreneurs… a place for the global Indian citizen,” says Narain.
Narain, who lives between Goa and airports, speaks to Lounge about his mentors, focusing on personal and professional growth and why the contemporary clubs are more relevant today.
Who do you consider your mentor?
I’ve had multiple mentors… but if I were to choose one, it would be James Kaplan, my ex-boss when I was at Fairmont Raffles Hotels.
One major insight you worked on with your mentor's guidance?
While it may seem obvious and almost trivial, “Being Responsive” to clients and colleagues is extremely impactful on multiple levels. It’s something I try to continuously instill into the core DNA of The Quorum. My email inbox of unanswered messages is never more than a page long. The rest are filed judiciously. I’m (very particular) when it comes to being responsive.
What does being a mentor mean to you?
It’s important to try and make a positive impact for both personal and professional growth. When you’re young and navigating through life, a mentor can help steer one in the right direction. While I don’t mentor my colleagues per se, I do try and mentor children of friends who are reaching a stage in their lives where a nudge in the right direction can make a difference.
Describe your morning schedule?
My day starts at 6:30am. On most days, the first thing I do is journal, followed by exercise. After catching up on the news and the BBC (on the radio), I get to my desk by 8:30am. Since I travel 20 days a month, I’m not as consistent as I would like to be, and am working on that.
What’s the one positive work routine you have developed during the pandemic?
I work from anywhere and everywhere. I’m not entirely sure it’s always a positive.
Any podcast you would recommend about mentorship and growth?
I religiously listen to the All-In Podcast every Saturday morning. Four extremely successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs/investors have a candid conversation on all what’s important in business, tech, investing, geopolitics, and science. This is my weekly round up on what’s happening and not happening in the world.
How do you unwind?
I played competitive golf for many years and somehow still manage to keep a single-digit handicap. I guess this is my one serious hobby.
What are some of the productivity principles you follow that have made your professional and personal life much easier?
Everyone procrastinates, it’s human nature. We tend to procrastinate most with tasks that we don’t want to address. I’ve found it very useful to take on these tasks first thing in the morning. It sets the tone for the rest of the day.
What is the difference between traditional gymkhanas and private members' club?
While both are community-led spaces, the contemporary members’ clubs like ours are built around culture, ideas, entertainment, with a world class dining and beverage programme. The Gymkhana clubs have been more sports-centered, with subsidised food and beverage. I also believe that clubs such as ours are more relevant to the way people work today. The most important differentiator is that the establishment clubs built their community a few generations ago and as a result the member base is largely hereditary. Clubs such as ours are building their community as we speak… a really interesting mix of the old and new emerging networks.
What role does design play in day-to-day life?
We are a design led space and design definitely plays a big role in what we do. Design is not only limited to the tactile elements of a physical space but it’s about how it adds to the overall experience. You have to cater to all the five senses. For The Quorum, an all-day space, design plays a big role in its transformation from work to play.
Monday Motivation is a series featuring founders, business leaders and creative individuals who tell us about the people they look up to and their work ethics.
Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and the co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.