“By getting on to the Internet, people’s lives change,” says Rajan Anandan, who is finding inventive ways to channel affordable web access to India and Southeast Asia’s 500 million (and counting) Internet users. Over the last several months, he has motivated India’s biggest smartphone makers to launch low-cost devices by touting hardware specifications of the Android One operating standards that reduce manufacturing costs of phones. He has successfully lobbied Indian carriers like Tata DoCoMo to drop data-plan costs by a fifth, pushed for the translation of Google’s products and services into numerous different languages, and persuaded Google to take YouTube offline so that users can download videos when they have Wi-Fi or network access and then watch them on their phones later–as many times as they want in the next 48 hours–without paying further charges. Meanwhile, Anandan is collaborating with the prime minister’s office on India’s massive Digital India program, which is dedicated to bridging the government-citizen divide. He even got 100 Indian heritage sites, including the Taj Mahal, on Google Street View.
Where or how do you seek out creative inspiration?
By asking the right questions. I tend to use a lot of time thinking about challenges. I don’t spend all my work hours managing or driving operations.
What’s your favorite Twitter or Instagram account and why?
Marc Benioff (@Benioff). Marc is very broad, with a great grasp of social, tech trends, everything. He provides me a single window into cloud computing, San Francisco, and the Benioff magic.
How do you keep track of everything you have to do?
I have extremely few priorities each day. I don’t make huge to-do lists. I plan monthwise. For instance, I’m in Indonesia now and know when exactly I’m going to be back, and the top three things I want to do when I return.
Who outside of your field inspires you the most and why?
I am very inspired by artists. They see the world differently. They are bold and nonconformist. My wife is a passionate collector and art patron, and she is my window into the art world.