God Nisanov

Self-discipline is very important in business, and it is impossible without observing a daily routine.


God Nisanov is a well-known businessman. Since 2012, he has been one of the top Russian owners of commercial real estate according to Forbes magazine. He is Chairman of the Board of Directors at one of the hundred largest private companies in Russia, the Kievskaya Ploschad group of companies, which focuses on property development and running hotels and restaurants. The company was founded in 1992, and by 2018, its revenue amounted to $1.565 billion dollars and employed 25,000 people. Nisanov is vice president of the World Jewish Congress.

The calling card of Nisanov’s company is Evropeyskiy, the largest shopping center in Europe, located on the square in front of the Kievskaya railway station in Moscow. Since opening in 2006, it has become one of the most visited shopping and entertainment centers in the world, second only to Dubai Mall.

From 2005 to 2010, Nisanov’s company carried out the large-scale reconstruction of Hotel Ukraina, which is currently operating under the Radisson Collection brand. Nisanov’s main projects over the years include Food City, the only agricultural cluster in Russia; the Moskvarium Center for Oceanography and Marine Biology; and Depo, the largest gastronomic quarter in Europe, built on the site of the oldest tram depot in Moscow, which was reconstructed for this purpose.

Currently, the Kievskaya Ploschad group of companies is building a multifunctional hotel complex which will become an organic continuation of the Zaryadye park zone near the Kremlin and Red Square. In addition, he is building several large transport hubs in the Russian capital and looking into the possibility of creating a Ferrari World park in Moscow, similar to the one in Abu Dhabi.

Where did the idea for becoming a business executive come from?

I was born into a large family in which work was always highly respected. From a young age, I strove to work to support my family and friends. In addition, I always wanted to create something new. Over time, I realized that I could fulfill my potential and achieve everything I dreamed of as a business executive. At first, when I was just entering the world of business, one of the most pressing trends was creating new retail spaces. Therefore, my first successful projects, Elektronnyy Ray and Panorama shopping centers, were in this particular field. Then I became interested in development, and I still am. Creating new real-estate objects which become popular and ergonomic public spaces over time is a very creative and morally fulfilling activity.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Self-discipline is very important in business, and it is impossible without observing a daily routine. My daily work schedule has long been established and it is clearly scheduled, allowing me to concentrate both on solving current operational tasks and on strategic goals. Of course, having such a fast pace of life, I try to find time to relax and spend time with my loved ones.

How do you bring ideas to life?

From concept to implementation, any idea goes through several main stages. First and foremost, a rational business plan is created. This allows you to understand the economics of the project, discard your emotions, and abandon fanciful, utopian ideas. At first, it is very important to develop an optimal project concept. Often, we synthesize the best ideas from a variety of options and, as a result, create a unique concept that may even be better than the original one. Then you need to assemble a team of professionals. We commonly attract foreign specialists whose education and experience expand our capabilities. For example, several designers are currently working on our hotel in Zaryadye, including world-famous designer Andrew Winch.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Currently, I am most fascinated by new technological capabilities that allow you to build objects in an urban environment that were impossible to imagine earlier, for example, our Moskvarium, which contains large marine animals and rare species of fish, all in a metropolis far from their natural habitat.

In general, I’m very inspired by all modern urban trends, not just the construction of buildings, but the creation of new atmospheric spaces, especially those that have a vision of the future. The world is changing rapidly. If the trend towards food halls was just emerging five years ago, today it’s impossible to imagine a single large shopping and entertainment complex without one.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

A systematic approach to doing business. Our company has well-established business processes and a system for planning and evaluating results. We analyze all of our mistakes and learn from them.

In addition, I’m used to completing any business I start. I’m not just interested in making a profit; I want to create a new space where people will want to spend their time. This approach is very helpful in business and, indeed, it increases productivity. Many people have tried something similar to our Food City agricultural cluster, but only we succeeded, because we followed it through to the end, unafraid of difficulties and pitfalls.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Have more patience and perceive failure as valuable life experience.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I believe that it is possible to combine family relationships and friendship with work. I know that few will support me in this, because it is widely believed that you shouldn’t hire relatives and friends, but that’s not the case in my experience. It is worth recalling that there have been many examples of successful family-owned companies or projects implemented by friends throughout history: Walmart, the Schwartz Group, Google, Facebook, and others.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Believe in yourself. Set realistic goals and achieve them.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

A strategy of concentrated growth in which the company aims to strengthen its position in the market. In addition, my business is highly diversified.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

There haven’t been any big mistakes that I fretted over at length afterward. Minor blunders happen to everyone; they’re inevitable in business. I always talk about this with my children. It’s important to fix your mistakes and try not to repeat them.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Pay attention to noncompetitive business niches. In our time, my partners and I did this and we had no regrets. For success in business, especially at the first stage, it’s very important to be a pioneer.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

On diving lessons. I’m an amateur scuba diver and I enjoy horseback riding. These classes are the best way for me to relax and keep fit.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

The resources that I use are constantly changing. Some services are no longer useful, and I add others to my list of preferences. What remains unchanged over a span of many years is that every day I get my news from the websites of leading Russian and foreign business media.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I often draw inspiration from the vitality and deep thoughts of Eastern poetry. Therefore, I would advise anyone who has not had the pleasure of enjoying the creativity of, for example, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam to take the time to do so. I believe that he was a true humanist.

What is your favorite quote?

There’s a piece of folk wisdom I really like, which I often relay to my children: if parents work and their children only enjoy the fruits of their labor, then their grandchildren will be beggars.

Key Learnings:

• Don’t be afraid to take reasonable risks in order to carry out a unique project
• Take a systematic approach to business management
• Think of mistakes as life lessons
• Always finish your projects