Friday, May 18, 2018

#leadership lessons from the #IPL

The IPL has some wonderful lessons on leadership for us to mull over. Firstly, there's no one style of leadership that works. You can be a shrewd tactician like Dhoni who preys on the weaknesses of the opposition to win. OR be a mercurial talent house like Kohli, who pushes his teams to rise above the ordinary. Take a Rohit who inspires his fledgling players to shine like great suns and contrast him with the workman-like Dinesh Kartik who grinds his team to success. Sometimes situations find leaders like the fall of Warner discovered the diamond that's Williamson. On the other hand the same situation shows the limitations of Rahane as a leader. Leadership is also daunting. It can strangle talent like Shreyas Iyer and is also fickle as Ashwin is perhaps realizing. There's no formula for leadership. Just like there's none for #success

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Poetic Poor

One of the best part about being in the communications business is the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with people from different walks of lives, sometimes as part of consumer research, at other times during business briefing sessions and on some occasions, heart-to-heart chats with clients, colleagues, co-passengers, fellow travelers and total strangers.
I have come to realize that poorer the people, more lyrical and philosophical is their outlook to life. At the end of the dialogue, I have always returned, greatly moved by their stoicism and enriched by their language which is rich with poetry and metaphor, mostly original and always deeply touching.
At other times, they provide references of art and draw parallels from it to their lives. Where do they find access to such deep thought? Moreover, how are they able to interpret it so beautifully? To me, it's been a gentle reminder that formal education is neither a barrier not an advantage to developing an articulate and empathetic perspective.
On the other hand, the wealthier the individual, the more concise and to-the-point are the answers with zilch references to art. Almost as if referring to poetry, literature and art are a weakness. Any references given are 'practical' ones. It's as though success in life is dependent on how well one manages the giving and taking of stuff: Give less and take more, that's success! And emotions, poetry, words could well well become expense if they're begun to be valued. So listen to it, or watch it with disdain, then discard it as being worthless.
I suppose that's why the greatest art, poetry and literature in India happens among the lowest strata of society. Pain swirls all around their world and this pain finds an outlet through local art forms that resonates with the community. Strangely, a poor artist has a huge audience which is sympathetic and understanding towards his cause even if no money comes his way.
On the other hand, the rich have no value for art unless it has appreciation potential. It's not art, it's real-estate or stock!
Not to be quoted not for its words but for its worth.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Consumer insight and brands

During the IPL match ad break, my teenage son and I noticed three different motorcycle brands advertise one after the other all touting power, speed and racing. "Dad, why haven't they bothered to say something different from each other? Also as a potential audience, I find their proposition unappealing. Neither my friends nor I would want to do any of these stunts. This is pure recklessness!" His words reminded me of a famous motorcycle brand launch I had the privilege of working on. Like the team that had developed these racing ads, we too then believed that motorcycle buyers were closeted cowboys, dreaming of impressing the world with their reckless bravado. Consumer research however threw up a surprise! Potential motorcycle owners spoke of having to balance a demanding life of rising expenses and needs with an income that couldn't be taken for granted. Above all what shone out was their sense of righteousness that eschewed risk and embraced struggle. This inspired us to launch the brand on a contra position of being the unshakeable even through rough times.  I look at my son and countless other responsible, mature kids of this country and wonder why motorcycle brands can't see the obvious, continuing as they do, to harp on a redundant tune.