The Importance of Culture

When I picked up a Booker winning classic last year I didn’t anticipate a lesson in career (and to a larger extent character) building in it. I just wanted to wade through the pages that carried a distinctly British air.

Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day has a debate its lead character Stevens’ has with a fellow butler on notion of professionalism. What does it mean to be professional? And in those pages I found perhaps the most brilliant depiction of what drives successful men. The summary that I gathered while probably being subjective to a large extent is – reliability.

A butler for as long as he dons his uniform must bid the duty of a butler and not waver from what is expected of him. The idea was that a true professional doesn’t have different shades. That one can bank on a professional, at any time at any point.  We live in an interlinked world and going ahead our work will be a lot more collaborative (more on this later). There are others who depend on us to deliver so that they may in turn deliver on their bit. Professionalism counts, and counts a lot more in our time today.

What does this have to do with Culture?

Drag the idea of dependability to a company. Extend it to the larger gamut of reliability. A company needs to be reliable so that its stakeholders feel the larger sense of security that will enable them to focus on the aspects of work that needs their complete attention. Vendors need to know they can rely on this firm on work, credit and payments. Employees reflect and respond to the reliance they have on their firm. Clients need to know that things will be taken care of, that things are okay, that they’re in good hands. Reliability is the foundation of trust and trust in our times is brand equity.

It is in this regard that culture and professionalism find the sanctity of their relationship. Continue reading

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Your Dream isn’t an Economic Proposition

What you want to do and what your put your time into unless afflicted by social considerations, don't let it be a victim of scenarios drawn in your or someone else's mind. 

The rupee is weak, you can't make any money on stocks, the loans are expensive, the rent keeps shooting high, the clients don't have money, the parliament is being diabolical, India can't reach 300 in a test match. Grave issues really. But when the night grows dark and your eyes shut and you find ways to travel to places and people in strange ways all these begin to pale into non existence. And in such journey's lie things unique to you. Things that only you've seen and no one else has a semblance of an opportunity to figure out. That's your opportunity, your shot. Take it. Only you can do something about it and make it happen. Don't let your dream drown in the cacophony of the inconsequential-s around you.  It is the only thing that is truly yours.

Give this year for it. Don't let the economy buoy or bust its flight. Vacuum it around your persistence and bring it to life. 

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The Future of Digital is Experience

5 years back the medium became the message, a couple of years down the line the people on the medium sort of also became the product in a blurry sort of way, but more or less the advent of social media ensured that defining media in silos became a thought best forgotten.

There are of course many still left grappling the hooks of traditional media. And they will remain. The advent of social and the scope of digital wouldn’t change habits and existing reach. We’re not looking at a world that replaces print or television any time soon. However, their manifestation might be vastly different from how they are now. And this might happen far sooner than many anticipate.

And this change would be possible because of digital.

Digital media is now coming out of their electronic hard shells and moving about among us. Social Media made us the medium, the future in digital will make us more than just interactive as such a medium for a message. As agencies and digital professionals we can’t just remain managing useless copies on search results and fan pages and tweets. It needs to go beyond, the value would be more evident. That’s why we need a more-than-interaction role in the larger brand play whether our own or those of a client brand.

This more-than-interaction should/would be fueled by brands or any organization which wishes to engage and use the power of people for its survival. This activity that we are looking at is an experience, crafted by a not very complex yet not all too simple use of various elements that make a person a consumer and a medium at the same time. Digital helps craft this interaction as an experience. That is the future of this medium.

Experiences are cherished, memorized and spoken about. They mean a lot more than mere interaction or engagement. They involve a whole lot more and stay longer. Experience builds a bond a very visible one in how the person reacts to the brand thereafter. And as digital percolates into the mainstream through the devices that we carry and also around us, the experience is a lot different than just a feeling (the Internet of Things). The publishing part of digital media then becomes a storehouse (the new Facebook timeline for instance).

Like I said before these experiences need to be crafted, it requires craftsmen. Companies like mine will need to build an ecosystem that either brings craftsmen together while taking custody of the brand’s objectives or better still seeds and cultivates craftsmen. That is the future of the agency, knowing crafts and bringing their proponents together while their own individual craft lies in tying all this together and measuring and improving and learning. For the digital professional of this decade of which the first year just ended, you have two choices – either carry the vision or become a crux to implement it.

We are in the age of digital, the age of experience.

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Why I run a Company | Reason#36

I like to find things by myself. Brought up thus. And so I run a company, to find out for myself if what I have in mind has a chance, whether it can sell. I like to know what’s on people’s minds and knowing that I can sell makes me more assured of what I gather about people. I could do this elsewhere as well and I really don’t mind that. But I run the risk of being talked out of it. Opinions and judgments and not having a say in what one believes. Therefore..

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Looking Forward in Anticipation

YouTube is going to be huge in India. There is an opportunity for those in web video to create classics that will define content on this medium in this country.

Web Hosting is going to get a lot of people rich and build a career they didn’t think existed like nearly a year back.

Online retail is going to build the next big names in consumer brands in this country in the coming decade.

Blogging is going to make a huge comeback as a point of influence and commerce in the larger media, advertising and PR landscape.

Mobile will not grow separately, the web and mobile will merge as media from a brand and consumer perspective..apps will become ubiquitous and platform/media independent. Invariably they will need either provide or power content. So the opportunity in the tablet and mobile world is two fold for the enablers and the creators.

Looking forward… [;)]

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The Entrepreneur is an Artist

A company is a piece of art. You take inspiration, you get influenced, you copy and perhaps you are always selling short of potential (at least to begin with) when building a company. But you stick to it. For you have a vision of something grander and beautiful in your mind. When the first strokes of a brush kiss a canvas, neither of them know what they’ll make together, and they realize themselves only by the end of it and from what people make of them.

You are the artist, the hands that wields the wand. Brick by brick, day by day, you build your art, you emerge from the shadows that you followed, come into the sun and build something unique and yours. Some stay just an imitation, true artists go beyond, for them inspiration is just a direction not the road in itself.

Business, like art pays off much later, a long time after you have put the brush down. The best we can do is keep that picture alive and get closer to it with every step, never waver from it, and build skill sets everyday to bring it to life.

Choose your canvas, spread the colour.?

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Do You Have a Business Idea or Just a feature?

I am an ideas man, I love new ideas and see no greater joy than in an idea that lived to tell its tale. This is probably the case with most of us and one of the reasons is we know how difficult it is to execute ideas. Execution therefore holds the higher ground in the sacred land of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs, VCs, Startup Beings all harp on execution. This often means that when all is being said, ideas seem to get a raw deal. Questions are immediately posed on its execution without deliberation on how to make the idea a better one first. Heck my last post was on jumping on ideas.?

The point is is that just because there are a plethora of ideas around doesn’t mean there are a plethora of good ideas around. Personally I have a knack of thinking all ideas are good and equal. Off late I am realizing that perhaps they are not, there are like in every other thing in the world good ideas and bad ones. And one needs to build expertise in finding the good ones and shaping them. A good idea is one that builds business and a bad one or a vanilla idea is just a feature.?

The differences are usually marginal which makes the process harder (yes it is a process). It boils down to the scale at which the idea is thought for. Many people start a business idea based on a problem, that’s a good start but that’s not a good enough reason to start off, if you know the difference between the two. The difference between good ideas and bad are often the difference between product features and product philosophy. Good ideas are bound on philosophy while plain ideas are bound to features. Good businesses are wound on good philosophies not feature sets. If you’re looking at ideas for business then take a look at the idea you have and see if it is just a feature you’re going to add to the value chain or completely new way of looking at the chain. For instance, are you the same old idea with a twist, if you’re going to start your elevator pitch with – I am that business but with a Twist I will probably want to get out at the next floor. Even if you have an excellent opportunity to do the best job of building it, but if you are building a feature and not a business it probably might not be of much value to anyone but the market leader in your space.?

Execution matters ..big time. But don’t forget that it is also about what you’re executing. So the next time you’ve an idea, start shaping it into a business first. A business goes beyond you and your product while a feature remains at just that.?

I’d still say jump on ideas, but just look at what you’re jumping into, recognising a good idea is part of the execution.?
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