Respect the Unexpected. Expect the Unexpected!


Psychology 101 has this to say ” The brain remembers what it least expects, so deliver the unexpected “. The brain being the laziest organ in the body is mostly on default mode, plucking our accumulated behaviors and responses that have taken space in its warehouse over the years and wanting us tenants to respond in the  ‘ usual ‘ manner.


That said, in a zeitgeist craving for attention(the most coveted social currency), with all the deficit of time, resources, patience and buying power, default mechanisms will not work.


Build in enough flexibility and buffer to prepare for the unexpected. A margin of safety. Life does throw curve balls ever so often. So, make provision for the unexpected when you design your life. That way, we will not be caught like a deer in the headlights.


To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect. Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected.


Most people want to be circled by safety, not by the unexpected. The unexpected can take you out. But the unexpected can also take you over and change your life.


Probably easier said than done but it is uncertainty which fills life with beauty, excitement, and joy. For an adventurous life, seek not security. Dance with uncertainty to create magnificence and beauty.


Fear is a reaction, creativity is a response.


When nothing is sure, everything is possibleMargaret Drabble


For those keen on understanding the importance of it, I would urge you to read this blog on uncertainty.



Knead the Need: Move the Needle!


You step on the accelerator and the speedometer needle moves.  The expression ‘ moving the needle ‘ was inspired from motoring. No prizes for guessing that.


In a distraction obsessed world, the biggest skill that we can acquire or improve on is to keep, retain and control our attention. It’s one thing not to fall prey to distraction and another to find the best use for your time, attention and effort. That is based on what is of the most significance to you. It is a calling that you will begin to recognise- focus, attention & effort on something that will actually ‘ move the needle ‘, to take things from where they are, to where it ought to be.


Pardon me for stating the obvious. The whole world is in constant motion. The earth moves, the clouds move, the waves move and we too must move. Move and reach the destination of your choice.

The three Ps will help us find our needle its vein. A physical goal, a personal goal and a professional goal. Together they achieve balanced productivity and regardless of what is going on in your life, if you accomplish these three things every day, you will move the needle in your life.


Most people set goals at the start of a new year. With a clean slate and fresh start, we’re optimistic, excited, and enthusiastic about the possibilities that lie ahead. But then reality sets in.


It’s harder than you thought it would be.


You don’t feel like you’re making progress.


Through no fault of your own, the world is in disarray (Pandemics, civil unrest, economic fluctuations, job loss, ruinous relationships etc.)


The goal you wanted to accomplish feels so far in the future or so far out of reach. You figure: why bother?


Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, don’t worry. You’re not alone.


The best way to be where you want to be a year from now is to do something today you’ll be glad you did-Seth Godin


And it doesn’t have to be something big.


We underestimate the impact and potential of starting small and taking consistent action.


By breaking any endeavor up into the smallest manageable parts, you make visible progress, increase your motivation, and gain momentum.


Maybe you want to write a book, build a business or start a podcast. Writing elaborate business plans and conducting extensive research might make you feel productive. But these activities won’t necessarily move the needle forward.


The paradox of designing the future is that what you get done today is the only thing that matters. Tiny actions pile up and amass to something big and awesome.


If you need it, knead it. Move it. Move the needle.



The OPOrtunity Cost!


Though phonetically the OPO in the above caption does sound like the name of a mobile phone, do take that call at your own risk.


It’s easy to get curious about what OPO can be. There are various expansions in slang, business , medicine and everyday life.


OPO in business can translate to Optimum Positioning Opportunity, in the sense it becomes almost a competitive advantage.


OPO in the world of medicine could be Organ Procurement Organization.


OPO could also stand for Open Procurement Order.


And in everyday slang, OPO is simply Other People’s Opinions. And do people have them????


The above out of the way, let’s get down to what I am driving at.


In our case, the pecking order of OPO reads somewhat like this: Optimism to begin with, bring on the pessimism in the middle to moderate and ascertain and go back to optimism late in the piece.


Often times we ourselves get in the way of getting something started. That is where optimism comes in, as without that, the journey to something new, something better and the world of multiple possibilities wouldn’t come about. Believing in what you are about to do does not guarantee success, but a lack of belief can surely prevent it.


Once we hit the road, open the bag of pessimism, that bag which contains questions. Play devil’s advocate. Dig holes. Use the fine tooth comb. Evaluate. Is it misplaced enthusiasm? Raise the bar. Hold yourself accountable. Let the jury be out(standing)!


The above accomplished, call your friend back. Suggest you keep it on speed dial. Optimism. Look at progress not just outcomes. And progress requires the courage to move ahead despite the inevitable obstacles and speed breakers. To quote Ryan Holiday‘s book title ” The Obstacle Is The Way “. Perfection is an illusion. Showing up and shipping out is not. Iterations can happen. Enhancements and making things better will follow.


Optimism is a tool that, if used wisely, it brings enthusiasm, inspiration and hope to projects that benefit from them.


And pessimism is a tool as well–it can help you with budgeting, scheduling and other projects. If it works for you, that’s great.


It’s not that optimism solves all of life’s problems; it is just that it can sometimes make the difference between coping and collapsing. Optimism is a force multiplier.


Pessimists are usually right and optimists are usually wrong but all the great changes have been accomplished by optimists “- Thomas Friedman.



A drag called Moan-opoly !


A drag called Moanopoly !


The idea here is not to bemoan, but a nudge to make things better. Because, we are all in it together. Remember, one of my earlier blogs- collective flourishing


It will not be far fetched to say that monopoly is a metaphor for inequality.
Marx predicted that competition among capitalists would grow so fierce that, eventually, most capitalists would go bankrupt, leaving only a handful of monopolists controlling nearly all production, business and markets.
Our utility company, especially if it’s a monopoly, locks in an inherent, unfair and perennial advantage, giving it ample power to ignore customers and all of us suffer because of that. They actually send you emails with subject line screaming THIRD REMINDER, ten days before the due date and makes you feel that you have defaulted on their payment by months. So, what if you are a customer with them for 15 years plus? You can moan till the cows come home.
If all of the housing real estate in a locality is owned by one landlord, little surprise that rents go only one way – north. The less said about the service, security and the facilities, the better.
When the state or federal government controls the education of all of our children, they have the dangerous and illegitimate monopoly to control and influence the thought process of our future citizens. 

Google illegally maintained a monopoly for far more than a decade,” Kenneth Dintzer, a lawyer for the US Justice Department, argued in opening statements in the State VS Google antitrust case. He added that Google’s dominance has allowed it to ignore privacy criticism and become sluggish when it comes to innovation, including in the development of AI products. That’s the other fallout of being a monopoly– complacency and taking customers for granted.
Own it all“. The official monopoly slogan- So, yes, Adam Smith (often identified as the father of modern capitalism), nailed it. He added ” The essential feature of capitalism is the motive to make a profit. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”
A bit of a backstory if you permit me. Don’t miss out on the irony of it all. In 1903, Lizzie Magie, an American board game designer( and part time political activist)filed for a patent for her latest creation, The Landlord’s GameMagie also taught political economy and held the belief that a single tax system should prevail for all owners of property. She believed that the world around her at the turn of the twentieth century had become more unequal because of rapacious mercantilism, and wanted to spread the message that a more equitable form of taxation would be a remedy to societal ills.
Magie’s The Landlord’s Game picked up some steam amongst the politically progressive demographic but never got into the mainstream. Until such time in 1932 when Charles Darrow who was playing it one night(and desperately needed money) decided to tweak the game and decided to sell it. Parker Brothers bought the rights to the game, under a new brand name Monopoly.
Magie was initially thrilled to see her version of the game in production but having been paid just US$ 500 and no royalties, she became increasingly disappointed. She spent the rest of her life as a receptionist, earning barely above minimum living wage.
Monopoly remains one the most popular and profitable board games there is today and Darrow died a multimillionaire.


Did you no?


Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.”


Yes, there is nothing half hearted about a no. It’s a complete answer by itself. That said, you are not closing the door on momentum or progress. When we offer a generous “no” to someone we care about, we honor our work and their role in it. We care enough to offer them insight about the change we seek to make–and to tell them the truth about what we can’t do at the same time that we’re celebrating what we can do.


We live in a world where saying ‘yes’ is rewarded by reinforcing social habits, whether in professional situations, sharing responsibilities at home, or even navigating intimate relationships.


When you say ‘Yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘No’ to yourself- Paulo Coelho

Look at the Yes sorry X factor in saying no. The no of being mediocre, the no of getting away from doing something that degrades someone else’s self respect or dignity and possibility, the no of wanting to be mediocre and being in a race to the bottom..
Short changing yourself is easy..saying maybe when you should have said no, or saying yes when you should have said no.
Zig Ziglar had a great quote: “I need to be a meaningful specific, not a wandering generality.” It is about putting our neck on the line and standing up for what matters, rather than toeing the line and ending up saying yes just to please the person sitting in front of you. 
The most brilliant movies are just that not because of what you see but more for what you don’t. In a culture besieged by adding more, subtracting can be highly relevant and disintermediating and that begins with ‘ no ‘.
Saying yes to the life we all want will begin with knowing our no.

Creativity: Individual Success or Collective Flourishing?


It was sometime in the late 90’s. A cold, blistery Manhattan evening. And the Friday bar hopping had done its shift ( of mind, body & soul). Good bhais( after a few drinks ” all the world are brothers “- Fakespeare)  and goodbyes exchanged multiple times over with friends, I headed to the nearest subway station to board the A train to Central Park West. From out of the shadows springs this unkempt man in an ill fitting New York Yankees hoodie and Harley Davidson tracks which had me stopping in my tracks, as if playing the childhood game called ‘ statue ‘. But, this was no time to take any liberties. As I stood there( no clue whether it was rooted by fear or was I sporting a false sense of spirited bravado thanks largely to the ‘spirit‘), the man broke into Lionel Ritchie’s ‘ Hello ‘.


Normal hellos are different, I am sure of that in spite of my state of inebriation. To tell you that his voice was exquisite would be an understatement. As he sang, he put his hand out begging for a few cents or dollars. He could have easily been on any Broadway stage and deserved all the spotlight. Not just New York, but cities around the world are home to the homeless, some of whom are incredibly talented. Here was this guy at the hands of a rampant, unjust and gentrifying urban market, doing what he thought he must in order to survive. He was using the talents he had to scrape by, so he could perform the following day, and every other day, over and over again.


We are all cogs in a system that tells us that we must be ‘ creative ‘ to progress. In hindsight, it appears that capitalism of the twenty-first century, turbocharged by neoliberalism, has redefined creativity to feed its own growth. To be creative in today’s society has only one meaning: to continue producing the status quo.


That said, it has always not been this way. Creativity has been and still is, a force for change in the world. It is a collective energy that has the potential to tackle capitalism’s injustices rather than augment them. Creativity can be used to produce more social justice in the world but for that it must be rescued from its current incarceration as purely an engine for economic growth.


Heralded as the driving force of society, creativity, allegedly, is the wellspring of the knowledge economy, shaping the cities we inhabit and even defining our politics and business. Then what could possibly be wrong with that?


My counterintuitive rant here is that we need to rethink the story that we are being sold.Creativity is a barely hidden form of the ever-expanding marketplace. It is a regime that prioritizes individual success over collective flourishing. It refuses to acknowledge anything-job, place, person- that is not profitable. And that changes everything: the places where we work, the way we are managed, and how we spend our free time.


It is time to lift the veil on this ideology to reveal a set of economic and political forces pushing all of us to bend to the needs of capital.
If radical candour is the flavor of the day( far better than ruinous empathy I dare add), the redefinition of creativity would be one that is embedded in the idea of collective flourishing, outside the tyranny of individual profit.

Embracing the ‘ Dream Business ‘ . How About Some ” Dreamketing “?


A dream is a complete moment in the life of a client. Important and fascinating experiences that tempt the client to commit substantial resources. The essence of the desires of the customer. The opportunity ( or should it be AWEopportunity?) to help clients become what they want to be.


We shape our words. And then the words shape us.


It’s migration time. Get into the ” Dream Business “. The ” Incredible Imaginings Business “.


My rant here is that most of us are still mired in the Old Economy, Old Product Thinking. But, all of us, MUST, strategically, take pages from and come to grips with the fact that the winners of tomorrow…will be masters of the dream business.


And the vision is to visualise, imagine totally offbeat, even insane schools, hospitals, enterprises, permutations, combinations so so far from just products and services..” impossible-turned-possible-dreams ‘.


The stakes are high. We talked about words shaping us. Here’s the next vocabulary s..t..r..e..t..c..h: dreams.


Consider this very inspiring statement made by former Ferrari North America CEO Gian Luigi Longinotti-Buitoni. Dreams are his shtickDream products. Dream fulfillment. Dream marketing. Dream provision.


” A dream is a complete moment in the life of a client. Important and fascinating experiences that tempt the client to commit substantial resources. The essence of the desires of the customer. The opportunity to help clients become what they want to be “.


Look at the marvellous use of words that shape dreams- ‘ complete moment’ , ‘ tempt ‘, ‘ desires ‘, ‘ essence ‘, ‘ commit ‘ and the beautiful summarising,  ” The opportunity to help clients become what they want to be “.


He continues to articulate the difference between ‘ common products‘ and ‘ dream products ‘:


Maxwell House versus Starbucks

New Jersey versus California

Hyundai versus Ferrari

Suzuki versus Harley-Davidson

Carter versus Kennedy

Connors versus Pele



Nothing necessarily wrong with the first part of each of those pairs. Each offers a solid workaday response to some need or another. But the second part…the part that comes after versus..” stuff ” that all carries a dreamlike power that goes far far beyond the realm of mere ‘ need fulfillment‘.


Longinotti-Buitoni preaches the marketing of dreams. An idea that he compressed into a word, all of his own making called ‘ Dreamketing‘:-


Dreamketing: Touching the client’s dreams

Dreamketing: The art of telling stories and entertaining

Dreamketing: Promoting the dream, not the product

Dreamketing: Building the brand around the Main Dream

Dreamketing: Building ‘ buzz ‘, ‘ hype ‘ ‘ a cult ‘


And for all the stakeholder apprehension about getting into the dream wagon, the financial returns on dream products are miles and miles beyond those compared to common goods.


So, let’s raise the bar. Way, way, way up. Say experience. Say DREAMS. Please!


Dramatically ( or Dreamatically). Alter. Perspective.









The Story About Stories!


Everyone loves a good story. Stories are a communal currency of humanity quoted Tahir Shah in Arabian Nights. And without wanting to sound far fetched, storytelling is our obligation to the next generation. Passing on the baton, if you may.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.
Forget about being perfect because it is boring, predictable and inauthentic. Be imperfect, authentic and relatable. Way too many people don’t share their valuable lessons because of fear of not being good enough. You are good enough! Share your story and touch people’s hearts and heads.
If you care about it, it’s probably a story. We remember a famous sporting win, not because we were there, but because the story resonates with us. We vote for candidates because of their stories, and shop at stores that have a story that strikes a chord with us.
Ideas are aplenty, but ideas without action are regrets. The last time we took action on an idea, extended our hand to a friend, went beyond self-doubt to launch a new project- all these happened because the story worked.
And it’s possible to tell a better story. Just get started.
It’s on us. We need to learn how to hear stories, figure out which ones are resonating, and do the difficult and urgent work to make our stories more effective.
Because if we care about it, it’s worth doing better.
Storytelling is metaphorically speaking in our DNA! We are storytellers. We are called Homo Sapiens, but we could also have been called Homo Narratus. Those who could tell great stories around the campfire would increase the odds of the group surviving. The parents who could tell great stories about lessons on the savanna, how to hunt and other essential skills would increase the chances of their offspring later becoming parents themselves- Asger Lindholdt
Don’t be trapped into following the Hollywood Paradigm of Storytelling viz- Set-Up, Conflict, Resolution. Thats an established practice in the movie business. Good stories will always captivate audiences, whatever the medium.Therefore its power is limitless.
In 6,000 years of storytelling, people have gone from depicting hunting on cave walls to depicting Shakespeare on Facebook walls. – Joe Sabia
Are you telling your story? Because, remember, your story matters!

Trapped in a World of Having The Last Word?


‘ Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough‘ – Karl Marx 


That is a telling narrative on our compulsive need to play the power dynamics game. Of having the last word. Accumulating brownie points.


In the context of life’s brevity, last words do take a different meaning. Often, the words are brief because there is no energy for a full conversation. Mama” is one of the most common last words that people speak ( no surprises there). Some people’s last utterances are curse words. Others may mumble a word that holds significance to them – but it may mean nothing to their families – for their final words.


Contrarian as it may sound, but an apology is a good way to have the last word. And set the foundation for the connection, communication and conversation to move forward. 



You can’t win them all, you can’t please them all nor can you convince them all. So, if the person on the other end is not singing from your hymn sheet, or doesn’t agree with you, smile, nod and move onto more important things. A simple strategy that will save you so many headaches: don’t care about winning trivial arguments.


Weak people take revenge. Strong people forgive. Intelligent people ignore. Life is short. Learning to not care about having the last word will save you so much time.


Your chances of being heard and understood grows exponentially when you adopt the disciplined practice to listen.


My last words before I conclude this post would be:-


” Never try to have the last word. You might get it ” – Robert Heinlein




The Late Mover Advantage


Oftentimes in marketing we use terms like Last Mover Advantage or Late Mover Advantage ‘. Brands coming to life at a later stage in a category that is established or maturing can reap the learnings and unlearnings of brands who have come before them. There is a vast reservoir of knowledge and actionable intelligence readily available without one having to go through the grind, time and expense of trial and error.


Over time that civilization set foot on this planet, 107 billion people have lived throughout history. The current world population is just over 8 billion( 8,059,147,655 as of Friday, September 8, 2023) according to the most recent United Nations estimates elaborated by Worldometer.

These billions of people who came before us have tried things, failed, learned, tried things differently. And in doing so, they discovered new solutions. Which people like us now get to inherit, learn from and use, without the steep learning curve of trial and error.
Accumulated experience can be a competitive advantage for a company. As a company or a brand operates and accumulates experience in a given market or sector, it can develop a deeper understanding of customer needs and preferences, as well as of the challenges and opportunities in the market. This accumulated experience can enable the company to make more informed and effective decisions and to identify opportunities that may not be obvious to other companies.
Similarly, the cumulative lessons of those 107 billion people have been passed down to us. It is the greatest gift we will ever receive. We are smart not because of our individual genius, but because of our collective knowledgeSome of us are better than one of us.
The dead ( or the living before us to put it more respectfully), have left lessons, lineage and legacy for us. After all, there is what we call ‘ the wisdom of the crowds‘. Ratio and Proportion 101 tells us that it is almost a 14:1 ratio i.e. the dead: now living. We can ignore the vast accumulated experience of such a huge majority of mankind at our peril.
Being a late mover is a distinct and valuable competitive advantage. Shouldn’t we choose to leverage it?