A tuition called ‘intuition’


Intuition: the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.


The Britannica Dictionary meaning of intuition goes something like this- “a natural ability or power that makes it possible to know something without any proof or evidence : a feeling that guides a person to act a certain way without fully understanding why”.


In a world besieged by data and analytics, a compelling need for rationalisation, our default thinking and our incredible capacity to miss the word for the trees, we regrettably overlook the value that stems from this secret emissary of knowledge by investing copious amounts of our emotional and cerebral energies making intuition and its significant potential sub-optimal. Unfortunately.


Being prudent in hindsight is a given. It often gives us a clear sense of what was already there, somewhere, well before it penetrated our mind. Not much weightage is given to gut-instinct but it is time that we started throwing that weight around. For all the wonders of modern technology, there is no substitute for the gut instinct. The psychology of intuition is trusting your gut. Trust your hunches. They’re usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.


Javier Marias encapsulates this beautifully in his book Your Face Tomorrow– he writes ” Everything is there on view, in fact, everything is visible very early on in a relationship just as it is in all honest, straightforward stories, you just have to look to see it, one single moment encapsulates the germ of many years to come, of almost our whole history — one grave, pregnant moment — and if we want to we can see it and, in broad terms, read it, there are not that many possible variations, the signs rarely deceive if we know how to read their meanings, if you are prepared to do so..”



When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing their gut feeling skills. Intuitions are personal, and no one else can understand the full extent of your gut feeling. You have to deal with it alone. Trusting your gut or intuition is an act of trusting yourself.





Is it really ‘wisdom of the crowds’?


The zeitgeist is filled with comments, reviews, recommendation engines and collective bias. There is ample arsenal at everyone’s disposal to judge, critique, offer an opinion on anything and everything. Most of the world is gainfully employed doing this. So, the jury need not be out on this one.


Someone else’s opinion of you, your art or business is NONE of your business. Because a lot of the input coming in is irrational with utter disregard to the rational context it has to be perceived in. They are not emotionally connected but given the infinite freedom of expression inventory at their disposal, they find a way to say something. And in any case, humans are woefully slack at explaining our irrational feelings in the context of rational reasons. So, we make things up. Fill the void. Without realising that it ends up being void and baseless.


Your daughter applying for University or a close one getting admitted to a hospital. Yes, a second opinion might matter. Generally though, in public domains, the comments or recommendations may not align with relevance and reality.


Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance- Plato. Be careful how you operate on the altar of ‘ collective bias ‘.





Curiosity skilled the cat…


If you are curious, why a blog post on curiosity just a few weeks after I had written about enrolling into the university of curiosity( you can read it here if you are interested https://www.sureshdinakaran.com/blog/2023/11/11/have-you-enrolled-into-the-university-of-curiosity/), it is because of my quest to build a curious mind and encourage a few others to do the same.


The old saying goes ” curiosity killed the cat “, which is more a caution to being too nosy or inquisitive, but in reality, asking questions and seeking knowledge is a valuable way to learn and grow. Our default thinking revolves around assumptions, biases and certainty and the lens with which we see things(both old and new) is conditioned by that. By living a curiosity-inspired life, including practicing things like asking great questions and seeking out diverse perspectives, you are showing others how we can all begin to live and in turn how we can begin to change how we approach our relationships, the way we help children learn, the way we help young people cope and grow.


That said, there are two sides to the curiosity coin. Curiosity can impede you as well just as much it can inspire. Because curiosity can send you in multiple directions( being macro-curious) and fracture your attention and focus, both of which are the bedrocks of progress and achievement. So, curiosity without focus is a sub optimal calling. Which could be the reason why you might start a few projects and complete not very many. You drift from one thing to the other, and because they might be unrelated, you do not accumulate any continuity or advantage on the way.


Micro curiosity helps move the needle forward on the task at hand. Exploring areas that are heterogenous to your own, finding hacks to solve a problem that you are encountering, asking questions as to how things work etc but all of that while being diverse confluence back to finishing your task or project on hand.


How is your curiosity being directed? Is it rocket fuel or a speed breaker? Is it macro or micro? Get the cue..



A dangerous addiction called…social media!


Addiction: a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal or abstinence : the state of being.


You can add FOMO to the mix of symptoms in the above definition of addiction. And get away with it without question.


A simple Q&A: Who is responsible for social media addiction: Both me and you!  The very purpose of social media marketing is to create addiction. As we know, here’s the journey. Begin with creating content so insanely relevant(with the aid of a recommendation engine) that people spend a lot of time engaging with it on an app or website or a social media platform. Based on the consumption habits that you capture as precious data as they soak in and devour the content, create ads that are bespoke tailored and personalised for the user through targeted advertising. In other words, create social media addiction … at all costs. Create addiction. That’s social media marketing success.


All that is great because it is working for marketers, brands, organisations( predominantly the MAANG brigade viz– Meta | Alphabet | Apple | Netflix | Google – the flip side to it is that it seems like a ‘Khoon Bari Maang‘ (for those who follow and understand Hindi). The consternation of this consume at all costs phobia comes with a serious dent in mental health. Unsurprisingly, insights from multiple surveys suggest that design strategies by tech companies that encourage prolonged use of social media are working. And how! Platforms like AirbNB design for trust and a lot of social media platforms design for addiction.


Shouldn’t we be concerned? Yes, we damn well be. Suicide rates for teens and young adults are rising. Although some suspect a link between social media use and suicide, there is currently not enough evidence to definitively confirm it as a proven factor. Social media can increase exposure to negative messaging, however, that may promote self-harm.


Anxiety can make it hard for adolescents to go to school or participate in activities. According to a recent Pew survey, parents worry about anxiety or depression (28%) and lower self-esteem (27%). They also worry that social media leads their teen to feel pressured to act in a certain way (32%) or could be bullied (29%). 38% of teens say they can feel overwhelmed with the drama on social media.


There is a complex relationship between social comparison on social media and eating disorders, which are both medical and mental health conditions. Platforms such as Instagram can be saturated with hyper-idealized and sometimes highly edited images. The perfect life is just an air brush away is the myth. The reality is cruelly different.


In November 2021, Lush(the cosmetics brand) decided to remove most of its social media accounts(Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat & Facebook) across 48 countries because of ignored harms to users. Some research has found an association between the frequency of comparing one’s own physical appearance to others on social media and body dissatisfaction. One study suggested that teenagers’ widespread use of social media could put them at risk of eating disorders, particularly if they’re already vulnerable to body dysmorphia.


So, what is the higher goal here for brands and marketers. Can we begin with “Do No Harm” as an ethos and practice? Me, as an individual, maybe causing no harm in my personal attempt at influencing my readers | users, but when the entire collective of marketers and brand guardians are creating and encouraging content consumption at all times, it becomes a serious problem indeed.


Sometime back, the ex-CMO of Coca Cola Sergio Zyman had quoted “the goal of marketing was to sell more stuff, to more people, more often, for more money.” So, when every social media marketer is creating addiction and profiting from it, the cumulative effort is the root of the global problem. In fact, marketers are the entire problem because the purpose of creating addiction is to sell more stuff to more people, more often, for more money.


In summarising, social media marketing is directly contributing to social media addiction. The domino effect of it is the role of the catalyst its playing in the rampant mental health crisis. Perhaps I am playing my part(if one can call it that) of contributing to the crisis. I would be candid and confess that I do not have a solution for this. But, rather than look the other way, we all can start a conversation that attempts to find one.


Some relevant reading on social media and healthy habits can be found on these links below:-




How Evolutionary Biology Explains Smartphone Addiction




Crystal ball gazing into the future of marketing


THE BIG QUESTION IS THISIn a world made numb by digital noise, what can any business or brand do to make itself relevant again? Why should anyone care?


Yes, I know the caption of this blog sounds audacious. Especially considering the speed, dynamism and unpredictability that surrounds us at all times. So, if you see this is hazarding a guess, you are spot on. Sticking my neck out, nonethless, and it is that time of the year where everyone is empowered to make predictions and forecasts. Here goes.


  • One of the strongest aspects of the future of marketing is something that we can easily borrow from the past viz the need for a solid product or service. That is a given. Blue Ocean or Green Swan can be your strategy picks while doing so.



  • ARE YOU WORTH A SPECIAL TRIP? It’s an era of Online upending – Now that more and more is ordered online or experienced online, the only trips that we take are special trips. If your brand | service or your place isn’t worth a special trip, it’s unlikely that the customer would be coming by any time soon!

  • WE ARE ALL NOMADS HERE. The best ideas come from outside your core vertical – something that we can define as ‘analogous inspiration’. To transform your industry, look at someone else’s. We would have thought that Hilton or IHG or Marriott would have lunched AirbNB or that Spotify or an ITunes would have been created by HMV or subscription would have remained the prerogative of media platforms- cars have been offered on subscription by Volvo for the past few years and the trend will continue.

  • CREATIVITY IS FUTURE PROOF – Creativity is human, it is global, it is technology-agnostic, it doesn’t discriminate. From people working at the bleeding edge of their fields to those others who bring humanity to technology and industry. The call to action in times to come will be for creatives to take control of our tomorrow. It helps recapture the feeling of optimism, not fear for the future. Because in the hands of creatives, we potentially have a future that is bright, progressive, diverse and equitable.


  • CAUTION: THE VALUE OF MARKETING IS NOT WHERE YOU HAVE BEEN TOLD IT ISMarketing isn’t the act of getting people to buy what you’re paid to sell them . Time to reconsider your tired email lists, sneaky retargeting and costly pre-roll adsInstead, reach for next-generation experiences that touch people’s hearts and move their minds. Give your audience genuine human emotions: goosebumps — quicken pulses, and they’ll never forget you.

  • Leading in from the above point- AI driven content and experiences will play a significant role in the times to come. The sheer speed and accuracy with which content can be curated, created, aggregated and articulated using AI while keeping personalisation in view will be manna for heaven for marketers and brand owners. It will also align beautifully with an economy that is migrating from ownership to usership at a furious clip.


  • The Metaverse and such other new ecosystems to have fun- From the Physical, Digital, Phygital and now the meta will offer inspiration to consumers and brands to explore, experiment and deliver | receive great experiences. Avatars that are either homogenous to existing real life personas or completely heterogenous to it will be the order of the day creating a zeitgeist of awe, surprise and the unexpected. The meta will offer the right crutch to address the opportunity as the brain remembers what it least expects, it will be able to deliver the unexpected and create lasting memories.


  • Yours truly or the personal brand will become the heroines and heroes in the times to come. Augmented and validated by consistency, authenticity and relatability across platforms be it mainstream, digital, phygital or the meta. So, build and they should come.


  • THE CASTING OUCHYour audience is|will be the hero. Let’s call them AWEdience!  You are only the sidekickThey want to know how you can help them (WIIFM-WHAT’s IN IT FOR THEM?).. NOT how great you are!

  • Speed will be a strategy: Organisations and brands that are leaden footed will get caught like a deer in the headlights. As boardrooms, debate, analyse and ascertain, there are others who are already walking the talk and engaging with their customers. Agility and speed in thinking , planning & executing will serve brands and organisations well.


These were some of the aspects of marketing that most interests me going forward. Happy to hear your thoughts. Thank you.



Because life lives on lives!


Glennon Doyle writes, “Our next life will always cost us this one. If we are truly alive, we are constantly losing who we just were, what we just built, what we just believed, what we just knew to be true.” The change that we seek and want to see will require you to die before you die. And here dying is not the end. It is a beginning.


Moving upwards would mean going downwards. Steps forward often require steps down. Our old self becomes the fertiliser for our new self. Our old truths becomes the torchlight for new discoveries. The paths once trodden by us become the GPS for our new destinations. Life owes a lot to death. The seed dies to give life to a plant. Wheat becomes bread.


Stopping to hang onto the coat tails of the past doesn’t mean forgetting. As we emerge out of our default, we begin to see endless possibilities and the potential to fly in a multiple directions. The metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly comes with letting go.



Life lives on life. This is the sense of the symbol of the Ouroboros, the serpent biting its tail. Everything that lives, lives on the death of something else. Your own body will be food for something else. If your exiting life is too comfortable, one will stop learning and growing.


“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.”
― Pico Iyer



Married to complete engagement with everyday life?


What are the ingredients of a ‘good life‘?


Is it money? An important job? A beautiful house? Leisure time? These metrics seem to be at the receiving end of our obsessive focus, leading us astray without us either realising or wanting to acknowledge it. Work contributes to our anxiety and pressure and the fall back of our free time is immersed in a backyard called blue screens.


“If we really want to live, we’d better start at once to try..if we don’t, it doesn’t matter, but we’d better start to die”- W. H Auden


The choice is simple. Between now and the end of our lives we can choose either to live or to die. Biological life is an automatic process, as long as we take care of the needs of the body. But to live in the sense that poet Auden refers to above is not something that will happen by itself. In fact, everything conspires against it. If we don’t take charge of its direction, our life will be controlled by the outside which will ensure that we are marching to a different beat, nothing of which is our own. Biologically programmed instincts will use it to replace the genetic material we carry, the culture will ensure that we will propagate its values and institutions and other people will use as much of our energy to further their own agenda- with no compunction on how all these would affect us. We cannot expect anyone to help us live. We must discover how to do it ourselves.


To live‘ is NOT just biological survival. It must mean to live in fullness, without waste of time and potential, expressing one’s own uniqueness, yet participating intimately in the complexity of the cosmos.


Life will mean what we experience from morning to night, seven days a week, for about seventy years if we are lucky or more if we are very fortunate. So, the best strategy is to assume that these seventy odd years are our best chance to experience the cosmos and that we should make the fullest use of it. For, if we don’t, we might lose everything; whereas if we are wrong and there is life beyond the grave, we lose nothing.


Finding flow will be at the sweet spot where one is not restrained by the accident called ‘birth’ and the accompanying allies in the script called gender, social hierarchies.


As James Clear puts it “Life is harder when you expect a lot of the world and little of yourself. Life is easier when you expect a lot of yourself and little of the world “.


Ready to engage with everyday life?



The Heard Mentality !


“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” – Doug Larson


The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. Deep listening is an act of surrender. We risk being changed by what we hear. The most critical part of listening is to understand what is at stake for the other person(unlike the typical ‘elevator pitch‘ that we have been brought upon over the years). One that can be called a ‘pattern interrupt‘. Because the brain remembers(in a world full of distractions)what it least expects. So, deliver the unexpected.


Listening is NOT about what you think matters. It is about what matters to them. A great way to begin is to start losing yourself in their story. Go along with their tide of highs and lows. As soon as you start feeling unmoored, try to pull yourself back into your body, like returning home.


It is as if you have trained your imagination to go visiting. Once the story is done, you come back into your skin, your own worldview and introspect how you have been changed by that visit.


The velocity of being is best exemplified by movement. Keep moving. Because the best option is always off the market and never on the radar.


The easy thing we end up doing is being judgemental and critical. Time to give up on that.


To quote a Chilean saying ‘criticising a musician is easy but it is more difficult when you have a guitar in your hand‘. If everybody is hearing alike, then nobody is listening. Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.


Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery- Joyce Brothers


The bull run and taking stock!


No, sorry to disappoint you. This has nothing to do with the stock markets and bull runs therein. And in any case I have zero competence to talk or write about shares and bonds, commodities or metals. That will be gross over-indexing on my part.



What I am referring to do is the conventional practice of bullfighting. Extreme action enthusiasts might find the sport fascinating but we are not going there.



Often these days, the most used expression across demographics(brought on by the ‘ collective coercion of modern life in the Republic of Not Enough ‘ ) is ‘ overwhelmed ‘. Pulls and pressures, expectations and conforming, getting by and getting a buy in, standing for and standing out, keeping up and upkeep, all of it (make no mistake) contribute liberally to the cause(or should it be curse?).



Back to bullfighting. The drama is conspicuous. The matador and the bull. The frenzy and the chaos. The anticipation and the suspense. Contrary to popular perception, the bull is least dangerous when it is enraged (that is when the matador is in power) and the most dangerous when it is calm.  When it finds what is called the ‘ querencia ‘. That is the time when it is a potent threat for the matador. In that state of calmness. When it can tap into its full strength.



We can draw parallels here. Most of us operate this way. The perennially frantic mode. It’s the default established. Moving from one distraction to the other. Busy trying to be busy. Emails, meetings, chores- being all over the place with no clear sense of direction. Almost what one would call in advertising as ‘ spray and pray ‘. A state of calm is miles away and hence the strength, the focus, the energy and the attention as well.



Under the onslaught of this self-inflicted pandemonium, in the arena of your life, you are only reacting to matadors and perceived  crises. In the process, your true inner self lies deeply buried without getting a chance to express itself. Thinking and responding gets compromised. The domino effect being poor decisions and worse outcomes. Like being trapped in the arena of conflict with no escape possible.



Taking the elevator down to the fully knowing self, which has been quietly observing it all is the key. A domicile called the inner self. Finding it makes you the most powerful version of yourself. Where you can be deliberate. Purposeful. Most prepared to battle the matadors in your life. Because you have centred around YOUR intent. This shift from reaction to action connects you to your essence, your querencia, your source of strength. And in the process, you don’t just survive the chaos. You thrive in it.




The deficiency=identity syndrome!


If only we knew that learning something new is a default worth pursuing?


Our beliefs and our actions are conjoined twins and almost inseparable. The former shapes the latter.


” I can never learn Spanish, I don’t have an ear for languages “.. ” Risk taking and number crunching is not my forte, I can never be an entrepreneur “. Because such thinking highlighting deficiencies is highly robust and powerfully self-reinforcing, they begin to become our identity. 


And because the belief is so deep rooted, you will do everything in your power to come in your own way and not learn and fail at learning the new language or embark on the journey of being a business person. Such self-sabotage acts as a virtual loop going back to strengthen the original belief. Time to realise that ‘ the obstacle is the way ‘.


As Emil Corian quoted ” Life is possible only by the deficiencies of our imagination and memory “.


“We are what we are because we have been what we have been.” “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” “To become what one is, one must not have the faintest idea what one is.” “Self-knowledge is not knowledge but a story one tells about oneself.” These curated quotes from the likes of Sigmund Freud, Lao-Tzu, Friedrich Nietzsche & Simone De Beauvoir, in that order, beautifully summarises the strong co relation between deficiency and identity.


“Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is.”- William James