In the Fitness of Things: a Gym Carry version

We seem to be in an era where ‘wellth‘ is the new health, where a well honed tricep is far more desirable than a heart to heart with a near one and a lot of us mortals are literally dying to get fit. Toss a coin and you are oscillating between orthorexia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. It’s a so-called world of ‘ fitspo ‘.
The concurrent rise of “wellness” and self-tracking technology has ushered in a sort of socially sanctioned “technorexia”. We live in an age where you can never be too rich or too fit. Calorie-counting, which was once considered Bridget Jones-style silly at best and neurotic at worst (largely because it was coded female), is now celebrated as a data-driven route to self-improvement (largely because Silicon Valley has coded it male).
Amidst the din and frenzy that is conveniently ‘ cold pressed ‘ between buycep and a trycep, here’s a suite of everyday observations(which most of you would already be privy to), with tongue firmly in (Instagram) cheek. So, if you like it slow, ‘ jog on ‘.
HUM PAUNCH : These are the 5 Pandavas that occupy the entire walking track laterally(and literally), with familiarity breeding no contempt. The primary motto(no pun intended) and waisted interest here is to respect the status quo(te) of the 46 inch waistlines. Another work of friction that you get to see is their Vaastu compliant (East West sagging) cheeks having the cheek to tickle one another as they pound the streets, as brothers, firmly in arms. PAUNCHo unglee, ghee mein..no surprises!
WALK THE TALK: A big concern for this tribe is ‘ will the miles run out before my talk does ‘ ? As if just coming out of a 8 year gag order. For all the army of RJs suffering from acute verbal diarrhoea, listen in. No ad breaks here. Move over marathon.It’s like a talkathon in (the) flesh.
INSTA(NT) KARMA: These are the direct disciples of Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger (original Co Founders of Instagram). Just like being Vaastu compliant or Euro II Emission compliant, their summer of content revolves around being Instagram Compliant. If it’s FIT for Insta, it’s FIT for me! And you are still left wondering, what comes first..the chicken or the egg..how remiss of you?
COACH COACH HOTHA HAIN : The community of people who are purely and solely moti weighted by a Coach. The ones who go ‘ Coach tho log kahenge ‘ in case they don’t use one. Their engine and loco moti (ve) firmly in the well TRAINed hands of a Coach. So, COACH na kaho and just chug along! Mr Burberry, watch out, Coach is getting all the b(r)agging rights!
SURF BOARD ABS: Don’t know what to call it. ABSurdity or audacity. These are the die hard optimists whose hopes have been severely washed away. The ones who kept washing their abs with Surf till eventually they got absolutely bored. And had nothing to show for it. It will take some time for them to TIDE over the shock. Last heard, they seem to be filing a plaint against Unilever! And the Power Point said: ‘ Mr Surf, you didn’t Excel ‘!
APP THO AISEY NA THEY: It must be apparent what I am referring to. APP jaisa koi meri…A plethora of Apps that have taken over our lives. If memory doesn’t serve it right, some of them hang out of the smartphones by the skin of their pixel as hard to let go APPendages. Shapa, YouAte, YouFood, Fitbit, Myfitnesspal, Strava, Runkeeper,Tim Ferris...even though some of it may be even recommending to weigh your lettuce before eating it.. Data Saman(t)..you there?
THE STORE : This is the individual who has taken the onus of being the brand store on the beach. Old Balance(yet to be settled), Nikey, Over Armour, DontGoPro, Adhi Das(no relation to Vasundhara BTW), Feelips – a walking talking Footlocker without QR Codes. The prep time (for this over equipped first of its kind physical HE Commerce store in true protein form) to get ready for the workout would be nothing less than a couple of hours. Wait till you hear about the workout..after a gruelling, punishing 3.8 Metres run(to and fro, non stop mind you), it’s time to break out into a sweat(bring out the water spray can…simulate sweat beads..time for a selfie).
Are we getting collectively fatter and more sedentary? Is fat and furious going hand in hand?
Do you believe “ Pain is Weakness Leaving The Body” and “Sweat Is Your Fat Crying”? Well, “You Win Some Or You Win Some”!
Time for a workout. And hand sanitisation(Never in my life would I have imagined my hands consuming more alcohol than my mouth). And test my bore strength. To all the BELLYrinas, jog jog jeeyo!
BENDS

RIP Productivity? Productivity Is Not Working!

ESSENTIALism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Sounds blasphemous in this day and age. The art of separating the trivial many from the vital few. A few years ago, I came across this fascinating book and after a gentle outreach and gracious response from Greg McKeown, the author, had me falling for the content Book, Line and Sinker.

Turn the caption statement around: Working is Not Productivity. The message once(and even now) was loud and clear. Relentless self-optimisation was a way to cope, but is it really? Humans are NOT search engines !

There has been always something obscene about the cult of the hustle, the treadmill of alienated insecurity that tells you that the moment you stop running for even an instant, you will be flung flat on your face.

Productivity is not a synonym for health or safety or sanity. I will go onto add that frantic productivity is actually a fear response. It’s a fear response for 21st-century humans in general and millennial humans in particular.

Productivity, or the lack of it, has become the individual metric of choice for coping with the international econo-pathological clusterfuck of the Corona Crisis. Talk about self optimisation: how do we do that and meet deadlines amidst settling our fighting kids, demanding colleagues and handling our screaming inner critics in the name of introspection? You are fortunate to have a roof over your head and you are also expected to use  ‘ this time ‘ to write blogs, launch your podcast and personal kept in the back burner projects and life-hack our way to some cargo-cult pastiche of normality, and if not, are we somehow letting the side down?

Arbeit Macht Frei. Meaning work sets you free. These words first appeared in an 1873 German novel. And later got adopted by Nazis as a slogan. The mantra of work as freedom or a magical route to happiness has proved incredibly resilient. But,as the corona virus crisis is exposing all over again: for billions of people work is none of these things.The reality is that for billions of people around the world , work is a tightrope walk oscillating between indignity and survival. Happiness as the byproduct of the work you do will come across a masterful con job for many.The task on hand now and onerous at that, is to push for a new narrative for work based not on happiness but humanity.

Questions have an in built audacity to be more interesting than answers. And in the febrile weeks that have followed the advent of the Covid-19 lockdowns, the one question that went unabashedly viral was: how do we stay productive when the entire world is going to hell? The virus has upset the human micro biome in an epochal act of strategic surprise.

A whole generation leaned on the fragile learning that relentless work was the way to cope with a rolling crisis with the mood of imminent collapse and economic insecurity that was the piped elevator music of the youth- the relentless tug of war between trying to save yourself and trying to save the world, between desperate aspiration and actual hope.

There could be multiple reasons that we are panicking about work: about to be furloughed or sidelined; or already lost a job. And you are playing catch up(sounds familiar?). Or if you have managed to retain one, you are apprehensive about the long term. And if everything is hunky dory, you are battling at the coat tails of ‘ survivor’s guilt ‘.

We now have a packed schedule: washing up, cooking, cleaning, being a sounding board, lending a helping hand, community work, countless video conference calls with people you have ever and never met and at the end of it hiding in bed hoping that history can’t hear you breathing.

People are working harder than ever but a lot of the work does not fall under the traditional sense of the term ‘ productive ‘. They just don’t count on the ledger of human worth because the economy refuses to value them in its reckoning of what does, because most of it has been done in private, by women, for ages, for free. Making breakfast, making the beds, making sure your friends and family aren’t losing their absolute minds is work that matters more than ever and will continue to matter in the coming decades as crisis follows crisis. It is not “productive,” in the way that most of us have learned to understand what that word means, but it is work, and it is really really worthwhile.

WFH(Work From Home) has seamlessly and unapologetically moved onto W(Work). Geography has become history!

For all those who flaunt their workaholic badges of honour and condescendingly accept the various neurotic flavours that comes with it, let’s come to terms with the fact that we have been conditioned to think that work in the laissez faire zeitgeist is about hyper vigilance. It’s about what happens to people when they are trapped in abusive circumstances and cannot escape. Psychologist Judith Herman observed that “the ultimate effect of [psychological domination] is to convince the victim that the perpetrator is omnipotent, that resistance is futile, and that her life depends upon winning his indulgence through absolute compliance.” We haven’t been able to shrug of the mega legacy of the Industrial Age: Compliance. Phew!

The idea that hustling can save you from calamity is an article of faith, not fact—and the Covid-19 pandemic is starting to shake the collective faith in individual striving. The doctrine of “workism” places the blame for global catastrophe squarely on the individual: If you can’t get a job because jobs aren’t there, you must be lazy, or not hustling hard enough. That’s the story that young and young-ish people tell themselves, even as they have spent the whole of their brief, broke working lives paying for the mistakes of the old, rich, and stupid. They internalised the collective failures of the ruling class as personal failings that could be fixed by working smarter, or harder, or both—because that, at least, meant that they might be able to fix them themselves. Unfair!

After the quarantine, after we count the lives lost or ruined, recession is coming. A big one. For many, especially millennials, it’s the second devastating economic calamity in their short working lives( the first being the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-9), and they are still carrying the trauma of the first. This time, though, they know it’s not their fault. This time it’s abundantly clear that they don’t deserve it. And this is exactly the sort of crisis that gives people ideas about overturning the social order.

The cult of productivity doesn’t have an answer for this crisis. Self-optimising will not save us this time, although saying so feels surprisingly blasphemous. There is nothing counterrevolutionary about keeping busy. But right now, we have a finite opportunity to rethink how we value ourselves, to re-examine our metric for measuring the worth of human lives.

Time for ESSENTIALism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

ENDS

https://www.groupisd.com/story
https://www.brandknewmag.com
https://www.brandknew.groupisd.com
https://www.weeklileaks.com
 

 

 

Has the AIDA Model in the Customer Journey become outdated?

125 years is a long amount of time. The AIDA model was developed by the American businessman, E. St. Elmo Lewis, in 1898. The original purpose was to optimise sales calls, specifically the interaction between seller and buyer concerning the product.

Just to expand on the acronym(and the obvious):

  • A = attract
  • I = interest
  • D = desire
  • A = action
Of course the AIDA model is helpful as it provides focus on each area of the customer journey. That being said, allow me a bit of purposeful provocation.
Let’s look at a few reasons why the AIDA model is up for scrutiny:
– Post the ‘ action ‘ stage, the brand is not engaging or conversing with the customer. There is nothing happening after the purchase. In the context of how important customer retention and loyalty is for marketers, this is a pain point.
– In fact, the majority of actions taken by users on social media when it comes to reaching out to a brand involve experience (aka they’ve already interacted with your brand) and for customer service issues (aka they’re already a customer).
Pl refer to the below infographic from Sprout Social on ‘ why consumers message a brand on social media ‘:
The prognosis is that on social media, nearly 96 percent of people contact a brand beyond AIDA, assuming they’re already a customer.
– The AIDA model was constructed during a phase wherein we were in a  ‘ Caveat Emptor ‘ or Buyer Beware situation. We are now in a ‘ Caveat Venditor ‘ phase or Seller Beware mode. All the more reason for brands to be in continuous engagement and conversation post action/purchase.
 
– In an increasingly commoditised world, Customer Experience is your best product.
– Incredible, always on accessibility has driven consumers to crave experiences that are both instant and convenient.
 
– Experiences are no longer between the company and the customer. Any customer experience can become public news overnight.
– Because it’s easy enough to find a great product for a decent price these days. What’s harder to find is a seamless, customer-centric brand experience.
– Brand Loyalty is on the decline. We are in a ”Switching economy”. 86% of customers would pay more for a better customer experience(Kolsky).
– The biggest thing missing when brands manage the customer journey? Conversations.
So, how do we look at a model that can replace AIDA? You must have heard of ‘ Conversational Marketing ‘ – this is more on the lines of ACCA:
A: attract
 
C: convert
 
C: close
 
D: delight
The below infographic devised by B Squared Media is self explanatory.
Think of conversational marketing as having real-time conversations with your would-be or actual customers.
Additionally, you might want to check out this feature in BrandKnew on Conversational Marketing at https://www.brandknewmag.com/does-your-2020-marketing-strategy-include-conversational-marketing/
The model is still pretty simple. Each part of the customer journey allows for conversations between you and your would-be (or actual) customers. And if we think about customer experience, that’s what sets the superior brands apart.
Everyone knows when they are dealing with a customer centric brand. It shows. You can feel it. Sure you can go deep and crazy with customer experience but, you can also focus on conversations.
Conversations are the ignored, low hanging fruit of almost every business.
Just to let you in on a little secret: all of the marketing buzzwords(influencers! loyalty ! revenue !) live inside of customer care efforts and for some inexplicable reason, most brands are completely overlooking this part of the journey.
The script to write for brands and marketers in organisations is to move from ROI (in the conventional sense) to ROE( Return on Experience). And any kind of transformative customer experience begins with an engaging employee experience. 
In a culture of immediacy, people are becoming ever-more impatient when it comes to their transactions and brand engagement.
Some Food For Thought

– More than half of consumers (55 percent) have intended to conduct a business transaction or make a purchase, but decided not to because of a poor service experience- American Express

-89 percent of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service- RightNow Customer Experience Satisfaction Report

-50 percent of consumers give a brand only one week to respond to a question before they stop doing business with them. – RightNow Customer Experience Satisfaction Report

– A 10% increase in customer retention levels increases the value of a company by 30%- Bain & Company
– You need to get to the future, ahead of your customers, and be ready to greet them when they arrive”- March Benioff, CEO, Salesforce.com
Before I sign off, some customer experience benchmarks that are worthy of emulation would include:
Walt Disney: Stooping To Excellence
ACE Hardware: Helpful Hardware People
Ritz Carlton: Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen
Amazon:Building the earth’s most customer centric organisation

 

A contrarian view as I hang up:

The truth is of course is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time: David Bowie

ENDS

https:www.groupisd.com/story

https:www.brandknewmag.com

https:www.brandknew.groupisd.com

https:www.weeklileaks.com

 

 

Getting HysterLyrical: A Feeble Attempt: Deciphering Gulzar!

Disclaimer
Ardent, hardened fan. Pardon the unabashed bias.
Only a select few songs written by Gulzar covered in this post. The first six in the playlist I ran into.
Other noteworthy,iconic contributors like the Music Directors, Actors, Directors, Singers etc discussed fleetingly only, if at all.
It’s Only Words ‘. As went the Bee Gees written and sung classic. And in our context, given a memorable second homecoming by my immensely gifted, impossibly shy nephew Abhinav, on the two occasions that he let himself to ‘relative’ scrutiny. The other occasion being a real wake up call ‘ Hello ‘, originally called out by Lionel Richie.
Dusk is fast approaching. I am at my customary dusktop. I mean desktop. Giving it my ride of place. Seeing the crimson orange of an aggrieved sun going down seething, seeing a world doing the same old, same old. Almost calling out, ‘ Rise Above ‘, tomorrow is another day. Even it has conceded that orange is the new black. And ready for stranger things, sacred games and all of that.
The hiss of the bluetooth speaker concealed the eager anticipation- bliss was on the way. His Masters Choice.
First off the block, rolling in ambled elegance was ” Mera Kuch Samaan Tumhare Paas Pada Hain ” from Ijazat : If permission marketing was to be accorded a pride of place, this would be it. Never before has an inanimate object like ‘ samaan ‘, carried so much weight. The sheer power of gravitas. And a scintillating Asha readily giving into a discerning audience’s Croon Bhari Maang. The lyrical audacity of something that is staggeringly prescient, a mighty countercultural anthem of resistance and resilience. As if he was on a mission to humble pathos. Humbled! Kylie, if I were to be in bed, I was sure to have ‘ Tears on My Pillow ‘.
(Caveat: Gulzar was also the Director of Ijazat. So, him having a free hand, would be more than a pen or a pun. It would be a gross understatement).
There was no time to recover as the next was our very own. Yes. ” Koi Hotha Jisko Apna, Hum Apna Keh Lethe Yaaron ” from Mere Apne. Apne as a thought is big enough and Mere Apne makes it Machiavellian. Such a war of words in the battle of the mind. A relentless avalanche of angst, where desolate meets desperate, but to no avail. Begging the question, is it great expectations or a humble, easily addressable request? Was it a point of  view or a point of no return vulnerability? Vignettes of loss and life unfold. Nudging us into wilful introspection. Questions remain!
BTW, how can anyone wear tight pants, a non descript shirt, ride a hopelessly dilapidated, too tired looking Atlas bicycle(that had done its savage rebellion against any form of design thinking), sport dusty chappals( as if a deliberate ploy to look comprehensively impoverished) and still look like a million dollars plus? I really don’t know but we could have asked Vinod Khanna(RIP).
It was getting past supper time by now and what got dished out next was savoury in every sense. A breezy belter from Namkeen: ” Raah Pe Rahte Hain, Yado Pe Basar Karte Hain “. And to imagine this was written several years before Ryan Holiday’s seminal book ‘ The Obstacle Is The Way ‘.. a weary traveller and concurrently where(y) traveller..romanticising the ‘ make do ‘, questioning the very deeply rooted idea of ‘ domicile ‘, a gentle reminder that the most expensive, ‘ moveable ‘ but non transferrable piece of real estate is one’s ‘ memory ‘. ” Aasman ka koi kona, thoda so gaye ..” this is not writing, it is rioting to say sky is not the limit..heaven can wait!
This para would be incomplete without the mention of another brilliant actor Sanjeev Kumar(RIP). His nonchalant, effortless, freewheeling manipulation of a Tata 1210 Truck(with NO Power Steering) in rain and throwing caution to the GPS wind, no holds barred, was the real inspiration for Ratan Tata to buy out Jaguar Landrover some years back. It was truck by chance. Where there is a wheel, there is a way.
Have you ever tried out wholemeal buns with cheese spread (as if sent by Whats App) on it? Well it tastes like saw dust with a lavish dose of water. That was my dinner done and well, dusted. By this time, I had reconciled to the fact that this evening was ‘ different ‘. Like this hum dinger that followed from Khamoshi: ” Woh Sham Kuch Ajeeb Thi, Yeh Shaam Bhi Ajeeb Hain “. A rocking the boat prose that finds comfort at the shores of poetic fluidity. High on hope on the one hand( a peace of mind to be falling on your lap), while being higher on hopelessness on the other, a radical candour that blended apprehension, tentativeness, expectation, vividly echoing a so near, yet so far feeling. The first two stanzas if you observe closely in the song are taking a juxtaposed stance, a first ever probably in Hindi film song writing. It was Khamoshi talking. And the silence was deafening.

By now even the playlist had a premonition of my fate at dinner and offered something utterly therapeutic. In the form of ” Tujse Naraaz Nahin Zindagi Hairan Hoon Main ” from Masoom. If innocence in its purest virgin form could drum up a reservoir of guilt, nothing could have explained better. A stark reminder that our collective memory always tends towards amnesia and erasure especially of periods scarred by shame. The human propensity for appearing rather than being. How one of your biggest assets ie a smile can appear as a burden of liability. मुस्कुराऊं कभी तो लगता है जैसे होंठो पे क़र्ज़ रखा है. ​Whoa!

Prime Time was setting in on Television and the options were not exactly mouth watering. Kumkum Bhagya, Alladin, Naagin 4 (at it’s serpentine best against common sense) and Suryavansham’s 843rd re run on Set Max. And of course, Say Yes To The Dress. The risk averse me took the easier option. Staying true with Gulzar. And it was only a question of time before ” Aane Wala Pal Jaane Wala Hain ” from Golmaal streamed in. Something about capturing life in a moment. Starting a movement. Acting as the emissary of time. एक बार वक्त से, लम्हा गिरा कहीं.. probably one of the most landmark lines written. Re iterating The Power of Now as Eckhart Tolle would have called it. Living in the moment. Not clinging onto our various illusions of stability and permanence that allow us to go on averting our gaze from our finitude, from the fact that we too will one day be washed into the impartial waters of time. Period.
Time to hang up on this post. To the Word Play of the Wordly Wise, the Word Smith, to the every Word’s Worth it. Respect. Gulzar. The Czar.
ENDS
PS: Just received “ Br(e)aking News “. SONY, the Japanese brand, is planning to sue a lot of song writers who have been using ‘ SONY ‘ in every 3rd line of their song for Copyright Infringement. Just a heads up!

Present Forward or Future Back: Strategy or Vision?

The future happens slowly..and then all of a sudden. In his fabulous 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway famously wrote that bankruptcy happens in two ways:  “gradually and then suddenly”.

Some years back Andy Grove( ex-CEO, Intel) had introduced the concept of strategic inflection points in his seminal book Only the Paranoid Survive where he explained that a strategic inflection point is ” a time in the life of a business when it’s fundamentals are about to change “.

A change in the business environment that dramatically shifts some elements of your activities, throwing certain taken-for-granted assumptions into question is an inflection point. Someone, somewhere, sees the implications, but all too often they are not heard. That someone might be you!

Whether you are a powerful CEO or someone far lower down in the pecking order, not seeing the unfolding inflection points(or blind spots ) are dangerous.

What is the case we are making here? Too many managers develop strategy while focusing on problems in the present and that is especially true in the times of a crisis(like the Covid 19 pandemic that we are presently pulverised by). Lets call it ‘ missing the wood for the trees ‘. What I am trying to argue here is that leaders instead should imagine the future and work backward so that they build their organisations and brands for the new(emerging) reality.

Even during a crisis, developing a ” future-back ” mindset can spur innovation and growth.

So, in order to build strategy, start with the future.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of brands and organisations that have used the ” future-back ” approach to stunning effect.

Back in the late 90’s and the turn of the millennium, Intel was ruling the roost. With a market share well over 70%, the brand was well and truly in the driver’s seat(apart from being inside millions of computers) with the Pentium Processor going from strength to strength. At the height of that market dominance, Andy Grove took a visionary punt and launched a brand to compete against its very own Pentium– that was the Celeron range of Processors. What he did was to see the future being dominated by cheaper, faster processors( Moore’s Law ) and he did not want Intel to lose out on the potential opportunity that lay ahead of them. That saying Andy Grove was visionary would be an understatement and how prescient the observation in his book ” When spring comes, snow melts first at the periphery, because that is where it is most exposed “, bears testimony.  Intel Inside. Meets Intelligence and Insight!

Take another example of the ” future-back ” approach that Reed Hastings, Founder/CEO of Netflix adopted to reach where it is today. At the height of their DVD rental business success, they ventured into streaming(encouraging both cannibalisation and migration of their existing subscriber base) anticipating that the medium to long term future of in home entertainment will hinge on that. Not just that, look at their understanding of the competitive landscape- it went well beyond the typical television broadcast networks and cable TV of the day. They distilled the big picture into getting their prospect’s time and attention. Broadened the eco system significantly. Rather made it a category by itself. So, in effect, the competition included time their viewer/s spent going to movie houses, eating out, entertaining friends and family, travel and holidays etc etc. By wearing a different lens and examining a hitherto unseen/untried approach, helped them immensely in becoming the brand they are today.

No conversation about a ” future-back ” model and a vision preceding strategy would be complete without talking about Steve Jobs and Apple. Back in the day, the way they disrupted music consumption and music distribution through iTunes and iPod is now part of folklore. They did not wait for either the market or the customer to tell them what is needed. They took moonshots( it’s in the culture), created highly desirable products that the customer never knew they wanted or would need and generated unprecedented gravitas, and the rest they say is history. Apple as a brand and Steve Jobs as a leader was always seeing around corners, anticipating trends and operated at the intersection of a new future and non articulated consumer need and desire.

Let me add here. ‘ Customer knows best ‘ is a whole load of balderdash. If organisations were to depend on customers to know what is needed, there would not have been any Post It Notes(3M), Fax Machines(Xerox) and many of today’s incredibly successful brands like Amazon, Tesla, Netflix, Airbnb, Uber, Zomato etc. The onus and responsibility of drawing the future and working backward from there is fully on you, your brand, your organisation. So, don’t run away from it. Take it head on.

While we debate the vision vis a vis strategy and the “ future-back ” model to a ” present-forward ” one, do be aware that a vision is like an ‘ impressionist painting ‘ and NOT a ‘ photograph ‘. A photograph captures what there is already, there is NO speculation, hedging, punting and imagining the non existent. A vision on the other hand is similar to an impressionist painting in the sense that it is visualising what could/should be, what will/can be or what may/may not be. It is taking a shot at the future and setting the road to travel back from there.

To be blunt, getting through this tricky process of envisioning the future begins with confusion, experimentation and a touch of chaos followed by a single minded determination to make progress against an overarching goal. And an approach that futurist Paul Saffo recommends as creating as many forecasts as possible, fail as quickly as possible and vitally ” to hold strong opinions weakly “.

Another valuable perspective on this chaotic period of thinking is offered by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder. Anything that has more upside than downside from random events(or certain shocks) is anti fragile.

Rita McGrath, Columbia Business School professor and business consultant recommends a ‘ discovery driven approach ‘ to anticipating the future and you can dive deeper into her thinking and recommendations in BrandKnew on these links https://www.brandknewmag.com/thinking-innovation-driving-growth/ and https://www.brandknewmag.com/discovery-driven-digital-transformation/ .

It was the 4th of February, 2014. Satya Nadella was announced as the new CEO of Microsoft, the third chief executive in the company’s history, following Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. Recognising that most of Microsoft’s woes at the time were a function of an approach that was ” present forward “, the first thing he did was to tell everyone in the organisation ” We are going to be moving away from a know it all organisation to a learn it all one “. Looking back on how well Microsoft is doing now compared to 2014, bears testimony to the potential for organisations in adopting a ” future-back ” model.

Brands that didn’t heed the  ” future-back ” model and met their fate inspite of being market leaders once upon a time include the likes of Blockbuster, Kodak, Nokia, Toys ‘R’ Us.

There are other industries very ripe for the picking to drive home further the point of vision preceding strategy. The pharmaceutical sector for instance. Based on empirical evidence, learnings from past epidemics like SARS, Ebola, Swine Flu, emerging lifestyle patterns and the accompanying chronic diseases that it helps manifest(diabetes for one), a pharma company can seize opportunities and address customer pain points that will occur in the future. An example that is worth looking at is the pharma giant Roche. Which saw huge potential in the ” future-back ” approach. That helped revive it’s struggling diabetes unit. The company ingeniously paired the mySugr app (which it had acquired in 2017) with Roche’s Accu-Chek Guide glucose meter, thereby allowing diabetics to have a different, gamified experience to managing their condition. By logging in their blood glucose levels, completing tasks and challenges, users can “tame their diabetes monster”. It’s a totally different approach(at least for the pharma sector) which forecasts that “the way forward will mean selling a total experience, not just a product.

Rather than look at Fall of 2020 or Spring of 2021, Universities/Colleges will be best served to go further down the road and see how do we cope, prepare and anticipate learning and training needs in the near distant future and move backward from there. With the current Covid-19 crisis having caught a lot of educational institutions severely under prepared and like a deer in the headlights with no werewithal (and mindset) for virtual/online delivery, the time is now, to graduate, to look into the future.

So, ‘ where do you go from here ‘? Or, rather, I should be asking ‘ where are you coming back from ‘ ?

PS: For leaders and organisations wanting to undertake ‘A back to the future voyage ‘, the video on this link https://www.groupisd.com/phewturecast/ can be a starting point.

ENDS

https:www.groupisd.com/story

https:www.brandknewmag.com

https:www.weeklileaks.com

https:www.brandknew.groupisd.com

 

 

The changing idea of marketing as a concept!

If you are one of the marketers who embraces convention, no one will point a finger at you if you were to follow the norm that has been practiced for years. Build/produce/manufacture, brand, market, sell. Justified linear thinking.With strong empirical evidence( I mean brand and business success) to boot.

With so many years of conventional wisdom( that also is the wisdom of the crowds that drive collective bias) in the ring, it would have been a really uphill task for any brand to alter(let alone disrupt) the narrative. But there is something about audacity and moonshots that make them perfect partners in rhyme.

I devote this blog post predominantly to understand marketing from a new lens- the one that brand Tesla is scripting so brilliantly. Directed by Elon Musk(Iron Man). Allow me to go back a few years.

It’s the 4th of April, 2016. The Tesla Model 3 is being launched in the US. It sports a price tag of US$ 35,000 and bookings can be made with a U$1,000 down payment.  Then history unfolds. A whopping 276,000 cars were booked(read pre-sold) on the day, probably a first ever in automotive marketing . And Tesla gathered US$ 276 Million in upfront cash. And here’s where the story gets interesting. There was not even a model car ready. All the sales happened courtesy a few photographs of the Model 3. That’s it. There’s more. There was not even a single car that had gone into production. The first promised schedule for delivery of the Model 3 was late 2017, that was a good 18+ months away. Tesla had disrupted automotive marketing on it’s head and how.

Let’s try to understand more of the phenomena that is brand Tesla.

  • Tesla’s $0 marketing budget is incredibly awesome marketing
  • Tesla Motors has no advertising, no ad agency, no CMO, no dealer network. And that’s no problem. – AdvertisingAge
  • If you drop by the Tesla forums, you’ll see a community of passionate fans discussing how to market Tesla better. There are over 55,000 people subscribed to the /r/teslamotors subreddit. The brand has clearly struck a chord with its fans.
  • Tesla fans are crazy advocates. They attach deep emotional significance to the car. They’re not just paying for a mode of transportation, they’re paying for a slice of the future.
  • Prior to the Model 3 launch, Tesla had introduced the P100D Ludicrous– a luxury model priced over US$ 80,000(base level) with upgraded versions well over US$ 100,000. The marketing masterstroke was in the message conveyed. ” While the PD100 Ludicrous is an expensive vehicle, we want to emphasise that every sale helps pay for the smaller and more affordable Model 3 which is under development. Without customers willing to buy the expensive Model S and X, we would be unable to fund the smaller, more affordable Model 3 “. This is brand positioning at it’s masterful best, making a luxury purchase almost into a charitable act.
  • Every element of the Model S – from the recharging technology to the drag coefficient of the car – is presented as the pinnacle of research and engineering.
  • By eschewing marketing completely, Elon Musk is actually communicating that Tesla is focused on ground breaking technology.
  • Tesla the brand transcended from being just another automotive player in the business to encompass economics, politics, world power to have global energy NOT driven by oil. In the process, creating the marketplace, the eco system where they are the game. As also the game changer.

“ BMW has a marketing department called engineering.” – Seth Godin

These things obviously don’t bother Musk too much. If one were to give him an advertising budget, he is sure to divert that into production. And the final result: an even more incredible car. And inspite of NO Advertising, he gets the world talking about his brand, especially the people who matter.

How does Tesla manage to do all of this free of cost which other brands would spend millions to buy?

First, build something that matters to people. Then, tell a story that resonates with people. Just like iPhones/iPod and Steve Jobs, electric cars are a great story. The greatest stories are aspirational, representing the triumph of passion, conviction, persistence and diligence.

” I know a lot of very wealthy people.  Most of them made their money in technology.  I don’t think Bentley or Rolls-Royce is anywhere near the top of very many of these people’s idea of an impressive car.  A Tesla is more like it “. – Jimmy Wales, on Quora

This sort of advertising is earned, not bought.

You earn this sort of attention by making something truly newsworthy. Or saying something newsworthy.

” The public tends to be, as they should, interested in things that are precedent and superlatives.” – Elon Musk

Musk is all over YouTube. The media is chasing him nine to the dozen. Why? Because he is always working on cool, fascinating, path breaking projects.

Musk is a CEO who understands the power of showmanship(tonnes of interviews, cameo roles in films and media appearances.

Just GoogleElon Musk  says ‘and you will get the most quotable of quotes that media loves to lap up and carry forward.

The Hyperloop is something that Musk is NOT planning to make but delivers great PR for him as a tech visionary.

At most times,Tesla has more orders than they can build – that in itself is great marketing.

Tesla has demonstrated that brands and organisations can move on from a Build/produce/manufacture, brand, market, sell model to that of a brand, market, sell, build one. Welcome to the next normal.

As William Gibson would say, “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.”-  which will be nothing like what we have experienced before, we’re all going to be completely re-evaluating so many aspects of our lives: education, medicine, work, social responsibility, inner calling, the list goes on. And under the aegis of the Covid 19, all of this is happening remotely right now. And the question for a lot of companies and brands is going to be: Now that this shift has happened, am I still relevant? Does what I do still make sense? Am I serving an essential function, especially in a time when everyone is being careful about their finances?

Answering in the affirmative will separate the men from the boys. Wanted. More Musketeers!

ENDS

https://www.groupisd.com/story

https://www.brandknewmag.com

https://www.weeklileaks.com

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What are your thoughts on INTERPOL’s recruitment policy ?

Caveat Emptor: Written purely in jest with malice towards none and deep respect for all, living and demised. May relate only to people with one foot in the brave or baby boomers, it’s contestable, respectable pseudonym! If at the end of this(or well before that) so long a rant, you want to call out ‘ so long ‘, I will understand perfectly! It also hedges that the 1.8 people who will read this(after circumventing the social media algorithm), have seen the movie Don(the one starring the Big B).
For the purpose of brevity, acronyms have been used as below:-
OS: Late Om Shivpuri (RIP)
PK: Late Pinchoo Kapoor (RIP)
Big B: (if you don’t know who he is, time to get a life!)
NI: Nariman Irani (RIP)
DS: Dileep Sharma (RIP)
May 12, Circa 1978. A typical summer day in Bombay. Oppressive, sultry, so much so, you wanted to send out the May Day signal. But, aborted the thought. And lived to see another day. Yours truly, with one of my best friends Nazir had set out as usual with wasted interests to do what we did best. Nothing! The breeze was stiff, so stiff, it refused to move. It was when our expectations were close to nadir, did we hear a call, from up above. No, don’t get your expectations that high- it was from the third floor of one of the buildings in our society and DS (one of the most amiable blokes you can find with a perennial smile and hockey skills that would have given Mohammad Shahid a complex) and through the thick foliage of the Mayflower tree directly under the building, we could see he was calling out to us from his bedroom window. He had two tickets to NI’s Don, Amitabh’s movie that had released the same day and asked if we wanted to go. Since he was not. If there was anything called manna from heaven that was it. Big B in two doses(if anyone wanted a masterclass on how to deliver suave with wow and awe, this was it): our excitement knew no measure! Thank you so much Chandra Barot.
The next thing we know we are gaping open mouthed as DS decided to fold the tickets and hurl it (what an inappropriate description for such a gracious gesture) down. Now, if you know anything about movie tickets of those days, they were not exactly printed on 350 GSM Hand Crafted Wood Free Paper. And if they are Lower Stall tickets( Not Balcony or Dress Circle as they were in the day), the paper quality reached a new low. Lower Stall for the uninitiated are seats that are very very close to the screen, sometimes so much so that you go beyond the screen and do an auto-rotate of your neck to discover new laws of concave and convex (apart from discovering that Amitabh could also be right handed and if it’s a double role it only added to the complexity). That being said, the two of us are now witnessing a descent of the tickets of unprecedented volatility- one moment sashaying as if Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie was playing in full blast and in another defying Newton and gravity as it decides to hang nonchalantly, stubbornly, mid air. In the midst of all these, we had one of those brilliant WH Davies moments (yes of the ” what is this life full of care “…fame) as we look awestruck at the mayflowers blooming in unabashed, glorious beauty on the society’s showpiece tree(also our controversial boundary indicator during cricket matches), which every May kept it’s unfailing date with it’s namesake. That ‘ moment ‘ of distraction (shouldn’t it be attraction?) overcome, we see the tickets land firmly on the road, which at that time would have made the lunar surface look like a green top billiard table.
Armed with the most prized possession of our lives, it was destination Topiwala ( not tirchi but the name of the movie house). Before I move on, letting you in on an inside story. During the late 70’s, there was a famous inner wear brand called Dawn( and without paying too much credo to phonetics, we all know even Don sounds the same) and it was only Mario Puzo’s Godfather that gave the word Don a sense of aura and passable respectability.
Enough preamble. Will segway into the constitution now. For those of who have seen Don, would recall the prominent characters from the movie. Big B apart, there was Zeenat, Pran, Iftekhar ( yes of the ‘ born to inspect ‘ lineage alongwith Jagdish Raj, Inspector for All Seasons and For All Reasons!), PK, OS among others. OS, BTW, is not another Operating System but Om Shivpuri as already indicated right at the beginning. And here is playing the role of a ‘ Responsible Interpol Officer ‘, assigned to crack the whip, as captain of the hip. Which didn’t lie. Or so we were made to believe!
Since our growing up days we held Interpol in great esteem. The world’s best International Police Organisation. It had an unquestionable aura. Even Balram wanted to enrol(not from the Ramayana but of Ram Balram fame) into the organisation. So did Pathankar. From Budhawar Peth. And Saini from Munirka. It had a cult like following. If Ajit had his way (just like he had with Mona, Michael and Shetty), Interpol would have been headquartered in the LOIN’s Den near Dongri but sadly it had to be Lyon, France. The jury is still out on that one. How you wish geography could be history!
Time to get serious as the next few paras are all about the interview process at Interpol and how OS got the plum(p) assignment for the roll, I mean role.
To begin with, after acquiring diligent espionage skills, we took a deep dive into the Psychometric Testing Questions that OS was put through during the recruitment process @ Interpol. Psychometric Testing as we may know involves numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, logical reasoning, personality assessment etc among others. Here goes:
Numerical Reasoning
Interviewer: Why do you think your breakfast has to be 12 Aloo Parathas?
OS: I always had a soft corner for having one two many. One and Two is 12. Hence..actually it’s a no brainer
Verbal Reasoning
Interviewer: In the fitness of things, what makes you so eligible for this role?
OS: Two and a half hours of jogging, 250 squats, 80 push ups and 45 minutes of planks…
(he gets interrupted before saying ‘ over the last 40 years ‘)
Interviewer: That’s incredible..
Logical Reasoning
Interviewer: What makes you ‘ different ‘ from other contestants applying for this role?
OS: My name is Vardan(with a V), that means blessing. I am actually a blessing(in disguise- in this case he was pretending to be RK Malik, the role played by Weighteran Actor PK, worth his weight in old).
OS(continuing in chaste Punjabi confidence): And mind you, I don’t have any Imposter Syndrome!
Personality Assessment
Interviewer: What is the one thing that determines your ‘ style quotient ‘ ?
OS: It takes two to tango- so, I am afraid I have two to share:-
1. People have bad hair days. I have a bad hair life.
2. People wear trousers around their waist and use a belt to keep it in place. I have higher ambitions. My trousers are a little above my chest(Sorry, if I am hitting above the belt!) and instead of a belt I use both my armpits to keep it in place. Giving G B Shaw’s Arms and the Man due respect!
As an after thought he adds
3. Nobody can carry a pinafore dress with a toy gun from Crawford Market with as much I mean business swagger as I can.
That was the sucker punch. That landed on the right spot (yes, you guessed it- a little above the chest) and put OS firmly in the Interpol’s HR spotlight. Appointed with Immediate Defect. To them a new HeRo was born! That will play the perfect Villain.
OM SHADY OM!!
ENDS
https://www.groupisd.com/story
https://www.brandknewmag.com
https://www.weeklileaks.com
https://www.brandknew.groupisd.com

Are you missing coming home?

It’s a little past 6 am on the clock and a sense of anxiety has already made it’s unwanted presence felt(liquidity crisis in the form of acid reflux anyone?). Being an early bird and having realised(of late and it’s just a random realisation before you audaciously attribute that to any wisdom or maturity on my part) that my most productive hours are from the wee hours( if others thought similarly, we could call it the ‘ we hours ‘) of the morning till about noon, and every minute that I delay in getting out of the house to earn my daily dread gives me FOMO attacks(my version only and nothing to do with status anxiety). But, then, those were the days. Sorry if it sounds pre-historic.

Some days, I admit, the last thing you want to do is go to work—but since it doesn’t look like those bills will start paying themselves anytime soon, you put on your best #adulting face and head out for your daily hustle.

Over the past few weeks, just like the teeming millions around the world, being locked in(and logged in) is the (cruel) but absolute necessity. There is no mother, there is no invention. Just stay home, period. Having finished counting the tiles in the house( 2924 at last count unless some of them have been broken courtesy my better half’s multiple in house walkathons) and other highly cerebral flings that WFH has brought upon us, I was recently enlightened to realise the number of absolutely useless channels that our TV subscription(traditional) package gave us. Numbers do give us a false sense of bravado and now I know why. At least it gives the remote something handy to do. Like going up and down, aimlessly! What if we could do that with squats, seriously? Our ham would begin to string a new tune. Ok, will exercise caution now.

Work @ work was fun(and I was perfectly @ home with it or so I think)- collaborating with my colleagues(@ISD Global) and clients on changing the world, being not just the game changer but the game, we are next level normal, we will make heaven wait, how dare… and what have you while studiously ignoring their condescending disapprovals. I don’t blame them. After all even relentless monotony can’t go beyond a limit and with the keep safe distance norms in place and borders being sealed, I have to wait for things to get back to  ‘ old normal ‘ for some ideas to pass(with or without Octroi). I only hope it happens ASAP unless the new definition(in the new normal) of ASAP is As Slow As Possible.

In the interim, I realise that my cell phone is acting up because when I keep pressing the Home button and look up, I realise I am still at work. Surely, some cells have been damaged. From hereon must check the sell by date. That probably calls for a visit to Shihab Mobiles(my Best Buy consultant). Alas, the contagion(no not Corona) is spreading. As now the keyboard has got into the act as well- I keep punching the Escape key only to note that I am still at work. I have seen the Great Escape but I saw something even bigger- the writing on the wall: Why is Monday so far from Friday and Friday so close to Monday? I see it better now !!

Those were the days. You always had something to look forward to. Driving back. Just like so many of us. Of coming home. And I bet, there’s nothing half so pleasant, as coming home again.

Sorry , go to go. In search of a new quest. A video on ” How to fold a perfectly folded T Shirt ” yet again! Sorry, if I wore my heart on my sleeve. But remember, we are all looking at the world with a new lens.

CAVEAT: Number of tiles indicated above will be more than 2924. I did not reckon with the other bathroom. Sorry, it slipped.. my mind. Updated stats in next piece. We can call it ‘ Stat(u)s Update ‘.

ENDS

ISD Global APP (Approach-Philosophy-Practice)

https://www.brandknewmag.com

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Just.Being.One

COVID 19 could be civilisation’s newest curse..
Or is it?
Can we see this as a blessing..
Realise there has never been a better time to come together.
Spiritually, emotionally..
While being distant.
Socially, physically..
To rise above prejudice, politics, profits..
Caste, colour, creed and..greed..
And bow to compassion, empathy, understanding..
See the grace in being part of the human race..
With no fault lines. Or finish lines. Only a start line..
Offer a helping hand..to sanitise the soul, the mind..
See the opportunity..in this crisis..
To be human..there has never been a better time!

Is SAD the new HAPPY in Advertising?

Let’s begin with the obvious. It’s an always on world. While being perennially and technologically connected, geography being history and all of that, at no time have humans been so socially disconnected in the real sense.The need (and significantly unmet) desire for human bonding has never been greater. Nuclear existence has stoked the potential that is kinetic in humans. There is a clamour to reach out and brands are bending over backwards to suit the new found relish for the pathos.
It’s a given that sad news travels fast. But, advertising that stokes emotions( or SADvertising as it is being called these days) that strikes a strong emotional piano chord and opens up the tear ducts, travels fast, wide and deep. Empathy meets exponential sharing, opens up a floodgate of brand conversations,triggers otherwise hard to come by response, sustains brand dialogue and keeps all stakeholders be it brand owners, ad agencies or end users, happy (ironic as it may sound!).
Why the sadness?
It is said that sad emotional content has the capacity to make people feel more emotionally connected to one another, especially powerful in our detached digital world. This sad connectedness makes people more likely to take an action such as sharing content, donating money, or buying a product.
Communicating sadness can create behavioral change
Scientifically speaking, when we hear interesting stories, specifically stories that make us feel distress or empathy, our brain produces two chemicals: cortisol, which links with our sense of distress and helps us focus our attention on something, and oxytocin, which is associated with our sense of empathy. When these two chemicals are triggered, studies show that people are more likely to give money to a cause related to the story they’ve heard.
In short, the study reveals that it is possible for a story to change a person’s behaviour by changing their brain chemistry. What does this mean for brands? Sad stories have the potential to move people to make a purchase. This is why we’ll likely see more of these sad ads in the future.
We have moved on from an era of media scarcity to an era of attention
scarcity. Getting people’s attention is what we’re trying to do, and I
think that meaning, something that people can relate to on a very
visceral level, is what drives a lot of the decisions we make when we’re
talking about things. Hyper competition has forced brands to not only
assure customers a good product or service but make it very relatable
and more meaningful than any other good product.
Over time brands have realised that the consumer culture has evolved
and people are more reflective and mindful of their lives. There is a
constant search for deeper layers of meaning once you have all the
things you need and most of the things you don’t need but desire. The
ad industry of the last decade was mean, cynical and celebrated
bitterness. Those were the days when brands wanted to be Sexy,
Swaggering or Sweeping. That showed up in most of the work that was
put up. Don’t blame them as it seemed to work for all concerned. But,
then after a while, people got sick of it and when a voice and tone which
conveyed exactly the opposite stuck in, the positive reaction was
overwhelming.
Lets list a few of the work from yesteryears where brands have stirred up a flood of emotions all over the world and that includes P&G and its commercial released around the Olympics(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUg6s-uIp1w), Honda’s Project Drive In(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kRU9Au-fhk), Coca Cola Life in Argentina(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPb1t3jU3sI), Nestle Good Life commercial in India(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syZju6ui394), Google’s Dear Sophie(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcHV_Dv9tlo), Dove’s Beauty Patch(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJGk), John Lewis(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9D-uvKih_k), Budweiser’s Puppy Love(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7p_3lITiK_Q), the charming tale of a canine equine romance or Expedia’s commercial(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CzSeFHrSfM) about same sex marriage where the father fights his prejudice etc.
The flip side of this (which is worrying) is that it has become a trend. The
word ‘ emotional ‘ is now become the most over used word in client
agency briefs. If you are used to agencies creating a trend which should
ideally be the case(rather than following one), its time to take stock. We
just might be at a tipping point on this one. But, till such time, it sinks in,
it’s cry, cry, cry till you succeed for brands and agencies.
Go, grab your tissues!
ENDS
https://www.groupisd.com/story
https://www.brandknewmag.com
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https://www.weeklileaks.com