Being an employee of our own myth!

We are all frauds! Forgive the blatant articulation.

 

To quote Wikipedia ” The master race (GermanHerrenrasse) is a pseudoscientific concept in Nazi ideology in which the putative “Aryan race” is deemed the pinnacle of human racial hierarchy. Members were referred to as “Herrenmenschen” (“master humans”).

 

Creating is hard for every last one of us– including for the ones from the allegedly superior Aryan race.

 

If you think creating is hard, try grave digging. Or coal mining. Infinitely harder. Do you think miners stand around all day thinking and talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? Certainly not. They just go ahead and do it ie dig!

 

Throughout life, you collect data points or dots. And you probably don’t have a clue how these dots will connect in the future. As Steve Jobs said, you can only connect these dots looking backward. But, you can only collect them going forward.

 

In our daily lives, too many of us favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt. The result is that our beliefs get brittle long before our bones.

 

Without the mistakes we make, the decisions we regret and the experiences that didn’t live up to our expectations, we would be very short on material for our creative work.  These things are all just ingredients for your soup, material for making meaning and making art.

 

The creative process, just like the creative life, isn’t linear.  We don’t know how each of our life experiences will impact us down the road. With each step forward, the view changes, the landscape shifts and the horizon offers a different dimension. The most insignificant of our experiences and life’s little skirmishes at the moment can serve as the most informative (and even inspiring) ones in our future.

 

Our creativity is not something that someone can give us, gift us or take away. It’s something thats always within us.  Whether it’s the degrees we earn or the jobs we hate, every experience offers us seeds to plant for the stories we tell.

 

Life doesn’t pause or stop to make room for our precious creating time. So, if you are running your own life’s employment exchange, show up and ship out!

 

ENDS

 

Trapped in the WHINEyard?

The only thing that whining or complaining does is to convince other people that you are not in control. Helpful? Far from it. And for all those who are under the mistaken impression that whining burns calories, sorry to disappoint you..it doesn’t!!

 

Whineyards grow only sour grapes.

 

Come to think of it- whining is a seductive package deal. When it works, it gets us attention, lowers expectations, it gains sympathy and it forces or coerces people to identify with our pain.

 

When whining becomes a habit, we need to continue it- so we begin to interpret events as opportunities to prove that our whining is justified.

 

People hate being around a whiner when the selfish desires of the habitual whiner becomes clear. As Lord Jeffrey put it so eloquently ” The tendency to whining and complaining may be taken as the surest sign symptom of little souls and inferior intellect “.

 

It would be great to remember that our complaints, drama, victim mentality, whining, blaming and all of the excuses that we come up with has never taken us even one step closer to our goals or dreams. So, time to let go of the nonsense, let go of the delusion that we deserve better and go earn it!

 

Our shared reality is the world as it is, and the whiner isn’t actually being singled out. The best way to make things better is to WORK to improve them, NOT demand special attention and treatment.

 

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are far more blessed than the million plus people who will not survive this week. If you can read this blog then you are far more fortunate than the millions who cannot read it at all.

 

Optimists run the risk of being disappointed now and then. Whiners are always disappointing!

 

Nobody is going to invite you and say ‘ here’s some cheese to go with your whine “- so, you know what to opt for- and whynot?

 

 

ENDS

 

Words Worth!

It’s only words and words are all I haveTo take your heart away…crooned Bee Gees in their seminal classic single Words way back in 1968.

 

Make no bones about it. The tongue has no bones, but is strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words. Words can inspire. And words can destroy. Words, they have the power to build people up, confine people to where they are, and break people down.

 

 

It may not be an exaggeration to say that words create worldsRemember that words are free but how we use them is what may cost us dearly.

 

Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.”Yehuda Berg

 

Acknowledging the power of spoken words is a fundamental building block to many self-help as well as mainstream therapies. For what we say out loud is a guide to what lies within us. If our talk is critical, cynical or destructive, then we tend to find we think about ourselves in a similar way.

 

Words connect humans to one another, navigating across time and space, in a profound and impactful way that nothing else can achieve. The written word allows for the sharing of ideas, philosophies, memories, events, and stories.

 

As one scholar puts it, “writing codifies speaking, thus turning words into objects of conscious reflection”. In other words, writing ideas makes them more concrete to us, and by mulling written words, we are better able to internalize and understand them, and to allow them to affect our behavior.

 

If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative. That is what inspired the adage ‘ Silence is golden ‘.

 

The power of words in history can never be under estimated. Words have transformed nations be it the Magna Carta or the Declaration of Independence. These texts show how the simplest of things – nothing but paper and ink – can be imbued with immense power by those who forge them.

 

Then there are the works of fiction and tales of writers like Dickens, Austen, Twain, Hemingway, Woolf, Orwell, Tolstoy, Shakespeare, and so on that have been enjoyed and admired throughout the ages. They continue to exert great influence over society right into the modern era, performed on the stage, adapted for the screen, and studied in great detail by readers worldwide.

 

Imagine the world without newspapers, dictionaries..vast swathes of the public would have been uninformed, literacy levels would not have found some of it’s feet that it is comfortably standing on now.. the works of Mary Wollstonecraft helped to lay the groundwork for the feminism of today, while iconic figures of the past like Martin Luther King Jr made use of their own writing abilities to bring to life a more equal and understanding society.

 

Great philosophers like Socrates, Kant, Plato, Descartes, Hume etc used their works to help us change our conception of the world around us. Political musings and journaling helped us understand the French Revolution or the American Civil War without which those key events could have played out differently.

 

Written words continue to hold great power, even in the digital space. Short messages and personal stories shared across social media led to the rise of massive global movements like the Arab Spring,  Me Too and Black Lives Matter, while aspiring authors continue to share their tales on a bigger scale than ever before.

 

At a time when all of us can head online and get our message across to millions at one go all over the world, the power of words have never been greater.

 

The human tongue is a beast that few can master. It strains constantly to break out of its cage, and if it is not tamed, it will run wild and cause you grief. Words are seeds that do more than blow around. They land in our hearts and not the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day. Not exactly the kind of diet that you would savor.

 

ENDS

Why 5% > 95% ?

No. The arithmetic may not look right. Contrarian and defies established norm. Yes.

 

But, dare I say, this is the new math.

 

A lot of our attention and effort is spent and invested in trying to onboard the laggards and the lurkers.

 

And it done by dumbing down. Offering more incentive. Creating urgency. Re-posting. Hustling to see if they would take some action.

 

Certainly not worth it.  And very frustrating for anyone who leads.

 

Progress operates on a different GPS. It has a different route to take.

 

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone who says they are a contributor | supporter | fan | contributor | member | long-term customer showed up..

 

..then huge things would begin to happen.

 

The 95% who lurk and remain non-committal will almost always lurk. Thats okay.

 

The energy and the emotional labour has to go into the 5%. The place to focus on. 

 

Because when their persistent, consistent and generous action begins to add up, change happens. And that may bring the lurkers along. And who knows, even activate them. They will catch up when they need to.

 

The chasm will get bridged at its own pace. And that’s perfectly fine.

 

There’s nothing wrong with the laggards and the lurkers. Remember, they are potential action-takers.

 

But for now, our focus, action, respect and gratitude is for all those people who are already showing up. And shipping out. Which is the 5%!

 

So, let’s stop falling over ourselves to dumb down. Average it out. Trying to appeal and please everyone and anyone.

 

When you seek to engage with everyone, you rarely delight anyone. And if you’re not the irreplaceable, essential, one-of-a-kind change maker, you never get a chance to engage with the market.

 

So, seek your MVA(minimum Viable Audience). This would be counter to what are taught (or expected to learn) in the ‘ School of Capitalism ‘ , but this is the simplest way to do the work that matters, impacts, changes and leaves an inspiring legacy.

 

Now you know- Why 5% > 95% ?

 

ENDS

Time Paws!

Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”

 

Sounds very contrarian but rings true what Leo Tolstoy quoted in War and Peace ”  The Two Most Powerful Warriors are Patience and Time “.

 

Time: it’s free, it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it!

 

You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once lost, you can never get it back.

 

Either you are using time. Or it’s using you. You can watch the clock, but if you do that, it’s watching you.

 

Clocks have an agenda. They were never a part of the natural human condition. They are a recent invention of the Industrial Age. And the very fact that they have an alarm built is a clue. Rings a bell?

 

It’s definitely possible to put time to good use.  But, if we are without a compass and a goal, we can find it using us.

 

Whenever you are stuck searching for the optimal question to ask, remember, ‘ Getting started changes everything ‘- and the time to start is NOW.

 

The invention of the calendar was to keep the outside world at bay and reclaim the agency we lostto respond instead of to react.

 

There’s reason to be aweptimistic– and nothing better than tomorrow! To embark on the ‘ journey to better ‘.

 

ENDS

How about changing your ‘ mailing address ‘ ?

When you look back at life, do you pat yourself on the back or turn your back on life?

 

We never forget the postal address of our past. Where we often mail metaphorical letters. Mostly letters of beration. Admonishment. Of the mistakes we made. Of the wrong decisions we took. Regretting the missed opportunities. Spending valuable time wallowing in self-pity.

 

Often taking the easy route or short cut to blaming our younger self for the mess we may be in.

 

Let’s do something contrarian. Begin with changing the mailing address. What would you be saying to your future self?  And how would you feel when you read that letter in a few months or few years from now?

 

May be you would realise that the crisis or cataclysm that you are facing right now did not turn out as badly as you feared. Maybe you would express some optimism that you could convert to action. And maybe you would develop some empathy for your past self, who was just doing the best you could.

 

So, let’s change where we where we post to. Begin at the destination and travel back to a better addressA future back perspective is a much better one than a present forward one.

 

Nothing is a mistake. There is no WIN. Or no FAIL. There’s only MAKE. Not everything that can be counted counts; and not everything that counts can be counted.

 

In an expanding universe, time is on the side of the outcast. Those who once inhabited the suburbs of human contempt find that without changing their address they eventually live in the metropolis. Karma has everyone’s address. Yours is in the mail now.

 

Yesterday has passed. We can treat it as a gift or an asset from our previous self. Having said that, there is no gun on the head. You don’t have to accept it if you don’t want to. Tomorrow is a bigger, better opportunity. But, if you are still defending that stuck project of the past( where you have sunk in big emotional labour among other things), you are not making headway as you can’t show up for the new better. Oh! that sunken feeling!

 

ENDS

 

Creativity & The Certainty of Uncertainty !

When nothing is sure, everything is possible “- Margaret Drabble

 

Just as change is the only constant, the only certainty is uncertainty. And knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security. Life is shot through with uncertainty and sometimes that uncertainty rears its head in profound ways. The assertion here, however, is that there really is no creativity without uncertainty. Put another way: dubito ergo creo. This is Latin for, I doubt therefore I create.

 

The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers. Unleash, invent, create, discover, endure, heal, inspire, transform. Hope hinges on uncertainty. The audacity of hope is what keeps us going. Uncertainty is the refuge of hope.

 

The outside world provokes, persists and insists that we change the story we tell ourselves. Our attitude doesn’t have to be driven by the outside world, but sometimes they overlap.

 

Specifically, when we experience uncertainty – no matter how uncomfortable and unsettling and destabilizing it can feel – the good news is that it opens vistas of possibility for new thought and action. If we have the confidence and willingness to take creative action in that moment, then our experience with uncertainty can lead to new ways of thinking and acting. Taking action, of course, does not guarantee creative outcomes, but it is through new thought and action that we can, at least temporarily, re-stabilize our experiences in new and better ways.

 

“In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty…in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.” ~ Deepak Chopra.

 

Courtesy: ISD Global

Organizations are created, powered, and led by people. To lead organizations well, we train people in disciplines such as marketing, finance, and leadership. But uncertainty presents a special challenge since few of us have received training in how to deal with it. As a result, although we may call for innovation, transformation, and change, most people back down at even the hint of risk, falling into a series of behavioral traps that limit organizations’ ability to grow and adapt. The challenge is that all growth, change, and transformation inevitably come paired with uncertainty. We have to go through the uncertainty to get to the possibility.

 

The concept of creative learning describes how we can be moved into a state of actionable uncertainty whenever we experience optimally discrepant learning stimuli, which is something that is sufficiently different from our prior knowledge, understanding, or skills. Let’s remember our brains are hardwired to be lazy, so the reliance on default mode thinking and being in comfort zones is a natural fallout. Creative learning stimuli are optimally discrepant, meaning that they are not so different from our prior understanding that we can’t make sense of them, nor are they so familiar that we simply incorporate them into what we already know. This aspect of creative learning is similar to Swiss Psychologist Jean Piaget‘s conception of accommodation, which asserts that whenever we encounter new experiences that cannot be easily incorporated into our existing understanding, we need to change our existing knowledge structures to accommodate the new experience.

 

There are least three creative agency beliefs that seem necessary for us to act in the face of uncertainty. These beliefs include: creative confidence beliefs, perceived value of creativity, and creative risk taking.

 

Creative confidence or, more specifically, creative self-efficacy, refers to the confidence that we can think and act creatively in this moment. So, in the midst of uncertainty, our creative confidence beliefs become fluid and influenced by features and interactions situated in a particular time, task and context.

 

Perceived value of creativity also plays an important role. Even if a person has confidence to think and act creatively, if they do not value doing something new or different then they’re not likely going to invest the effort necessary to engage with the uncertainty they are experiencing in a creative way. Consequently, perceived value of creativity moderates the relationship among people’s potential to act creatively, their creative confidence beliefs, and their creative performance.

 

The third self-belief that seems to play a key role in taking action under uncertainty is the willingness to take the risks necessary for creative action. The willingness to take creative risks serves as a moderator between creative confidence and creative behavior.

 

Taken together, our judgements about our confidence, perceived value of creative action, and willingness to take creative risks seem to work together and inform us as to whether we will take creative action in the face of uncertainty.

 

We seem to be moving onward and upward from IQ(Intelligence Quotient) to EQ(Emotional Quotient) to AQ(Adaptability Quotient)in uncertain times, the best strategy is adaptability. Covid-19 amply demonstrated the significance of adaptability as a powerful asset for individuals and organizations alike.

 

Creativity often aids adaptability. A creative approach to new and unfamiliar situations can often help circumvent apparent awkwardness and head off the lack of confidence that may begin to develop as others watch us struggle to adapt.

 

The future is uncertain..but this uncertainty is at the very heart of human creativity “- Ilya Prigogine.

 

ENDS

A question of questions!

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”: Voltaire 

Question is defined as a sentence or phrase used to find out information, insight or intelligence.

We may have all experienced this. You are checking out of a hotel room after a few days’ stay. The lady at the checkout counter politely asks you ‘ How was your stay? ‘ And this question seems not to have changed over the years across time zones and continents. And in most cases, a polite yet non committal answer evolves  ‘ It was good ‘ (even though the stay may not have been).
 
What if (question?) we are asked ‘ What could we have done to improve your stay with us ? ‘ . The energy and the dynamic changes completely. Rather than go on auto pilot mode and offer the default response, you are buoyed by the keenness of the hotel staff to improve the guest experience and you end up offering honest feedback. The answer may not give them exactly what they want to hear. But it will give what’s valuable for them to learn.
As the old proverb goes ‘ Better to ask a question than to remain ignorant ‘.
What if Obvious Questions collide with Contrarian Answers? It’s a discussion worth having. When smart, committed people disagree about the answer to a question, it’s a question worth pursuing.
Progress or outcomes? There is no toss up- its got to be progress. Ditto with questions.
HR reviews could have better progress and responses if employees are asked ‘ What challenges are you facing now ? ‘, as that question presumes that challenges are the norm, not the exception. Rather than ask ‘ Are you facing any challenges?’ , when most will say no. They might fear that their admission will be seen as a weakness.
Good insights, contrary to popular wisdom, don’t come from a smart answer. They come from a smart question.
” We awaken by asking the right questions. We awaken when we see knowledge being spread that goes against our own personal experiences. We awaken by seeking answers in corners that are not popular. We awaken when we see popular opinion being wrong but accepted as being right, and what is right being pushed as wrong “- Suzy Kassem
ENDS

KNOWstalgia Marketing!

I thought there is so much to know to about Nostalgia- so, here I go again!

 

Caveat: This is a Long Read

It was the summer of 2018. On a trip to London, I was with family at a South Bank store that sold books, records, memorabilia among other things. Apart from great classics on film making and works of Shakespeare, what caught my attention was an unadulterated digital native ( she must have been at best all of 17), buying a vinyl album(records as they were called those days) of yesteryear band Fleetwood Mac. In the days of streaming music services like Spotify, Deezer and what have you, I was wondering what was the throwback all about. That experience has retained etched in (my fast fading) memory, ever since.
 
If you’ve ever watched an ad or a TV show and felt fond memories of the good old days rushing back at you, then you’re familiar with nostalgia. Nostalgia describes the sentimental longing we feel for periods in the past. It’s the warm feeling that envelops us when we think of positive times from our childhoods or youth.
Nostalgia is often triggered by a sensory stimulus, such as a scent, a song, a taste, or a sight; it can also be caused by a conversation, a memory recollection or a similar experience.
Nostalgia marketing takes on that notion and creates a playful campaign referencing a time gone by in order to tap into our collective longing for the past.
According to Krystine Batcho, Le Moyne College professor, psychologist, and researcher of nostalgia, “Nostalgia is a refuge, as people turn to the feelings of comfort, security, and love they enjoyed in their past.”
It comes as no surprise that during the first COVID-19 lockdown, mentions of nostalgic keywords rose from 13 million to 24.4 million, which is an increase of 88%.

When people watch an old television show, listen to some excellent music from a bygone era(how about ABBA?), and so on, they feel happy and have a better outlook on life. As a result, a lot of brands and businesses are now attempting to capitalize on this sentiment and trend by creating advertisements and other marketing materials that remind and nudge individuals of happier times in their lives.

 

Many enterprises are also attempting to associate their brand with pleasant memories and notions associated with past periods and places. The goal of businesses is for their customers and other consumers to associate their products and brand with a time when things were better, less stressful, and more secure.

 

This brand of advertising can be effective for businesses of all sizes. In addition to rating such nostalgic advertisements and the company behind them more favorably, consumers also pay more for the items that are associated with those advertisements. So, it is a double whammy. It is referred to as creating an emotional connection, and it pays off handsomely for the company that employs nostalgic marketing.

Why nostalgia marketing works so well

 

Studies on autobiographical memory — the memory system that tracks episodes of our lives — have shown that when we are reminded of episodes from our past, we re-experience the emotions tied to the original episodes. So, if those memories were positive — think carefree moments from our childhoods, fun family dinners, road trips or game nights with friends, etc. — we are likely to experience the same cheer.

The Devil(does not wear Prada) is in the details!
One must ensure that the music, colors, fonts, and even the images used in the advertisements or other communication are appropriate for the time period being promoted. For example, don’t use a font or color palette from the 1920s in a 1960s retro advertisement. Instead, make use of the options from the 1960s. Authenticity is paramount.
Oh the good ol’ days… One app had brought back a decade of happy memories and made millions feel like a teenager again. Pokemon Go. Coincidently it had also brought Nintendo and Niantic billions of pounds in business revenues and a new generation of loyal followers. That is the power of the past, and the reason why brands use nostalgic marketing.
The Trifecta that drives Nostalgia Marketing
Emotions
We all know about the adage ‘ Sell the Sizzle Not The Steak ‘. Enabling people to reminisce about the good ol’ days, marketers are actually triggering actual feelings we once had. Whether those feelings are your favorite snack, or the first song you slow danced to(Lady in Red anyone?), your first date, your first bike ride..
Not only does forlorning for the past make us feel fuzzy inside it also makes us open to brand messaging.
Memories
The route to nostalgia marketing is by triggering latent memory. Three’s Company or Miami Vice or I Love Lucy were great TV shows no doubt and we don’t need to be convinced about it but it works to be reminded about it. The same applies for brands; if a brand is able to trigger a reminder of a time that they were once favourable to us, or use existing memories and tie themselves to that association, then they need not worry about convincing us that they are great they can just remind us of a heyday era.
Trust
Celebrating milestones or using the year of establishment within the brand identity( aka Marks & Spencers: Est 1884) to relay to customers that you have stood the test of time is an instantly effective method of gaining their trust. This strategy to reinvigorate the trust in brands by conjuring up past associations hopes to bring back previous customers and inspire new ones.
Why (Blast from the Past) Nostalgia?
Nostalgia is the marketing equivalent of comfort food. Especially in difficult times, a hug from the past can settle our nerves and reassure us to purchase a product to make us feel secure again. As we face headwinds of a long, protracted recession, now is the time for brands to act as a comforting cup of cocoa for consumers.
Time for brands to flip the Polaroids in our minds. It would be worthwhile spending the present to go back into the past to tackle the future.
ENDS

Creativity is Futureproof !

Did you know? The future apparently is already here, albeit a tad unevenly distributed.

 

Perhaps a lot of us get caught out like a deer in the headlights because the future arrives slowly and then all of a sudden.

 

That said, I can understand the obsession behind predicting the future. But why are predictions popular? Because they appeal to human nature. They create a sense of certainty in an uncertain world.

 

But they are wrong far more often than we assume.

 

Nobel Prize winner in Economic Sciences(circa 2008) Paul Krugman famously wrote in 1998 ” The growth of the Internet will slow drastically, Most people have nothing to say to each other! By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s.”

 

That one may have slightly missed the mark 😀. Well, well, the best of them can’t get the future right, so what are we crowing about? The problem isn’t just with experts. No one is great at predicting the future. Much of life can’t be forecasted, diagrammed, or reduced to a PowerPoint deck. When the future doesn’t match our expectations, our projections get thrown out (or worse, they’re still followed).

 

How about changing the narrative from predicting the future to ‘ creating the future ‘? Now we could be talking! And one of the strongest arsenal that you have in your armory in creating the future is ‘ creativity ‘.

 

Creativity is human.

 

It’s global.

 

Creativity is technology-agnostic.

 

It doesn’t discriminate.

 

From people working on the bleeding edge of their fields..

 

To others bringing more humanity to technology and industry..

 

The call to action is for creatives to take control of our tomorrow.

 

In it, we’ll seek to recapture the feeling of optimism, not fear,  for the future. Because in the hands of creatives, the future is bright.

 

The creative process is often a matter of changing ‘ What is ‘ to ‘ What if ?’. We first observe the ‘ Status Quo ‘ and then imagine a ‘ Status Novus ‘- Keith Reinhard, Member, Advertising Hall of Fame.

The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.

 

Every time you have an idea pop into your head and don’t muster the self-confidence to act on it seriously, think about the opportunity cost you are likely to pay.

 

In the balance sheet of creators versus consumers, the world rewards creators by an overwhelming majority. You will get far more from writing 100 blog posts than reading 100.(BTW, all good writing begins with terrible first efforts).

 

Consumption is deceptive because it makes you feel that you are productive when you are not. Artistic progress is the result of creation NOT consumption.

 

The myth going around is that creativity and productivity are mutually exclusive. But they are NOT.

 

So let’s create more than we can consume.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou

 

Creativity is an infinite game. You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.

 

To survive, to avert what we have termed future shock (Alvin Toffler), the individual must become infinitely more adaptable and capable than ever before. We must search out totally new ways to anchor ourselves, for all the old roots – religion, nation, community, family, or profession – are now shaking under the hurricane impact of the accelerative thrust. It is no longer resources that limit decisions, it is the decision that makes the resources.

ENDS