WANTED: Editor-in-Chief: For LIFE!

I was never even mediocre at either math or arithmetic. Hence, if this fails to add up, I am completely at home with it.

So the writer who breeds more words than she needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads ” – so said Dr. Seuss.

Every year at the Oscars, the award for Best Picture gets all the fanfare( this year, of course Will Smith had other ideas). That may be stating the obvious. What might be not so obvious is in contrast, the award for film editing flies under the radar. But you may be surprised by the correlation between these two awards.
Since 1981, only three films have won “Best Picture” without also being nominated for “Best Film Editing”.
Why is editing so crucial in filmmaking?
A good film editor removes distractions by eliminating trivial or irrelevant things. She uses deliberate subtraction to add life to the ideas, setting, plot, and characters.
The best films are exceptional not because of what we see but because of what we don’t see.
We can draw parallels here. And use the same principles to edit our own lives. We might be from Mars or Venus but on Mother Earth our never ending to-do list need not be a perennial match for our Herculean, Machiavellian competence and calibre that we seem to have been willy nilly blessed(cursed?) with. Probably there is a space to begin by ‘ separating the vital few from the trivial many ‘. The over ignored practice of essentialism.
Mind you, this is no easy task. To distill and rein in our incorrigibly elastic task list. How will we answer our ego? Or camouflage our insecurities? We find comfort in “keeping our options open”. But having too many options leaves us without direction. Having a few focused options gives our life a clear direction and makes decision-making easier.
Eventually, every cut ​we​ make brings joy. Maybe not in the moment, but soon ​we​ will realize the time ​we have​ gained can now be spent on something better.
​We, as people, ​systematically overlook subtractive changes, instead following ​our​ instincts to add. There is nothing inherently wrong with adding. But if it becomes a default path to improvement, that may be failing to consider a whole class of other opportunities​.
The paltry rate of subtraction in our ​life or ​organizational-improvement​ journey is appalling.​ To improve a redundant piece of writing, few produce an edit with fewer words. To improve a jam-packed travel itinerary, ​we hardly remove events or places to​ allow ​us​ to savor the ones that remained. To improve a Lego structure, ​we hardly take​ pieces away. Whether ​we​ ​a​re changing ideas, situations, or objects, the dominant tendency ​i​​s to do so by adding.
​In an increasingly attention starved​, attention craving economy, subtraction ​h​as a ​noticeability ​​​p​roblem​. When we add things, apparently it gets noticed. But when we subtract..we seem to miss the point.
Life has a way of taking over. We start running on auto-pilot especially when we are overwhelmed, in over our heads, or simply worn out from all that life is throwing our way. And this year, life is throwing more than ever our way.
After a while of trying to keep all the balls in the air, we stop paying attention and simply start reacting. Amidst all the chaos, we know something has to change, but we don’t know what or how.
When was the last time ‘ nurturing our heart and soul ‘ was part of our to-do list? It hardly make​s​ the list of things to take care of during the day. If ​we​ prioritize the nurturing of our heart and soul, by taking time to listen to what they want, by engaging in soul-soothing activities and by using them to guide our actions, ​we​ ​can​ get our life back. ​We​’ll remember who ​we​ are​(otherwise in the stage called life​,​ we are all practicing ‘ selective amnesia ‘)​ and begin to attract people and projects that are a perfect fit for the real ​us​.
S​o what is the take away? ​Yes, you guessed it, take away, to make way!
BEGINS

Numerology and the Marketing Math!

Numerology and the Marketing Math: The 25 to 70% off enigma!

Numerology: Definition: The branch of knowledge that deals with the occult significance of numbers.

We are all swayed by possibility. As we are swayed by short cuts. Human beings are hardwired to be lazy. So, unless and until there is a by design effort to put in the emotional labour​, routine is the ardently followed also ran. Mundane replaces the potential jugular. It remains that way, because it’s always been done that way. So why upset the applecart? But what happens when the cart is being toppled?

​I am not a numbers person. Far from it. It somehow just doesn’t add up for me. So, I have almost subtracted it from my life. But, being in the space that I am, and observing the brand marketing communications around me, I am tempted to do a deeper dive and know more.

25 to 70%off: Most of you would have seen these numbers ​scream out at us day in and day out from newspapers, billboards, radio ads, digital ads etc. In fact, some of us were mistaking the 25 to 70% off to be a tourist destination(considering how many of them sprout all over the city)- One cannot miss it because leading brands across industry verticals with the support and ‘ advise ‘ of big ticket advertising agencies make sure such campaigns are run 13 months in a year. So, that makes it 24X7X395. A different numerology this!

The ever lasting love affair of brand and marketing experts with 25 to 70% off remains a mystery. Or by now, it should not be. Considering the amount of time ‘ the practice ‘ has come to root(or should it be rot?). And the practice has been perfected beyond question. And ably aided by ‘ brand guardians ‘ who toe the line willingly as this ‘ ad vise ‘ is coming from senior czars at the big ticket ad agencies– how can they get their ‘ numbers ‘ wrong? . They have everything going for them- They use ‘ fancy  calculators ‘, wear Armani suits, have Turkish coffee 8 times a day, the hair is slickly gelled. Sorry, forgot to add the clincher-they also wear crocodile skin pointed leather shoes!!!

I have heard somewhere that ‘ the more things change, the more they remain the same ‘. Recently, a very senior brand and business head of a market leading lifestyle brand called us at ISD Global saying that they are in troubled times. They were losing market share and from being a clear category leader with over 65% retail market share, it was time for store closures, downsizing(or rightsizing to make it sound sweeter) and market share dipping to below 40% – all that in a matter of about 18 months. Inspite of increased marketing spends as advised by the ‘ experts ‘. My question to him was to understand what were they doing different to what was being done and not surprisingly the answer remained ‘ we have aggressively started doing deep discounting and instead of doing it 4 times a year, we remain committed to doing it through the year ‘…so there you go, enough said – ‘ the more things change, the more they remain the same ‘.

​So, do these brand owners and guardians take their coveted ad agencies to task? I’m afraid not. If that were to happen, how can they make ‘ interesting, cerebral conversation ‘ saying that our brand works with XXXX agency – they are in the Top 5…and walk around with a chip on their shoulder​. And be ranked among ‘ Top 50 ‘ Marketing Professionals in XXXX. Recognised as the ‘ best 40 under 40 ‘ or the ‘ leading 50 over 50 ‘- to be flagged on their Linked In profile. And ‘buy awards ‘ and (p)ride of place in Superbrands next hard bound edition.

Customers buy only on price and the more you deep discount, more loyalty they bring to the equation is still the belief(believe it or not!). We can keep bribing them and they will keep flocking like bees to honey. But, what happened? The numbers are not adding up. ​​The 25 to 70% off numerology chapter needs to turn the page. The strategy is now clearly a ‘ has BEEn ‘! And still being tried Bees Saal Baad( Twenty Years Hence for those not familiar with the Hindi language).

So, where are they headed? To me the writing is on the wall- or is it on the palm?

​Palmistry, anyone?​ Could be easier. Palm off your responsibility to someone or something else! Enough suckers around.

As for me, I am calling up my Mom(God Bless Her) to know more about the occult practice..you guessed it: Numerology!

Disclaimer: She is a retired Math teacher. And she has no interest in ‘hyperbole discounting‘.

And if you permit me a bit of Marketing 01(not even 101): ‘ Differentiation is not an intrinsic characteristic of a brand; differentiation is in the eye of the consumer ‘.

For all those swayed by the ‘ herd mentality ‘, this may never get heard. But, that being said, marketing is a serious responsibility. And there is no running away from that!

A New Thought for School; a New School of Thought?

A New Thought for School; a New School of Thought?

In a world that demands continuous re imagination for a creative and self reliant age, here could be a clarion call to transform the present day school system. The rant(brilliantly put out by the mercurial Tom Peters) goes thus:-

From Teach-to-Test TO Teach to Quest

From Developing Facts TO Developing Talent

From SAT Prep(Think ‘multiple choice’) TO WOW Project(Think ‘individual choice’)

From Fetishing Generic ‘ standards ‘ TO Honoring Individual Creativity

From Quiet classrooms TO Noisy classrooms

From School as Factory with focus on ‘units ‘ TO School as Studio with focus on Uniqueness

From turning out Docile workers TO Building up Creative ‘ talent ‘

From Obedience as key virtue TO Initiative as key virtue

From Teaching to a Standard ‘norm'(Lowest Common Denominator) TO Teaching to a Standard of ‘excellence'(Highest Possible Achievement)

From a Focus on Similarities TO Focus on Differences

From Testing for ‘Intelligence'(singular) TO Teaching for ‘Intelligences'(multiple)- Mr Howard Gardner, there you have your say!

From Math & English domination TO Art and Music thriving

ENDS

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