If I were 22

I started my first full time job at the age of 23. One year into a new job with The Times of India was not what I had dreamt of . Starting with a English broadsheet in a hindi heartland – Indore had its own set of challenges. Industry challenges apart, I wish to touch upon few learnings from my early corporate life – and wish I had done these things differently

A) Knowing your passion : It is the holy grail. If you don’t know it – you wont enjoy what your are doing. The difficult part is to know your passion, easy part is to follow it at that age. Most – including me failed to understand what is my passion and hence succumbed to the usual grind of doing a PG & getting into a job – I found. My advice – Avoid this trap.

B) Take more risks : Risk is least when you have not much to loose. 2-3 years of your life must be invested in figuring out what works and what wont. Experience comes out of wrong decisions. So do not shy away from taking risks. Get the fear of failing out of your head. You will any which way not succeed early on. So better to build your experiences of what not to do at this age.

C) Find a mentor : Very important . I had none. I could had been somewhere else if I had one. Finding a mentor is also tricky. Not an easy task. But if you have followed above two points – chances are you would have found one by now. So use your mentor as a sounding board. Talk, communicate, express, articulate your doubts with your mentor and you would fast track your learning curve.

D) Write a lot : Nothing works like good old habit of penning your thoughts. Now it is even simpler with Evernote, Twitter, and all sorts of applications available to you. I used to write a lot – but I wish I wrote more. It is like a mirror to your self. You can revisit your image in future and understand your growth or de growth. It is powerful benchmark about how have your grown in your thoughts, attitudes, approach to life, finance and many other hygiene factors.

E) Financial Awareness : When you take risks, you also learn to experiment with money. Risks and financial awareness go hand in hand and allow you to understand how financial planning and awareness can help you in later stages of your career.

I want to keep this note crisp and think I have almost covered what I wish #IfIWere22 today. I am happy what I have achieved and I am hoping to go on and get what I still dream of. someday I would write back on how have I fared in achieving those dreams.

Advertising Agencies – Fragmentation is your nemesis.

I have been lucky to be on both sides of the business.  Actually three sides of the business is a better word. Spent quality time with creative and media agencies, Publications and broadcasters & Client side as well. Have enjoyed working with agencies of different hue and size and loved interaction with some rational some not so rational clients.

I would talk about clients who seek partnership with advertising agencies. Partnership which extends the relationship to that of a marketing arm, looking at all aspects of brand – including challenges at demand generation, perception building, image correction or improvement & create higher market share, external and internal communication etc. etc .

No denial that there is a real dearth of clients as explained above, but equally important question to ask – Are there agencies who have capability and competence to walk this path with such clients ?

In my opinion the full service advertising agency – which is what clients bargained for – has been fragmented by us folks – purely to satisfy individual aspirations and ambitions of agency folks.

Typical advertising agency would need Strategy,Planner,Creative,Art,Studio,Films,Media,PR,Events,Research etc and all important talent to manage each of these co-related business verticals. Factually how many agencies have each of these functions ? In my view of interacting with agencies in India and abroad, hardly any agency does all. If they do they are termed as boutique agencies and clients dis regard the scale and hence do not work with them (This is a very important for clients to understand that scale and creativity are at times inversely proportional).

My point is if agencies cease to offer all solution under single roof – we are calling for trouble and giving birth to a vicious cycle. Clients would go to multiple partners for a single solution and fragment the dollar further. As such agencies have learned to survive on a a remuneration which is hardly a motivation to hire quality talent. We are fishing in waters which offer a 1 % – to 5 % commission as against a healthy 15 % of a full service offering. We are creating designations and crazier portfolios for people just to keep them hooked on to the job. The fragmentation is not benefitting anybody – nor the clients , nor the agencies , and not the people working in these agencies.

Creative has confined it self to creative thinking and strategising, however studio function is more or less relegated or outsourced to vendors, Production is outsourced to production houses how double up as “deal makers” or “broker houses” who will broker a deal in the given cost. Media agencies have fragmented into – Mainline, OOH, digital, Retail, Rural, Retail , experiential and what not. Each one surviving on the already meagre margins but scurrying for top talent. No wonder we are not able to attract top talent and hence further going down in this downward spiral called fragmentation or as some creative genius would put it – Specialisation.

Call it old school thought, or simple business thinking – consolidation will give you scale, talent, cross business gains and clout to manage reputed brands. Fragmentation would probably give each one of a corner office – if that is what it has come to.

Perils of Fragmentation