The Wide Eyed Wanderer

When employees leave, they often carry with them a bit of organization. I am carrying a bit of LMG/BPN/Branded content and many more memories with me.

I also intend to carry back something more then memories. Its called feedback.

As I leave Lintas today, I hope to see new curves (dont get wild ideas – I meant learning and challenges curves), learn new things beyond Media, make new friends, and hopefully emerge as a bright and proud professional.

You dont become good professional by just experiences, you also need feedback. Feedback about what people believe you are.

I want you to take time out of your schedule and take a moment to give me a feedback about me. What better time to ask for it when I am leaving. This will ensure you can be bitchy, nasty and badmouth me if you have to.

Whatever it is, I accept it and would urge you to take this poll.

Happy knowing you.

Significance of Awards

Today while driving to office I came across a billboard about OAC – Outdoor Advertising Convention. OAC claims on how the awards are ridiculously competitive. I quite liked the concept – how most award entries land up on a panipuri stall – all credit to taproot and team OAC.

After a chance meeting with Nimisha Shah from OAC in my office I learned that the awards this time are in Goa.

I pondered for a while. Why so many changes ?

Fresh memories of Goa fest are still in my mind & honestly speaking, apart from one session on creative v/s media debate in which Vikram Sakhuja, Prasoon Joshi, Partha Sinha & Anupriya Acharya there is hardly anything which I take back home on Goa fest. (Unless you want to write about the rain dance and other frivolous sessions).

So are award functions loosing their significance or am I loosing my sense of what to gain from an award function.

I still believe the former is correct.  With no specific bias to OAC or Goa Fest (I respect both).

There are three broad concerns I have with Award functions, and believe if addressed awards would be truly what they are meant to be – recognition of good work and encouragement.

 

A) People : I think as communication professional we should stop chasing awards but chase good work. The vicious cycle of you get award – client is happy- gets you more work is wrong and need to stop. No harm is chasing award, but doing work for award is a wrong intention and wont help any.

B) Finance : Award functions are sponsored by whom ? Organizations who compete for awards ? How do you profess a honest judgement of awards without the allegations of them being rigged or biased towards sponsor. Its like Mumbai Indian sponsoring IPL and competing with CSK/RCB/RR to win the trophy. I think there should be at best 1 or 2 award functions  – one awarding media work and other creative. Both the awards should be managed by AAAI and should not be seeking sponsorship from any. While it may cut done some frills like exotic locations like Goa and 5 or 7 star properties, but it will for sure add the more important frills like seriousness of intent and quality of judging awards.

C) Judges : So what it takes to become a judge at such award ceremonies. I have attended a few and had serious reservations about the quality of judging process and at times my fitment for the job (without being modest). The process is more relaxed and fun, with little or  no involvement on factors like market results and a third party assessment of claims by award nominees.

Awards are good to have, but not necessarily a must to have. We must leave our fixation with Must to have and stick to good to have. The good part will come when we focus on doing good things which may not necessarily mean – exotic locales, bragging rights, show offs but mean business results, measurable engagement between consumer and brands & really innovative piece of work.

 

Awards by definition are recognizing good work and encouraging it

 

Emergence of Tourism advertising

About a month back I came across a web link which promised a lifetime experience for lucky few to travel to SA with guess whom – Jonty Rhodes.  I think the offer was just irresistible  to no to try.

For one – SA is a heaven and anyone who loves to explore nature at its best- this was a significant upside. With so much of varied landscapes to offer – Adventure, Wildlife, beautiful landscapes, cosmopolitan outlook, global cuisines, breathtaking locations – well the list can be endless. And each one of them worthy writing, clicking, narrating, tweeting inspiring others, to take the leap, and just put this country on your bucket list.

 

Secondly associating with Jonty Rhodes who epitomizes all positive traits – good sportsmanship, excellent athlete, role model for aspiring cricketers and above all a good human being. The offer was worth a try.

 

I tweeted about why I believe I should be taken to South Africa, and believe that many in the country would have found the marketing promotion worthy of a try. I call this a smart marketing initiative by the SA Tourism for India. Having a pulse on adventurous, young Indian , who love to travel – express, blog, and stay relevant to their social peers,  and who worship Cricket  and hence have a great love for Jonty Rhodes is a killer combination.

 

I am not too sure of quantitative data as to how many people tweeted and participated in it, but qualitatively this was a great initiative and  was  a good attempt at leveraging the paid – earned and owned media for SA Tourism. The website – owned media has allowed many to interact and share it on their social media (earned media). The client must have paid a small sum for the paid media which was worth the effort.

 

Hope to see many more such tourism initiatives in India and keeping my fingers crossed for the results of Take me to South Africa contest.

 

 

 

A point of View need to be heard – Wharton India Economic forum

 

 

Image

Wharton website greets you with following statements – Knowledge for Global Impact, Life, Innovation,Success, and Action. 

Knowledge you must seek and learn from diversified sources – even from people whom you principally disagree with. A point of View is a point of View, and it must be heard.

WIEF is in its 17th year and surely knows the kind of audience it caters to. It was not a first time they were shortlisting list of keynote speakers and hence could not had assessed its impact on its image or audience reaction.  To Invite Narendra Modi and then regret and withdraw is not something which you expect from a renowned school like Wharton.

I believe that it is important to be open to Hear opinions and POV from all sphere of life. Diversity is one of the key promise from Wharton and Narendra Modi’s speech was able to offer just that – Sheer diverse opinions and style of politics- which may or may not be acceptable by a larger majority.

But then you have to appreciate good after understanding what is bad. Without listening to him WIEF has missed an opportunity and got negative publicity in bargain. Narendra Modi on other hand has risen on this publicity and will be interesting to see how he leverages this to his advantages. 

 

Thoughts around CJ award night

I have been an avid news genre freak and been brought up on a staple diet of reading newspapers, novels, and The World This Week capsule hosted by Dr. Prannoy Roy.

I admire the power of news channels to help one frame opinion, understand, appreciate point(s) of view, allow people to express dissent and still work towards progress. Sheer diversity of speakers, stories, opinions and counter opinions make one a better informed individual.

Another important contribution of news channels is  the power to people of being heard and share genuine concerns to a larger audience who may be going through a similar plight/concerns.

Citizen journalist is one such platform which empowers common man to express his/her concerns and possibly seek a resolution to problems which could not be resolved through regular efforts. To me it is a reason enough got you not to remain  mere – Arm Chair Critic.

I was privileged to have won a CJ award on March 02’2013 at hands of Shri Anna Hazare and other eminent personalities including – Rajdeep Sardesai, Anubha Bhonsale from CNN-IBN, Ashutosh from IBN-7 ,and Nikhil Wagle from IBN-Lokmat. While my effort was a small initiative – I was completely floored by two key observations around the CJ award night.

Fighting spirit and Good Fellows in our Society

The fighting spirit of middle India to stop being a helpless victim. At least 4-5 winners were girls primarily in sub 20 age group and most of them from not so affluent society. The sheer courage and determination of these girls to fight for their right – in a very democratic and peaceful manner was commendable.

A candid comment by Rajdeep Sardesai and Ashutosh that IBN network was just a facilitator for amplifying such initiatives and the entire credit goes to the young harbingers of change was a very apt description of the reason for CJ to be successful.

I salute all such young minds who were fearless, selfless and upright in their fight for justice and I also salute IBN network for the sheer selfless approach in amplifying it and to stand by it. A special appreciation for corporate like Idea Cellular to support it for 6 years at a stretch. Perhaps a lesson for many marketers to learn from such sustained sponsorship effort.

The inclusiveness of Elite in mainstream.

Polarization of elite and poor is often the reason for societies to  create dissent. I saw many people including Gul Panag, Kabir Bedi, Anup Soni (Crime Patrol Fame) to lend their support to such a platform. If celebrities and elite from all walks of life support a common man, there is no reason for administration and law enforcers not to take cognizance of complaints from a common man.

Gul made a passionate plea as to how a page 3 celebrity can help push things further for a common man. Fact that India is a celebrity struck society, it is a reason enough for law enforcers and administration to register valid complaints.

In many ways it is creating a large support system which if comes alive is strong enough to suppress every single act of lawlessness and create a intolerant society for all.

Nikhil Wagle and Rajdeep echoed the fact that the elite cannot remain cocooned in their comfort zone and act now because soon enough the anarchy will hit them too in some way or other.

I believe these are clear signs of a change which has a potential to change India.

I also believe that people like me – who are neither elite, nor the repressed have to take sides, and stop being resilient/cocooned/arm chair critic and raise our voice for something which we feel is wrong, against the law and should be stopped.

To sum up I am glad that the fourth pillar of our democracy is working for betterment of India. While IBN network stands for Citizen Journalism, I am happy to see Headlines Today with initiatives like – Right to be Heard, News hour on Times Now and many other on regional networks like – ABP news in Maharashtra etc.

Dissent needs to have a voice and what better then the news media ? Look forward to contribute to many more such platforms and urge all of you reading this blog to come forward and stop being an arm chair critic or resilient.

Power to the Citizens

Image

 

What Started as a mere observation and discussion topic between co passengers, today is a proud recipient of CJ awards.

Never had an award in mind, nor had a vested interest since the maddening traffic situation in Mumbai impacts all, as badly as it does to me. But what mattered I think was – Initiative, persistence and cause which concern majority of us.

 

4 days from now I would be receiving this award – proving that one needs to have a ability to assess what concerns you, resolve to make things change, and right intentions.

 

Try getting a license

I first got my driving license in 1992.  I was 19 years young then.  This was in Indore, a sleepy little town compared to metropolis I now live in – Mumbai.

1992, I don’t remember if I ever went for a driving test or any learning license. I was recommended an agent by my friends and I got license delivered at my home. My driving license came with a 20 year term – expiry in August’2012.

This year in August, I had to make a choice. And I had 2 options to choose from :

A) Go to Indore RTO, get a NOC from them and apply for renewal in Mumbai

B) Apply for a fresh license in Mumbai and get it in 2 months time.

I choose the latter – for obvious reasons – location proximity and supposedly ease of process.

My journey which began in August’2012 had many interesting learnings which I want to share. I went online (http://www.mahatranscom.in/licence.aspx) and downloaded form 1 & form 2. First milestone achieved. Little did I knew that my nightmare was about to begin

There is no mechanism to submit form online. Maharashtra government decided to have one way communication, where you can download form, but not submit it online. So you are not saved the trouble of going to nearest RTO and find your way through the maze called RTO. I decided to go to RTO myself and try my luck. 

I was welcomed with a barrage of agents the moment I landed at RTO. For a moment I thought myself as musaddi from office office trying to find sense in this madness. There is no enquiry office at RTO. So you have to ask agents/touts who double up as enquiry office giving you information which suits them and their business interests.

After trying for 15 min, I finally got to speak with a officer. He asked me to fill up the form, line up and submit the form. Submission window is a mad rush, where they do not even acknowledge your presence if you are not an agent.

I had a ongoing battle with my watch and hence,I gave up my zeal to try things for self and decided to seek help from an agent.  I was fast tracked to a window, and within a span of 10 min, my picture was clicked, thumb prints taken, digital signature recorded and pronto you walk out with a receipt for driver license.

I had the privilege of paying Rs. 500 as against Rs. 50 official fee for learning license. What about others who found this fee to be too steep. 

In a way the entire system was meant to conspire against a common man. Unwelcome reception, lack of enquiry, touts and agents pretending to be only saviour, and complex rules and practices making things just too difficult for common man to gather courage to try doing things on his own. 

System conspires you to be corrupt and bribe.

After a gap of 10 days I got my learning license and was asked to appear for driving test today. I reached there around lunch, and was welcomed by the same swarm of agents.

Fortunately my agent was quick to tell them this client is already taken.

There was a long queue to drive 4 wheeler. I was given a separate entrance to jump the queue and a inspector asked me to drive my car. I barely put the ignition on, and he had already passed my papers. What if I was a novice and had money to pay for the Inspector.

Next was 2 wheeler test. A Kinetic Honda was available for rent – Rs. 30 as rent for a small drive lasting 2 sec, in a complete rubbled road full of bumps and rocks. This was not an effort to check driving in adverse situations, but the road was dug up by BMC and RTO had no funds to repair it. So it was a mud track made by default not design.

In 15 min I walked out with a piece of paper which showed that I can drive vehicles anywhere in India. Total official fee for this is Rs. 262.70. What I had to pay was Rs. 1700.

Am I happy that I got a license, am I sad that I bribed my way through the system, or am I indifferent ?

I am at loss to explain what feelings should I have on this experience. But I want to ask this question to many people reading this blog – this artificial cost escalation – imagine paying Rs. 2200 for a license as against official fee of 300 – isn’t it making our country weaker.

 

Image

Even if you have a resolve to do things the correct way- you need to have all the time in this world. So you choose a cheaper currency – Time or money.

I am sure the same process is across all basic licensing windows – driving, shop, offices, tax, etc etc. Is it not a resolve by government to create archaic systems which de motivate common man and catalyze touts and corrupt practices.

If we believe that things should move fast, it just does not start with common man making a resolve, it is the entire machinery to gear up for such a resolve – without which every such initiative by common man will end in bribery and corruption.

 

 

 

 

Inside the Mind of “mango people”

Let me start with a question which might be in your sub conscious mind – somewhere, and you have voiced it or failed to do so.

Do you see a future for next generation in this country ?

All we see around us is a stench full of news about corruption, bribery, scams, murder, rape, insane comments on why men rape (- chowmein ?????)

I am, an optimist and could argue that this exists everywhere, this is how politicians are, and I must remain focused on my job and duties towards the nation, my family and my Job.

This is how I always used to think.

What has changed though is the realization that the situations around me are not conducive anymore for me or next generation to fulfill my duties as listed above.

If I look around, I find that our struggles have only increased in every aspect of life. Right from the early stages of getting education, corporate life, Housing, Medical – every aspect of our life – leaves you with three choices

A) Adapt to the changing system (nothing wrong – but the systems are flawed)

B) Be a part of the system –  See many corrupt practices in corporate life as well – leave aside politics alone. This is seriously damaging and concern area for all.

C) Be left behind

To my mind, none of the options is what a progressive mind would like to opt for. Progress means the environment is  conducive for the mango men to benefit and flourish.

Current state of nation is dragging our country miles back from being progressive. I do not see today’s youth having any love for the nation, simply because the government (UPA/NDA/XYZ) is not offering enough for the youth.

I am not too sure what is the solution, or whether there is a solution to this mess.

All I can say is that patience is running out for the mango people.

@Milindrunning – Inspiration to many

Milind Soman is someone who has successfully transformed himself from poster boy of Indian modelling world to poster boy of Indian running sports. His run from Delhi to Mumbai is a great initiative not just to promote go green , but also a genuine way to explore India.

ImageImageImageImage

I started following @ milindrunning on twitter few days back, when I learned about his run from Delhi to Mumbai. a grueling run over 1300 kms, minus the glam sham and branding by marketers. It attracted me for the sheer grit and determination from Milind and his team to make this run possible.

How many of us opt for running as a sport – not many. Though many of us  know about how running benefits our fitness and is good for us, but we don’t find time or run in the gym on treadmill. 

I think what Milind has done by running from Delhi to Mumbai is inspired many of us to seriously consider this as one of the choice for healthy living.

Kudos to Milind and NDTV and I really hope I start running outside and not confined to my treadmill.