@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.

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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.

My Second brush with Broadcast Journalism

We often complain about worsening traffic situation in Mumbai, but not do much about it. As a part of our daily commute to office we realized that a larger part of our daily traffic troubles could be owing to heavy trucks entering city premises during peak traffic hours.

I took this initiative of approaching traffic police, and with help of CNN IBN, did this episode to highlight the problem and try to resolve it.

Have received good response form people, but yet to hear from the traffic CP on how they intend to implement a ban on trucks entering city.

Do you know your passion

Few days back i had a discussion with my colleagues on what is their passion in life. A simple question for some, confusing for many. A lot of them had answers like – singing, working, travelling, meeting people, etc. Nothing wrong in that. 

Some of them were able to define why – singing or travel is their passion, some could not. A very identifiable situation i must say. My next question was are they enjoying what they are doing today, and is it in line with their passion. Many said yes, some said no. 

In a world where we have infinite choices to make, it is extremely important to know early on what are your passions and are your career choices in sync with your passions. Let me draw upon a small example from my own upbringing.

I grew up in a town called Indore, and went on to pursue my Bachelors in Science (B.Sc.) purely because at that point – arts, commerce was not considered to be a brilliant mind’s first choice. To define that era – i was following a herd mentality. I studied/crammed things like “Bolzanowistras Theorem” (even Google had problems searching for this term) as preparation for my exams and somehow cleared my three years of torture by physics/mathematics.  Am I saying these were wasted years of my life – probably yes.

Reason being I was not following my passion. I could have pursued something which was my passion, which I am/was good at.  Which brings me to the next question – Did I knew what was my passion ?

I believe there are still many similar stories around all of us, where young minds don’t know what are their passions in life. They grow by getting into the rut early on, which kills the sapling of passion. I think our education system is good till primary level, but tends to compartmentalize things as we move to a secondary education system, and this works towards killing your passion.

I sense as a society we have a big role to play in helping identify passion for people. There are career guidance course, but I haven’t heard about a passion identification course or a framework (course looks too commercialized term). I do not recall any such framework being actively promoted by any of the schools at a secondary stage.

Reason I say secondary because till primary stage your fundamentals of education are a must. Its like a stem, which starts branching out around secondary education.

If we know our passions well, we would be better off as a society and as a economy. We would probably have more innovations coming out of this nation. We would have a larger contribution towards driving change and not following rules. We must not forget creativity and innovation work well when mind is following your heart and not the other way. Your heart relates with your passion, your mind relates with your profession.

As for me, I know that I started following my passion only around my post graduation days, and steered towards the world of communication & marketing. I still believe that there are many other passions like Travel and photography which I am not able to pursue now, but I am sure i will sooner than later.

 

 

 

Microblogging v/s blogging.

My blogging has reduced considerably, (Though I author 2 blogs) and it has been at the expense of twitter. Perhaps find it difficult to write/type long thought(s). Better to express it in 140 characters, or still better hyperlink something you strongly feel about.

That brings me to a question bothering me for sometime. Isnt twitter pushing us to share somebody else’s work/pictures/blog/thoughts by simply hyperlinking, and leaving us to drift apart from original content/writings. Many of the tweets I follow are about a link or so from a third party.

I am not saying it is wrong, or unethical, afterall digital world is all about sharing, but somewhere inspiration for sharing something original, self created seems to be on a downslide.

Call it lack of energy, time, thoughts or whatever, but the trend clearly is to repost, share, retweet etc. Leaves you more of sharers than creators.

I am glad I am creating this piece of original thought/observation and not sharing someone else thought.

You, however are free to share/tweet/retweet though.

My Score Card

Time Flies. Time also asks you to take stock. What’s your scorecard. And no better way to take stock when you turn a new leaf in your life. When you turn one year older, or younger.

Today I turned 38. Not too sure, whether I turned wiser, matured, experienced or just turned old. Could it be a time to stop a while, take stock of things I have accomplished, lost, learned, understood, or not understood. I call it my scorecard.

Scorecard, where I score myself, I rate my successes, my failures, and throw my life book open.

How I fared average in my school days and was clueless about what I wanted to become in life. Dreamt of joining defense and never cleared NDA/CDS. Appeared for engineering only to realize that I cannot even clear entrance not once but twice. Still cherish my school friend Samir Goel, who went on to become a Dr. (PhD) post pursuing his B.E., M.Tech, MS and a PHD and now working with Google. Proud that we still share strong vibes between us. My scorecard here was perhaps 6 on 10.

My dad tried for getting me into donation engineering college, but for the greediness of college trustees, deal fell off. Still dont know should I thank trustees of that college, my dad, or god, I never became a engineer. What I however miss is Amit Saxena, whom I lost to engineering degree. Proud that I helped him somewhere in later years to get a job in Kodak and also helped him get married. Very proud that today he is in Australia and having a happy family life with Seema and 2 kids. My score here perhaps 7 on 10.

My graduation days and my most fond remembrance of Abhijit Vakil, my friend, guide philosopher, who succumbed to Cancer at an early age leaving behind wife Sugandha & 2 kids. I still feel I missed communicating to him so many things, I wish I could in time. My score of relationship with Abhijit perhaps 7/10.

My graduation days were the best days which somehow gave me exposure to SPICMACAY, Dr. Shailendra Pandit, how gave a sense of direction to life, how he introduced me to Email, and where I had my first Vodka shot with fruit punch. My close gang of Pankaj Kataria, Sanjeev kingar, how I miss the interactions and role each of them played in my life. My score for my college life – 7/10.

My life changing years my Post Grad days. Perhaps days I miss the most. We had a group called FARAR (Farokh a.k.a. Dau, Ashish, Rama, Abu & Raja). What a group we were. Trips to hotel Mashal in Indore, listening to Hotel California in Farokh’s Maruti 800. This was a group which deserved a 9/10.

My failed love affairs, evolving communication skills, interest to my advertising world, my first collage in my bedroom all pointing to something that I still do best, visually expressing my thoughts. Never learned that I can explore Photography as a possible career option. Still not able to gather courage to do that full time.

Loved this era, played important step in my life. My score 10/10

My first job and coming together of three best sales/space marketing geniuses in Indore. Self, Manohar & Prasanna. We dared the market and delivered our stuff. Kudos to leadership of Uday Zokarkar & Parthasarathi Kharga. Sense of Discipline, evolving business communication, negotiations and breaking the ice. I owe it to Times of India.

Moving to Bhopal, meeting friends like Satyen Purandere, Ravindra Chapekhar was amazing experience in my life. Miss my fiends Praveen Rao whom I learned the art of reading.

Changing times and Aditi entered my life, where I married her and still enjoy her company as a caring wife. moving to Mumbai before a short stint at Delhi, My score here – 9/10.

My job at Portland, having a lovely boss in form of Sanjay Shah, I admire for his patience. My score with Portland 9/10.

Living life in Mumbai and how I fared – perhaps 7/10. Lovely senior colleagues like – Ravi kiran best thing to happen to me in Starcom. loved this ear. My score 10/10.

More on my life, to be continued..

Collaborations …. and need for a strong vendor brand

Having worked across media/agency setup in a growth role, one gets a clear sense of what a client needs – Quick turnaround, efficient servicing, cost effectiveness and control over the entire campaign. The fact that client knows agency will further outsource the work to a vendor does not make too much of a difference, because clients hardly could come across vendor brands who are resourceful, service inclined and have the macro understanding of the business challenges client expects partner agency to solve.

Agencies on the other hand do a excellent job in branding themselves, getting a quick perspective of marketers macro level challenges, and identifying the right vendor pool to help them deliver what the client wants. This makes a lot of sense for agency business since they can have a multi city, multi market delivery capability without too much of capital investments in plant, machinery, etc. All they need to do is to have right people to assess right collaborations in delivering what the client wants. Net results agency job trains you well in areas like – importance of branding, need for multi city collaborations, and most important have a service oriented mindset.

I find these traits a lot handy while serving in a organization which is relatively new to this philosophy. Being a leader in automotive decal space and having a massive but single location manufacturing setup presents both opportunities and constraints to us.

While we take pride in our quality focused , design led solutions for emerging Retail/POP verticals, we often find it hard to scale up in a good business scenario (which thankfully is evident in last 5 months). Having faced a scenario when we had a capacity constraint owing to good business flow, we often realized that the best way to survive is to strike collaborations.

This is a positive way to grow provided you are using a strong due diligence in collaborating with a right partner. Collaborative approach in identifying partners in markets where we do not have a manufacturing hub/investments helps us a big way in clocking growth. We centralize the designs, we centralize the process, and we outsource/decentralize the actual manufacturing.

Often the cost angle also works well, since you know the cost inputs and can reasonably manage the client expectations provided you focus on delivering on time.

I realize in retrospect this is quite close to a media agency model, difference being we have a larger control on the process and costs, client expectations and requirement. What would perhaps sweeten the deal is a strong brand which can create pull from clients as well as outsourced party.

This again makes a story for why even manufacturing led sectors need a marketing strategy, a systematic approach for creating brands, and a strong PR for spreading a good word.

I am enjoying the new found joy of how to meet these challenges in a new environment, and am confident that i should be able to document a case for how a strong vendor brand can help in attracting new business and collaborations.

Can i complain about so much to learning…

It’s been a little over 20 days that I moved from the happening world of SMG (Starcom MediaVest Group) to even more happening world of Classic Stripes. Both organisations have so much to learn and so much to do. What sets them apart is the amount of learning which one has to go through while setting up a project.

Service organisations teach you well in brushing up your macro level understanding of business and remain focus on service standards, manufacturing setups have so much to teach on areas like project planning, raw material considerations, demand forecasting and marketing the final product.

It is a cultural change, one which I am simple enjoying. Also challenging is the fact that you have to get a right mix of flamboyance of a advertising agency and the process driven approach of a manufacturing setup. Can I complain that I have so much to learn ?

I want these dream to come true

How about shifting base to a small serene place on this earth, where one would relax and enjoy life, then to rush into morning rush of traffic. Get into deadlines and timelines only to drown life in reams and reams of data and insights.

I wish to set up a animal farm in a remote village where I could pursue my interactions with wild nature. Natural lifestyle, insulated from artificial things. Settle down spending some time with cubs and raising a pride. Read and write and connect with the outside world without ever getting into a rat race to prove something.

Only thing to prove is that life is beautiful and can be enjoyed best when you live it the way it is meant to be lived – naturally.

Remembering a Ingrained thought

I recall my college day when as a young voluntary member of SPIC-MACAY (Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth) I had the privilege of staying with late Ustad Bismillah Khan for three days at Indore.

While there remains no doubt that he was a simpleton at heart, feet firmly on ground, and passionate for his art form Shehnai, what I remember today are few of his words of wisdom which came out of his experience and his learning of life.

The story goes something like this : When called upon stage to say a few words about his art-form and make a speech, he just spoke as little as

“shukriya, hum kya bolenge, hum se jyada to hamari shehnai bol jati hai” (what will I say, my instrument speaks more then me). Bade bhudo se sunte aa rahe hai, wahi aap ko sunate hai ( i am just passing on learning of my life to you). Bachpan se bus ek hi kaam kiya hai, aur abhi bhi karte aa rahe hai (I am just practicing one thing from childhood and still learning it).

and then the words of wisdom which were : “ek sadhe sab sadhe, sab sadhe sab jai” (be in pursuit of only one thing, if you follow all you will loose all).

How beautifully he summarized his success mantra. No jargon, no management science and no frills.

Why I bring this topic today, because I am convinced that if we practice this in our professional lives, we may never fail. Very important to assess what we are good at and practice it, and not get lured by plethora of choices which life would offer. Two key words to highlight here ” Important to assess what we are good at
and “persistence to follow it“.

Today I recall these words of wisdom and find them so relevant to what I am doing.

Deterioriation of Media portals

I have developed a aversion to surfing most of the media portals.

I think they are succumbing to everything but good reportage. Sample few of the stories :

” We are poised for a aggressive growth in 2010″, or “We had a fantastic 2009 and geared for a fantastic 2010” or “Our clients have shown faith in our work, and hence we are getting repeat business”, or even worst “Our list of clients goes on like blah blah blah blah…”.

First up, do they have a editorial board ,which ratifies the claims made by such self promoting media junkies. Secondly why should they carry a story if it does not have any point of view from the editorial board. Is it a classified ad section or advertorial , or a media news portal.

Last but importantly, I think even people using these portals as self glorification platforms should understand that they are contributing to overall deterioration of journalistic levels. Wake UP.