Musings at 40,000 feet…

A80CBC07-052A-4CC9-91D2-84D41D78F9EA.jpegAs I write, am on flight back home to India after 100 day on/off tour of APAC countries….Singapore, Dubai and Melbourne before I take off for Kathmandu in few days. As always my lens to view, observe, reflect and comment on a what I see during my travels is culture. Only this time, it’s the culture of posturing, positioning and pitching. Whether I visited mega diversified conglomerates, worked with technology giants, partnered with small home run businesses or just spent time with local families, what struck me most is the way they are branding themselves, most of all these cities.

Singapore is all about the core values and intangibles assets of its people. Brand Singapore hits you the moment, the wheels of your aircraft hit the tarmac. It has fought their its way out of non-entity status and smallness into becoming a thriving, glittering economy, a shining case study for several global economies. Singaporeans have deeply engrained the value of honouring multiracialism, with fanatical focus on continuing learning and reskilling. Sojourners to this island-nation are now stayers. Every Singaporean is it’s brand ambassador.

Dubai on the other hand believes that brands are about people working together towards a shared purpose. It’s putting its people at the center of its vision and making a assertive statement that they have embarked on a journey to achieve ‘happiness’ for all who reach its shores. In fact, UAE has not only appointed Minster for AI but for happiness and well-being as well. Happiness per them is the ultimate metric of success. If a country’s brand can create that illusion to begin with and then make it into a reality, it’s pull will be like that of a siren drawing both trade and tourism to its shores. What a brand story.

Then there is Melbourne who has what it calls ‘Melbourne moments’. It’s the way they transform ordinary everyday activities into unpredictable and unexpected enjoyment which inspires its residents and visitors to experience them repeatedly, be it the fire spouting pillars on the yarra river promenade, pop up luxury brand retail stores or quintessential reconstructed spaces as empty parking lot, derelict garage or laneways which beckons the passerby just by their sheer promise of unconventional experiences. It’s not for nothing that Melbourne has got rated as the ‘most liveable city in the world’ for years!

If at times, you do think if spending time and money on building a brand is worth the effort, considering it’s such a intangible, well then it’s good to remember that not only these cities but mega brands such as Pepsi, Samsung, Amazon, McDonald, IPL and heaps more pour in millions of dollars into advertisements, sponsorships, events, billboards to keep their brand alive and kicking and right where it belongs…At the top. Let’s trust their reasoning.

Coming closer home, to personal branding, based on my travel observations, I am mulling over these and given that many of you ask me so much about it, thought it pertinent to share:

  1. It doesn’t matter where you come from, What matters is where you’re going. Start now.
  2. Being small does not mean being insignificant. Play the odds.
  3. Purpose fuels passion. Find yours. Fan it furiously. Make it your USP.
  4. To be remembered takes doing. Create your experience moments.
  5. To be a leader, you need fans and followers. Do good, take the stage, let the spotlight shine and say your piece. Applause will follow!

Transition, transform, transcend! Happy travels…

My Travails & Travels…from Valley to the Peak!

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It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves! said Sir Edmund Hillary, man who scaled Mount Everest. 

I spent most of my childhood and adolescence watching the Himalayas from afar, always in awe and with longing. Such was their mystic pull that finally, after what felt like a lifetime, I spent a week in a camp in the Himalayas experiencing and practising the art of strengthening self….my “inner being”. Conquering the external world does seems easy, when one has mastered oneself. 

These few days in the midst of mighty Himalayas was a journey of a lifetime. It helped me fall deeper and climb higher! I fell and bowed in gratitude (much of what I have today is were some of my wildest dreams long time ago), I fell from my lofty pedestal of worldly title and rank, I fell deep and hard and I didn’t feel a thing! At the same time, I rose higher and unshackled myself of my fears: of failure, of rejection, of starting over…I truly transcended! Nature healed the soul, Ayurveda worked to integrate my body, mind and spirit and Meditation helped me fathom meaning and purpose of life.

At a metaphorical level, What I experienced was that:

  1. Every once in a while, we must allow ourselves to “feel the silence”, hear its deafening roar before we calm the tempest.
  2. Let our souls strengthen, which happens when we let our cup to run over…cup of fear, anxiety, rejection, failure. Empty it out
  3. Lift our foot off the firm ground and take a huge leap of faith. Wings will grown as we soar down.
  4. Its ok to fall and meander like the river, Slope and then rise like a valley, Stand tall and then soar like the Everest!. 

In our corporate parlance, what I would urge us all to do is

  1. Learn to prioritise self. Set aside “me time”. Reach out to learn from those who do it better…
  2. Stop procrastinating. Don’t sit on the fence forever. Act. Seek out those who’ve been there, done that…They know what to do
  3. Invest in yourself. Start by introspecting, then reflect and then swiftly back it up by assertive action. If you don’t, who will?
  4. Give it all that you’ve got. Be “all in”. Stop hedging. Maybe burn few bridge so there Is no looking behind, no going back!

In the beginning we journey to lose ourselves. Often, thereafter we journey to find ourselves! 

What is it going to be for you?