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…

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Incremental steps or Quantum leaps. Now or Never…You pick!

Leap of Faith

World today is noisy! There is cacophony of sounds, images, moments and actions so much so that it’s difficult to calm the mind and focus on the thought, let alone be able to say it our aloud or share with others….Mindshare is tough to get, attention spans are only microseconds long, everyone is swimming vigorously with the current to either surge forward or valiantly swimming against it to stay afloat.

How you are then to be heard and seen and noticed? Women more often than not have a lifelong struggle with it: More than anything else it’s a social blemish and a moral dilemma of “To do or Not to do” Talk about their achievements, aspirations, ambitions and such…After all years of conditioning has taught us that it’s wrong to think about ourselves first, wrong to be vulnerable publicly, inappropriate to talk about our hopes and desires, our dreams and aspirations and share our fears and anxieties especially at workplace. As for networking, lest said the better…

Let’s take the bull by the horns. Its time! My take on building and leveraging networks is – Do what you have to do! If you have something earth shattering to say, obviously say it and if you think what you know isn’t good enough for you to share, say it anyway. Let the world be the judge. Half of lives successes go to the one who speaks up, shows up! If only those who spoke were the ones who had unearthed some world’s mysteries and solved some world’s problems all would be walking around with a Noble prize or an Oscar nomination or a National award…But I don’t see too many of them around! Do you? So don’t let the fear of “I don’t know what to say, I have nothing to share…” ever stop you.

So just go for it. Build a personal brand for yourself, if others can’t do or won’t do it! Better to be known for something however small it may be, than to pass away in insignificance. Remember few things as you embark upon any such journey. Above all, understand and intently focus on “Your being” and “Your doing”. Do not sacrifice “Being” at the altar of “Doing”.

It’s always wise to know what path to take as you move ahead. Be absolutely clear about and have razor sharp focus on:

  1. Why do you want to say whatever you’re going to say?
  2. How will you do it, how often, to whom?
  3. Why will others want to know?
  4. Is it worth the effort?

As for the Why which is your “Being” part, this is what I believe. If you care about something, you have to stand up and say it!  If Deepika Padukone a Bollywood actress starts to be seen on billboards, appears on the “Coffee with Karan Johar” show, go to shopping malls to meet her fans, start going to “happening” events and parties shortly before her movie gets released, why not you? Even celebrities like her need to be seen and heard, repeatedly and on multiple platforms and media for us to sit up and take notice and eventually show up in theatres to see the newly released movie! Sheryl Sandberg needed to go on tour to promote her book, do FB chats and be on a TED stage taking about it before the world knew of her, her ideas and her book “Lean In”. That’s when she is the COO of world’s largest social media company,  Facebook.  If there is a voice within you that’s raging, get it out! If they do, why not you?

How you do it is the “Doing” part. Talk about what you stand for, your cause, things that matter to you, every way you possibly can. Look for opportunities at work to talk to talk to small groups, make those coffee chats and water cooler conversations count, volunteer to do training sessions, write a post and put it blogs on company site, step up to mentor few people, look for affinity groups to socialize. That’s internal: within your company. To reach the external world, leverage the awesome power of social media, use LinkedIn, Twitter, WordPress to freely express, set up and attend MeetUp groups, when on a holiday take out few hours to address neighbourhood community, take a masterclass at academic institutes, look for local events taking place and volunteer to share what you know best, stretch to take out few minutes daily and few hours over the weekends to build consistency and momentum to. It all adds up. In the beginning, expect nothing. Learn to pay forward!

Why will anyone else care? Now that’s a fair thing to ask ourselves. Just coz it’s what you want to say and do, certainly doesn’t mean those around you will have to jump up to listen! The answer is “blowin’ in the wind” sang Bob Dylan 1) Find an affinity group similar to your life goals, they will want to hear 2) Find other on same path as your lives joys and passion, they will pull you into the circuit 3) Get yourself on a stage that matters, around your areas of expertise, get written about in a publication which is widely read…then folks will sit up and notice! 4) Align yourself with a bigger cause than you that will rally others to join your journey. Say and share often and freely, push the needle on the subject, be a thought leader, torchbearer. Stand up for something, be known for it…And I’ve noticed that if one musters courage and stands up to talk, people gather to listen…and that’s how a “Kafila” grows!

What it will do for you is create a newer world! Get you connected to not just thousands but millions of people who are on same path as you! Help you further your purpose, fuel your passion and give you abundant physical and mental energy to move further, put a smile on your face and spring in your step. After all, when all is done and dusted, that’s what will really matters! These are the material gains, everything else is incidental!

Often when I hear is “there is no time”, “I am swamped with so much already”. “I don’t know how to use social platforms” and such. My reply always is – If that’s how you feel, you don’t want it badly enough…let it be. Until then, standby to watch others struggle to rise/fall/rise again on worlds stage, stand aside for those who walk the extra mile whiz past you at work, burrow your head into your pillow to get little more sleep as others wake up to go run and discover new places!

The day something/anything becomes your purpose and passion you will seek to learn, engage and share it relentlessly, pursue it endlessly.

And sometimes in life when the music dims, the stage is dark and the curtains are drawn and down, people’s whose lives you touched will magically appear to stand beside you & applaud.

1st published in “Times of Pamac” – Volume 8, December 2017