Sunday, January 31, 2010

Top 10 I wish I had written this

This is my seventh edition and by far the toughest in terms of eliminating some marvellous posts from the list. I chose the most scientific way to prune the list. I tossed a coin (many times over). The posts are not in any order of priority. 

Agencies have stopped taking risks and little wonder that most work sucks. A strong message conveyed beautifully in this post

‘Be authentic’ in the social space is questioned by the author as he says that this ‘forced authenticity’ is actually making people to be fakes. I concur

An obsession with pundits and punters that the author strongly advocates should be dropped in 2010. Made me think and smile

The author kicks our ass wants us to ‘wake the f*ck up’ from the mess of our own choosing. A different kind of self-help!

If we start listening to every suggestion (or threat) from a bean-counter, you can kiss your business (and ass) goodbye

A wonderful comparision using two subjects that I like most – Marketing and Physics

It is about making the most significant choice. Download, read it, save it and practice it

He has taken words from my mouth. This is what I wished to say every time a client said “let us draw lessons from the best practices”

A genius young mind’s thoughts on travel made me wish I could think like this

Disruptive technologies begin their life being dismissed as toys especially in the internet world

(Image courtesy: Jer Kunz)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why can't women be as free as men?

Paris, Pre-World War I
Gabrielle Chanel is running a fledgling designer hat business. Depression caused by matters of the heart prompt her to take a break in the sea side resort town of Deauville. There she sees all kinds of people - couples, families, aged, rich, working class – who have converged there to take a break. She sees the men moving about easily and having a whale of time. Women, on the other hand, seem to be constrained by their outfit and having a lot less fun.
She asks, “Why can’t women be as free as men?”
Off go the corsets, long layers of clothing and heavy material like fur. Her mind explodes with ideas. The sketch pad, scissors and the clothiers in Deauville are kept busy. She comes up with a style that shocks the populace at that time. She uses linen, a fabric that is considered inferior. Her style knocks of layers and the hemline shrinks. She also shrinks the cost making her dress extremely affordable. Fashion enters the workplace for the first time. The seeds of Coco Chanel are sown and the rest as they say is history.
Greatness begins with a simple question. The question spells the need clearly. The answer to this question is what results in great brands and great movements.  Very often we fail to come up with a simple question and resort to mumbo-jumbo that takes us on a convoluted path down the tubes. You know what I am talking about.

Fortunately for us, the two students below probably asked “How can people find what they are looking for easily on the internet?” 

 (Image courtesy: Chanel  & Google Founders)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Tao of Fail

Avinash Kaushik (Analytics Evangelist at Google) in this video (courtesy: Daria) stresses the need for companies to fail faster on the web.  According to him, this enables them to rebound faster with a more successful option. And that it could aid even offline activities like TV, Print and so on. I couldn’t agree more. 

Offline world is plagued with failures. Experts say that most campaigns, product launches, start-ups and even movies bite the dust in no time. Dismal, isn’t it? 

While experts try and find a reason for all this, I decided to wear my philosopher’s hat and invoke Lao Tzu. The result is ‘The Tao of Fail’.

If campaign fails, something is lost. If product fails, something more is lost. If company fails, a lot is lost. If TV Remote fails, everything is lost.

If economy fails and the poor lose their jobs, it is only a correction. If economy fails and investment bankers (and CEO’s) lose their bonuses, it is a catastrophe.

When failing in a job, the wise man quietly adds recommendations to his LinkedIn profile.

Faced with imminent failure, a brave and foolish man merely smiles. Faced with imminent failure, an MBA passes the buck, turns approver and signs a multi-million dollar contract to tell his story.

Night is always followed by day. night again.

When all else fails, the wise one with a satisfied burp reaches for some more beer.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The liberal side of the digital world

Read this interesting article on creativity in the information age. I came to know that the prestigious Sundance Film Festival is creating a new category from 2010, ‘low-or-no budget’ films. I am aware that low-or-no-budget does not necessarily translate to bad quality. However, the director would surely have cut corners more than he or she would have liked.  Surprisingly, the directors on their part only seem to be enthusiastic. Michael Mohan, one such director with a film made for less than US$ 50K says, "There's an audience for everything . . . if you say I want to express myself and people will see it, yes, that's what in 2010 you can do."
Why is he so optimistic?
The answer is in the article: ‘Ubiquitous communication and cheap digital technologies are empowering the striving artist who steadily cultivates his or her craft, challenging the cliché of the starving bohemian, or the superstar’.
Let’s shift the scene to 37Signals, a software company I greatly admire. In their famous book, Getting Real, they advise budding start-ups not to seek perfection of their product before launch but to ‘Just wing it’. They should know. That’s just what they do with every new launch of theirs.
Companies like 37Signals are not advocating shoddy or below-par products. On the contrary, their destination is perfection. The digital world is the 'liberal playground' to make this happen,eventually.  I am completely fascinated by this and wish it was stressed more often. 

Even the critics and cynics of the digital space will agree that they have been able to reach a much wider audience with their criticisms and cynicism of the digital world using the digital world. 

Wondered why is the digital world such a liberal world? The following is the best I could come up with as an explanation.
Warts and all are what make us real and human. The digital world gives us the freedom to be ourselves. Our imperfections (as well as perfection) are mirrored in this world creating a kaleidoscope of digital impressions. These impressions are at once organic and open, thereby giving the digital world its liberal side. Am I right?
(Image courtesy: Len Radin)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What matters is the music, not the box

The auditorium was filling up. The spotlight was on the piano majestically poised on stage. The atmosphere was charged with anticipation. The blokes next to me were discussing the piano on stage, a Yamaha. Their tone was deprecatory. They felt Steinway was superior. I couldn’t help but listen to them as they were clearly audible and oblivious to the fact that people sitting next to them were being disturbed.
Fortunately, the pianist began the recital. The audience were spellbound as the music was simply magical. The pianist ended the recital with a flourish. The audience rose in unison and gave him a standing ovation. The blokes next to me were as enthusiastic as rest of the audience in cheering. I guess, the pianist settled any doubt amongst them conclusively.
It is not about Yamaha or Steinway. It is only music that matters.
People in the business of brands and creative communication (probably in the corporate cesspool too) know that very often the work we do is one big lie. Superficiality rules with the job of ‘sexing up the box’ keeping us busy while being fully aware that the music sucks. When I saw substance being rewarded (for a change) in the form of the audience’s reaction to the piano recital, it made me happy. Nothing beats this experience and therefore I couldn’t help sharing it with you.
The gentleman below, had he been alive, might be in agreement. His MTV Unplugged show was proof of this fact.

(Image courtesy: Pianist – zetson, Kurt Cobain)