Saturday, September 29, 2007

The buzz around busy-ness

How are you doing?
Too much work man..!

How are you?
Surviving..

How is life?
Do not ask..

How does the day look?
Just too busy..

How was the day..?
Mad-hectic!

Where are you going?
Just running to wind something up

Have you seen this film?
Who has the time..!


Almost everybody is busy; everybody at any given point in time seems to be the most important person in his work area. The whole world (at least India and China) seems to be working very had, keeping super-busy ..or is it really?
Increasingly as I meet people talk to them and observe them doing their day to day work I get a feeling that more than being really busy people find if ‘fashionable’ ‘cool’ ‘appropriate’ to say that they are busy.
Only people who are not heading anywhere, ‘pop phrase for this group is ‘losers’, have all the time under the sun. In other words if you are busy you are successful and if you have time for yourself, may be you are drifting. This is true especially for the younger to middle management cadre. As one gets more experienced one begins to talk of work life balance etc. but at the bottom and in the middle of the pyramid – balance is not a virtue yet.
Humans are a strange set of people when we do not have as much work, we create a perception of work and when we really have a lot of it to do we talk to ‘work-life balance’!
Many young people even sit at work for long hours because the infrastructure is far superior at the place of work than home. From air-conditioning to broadband, gym/health club, coffee, TV/ Massage Chair, food and the works (Google is a pro at making office so much home that you visit home and live at work!).
Add to this, the heightened sense of busy-ness arguably has a High Hedonistic Impact on Purchase and Consumption behaviour. Since we are constantly telling ourselves and the world around us, how busy and occupied we are – we at some level are constantly gearing our self for rewards that are precluded by beliefs like ‘life starts after work’ or ‘I deserve to gift this to myself’ or ‘I have earned this indulgence’ let me do it for myself.
Self gifting is going to be a big market in these two otherwise high guilt societies.

I do not know if increased ‘perceptual busy-ness’ always translates into better ‘business’ but this behaviour/attitude is definitely helping grow the market for some of the products/services viz. eating/ drinking or hanging out, fashion, personal products to name a few ..
For now being busy looks like being successful and marketers are not complaining!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rocket Race and the future of Spectator Sports

Rocket Race and the future of Spectator Sports

RRL or Rocket Racing League is the brainchild of Peter H Diamandis -the man who spent USD 10 million to a team financed by Paul Allen. (BusinessWeek Sept 24, 2007). Rocket Race takes high speed rocket planes into space as they race. Each plane might make about 5 short pit stops in the course of the 90 minute race. As Diamandis puts it “While NASA blast offs were once in a lifetime experience for some people, I want to give them those experiences a dozen of times in an afternoon.
This cutting edge experience sits at the cusp of two industries - Tourism & Entertainment.

Here’s how they see it happening:

1. Fans at airfields would experience the thunderous roars of rockets blasting-off + giant JumboTrons to watch this all on.
2. TV networks being pursued to telecast this event – with choppers, blimps and images from racing planes
3. Real time internet feeds of GPS satellite will allow people to race virtual planes on the same racing course + the same view as the pilots get up there..

Very radical but what caught my fancy is the third point. What this augurs for the future of spectator sports. How much of spectators would be just spectators watching when they could be (and finally would be) there doing it themselves. I see a merging of Travel, Tourism, Sports, and Entertainment into a new Luxury offering (which sooner or later will not be such a preserve as it seems now).
It is not just about watching Sachin hit that six but the option of being there under the flood lights in Eden Gardens and hitting that ball from a Pakistani pacer in the 48th over. Virtual will be more and real with GPS and tactile technology working overtime to bring the experience to a joystick that will soon feel like a cricket bat. Just imagine the rush!
Are you sweating, face that ball now!

wiki life

RapLeaf, Spock and Wink.com are thee examples of how online content is close to near complete democratization. Profile that you create here, pictures you put here can all be modified/ ‘corrected’ by visitors. Anyone can add photos or a short description to any profile. Then Spock members vote on what remains there and what goes away.
Basically people who know you or ‘think’ they know you can say anything about you and write it too. You are not what you think you are or want people to think you are instead you are what people around you think of you. It is almost as if gossip, raves, rants are no more behind the back.. It’s all out there and the last thing you want to do is lie. (A lot of Web 2.0 anyways is all about getting real, just like real life isn’t it..) As RapLeaf puts it - It is more profitable to be ethical.

Other than this ‘profound awakening’ about not lying on the net there is something for brands and marketers here. I believe it is a great feedback opportunity – just put your brand or ideas here (and if you are known or stand for something, people will come with their candid raves and rants..) but prepared for everything that follows. Just like a matured man or woman your brand must also learn to accept the truth no matter how tough it might be.
To me this is a great tool to see where we stand and where we fall as people, as marketers, as friends.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

You can even doubt God

Long-term or short term, radical or conventional, leadership stance or guerrilla stance, new business or existing plan, price or distribution the alternatives are limitless.
The strategy could be any or many but what is critical is deciding to walk that line and walking it bloody good.
Believe me, with enough logic you can challenge any idea or any approach (I do not know Physics and Mathematics much) but outside that almost everything can be challenged. It is well known that even the most basic principles in applied sciences were also challenged before they finally got published and accepted by the majority.
But I am not talking about Science here. I would like to limit my view to strategy. Every strategy can be challenged and yet almost any strategy could work for you if you ‘really go after it’.
More I work more I learn that strategy is just as good at the conviction and drive of those who are deciding to adopt it and execute it.
Gray mater is nothing without Grit & Gut!

No matter what we think or believe in it will remain a non-entity till we have the courage to go after it and turn it into reality. It is almost like a war cry. In the battlefield we stop thinking beyond a point. After this point we just kill, that is the only language we know (watch 300 for more on this!.

We can doubt everything. I am sure most of the readers would have blamed and doubted even God at some point in time (if not as early as yesterday or a few moments before they started reading this post or may be they would just after they have finished reading this – “how can people write such things in Blog post – looks like God has gone on vacation!”).

There is no end to thinking, no end to opinions, and no end to perspectives. But at the end it is the end that is critical and to be bloody good at the end of it one must focus on the execution.
I believe that even if half of the energy that is deployed in thinking (and doubting) were invested in making execution happen it would make a whole lot of difference to the outcome.

Someone has rightly said - real religion is the life we lead (not the thoughts we harbour!)

Real strategy is implementation not just visualization and star gazing!

Blue sky is for flying as much it is for thinking!

If not the CEO then what?

This thought is as direct as the title. We all know that as we rise in an organization or our career in general we are all inevitably heading towards the narrowing of the funnel. This is the funnel that defines who goes ahead and who stays. Who becomes number one (read CEO or the Chairman) and who becomes the second in command.

If one does not want to be the CEO/Chairman of the organization because one feels
1.S/he does not have the skills
2.Does not want the pressure of the job
3.Would prefer to be a specialist than a manager of people and other resources
4.Likes to work in smaller teams or individually etc

The reason could be any but it is important to know what is that one wants to be (if not the business leader). This is not just relevant from career progression perspective but also relevant from the point of view of ego and sentiments, if one chooses to work in the same company where his peers or subordinates rise to the leadership role.

Simply put sooner rather that later, you’ll have a man of your age (worst still younger to you) who’ll be the CEO / Chairman. Working in such a situation could be a big challenge.

But if one has clearly identified what is that one is aiming for, then nothing is a surprise and the power structure does not pinch as much.
How?
Having decided what one wants to do other than leading the business helps in focusing towards developing and owning a specialty that is immutable in the organization/industry.
Having achieved that relevant specialty within a company or industry makes even the CEO look at the person for solutions. The person is respected by those in power for the unique things that he brings to the table.
CEO or Chairman definitely is one of the most powerful jobs going in any company but there are enough opportunities to build power in one’s expertise by honing it to the level of immutable advantage.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Research your Imagination & add some Imagination to Research

This works like gang busters! Just look at most of the successful fiction that has ever sold or is still in the market. It is a combination of personal experiences or solid research spiced up with a good deal of imagination. What you get at the end of it is fiction that everyone likes to read.

It is not too boring for it is not just life reported as it. It is a combination of life lived and imagined. It is not completely unfounded or imaginary for it is always based on some real instances or serious research.

That’s exactly how qualitative research can work best - information blended with inspiration and intuition. What you’d get at the end of this is actionable understanding of people, insights, that are not general knowledge, knowledge that is not rote and business that is not boring.

The link that we’ve been missing thus far is set of researches that can do this - professionals who can blend business thought with everyday empathy and human intuition.
Believe me the day we can do it – every act of marketing would be fresh and every new consumer learning would be a breakthrough!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

be inspired

Focus groups, colleague rants, song lyrics on my mp3 player, workshops, meetings, empty can of diet coke in the trash, all doors opening outside, or the pack of tissues in your top drawer – no matter what you are doing, where you are, who is staring at you and no matter what you are feeling - just be inspired, always. It is this spark that keeps the creator inside all of us fired up!
Sometimes I feel that the world around me has so much to offer, show, share, tell that I do not have hands, eyes or grasp to soak it all up..
The last 60 days of being in Beijing have been quite patterned. Other than the fact that I am in a new place – nothing is new. Wake up; dress up, hail a cab, ‘ni hao’ to the cabbie, xie xie to the security guard at office for opening the door, elevator to 9th floor, good morning to colleagues, work, work, workshops, researches, meetings, presentations, work more...raving the hits and ranting the misses everyday, shut down, wrap up, swipe the access card head home, swipe into home again, freshen up, eat (and miss Indian food), restart, connect with parents and all other mails that could not be read and written at work…but with all this serious monotony around why do I still feel inspired? How do I still have fresh insights and ideas waiting to be deployed?
I am sure all this is not because of the mental disequilibrium caused by the strange smell that stays with you hours after you have stepped away from the fresh food section of all hypermarkets in this city!
I believe it is more to do with what is cooking between my ears than what is happening around me though I would never discount the importance of the latter.
The world around me is just the firewood but sadly or otherwise the firewood does not always come with a spark.

Here is what I am beginning to understand - no matter where one is no matter what one is doing, the single most important thing is to be always inspired, be bullish, be natural, connect with the air you are breathing, listen intently – even if you do not understand the language – soak up everything that comes your way and keep thinking (questioning) and feeling all of it that you see, hear, touch, smell, taste, do, imagine and everything else, believe me sparks will fly. It is simply amazing there is so much one can learn all the time even or especially when one is not actively trying to learn something.
Also, the best things we know and feel are never documented – my favourite one on this that the real wisdom is the operating system of our behaviour and most of the time it is not documented. I suppose it is the subconscious or perhaps something that we never bother to think about. But this is it – this is the most critical link between our understanding of self and the world around us. It is not fixed but that should not stop us from capturing it. If we try and keep documenting it every time we get an opportunity – we might end up discovering a gold mine in our own backyard. Needles to say this is not the only goldmine known to mankind but none the less it seems the most accessible one.
Here’s perhaps one way of doing it – just replay your daily movie. I mean just play the whole day in front of your eyes and you'll see sparks flying.
There's something more on this that can be said here but I guess this has already become too big for a bite, so perhaps more on this in the days to some i.e. if it stays as exciting as it is now.
I sincerely hope I have been able to express myself accurately and wish that you can also experience what I am experiencing– because it is truly amazing and very-very satisfying!