Category Archives: Life

Westernized Education vs Indigenous Gurukul Education (Banasthali University)

This blogpost is a result of two recent instances I was exposed to.

Recently came across this LinkedIn post where the author adjudged westernized education to be ‘chaotic’ and ‘devoid of thinking out of the box’. If you go through the comments section, you would realize that most of them agree to the author’s thoughts. Isn’t it contradictory that most of us were trained as per westernized education methods, but today feel the need for indigenous Gurukul education?

Secondly, I was part of interview panel at my organization where we were interviewing fresh MBA graduates from one of the management colleges in Bangalore. We interviewed close to 25 candidates and hardly could identify 5 candidates who matched our expectations. No, not from technical point of view, but more from aptitude, presence of mind, decision making, logical reasoning aspects. It was a shocker for all four of us panelists that how could MBA graduates be lacking such basic skills even after being trained by Westernized Education, which is often considered to be superior than Gurukul education.

Well, my interpretation or rather take away from both instances was, increasingly people are feeling the heat of ‘westernized education’ and finding ways to inculcate essence of Gurukul education. The smallest step in that direction would be increasing importance of physical activities and practical training. In addition to these  Gurukul education also ensured youth were sensitized about one’s responsibility towards family, institution and society around. The worry that most of the professionals have these days is commercialization about education, which mostly results into delivery of sub-standard education and hence a large number of unemployable youth with fancy degrees adorning their name. This worry gets piled up into a huge heap and a burden on the society. It also affects the inner self of the candidates themselves.

Amidst all these corporatized educational institutions, there still exists a university which believes in the all-round development of youth. Its none other than Banasthali (Vanasthali) University, situated at around 60 kms from Jaipur. This all-women university was established in 1935 by Pandit Hiralal Shastri, the first chief minister of Rajasthan.

The university believes and has been offering ‘Panchmukhi Shiksha’. It simply translates into Five Fold Education – Moral, Intellectual, Practical, Aesthetical and Physical,  The sprawling university campus, comprehensive education, sports, personal development facilities, well-educated and well-motivated faculty members, disciplined student community ensure an envious Gurukul environment.

I had the privilege of conducting few interactive workshops with first year MBA participants, thanks to the opportunity that Prof. Harsh Purohit and Prof. Ankur Joshi. The MBA division of university is known as WISDOM – Women’s Institute for Studies in Development Oriented Management. This division has been successfully functional for last 20 years and has produced quality management professionals. The most prestigious contribution of the university has been Avani Chaturvedi, one of the first three women fighter pilots in the country. Our interactions always revolved around the increasing focus on Westernized education and the depleting Gurukul culture in the educational institutions. Its heart wrenching to know that even some of the premier educational institutions in the country have started to consider education as a high profit-making business, and thereby compromising on the basic premise of knowledge delivery.

In my two visits to Banasthali University and the interaction with their faculty members, students, I understood that it is one of the universities in India, that has successfully maintained the Gurukul culture. Its just not just the culture that fascinated me, but also the curriculum model. Banasthali University follows ‘Panchmukhi Shiksha’ – Five-fold education model. As per this model, students are trained on various aspects of life like – Moral, Intellectual, Practical, Aesthetical and Physical. The students at this university are exposed to every essential aspect of life and are prepared to face the World in the best manner and lead a meaningful life. The meaningfulness is not just with respect to oneself, but also to the society at large.

The academic coursework for management students at Banasthali University included some unique courses like Indian Ethos and Human Quality Development, Indigenous Management Systems. These distinctive courses ensured students extracted the management lessons from the Indian epics like Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharata. It might sound insane that how could management lessons be derived from the age old epic stories. Let’s not forget that these days even Western Universities are focusing on learning from Mahabharata!

The need of the hour is of inclusive learning, which we (parents, students, policy makers, teachers) have missed to focus in the heed to learn from western education. Prof. Subhash Sharma, one of the key founding members of WISDOM at Banasthali University has very aptly emphasized the need of inclusive learning through his widely circulated book ‘Management in New Age: Western Windows Eastern Doors’. With the help of metaphors like doors and windows Prof. Subhash has beautifully explained that Indian traditional (Gurukul) education has always been inclusive in nature as we welcome our guests through doors, while the western education has been objective in nature, like we peep out of our windows to see outside. The learning needs to be a comprehensive mix of what we could learn from others and what we could learn from our basic roots.

I strongly believe Banasthali University has been oriented towards this mission in a dedicated manner. I hope more and more institutes in this country start focusing on inclusive and subjective learning rather than just westernized objective learning.

PS: This piece is in no way an endorsement for the University, but a realistic feeling expressed by me.

Jungle Book Movie 2016

10 Key Corporate Lessons from Jungle Book Movie

Is Jungle Book movie just kids’ movie? I thought so before entering the movie hall. But, once I walked out, I realized it had few learning for us adults as well. In fact, I could draw a lot of parallels between jungle situation and corporate environment. In each of the animal characters, I could visualize a type of person we often meet in our daily lives at work.

1) Register the tricks shared by mentors: The Jungle Book movie opens with the race between Bagheera-The Panther and Moghli, which Bagheera wins. Though Moghli is disappointed at losing the race, he ends up learning the key lesson about Dead Trees. Well, many of us would have assumed that shot being ‘just a perfect opening’, while little did we realized in the beginning that this lesson would play a crucial role in the climax of the movie. Moghli remembered the trick and leveraged it to win the battle against Sher Khan. It’s a classic learning for young professionals that they should not only learn the tricks shared by mentors, but also register them firmly in their minds. Who knows, those tricks might come to your rescue a decade later!

2) Show team spirit not only during good times but also during crisis: There were numerous instances in the Jungle Book movie where team spirit was displayed. We all enjoy our happy-go times in corporate celebrating each other’s birthdays, team accomplishments, etc. But, the key lesson the movie tries to drive is to maintain the team spirit even during crisis situations like the Water Truce instance or the final battle against Sher Khan, while all animals got together to fight the beast.

3) Look for the dependable savior around and hold on to them: Let’s admit, it’s tough to find such a mentor in today’s professional life. Yes, but its not impossible! We just have to be careful in evaluating people and not get swayed by the fancy degrees one has, or the higher numerical job experience one flaunts. More than these tangible elements, what we all look for in a dependable savior like Bagheera-The Panther, is a person whom we can trust at all times, and whom we can depend on relevant and valuable advice.

4) Beware of people who might deceive you: Oh, we all would have encountered one such person in our lives like Moghli had with Kaa-The Snake, in the Jungle Book movie. We need to be extra vigilant from such people who possess sharp skills to deceive people in their own game. Though, this is tough to have a skill, we should regularly train ourselves in evaluating people whom we interact and beware from such people.

5) Negotiate smartly: Corporate life is all about negotiations with clients / colleagues / superiors. The Jungle Book movie beautifully exhibited couple of trade-off situations – Baloo-The Bear’s negotiation with Moghli to get him honey from high rocks, King Louie’s negotiation with Moghli to get him Red Flower (fire), Sher Khan’s negotiation to get him Moghli himself. Only one of these three negotiations materialized, while the other two had to meet fatal end. Negotiation is one of the key skills that modern day professionals are expected to have, irrespective of the job profile they are in. We professionals need to gradually inculcate this art and excel at it.

 6) Avoid stereotyping: Just because few men caused fire in the jungle, Sher Khan-The Tiger assumed Moghli’s father also to destroy the jungle. Sher Khan-The Tiger, in the Jungle Book movie attacked Moghli’s father and killed him just as he had stereotype about all human beings. We often stereotype people based on their caste, religion, college etc. Its a great lesson for all of us to avoid stereotyping and judge the situation based on its merit.

7) Capitalize on limited resources: The Jungle Book beautifully showed how Moghli made the most of limited resources that were available to him. Many a times in the corporate we face situations where resources are limited and we have a steep milestone to be achieved. One should not put down the towel citing limited resources as a reason, but should work around them and achieve the end objective.

8) Don’t aspire for false pride: There is a huge difference between aspiring for false pride and working towards success relentlessly. King Louie – The Bandar King in Jungle Book movie aspired to become powerful by claiming the red flower (fire), as he thought it to be the key ingredient of being powerful. Success doesn’t come easily and it definitely doesn’t come from imitating the other’s tricks. Even if you imitate you got to understand the relevance of those tricks in your situations. We need to craft our own success path instead of trying to find shortcuts from other’s success.

9) Avoid over-confidence: Sher Khan-The Tiger in the Jungle Book movie had enormous over confidence about this strength. He thought he would easily win over the young kid. However, the battle was won by the kid. Many of us tend to be over confident once we reach the zenith of our career. This learning mostly applies to all senior leaders who think they have achieved their highest point in the career and can’t be brought down. Well, it’s a big mistake. One should never underestimate the younger generation and their capabilities to surpass us.

10) Show loyalty: In the Jungle Book movie, though Moghli realized that he didn’t belong to the wolves race, he chose to stay with them. As soon as his life was in danger, he could have easily moved to the village and saved his life. But, he chose to fight the situation and always considered himself to be one amongst the other animals in the jungle.  We professionals too need to show our loyalty towards our organizations. However, the key aspect of loyalty is that it should flow from both sides. Like, in the Jungle Book movie, even animals showed love and respect to Moghli. Similarly, in reality organizations need to respect and appreciate their employees and not treat them just as replaceable resources!

Usually in such movies (like Life of Pi), we appreciate the cinematography, while most of us ignore the message that the movie makers are trying to convey. While I was watching the movie, I could relate lot of characters to people around me in corporate and personal situations.

I hope you would find these lessons to be useful. Did you have any other lesson from the movie? Please share in the comments section below.

Paul Writer Great Indian IT Marketing Summit & Awards 2016

It was once again that time of the year when I found myself attending the reputed Paul Writer Great Indian IT Marketing Summit & Awards at The Ritz Carlton, Bangalore. I had fond memories of last year’s event where we won an award too. This time too the panel discussion topics and the eminent speakers list truly motivated me to attend the event. Like always, I love summarizing the learning I had from the event in the interest of the people who couldn’t attend the event for various reasons. Let’s see what were the key points discussed, thought-provoking questions asked by the eminent speakers and how IT Marketing take a leap forward. The key attraction of this year’s event was that most of the speakers spoke candid, unlike other conferences where speakers seem to be speaking from books and not from their heart!

Panel Discussion 1: The iBuyer: How has the buyer journey transformed? – Sunder Sarangan, Lavanya Jayaram, Manideepa Dasgupta, Sumit Virmani

Straightaway this session took everyone by surprise with comments by speakers like – “buying is not always well-researched”, “we buy easily available and what is familiar to us”, “most of our buying is tactical”. Now, these are very bold statements by such senior level marketing experts, while the other marketing folks would argue that buying is a well-researched process with these 8/10 steps. Another key discussion that occurred was about relevance of Sales and how can marketing equip sales in this technology dominated era. Some of the key learning were – a) Sales definitely is relevant and they need to have more intellectual conversations with the prospects, b) Sales should be able to engage with the prospective buyer community online, c) Marketing should enables Sales regularly with right content at right place and at right time, d) Content should highlight simple business benefits, e) Employees should be encouraged and leveraged to evangelize about the organization, f) Key skills preferred in marketers include storytelling, automation tool expertise, analytics, and g) Human connect doesn’t go away. So, no matter how much technology may dominate marketing, at the end of the day, human-to-human connect is very much required for positive results.

ITSMA Research Presentation by Julie Schwartz

Julie presented the research findings from the research that ITSMA conducted amongst 426 respondents from mid to large size organizations from seven countries (US, UK, France, India, Australia etc.). 50% of respondents were IT buyers, while the rest were functional buyers. The key findings were:

  1. More than 50% of buying happens offline
  2. Top sources of information in IT Marketing are consultants, advisors, peers, subject matter experts
  3. While human interaction dominates in the initial stages of buying process, social media dominates in the later stages of buying process
  4. More number of marketing channels are referred to today in a buying process than they were a decade ago
  5. It’s an era of Omnichannel marketing
  6. Centralized marketing is needed

Panel Discussion 2: Should Sports be in Your Marketing Plan? – Apurva Chamaria, Poornima Couto, Vishal Jhunjhunwala

This was a very interesting panel discussion and very lively right from the beginning with all three speakers playing videos of their sports engagements. The panel discussion mainly hovered around the necessity, importance, pros for a brand to consider sports marketing as a key element of their marketing strategy. Some of the key learning from this session were:

  1. 70% sport engagements happens on social media
  2. TCS Marathon initiatives are mainly focused around employees in case of India. Employee engagement is the core objective
  3. Brands can leverage sports to address C-suite, engage employees, influence top funnel, create business impact
  4. It’s buyers market in sports domain, as every element of sports is available for sale – be it sports kits, apparels etc.
  5. Sports followers generally have a positive tendency for brands that endorse their favourite sports teams
  6. The focus of sports marketing should be on larger story and a brand should carefully distance itself from a particular team’s performance
  7. Sponsoring an individual players is very risky
  8. A brand could derisk by associating with a sports team that has rich cultural heritage as HCL has with Manchester United

Panel Discussion 3: Customer Communities: Creating and Engaging a Powerful Group – Jyotsna Makkar, Pratap TP, Anand Narayanan, Adarsh Pete

Building and nurturing communities has been a focus for both B2C and B2B brands. This panel discussed on the challenges of setting up a community, nurturing it and ensuring continuous engagement. All panelists agreed to the successful mantra of running a community to be Recruit, Rewards and Recognize. Some of the other key learning from the session were:

  1. Communities could be of three types. The ones build around – a) shared values, b) individual interests or c) charismatic figures
  2. Content and engagement strategy are the key aspects of a successful community
  3. Communities are fluid today because of digital platforms
  4. It is imperative that people seek recognition in the community
  5. Community managers should try to learn from one community and apply the learning to other
  6. It is helpful if brands have a full-time community manager
  7. Regular investments to promote community are required
  8. Communities don’t necessarily stay connected on digital platforms, but the members also love to stay connected in offline world
  9. Some of the key success metrics of running a community are – a) Revenues/Leads/Sales (Primary objective), b) Less number of opt-outs

Panel 4: How can Marketers increase Business Value – Indraneel Ganguli, Srihari Palangala, Sunder MadakShira

This was my favourite panel and all the panelists were really candid. Marketing is always questioned in the organization for the budgets they ask. Marketers are always under pressure to justify the ROI and to earn a face in the organization. The panelists clearly called out few issues and few areas of improvement for the marketers:

  1. Marketers should shift their focus from conversations to conversions in IT Marketing and all other sorts of marketing
  2. Marketers have to talk the language of accountability
  3. Marketers should possess an ability to build next 30% business
  4. Marketing needs to promise and deliver

Panel 5: Marketing in the Age of Digitisation – Suresh Thomas, Sarang Panchal

Each of the eminent panelists of this sessions had decades of experience in marketing research. They discussed on how technological developments are affecting the marketing research practices. They highlighted that the current young generation would not appreciate responding to lengthy questionnaires. Hence, it was essential for brands to identify engaging, fun-oriented research techniques to understand the consumer psyche. They suggested brands to go for implicit research techniques that leveraged technology.

My key three takeaways from the entire day were:

  1. Not only IT Marketing but any kind of marketing, needs to work closely with Sales and Product  Development teams. Marketing should take more ownership to build their relevance in the organization, rather than just focus on campaigns and engagement
  2. Leverage technology to understand customer psyche through implicit research techniques
  3. It’s time for brands to focus on omnichannel marketing

So, it was a great day of learning from the veterans.

It was also a great day for HCL Technologies (my organization) from two aspects:

  1. Apurva Chamaria, Global Head for Branding and Digital along with Gaurav Kakkar launched their book titled, ‘You Are The Key”. Social Selling is a key phenomenon which is emerging especially in the field of IT Marketing. The book promises to equip marketers with Social Selling skills.

You Are The Key book launch at The Great Indian IT Marketing Summit & Awards 2016

2. We won three awards at the event in these categories – Customer Acquisition (#UnitedByHCL), Digital Media (#HCLShortCutsToSuccess) and Sustainability and CSR (#AMileForHer). It was a proud moment to receive awards for the work we did throughout the year.

The Great Indian IT Marketing Summit & Awards 2016

Thank you Paul Writer team for organizing this fabulous event which was very well organized and well conducted in the end. I am already looking forward for the next edition!

Are we living an app-filled life?

Clicking pictures, chatting and recording videos are passe activities on mobile. Are you wondering then what’s the new trend? It’s the world of mobile apps (or ‘mobile applications’). Have you realized how many apps did you download in the last one week or last one month? Either we or people in our surroundings could be found cursing mobile device manufacturers for battery discharging, storage issues and worse in case of some low-end mobile phones, the handset itself getting corrupted etc. Ever wondered what could be one of the potential reasons for such problems? More importantly have you noticed how these apps have become an integral part of our lives thanks to repeated TVCs and full-page advertisements in newspapers!

Image Credit: ArtofClick

Image Credit: ArtofClick

Let’s track the daily routine of our life and see how various apps have intruded / facilitated / entertained (you may choose the right adjective) our lives:

Fitness: Gone are days when exercise was a personal activity, now apps allow us to post on our social channels about our daily jog / walk / fitness regimes. Apps like RunKeeper, Endomondo, Nike+, Zombies help us calculate our jog distance, calorie burnt and more importantly allows us to flaunt on social media channels.

News: For some lazy people who skip morning fitness activities may wake up to push notifications of their favourite news channels. Let’s agree that each one of us have installed at least one app to remain updated about the world news.

Commutation to office / college / school: Luckier are those who don’t need to drive to office / college / school, they get additional time in their life to stare at those screens and occasionally smile at them too! While commuting by Delhi Metro I have often noticed people busy with CandyCrush, TempleRun, YouTube or with WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter etc. For those who drive need not worry, apart from the FM option, they could tune into music apps like Gaana or Saavn.

Reached Office / College / School: How could we avoid being updated from our favourite cricket match that’s being played at some part of the World. Ofcourse we have apps like Cricbuzz for our rescue!

How about homemakers? They need not worry at all! The could quickly order their groceries on BigBasket, PepperTap, Grofers etc., while check out delicious recipes on TarlaDalal, AllRecipes, SweetNSpicy etc. Soon they could switch windows and ‘screen-shop’ latest apparels on some shopping apps like Myntra, Flipkart, ShopperStop etc.

Leave apart all above these things we all have apps installed for weather updates, city information (specially those who have moved recently to a new city), local transport (metro / bus / train etc.), horoscope, banking purposes (if you have account in more than one bank…..) and the list goes on and on….

Recently, during a conversation we discussed after all how many apps should a mobile internet user download after all.

Are marketers realizing it?

What are your thoughts?

 

 

An eventful day at Paul Writer IT Marketing Summit & Awards

Conference, summit, unconference, meetup, any such event has primarily two objectives – networking amongst like minded people and few domain knowledge that one could learn from peers. Recently, I had this opportunity to attend Paul Writer Great Indian IT Marketing Summit & Awards. The summit attracted participation from top IT product and service oriented companies like Microsoft, Dell, Cisco, Cognizant, IM, Tech Mahindra, SAP, VMware, HCL Technologies, LinkedIn, Wipro, CSS Corp and Tally Solutions etc. The event had some interesting panel discussions focused various aspects of Internet Marketing. I have briefed below the learning I had from each of the session:

From You to Me to Us

  • The major attraction of this session was the quote by Nupur Sharma, “Your customer is not a dog anymore, but a cat!” The point to be noted here was that customers these days have very unique needs and they have resources to search and find the best offering that addresses their needs. Hence, the digital marketing needed to be customized to address individual needs
  • Another famous quote of the session was by Apurva Chamaria, “B2B is no more true, its more of i2i (individual to individual) marketing. Companies don’t business with companies”. He emphasized that in B2B context it was very essentials for every individual in the organization to leverage digital media effectively to find, build relationship and interact with their customers
  • In earlier days B2B marketing was considered to be logic driven, while B2C marketing was an emotional one, but in this information economy, the lines are blurring
  • Innovation in content marketing was the need of the hour and brands need to focus on generating small bits of content that are easy for users to consume and interpret given the reducing attention span for a particular media channel
  • Employee Advocacy is emerging as a crucial program within IT Marketing for brands to build a strong employer brand

Social Selling is Here

This session started with an interesting debate between Ashok Lalla and Jatin Modi. This was one of the most interesting sessions of the day for entire audience. Some of the key takeaways from the session were:

  • Building brand’s awareness, credibility and viability is a basic necessity of Social Selling
  • Social connectedness between people is there to stay, hence its more about how we leverage this ‘connectedness’ irrespective of the platform where brand creates its presence
  • In B2B context its more about internal expertise (who create/share content) & the expertise who amplify it. As the original content creation is a challenging activity and only very few manage to do, it becomes very essential for brands to have experts within organizations who could amplify the content and driving conversations at larger scale
  • The content shared by brand should leave some scope for people to add value to it and hence motivate people to engage with the brand
  • Social Selling is not tactical, it definitely is slow but strengthening relationships will have long term impact

Keynote speech by Ashutosh Gupta, Director Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn

Ashutosh highlighted how LinkedIn was fast emerging as a content consuming platform for passive candidates (who are not in search of jobs) and how marketers could leverage this platform. Some of the key insights he provided during the keynote address were:

  • 10 pieces of content are consumed by the decision-makers before arriving at a decision
  • LinkedIn users are 7 times more engaged with content vs. jobs’
  • If you ‘gate’ insightful content like whitepaper, infographics, video, you would lose the interest of top-funnel
  • Map your content to the right segment of the funnel to influence at best
  • Impact every stage of buyer process journey with relevant content

Friends with Benefits: Making Partnerships Work

This panel discussion was focused on how it has become a key strategy for organizations to build strong relationships with their partners for sustained growth. Frankly, I had no interest in this session, but some of the learning that came across in this session could be applied even in our lives:

  • Building trust between partners was of key importance even before agreeing upon the ROI metrics
  • Partnerships need to be nurtured well for long term growth of both organizations

Golden Cs: Content to Conversations to Conversions – Nurturing the Pipeline

Ever since digital marketing came to existence the relevance of content has been highlighted umpteen times. However, off late when brands have started leveraging content, the discussion and expectation of CMOs and CEOs has shifted towards the conversations that are driven through these content and the conversions (ROI) derived from various content marketing efforts. This panel touched upon various aspects of this phenomenon:

  • Focus should be to produce the content that drives deep conversations
  • Increasingly it is becoming difficult for marketers to defend the cost involved in producing content. Hence, its high time that marketers plan to map ROI for every piece of content that is produced
  • Especially in B2B context, given the long decision making process and multiple stakeholders, marketers need to produce small bits of content at regular intervals of time to ensure top of the mind recall.

The final session of the day was a chat between Jessie Paul and Ashok Soota, CEO of Happiest Minds. He shared his experience and some tips for youngsters to handle the professional pressure and excel in career.

Then came the much awaited moment of the day – Awards announcement. Guess what, HCL Technologies won two categories  – a) No Money Marketing (Unified Messaging of RBTC) and b) Best Lead Generation (Hiral Videos campaign). The Best Digital Agency of the Year award was won by Frogideas for #CoolestInterviewEver campaign.

Paul Writer

 

It was a great full day of knowledge seeking, networking (with tweeps like Ashok Lalla, Tinu Cherian, Malhar Barai, Pradeep Chopra) and the icing on cake was the moment when I stepped on stage to collect the award for Hiral videos campaign which was executed by my team.