Monday, January 21, 2008

Life is Marketing

Here's a Cntrl C+Cntrl V version of the conversation I had today with my friend Thomas.

Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:45 PM]:
Menon Vivek [4:45 PM]:
hola brother
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:45 PM]:
i just watched the movie Gandhi this weekend....
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:45 PM]:
Menon Vivek [4:46 PM]:
The original one or Gandhi my father?
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:46 PM]:
hehe the Oscar winning movie
Menon Vivek [4:46 PM]:
Menon Vivek [4:46 PM]:
So wht did u think/
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:46 PM]:
and then when i think about the stupid american wars in the middle east - Gandhi just put the right words on it:
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:47 PM]:
"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?"
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:47 PM]:
man that guy was sharp!
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:47 PM]:
i really liked the movie, and think that Gandhi really was on to something
Menon Vivek [4:48 PM]:
yep. The sooner we realise his words the better for us
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:49 PM]:
well i guess you probably heard of the guy in school or something
Menon Vivek [4:50 PM]:
yeah we were made to watch it in school itself
Menon Vivek [4:51 PM]:
the funny thing was
Menon Vivek [4:51 PM]:
at tht age we thought ben kingsley was the real gandhi
Menon Vivek [4:51 PM]:
and we were watching a documentary rather thn a movie
Menon Vivek [4:51 PM]:
all those actors became the real people for us
Menon Vivek [4:51 PM]:
nehru mountbatten
Menon Vivek [4:52 PM]:
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:52 PM]:
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:52 PM]:
well he was an amazing man, although i guess many people only know the most superficial facts about him
Menon Vivek [4:54 PM]:
yeah but aint tht the truth abt any famous person
Menon Vivek [4:54 PM]:
we know only superficial things abt the person
Menon Vivek [4:54 PM]:
and at the end of the day thts how ur judged
We make perceptions about people
perceptions becomes reality
Life is marketing

Thank you Thomas for reminding me of Gandhi's words and how pertinent they are today!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Carpe Diem - Indian Auto Industry

Well well well. Yesterday all the 24/7 news channels for once were not showcasing Salman's Wax replica or latest Sanjay Dutt story. Instead what was showcased was the Indian Auto Industry and how its coming of age in this very prestigious and glamorous world of Automobile Manufacturing. The stakes are high, the tensions are real with people living and dying by their choice of automobile.

Yesterday the Indian Auto sector captured the world's imagination in two important ways.
1) Launching of the Worlds Cheapest Car - Tata Nano
2) Launching of India's Formula 1 team - Force India F1 Team

So much hype and controversy has shrouded the Tata 1 Lakh car that I feel Tata Motors marketing people have their jobs made easy. Its been hailed,trashed,talked about, debated,philosophised. Named Impossible to achieve, Saviour of the Middle Class, Destroyer of Environment, India's Frugal Engineering Genius and the list is endless. I would be happy as a marketing guy to work on this Car now. The need so clearly identified,segment so precisely defined, the market so ready that once i make the distribution channels streamlined my job as a marketeer is done. The car will sell itself. Almost.....

Knowing so many examples of over hyped products becoming such let downs that I'm still not willing to bet my mullah on TATA for now. But if the Car delivers anywhere near what it claims to, well then ,get ready for a revolution - A Nano Takeover of the Indian roads and possibly the World's.

The Second was the official launch of the India's Formula 1 car. Vijay Mallya's -Force India F1 Team . This is at the the diametrically opposite end of the spectrum of Nano. The World of F1.
Formula 1- The most glamorous of the glamorous ,the most hi tech of the hi tech, the most expensive of the expensive,the best of the very best.
I still don't know what was the business motive behind co-owning Spyker F1 team by Mallya was but I'm sure like me all the Indian F1 fans just don't give a flying fart. We always desired- No let me rephrase that-We desperately needed to see India on the F1 Map.
Maybe it's the biggest publicity stunt by Mallya ever. Maybe he is thinking really far ahead of all the mullah he will rake in once India has it own GP circuit and race. Honestly but at heart I feel is a true hot blooded Indian racing enthusiast and wanted to prove a point. His words;"It is an expensive sport, big budgets, very glamorous and something that Indians perceived was in a different orbit and where India would never be. " He clearly intended to change that.

Still F1 has been a niche sport in India. Maybe this will help bring it to the masses as we see in the streets of Maranello and Barcelona. And if he gets to make a handsome buck out of it - Go for it dude. After all you are a business man. Just praying you playing the long gamble on this and not selling off Force India in 2009 as its history has shown time and again.
So with Tata Nano and Force India F1 Team becoming the toast of the Nation and with the possibility of Tata Land Rover/Jaguar Acquisition looming large in the not so distant future its Carpe Diem -Indian Auto Industry. Hats off Ratan Tata and Vijay Mallya.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Work Lessons from an Autorickshaw Driver

Today morning I missed my Office Bus by a whisker and was pretty pissed with myself.Anyone who has been/lived in Chennai would know the dread with which we approach the Autorickshaw wallahs here. They are a breed apart( I recently read an interesting blog which portrays Chennai Autos on the next GTA game - Temple City). After repeated failed attempts to get one's attention with my flailing arms I was ready to give up.

As i started to walk to a busier junction to be in a better position to catch one,a Shared Auto(the niche segment within Autorickshaws- describing which would take another blog post)braked right in front of me and asked "Evvalo pokallam Sir?"(Where do you want to go,Sir?). Beaming at being given a Lordly status(Sir Vivek Menon)I replied- "Shollinganallur". To which he smiled and said "Sorry,Injambakkam vare drop panni"(I can take you till Injambakkam only). Knowing that it was close enough for me to catch another Auto i got into the Shared Auto.

Sitting uncomfortably in the front with the Driver as he started off(The back was packed with 5 passengers already)I was hoping I wouldn't cramp my back or something.A few minutes into the ride I see my Driver starting to sing loud to himself and move his hips and wave at every traffic constable and fellow Auto Driver as he passed them by.I saw him not only humming the latest Tamil hit but also drumming his fingers on the gears and kicking the brakes and accelerator in tune.

Looking at him I felt as if I was seeing something very familiar. To my surprise i realised what that familiarity was. I was seeing Myself - or atleast an almost exact replica of myself - Singing and Dancing when I am very excited with the work I'm doing. Same drumming on the desk,Humming of the latest hit number and basically to any onlooker looking like making a fool of myself. This while only I knew I was coming up with my best work.I gave him a big understanding smile and asked him how many years he had been driving the Auto and why was he so happy right now? He told me he had been driving for almost 20 years now and that this is how he was all the time. He believed that this was this work and doing it cheerfully with a song in his heart was the only way he could keep on doing it day in and day out.

Wondering to myself I thought,I have just stepped into my professional career and its hardly once in 3 days i find myself in the humming and singing mode. How often would I be in this mood 20 years from now? I dream of being as happy as the auto wallah with my work 20 years down the like. Currently I'm singing and humming even when I'm sending an almost insignificant email. Can't loose out on the mood can we??

*Courtesy: The Hindu

Monday, January 07, 2008

Great Innings Grandpa

My Grandpa undertook the journey to his heavenly abode last friday. He was 99. When i first heard the news I was really upset,however over the weekend it dawned on me how wonderful a life he had lived. A complete and fulfilling life which any one would desire.

A man from a century behind us- he had seen it all. The life he has seen is something we read in the history books of today.Life under the British colonial India, Indian uprising under Gandhi and the Indian Independence - Lived under the world's first democratically elected Communist rule-Wars with Pakistan and China the slow and steady emergence of India as a superpower after the opening up of the Indian economy.

Although knowing him one of his favorite moments would have been the introduction of Television and telecasting of Live Cricket in India. The other passion of his life that i had seen was his garden. I had the privilege of living with my grandparents for a few years during my growing years and I vividly remember how precious his garden was for him and how many hours of toil he put into it.The times spend playing cards with my grandparents(No one could best my Gramdma)are one of the most wonderful little memories I keep treasured in my hearts.

He had played umpteen roles - Teacher/Administrator, Businessman,Husband, Father,Freedom Fighter,Grandfather,Great Grandfather,Gardener,Cricket enthusiast. Great Innings Grandpa and like one of your favorites Sachin Tendulkar you too picked up "the habit" of missing your century.Well played.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Welcome 2008

Yet another year passes by. 2k7 makes way for 2k8. Im not one to look into the past and delve into what all went right and what went wrong. Im sure Amazing achievements were made and Hideous crimes committed. Inspiration and indignation walked hand in hand. Aspirations attained and Dreams shattered.The only thing we have complete control over is the present. I will try to begin every day with a fresh thought,perspective and energy. Some wise man said -Nothing becomes impossible then.
BE the inspiration.May 2008 be yours,ours and mine.