Real entrepreneurship in India: Truly Inspirational

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Some 4 months back a graphic designer from my team resigned to become an Uber driver (and owner). News was that he was getting into ‘travel’ business, but soon it was known that he had quit to become an Uber cab driver. It surely left me intrigued.

Earlier this week, he came to office to take his team members and friends out for a dinner treat! And that’s when he popped into my cabin for a brief chat with me. What he shared with me, filled me with marvel and sheer delight. And I felt, this is one of the most admirable case of real entrepreneurship.

Let me first share his background: He is 44 years old, married and has a 14 year old child. (I don’t wish to reveal his name since i am not sure if he’d like me to do that!) His work while he was at Eggfirst was that of a graphic designer. And he was extremely meticulous and sincere at his work.

Now, here’s what he did: He planned to become an Uber driver. He spent almost 6 months of his time studying the project and also working part time on weekends to get a real feel. Then he took the plunge: He bought a new car using his savings of Rs. 1.5 Lakh and a bank loan. Now about four months into his new business, he is already making more than 2 times the monies that he was making earlier! Yes, he is working two times harder too but he’s now achieving his dreams. And things are only looking better going forward. He is planning to buy one more vehicle after a few months but expressed the concern of the shortfall of drivers. Note that he wasn’t concerned about getting access to funds or other elements but shortage of appropriate talent! His family has been extremely supportive and has been extremely pleased with what he was able to achieve.

Now, here’s why I admire him:

  1. Not only did he invest a significant part of his savings to start this business but also took a serious loan. Appropriate financial risk taking, I would say.
  2. He decided to become a driver despite what people would ’think’ of him. (In India, being a driver for some inexplicable reasons is considered ‘below’ being a white-collared employee). He took that leap of what people would think of him and did what was best for him and his family.
  3. He doesn’t mind working for long hours, putting in what it takes. He starts early, works late nights, works over some weekends too but makes time available for his family.
  4. He shared passionately about putting his child in Vedic mathematics tuition and another one for his class X.
  5. He’s also working on reducing his weight because in his own words ‘his tummy needs to be away from the steering wheel for convenient driving’. Isn’t he driving quite an all-encompassing change in his life. All of this is directed towards a singular objective: to make this initiative a success.
  6. Last but not the least, he gave me his card and asked me to book his cab whenever I may have a requirement for a cab. Now, that’s reaching out as and when I need may it. I am ready to wager a bet that in years to come he will reach places (!) that many just keep dreaming about.

True entrepreneurship, isn’t it?

Not only this person, but there have been others I have come across who have achieved levels of success that many others with resources don’t.

About 10 years ago, a young boy working as office boy (junior office staff) in Eggfirst had expressed his desire to learn website designing and HTML coding. In his spare time and extra hours, he learnt that with a small help from others in our team. Today he is a fine coder with a great career and travels international.

And many more such heartwarming life stories. Of successful entrepreneurs.

With this spirit that some people embody, success and joy is just a small step away. That step is the starting point that it takes.

My very best wishes to all such entrepreneurs and driven individuals.

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6 tips on how to crack a telephonic job interview

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Today’s age is defined by fast paced lifestyles and hiring too is no exception. “Time is at a premium, with harried corporate executives constantly looking to squeeze in more productivity into fewer hours. Hiring has also caught up with the whirlwind culture of the modern corporate set-up. Potential candidates are screened via telephonic interviews and only the ones making the cut are invited over for a face-to-face dialogue, thus saving companies a lot of valuable time and effort,” says RaviKant Banka, founder & CMD of Eggfirst Advertising.

The first step towards getting a job depends upon your skill in taking the perfect telephonic interview. Banka shares some practical tips to crack the telephonic interview:

1. Fixing a convenient time: Fix up an appropriate time and day for the interview, one that is convenient for both parties. Find a quiet room to answer your interview. Get kids, pets, family or workmates, whatever is the case, out of the way. Shut the door and firmly convey to everybody that the room is out of bounds for them while you’re giving your interview.

2. Check the technicalities: Make sure that your cell phone is fully charged before you start the interview. In a telephonic interview, nothing conveys sloppiness as a cell phone that goes dead in the interviewer’s face. Also, ensure that cellular connectivity is good and there is no chance of call drops or your voice breaking while you’re talking to the interviewer. If connectivity is an issue, it is better to give the interview over a landline.

3. Creating the atmosphere: Dress up for the interview even if it is telephonic. If you’re lounging around in your pyjamas while answering crucial questions over the telephone, the casualness of the whole set-up is bound to creep into your approach and interview etiquette, making you sound indifferent, unprofessional or disinterested. Your voice is the sole judging tool your interviewer has and sounding disinterested is a sure shot way of losing the opportunity. This does not mean that you need to dress in your best business suit either. Smart work clothes will do just as well. They’ll remind you that you need to sound alert, attentive and ultra-professional over the telephone. Remember, in a telephonic interview, it is only your voice, timbre and tone of speaking that will convey what kind of a person you really are.

4. Keep the CV handy: Keep your CV ready before you begin with the interview. An interviewer may ask you a specific question related to your resume. Having the CV handy will make it easy to refer when required. However, ensure that you do not make rustling noises while you refer to the CV. Also, keep a pen and note-pad handy, in case you need to jot down a few points. You don’t want to be rushing around, searching for writing material while giving your interview! Additionally, keep water handy by your side. A long interview, coupled with slight nervousness, will have you reaching out for a few sips of water now and then.

5. Right pitch and tone: Speak slowly and crisply, enunciating each word clearly. Your main focus should be in getting across your points lucidly and intelligently. This is even more imperative if you’re giving the interview to a person from foreign shores, since pronunciations differ vastly in different countries. Also, remember to smile while answering questions. This injects a note of warmth in your tone, making your interviewer respond in a like manner.

6. Ending it: Lastly, end the interview with a warm thank you and enquire about the way forward or the next move in the interview procedure. This conveys your interest in the job. However, take care not to sound desperate, even if you are!

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Emotional Advertising – The Holy Grail of Viral Success.

Emotions are sneaky things; they creep up on you, when you least expect them to, slipping in under your radar and catching you unawares. And guess what? There’s nothing you can do about it. Absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada.

Our brains are genetically hardwired to analyse and react to every stimulus on a deeply emotional level, a throwback to Neanderthal times when fight or flight, hunting-gathering, mating- every decision was made by the pre-frontal cortex- the seat of emotions in our brain.
eggs

Most people believe that the choices they make result from a rational analysis of available alternatives. In reality, however, emotions greatly influence and, in many cases, even determine our decisions. Emotions have always had the upper hand in every interaction we have with the world in general, and always will. We can cry ourselves hoarse about logic and analytics and rationale, but hey, the fact remains that humans are highly emotional creatures and emotions are our cul-de-sac.

The power of these emotions and feelings makes them fantastic vehicles for deeply moving advertising. For, these emotions lunge at the cockles of our hearts, catching hold of them and refusing to let go. Social media is chock-a-block with superb examples of effective emotional marketing that hit pay dirt.
Let’s consider few outstanding ones;

The ‘Dove- Real Beauty Sketches’ campaign struck a chord with consumers, generating close to 3.8 million shares in its first month online and adding 15,000 new subscribers to Dove’s YouTube channel over the following two months. The campaign tapped into women’s feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem, generic worldwide.

Dove

It was centred around a core emotional insight that resonates with women globally. The compelling storytelling led to highly emotional moments of awareness in women everywhere. The uplifting, feel-good ad became the most shared video of all time on social media.

gopro

The 2012 ‘GoPro- ‘Fireman Saves Kitten’ is another heart-warming video that created massive buzz on social media. The emotionally charged video notched up 5 million views in a week on YouTube, even while it caught the attention of Chinese electronics giant Foxconn, which acquired an 8.88% stake in GoPro in late 2012 for $200 million. GoPro filed for an IPO in 2013.

David Abbott’s Father’s Day print ad for Chivas Regal is a perfect example of an ad that conveyed emotions so real and universal that almost everyone connected instantly with most of the things mentioned. Written from a personal perspective, and conveying a direct message from the writer to his father, it was an ad that moved consumers to the core.

chivas

The ‘Cello- Main Aur Maa’ campaign also succeeded on the premise of real emotions, skilfully conveyed. Racking up over 5 million views in four weeks, the video has warmed the cockles of many hearts.

celloThe true-to-life incidents, the human story, the heart-warming relationship resonated deeply with both men and women, forcing them to recollect instances from their own lives and thinking about their own mothers. Not only that, it even got people to think about what they could do to make up for lost time in their most valuable relationships. That’s some advertising!

Viral ads driven by strong emotions not only garner highly-coveted social engagement for brands, but also translate into an exponential increase in sales and business. Johnnie Walker’s ‘Keep Walking Lebanon- Keep The Flame Alive’ campaign garnered it a 20% increase in market share. Under Armour’s viral campaign ‘I Will What I Want’ led to Under Armour Women’s sales lifting by an incredible 28%.

Johnnie Walker

WestJet

WestJet’s ‘Real-Time Giving’ campaign was a delightfully heart-warming campaign, one which catapulted the company’s sales to a massive 86% increase over the same period the previous year. Not all emotional marketing actually cuts ice with viewers. There is a catch to what makes an emotional campaign work, and what doesn’t.

Now here’s my theory on which emotional campaigns or viral videos work and which don’t:
The key to success, I believe, is its ‘authenticity’. The authenticity of the base feeling drives in most parts the success of the campaign. (I will share what constitutes the rest a little later in the article). Now what is authenticity: It’s being real, being genuine. Today, discerning viewers can detect a fake from a mile away. Emotions that are not real do not connect and are rejected outright. For emotional ads to make a mark, they must be real, they must hit a nerve and they must strike a deeply emotional chord in the viewers to actually grab their attention and leave a lasting, memorable impact.

Let me give an example of a viral video which received serious flak on the internet: the ‘Jai Hind’ video made for an online Hotels reservation brand. The high production value video including celebrity stars (Raveena Tandon and Manoj Bajpai) not withstanding, the video had misplaced emotions and in appropriate execution. The movie tried too hard and directly so.

Jai Hind

Dabur Vatika

However, the world has moved on from showing loud overdramatization and melodrama to subtle indications. I believe away from movie Kranti to say, Lagaan. There seemed to be a deliberate infusion of extra feelings and sentiments; trying hard to force people to get the message. On the other hand, watch the subtlety in Dabur Vatika video or the movie Masaan and their astounding critical acclaim.

Here’s another inauthentic one: A British rock band’s recent video ‘Hymn for the Weekend’. The video has been at the receiving end of serious online flak.

The reason being, stereotypical and archaic portrayal of India. The sadhus, the slums, the urchins, so on and so forth. India has long ceased to be the country of snake charmers. It has moved forward. It’s a new rising India. So, the Slumdog Millionaireish depiction of this India failed to establish a connection with the young, urban audience

Hymn For The Weekend

In short, a video, an ad or a campaign that tells a story in an authentic and compelling way is more likely to move you and stay with you for a long time, as against in-your-face hamming and copious amounts of fake sentimentality that only leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Fake emotion often results in work that is cloying, irritating or emotionally manipulative; work that rolls eyes instead of reaches hearts. Successful emotional marketing involves emotions that are raw and real, that fire the synapses in your brain and hit you square in the solar plexus, leaving you utterly, completely moved.

Now, this is my theory. I’d like to hear your views. Do write your comments and let’s discuss.

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A Marwadi in Advertising

BY RAVIKANT BANKA
Chairman and Managing Director, Eggfirst Advertising

backbeat_146Marwadis in advertising are few and far between. The advertising profession is symbolic of freespiritedness, flamboyance, ponytails, late-nights in office, the wee hours in pubs, smoke breaks, coffee breaks, big campaigns, award nights, so on and so forth. But a typical Marwadi is known to maintain a good distance from such adventures, being frugal, shrewd, basic, money-minded and not to mention, pure vegetarian. The perception is as old as the 19th century, when this community from the deserts of Rajasthan migrated to various corners of India and flourished as traders.

So, what am I, an engineer from VJTI and MBA from Bajaj and a quintessential Maadu, doing in advertising? A question frequently posed to me by Marwadis, non-Marwadis and generally people at large who I bump into at various occasions. I construct my answers differently for Marwadis and non-Marwadis. A popular Maadu saying goes like this: ‘Fando ni baat paachhi; takko ni baat kar’. Roughly translated it means, ‘Talk fundas later, buddy; let’s talk money first’.

Absolutely to the point. So when asked by staunch Marwadis, why advertising, I refrain from giving fundas. Neither do I talk money. Rather, I delve into another subject every Marwadi worth his Daal-Baati-Churma loves talking about – food.

Why do Marwadis always get pedhas from Chidawa, or rasgullas from Bhai Shankars, or bundi from MM Mithai, I ask? With this opener, I’ve already got the attention of my chachu, taucoujins, trader dosts: my target audience. Then, I continue further, it’s because there is a sense of comfort and assurance that the quality will be amazing. That’s branding, I stress. Because brands take extra effort to ensure that the quality is amazing, and that it is amazing each and every time. I’m the guy who helps brands build appropriate beliefs for people like you to go and buy these products. That’s my ‘dhando’. And it takes care of my Daal-Baati-Churma as well.

By now, I’ve grabbed some serious tongue- balls – after all, it’s money I am talking about AND food. So I go for the home-run. Why do we put barak (silver foil) on ghevar and barfi? To bring out the wow feel, much like what I do in my job in advertising, I point out. All of them say, wow! And most of them start calling their family maharaj, “Kaal ek kilo ghevar gharaan bhej diye!”

For non-Marwadis, non-believers, clients and people at large, I take an aggresively defensive approach. Just like cricketer Rahul Dravid, aka, the Wall. Sipping a potent mix of orange and mosambi juice, I remind them that, as a community Marwadis are known to have quite a large appetite for risk. Don’t we readily take a risk, when we go with our conviction and our money to invest in some new stocks or new line of business? Marwadis also have the uncanny ability to adapt to situations very quickly, a dexterity that comes especially useful when handling a client or a brand. Finally, many a Marwadi company keeps its cost lower than the industry average. Who better than a Marwadi advertiser to do the same with the client’s money?

These are some of the strokes I play when they throw the ‘how come a Marwadi in advertising’ bouncer at me. I don’t shy away from declaring my passion for creativity, living a new day every day, understanding people and consumers, and giving everything to building beliefs. On one such encounter, while I spoke such truths, a supposedly potential client said, “Your passion and understanding for brands is great. Let’s work together. Don’t expect money, my budget is very modest. After all, for you, it’s all about passion, na?”

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