IS YOUR BUSINESS ALIGNED ? LESSONS I LEARNT ON MY ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY.

When I started on my entrepreneurial journey I wanted to pick up any kind of clients , the focus was growing the business.

Over time I realised that this was sapping my energy and the clients either left or I had to let them go.

This was a waste of my time and energy. And here are a few lessons I picked up.

1. Scarcity Vs Abundance. It is the scarcity thinking that got me to pick up any and every client that came my way . What if there was no business was the biggest worry.

I soon realised this did not help. I would end up picking wrong clients or work .

This is also true for a job , picking up any job to pay the bills soon backfires as you hate working everyday.

Focusing on Abundance helps . There is truly enough in the world for your need. You need to trust the process of the universe.

This needs patience but it works. Define the kind of clients you want to work with it will save you a lot of wasted time and energy.

2. Greed finally hurts . You accumulate more , you get on a treadmill that never stops.

Focusing on having more drives you to pick up more work not necessarily what you love to do.

If you wish to live life on your own terms focus on what is truly important, cut the crap , de clutter life , drop the extras.

When you drop greed for more in life the pressure to go after any client or job also drops away.

3. Don’t look at others . This is one of the biggest problems, we constantly look at others and compare.

When your neighbour has a bigger car it becomes a problem. So we keep accumulating things so we can show off . We want to look better.

We chase business to compete and it makes us feel good . We always feel that the spotlight is on us while the reality is no one is bothered .

Everyone is focused on their life story not yours. So stop looking at others . Follow your path , it is different.

4. Cut the debt . A very practical advice , if you have debt you have to pay the bills . To pay the bills you will pick up anything that comes your way.

You get caged and stuck to a rat race as bills need to be paid. The bigger house and car is not worth it if it puts handcuffs to your dreams.

Cut your debt if you wish to live an intentional life and choose your work.

I went to zero debt before I began my entrepreneurial journey.

5. Listen to your heart . If it does not feel ok your heart will tell you . You will feel it in your body.

If you feel the dread of waking up , going to work or dealing with a client know that something is missing .

Check for alignment . You have to feel the joy of creating. If you find a client is always picky and is running you down , does not respect you , it is not worth it.

Not being aligned to your calling hurts you in ways more than one ways . Don’t postpone, get out , drop such a client or job , it’s going to be detrimental to inner peace .

6. Don’t pick up clients who don’t have money to pay . I have had such clients who want the work to be done but don’t have the capacity to pay .

They would promise to pay once their business picks up. I would pick them up anyways hoping when they when they do well they would pay .

This was a mistake they would soon drop out or drain me without any joy or value for what I put in as effort.

Bless such clients, to go on their someone they can afford. Don’t compromise it never works.

If the clients you work with don’t see value , it’s not worth it to hold on , bless them and let them go immediately. Either way they will go, it’s better you let them go.

If you don’t value yourself, no one else will.

7. Don’t pick up any business that does not align with your values even if it pays well . When your heart is not there in what you are giving out in the world , don’t do it.

There is karma and it will come back to bite you some day. Any business that is not aligned to your values where you feel people are getting cheated or the vulnerable are exploited, stay way.

Ask the question ‘why’ do you wish to become an entrepreneur and what is the ‘value’ you are adding to the world.

Find those clients that align with your ‘why’ and drop the rest . Trust the universe to take care . Focus on adding ‘value’ with your unique ‘gifts’.

Alignment brings joy to life there is no other way to live.

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS HAVE POLARISED/ UNITED OUR WORLD

While in the midst of a worsening pandemic in India I am seeing the worst side and the best side of social media.

In our school alumni group I found there is very strong polarisation for and against political points of views.

This is true globally we saw the same recently in the US . We see different flavours of the same across the world.

The problem gets bad when positions are so strongly held that each is not able to see the other side of the story that the situation reaches a breaking point in long relationships.

And it gets worse with manufactured truth to fit ones world view . The fallout is violence as we saw at the Capitol Hill , it could sow distrust in communities and groups with opposing view points.

Every hour the trends on Twitter change based on the two view points , further adding to bitterness and division.

The hate created is so deep that it has forced platforms to ban certain handles from using their platforms for good.

Is social media responsible for dividing our world?

I remember a time in our early childhood when there was no social media there was lesser polarisation , friendships were not so bitter.

Then again I have not seen any better example of how social media is being used in the worst time during the current pandemic where ordinary people are seeking help and are getting helped by strangers .

Twitter , WhatsApp, Facebook have become a way to reach out and ask for help real time , people who need oxygen or a bed in a hospital or medicines turn to social media.

And they get helped by complete strangers !

Few celebrities have leveraged their social presence to amplify the message of those in need.

Many are using social media to raise funds for oxygen cylinders and concentrator. So many lives have been saved because of social media.

Social media is a double edged sword on the one hand it can divide us as a society on the other hand it can unite the world for good.

Unfortunately politics plays a role , fake news can be easily spread to divide for motives. Those on the edge can be converted with constant visual content.

Interestingly platform algorithms show you more of what you want to see . That is how AI and ML gets smarter. The ultimate objective is to hook you to the platform , to get you spend more time on the platform.

How can we stop hate being spread through social media platforms ? Is there a way out ?

Has social media become a Frankenstein monster that is now difficult to control?

There are no easy answers , there are powerful vested interests.

I would yet say there is enough good about social media which is why it needs to exist . It brings people together, it connects people and hearts .

It is the one thing that has kept us sane in prolonged periods of lockdown.

It is for us the users of social media to keep the balance on the side of good , on the side of humanity and guard against hate and spread love and compassion.

THE WORLD HAS CHANGED

We were all hopeful that vaccines would help us end the pandemic. Till we saw what happened in India.

The second wave has been devastating, people have died gasping for air.

Hospitals are full, the medical infrastructure has collapsed.

The subconscious impact of not being able to get a hospital bed and oxygen despite of having money and connections is going to remain.

What we also know that there will be mutations that will bypass the existing vaccines. So the third wave is inevitable.

No one is confident of how long would this last the earlier hope that this will soon fade away seems distant.

Most doctors and scientists now say that the pandemic is here with us for a long haul . How long no one knows . At least till large population of the world is vaccinated.

Unless we get lucky and the virus just vanished away on its own.

How will this change us ? How will this change the way we live ? Do business?

Health is going to be a focus area for all, one needs to be healthy to survive was never more true than now.

Vaccines can protect us till a point as seen there would be mutations and waves.

Staying healthy is urgent, building self immunity is urgent .

The stress of working from home being confined in regular periods being uncertain about health and the future would increase stress.

Depression and anxiety are bound to go up.

This is what I see ;

1. There would be a focus by individuals on preventive healthcare.

2. Tele medicine would be a way to connect with doctors and most people would be comfortable.

3. Wellness would be in high demand as individuals will seek support for mind and body health.

4. Immunity is going to be a key word.

5. As WFH takes root homes would be equipped with gyms.

There would be a COVID fatigue as countries open up people would indulge , travel , party.

As waves come they would be followed by lockdowns and again people would sit at home.

Flexi working would be the way.

Humans are social animals they seek social company , people are going to need people to talk to , be with , express their inner feelings.

World will come together or will drift away as borders get protected from waves of virus.

Third world and poor countries and communities will be impacted the most.

All these changes will impact every business and profession and person on our planet.

Some businesses will die some will reinvent.

Marketing will change , will become less sales and more humane , more caring and less greed, more focused on the inside than external world.

Spiritually and faith will find place in an uncertain world it will get strengthened.

We are at crossroads like never before, it can bring out the best and the worst from us as humanity.

I hope we choose to reflect on our priorities , what truly matters and heal the world.

HOW TO BUILD YOUR PERSONAL BRAND IN 8 STEPS

Whether you are a founder of a business or you are in a job or a freelancer you are a person brand.

You can choose to be a part of the crowd and become a commodity brand.

Being a commodity will make you replaceable with something or someone cheaper.

Being a Commodity is a survival game.

You can choose to be a brand that stands out from the crowd and is valued.

As a person brand you can command a premium.

You need to take these 7 steps to build your person brand.

1. Have a Brand Purpose

Ask the question ‘why’ do I exist ? This is the most important question you will ever ask .

Take a tombstone test “How would you want people to remember you”.

2. Define your Brand values.

What is your true north ? that will not change with time . This is the core of your character.

3. Be Authentic

Be true to yourself , don’t look for approval. Have a point of view and stand for your point of view.

4. Be Different

As a brand you are unique , find your gift, find your niche , focus , stand out from the crowd , do your thing, take risks . Choose a path less travelled , one that gives you joy.

5. Make a Brand Promise

What is your brand promise ? What is the value you add to your clients.

Clearly articulate your brand promise.

And declare your brand promise to the world. Once you put it out there you become accountable.

Clients like those that take accountability.

6. Live your Brand promise

Word of mouth is the best brand marketing.

When’d your clients spread your word your value grows .

And every one you work with is your client .

7. Be ready to be Vulnerable

A personal brand is vulnerable, you cannot win all the time , that is being fake . Be ready to be and share your vulnerability.

7. Be your own Brand Storyteller

If you don’t tell your brand story no one else will .

Every touch point is an opportunity to tell your brand story .

Your network is your net worth.

The social media offers you an opportunity to build your personal brand.

I help my clients build their personal brand in the digital world through personal coaching and workshops.

In case you are interested do visit my website http://www.sanjaymudnaney.com

WHY DO WE TELL STORIES?

There is mystery about life and death , that is how we become storytellers.

That we will just vanish one day without a trace seems inexplicable.

From where do we come and where do we go are questions asked since the beginning of time.

There are no answers , it all seems meaningless, after all nothing matters, and to make sense of our existence we tell stories.

In our stories we create religion , we create God.

Nation is a collective story , there are no real boundaries.

Stories make us more secure in an insecure existence.

We create our villains and we create our heroes.

We create the story of what is good and what is bad.

We create stories of success and failures.

We create stories of bravery and valour and of cowardice and treachery

We are ready to live and die for our stories .

We connect with our stories .

Our fears ,our pains , our suffering, our desires our dreams are similar.

They are universal truths.

Below the layers , we are the same , our stories are similar.

We tell stories because that is what we are – Storytellers.

INTERRUPTION MARKETING IS DEAD !

The control has moved from the advertisers and sellers to consumers.

There was a time when we all read newspapers,

This was the time of mass media,

Advertisers hoped to interrupt the consumers,

Pay attention to their message and buy their products and services,

Then came television , advertising had similar objective ,

To interrupt consumers .

Then everything changed with the advent of internet and the smartphone,

With the smartphone in hand consumers set the agenda .

As data prices fell they became consumers of data.

Now the consumers  visit social media platforms to learn , to get entertained , to get information , to participate in connected communities , to build and be part of tribes.

The control has moved from the advertisers and sellers to consumers.

Stories are consumed because they are entertaining, they inspire .

Humans are naturally wired to listen to stories, share stories.

Good stories are remembered and shared.

Video content is 80% of the traffic on digital.

Visual stories stand out .

Brands need to learn , stop selling and tell stories.

Stop interrupting and focus on entertaining and educating.

Consumers switch off from interruption.

Real stories well told , inspire action,

Stories mean business,

Most important, when data is forgotten in minutes, stories are remembered over the years.

Future of marketing is Storytelling,

Every Brand has a story,

Every Organisation has a story ,

Every Cause has a story,

Every Startup has a story,

Every Leader has a story,

Every Employee has a story ,

Every Client has a story ,

Every Beneficiary has a story,

Every Tribe has a story,

Every Culture has a Story ,

Dig deep and you will find each one of us has a story.

Every story is based on universal human truths.

As humans our desires and fears are similar.

From ‘Here’ to ‘There’ is the most powerful story ever told.

Stop selling, start storytelling.

In the Digital world we are the stories we tell.

HOW BEING VULNERABLE CAN MAKE A BRAND MORE POWERFUL

A brand is like a living person.

It needs to be authentic to build trust.

No person can constantly be winning.

There will be days of struggle , days of failure.

There are moments of truth.

“Always good” is based on untruth.

Trust cannot be built on “Untruth”.

Can a brand be authentic and own up failure, say sorry ?.

Can a Organisational or Person brand share vulnerable moments ?

It’s difficult to be vulnerable. But it builds trust.

I experienced these both at Mastek where I headed Corporate Communications.

Mastek was the first company in the IT industry to give a profit warning ahead of quarterly results.

There was no precedent.

Obvious repercussions were bad press , investor calls .

Yet it emerged more powerful as a transparent and ethical brand.

The next story is of vulnerability.

Ashank Desai the Co Founder had an difficult early childhood.

There was his story of poverty and struggles.

Ashank has shared his story and lessons to inspire youngsters.

This has made him a strong person brand.

Being Vulnerable is strength.

Real heroes are authentic, they also fall.

Yet they get up and fight back.

Make your brand story more powerful.

Tell a authentic story. Be vulnerable.

HOW DO YOU TAKE ON THE LEADER ?

How do you take on the leader in the marketplace with one tenth the budgets ?

The story goes back to 90s.

Computer education was booming.

NIIT was the leader.

I was heading marketing at Datapro an upcoming IT education company.

NIIT was splashing money in national mass media .

We had maybe one tenth the budgets.

Could not take on the leader on their ground.

I chose guerrilla marketing strategy.

Converted the area around the education branch into a war zone.

Undergraduate students were the TA.

Aimed 5x times the exposure of the leader in the local war zone.

Business jumped .

We did give NIIT a good fight.

Never take a leader on their battlefield.

You will be crushed.

Create your own battleground.

At heart of marketing is strategy,

At heart of the marketing strategy is the customer.

What creates magic is passion.

A STORY MEANS BUSINESS

I took Shaktiman to Chennai and created chaos.

Parle G sales was having a tough time in Chennai.

We decided to take Shaktiman to Chennai.

I had built the first pan India integrated marketing services company with presence in 124 markets.

Parle products was our client.

I knew the power of stories.

I knew that Shaktiman (Mukesh Khanna) was a hero for children.

As a character he stood for good values.

Was aligned to the Brand Story.

We worked on a plan to take him to Chennai.

Kids could meet him at an open ground.

The only condition for entry was cut the newspaper Ad and attach two empty Parle G wrappers.

We did a integrated campaign Ads , school promotions , PR.

On the D day Shaktiman was on stage.

We waited.

We expected a maximum turnout of ten thousand.

The police commissioner was chief guest.

On that day was chaos , over one lakh crowd turned up !

Kids came in school busses.

Each wanted to touch Shaktiman.

Their hero was in front of them.

Parents too wanted to touch him !

Next day front page news in Chennai was Parle G Shaktiman comes to Chennai.

Parle G sales shot up in the South , market share was captured.

A Story can inspire action.

A Story means business.

YOU CANNOT CHANGE WORLD VIEWS , CHANGE YOUR STORY

I have been grappling with the insight , it is difficult, maybe impossible to change world views.

I see this in conversations now in school alumni groups and families.

There are two polarising views.

Each sees theirs as being the truth.

Each is trying to change and challenge the other view.

Only it does not change , there is conflict.

I have seen friends leave groups , stop talking to each other.

What is happening is , you cannot change world views , it’s tough, impossible.

Those that hold a view , connect with stories that fit into their world view.

Rather they always held that world view.

Stories tapped into their world view , made it stronger.

Let’s take the world views on for and against vaccination.

Those who are against vaccination hold their world view.

They find stories and research to support their world view.

Similarly Vegans have their world view .

Any story that taps into their world view resonates.

Time and energy to change world views is inefficient.

As a marketeer I would be more efficient telling a story that connects with the world view of the hero of my story.

Rather I don’t tell the story , the story is already told by the customer, I only tap into it.

Steve Jobs understood this .

He understood who the hero of Apple’s story was .

Those that challenged the status quo , those who think different , those that appreciated clean design were the hero of Apple’s brand story.

The campaign ‘Think Different ‘ tapped into this emotion.

The target audience already held the world view.

As a master storyteller Steve Jobs told them the story they wanted to listen to.

Good marketeers tell stories that their customers want to listen to.

And stories have the power to charge world.

Sanjay Mudnaney