Talk

Talk,

Just talk.
Talk about how good it felt to finally speak with your crush,

How it tickled your insides and left you with the fantasy of a dreamy, happy life together.

Talk about how amazing it felt after you gorged down an entire pizza alone in less than 15 minutes.

Talk also,

About how guilty you felt the next morning for doing that.
Talk to your best friend about how the school’s Mr. Popular had been giving you ‘hints’ but you weren’t really sure about what to do about that.
Talk also,

About how it hurt you, when she ditched you for the sleepover at your house that you were so excited about,

And that she chose to hang out with a bunch of random dudes at the club instead.
Talk to the girl sitting alone in one corner of the cafeteria, meekly eating her lunch and sipping Cola, avoiding eye contact however possible.

Tell her it’s okay to be shy and awkward and scared.

Better yet, share your lunch with her.
Talk to your mom about how good or bad or rather okay your day was.

Talk to your little brother about the school grades he has been hiding from Dad.
Talk.

Talk to your family.

Talk to your friends.

Talk about your

insecurities

fears

obsessions

fantasies

goals

dreams

emotions.
People care.

More than what they seem to show.

More than what you seem to think.
Talk,

Just talk.

Release.

Share the pain.

Share the joy.
You do not need 13 reasons to die.

You only need one, to LIVE.

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Has Digital Technology Shifted Traditional Brand-Consumer Relationship?

[The following article is a collaboration between a fellow team-mate, Suraj Amin and I for a competition we participated in with high hopes and dreams which eventually came crashing down but nonetheless the #AlchemistsWillBeBack]
​In times of the World Wide Web and omnipresent dotcoms, businesses across the globe have aggrandized their prominence with the internet bust. The world has so much information floating around that even if we logged it into a database powered by a super algorithm, it still wouldn’t be able to dichotomise the numbers.

The entire world knows what the Germans counselled. ‘der Kunde ist König’. The Customer is King. But with companies in every nook, corner and domain, this statement has become more than just a good ol’ moniker. The Customer IS King. Be it any industry, business sustainability depends on whether the customer is feeling significant and that’s exactly where the challenge lies. Is your company attracting new business as well as retaining its regular customers? Are your company’s policies and strategies propelling your business northward?

20 years back, answers to these would demand a flip through the log books. However, digitisation has supplanted that measure for good.
The dynamic of the world’s modus operandi has undergone a massive metamorphosis. Here are the key alterations in Customer-Brand behaviour in recent times:

 

1.   Multi-channelling, a TON of options and the shift in loyalty –

    Before Digital Technology waved its magic wand, the purchasing routine of a customer was pretty uncomplicated. All that one had to do was go to a marketplace, choose from a couple of options and select the best product according to personal preference. Enter the internet. The same customer now has the power to buy products and brands from across the globe, quite literally. Multi-channeling has exposed customers to a truckload of options with the convenience of doorstep delivery. With tens of companies selling the same product, the main competition boils down to whether the brand can provide value for the customer’s money and continue to do so for as long as they intend to stay associated. Brand loyalty is not a measure of projection of sales anymore. Businesses need to be on the qui vive to attract new customers and retain old ones.

2.   Product Reviews-

     The availability of options presents indecisiveness on a plate. Customers now have a voice of their own. The Web is replete with review portals and forums handing potential customers access to comments and reviews about a particular product before buying. Customers no longer cling to goodwill for a brand if there are others offering way more value for money.

3.   The Social Media effect –

    Consumers have been given a plethora of channels to laud as well as criticize brands. What makes brands wary of this internet boom is the rising intolerance among Indian consumers. A recent example would be about ‘Mocambo’, a popular fine dining restaurant in Kolkata, who shut its door on a woman just because she was accompanied with her driver. A story like this would have not reached the limelight a few years back but thanks to social media, it had over a million people talking about it. In 2 days, the restaurant’s ratings on Zomato plummeted to 1.8/5 with 8000+ negative ratings. But, as it turns out, social media is a coin with two different sides. If a brand really caters to its customers, it can be rest assured that Netizens will propel the business to unmatched glory. The mammoth rise in affinity for DBS Group’s Pulse candy is one such success story. The company created a 100 crore business rather rapidly, only through word of mouth and social media publicity advocated by its avid consumers. 

4. Data Analytics  –

   There is good news for businesses as well. Brands are now capable of channeling their marketing plans to the ideal target audience. Tools like AdWords and personalized content often seem less intrusive to customers, thus enhancing its efficacy. An ancillary industry which evaluates consumer data for brands to forecast growth, demand and sales has emerged over the past decade.

5.   Brand Collaboration –

Brands have started product placement campaigns with popular content creators which have        been instant hits. TVF has collaborated with Tata Tiago on a new show, “TVF Tripling” which centers around 3 siblings going on a road trip in a Tata Tiago. TVF has had similar previous associations with Uber and Kingfisher. These new means of promotion offer brands with high personal connect with audiences improving brand value.
6.   Customer Service –

With the power of technology, companies are now equipped to serve customers with   year-long immediate customer service. Customers are always looking for the best value for money and improved after sales service has given brands an edge in achieving that demand. 24*7 online support has bridged the gap between customers and the brand. 
Has this Digital Era settled for good? Only time shall tell. Because if there’s one thing we can predict about technology it’s that it is unpredictable. After all, our most trusted brand when it comes to grocery-shopping is still the market baniya.

So has digital life deflected conventional Brand-Consumer relationship beyond reproach?

We’ll let you be the judge of that.

– Alchemists 

An Open Interaction with Rahul Gandhi

rahul-gandhi_650_011616114957“People in India admit their inefficiencies, and that’s a good thing,
because inefficiencies turn into innovations.”
– Rahul Gandhi, on January 16, at NMIMS in Mumbai

 

Dressed rather appropriately for a semi-formal event, my friend and I stood amidst a bunch of blazer-clad MBA aspirants outside the gates of NMIMS at half past eight on Saturday morning, waiting to be allowed entry into the foyer of the newly constructed building where in an hour’s time, Mr Rahul Gandhi, Vice-President of the Indian National Congress party was to address an open interaction with the attendees. Police was strewn across the entire stretch of the road outside the venue, where ardent Congress supporters had gathered to welcome their beloved party’s heir.

After a series of solemn frisking, we were admitted inside the venue. Most of the seats were already occupied, so we had to seat ourselves wherever we could find an empty chair.
The setting was classic. A live television and Twitter telecast. It all just seemed too formal to me. Although this was intended to be a conversation with the youth to motivate and empower them, the crowd came to realise that most of the aim behind this Q&A was rather political.

Mr Gandhi arrived at around 10:15am, fashionably late for a sought-after political figure. To be honest, I wasn’t completely excited about meeting Rahul Gandhi. But here he was. I couldn’t have possibly got another chance to witness and laugh at all the illogical arguments he is known for producing. But as time passed, I realised there was more to him than what the media and internet had portrayed.

In his keynote speech, Mr Gandhi stressed about the importance of youth in this country. Drawing comparisons between the current populace and great innovators, he fished out his iPhone from his pocket (He was dressed simply in a grey t-shirt and a pair of jeans, ditching his usual white kurta) and said, “If Steve Jobs was forced into streamlining his focus by the society on things he didn’t quite find an interest in, the world would probably not have this right now. Entrepreneurs need to have the freedom of innovating and doing what they want.”*

When the open interaction began, Mr Gandhi came across as a person who would do really well in state-level board exams. He kept on stressing how he’d weave the economics and the general national scene in all the answers to the questions he is asked. To me, he seemed to be beating around the bush, repeating the same thoughts just framed differently.

When asked about the rising confusion of the GST bill, he did not falter in bashing up the opposition parties, claiming that all that the Congress had initiated was being stalled by the BJP-RSS. As student opinion would state later, that he stressed more on leading the discussion politically instead of stating solutions and involving students in the line of thought when it came to passing a bill.

For me, the highlight of the event was his response to a student who asked him about the increasing censorship of opinion in the country. He called out to a student from the crowd wearing a turban and asked him his name. Stating he was a Sikh, he said “There are people in the political industry that will differentiate between him being a Sikh and his partner being a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian. To me, everyone is the same. I don’t care what religion you believe in, that is completely your choice. I see all of you as Indians.”* This statement was met with a loud round of applause. Later did I realise, that this response could possibly be a jibe to the existing government leader who has been accused of having taken sides when it comes to religious sentiments.

Mr Rahul Gandhi had a tight schedule to follow and the event ended in almost an hour. Concluding the address, he said “I’m deeply honoured to have been invited to this college to converse with all of you. I’m deeply impressed by the this building, it’s brilliant infrastructure, but more than that, I’m deeply impressed by it’s students.”

 

I had left the venue a changed man. Rahul Gandhi might still be the incompetent leader that he was portrayed to be but he definitely changed my impression of him. Admitting this to my friend, she too accepted that the Q&A session was way better than what she had expected. But I was at a loss of words when she told me, “He looks good too.”

*The quoted responses have been reframed by me. They are not exactly how Rahul Gandhi had stated it, but the meaning and inference are appropriate.

A HARROWED QUEST

All of life is a test.

With its unique twists and turns,

It tortures,

It judges,

Forces him to change into something he is not,

Makes him endure its harshest realities,

Takes him to tough times,

Takes him through tough times.

There comes a moment,

When life throws him in an infinite abyss of stark despondency.

When a ray of light is not witnessed for months to come,

Years even.

When that ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ proves to be just a cliché,

When all he longs to hear are the reassuring words of family and friends,

When quitting seems wiser than trying to cling on.

There are glimpses of a fresh start, a new beginning,

When hope sways his heart and soul in a mood of pure ecstasy.

But all of life has taught him but one thing,

That hope is a treacherous feeling,

It can fire up a man’s wildest fantasies,

And leave him afflicted the very next moment.

That voice of fear of failure and rejection screams inside his head,

“Hang up your boots! Give up! You can’t win this! Maybe this your destiny. Maybe this is God’s plan for you!”

Survival seems bleak at that juncture,

But he must realise,

That the human body is capable of withstanding levels of distress,

Far beyond the scope of its stifled expectation.

That hour asks him for his highest level of faith, courage and strength.

He must believe in the reason for his mere existence in this universe,

He must believe in his purpose in this world,

He must believe in the power of his presence in the lives of others.

No matter how harrowed the quest for survival might seem,

He must believe

That this life

Is too precious to give up on.

WHEN IT’S ALL GONE

Where do we go?

When it’s all gone.

When the world is on the verge of insanity,

And a human life is worth just a bullet.

Where do we go?

When it’s all gone.

When death looms at every corner,

And hope is all that we can muster.

Where do we go?

When it’s all gone.

When war and hatred is rife among fellow humans,

And violence is the only key to survival.

Where do we go?

When it’s all gone.

When the technology and money can’t save us,

And love and compassion are our only lifelines.

Where do we go?

When it’s all gone.

When all that remains are ashes,

With nothing left to save.

Where do we go?

When it’s all gone.

When the Sun sets for the last time,

Leaving us in darkness till the end of time.

Where do we go?

When it’s all gone.

When cities are burnt to the ground,

And hundreds of years of civilisation, lost.

Where do we go?

When it’s all gone

When the mind begins to play its dirty tricks,

And the body begins to disintegrate, slowly but steadily.

Where do we go?

When it’s all gone.

When the mountains come crashing down,

And the oceans become lifeless.

Where do we go?

When it’s all gone.

When the water and air that once gave is life,

Are now just agents of disease.

Where do we go?

When it’s all gone.

When the green that we took granted all our life,

Is nowhere to be seen.

Where do we go?

When it’s all gone.

When the dreams that the child in us dreamt of,

Are killed by the routine of insecurity and fear.

Where do we go?

When it’s all gone.

When friends become foes, lovers become strangers,

And all that remains of family is just its name.

Where do we go?

When it’s all gone.

When the body has given up,

But the spirit still lives on.

Maybe this is Nature’s way of ending her glorious run,
By turning our life’s what is to our life’s what was.

But hope still thrives,
Though in a desolate space of mind,
That one day life will be better again.
Life, after all, is energy.
And just like energy can never be created, it can never be destroyed too.

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