I must apologize, rather sheepishly, this article is relevant and only sensible for the privileged souls who hit the Bangalore roads each day, realizing that there is no tunnel and if there was one, there is no light – neither in the end nor beginning.
Any names, references made are not fictional, this is reality. But not intended to hurt sentiments or point fingers. References are made only for enhancing learning and make sense of what I have written.
Take a look around you, my fellow Bangaloreans, my rare community of communicators, who each day are figuring a way to make more sense of chaos, strategy, engagement, messaging, crisis, et all and yet stick to the KISS principle that we studied decades back in advertising.
So here is my take on communications as a profession, and hopefully it appeals to both aspiring communicators and those already sucked deep in it.
– Traffic only increases. So does the chaos and challenges associated. Way back when we started our loving communications careers, did we not enjoy the simplicity and creativity of advertising? Looking at the overall sex-appeal of an AD, the visual, tonality, headlines and try to make everything look clever? and years down the road, ha ha ha, how is life? more chaotic? mechanical? wonder what happened to our child-like innocence?
Catch the drift? As you move up your career ladder in communications, you are almost going with the flow, hardly able to pause and reflect (may be a few lucky ones may find this amusing 🙂 )
The above pic: Screenshot of a search from Google for “Most disorganized Bangalore traffic”
There will always be a lot happening around you. Have the courage to pause and reflect. Listen to your gut, think and act wisely (every choice you make has its consequence). Look at options, don’t jump to conclusions and base decisions on assumptions. Get the facts right. Ask, each time, “what does this mean? how will it pan out? is there a better way? What if we…How about…”
– Plenty of stakeholders to watch out for. You see, my life was simple when I started out. I would meet someone from the business, get a brief (=dump) and work with an agency to come up with a cleaner version of the dump. Mark my words…cleaner version of the dump. Not yet the best version. So as I moved up, I realized, I had more than one innocent colleague who would ask for help. And my work was judged by a zillion – HR, Finance, corporate, CEOs, CTOs, CSR, Company secretary, we could go on…
Just to bring more clarity – lets drive into Bangalore traffic. We have autowalas, taxis, 2-wheelers, cabs, Ubers, Olas, truckwalas, BTS, KSRTC, Intra and Inter city buses, Volvos, Vayu vajras, colorful loud looking buses, 3-wheelers, yeah lots more.
So each one of these stakeholders has his or her style of driving. Some who overtake from left, some from no where! There are others who use their skills to beat jams by maneuvering tricky moves over the footpath. Then the more honky ones (I wanted to use a more direct word, but for the sake of sensitivity, chose not to) who no matter what, just die to put all the pressure, for as long as our planet rotates, to get an extremely annoying sound energy. there is no respite.
One needs to adapt to a driving style depending on who the stakeholders are on the road. Know their style, their approach and attitude to life. What is more important is not to forget you need to reach your destination safely and tactfully and in time!
-Pressure never ceases. No point fretting and shouting. Has the traffic ever improved? The guy who just whizzed past you, was peaceful, even though he almost caused your heart to skip a beat. I have been through this a million times and my family always a spectator to my qualms and tribulations. I never have managed to beat the traffic woes by getting frustrated and screaming. But one good noble friend of mine – Cariappa! He is one super cool cucumber. Never in my 10 years of knowing him, has he ever lost his cool! and he never crosses 50 km/hr? So what did I learn?
Stay cool under pressure. Everything is temporary (A Buddha saying). No one has ever gained anything by getting flustered. Science has proven that the more you allow external factors affect you, the more unclear your thinking. So be it deadlines or the CEO’s mail that has to go out or a customer event that has to get kick-started, just chill maadi (stay cool).
-Wrong side + wrong direction + wrong side parking…and double parking. Yeah this is the most annoying part of Bangalore traffic. Is there respite? Try and tell someone (even respectfully) they are breaking the rules and causing inconvenience, what are the chances someone is going to acknowledge their mistake? Literally zero!
There is a “khao gali” (eating joints on the road) nearby where we live, and you will find hoards of traffic piled up. I valiantly have tried many times to sort this out, like a good Samaritan – I failed miserably! So what do we do? Join the bandwagon? Curse and fret that people will not care. to what end? In which case we are no different from the rule breakers
Despite what the situation, as communicators one should have poise, be respectful and empathize, no matter how hard and painful, your self esteem taking a beating. It will be worth it. Stand up for what is right and the right thing to do. You can agree to disagree and move on.
Following rules is important… Branding and messaging will otherwise not be consistent.
-No one uses indicators!! Frustrating isn’t it? the person ahead thinks of you as a mind reader. He can choose to go in any direction and you are expected to guess and tread accordingly. Never the less, I make it a point to use indicators, irrespective of traffic or time. The situation gets ever more deplorable when you go through the narrow streets of Chickpets, Sultanpalyas and even the affluent 100 feet road. you need to guess and literally foresee the future.
A more saner picture of Chickpet, Bangalore
For a communications professional life is about living on the edge and more often than not everything almost comes together.
Expect the unexpected as our lives is full of surprises and challenges – from the vendor not delivering on time to the mic going off just as the CEO is about to address or for that matter a huge crisis that needs to be managed. Be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. Always think consequences. Plan-B is crucial.
Often longer routes are better to take than the shorter ones. I always have preferred to take the lengthier route. They are less traveled and easier to navigate – plus your mileage is better!
Try discovering new routes that help reduce the pressure of traffic and you will discover whole new world. Yeah as you drive, try and be a little curious about what you see around you, the way people drive, what they do on the footpaths, the occasional traffic cop too, is breaking rules! I’ve seen many come in the wrong direction, no helmets and just cruising without a care in the world.
As a communicator be open to change, be flexible, creative and curious. Never stop learning. Like Steve Jobs put it “Stay hungry. Stay foolish” Look outside your comfort zone, be externally focused, adapt and improvise best practices
Well that’s it for now. Let me know what you think, I’ll be eager to hear your view points.
And last but not the least – I salute each of the communications professional that exists on this planet. You are all doing an incredible job and make sense of everything that there is, there will be and not.
My next article would be on Buddhism and art of communications, so stay tuned!