How do you choose books for a teenager?

If you thought it’s a wrench to choose clothes for a teenager, just wait till they’re bored of everything in your bookshelf.

The call for new books should actually set off alarm bells; but parents being parents, we get all excited.

“My child wants books”, I beamed, when mine was tired of her existing set of books, and had devoured her favourites a million times. At least. So I ordered in a dozen classics, bound in various shades of maroon rexine.

But of course, this wasn’t what she had in mind, and they gather dust, as we speak, in one corner of her bedroom, and I was left scratching my head.

The second time around, I got wise, and did my research on the internet, where, for some strange reason, every teenager is supposedly reading the Twilight series. Thankfully, before I clicked the ‘order’ button on Flipkart, I asked the daughter if she would like the complete set right away or would like to try one first.

She was appalled… Twilight, she told me with authority, was all about a handsome vampire. And while she had qualms watching him on television (the lead actor has some of my contemporaries drooling, let alone teenage girls!) she has ‘no interest whatsoever ploughing through that sort of book, thank you’.

“So, what is it you want to read”, I asked her. “Get some recommendations from your friends”, I suggested.I regretted it when she came back with a list ranging all the way from Philippa Gregory to Dostoyevsky (I couldn’t even spell the name right! And a teenager was reading it?) “Are they ‘suitable’”, I asked nicely.

“Of course, this is what my friends are reading”, she said.

So after looking at the list, long and hard, I ordered her Margeret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, Erich Segal’s Love Story and Georgette Heyer’s Grand Sophy. She was irritated I ignored her list; the husband was very upset with my list (‘what kind of books are these? Whatever happened to innocence?’ he asked me) I stood my ground, and asked her to get on with it. She did, with great reluctance at first, but once she got hooked, there was no parting her from the books.

All this is not to say that I was wise; but it’s to prove a couple of points –

  1. It’s almost impossible to decide books for somebody else, given how personal the choices are.
  2. And it’s harder still, when the person in question happens to be a teenager, not quite ready for full-blown adult fiction, but way too old for what the markets kindly call “young adult fiction”.

A happy middle ground, I have learnt from experience, is whatever you read at 16. Today, any 13 year old can read, understand and enjoy them. Because, believe me, times have changed.

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.

I Can’t Afford it!

By Jayaram Rajaram

As I am slowly getting over the fact that I won’t be able to watch Sachin Tendulkar take guard in an ODI anymore, I’m having a very strong bout of nostalgia and occasionally feel a sense of emptiness. I was one of those who never watched cricket- I watched Tendulkar. Anyway, this post is not about Sachin, but I started off with a few lines about him because his on and off-field behaviour and intact middle-class value system is something that I would love my child to grow up with. It’s not about being famous, but about the person your child grows up to be…….

Tracing back to 1989, I was 9 years old and hooked to tennis. I had been playing at Sadashivanagar Club in Bangalore since I was 7. My father had bought me white canvas shoes and a wooden tennis racket. This was the time when Bata had launched some ultra-cool Power shoes. They were called Power Ultimo and many of my tennis pals had bought them. When I saw those shoes I started feeling a little embarrassed with my uncool Bata canvas counterparts. One day I decided that these canvas shoes were just plain uncomfortable. Today I can tell you that more than being uncomfortable I just wanted to have what my friends had.  So, off I went to appa (I call my dad appa) and said I wanted a pair of Power Ultimo shoes! He looked at me and very convincingly and matter-of-factly said “I can’t afford it”.

At that age I had no idea what my father could afford or not, and my dad knew it didn’t matter. I went on to say how my friends had bought these shoes and how comfortable they were etc. etc. He heard me out and said “They can afford them. We will see later.” End of topic. Though I felt really upset that day, I did get my Power Ultimo shoes without asking again, before I played my first tournament. He never told me he was buying them for me and it was not an incentive (Parenting Tip: Never tie objects to achievements with children- delayed gratification + unconditional love works better).

Today when I walk in for important business meetings (Even abroad) wearing my Bata chappals, I thank my appa. It’s really not what I wear, but who I am- what a simple yet important and effective parenting action that was (I never feel embarrassed about what I wear anymore! I just dress like me, in a neat and presentable manner!). While I quote just one instance here, my parents never hesitated to tell my brother and me a white lie about ‘Not being able to afford something’. I’m not for a moment asking parents to keep lying to children. The message here is to keep it simple when you communicate to your child. If you don’t want to say ‘I can’t afford it’, say ‘can we save money for this and buy it later?’ Basically the important thing is not to encourage instant gratification as it will do more harm than good for your child.

Today with consumerism peaking I shudder to imagine how I am going to bring my son up, but without doubt I will be telling him that I can’t afford many of the super expensive things that  he is going to ask for along the way!

…….back to Sachin….his retirement from ODI just woke me up about how many years it has been since my father said ‘I can’t afford it’!

About the Author

Jayaram Rajaram is the Managing Partner of Bril and the Managing Director & Chief Dreamer of ELSA. Jayaram writes from his heart and from experience. He writes about varied topics ranging from parenting to leadership and entrepreneurship.

To get updates on Bril, parenting tips and Jayaram’s blog posts become Bril’s fan on www.facebook.com/brilconnect

For more information on Bril and ELSA please visit

www.brilindia.com and www.brilart.com

 

In Your Parents Shoes

By Jayaram Rajaram

Over the years I have come across many lovely married couples in my friends and family circles. Of late I am observing a disturbing trend and a self-centeredness that has cropped up in many families. This is the same trend that earlier destroyed the stability that extended families offered in the western world. Unfortunately all the signs of intolerance, lack of patience, consumerism and materialism seem to be slowly finding its way into the earlier unshakeable Indian family system.

Recently I have repeatedly heard people saying that they moved out because they cannot stand their in-laws. This is still tolerable (as I do not expect people to live under the same roof), but I see many youngsters who are abroad (or even in the same city at times) not taking care of their parents because their spouse is not cooperating (Or maybe they just don’t care)! Invariably one spouse tends to take care of the other’s parents but one set of parents are ignored and treated pretty badly. . I am not pointing fingers at men or women here but all of us as a society.  The beauty of the Indian family and the arranged marriage system was that it used to be a merging of two families and not two individuals. I am not getting into a debate of whether love marriage or arranged marriage works here, because both have their pros and cons. Now I find that consumerism and selfishness are peaking in India, with kids earning more than their parents ever earned. I stop to wonder why India is making all the mistakes that the west made just a few decades ago?  Does money and independence mean you forget about what your parents did for you? Does marriage mean you do not have an equal responsibility to take care of your parents and your spouse’s parents? Where the hell did your spouse come from? Did he or she drop from heaven?

I am not talking about just differences of opinion between in-laws and daughters-in-law or sons-in-law; these are common in every family. If people coexist there are bound to be differences of opinion and that’s not a major issue. These things crop up and sometimes tears are shed, words are spoken but overall both parties have a core value system and a desire to make the relationship work. My wife and I keep talking about this and correcting each other when the other misbehaves (both of us do misbehave at times- we are just human), but we know in our hearts that our parents have made us who we are today and they need us more and more as they grow older (We HAVE to be there for them no matter what! I pray for sanity, to be able to do the right thing for the rest of our lives.). It’s the small things that WILL make our lives better in future, not the no-compromise attitude of our instant-gratification generation.

Here I am talking about more serious demands (not the small tiffs) by some people who refuse to take care of their spouse’s parents in their old age but expect that their spouse takes care of their parents. Or sometimes couples are so full of themselves and their careers that ageing parents end up in old-age homes! In some cases parents volunteer to go even if the children want them at home, I only talk about cases where the old parents DO NOT WANT TO GO. They yearn to spend quality time with their grandchildren and children, but are pushed to old age homes.

In this post I would like to urge people to understand that money is important but it doesn’t give you a right to be arrogant. Money can get you companions but not love or a supporting family! Your children closely watch your interactions with your in-laws and parents and sooner than later they will do exactly what you did to your parents (their grandparents). You too will be old, you too will lose the confidence that good health and money gives you today. YOU WILL HAVE TO DEPEND ON YOUR KIDS for physical and emotional support. We live in a world of interdependence which is beautiful. This interdependence makes us and our families stronger in a fragile, more and more unpredictable world. Please don’t allow your world and our society to crumble by being selfish. Each one of us needs to wake up and act properly.

GET IN YOUR PARENTS SHOES NOW! YOU’LL BE THERE VERY SOON! YOUR KIDS ARE WATCHING!!!!

About the Author

Jayaram Rajaram is the Managing Partner of Bril and the Managing Director & Chief Dreamer of ELSA. Jayaram writes from his heart and from experience. He writes about varied topics ranging from parenting to leadership and entrepreneurship.

To get updates on Bril, parenting tips and Jayaram’s blog posts become Bril’s fan on www.facebook.com/brilconnect

For more information on Bril and ELSA please visit

www.brilindia.com and www.brilart.com

Image Credits: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net by photostock

Consumer Insight

By Jayaram Rajaram

Most MBA-types (I’m one of these useless ones too! : -)) banter on about the importance of consumer insight in business. This term is highly overrated according to me, and several useless market research and consulting firms make hell of a lot of money by putting your customers and consumers into boxes. They use jargon like perceptions and preferences, perceptual maps and all sorts of nonsense to hide behind terminology that the common man can’t understand. Questionnaires seldom give you any insight and are a whole load of crap according to me (Pardon my language).

Now let’s cut to the chase so I can tell you what I understand consumer insight is all about. Recently we launched disposable diapers (Brildiapers) for babies. A lot of people saw the pack and asked me what I meant by the words ‘Consumer Insights –India’ on the pack. People were expecting me to say some big 4 consulting firm did this massive research etc. My answer was simple- consumer insights were MY insights as a customer who bought practically every single diaper brand in the market for my son (They were shocked!). I say it openly, NOT a single diaper in India was good enough for my son! So I had to import one that was reasonably good from the US (Still nowhere near the quality that we went on to acheive with Brildiapers Prime)! How do I say they were not good? I tried them ON!! I placed them one at a time as a lining for my underwear and wore each one on for a few minutes. The second test I did was to place each diaper over my mouth and nose and tried to breathe (Not with the same diaper that I tried on of course before you ask me! : -) ). Was I crazy?? NO…I was NOT doing this to launch diapers at that point, my baby couldn’t tell me that his diapers were not comfortable, so I decided to help him out (Simple isn’t it?). It’s called empathy and I would urge every parent to do this with products they use on their baby! Did this crazy exercise give me consumer insights? Did it tell me of a gap in the market for the discerning SEC A parent? You bet!

After my wife and I went through 15-20 different brands and sadly had to import one brand of diapers from the US, I asked myself why no company was manufacturing diapers for the discerning Indian parent who wants superior comfort for their baby? At one point it irritated me because, most of the brands were doing their best to keep prices low (Which is important for the bottom of the pyramid mass market in India) and were unable to use the more expensive materials they were using abroad. What did this mean? A huge compromise on comfort for ALL Indian babies! Even if a parent could afford more expensive diapers, the really good ultra-thin breathable ones were not available in the market!

Now that I had REAL first-hand CONSUMER INSIGHT as a parent, I went ahead and got my team to research in-depth and launch Brildiapers Prime- an ultra-thin, highly breathable, 6-layer, super-absorbent, rash-proof diaper made using world-class raw materials from Germany and USA, for unmatched baby comfort. Now my son is almost 2 and yes, he wears Brildiapers Prime Large!

In conclusion, I would urge my fellow MBAs, entrepreneurs and leaders to get out and become a consumer themselves rather than spend company money on useless market research. Get intuitive to identify unrealized needs and create markets if you will. Move from head to heart. Be obsessive about your brand; solve problems for your customers every single day.

Click here to read more about why brildiapers are special, thanks to first-hand consumer insights and real love that has gone into creating them, in the news!

About the Author:

Jayaram Rajaram is the Managing Partner of Bril and the Managing Director & Chief Dreamer of ELSA. Jayaram writes from his heart and about personal experiences. He writes about varied topics ranging from parenting to leadership and entrepreneurship. Now that you have read one of his intimate experiences with baby diapers, the least you can do is go to http://www.brilindia.com/bril_diapers_prime.php buy a pack, wear them yourself and report back to Jayaram with the results, or use them for your baby if you are a parent! LOL


 

Innovation in Marketing

Social Media Really Does Work-  Case Study

The following case study clearly reveals how innovation in marketing using social media is extremely powerful. The case study emphasises the importance of creativity and innovation and how marketing teams must look within and do for their brand what they would love themselves. Looking within, listening to your gut and acting upon it systematically is what innovation is all about. As more and more marketers debate the power of social media, what I say is that these marketers should not blame mediums for their lack of innovation and creativity. Social Media channels like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter etc are mediums that will work for creative organizations and not for organizations that are trying to port traditional mass media / offline strategies online.

This case study that I present is a real one that I personally ideated for my company Bril (www.brilindia.com).

It all started off with this simple nostalgic post of a Bril Ink bottle, that sparked the idea: Click Here to see this post that went viral.

Campaign: Bril Nostalgia Photo Contest (Click Here to See the first post announcing the contest)

Make people share their best and most loved school or college photo using an authorised facebook app that was setup on the Bril facebook page (www.facebook.com/brilconnect ).

GO TO http://www.facebook.com/brilconnect and scroll down to see 100s of happy photos shared by participants. or just Click Here for the photo feed.

Objective of Campaign: To make Bril reconnect with parents / adults (Bril’s potential customers) who have used Bril Ink during their school days by leveraging nostalgia (a very powerful emotion) and Make Living Fun for all participants. A campaign that is all about the participant and his / her life.

Prize: Brilslate Android 4.0 Tablet worth Rs. 10,999/-

Campaign Cost: Rs. 20,000/- including cost of prize, facebook promoted post cost of Rs. 8500/- plus shipping and handling charges

Steps Participants had to take to Participate in the Bril Nostalgia Photo Contest:

In order to participate people had to:

  1. ‘Like’ Bril’s Facebook Page www.facebook.com/brilconnect (The app ensured this was the first step that people had to complete before taking them to step 2)
  2. Enter their contact information (Name, Email ID and Mobile Number)- This built a good email and phone database that could be used later
  3. Upload a school or college photo that they felt was their best

The participants were informed that Bril will feature as many photos as possible, on the Bril Facebook page after affixing Bril’s Logo and a link to the photo contest.

While it was made clear that sharing their photo, tagging and liking were not mandatory and not at all a criteria to win the contest (Satisfying Facebook’s contest rules), participants were encouraged to Tag friends in the photo and others they loved, once it got featured, just to share the joy and Make Living Fun by rekindling nostalgic juices of their loved ones.

Campaign Result and Reach:

Bril received over 292 entries in 2 weeks.

People started participating for the fun of participating, and voluntarily and enthusiastically shared their photo and tagged all their friends (once it was featured with the Bril Logo and a link to the contest). This made the campaign truly viral as people were enjoying the process without worrying about winning.

Each person shared / tagged 10 people on average.

Our study showed that each person had on average 400 friends on facebook

So what was the campaign reach?

292 people X 10 people tagged on average per person = 2920 people reached directly

Let us say each one of the tagged people have an average of 300 friends who would have seen that tagged person’s photo

This makes the reach: 2920 X 300 friends/person reached directly = 876,000 people who saw the Bril brand, the contest and came to Bril’s facebook page

The real reach was even more because of the comments, likes etc that happened on each photo.

Cost per person reached:  Rs. 20,000/876000 = Rs. 0.0228 per person reached.

Leads generated as a result of this campaign: 292 (Only participants considered, but Bril’s lead capture system captured on average 10 leads more per day during this campaign (14 days) in addition to the participants)

Cost per lead captured: Rs. 20,000/292 = Rs. 68.49 per lead

Bril’s facebook fanbase grew from 12,000 fans to 20,000 fans in a matter of 2 weeks thanks to this contest

In comparison:

Average cost of a single 10cmX5cm ad in a leading English daily: Rs. 300,000 (Approx).

Approximate Reach (Not measurable): 300,000 people

Cost to reach: Rs. 1 per person with no real brand engagement

Max. Number of leads that a good ad generated (Based on an ad released in a leading national english daily  by Bril in September): 250 leads

Cost per lead: Rs. 300,000/250 leads = Rs. 1200 per lead

Bril’s Mission: To Make Living Fun for parents and children through world-class products, services and opportunities.

The contest was in perfect sync with the company’s mission as people started to enjoy the process of participation rather than play for the prize and started sharing good old memories with people they love, taking the Bril brand out to their friends and family happily.

Who’s Idea was it? In-house by Jayaram Rajaram, Bril’s Managing Partner, who is also the Managing Director & Chief Dreamer of ELSA Learning Private Limited. Jayaram is a hands-on innovator, entrepreneur who actually implements in his businesses, the innovation strategies that leaders, organizations and teams are taught as part of BrilArt@Work workshops (www.brilart.com ) .

Jayaram’s Linkedin Profile:  in.linkedin.com/pub/jayaram-rajaram/7/217/947

Campaign Executed and monitored by: Bril’s Social Media Partner Scion Social

 

 

 

Quitting is Easy!

The following is an email that I took out to my team of managers when a pretty senior manager quit during a transition period in my company. We had just promoted a long-timer to fill his shoes. The transition was basically a move from being just a stationery products company to a baby and children’s products company. There was a lot of pressure on the teams to get out of their comfort zones and start thinking like a start-up. There was pressure on managers and leaders to understand, align teams and deliver in unfamiliar territories and product categories.  I felt the message in the letter is very important for every leader in today’s challenging and uncertain markets. It’s more important to people who shift jobs at the drop of a hat and likewise companies that hire and fire. Stability in teams, innovation and sustained action is what sets Great companies apart from the Good ones.

I have changed all names in the letter to protect identities.

Subject of Letter (Email): Quitting is Easy

Dear Managers,

Firstly I would like to congratulate Sachin on becoming an Area Sales Manager. Sachin has not become a manager by default due to Hari’s exit, but because of his ability to solve important problems for the company, and his go-getter attitude. Sachin was a deserving candidate because he has a positive attitude and has shown the behavioural characteristics of a leader, with the ability to embrace change while sustaining and growing the heritage business also. At Bril, we try our best to give people within opportunities to grow, and as managers and leaders all of you should be looking at grooming future leaders. Make sure you are encouraging people below you to grow. Identify the guys who are ready to walk the extra mile and give them added responsibilities. Allow them to fail as long as they are diligently and ETHICALLY taking action. Sachin, so far you have done well to get where you are, but I sincerely hope you realize that this is the beginning of your journey. Do not allow this promotion to get to your head. Stay focussed, grounded and positive. Think big, motivate and work with your team to take this company into the future successfully.

You must be wondering why the subject ‘Quitting is Easy’?

Yes, the point I want to make through this email is that Quitting is the easiest thing that all of us can do. True leaders, in fact the greatest leaders of today are people who didn’t quit when there was pain, when times were tough or when there was change or transition. Steve Jobs was thrown out of his own company, but he never gave up pursuing his dream. His positive attitude and drive made the universe conspire and give him back his company on his terms. Apple nearly went bankrupt at one point, but Steve Jobs knew it in his heart that one day it would be the best and most sought after company in the world. He never stopped working on his dream and the rest as they say is history. Ask anybody who has worked with Steve Jobs and they will tell you that he was a tyrant to work with, but the people who stuck on have become millionaires (Some even billionaires), because they kept a positive attitude in the toughest of times and kept taking action day in and day out for many many years till success was inevitable.

Leaders of tomorrow will be people who sense an opportunity today, in times of change, maybe even adversity and take it as a challenge to seize the opportunity that every change or adversity brings along with it. Bril today is at an inflection point of tremendous growth. All of us are fortunate to be in the positions that we are in today, as I believe in my heart that this company and brand is going to scale unimaginable heights. I include myself in being fortunate, as it is only divine grace that puts us in a place of opportunity and surrounds us with people who are going to create the future. This is a time that I am going to be harshest on the people who I believe can deliver, but are being pulled back by their negative mindset or maybe lack of systematic action. I will be harsh if I sense that you or people in your team are not pulling up your socks and working your butts off (Pardon my language). I will not tolerate excuses; I will not take NO for an answer. The products identified as the future of the company HAVE to be sold, and sold in the tune of several hundreds of crores in the years to come. This has to happen without sacrificing on or while achieving growth in the stationery business. What does it take? More number of hours of work, supreme time management abilities, dealing with more rejections in the market, motivating the right team members and good old dedicated action (New distributor appointment, Primary, primary primary, secondary, secondary preschools, apartment complexes, flier distribution……..again and again and again focussing on the new products daily and making it a part of your and every team member’s daily routine like they do for stationery products and more). So in this mail I want to make it very clear to you that when I scream at you, I scream for YOUR growth, so you can achieve your full potential and make the company grow. A parent only screams for the benefit of their children, a guru only reprimands the brightest of students (There is no ulterior motive!). Please don’t prove me wrong, as I believe that this team is the brightest and most capable team we have ever had at Bril in all these years. During this time, those who are weak hearted and cannot see a bright future here will leave. That is fine, but what I would like to emphasise is that QUITTING IS EASY. It is the easiest thing any of us can do. Believe me that I will not rest till Bril is a huge force to reckon with- I believe that this is my life purpose. Stay here, if you share the same passion as I do, or we can be good friends and you can move on. Having said this, I honestly believe that each and every one of you I am mailing today has the capacity to lead their respective teams and this company to great heights. I sincerely hope you believe in yourself too. Who says there will be no problems along the way? Great leaders are those who love the challenge and convert problems into opportunities.

So, the message I would like to drive home in a nutshell is……

  • Quitting is easy- that’s why quitters never grow. They normally start and quit all the time so they never really achieve success in anything they start (Most ordinary people are quitters). Leaders are persistent and keep DOING till they achieve their goal (No matter how many months, years or lifetimes it takes).
  • You fail only when you Quit.
  • Believe in yourself
  • Always have a positive attitude
  • Genuinely be good to people. Show them you care, but reprimand when it is due. Be fair even when you reprimand.
  • Don’t lose that fire in your belly EVER!
  • Great things happen when small actions are taken on a daily basis
  • Don’t wait for that big deal. Win a small deal everyday

I am hoping and praying that this is the dream team that will take Bril to stratospheric heights in the years to come.

All the best.

With Love,

Jayaram Rajaram

Managing Partner – Bril

Managing Director & Chief Dreamer

ELSA Learning Private Limited

www.brilindia.com / www.brilart.com / www.elsalearning.com

This post is as important for children, who will be future leaders, as it is for adults. Not quitting, and being persistent will surely Make Living Fun in the long run. As parents, let us try to instill resilience and a Never Say Die attitude in our children.

 

 

Is Innovation & Creativity Mere Lip Service in Organizations?

By Jayaram Rajaram

How to create and sustain an Innovation Culture in your Organization?

I have interacted with many-a-CXO over the last 10 years in business and almost every single time I have heard the words ‘Innovation’ and ‘Creativity’ being used. While I find that there is unanimous vote when it comes to the importance of innovation, it’s the MBA-clan and managers who sit inside boxes that are talking about the urgency to innovate. While the desire to innovate is a good starting point, most leaders and teams seem to just get stuck with the desire alone. Unfortunately most Business schools stifle creativity and innovation by equipping future leaders with analytical tools designed to mitigate risk. Innovation and creativity can never happen when leaders tread cautious paths. Time and again people say they want innovation but are even scared of embracing a slightly off-beat advertisement campaign maybe in a not-tried-before media vehicle; leave alone allowing collaborative creativity that is required in creating innovative products, innovative distribution channels or coming up with innovative solutions to sales or operational challenges and most importantly to people issues.

Over the years, I have been tracking companies that have excelled despite recessionary environments, with customers falling over each other to buy their over-priced products. Yes, the first company that comes to everybody’s mind is Apple then there’s 3M. Yes, Google gives its employees time to pursue their passion and allows them to fail. While this is a very good step forward for innovation and has yielded great results, why do so few companies come to our mind when we think of the word ‘Innovation’? I am not saying that there aren’t more companies that have taken the innovation pledge seriously. There are a few hundred companies that are continuously creating the right environment to nurture creative thinking amongst employees and their customers and shareholders are rewarding them with premium margins and share prices. But the point I am trying to drive home is that, in order to be able to create, nurture and sustain an innovation culture, the right leadership is required. I am sad to say that many companies are stuck with leaders who have suppressed their own intuition for way to long and have prevented anybody else to get creative in the true sense.

Before I offer a solution, let us analyse why Apple has been so successful? In my opinion it is because their products were designed with the arts in mind. Arts are more human, arts have a heart and Steve Jobs was inspired by Calligraphy, Zen and simplistic design- the arts. He intuitively built products that he would love, rather than asking customers what they wanted. Asking customers what they want only gives you iterative improvements and rarely radical innovation (I am so happy Steve Jobs came along, as finally people listen to me about meeting unrealized needs!). Steve Jobs honed and acted upon his gut because he got in touch with his core through Zen meditation. More importantly he had the guts to defy corporate risk aversion and create & take-to-market products that revolutionized the world. . How many CXOs have such gumption to stand out and say the buck stops here?

Now that the problem is clear, what can be leaders do to enhance and sustain creativity and innovation in their organizations? While you don’t find a Steve Jobs every day, every single organization can take the following steps to nurture creativity within.

  1. First and foremost every leader must give employees opportunities to realize that they too have a creative side. Not only by acknowledging and accepting suggestions and ideas from even the junior-most employee, but by acknowledging talents in the arts.
  2. Leaders and Talent Heads must start recruiting people who have pursued some art form like music, dance, visual arts etc. as they would understand how the arts have the ability to impact people at their core, and apply it to their work- if given the right environment and opportunities.
  3. Try to create opportunities for people to look within and de-stress. This could include meditation sessions, exposure to creative arts performances by musicians, dancers, artists and maybe even cooking sessions, photography, drama sessions etc.
  4. Incorporating a system whereby employees, especially leadership teams interact and attend workshops conducted by real creative geniuses, to understand the essence of tapping into their innate creative zones and understanding how to create the correct environment for innovation to happen.
  5. Get new perspectives by engaging in and also helping your employees engage in creative interests (even during work-hours whenever possible), to understand the emotions that they feel while doing so. These are the emotions that should translate into products and experiences that the company offers to its customers (Remember- that’s what Steve Jobs did). I call it taking advantage of your goose bump moments to intuitively know what makes people tick. I’m hoping your employees and customers are people, if not this may not work J
  6. Cut-out power-point presentations and focus on real idea generation and open-ended brainstorming sessions. Encourage people to move from head to heart in every meeting. Believe me customers are fed-up with information overload and want to work with companies that are more human, while delivering results of course.
  7. Encourage people to dress-down and meet customers like they meet friends (This is innovation in sales). This is a pet topic of mine and will tell you more about the importance of this in a separate post.
  8. Encourage action and systematic action to put creative ideas into real-world action. Nothing happens without systematic action and even the best and most creative ideas will remain just that-brilliant ideas without leaders who ensure they are acted upon.
  9. Last but not least, allow people to take risks and FAIL!

About the Author:

Jayaram Rajaram is the Managing Partner of Bril, a company that works on a Mission to Make Living Fun for its customers and consumers, through its world-class school stationery, baby and children’s products. For more information about Bril please visit www.brilindia.com  (Bril’s Facebook  Page: www.facebook.com/brilconnect) . Jayaram is also the Managing Director & Chief Dreamer of ELSA Learning Private Limited, a human development company that works towards nurturing and enhancing creativity amongst children and adults and also helps organizations take innovation seriously through its BrilArt@Work offering. For more information about BrilArt please visit www.brilart.com

 

There’s More to Life than English!

Last night I watched the Movie ‘English-Vinglish’ and it took me back to my school days, though the memories evoked strong yet mixed feelings. I come from a traditional tamil-brahmin family where we still speak a lot of Tamil- Thankfully. I went to an International school which I loved, and owe a lot to; but one thing that I wish would change in that school and many international and mainstream schools with a colonial hangover is the attitude towards The English language (specifically to people who cannot speak the English language very well). More than school managements it is an unwritten law that only children and parents who speak ‘good English’ are cool amongst some teachers and peers! God save a child who accepts that he/she speaks only their mother tongue at home! Now I am proud to say that I speak primarily in Tamil with my 2 year-old son, because he’s going to learn English anyway. Not for a moment do I debate the importance of English as an essential tool for communication, but it’s the self-deprecating, belittling attitude of many-an-Indian that we must join hands to change.

When I watched that movie, I realized that as a child growing up in cosmopolitan Bangalore even I have been guilty of laughing at, feeling a tad embarrassed and correcting my mother and grandmother when they didn’t speak this foreign language the way it was meant to be spoken (I know many of us are guilty of judging people by the way they speak English, which we should stop immediately). In fact my grandmother doesn’t speak English at all, and she was surrounded by her children and grandchildren who would only speak in English amongst themselves many-a-times. My heart goes out to the poor lady, who silently accepted her position, and probably even felt proud that her children were so fluent at the English Language (Though she would have yearned to be able to communicate better with them). As we bring up our children, whether we as parents can communicate in English or not, it is important to keep reminding them that this is a foreign language that is important to learn, but what’s more important is to see and appreciate the goodness in people (especially those who are closest to them).

As I type, I am still wondering how, as a parent I am going to teach my son that not speaking English in a perfect manner (What is perfect? There probably is no perfect anyway) needn’t be an embarrassment or a reason to rebuke. I urge every parent to happily teach their children their mother tongues and English, Sanskrit and maybe even Chinese, so we can celebrate India’s and the World’s diversity, instead of being embarrassed by our own languages. Let us take a cue from some first-world countries like Japan and Germany, which have achieved great technological advancements even without being able to communicate in the English Language. Communication transcends language barriers if we move from head to heart. Let us join hands to Make Living Fun for everyone because THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN ENGLISH!!!

About the Author:

Jayaram Rajaram is one of the Managing Partner’s of Bril, a company that works on a Mission to Make Living Fun for its customers and consumers, through its world-class school stationery, baby and children’s products. For more information about Bril please visit www.brilindia.com

Please support our Cause ‘There’s More to Life than English’ by clicking on this link http://thndr.it/YHSnxm. Just sign up using your Twitter of Facebook login details, support and then share on your wall. Thanks a Ton!!

Winter Vacations: Why Your Family Should Take One

Winter Vacations: Why Your Family Should Take OneEach year, a large number of families make the decision to take a winter vacation. Despite the fact that a large number of individuals do vacation during the summer months, there are even more families that do not. Which type of family are you?

There are a number of reasons why a particular family may be unable to take a family vacation. One of the most common reasons involves the cost. Unfortunately, many individuals mistakenly believe that a vacation has to be an extravagant adventure. It doesn’t matter whether you travel to the closest amusement park, camp overnight at a state park, or travel around the world, each can be considered a winter vacation.

In addition to the cost of a vacation, a large number of families are unable to take a family vacation due to their busy schedules. Winter vacations are popular because they are often the only time that a family can take a break from their daily activities. If you are able to set aside time, whether it be three days or three weeks, you are encouraged to schedule a winter vacation with your family. Doing so has an unlimited number of benefits.

Perhaps, the greatest benefit of scheduling a winter vacation with your family is the amount of time that you will be able to spend together. In this day in age, many families are rarely able to spend time together. Long work hours, homework, and busy sports schedules often prevent a family from enjoying dinner or other fun activities together. In some cases, a winter vacation is the only way that a family can spend uninterrupted time together.

The relaxation that a winter vacation will provide your family with is another benefit of scheduling one. Today, children must operate and function differently than they had to in the past. School age children are often bombarded with large amounts of homework, on a daily basis. This homework, along with active sport schedules and pressure to be the best, can be difficult for children to handle. A winter vacation may provide them with the rest and relaxation that they need and deserve.

In addition to your children receiving relaxation, it is quite possible that you and your spouse could as well. It is true that children have a lot of pressure placed on them, but so do parents. Scheduling a winter vacation with your family will give you the opportunity to forget about work related issues and home cleaning. These are some of the problems and issues that only a winter vacation could cure.

If you are interested in scheduling a winter vacation, you and your family are encouraged to pick a destination together. Selecting a winter vacation destination as a family will enable everyone to have access to fun filled activities. In addition to selecting the perfect family vacation, your children may experience a feeling of importance. This feeling of importance if often generated from having an input on a large decision, such as your next winter vacation destination.

As previously mentioned, a large number of activities can be considered a winter vacation. If you are interesting in taking a vacation this winter, you and your family should take the time to find the perfect winter vacation destination. Why would you want to continue to spend your winters around the house, especially when everyone could be enjoying themselves away from home?

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Bril® Designer Geometry Boxes

Bril Designer Geometry Boxes

Bril® has launched India’s first designer geometry boxes- Geomate Smart+ and Geomate DX. Boys and Girls can now feel proud of owning these pieces of art inspired by geometrical shapes and the kaleidoscope effect that brings out geometrical shapes in vibrant hues and colours!

At Bril® we realized that most geometry boxes in India either looked drab and boring or bright but boring. We saw the same old reds, yellows, blues and greens with the typical images of the protractor, compass and ruler again and again. We were sure that students would be bored of this, and as always, Bril being the trend setter, set out to Make Learning Fun™ and thereby Make Living Fun™ for young school going boys and girls. The result- Bril’s Designer Geometry Boxes range!

Without doubt we have used the highest quality of plastic, metal and other parts in these designer geometry boxes. All this so, students can enjoy the highest levels of accuracy for stress-free peak performance in class!

Now students can show off their colourful designer Bril® Geometry Boxes on their school desks.

Bril Designer Geometry Boxes

For more information, visit www.brilindia.com