GET COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE.

Hey, don’t you think it is all too easy to repeat what for the most part is working? Sometimes, repeating what works is fine. Remember the idiom, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? That is a great advice for mechanical device. But when it comes to personal growth, staying within the boundaries of WHAT WORKS when there is room for improvement is a sure way to stagnation.

One wonderful thing about staying in the discomfort zone is the chance to explore who we think we are. Instead of running on autopilot, being uncomfortable in a new situation allows us to question self-imposed beliefs and limits. We might even discover aspects of ourselves that delight and surprise us as we dance on the edge of certainty.

Growth and comfort can’t co-exist!

A similar sentiment was expressed by Ginny Rometty, CEO of IBM, while reflecting on her own career: “ Growth and comfort do not coexist. ” Whether you’re growing a business, taking on a new role, learning a new skill, making a change or taking a chance in any area of your life, embracing what is uncomfortable is a prerequisite for learning what you need to learn so you can grow into who you’re capable of becoming.

Well, I know what you’re thinking. RISK! Isn’t it?

There will always be risk.

However, what we often discount or ignore is the risk of NOT TAKING A RISK. Playing it safe can put us far steeper and add on a hidden tax on our future than we like to acknowledge.

Discomfort can be the joyful key that opens up everything for you. You can beat procrastination, start a new habit, learn a new language, make it through challenges and physically grueling events, explore new things, speak on a stage, and even embrace the minimalist lifestyle.

Of course, this runs absolutely opposite to our psychological wiring which is programmed to shore up on safety, security and social approval, not to risk it. We may live modern urban lives, but we still inhabit brains that were wired in our cave-dwelling days. The times when we were failure to be hyper-alert to the risks lurking around every corner meant risking an early departure from earthly shores.

I want you to take a moment to think of what you are most proud of in your life to date. I’ll guarantee you that it won’t be something that was easy or something that didn’t really stretch you. In fact, it’s likely something that challenged and stretched you in many new ways. That’s how life works. We don’t grow from the times life is easy and everything goes according to plan. Rather, we grow when we are stretched, when we have to adapt to change or we’re thrown a curveball that requires us to dig deep.

But hey! Listen up. Unless you’re clear about “why” you need to put yourself OUT THERE where the fainthearted don’t dare to go, you’ll never ever accomplish what you’re capable of doing, what the world needs you to do and you are guaranteed to go to your grave with the song still in you.

Just take that first step… growth over comfort.

Tomorrow, take another.

Whether you reach the goal or not will ultimately matter far less than the person you become by daring to pursue it.

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WHY THE BALLOON RELEASE TRADITION IS FATAL FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

Balloon releases are local traditions that have been done at schools, weddings, memorials and other events which dates back to 1940s. Well, I do understand the power of traditions, particularly at sporting events, fireworks, marching bands playing the school song, mascots engaging in midfield- it does stir the soul and hey, it’s fun! However, that doesn’t mean some traditions don’t belong in the dustbin of history. I believe mass balloon releases belong in this category.

Let’s take a look from the balloon’s view point: Balloons filled with helium look so pretty floating in the sky, however, they can’t stay afloat long. Eventually, each of these balloons pop and plummet to the earth, which in the end turns to, nothing but, trash. It seems as if we’re taking thousands of pieces of brightly colored latex and throwing them on the ground and the ocean – like an everyday game.

A few days back, The Indianapolis Motor Speedway continued its tradition of releasing balloons before the start of Indianapolis 500. To its credit, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway says its balloons are biodegradable. However, studies conducted to test these claims still raises a big question and still pose a substantial risk to the environment. Not only this, the Balloon Council which represents the industry, changed its stance on balloon releases from neutral to opposed. The group now recommends that the balloons must be weighted or tied down and then later popped and disposed after they’re used.

Balloon launches are extremely bad for the environment in the long term. To give you a view from my sight, let’s start with wildlife. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) points out that wildlife can confuse the small bright pieces of balloon as food. If they’re eaten and ingested, it can lead to a loss of nutrition, internal injury, starvation and death. Sea turtles are at major risk because the balloon’s form, shiny material and vibrant colors of rubber and latex is very similar to that of their favorite food- jellyfish. This isn’t what I’m exaggerating, but it has been clearly stated by the agency in a website blog. Strings or ribbons that are often attached to balloons can cause entanglement.

AndySullivanhaskinsHawaiiDepartmentofLandsandNaturalResources
Researcher holds up balloon debris & entangled baby albatross.

Another issue is marine debris. Marine debris has been identified as a form of pollution for over 50 years now. It has been one of the pervasive marine pollution problems because it’s faced in the most remote locations as well as the most visited beaches throughout the world. Experts in this field, have recognized this and even developed a crowd sourced app ‘Marine Debris Tracker’. Funded by the NOAA team, it allows one to track and log marine debris. This application has also got an opportunity to be presented at the 5th International Marine Debris Conference in Honolulu, HI.

While most of the people may know about wildlife and debris concerns prevailing, however, another hazard with respect to balloon releases is power loss. There is no definite data across which speaks for itself. However, as per the estimate by power companies 16-20% of its annual outrages are due to balloon releases.

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Most of the people assume that “biodegradable” means harmless but that is simple not the case and has been beautifully summarized in a report entitled “Balloon Release Research in Virginia and Reducing Balloon Debris through Community based Social Marketing”. This is so serious that some cities, states and countries have even banned releasing balloons and sky lanterns because after all, it I simply littering. States like California, Florida, cities like Alabama, Maryland and countries like Plymouth UK have balloon laws in place to fight this.

But that doesn’t mean you suck all the fun from occasions and events. How about pumping up the crowd with a laser show, music performance, or prize giveaway? What about bubbles, banners, or those inflatable dancing guys? Or borrow traditions from Mississippi State (cowbells), Kansas State (unusual chants), or Wisconsin (postgame parties).

There are plenty of ways to celebrate the team or an occasion that doesn’t involve choking marine life. Let’s embrace them.

WHY IS GUERRILLA MARKETING WORTH TRYING?

Guerrilla Marketing is a term coined in 1984, an advertising strategy that focuses on low-cost unconventional marketing tactics that yield maximum results.

This advertising style relies heavily on unconventional marketing strategy, high energy and imagination. Guerrilla Marketing is about taking the consumer by surprise, make an indelible impression and create copious amounts of social buzz.

Some of the characteristics that I have observed from the past campaigns are,

  1. Authenticity is the key. If it’s been done before, well, it’s not guerrilla. 
  2. It has the ability to generate buzz.
  3. The campaigns are highly targeted in terms of location, as to where they are launched. 
  4. They are considered more economical and pocket friendly. 

The main objective here is to gain maximum reach and brand engagement without causing huge holes in the pocket. This strategy is  strongly preferred by NGOs and startups thanks to the low cost budget requirements, guerrilla marketing ideas are the go-to choice for their low budget and promising impact.

The best way to understand this is with the help of examples. Here’s some of my favourite campaigns, have a look. 

#Coco-Cola Visuals 

Coco-Cola spoke in the form of visuals. According to Research, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. Visuals can make them feel the product. Hence, a combination of colours, shapes, abstracts added with a garnishing of a few words has a psychological impact and can get a great response from the consumers.

That’s exactly what happened in 5 different German cities which did pretty well as each kiosk sold an average of 380 mini cans per day that is an increase of about 275% in sales as compared to routine vending machines.

#Snapchat Hogging the Spotlight

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Snapchat’s breakthrough in entering a pretty saturated market was a success because of guerrilla marketing campaign. It used giant billboards to put up nothing else but their logo which generated buzz. 

Since no one knew what this logo represented and what it was all about, Snapchat’s very competitors, the brands which were going to be directly affected by it, did not know what was coming. It helped create hype for the ghost-logo app which led to thousands of people googling the brand.

#Frontline’s flea and tick prevention products

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When I first saw this photo, I’ll admit that I fell for it. It took me a moment to realize that the dog wasn’t real, and neither were the flies. Frontline, the makers of flea and tick prevention products for dogs,  knew that many people walk across that space every day, and that a good number of people would also see it from the building’s upper levels, creating the dog-and-insect illusion. 

Again, this campaign is different than traditional marketing, because it’s not just plastering a single message somewhere that’s likely to be ignored. It creates a form of accidental human interaction that reminds the viewer what the product does.

The biggest takeaway here is to figure out how humans might INVOLUNTARILY interact with your marketing messages!

#UNICEF’s Dirty Water Vending Machine gone right!

Guerrilla marketing works in the not-for-profit sector, too. And while scary, saddening images are often an impactful way of communicating your mission, there’s a way to convey it by creating something less in-your-face and interactive for the public.

UNICEF’s move to install dirty water vending machines, was a way of reminding the privileged masses that in too many parts of the world, they have no access to clean drinking water. Well, the result was quantifiable, thousands of people donated towards the cause. 

Starting to make a little more sense?

When I set out to write this blog, I was a little startled with just one element of it — I found virtually no B2B examples. Well, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible within that sector. It just requires extra creativity.

Hopefully, you’ll be inspired by these examples, especially if you’re promoting a smaller brand.

Remember: CATCH people where they are, and INSERT your brand there. Don’t interrupt, but invite them to participate.

AN INSIGHT INTO BOURNVITA’S BEST CAMPAIGNS

Exam times in India have always been defined by anxiety and a sense of finality. Everyone would know of at least someone who has been made to give up on their passion for the sake of academics. The bitter truth is that, under the pretext of education, real learning has taken a backseat. While urban India’s outlook is slowly changing, a large part of the country continues to subscribe to the erstwhile view.

Well, Cadbury Bournvita has always depicted this reality in a very real and organic way. It has been known for its thoughtful campaigns with emphasis on overall growth of children and a gentle reminder about where the focus of education should be.

 In the past, the brand had shown us some of the very striking campaigns like ‘Bournvita- Taiyaari Jeet ki’, ‘Bournvita Biscuits- No More Excuses’, ‘Bournvita- Exam Time Sale’ , ‘Bournvita Pro Health Vitamins – Shakti Har Race Ke Liye’,  and the latest one ‘Bournvita- The Exam Collection’.

Launched in 1948 and marks itself as one of the oldest brands in the malted beverages segment, Bournvita was backed with strategic planning and thoughtful ideas with no compromise on quality.

Bournvita- The Exam Collection

With the recent #TheExamCollection campaign, the brand has taken its ‘Taiyaari Jeet Ki’ concept to another level where it has urged for a change in attitude. It transformed a popular fashion store in the most unexpected way. When the customers didn’t get a choice in their CLOTHING, they were disheartened. Similar is the when a child doesn’t get a choice in their CAREER!

Well, every child has a choice beyond marks. The campaign is also very topical since board exams, the most crucial part of every students’ life in India, are going on. 

We’ve been seeing Boost ads with celebrity endorsers and sportsmen in particular whereas Complan and Horlicks have been in a neck-to-neck fight for being a leader in the category for physical growth. 

 

Bournvita- The Exam Time Sale

Bournvita has always advocated progressive parenting and the need to bring out the child’s best self versus using societal benchmarks of success. This social experiment is an extension of the same line of thought in order to encourage parents to look beyond marks. They are considered as the only milestones in the learning process and cannot be a definition of a child’s ability to succeed in life. 

 

Bournvita – Tayyari Har Exam Ki

Now with Bournvita focusing on new-age parenting, it’s much more than just school report cards and wanting their kids to stand-out with overall development. It is talking about victory by saying that learning is more important and it’s not only about competitiveness.

 The world is getting increasingly competitive for children. Grades have trumped self-confidence at new admissions. Grades are everything almost all parents care about of their school going kids. It was always your school grades that decided who became the teacher’s pet and who became the back bencher. Bournvita’s Tayyari Har Exam Ki ad takes on this very myth in our society which is beautifully designed and conceptualized by Ogilvy & Mather.

The obsession with marks is a bad habit that is passed on with every generation. Bournvita has successfully and beautifully targeted this old paradigm and suggested a progressive approach for preparing the kids. 

 

 

THE NETFLIX PRESSURE-COOKER

Netflix is under fire for its pressure-cooker culture. A recent Wall Street Journal article sliced the company open to reveal a culture that pushes extreme openness, uncomfortable feedback loops and an arguably callous firing process. To work there certainly doesn’t sound easy. Maybe that’s the point.

The article talks about its policies and primarily its culture which in turn helps in deciding different mechanisms being used for formulating performance management strategies and tactics.

It states that the “360 degree tool” is one small part of the employee’s evaluation process at Netflix and its continuous feedback loop is a much bigger one. Much less common within this, is that those evaluations are accessible company-wide, from administrators all the way to the CEO. The culture encourages constant feedback where the employees are encouraged to give one another blunt feedback. For some, especially those new to this type of culture, ongoing feedback can feel abrasive or depict harshness. But its purpose is to provide employees with ongoing opportunities for improvement, rather than a single, isolated annual review.

Salaries is another. Most organizations, especially those without a structured pay scale, choose to keep salaries private. It can engender grievances not only between functions and teams on where resources are spent but also between employees. At Netflix, those director-level and above have line-of-sight into the salaries of all employees. That accounts for around 500 people, as cited in the Wall Street Journal.

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The “Keeper Test” is another cultural peculiarity managers use to assess the performance of an employee. Managers are implored to ask themselves: Would you fight for that employee? Well, frankly speaking the “Keeper Test,” is not always a source of comfort. Many employees say they perceive the keeper test as a guise or a semblance for ordinary workplace politics while some managers say they feel pressure to fire people or risk looking soft.

“Unceasing feedback” and “Up-or-out” are one of their golden rules when going about the firing process. If you aren’t keeping up with the expected pace of promotion, you’re let go. Bottom performers are routinely culled and the possibility of getting fired is never far from your mind.

To the untrained eye, the culture can appear to be excessively competitive. But few cultural approaches are more effective at ensuring high performance.

It is one of those atmospheres which often attracts high talent but suffers from equally high attrition rates. A key feature of these types of cultures is how unsustainable they are. By comparison, Netflix has maintained a voluntary attrition rate of 3-4% over the last two years. Even the involuntary departure rate sits at 8%, comparable to the U.S. average of 6%.

Netflix has succeeded not only in implementing a high-performing culture, but also in successfully retaining top talent. Most companies only succeed in one or the other. Rarely both. This is the real cultural achievement of Netflix.

No one would deny that in operating a successful company, one doesn’t necessarily need a high performing culture. But to operate an innovative company, a high-performing, talent-magnet of a culture is key.

Well Netflix never promised comfort, it only guarantees adventure.

OPEN LETTER TO ALL THOSE GIRLS IN THEIR 20s

You’ve spent so many years looking forward to this phase of your life. And it always looked so cool. So glamorous! Filled with love and laughter, isn’t it?

Well, here you are now and it’s messy buns and messier lives. It’s baggy shirts and overflowing laundry bags. It’s a lot of work and never enough money. It’s freedom with responsibilities. And life is no longer what it seemed or what you fantasized all about.

Different people are indulged in completely different genres. Your best friend’s tying the knot. Your old classmate is killing it with success in his own business. Your ex is happy in love. Your roommate is drowning in drugs and the one who you secretly admired is now turned into a travel blogger, living her dreams. Different people are doing different things. But you usually feel like you’re just existing. You’re getting through every day a little better than the last. But then you have days where you can’t get up at all.

You spend your Friday evenings holed up in a corner because you’re too responsible to drink your night away. Too control freakish to lose yourself to someone else’s tunes. But somehow, this isn’t enough.

Breathe. It’s not so bad. I’ve texted that wrong person. I’ve woken up with regrets. I still do. I’ve felt the need to be held. I’ve felt that silent green monster towards a friend in love. Yes, we all make those mistakes. And we all think nobody else does. But they do.

So please, don’t hate yourself. And don’t stop. Don’t stop loving with all you have. Don’t stop wishing on every shooting star. Don’t stop dreaming of fairytales and being as amazing as Daler Mehendi. You might not always get there, but don’t stop.

You have so much left to do. You have a world filled with life waiting to happen. You have books to be read. Steps to be taken. Places to see. People to meet. You haven’t lived half your life yet. There’s so much ahead. And in ten years, when you look back, you’ll wish you were here again.

So don’t waste it wallowing in your own sadness. Don’t lose yourself to your self-pity and non-existent boundaries. Use every day. And I don’t mean spend thousands of dollars and visit the North Pole. I know how you’re struggling to make ends meet.

Do the simple things. Stop procrastinating. Take a walk with nature. Go to the gym. Read your favorite book for the millionth time. Watch a movie. Write your novel. Sketch until you’re better than the best. Eat like you’re dying tomorrow. And most importantly, make mistakes. Your heart will heal. But today will never be back again. Don’t live with “Could-have-been’s.” Take chances.

And ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS remember – It’s okay to be alone.

There is time to let your life revolve around someone else. But today, let it revolve around you.

Not because you can’t find someone. Not because you can’t be loved.

But because you deserve to wake up with a smile. You deserve to live life. To make memories so wild, you’ll be the coolest grandparent they’ve ever known.

Breathe. It’s only your mid-20’s.

You’re going to be alright.

 

GREEN MARKETING STRATEGIES

Be it oil spill, pollution, ozone layer depletion, global warming or climate change, they have been rising at an alarming rate, making us immensely vulnerable. No wonder they’ve gained a lot of importance. The exploitation of our mother earth is our mere actions that aren’t simply in favor of protecting this planet. Hence, consumers are becoming more and more environmentally conscious!

Well, according to a study conducted in 2014, 55% of global online consumers are willing to pay more for products and services from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact. This has left the companies with two choices. Firstly, to rebrand and change the positioning of the company or risk potential customers to competitors, pursuing the green strategy.

The most crucial aspect is that using the leverage of “go green” should be well coordinated with genuine actions and marketing tactics. ON a whole it should be genuine or else, it is attacked by accusations of ‘greenwashing’ or simply using false impression of environmental responsibility.

Being perceived as a greenwasher seriously can damage a company’s credibility. It can expose marketers to legal risks and accompanying expense. The impact of greenwash can hit the bottom line if disillusioned customers shift their purchases to more trustworthy competitors. Paying close heed to the FTC Green Guides is one significant way to underscore credibility and avoid greenwash. Green Marketing requires a holistic approach. A company cannot succeed simply by highlighting the green aspect of a particular product. Customers are skeptical of many green claims. Therefore, it is necessary to make a comprehensive plan. I’ve listed down a few strategies that give businesses a medium to win their stakeholders’ trust. Here you go,

 

  1. Transparency

Consumers always believe in information. Therefore, the company should provide the right information at the right time which can support their claims. The company can also provide access to the details of products and corporate practices and actively report on progress. Companies should avoid hiding bad news.

Example- Sigg, makers of eco-trendy aluminum bottles, learned this lesson the hard way. Thought to be BPA-free, Sigg’s bottles came under fire when the CEO Steve Wasik disclosed that bottles produced before August 2008 contained trace amounts of BPA and that the company had known about it since 2006.

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2) Wide Business Angle

Manufacturing one ‘green product does no good if the company‘s other work distribution completely ignore environmentally-safe ways. It’s like preaching good manners to one student and being casual to the other one. Doesn’t make sense? Well, look at this case. Chad‘s (acquired by Birko Company) green marketing campaign bombed because he made the mistake of packaging his environmentally friendly product in Styrofoam.

 

3) Take support

A product can be certified ‘green by a third party which can add much more value and uplifts the brand image instantly. As it is seen that consumers are more likely to believe in the claims of the third party certifications, businesses must gain this feather to the cap. It could be endorsements, awards, eco-labels, green seals, energy stars or the ecologo. Several brands support environmental causes in creative ways. Levi’s “Water<Less” products reduce water use, and brands such as Patagonia, North Face, and H&M engage consumers in reuse and recycling.

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4) Green Pricing

A company should highlight how a green product or service can help consumers save key resources. Tide Coldwater Clean was advertised as an effective stain remover, as well as a way for consumers to save on their energy bills. On its official website, Tide presented the detergent as a concentrated formula that can help save up to 50% on energy bills by eliminating the need to wash clothes in warm water. Tide added that the amount of energy saved can be used to charge a smartphone for life. Through green pricing, consumers understand that if they buy Tide Coldwater Clean, they will be able to reduce their energy consumption and contribute to sustainability.

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5) Green Design

Fuji Xerox’s Green Wrap is an example of a product with a green design. Every aspect of Green Wrap—from conceptualization to the product itself is environmentally-friendly. Green Wrap is a part of [the company’s overall commitment to the environment and its long-term strategy of developing high-performance waste-free products within waste-free offices. True to form, Green Wrap is manufactured using sustainable materials and production processes.

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It is extremely important for companies to develop legitimate and effective green product and marketing strategies, which can eliminate the need for greenwashing and lead to greater profits and consumer patronage. A company that is honest and genuinely committed to sustainability can earn the respect and loyalty of consumers.