A tip for 2015

This time last year, I wrote this article titled ‘a reading strategy for 2014’ which suggested a unique approach to choosing books (and articles), especially ones that can potentially influence your business. The strategy suggested was simple – One, focus on lateral reading which essentially meant read about stuff that has nothing to do with your business; Two, read from your ‘do-not-agree-list’, which harped on the importance of reading articles and books that you don’t agree with to get a contrarian perspective; Three, read what is not shared on social media. All three ideas were suggested keeping in mind that it is crucial for entrepreneurs and decision makers to stand out from a crowd and gathering ideas from unrelated, unexpected, yet credible sources was a good way to shape up uniqueness.

I’d like to think last year’s note was a hit of sorts; over 50 entrepreneurs wrote back (or spoke to me about it at conferences) about how it influenced their choice of reading. An Internet entrepreneur spoke to me about how his marketing strategy is now heavily influenced by tracking the Hollywood industry by reading film blogs. An event manager says he learned a fair bit by watching a television show about the flow and processes adopted at Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai and an upcoming entrepreneur building a HR product mentioned how he’s being influenced by TQM (Total Quality Management) concepts from the manufacturing world.

As we gear up for yet another year, I’d like to suggest an additional element to the process of learning from lateral sources. When we watch a brilliant movie-marketing tactic or read about a manufacturing process that can be adapted to the IT product world, just take down notes in such a way that it can be easily found later.

I personally use this app called Evernote to take down and organize these notes. With Evernote, the notes can be in the form of an audio file, video or plain text and it’s a wonderful way to jot down ideas. For example, I have a collection of notes under the tag, ‘Marketing Ideas’ and it includes thoughts that I have gathered from observing Hollywood marketing, articles in Fast Company, and even a photo of an ad campaign in an Indigo Airlines boarding pass.

As a next step, I clean up these notes once every quarter, just retaining the top ideas that I can definitely implement in my own business. In 2014, I have collected 20-odd unique ideas to implement into The Smart CEO’s marketing plan. If I implement these well, we’d have a marketing plan that is completely differentiated from every other publishing company out there, yet I simply borrowed these ideas from various observations.

On the cover of this edition, we feature the story of Freshdesk, a cloud-based customer support software company, led by Girish Mathrubootham. For people who track the Indian entrepreneurship ecosystem, the hockey stick-like growth of Freshdesk is well known. Girish, who prior to founding Freshdesk was a VP of Product Management at Zoho, narrates for us his journey at Freshdesk, and in some cases delves deep into the various decisions he made. As we have highlighted on the magazine’s cover, to me the biggest takeaway was the importance of riding a wave.

Additionally, this edition also has snippets gathered from the 2nd edition of The Smart CEO-afaqs! Brand Owners’ Summit-Chennai that happened on Dec 16-17, 2014. The key takeaway from the summit this time for us was the correlation between brand value and extracting financial value from that brand. As several of our speakers mentioned, when one says, “I own a really good brand”, the next question must be, “what is the premium your customer is willing to pay for that brand?”

As always, this edition too is filled with decisions made by some of India’s most promising young entrepreneurs. Read on to find out more.

Wish you all a wonderful 2015. Hope you enjoy reading this edition.

Prem Sivakumaran is co-founder & CEO of Growth Mechanics, a leadership and entrepreneurship-focused business content company in India. Growth Mechanics publishes The Smart CEO, a publication focused on enabling peer-to-peer knowledge exchange among C-level executives and board members. The platform reaches over 1.2 lakh CXOs across its website, app, print publication & CEO Round Tables, and has featured on the cover India’s leading business leaders/founders from Infosys, Mindtree, Tata Sons, ICICI Bank, Biocon, Yes Bank and several others. In addition of Smart CEO, Growth Mechanics also organises the Startup50 Conference & Awards, an annual event to recognize India’s top 50 startups every year. Startup50 Alumni include Freshdesk, Oyo Rooms, Urban Ladder, Capital Float, Paperboat Beverages, among others. Growth Mechanics’ primary business model revolves around linking CXOs and Brands around engaging content and has worked with India’s leading companies including Mahindra Group, Godrej & Boyce, BASF, Airtel, Tata Docomo, Fiat, IDA Ireland, Yes Bank, Prestige Estates, Frederique Constant, Indian Terrain