‘So, this is your 13th year in the company, probably that’s why jinxed and the toughest one’, concluded one of my well-wishing ex-colleague and friend from India over a call referring to restrictions for me to visit my home in India from Shanghai where currently I stay. I replied, ‘I guess the first year of 2009 with the steep decline in the economy due to recession was the most challenging start to a career. 2010 to 2012 wasn’t great either with constant pressure from advertisers on addressable digitization, which looked like a distant dream then. Wait, it must be 2013, when the industry saw data dark period experiencing initiation of a landmark transition system in data measurement system. Oh, and there was the double blow of demonetization in 2016 and GST implementation in 2017 on media investments which shrunk the client budgets, followed by mergers and acquisitions fest in the media and entertainment industry between 2018 & 2019 which resulted in constantly revisiting strategies. 2020-2022 the less spoken. Tell me a year when we didn’t experience challenge, my dear friend?’ I stated while we laughed it out.
No, this article is not intended to list down the turmoil and challenges experienced by the industry and people but to express gratitude to an industry called Media and Entertainment and it’s leadership where I complete 13 out of my 20 years of professional career and fortunately enough in the same company. It seems to be such a well-knit industry in my experience of working in India and China, that the challenges you deal with doesn’t differ much between the organizations and so are the values in many cases. In the last 13 years while most of the days brought new challenges in this dynamic, often unpredictable, and evolving world, there are some personal transformational moments during this journey which stand out for me. It depicted character and resilience of the industry, thanks to the exceptional leadership I got to work with. I recollect 4 such instances in my experience of working with 4 different leaders during my tenure. Their words, which can easily qualify as quotes defines the character of leadership and probably the industry.
‘Your act of kindness should not cost a person his/her job’– Prudent
This is an interesting episode of when we from the leadership team used to have assigned cafeteria boy to get us food and beverages from the cafeteria to our desk. I used to get worked up looking at many of my colleagues instructing the most completed sounding food and beverage orders with very specific requirements and if anything goes wrong with the preparation or the speed of delivery expressing their disappoint to the poor fellow. I chose to walk to get food or beverages from cafeteria myself most of times. Once during a conversation with my leader over lunch I happened to mention that it seems so unreasonable to pile on one person to the extent of sometimes venting out on him, why people can’t just walk few meters to pick up what they want instead of torturing the poor fellow. The leader smiled and replied, ‘What you choose to do sounds like a kind action, it is your choice but if everyone starts doing it the poor chap will lose his job. Focus your intent for the larger good, everyone is playing an integral role in the eco-system and dealing with challenges to get better at what they do, even the cafeteria boy, your act of kindness should not cost him his job’
‘We did it, we own it, good or not shouldn’t matter’– Ethical
We were preparing for an annual client performance review meet, the deck seemed close to perfect as we hadhit the ball over the park on over half a dozen of performance parameters with just the exception of one. In the internal review before the meet, I shared the presentation with my leader and suggested we can cite some unforeseen market challenges to support it. The leader asked, ‘Was that the case?’ I said, ‘there were events but may not be directly attributed to it’. His response was simple yet firm ‘If we did it, we own it, good or not shouldn’t matter. If it’s good let’s do better, if it’s not let it be there in the deck the way it should be and a reminder for all of us to get this right at our end’
‘You can choose to join or otherwise after meeting my team and experiencing the culture’– Resolute
After lot of contemplation and rounds discussion and following protocols, I was about to take up a new role within an organization as part of an Internal Job Posting. This is a juncture in our careers when we are both excited and apprehensive about how things would pan out in the new environment, especially for me where I had very minimal knowledge about the work environment and culture in this case. I discussed this with the new leader and expressed my concerns around it. The leader mentioned, ‘You can spend a week with the new team to understand people and culture’. I replied, ‘But won’t that be committing to the job and what if it doesn’t turn out to be what I am expecting of it.’ Pat came the response, ‘You can choose to join or otherwise after meeting my team and experiencing the culture, we will respect it irrespective of what you choose’. This episode still amazes me for the confidence and trust the leader had in their team and culture, just like a restaurant which dares to keeps the door of it’s kitchen open anytime for access and scrutiny. Who would not want to be a part of such a team?
‘Let’s do it together this time and ensure we set up checks and controls this time around’- Immersive
After months of efforts on a tool, we had a tool demo done to our executive committee for rolling it out which didn’t go as planned. My leader who was busy with several other commitments couldn’t give enough time in reviewing it enough before the meet. The leader walked up to a visibly disappointed me after the meet and said, ‘Let’s do it together and ensure we set up checks and controls this time around’. The calmness with which the well-rounded and intended statement was delivered still has an impact on me. It covered everything from acknowledgement of our collective failure, leader’s absence, to the person’s belief in me, and reflection of team spirit, determination, and commitment to overcome this together
I have mentioned the quotes but not the names of the leaders, it doesn’t matter as each one of them are industry leaders and pioneers, probably as they reflect all the mentioned virtues and many more. The purpose of this article however is to celebrate the spirit of Prudence, Ethics, Resoluteness & Immersion in all of us and the industry to overcome most challenging situations over the years.
Finally, coming back to the jinx of 13 as my friend says. While, I would complete my 13th year in my company on the 13th of this month, hoping to visit my apartment number 13 in India soon to meet my wife whom I married on 13th day of a month and my 13-year-old daughter, and my son born who was born on the 13th minute of some hour, you can look for your inspiration in the challenges from the thought leadership around you to find the mindset to live and deal with your perceived challenges till you turn them into opportunities.
Article is Authored by Kartik Vishwanathan.