I was tempted to skip this work year review but I saw that I had managed to post 3 blogs in 2017. Not bad, I thought considering that I cannot recall when I last landed on this blog dashboard! The reason I wanted to skip it was because I already wrote my travel and spiritual year-end review in November at the Jain New Year, and not because there is not much to write (when does that ever happen!)

This year has been quite a roller-coaster ride!

Remote Working!

After quitting my role at SwitchMe in late 2016, I traveled for 3 months – Australia, Taiwan and South India. After that, I returned to Mumbai and wrote my year-end review for 2016 where I mentioned I was planning to look for some hands-on projects focussed on revenue generation. Well, I stayed for a while in Mumbai, worked on a few projects and then realized that Mumbai is not for me. I cannot take the pace, chaos, noise, utter lack of basic human infrastructure like a footpath…. guess 3 months on the road especially in the countryside of developed countries had its impact on my idea of life quality. So, I quit the few projects I had found in Mumbai and packed up. I would manage through completely remote projects.

I had become good at pitching ideas to companies at DigiWhirl – so I wasn’t worried about getting a couple of projects for myself.

In a globally distributed team : Working remotely from Shimla

Working remote in Shimla. Good bit of traveling this year: Read my review of my travels!

The Role

The only thing I was concerned about with remote projects was the kind of work I would get. I wasn’t too excited about doing small side projects for brands while the in-house resources did all the chunky and interesting work. But I was clear that I didn’t want to stay in Mumbai (or any metro for that matter), so I figured I will manage something. And at the end of day, I prefer a very minimalistic life and that doesn’t cost much. 🙂

As it happened, within a few weeks I got a call from Kenhub and my application for their Marketing role went through. And the best part was that since Kenhub is a full globally distributed team with no actual office, I don’t have to do some small side role. I can be a full-fledged Marketing Lead in their team while working remote! Yay!

So overall work life has shaped up well in last year for sure.

Globally Distributed Team

Earlier, I have had some limited experience with international work at DigiWhirl. But this is the first time I am interacting so closely with an entirely international (mostly European) team. It has been really exciting (at least until I get used to it 😉 ). There is the aspect of Cultural Differences which is a very real situation to tackle. Then there is the matter of managing through the Time Zones. There are technical aspects to look at like Salary Variations / Employee Benefits Expectations within such a team. And then, of course, there are challenges owing to the fact that the work is totally remote.

In a globally distributed team @ Kenhub

Met the Kenhub team at the meeting in Lisbon 🙂

Just a few days back I remembered that in 2016 I had done the Coursera course on inter-cultural communications and conflict resolution. It turned out to be such an apt course to do. 🙂

SEO Skills

In terms of the actual work, the focus here is on SEO amongst other things.

At DigiWhirl I had worked with a few SEO agencies. All of them closed a few years back owing to some strict Google updates. And so I was under the impression that now there isn’t much SEO stuff to do for websites. But I realize that I was quite wrong. Maybe, there isn’t much that outside agencies can do… but internally there is a whole load of stuff. And thankfully in the short 2 years that I have been focussing on SEO (for SwitchMe and now Kenhub) – I have had some of the best people consulting with us and so I have not only been able to learn the key points needed for SEO success but I have also implemented them with the team and see the results (with some success). 🙂

As usual for this blog, I feel stingy with words and don’t have much more to write. I can only say that this has been a very solid experience in terms of many different facets of learning – inter-cultural understanding, global markets, marketing strategy and actual work experience, insights into running a globally distributed team and so on.

Hopefully, I will do a few insightful blogs of my learnings here but don’t count on it. Read it when you see it. 😀

I will now end this blog with some very wise advise I got from Ranaji – a pioneer in a small Himalayan town,

Develop different channels of Income

In case one channel of work goes dry or something, then the other channels keep us going. I think it is a very good idea, but currently, I haven’t managed any such “other” channel. I think a bit of paid travel writing should happen – IF I can give it some time.

And I just realised while writing this blog post (see, this is why I write 😉 ) – “teaching” is my other channel. I have taken a social media module of 7 lectures for XIC Journalism students for last 2 years. This year’s lectures are lined up too. Plus, I have some teaching experience from very early on in my life. In 2007 I spent a few months as the Chemistry teacher for the middle school at Isha Home School in Coimbatore. I was much younger then but I guess if I ever need to, I can develop this line of work.

Life and Work

Hope you are thinking deeper about your life aspirations and aligning your work with it. Live modestly and within your means. And as Ranaji says, develop different channels of income. One can be the main one, like your full-time job. But keep at least a few sidelines developed enough to make just a bit of money without compromising on the full-time job. In case there is a recession or some other situation which affects your main line of work then you will have other lines that are already partially developed and bringing in some money. Leaving you in a much better situation.

This will keep you relaxed and the future prospects will look decent at all times.

 

In the earlier days of social media for a piece of content to go viral, it meant that,

People on twitter would copy the tweet and re-paste it with a RT sign. Or similar on Facebook.

It was all manual. So, the content had to be that good. Moreover, the platform did not prompt sharing in anyway – I mean there was no way to do it, except manual way.

Take Instagram for example, to share a post on it I have to actually use a different app to accomplish it. Imagine if we had a one click share button. Wouldn’t shares increase? And become more a part of the Instagram culture?

So earlier sharing content wasn’t a platform culture. On twitter it became an organic part of people culture and then over time the platform adopted it and provided an automated share option. Sharing is now just a quick click, so much so that sometimes I even click it by mistake! And of course Facebook has also adopted it, with similar impact on platform culture.

So virality became a bit easier as platforms started facilitating it.

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3 Common Email Marketing Challenges

In my earlier blog post I highlighted why all companies including time-strapped startups should have a robust email marketing channel, and how to go about building it. I extolled the many benefits of an email marketing channel for startups and bigger brands alike. It sounds so simple. Then what are the few reasons due to which a lot of companies fail in their email marketing attempts? Here are 3 common email marketing challenges I have come across in most companies I have worked with,

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There is no end to business seniors and entrepreneurs looking to put strong marketing channels in place for their company. But most of their efforts remain half baked, because No Time. Better known as No BANDWIDTH in startup circles. I have helped lots of startups with their digital marketing activities, I keep in mind that most activities need to be very effective with least effort. So typically my first suggestion to most businesses is : Build an Email marketing channel!

Not only does email marketing have some of the highest conversion rates in the industry but it is also one of the most neglected.

Depending on the bandwidth available, the frequency of email can be adjusted and then if done right, it can become one of the most efficient and effective marketing channel for the business.

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I have exactly 3 blog posts in the entire year on this blog, and one of them is the annual review of 2015. 😀

It seems this blog might become a log of my work experiences of the year. This year was crazy on many fronts – professional, travel and personal so I am finding these year end blogs tougher to write than usual. But here goes…

In-House v/s Agency

One big change in this year – I was mostly dedicated to one project as in-house Marketing Head. And I realised I really enjoy focusing on one project this way. It allows me to get into it and figure out the nitty gritties. There were some clear advantages to working in-house

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I don’t do much of business reading, but I like a good autobiography. The previous one I read a while back was Sam Walton’s Made in America. It was an intriguing read. I still remember how Sam Walton, founder of Walmart had valued the buck as a kid and never really lost that habit of looking for Value For Money in everything he did. Recently I picked up Akio Morita’s Made in Japan – surprising how both the books have the similar name style. 🙂

I was intrigued to know more about Akio, because Sony has been a household name since ages, I still remember how I spent hours listening to my walkman as a kid. Now a days it is all available on mobile and the days of the tape are gone still I was intrigued to know about the company. I had no idea about it’s history at all. What also intrigued me was to know more about the Japanese work culture and industrialization history. And this book really provides insights into a lot of it. Here are some snippets that I find worth sharing (there were many of those, I am sharing the ones I remember now. 😉 )

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The other day I had a talk in a entrepreneurship cell event at KJ Somaiya college. I spoke about Branding for Startups…

Having worked with a large number of startups at DigiWhirl in different stages – one person startups, 5 – 10 people, 25-30 people and then of course bigger companies as well – Branding is an interesting topic for startups because a lot of times they don’t really do any major branding. A lot of people that met me after the talk were wondering about what branding to put in place when they were really Early Stage startups – like just a few months into their company.

Typically in early stage the focus of the startup should be on fine tuning their deliverable whether it is product or service. Also unless already funded, there won’t be any employees or just the bare minimum employee strength which means the founding team is doing everything. So practically in terms of time and money it is never possible to put in a great branding in place.

So what I suggest to them is to set up a really, basic branding in place. This shouldn’t take more than a days brainstorming within the team. Request an experienced entrepreneur or marketing person to be part of this session if possible. Then you can just quickly wrap this up. Because the most important thing in early days is speed so you can test out your product/service and get enough market feedback to ensure this is a viable venture.

Quote for Early Stage Startups

Remember, all your branding elements need to be created keeping in mind the person it is intended for.

 

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