Digital Marketing in 2018. Be prepared.

Digital Marketing in 2018. Be prepared with good infographic from @MDGAvertising


Your Feedback Counts

Your feedback counts. Please help us serve you better.

aspire Boss career CEO Leadership Lesson time travel

Aspire to be a CEO: Avoid travelling with your bosses!

This rule is some what counter-intuitive.
Most aspirants to the top jobs, usually jump at the opportunity to travel with the superiors. They think that travelling with bosses gives them that extra time to shine. Don’t do it. Good senior executives judge on results, not on clever conversations.

Good top managers are also busy and unless you are working ion their projects, in less than ten minutes they get back to what they are working on.
You must spend your travel time working . Airplane time is work time, so you may want to fly by yourself and gain those extra few hours.
If you travel with a top executive and end up working on the flight, they would think you are doing it to impress them. Worse still, they want to read a book, relax, take a nap or may be watch a movie and they will be unsettled by your industriousness. Even if you have to fly the same plane, sit in a different section.
Hotel time is also work time. If you travel with superiors they may be obligated to ask you for dinner. If they don’t you will feel hurt. Either ways your valuable time is wasted.

aspire best Boss career HR Leadership Lesson

#Hiring: The Fallacy of Job Descriptions…

...and how ex-Air Traffic Controller became the best Sales Person in Tech major.

#HR #Talent #Human Resources #Hiring #Job Descriptions #Bias #Resume #sales #India

This is not a story of rags to riches. This is not even a story about the candidate. This is the story of how strong our biases are in the hiring process and how limiting our job descriptions are in selecting a great candidate.

A job description, as defined by Wikipedia, is a document that describes the general tasks, functions, and responsibilities of a position. It specifies the qualifications, experience, or skills needed by the person in the job.

Almost all HR and hiring managers swear by Job Descriptions. But have we ever realized that Job Descriptions could also limit our searches, resulting in potential false negatives?

Leadership Lesson Uncategorised

5 simple lessons – Build a culture, the Starbucks way

I have always been fascinated by Starbucks. Who is not? I am a coffee addict, and what better place to have those gazillion start-up meetings and those brain storming sessions other than Starbucks. The Wi-Fi is incidental, and so are the Espresso-double shots. What fascinated me is the experience in a Starbucks that is consistent – it does not matter whether I am in San Francisco or Singapore, Bangkok or Bali, Hanoi or Hyderabad, it is the amazingly same experience with the Baristas.

Being an entrepreneur myself and also having managed global organizations in the past, I have always been curious and passionate about building cultures. I believe that building a strong positive culture is one of the sustainable ways to makes an organisation successful – short-medium and long term. I also believe that culture plays, a bigger role on impact than building a skill-set.

A strong ‘culture’ in an organization might take a long time for it to show, as it needs to be ingrained into the DNA of the organisation. Unlike a skill, that can be incorporated by training its workforce at any point, culture requires continuous focus from the moment of an employee joins the organisation. The employee is exposed to a ‘ways of the world here’, and pretty much adopts that particular way as their own.

It is in this context, that I wish to use the Starbucks example. What makes Starbucks do something that is so insanely simple and yet, delightfully magical? It is not their covfefe for sure!

Every employee that joins Starbucks, is given a small 4″X5″ ‘the green apron book’ on the first day with the company. In a simple lucid way this booklet explains the culture of Starbucks. Since this culture is immediately manifested across the organisation, it is easy for the new employee to adapt and adopt these practices.

‘Culture drinks strategy for coffee’ Drucker would have said, had he seen Starbucks.

At Starbucks, every employee follows this green apron book, which has five values. These values can pretty much be applicable to any organisation. However Starbucks, has made it ingrained into their culture and not surprisingly it isas successful as what we see today.

1. Be welcoming:

Being welcoming helps people share their concerns openly without inhibitions. It helps customers return to the store repeatedly. It helps build a sense of belonging between people and share their thoughts openly. Such a simple phrase, when inculcated in a culture can put 1000 strategies to shame.

2. Be Genuine:

Being genuine is a simple way to ensure that everything, everyone does an organisation has a sense of connection to the other person. It helps establish trust between its employees and between its employees and customers. Being genuine means being responsive to the needs of others. We can call it by any other name, but these two words ‘be genuine’ puts it succinctly.

3. Be knowledgeable:

Love what you do, share it with others. Loving what you do is being knowledgeable on your job. When your knowledge is shared between yourselves and the community, the overall level of engagement increases.

4. Be considerate:

This is the way Starbucks ensures that everyone within the organisation and its customers have a sense of being cared for. This philosophy that drives Starbucks and I would think this is something every other organisation can adopt.

5. Be Involved:

When you’re involved with what you do, your productivity increases. You effectiveness improves. Imagine spreading it like in eponymic across your division, your company, and the community and you have a surefire answer to success.

 What makes Starbucks do something that is so insanely simple and yet, delightfully magical? It is not their covfefe for sure!

And these are not just posters on the wall, or some card at deep within the drawer.

Each one has a specific action items for each of these that can translate into everyday activities and they are described in the subsequent pages. It is easy to brush off saying they are just a company that sells coffee. Imagine yourself of a company that sells something as commonplace coffee and some becoming a global name for the coffee experience. And to add to that its beverages are not cheap. To attract that sort of a premium over something that could be domestically available, I believe requires definitely a good strategy, but more importantly a wonderful culture as described above. Wait is time for each of us to take a cue from here and see how it can help us.


Please do share your thoughts and feedback and I will be glad to learn from you.

The author is an entrepreneur with two decades of senior leadership experience in India and Asia-Pacific and now runs Futureshift, a boutique consulting outfit that helps businesses chart their digital marketing strategy with the @ZMOTly framework to achieve impactful outcomes. He is available at

Leadership Lesson Uncategorised

Be the Influence Ninja – Tips and Traps [Part 2]

In my earlier post, “Part 1: What Influencer are you? [6 types]” [Link], I shared with you the 6 types of Influence – Coercive, Reward, Position, Expert, Personal and Information.

We also saw how leadership is all about influencing people. We also shared on how different people can be influenced and are willing to be influenced.

In this part I share some frequently-asked-questions (FAQs), and thoughts post focuses on 6 sources of influence commonly used in the workplace. It is for you to use the right one that is appropriate for the occasion.

 Influence: FAQs

  • Is it true that lower-level employees respond to influence sources such as coercive and reward while higher level employees respond more to other sources?
To assume that certain forms of influence work better with different levels of employees is a mistake. Research does suggest that more technically or functionally competent individuals respond to expert and information influence. Also, newer or less capable employees tend to respond to positional, reward, and coercive influence. However, these are stereotypes and not true in all situations. So, keep an open mind and use all sources of influence available to you.
  • It seems that by focusing on influence I’m manipulating people. Isn’t that unethical?
Managers accomplish work through others. Your role includes influencing them. Using influence would only be manipulation if you used that influence for unethical or unprincipled motives.
  • Are there other sources of influence that I should consider when dealing with peers or superiors?
When dealing with colleagues or superiors, ask yourself, "How can I best work with this person?" and " What types of influence will they respond to most quickly?"
  • What is the difference between “socialized influence” that I have heard about and the discussion of influence covered here?
Socialized influence is a "motive" (motives energize our personal actions), and this article is about our sources of influence or our basis of social influence.
  • Aren’t there other sources of influence, such as the power I get from knowing or associating with important people?
You might think that's another source of influence, but the association is just a connection to another person who has one of the six sources identified in the research. Associating with others can be a way of increasing your influence.

 How can I increase my influence?


Managers can increase their influence. Generally, influence that is used, grows. For example, the more you use recognition and rewards to influence behaviour, the more that your reward power is perceived and understood by others. Some specific and perhaps obvious ways to increase your influence are listed here.

  • Coercive influence can be increased by making others aware of times you have used this influence in the past.
  • Reward influence is enhanced when rewards and recognition are publicly given.
  • Position influence can be emphasized my noting the differences in roles between yourself and others.
  • Expert influence is built with your skills and knowledge of your craft.
  • Information influence is increased with careful sharing, and sometimes by letting others know you have information, but are unable to discuss it. That can also build personal influence as it is a demonstration of your integrity.
  • Personal influence is about building personal relationships.

Finding common ground is a place to start. Demonstrating that you genuinely care about people is important. Making time for people is probably the key here.


Managers have a limited amount of influence. Because it is valuable, leaders should guard against the erosion of their influence. Below are common ways managers can lose influence.

  • Coercive influence can be lost if you threaten sanctions or discipline, but rarely deliver. People can perceive that you either do not really have the influence or you are unwilling to use it.
  • Reward influence is most commonly lost by dispensing rewards evenly, regardless of performance or contribution.
  • Position influence erodes if you fail to perform the functions that others perceive as the responsibilities of that position. This erosion often is related to loss of influence in other areas. For example, employees expect that managers will differentiate performance and reward accordingly.
  • Failing to make that differentiation decreases reward influence and position influence.
  • Expert and Information influence erode when you give expertise or information to people whose goals are not consistent with the organizational goals, or when you give them to everyone.
  • Personal influence is the most difficult to build and easiest to lose. It is lost because of lack of attention to relationship or failure of character such as dishonesty or lack of trustworthiness.


Please do share your thoughts and feedback and I will be glad to learn from you.

**The author is an entrepreneur with two decades of senior leadership experience in India and Asia-Pacific and now runs Futureshift, a boutique consulting outfit that helps businesses chart their digital marketing strategy with the @ZMOTly framework to achieve impactful outcomes. He is available at **

Leadership Lesson Uncategorised

Part 1: What Influencer are you? [6 types]

If you have been a leader in whatever capacity, you must learn to use one thing – Influence. While, Influence can have different connotations for different people, Influence is determined by only one thing – the ability to achieve desired outcomes.

Leadership is all about influencing people. Understanding why and how different people can be influenced and are willing to be influenced, can and will make you an effective leader. This article focuses on six sources of influence commonly used in the workplace. It is for you to use the right one that is appropriate for the situation.

Leadership is all about influencing people. Understanding why and how different people can be influenced and are willing to be influenced, can and will make you an effective leader.

Note: None of the types of influence listed below is good or bad in isolation. The use of influence is situational and person dependent and hence it depends on what works best with minimal conflict.

There are broadly 6 types of influence –

  1. Coercive influence is based upon the leader’s capability to punish.
  2. Reward influence is based on the leader’s ability to dispense rewards.
  3. Position influence is based upon the tendency of people to respond to individuals in higher positions.
  4. Expert influence is based upon your skill or expertise which others may hold in high regard. Information influence is based upon the information or knowledge you have that’s not available to others.
  5. Personal influence is based upon your individual personality and charisma, and the relationships you create.
  6. Information influence is based on your fact that you hold information or knowledge that others do not have access to. This is a bit different from Expert influence where the influence is because you have deep knowledge on the subject.

Some of your influence comes from the organization that you work for and your position/ title (Example – “Manager”, “Vice President”). But much of your influence comes from you personally or your ability to work within the organization. The ability to influence is important to managers. It directly affects whether they can get things done. That’s what managers get paid for!

This addresses three sets of questions:

  1. What is the ability to influence about, and what are its sources?
  2. How can I use my influence effectively?
  3. How can I maintain and, if needed, increase my own influence?

Influence: Basics

As you explore each source of influence, think of your management situation. Ask yourself:

  • “How does this type of influence apply to me?”
  • “Do my employees respond to this type of influence?
  • “Do I use this influence too much… too little?”
  • “Do I need more?”

Understanding sources of influence is only half of what you need. Using it effectively is the other half.

Coercive influence

Coercive influence is based upon the leader’s capability to punish. “Punishment” can be everything from verbal reprimands, to assigning undesirable work tasks, or even termination. Managers can use this source of influence by being quick to dispense punishment, or simply reminding others that punishment can be dispensed.


A manager joked with employees by pretending to “fire” them when he wasn’t pleased. “You’re late with that proposal. Looks like I’ll have to fire you again. That’s twice this week.” The manager was inadvertently reminding employees of the coercive influence he held.

Use this source of influence when:

  • other sources of influence are not working
  • you are dealing with unsatisfactory performance or behaviour

Don’t use this source of influence when:

  • other, less negative, influences will work

Reward influence

Reward influence is based on the leader’s ability to dispense rewards. We tend to think of rewards as money. “Rewards” are also praise, recognition, good job assignments, access to information — anything that’s perceived as positive or desirable.


The popular book, The One-Minute Manager, suggested that managers should “look for people doing something right” and give them praise and recognition and rewards.

Use this source of influence:

  • anytime!

Don’t use this source of influence when:

  • you might be sending conflicting messages with unsatisfactory performers

Position influence

Position influence is using people’s tendency to a respond to individuals in higher positions. Jobs higher in the organizational hierarchy typically carry more influence than those lower in the hierarchy. Sometimes it’s simply the perception of being high in the hierarchy that creates the impression of influence.


Your employee needs a shipment sent out quickly and comes to you because Distribution department will only expedite shipments with a manager’s signature.

Use this source of influence when:

  • you’re new to a department and other sources of influence levels are low
  • you need to get things done with other parts of the organization

Don’t use this source of influence when:

  • more personal influence sources will work as effectively

Expert influence

Expert influence is based upon your skill or expertise which others may hold in high regard. You’re a manager, but you also have functional or technical expertise. People may respond to you from a skill perspective more favorably than from other influence bases. This is especially true with some professional groups.


A colleague of mine is an expert at IPD and project management. He frames discussions in project management terms and often talks about his experiences.

Use this source of influence when:

  • when dealing with specialty subjects where your credibility is high
  • dealing with other experts

Don’t use this source of influence when:

  • your expertness could be perceived as bragging or ego
  • your audience does not value the expertise

Personal influence

Personal influence is based on your individual personality, charisma, and the relationships you create. People tend to want to do things for individuals they like and respect — even managers! The common characteristics of honesty, kindness, and interest in people can be powerful.


A co-worker mentioned that he was doing a piece of work we both hated. When I asked why, he responded, “How could I say no to Peter? He’s such a great guy.”

Use this source of influence when:

  • all the time

Don’t use this source of influence when:

  • employees invite you home to meet their mothers

Information influence

Information influence is the fact that you have information or knowledge not available to others. Because of your position or relationships, you may have information others don’t have. Information can be influential power. It may give you inside knowledge of events or insights that increase other sources of power.


Managers often receive pre-announcement packages that give them information ahead of others. They can use this to anticipate reactions and plans.

Use this source of influence when:

  • you are new and other sources of influence sources are low
  • sharing the information could improve work tasks or relationships

Don’t use this source of influence when:

  • the information could hurt people
  • you’ve promised to hold the information as confidential

As you review the sources of influence, you probably recognize some as sources you are using now. Other sources, perhaps not. Every manager’s job is different. You need to assess your situation and decide how you will use your influence. You have probably seen that some of the sources of influence come mainly from the organization, and others come from within yourself. Don’t think that you can change only the latter. Remember: the ability to influence another person is power.

In my next post, I will share with you a few FAQs on Influence, How you can increase your influence with a few tips and traps.


Author’s note – I would not recommend one type of influence over the other, though I have given examples of each. It would be a great idea for you to relate to one or two people / situations in your personal experience who use that particular influence types and feel free to comment and share your thoughts below. This will help the community too and I will be glad to learn from you.

In Part 2 of this, I will talk about a few FAQ, on how to improve your influence and tips and traps. [Link here]

Please do share your thoughts and feedback.


**The author is an entrepreneur with two decades of senior leadership experience in India and Asia-Pacific and now runs Futureshift, a boutique consulting outfit that helps businesses chart their digital marketing strategy with the @ZMOTly framework to achieve impactful outcomes. He is available at **


6 Questions to Build a High Performance Team

Over the last twenty years, I spent a major part of my career in leadership roles. This had given me an opportunity to work with people in the dozens of roles, that panned across many organizations, countries.

It was also a wonderful opportunity to manage scores of teams and learn from many managers. I was also fortunate to learn many things from my managers and can proudly say that there not a single boss that I did not learn something from or admire for.

I usually, applied those learnings to managing my team. It was also an honour that most teams that I managed were also appreciated by other business units and peers in leadership. The usual feedback was that my team was high on – energy, ideas, awesome execution and good attitude. My teams and its members would receive the most awards in corporate events.

What made these teams A-teams?

We all, in the company had the same hiring process. We all had similar bunch of resumes that HR used to dish-out, based on which we made our selections. In fact, hiring the right person for the right job, was the easier part. Giving the right job for the right person is a lot more involving and effective. I learnt this, from some great leaders, who have imbibed in me the need to pay attention to each member of the team – continuously. It is anything but micro-management. I had learnt very early from some of the great managers, that focus on people is the simplest and most effective way to becoming successful.

Hiring the right person for the right job, was the easier part. Giving the right job for the right person is a bit trickier, and a lot more involving.

It all boiled down to six questions, that I would ask myself each time.

Do they know what is expected out of them at work?

This by far is the reason, that affects an employee’s productivity the most. Often, an employee may end up with a vague idea on what is expected out of them. After each 1-0-1 meeting I would ensure that we were on the same page on what was expected of them and, what was not. I would usually request them to summarize the understanding in writing on an email, whiteboard or scribble on a piece of paper. And yes, always – it would be rule of three. Never would it exceed three points. That helped both of us to remember the points and action items for the next meeting.

Do they have the materials and equipment required to do their work, right?

Once the team and its members had good clarity on what is expected, I would ensure that they had the right tools. There is little, that a woodcutter can do without his axe, however well-defined his goal is. I would give them all the necessary tools to make them effective. It could have been a faster IBM ThinkPad ®, it could be an extra resource to pre-qualify leads so that they focus on closing the deal, or, at other times by giving that approval to travel under budget constraints.

Do they do what they do best, every day?

Allowing an employee to work on their interest and passion is the easiest way to make them productive. There are times where I moved a team member from a ‘behind the desk number crunching” role to a customer facing role. and vice-versa. I have juggled the team structure and reallocated roles to accommodate the job for which that person was the best. I did spend a good amount of time understanding each employee’s strength and passion. My question would usually be “what do you usually love doing”, or “what is the best part of your job” or “what are your most memorable moments this quarter/ year“.

In the last 7 days, have I recognised or praised them for their good work?

Irrespective of their seniority, it is a good idea to find that one good reason or act that deserves appreciation each week. While one could definitely focus on areas on improvement, it works like a charm if it is balanced with that one genuine appreciation of good work. It might be a simple friendly statement during the discussion like “I liked the way you presented your case to X“, or “I love the way you have control on this Y account”.

Do I show them that I care about them as a person?

Showing people that you care is a strength. I was posted away from my hometown and my first boss, very early in career, enquired about my parents and how they would manage alone. He would regularly enquire if I had called them and spoken to them and not just be focussed on work. Sometimes he would ask the if we had our lunch, before starting the afternoon meeting and order for some food. I learnt to practice genuine care from him. I practiced it myself, throughout my career. I did not trust my memory, so I bought had a small notepad where I jotted down small details like their anniversary date, their favourite music and their children names. Occasionally I would ask about their family, about them. If they had gone on a vacation to Disneyland we would talk a bit about what rides kids enjoyed. I realise that it is never out-of-fashion to show concern and appreciation for the person, their family. And yes, show of concern does not mean being intrusive, or faking it.

Finally, I would encourage their development and pursuit of their goals.

Everyone, I believe, wants to learn and develop themselves. One of my very first companies that I worked for had a plan in place for Individual Development and that had a huge impact on me. For the rest of my work-life, I religiously practiced and inculcated Individual Development – whether the company had followed that policy or not. I share two examples here – in one technical person that wanted to learn and enhance his career by using Digital Marketing; and in another and a star Salesperson wanted to write a technical book. In case of former, the person ended up doing one of the best webinars and podcasts and, that drove sales and satisfaction levels of customers. In the other case, the sales person writing a technical book, built his credibility and insights and ended up reducing his sales cycle and conversion rates dramatically.

As I look back, these six questions that I ask myself, has been crystallised by observing different managers that coached me, and I had and put them into practice myself. If not for them, I would not have seen half the success that I have seen, but for these. Thank you!


Please do share your thoughts and feedback and I will be glad to learn from you.


**The author is an entrepreneur with two decades of senior leadership experience in India and Asia-Pacific and now runs Futureshift, a boutique consulting outfit that helps businesses chart their digital marketing strategy with the @ZMOTly framework to achieve impactful outcomes. He is available at **

Leadership Lesson Uncategorised

Landing a dream job; not any job: Tackling the ‘personal’ questions

Interview – Personal Questions – A boon or a bane

What did they ask?

Pat comes the reply – “personal questions.” … It was too cool. They did not ask about the subjects. I slogged on the course revisions four times in vain. Then all they had to ask was to talk about myself. In ten minutes, they let me go. They must have been very happy.

When the interview results were out, our friend has not even made it to the second round.

After calling the interviewer fools, our friend revised financial management twice over and attended an interview with a bank.

Did he make it? Nay.

The story continues 6 times and out friend has revised his syllabus a dozen times over.

What is happening here is exactly what goes through most of the interviews and campus placements.
The trick and the simple solution lie in knowing about themselves.

In today’s world having skills (read courses) is given. It is necessary any way. If you have a degree/ diploma, you have secured it because you have studied the course and you have the necessary skills. It is necessary criteria for but not qualifying criteria.

What am I saying here?
Personal questions” are in fact the toughest of question. It requires a lot more than just saying what schools have you studied in or if you go to Sunday Mass regularly. It is more than your grand mother having two puppies or your brother being divorced. When companies ask for personal questions, they are looking for critical talents. Critical talents. Full Stop.

The inner capabilities, the strengths, the attitude – how you have worked in the past with colleagues or how passionate are you about what you say. Do you have the humility? Are you able to have a structured thought process? What triggers you? Can you cope up with failures? Will you fire up to meet the demands? Do you fear success? This and a lot more.

The interviewers look for your understanding of yourself. Your strength and your areas of improvement. That translates into what job you are applying for and why you are doing so. Companies look for if they can provide the rapid growth you aim for or a friendly culture you may prefer. They look for qualities and talents that make you unique, special and wanted.

Wow! You may say that lot.

So where can get all this on the web or can I read a book by rote?
Unfortunately, my friend, there is just NO source. It is about you. And only one person in the world knows you the best. YOU and it is between the two ears.

So what do I do?
You may want to spend some where between 20-80 hours preparing on

  • Who am I?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What is weakness?
  • What triggers me/ ticks me?
  • What sort of a culture in organization suits me?
  • What is the type of job I can do well and passionately?
  • Where are the areas I can add value and demonstrate my strengths?
  • If I am applying for XYZ, will I really fit in their job culture?

Quite a bit of introspection even before I prepare for the specific interview.

Write this down on a clean book.
Think if it is your true character sketch.
If you were a movie director, have you communicated through the script on how you are a hero?

Now the Hero of the script has a mission to do. He knows the strengths, weakness, what excites and his weakness.

Based on this, you decide how you will steer the interview. Being honest, taking on questions you can, owning ignorance if you truly are clueless. Giving alternatives, meandering with a positive attitude and solution approach. Confident yet with humility, Assertive yet respecting the audience.
Playing to your strengths.

Victory is yours my friend and you will be there with the offer letter soon.

All the best!

aspire career CEO Leadership Lesson Uncategorised

People Friday – The new address for Aspire2Be

Hi, it’s an important day for us. Finally after many years on the web as aspire2be, we have moved to a domain
Almost all of us have aspirations. Aspirations make us, us. And we are all people. People First.
Aspirations energise people, and we aim to achieving those aspirations. It does not matter when we begin, we want to get ‘there’ fast. So much like Fridays. As soon as the week begins, we look forward to a Friday.
Aspirations are for most part like Fridays.  We love them, we slog to get there and there we are at it again – for our next Friday.
People’s aspirations and thus PeopleFriday. Oh Boy! it is a Friday, today.