Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Selfie: narcissism or solitude?

Wikipedia describes selfie as:
A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often shared on social networking services such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Tumblr. They are often casual, and are typically taken either with a camera held at arm's length or in a mirror.
Once a novelty, selfies have now become our bread and butter....

Be it you are President Obama at Madiba's funeral, be it the oscar star studded selfie, be it a biker on a Roman bridge, be it an F1 fan going to a race, be it a 9 year old playing with mum's or dad's phone or iPad and experimenting a selfie.

Even NASA could not resist the charm  and glamour of a selfie and decided to launch a campaign asking folks to take a selfie. Guess what 36,000 people (where they narcissists or terribly lonely folks) responded to their call, resulting a stunning mosaic of our planet to celebrate Earth Day.

I guess if you are anywhere between 5 and 50ish, chances are, you may have done a selfie. Not sure anyone will admit that their selfie is a sign of narcissism, and I am equally sure no one will admit that it is a sign of solitude..... Maybe it is somewhere in between.

What struck me the other day, as I was crossing one of the beautiful bridges in the eternal city, were two ladies, one a bike, and other one obviously travelling on her own, both of them fully engaged in a selfie. I had the urge to ask them whether they wanted me to take their picture. But their posture and look of pleasure on their face taking a selfie made me reconsider my offer.

Before the advent of selfies, we would have stopped someone, conversed and asked them to take our picture. Today, on the other hand, conversation seems to be luxury and the quest for self-sufficiency and immediacy seems to annihilate everything else.

I committed the same sin on Sunday.... We were getting ready to leave for the Monaco F1 race and I had the urge of posting my excitement on social media. While my family was getting ready,  I resorted to selfie......

After committing the sin, I thought to myself, would it have made a difference if I had posted the picture 15 minutes later? And of course the answer is NO, not at ALL. So why did I resort to a selfie......

And the honest answer, is I do not know, maybe because I had never done one before..... Maybe because I was super excited and wanted to share my excitement with my friends in real time. But then so what? Did they really care? Did they see it the moment I posted it?

What ever the motivation of a selfie, I wonder how it will at the end of the day transform our identities and culture. Now that we've seen the selfie version of our planet, of the Pope, President Obama, Hollywood stars and you and I, what next?

Saturday, 10 May 2014

The demise of innovation and creativity

Curiosity killed the cat and conformity killed innovation

I am on the final leg of what ended up being a very eventful trip back home. Looking out of the window, while the crew is finalizing the boarding procedures I see these ads:
"We invest in sustainable future and sustainable partnerships" 
"We understand the value chain from A to Z and the ppl who keep it moving"

Reading them made me realize that now a days innovation and creativity are rare commodities.... 

Think about it, how many brands you know carry the same messages as these ones and how many advocate for the same things?  I am sure you will come up with quite a few. And I am also equally sure that the brands you came up with belong to different sectors.

These particular ads belong to a bank, but they could easily be those of an NGO, a development organization, be it a multilateral, bilateral or for that matter an international financial institution or a supermarket chain.

This all made me reflect that today, more than ever, it is a challenge to create a brand proposition that stands out and is unique. Only a few succeed and when they do, it is because they have something unique and outstanding to "sell". 

When that is not case, we end up with more of the same, which then means a lot of noise and we end up either getting deaf, or not hearing anything at all. 

Some end up justifying their copy-cat syndrome by calling it replicating or scaling up......

All of these fancy terms to justify lack of ideas and innovations and adopt a cookie cutter approach which brings about conformity and kills diversity.

Bless the few innovators and geniuses that are around. May you be given the necessary space to spread out your wings and create something unique. 

May the world churn out more innovators who are bold, take risks, rock the boat and advocate for business as unusual. I want to sign up with them and be part of their agenda.