Q: What inspires you?

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I know you want to know what inspires me and let me first answer this (it is easier to make a list), and then answer the question which I think you want to be answered- How to be Inspired?

Stories inspire me.  Biographies inspire me a lot. I feel overwhelmed when i read stories of real people, so overwhelmed and inspired that it becomes impossible for me to read further. I have to stop reading and start doing something. I was very inspired by biography of Bill gates, Steve jobs, Mahatma Gandhi. I feel very inspired by Munshi Premchand’s stories too. Movies inspire me. I also feel inspired when i meet people, motivated and inspired people. I feel very inspired by own team at Indi Design. My clients inspire me.

Travelling, walking and time alone is also very inspiring. Sometimes listening to lectures in conferences is also very inspiring. You may find it funny but motivational quotes on facebook / twitter inspire me as well.

So you see i feel inspired with almost anything. I believe to be inspired is a state of being. and i think you can consciously be in state of inspiration. The state is a very happy, positive and thrilled state, where you are ready to move into action. You may see a painting of rain and feel inspired to write the mail that you have been wanting to read. You may listen to music and feel inspired to finish the sketch that you had started. You may read about how Steve jobs went about his meetings and you may feel inspired to finalise the document that you are negotiating.

See that inspiration always moves you to take action. the source of inspiration and the action you take may not be related..(at least not directly). Now i think you have to be ready to be inspired, you have to be in a state of mind that is open for inspiration to strike. and you can build this state. That is why when someone might be inspired by a movie, someone else may just be feeling bored.

You have to be motivated to be inspired. Now inspiration is natural and happens from inside you..you can not control it. Motivation on the other hand is induced. it is like a bribe for you to to do something. Motivation can put you in a happy and open frame of mind..so that inspiration can do its job. This needs practice, it will not happen by itself. but once you reach the state of openness and happiness..it becomes easier. Some people attain this state for ever..that is when anything can inspire them. They are infectious..people want to be around them..they radiate an energy, people want to work with them, for them..and no doubt they are successful at anything they do.

Different things motivate different people, and it is a huge subject by itself. Money, material things, objects, cars, houses, travel..we all have our own needs that motivate us. But one thing that is universal and always work- is the need to be loved. Love (attention, care, warmth) is the biggest and universal motivation for all of us. It is easy to receive and also easy to give (with practice). Funny thing is…giving Love gives you the feeling of being Loved. The more you give..more you get.  Feeling loved makes you open to be inspired. That is why children who feel loved do well in studies or in everything. Employees who feel taken care of by the company, will do much more for the company. When you travel, you feel worry-free, tension less…so you can be inspired.

But remember we all have different ways in which we feel loved. Some are happy when you just smile at them, some feel great when u hug them . Some feel loved when they receive gifts. Check these books The Five Love Languages, and The Five Languages of Appreciation. You can use these for yourself, your team and also for your relationships.Here’s where you can take the Love Languages test for free, and find out what makes you feel loved.

Once you are in this state of motivation (because you are at peace, feeling happy and appreciated), you feel confident to take action, you are ready to be inspired. Now just open your senses- eyes, ears, nose and let world do the magic on you.

Check this video..exactly what i would say.




Q: How to present your work to an audience not familiar with it?

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Presenting to an audience is different than presenting to a client. Understand the difference in purpose of the presentation. When you present to a client, you want to highlight your capabilities and elements that solve a particular issue for the client. Presenting to an audience is perhaps to make an altogether different point. Be clear about the purpose of the presentation, it will help you slant your talk accompanying the presentation, which may be same or different than what you presented to someone else.

With an audience that is unfamiliar with your work, first spend sometime to understand the wavelength of the audience. Is the audience very serious, in a light mood, distracted. What was presented before you sets the mood of the audience. So spend time introducing yourself and the work that audience is going to see. You may want to present it in reverse to catch the interest. In the sense reveal the outcome of the work, its impact and what it lead to before you move into details of the process of putting it together.

Many companies just present the outcome and impact and do not go into the process at all. The process can be shared if you see interest in audience.

It is important that when you start presenting, you speak slow, give time to audience to adjust to your way of talking and understanding. It is good to speak slow, go slow for a first few slides and then pick up tempo. If their are more than one presenters, you must take care to give each other enough space to speak. Do not cut each other in speaking. and if one speaker does that you, do not fight back to speak.

let one speaker finish and nod to you for you to start speaking. It would be better if you rehearsed this earlier. make eye contact and dont forget audience in corners and audience sitting behind. Do not get fixated to one person while presenting. body language should be relaxed.

remember Audience is as apprehensive of the presentation as you are, they dont know what they will see..so put them at ease and dont forget to smile.

Q: How to go ahead when in doubt?

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Doubt means a discussion within your head. Where one voice says- i like this and the other says no, i like that, and many voices in your head don’t seem to agree on one way. We also call this confusion. I have always said confusion is good, it says you are not prepared enough yet, you dont enough yet, there is more that is needed to move ahead. It is a human tendency to get out of confusion quickly, in-fact all MBA’s teach you to move away from confusion.

But for creative people and in life generally i say start liking confusion, start loving your time in this fuzzy understanding of things, spend as much time as you have in this situation. Because when you are in confusion, you are looking and weighing alternatives, your mind becomes creative and you do not throw away any ideas. So be in doubt, and be happy.

But then many times time itself is a constraint, decide a point in time when you will take a decision. and at that time weigh in everything decide one way and stick to it. Forget that other way existed, and do not doubt your own decision.

Q: How do you explain a creative concept to the client?

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I get this question very often, more often since i work with a few clients known to be very very difficult. The answer is not so difficult though. You must realise client knows his business very well and you must respect him for that knowledge, business has dimensions that you may not be aware of, so his/her decisions have to balance so many things besides leading business towards profits. In his mind what designers do is only a piece of a jigsaw puzzle that needs to fit in. For us designers, our life rotates around what we do. So when you are explaining your work to client, you need to fill the gap between his thinking and yours.

This means you start with what you have understood about his business and “the role of what you are doing” in those plans. If there is a misunderstanding in this , do not proceed ahead..understand that you need to get this right first. and explain to him before you show how your work will fit into his concerns. It is also prudent to explain where it will fall short. Clients may expect unreasonable feats to happen by design, we know design wont do that.

When explaining your work, keep away from jargon, trade-words and adjectives. Try not to build a expectations from what you are presenting. By the way…advertising agencies always use super adjectives to ump up their work. It works for advertising since the expectations are limited in the sense..you know what you will get. Design concepts on the other hand can be difficult to grasp at first.

Be patient with the client, explain all you have to explain and then take their questions. Ask for specific reactions, and then either defend your work or agree to change. Do not defend un necessarily. If their is something you did not consider before, accept it and also accept that it would change your concept.

Be honest and let the explanation come from heart, now it wouldn’t come from the heart if you are not convinced about it. So first thing obviously should be that do not present something that you yourself are not convinced about.

Q: Just like in Design, negative space makes your design a balance to positive space , so does a person ‘s dark side or wierd personality makes them balanced?Do you think one should change or improve ?

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Change is not a choice. One is always changing whether we want to or not, we change with environment, with people, with food, with age and with seasons. Every time we respond to a stimuli we change. Also we all have good and bad sides, yin and yang.. and like perception of balance in Design Good or Weird is a perception only. What is weird for you may be normal for me. What is normal for you may be weird for me, these are our social conditionings.

Even Balance of negative and positive spaces is a aesthetic conditioning. Someone not introduced to Indian aesthetic may find it too busy, too loaded or with no breathing space. many will find too much space in Japanese zen art. So this whole question of balance is a very personal issue. We have a lot of social pressures to behave in a certain way, these expectations make us behave differently in different situations. I guess what is not socially acceptable becomes to be seen as weird. Same in some personal situations become expected.

In fast changing cultures like Indian, the social norms are changing very fast too, and anyway we have too many different codes to adhere to. In such situations i think what matters is what you expect from yourself and if you can live with yourself peacefully with all your quirks. Any person who accepts his/her own ‘weirdnesses” will be at peace and doesnt feel the pressure to conform.

Designers, Artists, Creative people mostly get very comfortable with themselves, and that is perhaps why they get accepted with all their weirdness. I think anyone would, if first they are comfortable with it. The biggest challenge is to accept our own weirdness.


How to build a creative team?

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I understand that this question is how to build teams for creative Industry. Creative industries (Design, Art, Advertising, innovation, fashion, architecture, interiors, space design etc) by nature need diverse teams. They need teams that can understand the project, understand what client needs, understand what people want, can brainstorm, conceptualise, visualise, build prototypes, work out details, supervise production and improve their work.

Now this sounds very exciting and straight, if this was to be done by one person. Creative people have ego, that stops them from working in teams. They also have perceptions about their own capability, that is a very sensitive issue. So there are sensitivities, attitudes, egos, pride and other human things involved. Building a creative team is perhaps more to do with the leadership, or the person who builds it. It is important to know that creative people are very disciplined, but all in their own way. To deal with this diversity and holding back judgements is very important. You need to be able to deal with confusion, non-clarity and postponements.

Besides knowing the tools of the work that they need to do, i always look for honesty, openness, and a quest to learn. Anyone who is ready to learn is ready to drop his ego, anyone who learns is also someone who has a healthy respect towards others. So qualities that are needed in a person to join a progressive team are ability to learn, mutual respect, openness and not scared to mistakes. people who are not paranoid to be right all the time.

A team like that needs a environment that gives them their own space and then team space. There has to be a very explicit goal. This keeps the team together. this also takes the ego barriers down. I was part of a team of 5 designers who built the most well know Design company in India. Till the team was struggling and was focussed on becoming to be known as the best..everyone worked as one unit..but the moment it was understood that we are there…the team scattered..everyone came up with their own agendas.

A team member needs, his own set of skills and tools, he needs to be aligned into a larger vision, he needs to have his own space, environment and he needs to be respected and acknowledged for what he contributes. He needs to be happy and should be able to pull others out of the creative confusion.


How to focus?

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I guess you are referring to a state where if you have just had lunch and you are sitting in a briefing..your mind wanders around, and the briefing doesn’t reach you. or there is a cricket match going on in Australia but you have to be doing something urgent in the office and you just cant do it…or you are expecting to meet a friend in the coffeeshop, and in the meanwhile you read your mails..but you just dont feel like responding.

It is a very common state if it happens once in a while, you are distracted, your mind is pre occupied, it is focussed on something else. But if it happens too often, or all the time..it is a medical condition. Let me first talk about this, so i can tell you methods to focus if it is not a medical condition. So if it is a state that happens all the time, you feel tired , not interested in what you do- consult your doctor, consult a psychologist (it could be depression) consult endocrinologist (it could be a problems with some important hormone, thyroid, cholesterol etc etc)

So first get the chemical reasons out of the way. Strange thing is too few people think about seeing a doc as first option (we usually do this as a last option) and normally no one advises us to do that. I am telling you from experience..visit a doctor, there is nothing wrong in that. Get you chemicals in place. I have thyroid, i suffered from clinical depression ( i know no one will believe. but it is true), but no one can tell. I got to good doctors and i am perfectly balanced with my chemicals.

Now,  if chemicals are not the problem, solving a focus issue is just too simple and easy. You always focus on things you want to focus on. that means if you are interested in the match ( in Australia) there is no way you can focus on work. Our mind always makes a priority list and focuses in that particular order. Also it can focus only one thing at a time. You need to set priorities in life and keep reminding yourself of these priorities. You have to realise that work is important for you, if you keep thinking it is not and you are forced to be here…there is no way you will focus.

Too many of us (at least in India) get the priorities in life wrong. We spend 2/3rd of our awake time (or even more) working. We do this even if we don’t like it. So trick is to do what you like, or learn to like what you do. If you are interested you will not be bored. Thats is one reason why Artists, designers, performers are always alive..they are doing what they love..they are passionate..it is not work for them.

Find what you like and make that your work. This applies to companies as well. If a company is not passionate about making sweets (products), but makes it just so they earn from it…those sweets will not be very good. See any apple keynote to see what it means to be passionate about what you do. It is not surprising that they sell so much.


Q: How do you create white space in mind? other than meditation?

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Yoga, Meditation are sure ways. But then there are other ways to reach the state (without calling them yoga). I guess by white space, we mean peace, emptiness, stillness, mind not wandering, not thinking too much, not worrying too much. All these are signs of a mind that is not fulfilled, not satisfied. So i guess first is to think what is it that you worry about…and why. Sometimes in life, at different stages of life you find things missing from you, you feel incomplete.

List down what your goals are, what you seek from life, list what is it that you want to do. Also list the Noise factors..what is it that is disturbing you. Put these both in front of you. May be you need some help to reduce the noise factors in your mind. Constant hankering of your parents for you to get married could be that noise. Not having a particular skill that you need at job could also be that noise..may be last weeks’ fight with your friend is bothering you, or perhaps its not earning enough so you could travel is the reason. Whatever it is, lay it open and then discuss with someone who could show you alternative ways.

Listing them down itself should start making some grey space.

I know you said ways besides meditation, but think of it like this..sooner or later you realise material things, and even people are not the reason for the noise in your head..if you could make them not-matter to you..you get instant white space. It is worth trying .

Q: Why is there a need to rebrand?

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It is human nature to give attention to anything new. We always notice new people, new roads, new buildings. We want to read new stories have new experiences, watch new movies, travel to new places. Companies exploit this tendency by rebranding their offerings. Now, rebranding of companies is different then rebranding of packaging. Sometimes companies really improve, find new things that they are capable of  and actually change so much that rebranding is the only way that change can be conveyed. May time rebranding creates the change that is needed as well.

For FMCG companies rebranding a formula to remain in consumers buy list. They change packaging colours and brand cosmetics almost every two to three years. many do not change the product at all. Sometimes rebranding projects a product or service in a way that was not done before..that catches consumers fancy..this leads to more sales.

It is mostly the profit and higher sales as reason for rebranding. Sometimes companies rebrand to find their soul..but those cases are rare.

Q: How to make a to-do list for life? :) And can there actually be one?

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Ofcourse there can be to-do list for life, except that it will not be one list, but a series of lists. We always have it, infact everyone has a list for everyone else too. In India your parents have a ever changing to-list for you. You need to have a changing to-do list too. Take life as a staircase, where you have to take steps to move up..so make a list of as far as you can see and then revise the list.

Set smaller achievable goals, in shorter terms, all that which adds to a larger one. Just like in a car design process first vsualise the life (full styling of the car), put in things that may not be possible as yet..but you want them…then start putting it together one step at a time..all the time keep revising your final design, as engineering takes shape new knowledge and resources and talent and people is coming your way. Remember few things will not work as you wanted, few will work better than you expected.

It is life take changes in your stride, dont sit back and waste much time on paste..move ahead, look in front change your final design. It does help to write down the final to do list..to keep you on track. there is a reason why paste our final visualisations on glass in front of us. we ant to remember them..and reach there.

But i also feel dont take life too seriously. Nothing in this life and no one is worth your present time if it is in the past. Keep moving thats important. way will come.