Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another day” ~ Dr Seuss.
As one gets older, a marketer’s big challenge is to constantly reinvent oneself, with new learning and new perspectives. How do you force yourself to see new perspectives, to do things differently and hopefully do them better?
The world of social media is an object of wonderment for introverts like me. A decade ago, I watched with my mouth agape, as perfectly normal people poured out their deepest thoughts and intimate, happy family pictures on Facebook, for the world to see. Then people took to Twitter, commenting on everything under the sun and arguing with complete strangers. Now we’ve got people wearing bizarre outfits and dancing away on Tiktok. Ah, well!
So how do I change myself, understand or even begin to like the things that don’t come naturally to me? That’s when I got started on a new project.
I once read that while putting on pants, we put the same leg in first every day. While brushing our teeth, we begin with the same side of the mouth each time. I started to intentionally ‘disrupt myself’. Wear the left shoe first today, and put on the right shoe first on the next day. I changed my waking up routine. I started shaving the left side of my face first. I even tripped over myself in trying to change trouser legs! I started to take different routes while going to work. Gradually I found that I was being able to identify my habitual behaviours and biases – that was almost an out-of-body experience for me.
At stage two, I decided to learn about one new thing every month. It had to be something that I was clueless about. Serious stuff like bitcoin, the fossil record, genetic history, tai chi and emu farming. Gradually, I started to view things around me in a different way.
At stage three, I returned to social media, to study the new kids on the block, Tiktok and Sharechat – and that changed my idea of India and Indians. For the uninitiated, Tiktok is a video sharing app with 120 million users in India. Sharechat has half that number – only 60 million – but it is stronger in regional languages and in small towns and rural India.
I discovered, to my astonishment, that my very serious-looking colleague who is in charge of insurance, is a dancing Tiktok star! That a Tiktok video of an Oriya housewife getting her nose pierced, can see as many as 936,000 likes and 20,000 WhatsApp shares! People are supremely talented! Some people somersault off 20-foot pillars, some can make methi matar malai on a gas stove in four minutes, some people can pout in 23 different ways, and one guy in Coimbatore ate 3 kilos of rice in one go on Pongal! You will find that some really bizarre things happen in paddy fields, classrooms and saree shops.
I have re-learned the marketing concept of segmentation. After careful analysis, I have concluded that small town India, as represented on Sharechat, consists of two kinds of people. Type A are the well-wishers. They post greetings like good morning, good night and happy Tuesday, usually with a bunch of flowers. Type B are jilted lovers. They write terrible poetry and post soulful messages, mostly after 11pm when their true loves are asleep in bed with their husbands.They live in the conviction that one day, their true worth and love will be finally realised. And that the girl will tearfully ask hum aapke hain kaun or yeh rishta kya kehlata hai.
If only we can channelise this enormous groundswell of well-wishing and the pent up potential energy of the jilted lovers, we could make great strides as a country! I am thinking of tweeting my mann ki baat to the powers that be.