Staying relevant in A Fast Changing World

The 40 – 40 Chasm?

Last week, I was attending a conference for senior marketers in Bangalore. One of the things that stuck with me from that conference was something that host Jessie Paul mentioned – the 40 – 40 chasm. She explained that if you are above 40 in age and earned 40Lakhs INR, you are supposed to be an endangered species in a corporate environment. She went on to talk about how most of us at this age have stopped learning and growing as individuals. What surprised me, even more, was the fact that most people in the audience (again in the 40-40 chasm) agreed with her comment.

Not me! Why?

This surprised me because I have never stopped learning. I learn
– by reading books                                                                                                                                – by listening to podcasts
– by interviewing thought leaders for a podcast that I host
– by attending conferences

and finally
– by participating in online courses via platforms like Coursera, Udacity, CreativeLive.

For the past couple of years, I have even taken a premium membership of SkillShare and this has become my go-to-channel for ongoing online learning (aside of coursera). I have learned from such stalwarts like Seth Godin, Simon Sinek & James Victore.

Free 2-month-premium membership!

All-in-all, I believe that this is an extremely important topic and one that all of us should pay attention to. If you are not already using some of these online platforms to continue to learn all life, I invite you to try out SkillShare. They have been kind enough to offer 2 months of premium membership to all my friends who join SkillShare using this link.

Find a buddy

A long journey (such as life & continuous learning) is best enjoyed with good company. So, find that one person (your son/daughter/spouse or colleague or a friend) with whom you would like to go on this journey and invite them to join with you. This way, not only will you learn something together but build a stronger bond with this person, thereby nourishing the relationship.

Best way to learn is to teach

I remember one of my professors in college telling me that the best way to learn and retain what we learn is to teach it to somebody else. Taking this to heart, I have decided that for my very own internalisation of everything important that I learn and to spread the knowledge, I shall start teaching. As my preferred platform of choice to learn is SkillShare, it was natural for me to choose SkillShare as the platform to teach on as well.

Start of my teaching career at SkillShare

I recently launched a course (first of many more to come, I am sure) on “How to run a good brainstorming session” on SkillShare. You can find this course on SkillShare here. If you do decide to join Skillshare and check my class out, please do send me an email with your feedback on the class and if there is anything that I can do better or could have done differently. I will be grateful for all your advice and inputs. If you think someone in your team, family or friends can benefit from running a good brainstorming session, please do share this course with them as well and help spread the word.

As Harold Jarche says, let’s stay in ‘perpetual beta…’.

The Tale of Amar, Akbar, Anthony and What They All Need to Succeed

Three Friends

Meet three friends – Amar, Akbar & Anthony.

Amar is an entrepreneur. He thinks that he is unemployable and wants to always remain his own boss. He is self-driven, creative, knows what he wants and has the ability to inspire people. He is not afraid of taking risks and following his dreams. He dreams big and wants to make it big some-day. He believes in his own ability and pursues his dreams. He co-founded a startup and is busy creating the next billion dollar product.

Akbar is also like Amar, but a bit more conservative. He wants to go after his dream but at the same time doesn’t want to bet everything on it. He went through the whole bit – did well in school, became an engineer and ended up in a good, well paying corporate job. However, he is not satisfied with this job and the salary. He wants to do something more. He also wants to have an impact. He secretly wants to be like Amar but doesn’t want to leave the security of his well-paying job.

Anthony is different. He did the full bit – did well in school, college and ended up in a good paying corporate job. He is happy with his job. He is more focused on his private hobbies – wants to spend time with family, wants to travel and see the world, read, play some sport, etc. He has no aspiration of making creating an impact in the world. He knows his strengths and weaknesses and aspires to become the head of a unit in his company or some other company that pays him better.

I am sure that each one of us could relate to one of these three characters, not entirely fictional.

In each case, there are certain fundamental skills that each one of them need to work on and improve at if they want to achieve their goals.

Key Skill – Ability to Influence

One such skill is the ability to convince and influence people – physically (in-person) and virtually (in-absence).

There is a lot of resources that are available for us to learn how to persuade and influence people when we are with them in-person. Some really good resources are books by Robert Cialdini (Influence & Pre-suasion), presentation skills, communication skills training and many more. This is also an area where the feedback for performance (yes, it really is a performance) is immediate (verbal or non-verbal), all of us know where we stand when it comes to our skills and if we are not good, we decide to do something about it.

The area where I think we miss out on is the ability to persuade people when we are not around.

So, in order for Amar to succeed in building up his product to success, he will need to be able to create copy that can convince or persuade his customers to open up their wallets. This copy will include the packaging of the product, product brochure, product website, campaign emails that he will send to his prospective customers and a lot more that he will need to do.

In order for Akbar to succeed in becoming a successful intrapreneur, he would need the ability to convince his organisation of his ideas. He will have to write emails that are persuasive, he will have to write up project plans and new product description and what they will do, that are able to persuade his senior executives to fund his ideas.

In order for Anthony to succeed in becoming a business unit head, he would need the ability to convince his boss to give him the promotion that he wants, he would need the ability to write persuasive emails that will inspire his team to rally around the idea/project that he is driving so that it becomes a success.


So, in short, irrespective of whether we relate to Amar, Akbar or Anthony, one key skill that we all need to learn and improve upon is the ability to write persuasive text or COPY.

One way to learn how to write copy, which is a bit crude, but works wonderfully, is to copy by hand, copies or emails or news paper advertisements that have worked really well.  I have tried this and I can say for sure that this definitely helps but is an approach that not many people have used before.

And Ray Edwards is a successful copywriting coach, who uses his own unique process to come up with a copy. You can use the same method to come up with an email that can convince for you, or create a sales pitch that can convince your customer or write a project plan that can convince senior management to open up their budgets and fund your idea.

Ray has just launched a free online course that will teach how to write persuasive copy. I have already registered for this free course. I recommend that you  register for the same as well. This is one skill that every Amar, Akbar and Anthony needs to build upon to achieve their dreams.

There are courses on copy writing that are available on Skillshare, or the one offered by Ray or on any other platforms.

One of the most important skills to succeed in a Gig Economy - Writing Good Copy Click To Tweet

It is imperative that we all learn to write good COPY. This could be one skill that can potentially have a significant impact on our careers.

You can check our some great examples of good email copy here and some advertisement copies below.

The Art of Storytelling For Business

It is well known that all of us make most of our decisions based on our emotions rather than pure logic or intellect or rationality. So, if we are to influence people and their decisions, we need to learn about moving them emotionally enough to get them to make a decision in our favour.

The best way for us to do so is by telling good stories, stories that they can related to and move with. I saw this video by Ameen Haque, who is the CEO of Storywallahs, which he delivered at the Google complex and was moved enough to share this here on my  blog. I have listened to him and his team tell stories at various public events in Bangalore with my 12 year old son and I can’t recommend them enough.

What Ameen does in this video is to break down the art of story telling and break it down into easy to understand and implement chunks of activities. If you are in the business of influencing anyone, I strongly urge you to take the 55 mins and watch this talk. It is not enough to watch the talk but try to do what he asks of you in the talk. Telling stories is a skill that we can develop with practice and as he says, we need to build a repertoire of stories that we can bring out whenever we need them to exert influence.

Some other resources that I have specifically found useful to learn storytelling for business are as below.

People & Blog:

  1. Bernadette Jiwa:
  2. Seth Godin
  3. Malcolm Gladwell
  4. Ameen Haque

Online Courses:

  1. Leadership Communication for Maximum Impact: Storytelling on Coursera
  2. Storytelling for Change on AcumenPlus
  3. Storytelling for Leaders: How to Craft Stories That Matter on Skillshare
  4. Storytelling for Business on Udemy
  5. Storytelling for Influence: on IDEO University
  6. Business Storytelling with C.C. Chapman on Lynda
  7. The Story strategy by Bernadette Jiwa


  1. Meaningful by Bernadette Jiwa
  2. Save the Cat by Blake Snyder


  1. The Business of Story
  2. The Revisionist History

I do hope that you will at least check out a few of these resources and find some time to learn the art of story telling.