Author Ambi Parameswaran emphasises on leadership lessons for aspiring youngsters. He introduces a new process of looking at a problem, a new way to build partnerships in the ‘Sponge Process’.
A brand strategist who spent a large part of his 40-year career in the advertising industry, first at Rediffusion and then a 25 year stint at FCB Ulka handling some of India’s top brands comes up with his latest book ‘SPONGE: Leadership Lessons I Learnt From My Clients’ released on Wednesday in the city. S Mahalingam, former CFO & ED of TCS and L Ramkumar, MD of Tube Investments were prominent with their presence in the panel discussion following the launch.
In Ambi’s earlier writing adventures like Nawabs, Nudes and Noodles he tried examining how advertising has evolved while also reflecting on the country’s culture, politics and economy in the last 50 years. The author points to listening as the sure-fire route to success. ‘Sponge’ is an attempt to present the interesting conversations Ambi had had with the doyens of the corporate world, in an easy to read anecdotal form. The book is aimed at corporate executives, management students and people interested in advertising where individuals interact with a variety of people.
Early in his career, ambi realised that some of the best lessons can be learnt if people just listen to and learn from customer interactions. In his long career in advertising, Ambi was fortunate to work with and engage with some of the most respected names in the Indian corporate world and he presents it in an easy to read form. An excerpt of DC’s conversation with Ambi Parameswaran:
Q Why did you come up with the book ‘SPONGE’, any specific reason? And the Idea behind the book?
Having worked in a client-facing B2B business for 30 years of my 40-year career, I had the good fortune of interacting with so many wonderful business leaders. As I thought about these interactions, I realised that all of them managed to teach me something new. I was lucky in many ways and I thought it would be appropriate that I share some of these stories through a light book. As the book grew I realised that my readers may benefit a lot if I can point them towards other literature in the same domain. And ‘SPONGE - Leadership Lessons I Learnt From My Clients’ was born.
Q How can the youngsters in our city (Chennai) be inspired from the book & your career of 40 years?
Today’s young people are so much smarter than I was at their age. They have so much at their disposal. In spite of all that I felt that they could benefit a lot if they can adopt the ‘SPONGE’ Process. While they should be confident in their own way, if they can super actively listen, probe and question, observe and note, identify new behaviour to adopt, internalise and grow that behaviour and finally explain, expand and share the new learning, they can become better leaders. The stories are drawn from multiple domains and some of them happened in Chennai. That is just the icing on the cake.
Q Would SPONGE be helpful to people in any profession?
Absolutely. SPONGE Process applies to any profession where we interact with clients and customers. To be fair in almost all professions and B2B sectors, customers or clients are seen as necessary evil. They make ridiculous demands, negotiate like hell and don’t pay on time. What if we can ‘reframe’ the relationship from one of just transactions to be completed fast, to a relationship of mutual learning and respect. I think we will end up becoming a lot smarter than what we are. And chances are that we will end up selling a lot more at a better price.