We invite colleagues, competitors, clients and other skilled people from (or relevant for) the industry, for a coffee. Todays guest is Gautam Ramdurai, Strategist at the Google Creative Lab. Born and brought up in small-town India, Engineer turned Strategist and VCU Brandcenter alumni. Gautam is currently working with and learning from the amazing people at the Google Creative Lab in NY, and will work for cake or comic books.
What inspires you?
I’m in awe of the collective action of people who deeply care about something. And these days, that collective action is mediated through technology. Whether it’s the Arab Spring or Bieber fans taking over twitter. I see these examples every single day. It reinforces my belief that none of us are as strong as all of us.
How do you keep exploring and learning?
Someone wise once told me that everyday obsessions are better than casual hobbies. I find myself being captivated by some new topic and then I go down the rabbit hole getting to know all I can about the topic.
Currently, I’m obsessed with the future of reading. Most of the banter about the topic has been about the death of print and the rise of eBooks. But that is an attempt to turn it into a simplistic “print vs. digital” debate. I’m trying to ignore the self-serving talk about “publishing” and trying to explore “reading”. How are we going to absorb, parse and process information in the future? And how will that affect the way we think and work? I’m looking for these answers right now. And if I find them, I’ll move on to my next obsession. Until then…
When where you amazed last?
Recently, DC Comics overhauled their entire line-up. They challenged and changed the fundamental myths associated with all their major characters. Pushing the “restart” button on an entire company and its products takes a lot of guts. The comic book industry has been suffering, just like rest of publishing. I was impressed by how DC Comics chose action over making excuses – and went ahead and did something epic.
What is your favourite resource library?
I read anything and everything that has NOTHING to do with advertising and digital media. Our industry tends to talk to itself, about itself, a lot. I try my best to escape that bubble. And once you manage to get out – anything and everything is a resource library.
What’s the biggest challenge the digital communications industry is facing right now, and do this lead you to some predictions?
The problem is right there in the question. We’re still considering ourselves to be in the “digital communications industry”. I think there is no such thing. The more we bucket ourselves based on media, the farther we go from reality. People don’t live their lives doing things “online” or “offline” – at this point, it’s all just…life! We need to approach business problems the same way. And I’m not talking about “360 degree” or “integrated planning” or “phygital” or any of those buzzwords. I’m talking about understanding the jobs that people want to get done in their lives. And thinking of ways in which we, as companies, can help in making those jobs easier, better and faster – irrespective of the medium of delivery.
As for predictions, I don’t think things will get any different from the way they have been for millenia. Business will always be about people. The better you understand people, the better prepared you will be to respond to their needs or create new wants. And that applies to everything from baking soda to eReaders.