The terms marketing & branding were invented for the same objective. These words have the same goals to achieve. Many business owners and marketers can define these words as a single source to pump in more business. Many can define it as an objective truth for better numbers in the balance sheets. As we are learning from mythology and the lessons are giving enough evidence for acceptance, I will again use the same genre to express my thoughts towards the topic.
Two of my very close friends, both successful businessmen, have gained immense wealth in their respective businesses (for starters & the only clue I can give without disclosing their identities – one owns BMW, other Mercedes). I got an opportunity to work with them, learn from their behavior, their management theories and success mantras. Upon a close observation & deriving from my mythological knowledge I can say one behaves like Indra and other represents Krishna. So, I shall address them as Mr. I & Mr. K in this blog.
They are poles apart – Mr. I believes in good marketing whereas Mr. K believes in good branding. While taking business decisions Mr. I believes that chasing wealth will make him successful. On the contrary Mr. K believes that attracting wealth will make him successful. Mr. I behaves like Indra, who is always bothered by competitions and markets himself with heavy verbiage without really bothering much about the brand image. Mr. K on the other hand, is relaxed like Krishna and does not worry much about competitions. He believes in attracting more customers through better branding. Mr. I, like Indra, trusts no one, demands hourly reports and believes that monitoring employees means better productivity. He dominates the team with his thoughts and decisions and makes them work accordingly. Mr. K believes in delegating tasks and giving authority; he trusts his team and never monitors them. The team is at peace working with responsibility and accountability. For apparent reasons, Mr. K makes more friends than followers.
I personally think Indra and Krishna could both be good inspiration in the world of business. Mr. I’s art of gaining wealth & Mr. K’s charm are both admirable. The problem occurs when they have conflicting thoughts while working under pressure. Meaning when Mr. I thinks & act like Mr. K and vice versa. For example, once Mr. I assigned a job to his team with half trust and withheld information about a project. Obviously, he failed to accomplish the task and blamed the team for it. The story was no different when once working under tremendous pressure, Mr. K failed to communicate his thoughts to the team and loaded them with information while expecting flawless results. When in an unfavorable situation, both displayed out of character traits. The pressure subdues their belief in own practices and behave differently.
Mr. K forgot that the best thing in his strategy was to trust people, motivating and guiding them to the vision as he sees it. He followed the subjective fact and assigned tasks without considering the objective facts behind it. He forgot how his vision could make things happen and he believes that others work ‘with’ him and not ‘for’ him.
Mr. I works worse in pressure. He forgot he can never share his vision with his team. In order to succeed he has to get them to work ‘for’ him and not ‘with’ him. He blamed his team for breaking his trust and for non-performance. The fact is, he never trusted them and he just cannot take the blame.
The characteristics of these two gods can be seen in many leaders. In my experience, even the worst problems can be solved if you know which character you represent or traits of which character you can exceptionally relate to. With the correct approach, adhering to your personality, most adversities can be managed well. We fail to realize that instead of looking for self guidance (we know our problems and our tried-and-tested approach to them) we seek solution in others. We perceive our vision in our own way and we definitely know how to overcome the hurdles that come in the way towards success.
Draupadi was a woman born out of fire and by appeasing the gods while Tulsi Virani was born out of a frustrated mind that did not like sukh-shanti even one bit. This mind was bored enough to scheme on taking over the television at 10:30 in the night by hypnotising mothers (sometimes, even fathers) to change the TV channel to Star Plus and making them forget that they have a life outside of the Virani khandan.
So, how are Draupadi and Tulsi similar when they were born for different reasons? For starters, both of them have 5 husbands. Draupadi had Yudhistira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva while Tulsi had to go through the turmoil of having one husband, Mihir, rejected then chosen to die, after which he is back with amnesia only to get plastic surgery done twice. This makes one think that she actually did go through 5 husbands.
Both of them had a family member who was born 2 generations before them and could live as long as they wanted. Draupadi’s granduncle-in-law could live as long as he wanted and Tulsi’s grandmother-in-law, Amba Virani, fondly called Baa could live as long as Ekta Kapoor’s mood favoured her.
But didn’t Draupadi have to go through Vastra Harana? What did Tulsi have to go through? Why should you sympathise with Tulsi? Tulsi aged 20 years in a day! After about 500 and odd episodes, she suddenly turns into a 40 year old person. After other 300 or so episodes, she ages 20 more years!
Think of the fright you will face when your mirror reflects a wrinkled, fatter and grey haired version of you or when a 25 year old punk calls you mom or even worse, grandmom!
The confusion of these sudden changes will perhaps lead to the apocalypse of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. A war was fought to defend Draupdi’s humiliation (or so they say). But what do you think might have happened to solve Tulsi’s confusion? Maha episodes were aired where Tulsi avenges the injustice done to her jawaani by becoming grumpy granny and fighting with her kids, grandkids, and daughters-in-law till the very last episode. Maybe then you think that justice was served, but not so soon Indiawalon, not so soon.
By the end of Tulsi’s life, she falls off air just as Draupadi ends her life by falling off a cliff. The only difference (or similarity, you choose) is Draupadi falls off to go to hell while Tulsi falls off to go to the HRD ministry. Justice is now served.
Can marketing and Indian mythology be related? I asked myself over and over again. So, I did a little test and thought would share it here. I took up some theories of marketing and tried applying Indian mythology to it. I have only taken some characters from the Mahabharata for my study and tried to connect their personalities with a business or a management perspective as it would be simpler to connect them.
The 2 theories I used are Maslow’s model of hierarchy and the ERG theory. Let me explain Maslow’s model briefly.
Maslow believed that there are 5 basic stages that a human being needs to undergo to achieve what he termed ‘self-actualisation’. It is a stage where a person is satisfied and happy with the way things are around him. If a person has reached that stage, then he/she is happy and enjoys a state of bliss for long periods of time. The first 3 stages of the pyramid are deficiency needs while the 4th and 5th stage are growth needs.
The first stage is physiological stage. This is a state where a person hasn’t got the basic requirements that is food, water, shelter and sex. This is the most basic stage. If these needs are fulfilled then he goes on to the security needs. This safety and security needs include stability, security from the environment, freedom of anxiety and job security. The next stage is that of love and social needs. This is a stage where a person needs to feel loved, secured and wants to be socially accepted. It includes wanting to be respected, understood and is quite crucial in a job environment.
The 4th stage is esteem needs. This is a stage where a person wants to have a feeling of self worth and self-respect. People want achievement, power, prestige, status and power during this time. The final stage as I mentioned previously is the self actualisation stage.
The ERG theory is very similar to Maslow’s except for the fact that it puts the first two stages together and calls it the existence need. These are the needs that are required for the existence of a person. The 3rd stage along with a lower level of self-esteem make the relatedness need. People have a need to relate to each other and also have personal relationships. An advanced level of self-esteem along with self actualisation makes the growth needs. They are the growth and development needs that that will help a person reach his/her full potential.
Now if that’s clear, I will get to the fun part. Here is my list of randomly selected characters from the Mahabharata and where they stand according to the theories I mentioned above:
Draupadi– In my opinion she is stuck at her esteem needs. She would have been self-actualised had she given up on her idea of revenge. She had the urge to win back respect and the esteem that she had lost as the daughter-in-law of the Kuru clan. She was unable to let go of that. According to the ERG theory, I would place her to have a need to be related to.
Bhima– Bhima was the second Pandava, he was considered a glutton. He had the constant urge to satisfy his hunger. He never seemed to be satisfied with little food. So, I think he was still stuck at the first stage. His basic needs were not getting fulfilled during his time in the forest (vanvasa). Bhima definitely had existence needs according to EGR theory.
Duryodhana– Duryodhana never felt secure. He thought that the throne should be rightfully his, but his security which was his home was going to be taken over by Yudhishtira. The only reason he waged a war was for the security of his throne. Duryodhana was stuck at the safety and security needs, or the second level on Maslow’s pyramid. He also had the existence need according to the ERG theory. He felt his existence was in danger if Yudhishtira was alive.
Karna– Karna was a man who was looking for answers and he always wished to be respected by his peers. He wanted to be considered an equal because of his merit and not because he was a charioteer’s son. He was ridiculed when he tried proving the same. The only person who gave him respect was Duryodhana. Karna would fall in the social needs category of Maslow’s hierarchy. With respect to the ERG theory, he would come under the relatedness need.
Krishna– The all-knowing, cool, calm and composed avatar of Vishnu knew what true happiness was. He was self-actualised and was in a state of spiritual joy that came from knowledge and using it right. He was a strategist of the genius category along with being a cool headed mastermind. He is on the final stage on Maslow’s pyramid and also comes under growth in the ERG theory.
Can you think of any other character who would fall under any of these categories? If yes, feel free to comment.
If you need sound business or management advice, you tend to look at management or self help books written by western authors. How about trying something Indian for a change? This might come as a shock to you, but our ages old Bhagvad Gita has as much as knowledge about management as it has about spirituality and life. Don’t believe me? Then why are the top most CEO’s considering it the new Art of War? There has to be something of great importance in it, right?
I have tried to compile some of the things that I learnt and understood about management from the Gita and also what webizens around the world learnt from it. The most famous phrase of the Gita is, ‘keep doing the work you are supposed to do, don’t think of its fruits’. As relevant as this is to personal life, it is very important professionally as well. If a person dreams of the profit he is going to make from a client, then instead of giving it his best effort, he will be in constant thoughts of the client liking his product or not.
The second most important thing that I learnt from Krishna’s teachings is to be wise and utilise all the resources optimally. Let’s take the Kurukshetra war in the Mahabahrata; the Kauravas had a much bigger army than the Pandavas. But, the Pandava’s used strategy and their most important resource, Krishna to the optimal level to win the battle.
If you are a manager at a higher level, you need to motivate and help others become better at their jobs. Krishna says this in the Bhagvad Gita, ‘Detach from the fruits of action that are performed in the course of duty.’ This way, you let your sub-ordinates take credit and encourage their good performance. This also lays the foundation of your sub-ordinates respecting and looking up to you.
The final gyan that I have to share with you is what will ease you and at the same time distress you. Here it goes, “If the result of sincere effort is success, then the entire credit does not go to the doer. If the result of sincere effort is failure, it is not entirely the doer’s fault.’ So, if you have had a lot of success, this piece of wisdom will make sure, you don’t fly in the air and if you fail, it won’t allow you to get depressed.
This is the little knowledge that I got from a book that is filled with insights about life and work. Did you learn something else from Krishna today? Do let us know
It so happened one day that we were hunting to find a brand ambassador for a client. We had looked at countless portfolios of models, but we weren’t convinced by anyone. The client’s needs were a woman of strength and beauty; when people look at her they see deep-seated confidence in her. Not one of the innumerable profiles we saw did justice to the client’s requirement. We were beginning to get worried when one of our team-members said, “You know, I think Draupadi would do complete justice to this role.” We all agreed in unison and went back to hunt for our modern day Draupadi.
This struck me with a question. Who from ancient Hindu mythology would be the ideal brand ambassador for modern day products? This is what I came up with-
Life insurance- Who better than Bhishma to endorse life insurance? He lived a long life, had the boon to die whenever he wanted and also gave away all his knowledge to the people he wanted. Bhishma is just the right mix that every life insurance agency would want.
Gold loans- The goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, would definitely be on your list if you were hiring a brand ambassador for your gold loan company. In every photo of hers, one hand of hers is busy blessing people with money while she looks gracefully young for her age. Imagine her doing a TV commercial for you. Her reassuring smile along with her magical palm could do wonders for your business and fill your palms with money.
School- I can imagine the modern day Saraswati with a handloom saree, gold rimmed spectacles on her nose and playing a veena with her eyes closed. She sings in her melodious voice and lights the lamp for the school’s function. You can imagine it too, right?! If she was endorsing a school, which parent would not want their child admitted there?
Sleeping pills- If you had 100 drummers playing at the same time next to your bed, what would follow would probably be, you waking up either with fear or with the notion of wanting to kill the noisemakers. But, what if you still didn’t get up? “Nah, not possible” is what you might be thinking. But, the Ramayana can prove you wrong. Kumbhakarana needed more than 100 drummers and 1000 elephants to walk over him, just so that he could get up from sleep. Now you know why I think Kumbhakarana would be the perfect ambassador for sleeping pills?
Banks- Imagine if you had Kubera endorsing a bank? Kubera is a god who is considered to own all the treasures of the world. If he can assure you and tell you that all your wealth will be safe in XYZ bank, just like his is, I don’t see why people won’t open their accounts in that bank. If the bank’s customers don’t come there to safekeep their valuables, they might come to see Kubera. Now, of course, they won’t come to see his face, they will come to see his many jewels and treasures that he might be hiding in the bank’s lockers.
I am still thinking of the other gods, demons, yakshas and other mythological creatures who could be brand ambassadors for products. If you have any in mind, do share it in the comments below J