Month: November 2019

What is the Value of a Co-working space?

Just as I was about to leave for my WeWork space this morning, I received a notification in the App that there is an Internet issue at the work space with the chance that there might not be any Internet connectivity for the entire day. I had a choice of staying back at home and working, or proceeding to WeWork.

I ended up taking the latter option. While walking to the space, I started thinking – what is the intrinsic value of a co-working space, especially for freelancers?

Clearly it’s not just the Internet connection. Almost everyone these days has a reliable internet connection at home or through their mobile devices. It could be the work desk, but then again, most people these days have a space at home to keep their laptops and work. It could be the coffee, though nothing beats the cheap and tasty filter coffee served at Udupi restaurants, at least in Bangalore and Chennai.

My opinion is that, at least in the case of WeWork, it is something else that is more than the sum of its parts. Yes, we know that WeWork has had its issues, but my experience from the past three weeks is that they definitely offer something of value that is not easy to break down. And that is what Brand is all about. It’s the whole experience that’s of value, not specific components such as Internet or coffee (though those definitely help!).

And I think there’s a lesson there for all businesses looking to build their Brand. Brand building is not about splashing a lot of money in advertising. It’s about finding your unique value proposition and delivering that consistently. That will drive the virtuous cycle of satisfied customers, positive work of mouth and more new customers.

And, by the way, the Internet connection was back up within thirty minutes!

Coworking space


Monday Reads – 25/11

Some interesting articles to kick off the last week of the penultimate month of the year!

  • Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Constantly Changing World – If there is one article you read this week, make it this one. A succinct, but fascinating view into the type of thinking that can lead to meaningful breakthroughs in this rapidly changing world.
  • TV the ‘least risky’ form of advertising – Right at the outset, I must add the caveat that this research was commissioned by a TV advertising body. Having said that, I agree with the findings and suggested strategy. I do not think TV advertising is going to go away anytime soon, but it might not be the right or relevant strategy for everyone.
  • Building a better data-first strategy – I think by now, most marketers and businesses know the importance of being data-driven. This is a good article in case you are still unsure on what your data-driven marketing strategy should be. However, as the article so rightly states, keep in mind that “people are not machines, and as such, they’re not always rational, efficient bidding and buying engines. They don’t necessarily respond in the way you’d think they might. As a marketer, you have to plan for that by gaining a better understanding of the human story behind your data — because it’s those behaviors that may drive your business forward.

The Joy of Shelling Peas

bunch of green peas
Photo by R Khalil on

There is nothing figurative about the title of this blog. I just spent a very enjoyable morning shelling peas with my children.

I had stepped out earlier this morning to pick up breakfast (yummy) from my neigbourhood Udupi restaurant. Along the way, I saw a road-side cart vendor with a mound of unshelled peas. On coming back home, I realised that peas was on our shopping list. It was also a Sunday, and I thought the kids might enjoy the activity of shelling peas.

So I immediately went back to the vendor (and the Udupi restaurant for a cup of South Indian filter coffee!) and returned with a kilogramme of peas. Called the kids around and they immediately set on the task of shelling a mound of peas!

They loved it, and so did I. It was just so much unanticipated fun in doing such a simple thing as shelling peas. It was a zen like feeling and I was glad for the experience!

Where would you like to go to next?

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

It’s that time of the year when everyone starts preparing their lists, either best of the year that was, or lists for what to do next year. I love traveling, so have been perusing the lists of top travel publications. Delighted to see the following:

Tiger Safari in Madhya Pradesh
Photo by Amit Jain on Unsplash

Madhya Pradesh – The state at the heart of Maharashtra is, in my opinion, a highly under-rated destination. I have been lucky to have visited the state a few times, and have still only seen a few of the beautiful places the state is blessed with, from the surprisingly pleasant state capital of Bhopal, the ancient ruins at Sanchi, one of the world’s oldest cave paintings at Bhimbetka and a couple of the amazing wildlife reserves – Bandhavgarh and Pench. Places on my bucket list – the ancient city of Ujjain, atmospheric ruins of Mandu and Orchha, stunning Khajuraho temples and the fort of Gwalior. It is no surprise that Lonely Planet has rated Madhya Pradesh in its Top Value Destinations for 2020.

Chinese Fishing Nets at Kochi
Photo by Ankur Khanna on Unsplash

Kochi – Located close to my hometown in the state of Kerala in the far South West of India, Kochi makes it on to two prestigious lists – National Geographic’s Best Trips to Take in 2020 and Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities to Visit. It really is no surprise, with it’s wealth of history, culture and its location close to the stunning and unique backwaters of Kerala.

Udaipur at night
Photo by Hardik Joshi on Unsplash

Udaipur – I still remember my only visit to Udaipur. It was Diwali break while I was studying at IIM, Ahmedabad and three of us took the bus down to this city located in Southern Rajasthan. And it was a magical experience, with the city decked up in twinkling lights. Definitely a place to go back to! No wonder it is on Travel + Leisures’ Top 15 Cities in the World List.

So where are you headed to next?

Urban Livability in India

Image of an Indian city

So it turns out that Bangalore is considered as one of the most livable cities in India. This recent news article depressed me. I have been living in Bangalore for 8 years now in two phases and I am not particularly happy with the quality of living in this city. Horrendous traffic, lack of efficient public transport, poor urban planning, very few places to visit – what does it say about the state of cities in India if this one if considered as one of the most livable?

Unfortunately, the headline was definitely click-baity. The study only considered 6 cities in India; there are 40 other cities with a population of over 1 million. Maybe the quality if life in these ‘smaller’ cities is better than the larger urban agglomerations? I have been pleasantly surprised by visits to cities such as Bhopal, Nagpur, Thiruvananthapuram. They all felt more ‘livable’ than the bigger cities. But I have not lived in any of them for an extended period of time to form a more informed opinion.

So what ails big Indian cities? I am sure there are enough experts who have studied this in detail. This is my layman’s analysis:

  • Pace of Growth – Cities have grown too big too fast for the administrative bodies to manage.
  • Corruption – need I say more?
  • Capabilities – Many of the fastest growing cities lack, in my opinion, administrative expertise and know-how in understanding what makes a big city ‘tick’?

So what are the elements that help make big cities livable?

A quick search online throws up many websites that have listed the key factors that make a city a ‘world’ city. Here are my personal comments:

  • A powerful association that is easy to appreciate – London has the arts and history, Paris has architecture and food, New York has finance and action. Closer home, Mumbai has architecture and food, Delhi has power and history, Kolkata has heritage and Chennai has culture.
  • Willingness to engage with the wider world – These cities are open to people and inspiration from all over. Yes, the language you speak is important, but possibly less so than in other cities.
  • Public spaces – Areas where the diverse population can get together and enjoy the sights and sounds. Places where residents can enjoy a pleasant day out with friends or family.
  • Accessibility – easy to use, reliable (and cheap) modes of transport where people do not have to rely primarily on private means of transport.
  • Entertainment – Enough options to cater to a diverse range of tastes.

I am biased, but all things considered, I would rank Mumbai as the closest to a ‘world’ city that India has. If only there was a way to solve the dire housing problem in the city…

Image courtesy Yash Bharadwaj on Unsplash