Chairman Emeritus Reconnect 56 – Responsibility

My dear friends,

The conventional meaning of responsibility is duty & accountability.

If you accept its wider meaning as ‘response-ability’, then the scenario expands.

Responsibility vis-à-vis ‘Response ability’

For example, if you see someone dying on the street out of an accident, are you responsible? The conventional meaning will suggest you “No”. But by the second meaning, you have so many options.

  1. If you are a doctor, you will try direct intervention.
  2. If you are not, you may call an ambulance.
  3. If you don’t have ambulance contact, you may yourself take him to the nearest hospital.
  4. If you are not in a car, you may stop the next passing car and escort him to the hospital.
  5. If you discover the identity of the injured person, you may inform his kith and kin.

Responsibility is enslavement or freedom?

Your eraser falls off a table. If you feel you are responsible, you have several choices before you:

  1. You could simply bend down and pick it up.
  2. You could ask someone to help.
  3. You might pick it up when you leave the table.

You have a variety of options. But if you don’t take responsibility, you have nothing to choose from. Which is freedom? To have choices or to have none?

Responsibility is self-application

When we praise a person as being responsible, what exactly we mean? Primarily we think that he takes charge of the job assigned to him. He does not lack “self-application”. I remember when I was the Chief (Planning) at NHPC, one manager was posted from the field. His table used to be absolutely clean with all the papers shifted from the “In” tray to the “Out” tray. The secret, I discovered, was that as soon as any paper would arrive on his table; he would start looking at it from the angle “which direction it should be marked to, downward, lateral or to some other department for action/ comments” in other words “passing the buck”. He was not prepared to take responsibility for any of the issues. He soon became a symbol of non-self-application and proved unfit for the department.

Responsibility vis-à-vis Courage & Leadership

Taking responsibility is the ultimate essence of personal courage. The following is a fine example of personal courage on one side and magnanimity & leadership on the other.

In 1979, India launched its first SLV-3 built by ISRO, whose Chairman was Prof. Satish Dhawan and APJ Abdul Kalam was Project Director of SLV Mission. In the first stage, everything worked fine. In the second stage, a problem developed. Instead of the satellite going into orbit, the whole rocket plunged into the Bay of Bengal. It was a big failure. Failure analysis was done and presented to the chairman Prof. Dhawan. Everyone was convinced about the technical cause-and-effect sequence and future failure management measures got settled. Just before the meeting was over, Dr Kalam suddenly stood up and said “Just 4 minutes before the launch, I had observed some leakage of Red Fuming Nitric Acid (RFNA) but ignored it thinking it was insignificant. As a Mission Director, I should have put the launch on hold and saved the flight. In a similar situation abroad, the Mission Director would have lost his job. I, therefore, take responsibility for the SLV-3 failure” Touched by Kalam’s honesty and personal courage in taking the responsibility, Prof. Dhawan said, “I am going to put Kalam in orbit!”

Dr. Kalam was very frightened to face the media and answer their criticism of wasting millions of people’s money. Prof. Satish Dhawan took Dr.Kalam to the press meet and made him sit aside and he said “We failed! But I have very good trust in my team that next time we will be succeeding for sure” and made everyone believe in the team’s competence.

The very next year, 18 July 1980, the same team led by Dr. Kalam successfully launched Rohini RS-1 into the orbit. The whole country was proud and cheering for the success of the launch. Prof. Satish Dhawan congratulated Dr. Kalam and the team and asked Dr. Kalam to conduct the press conference that day. The rest is History. Dr. Kalam led many more successful launches and became “Missile Man” of India. This would not have happened without what Prof. Satish Dhawan did on the day of his failure!

“Taking responsibility is the greatest mark of a great leader.”

Former U.S. President Harry S Truman was known to say, “The buck stops here.” That meant that people below his level may “pass the buck” or not take responsibility, but he could not afford to do so because he had the ultimate responsibility!

Invisible emotions driving one towards responsibility

There seem to be three invisible emotions which drive one towards responsibility. These are Love, Fear and Greed. If you love someone you feel responsible towards his/her concerns. If you have some kind of fear like losing your job; you will be forced to take responsibility. If you have any sort of greed say getting a fast-track promotion, you would try to take higher and higher responsibility to prove yourself. Taking responsibility makes you win hearts, getting over fear and accomplishing scintillating success. So, Take the responsibility and win the world!


Satyamev Jayate!!!

With Best Wishes and Regards,

Dr. B.S.K.Naidu, BE (Hons), M.Tech., Ph.D., D.Eng. (Hon), FNAE, Hon.D.WRE (USA)

Chairman Emeritus, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurugram, INDIA

Lessons Marketers can Learn from Donald J Trump’s Ascent to the White House

Marketing is one of the core branches of business. Now, I’m guessing all of you must be aware of the fact that no business can survive in the long run without marketing and branding its products and/or services in the right manner. What marketing does is that it creates an image of the product in the minds of its target audience with which they identify themselves and that leads them to buy the company’s product or avail its services. So in simple terms, marketing directly brings sales and eventually, profits.

Every marketing campaign focuses on its desired set of target audience. It’s all about creating a niche market and ensuring that your customers stay loyal to you. A marketing campaign can be used to sell anything ranging from products and services to people and their skills. One of the most successful marketing campaigns that we have witnessed in the recent times ensured that Donald Trump becomes the President of the United States of America. When you think about it, it was all about selling the reality TV star to the voters and convincing them that he is capable enough to “Make America Great Again.” The Trump brand slogan effectively outdid some of the most prominent brand slogans in terms of popularity and brand recall.

So, let’s have a look at some of the valuable lessons we can learn from Donald Trump’s marketing playbook:

#1) A Call to Action: All powerfully placed brands call on customers to do something. ThumsUp’s “Aaj Kuch Toofani Karte Hain” and Nike’s “Just Do it” are some of the finest examples of this. On the same lines, Trump gave the US citizens an idea to believe in, in the form of “Make America Great Again!” This was a highly impressive call to action with a majestic goal with which each voter could have identified himself. It’s about clear positioning of the brand that all marketers must do.

#2) Remind the customers of good old days: Promising the consumers of an uncertain future (however good you make them believe it will be) generally doesn’t work with the majority as most of the people are not early adopters and also if your brand is new to the arena dominated by other brands. Trump, however, who has never served in any kind of a public office, made his way into the mother of all public offices by reminding the citizens (consumers) of a glorious past and promising a better tomorrow. The addition of the word “Again” was no accident to his slogan. The voters were made to believe that America is not what it was in the past, but the good old days can return if Trump was made the president. And this worked like a charm for his campaign.

#3) Get your old and forgotten customers back: Have you ever noticed how banks and financial firms always chase their high-value customers while ignoring their less financially endowed customers. Trump did not make that mistake. He used the Democrats’ highly appreciated policy of embracing diversity against them and got blue collar democrats (who were being ignored by their party) to support him. All the Republican supporters came to vote for their champion and by winning the hearts of the forgotten blue collar democrats, Trump ensured his win. Similarly, good marketers always know how to balance customer retention with customer acquisition.

#4) Fiction > Facts: There was no doubt about the fact that Clinton would have demolished Trump with her experience and knowledge of politics. However, that didn’t come out to be true. Did it? Trump knew it could be tough for him to win against an established brand in a fair fight. Therefore, he offered US citizens a painting of a greater tomorrow and the painting was nothing short of a Da-Vinci or a Van Gogh. He showed them dreams of goals and outcomes while not elaborating on the means and policies to achieve those dreams. Just like what all the fairness cream brands do in India. However, now that he is the POTUS, he’ll also have to deliver on those dreams. If he doesn’t, the consumers will lose their trust in the brand and won’t re-purchase the product after four years.

#5) Be passionate and make people believe in that passion: Every marketer and sales person know the power of ‘word of mouth.’ In the time of social media, having a better campaign team and spending a fortune on advertising weren’t enough for Clinton. Trump’s determination to win was evident by his passion. Giving five speeches in a day and the sea of supporters during those speeches impressed average voters who were watching on television and that turned the tide in favour of Trump.

#6) Confidence: Whoever said that “Confidence is the key to success,” couldn’t have been more right. In every speech, Trump told his supporters with utmost confidence, “we are going to win.” Customers like to back up a brand which is not only a winner but also sees itself as a winner. And they also want to back a brand which people like them see as a winner. That’s when a brand becomes a BRAND. Unlike brand Clinton, brand Trump confidently promised a future that looks like the glorious yesterday. He exuded confidence and a drive to win. He was the underdog and the outsider we all root for in movies. And eventually, this confident persona is what paved his way to the Pride Rock.


Although the election/marketing campaign of Trump provides marketers with many valuable lessons which they can incorporate in the dynamic business world, one thing they must never forget – Effective branding and campaigning can make the customer buy a product, but if the product turns out to be faulty or does not deliver on what it promised, then its time on the shelves is short-lived.

Brand Trump is the next big thing or a revolutionary new product in the market, but if it fails to deliver on its promises, it will fade out by the next election.


Author: Saksham Gaur

Great Lakes, Gurgaon