02 Mar, 2016

Sanjeev Kotnala:I will always remain an AGKite

Reminiscing is our exclusive series of memoir where people from different walks of life share their memories about individuals who made a difference to their lives in some way or the other.

Today we have Sanjeev Kotnala,Brand & Marketing advisor, Trainer, facilitator and Life-success Coach – ‎INTRADIA,sharing his memories about legendary advertising personality A G Krishnamurthy.

A G Krishnamurthy ( 28th April 1942- 5th February 2016) will be remembered for different reasons. The industry may just note him as the founder chairman of Mudra Communication, taking it to newer heights earlier only associated with MNC and network agencies. Or as a person who has the vision to start MICA. Or even an author of books like ‘If you can dream’, ‘Ten Much’, ‘Desi dream merchants’, ‘Learnings of an advertising professional’ and many more.

To me he will always be AGK and I will be another of the many AGKites. He always remained a person ingrained with middle class values and openness to ideas. One who could be called a homegrown ad man with a street-smart style and a belief of ‘success being a process not an end’.

I remember the poster in his office at Mudra. Early days, when Mudra operated out of Manikyam apartments in Ahmedabad. It had a rooster running after a hen, while another in a corner was busy hatching an egg. It read ‘Yes, we run after new business- but we keep out existing clients satisfied’. This is a philosophy that he lived by.

AGK was Mudra and in many ways Mudra was AGK. Mudra was started with a mandate for excellence and that remained the driving force behind its success. A lot of its growth was organic. So when AGK said ‘Truly and honestly the age of the fittest surviving has dawned on us. The only way we (can prosper is by raising our bar of efficiency… There isn’t any alternative’. You knew he meant it. He was also one of the toughest bosses I had. He never accepted mediocrity. I remember one incident where the legs turned lead- while we seven were paraded and blasted by him in Ahmedabad. (Full incident http://sanjeevkotnala.com/sardar-khush-hoga/).

He was a great teacher of human relationships. One of the best bosses (not a direct boss) I ever had. Few people from whom I learnt the art of managing and motivating teams. My career in advertising could have been short-lived if he was not there to make sense of my brashness and actions. I did mistakes and he allowed them as a learning ground. This openness is something that I carry with me. He kept you on a leash. The leash of freedom of doing things you felt right and had conviction in. Yet he could be break your heart with one of the most brutal honest observation or a remark. Reward and reprimands ran parallel in his office. Biases were few and rare.

We all Mudraities who have worked under him or interacted know how motivating were the simple Ganeshas and those silver or golden pens could be. They were medals that many of us hold dearer than the awards won at later stage of life. Many a time, it was even the hard-boiled sweets that could come your way as an appreciation. I will always remember him as AGK. That’s what he will remain for me. I know he never forgot a Mudraite who has worked with him. In my advertising career, he twice asked me to come back. For some reasons I had to decline.

But I started my advertising career at Mudra (1987-90) and I ended with Mudra (2001-2004) with my second stint. AGK commanded respect that did not come entirely from the position he had but because he was through professional. I remember asking him for his observation as an ITC-Sheraton resident at Banaglore while I wasworking with HTA. And was not too surprised when I did get a handwritten note after two days (http://sanjeevkotnala.com/upgrade/) I read the news of his demise in the Whatsapp group of old and current Mudraites actively praying for his recovery.

It drained me as memories flashed by me. The only way to charge myself was to hold the four Golden Ganeshas and a silver pen that he gave me during my 1987-1990 stint with Mudra Ahmedabad. And to relive few incidents and episodic interactions. They will always hold a special place for me and they always will.

Trust me SIR, whenever you look down from your heavenly abode, you will never find any moment of disappointment from Mudratites. Or better, AGKites

AGKSPEAK: The warmth of a time-worn leader This was an article published on January 2, 2009. Source: agkonline.com WHAT I’VE LIKED Friend, Philospher…Brand! Let’s face it. If you are a premium fabric brand, it is very difficult to stay away from the fashion circuit. But one brand that effectively manages to do so (at least on television) and still stay on top is Raymond Suitings.

This is not to say that they avoid talking about fashion altogether but in the dynamic medium of television they have chosen to be viewed as your warm, caring family friend. The recent television commercial adds to this perception with their storyline of a father reinforcing his daughter’s commitment to her newly-wedded husband at their reception. It appears that he is reassured that his daughter is in very safe hands indeed. All the emotions evoked are that of trust, warmth and caring which on one level is what being cocooned in warm clothing is all about but on the other hand it also reinforces the brand’s time-worn stance of being someone you can trust and look up to whenever you need a friend and guide.

Raymonds used to run a very strong campaign years ago where they were the ultimate guide to spiffy dressing. And then they moved on to the Complete Man stance and the recent series ‘Feels like heaven’ takes this further. The brand is perhaps the oldest suiting brand in the country and has always remained one of its top sellers but what’s more important is that their advertising too matches the solid stability of an iconic brand. Rather than flitting directionlessly from stance to stance, they have charted a clear course and have managed to stay on it despite all the changes and distractions that might have come their way. And that is what leadership is all about.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED Rise! slave. Be your own Master. Call it right-sizing, weight reduction, flab cutting, waste management, whatever the jargon big industry justifies it with, there’s no getting away from the fact that there is a sudden influx of well-educated, highly skilled, well-experienced professionals in the unemployment market today. There are also, interestingly enough a respectable number of start-ups. Small one-man, two men units are cropping up all over the country offering a wide variety of skills from architecture and design consultancy to advertising, leaflet and bill printing services and almost every conceivable niche service possible. These are the ones who dare to risk their hard-earned savings on charting their own course.

Because of the smallness of their size, they have tremendous advantages like speed, personalised service, a more in-depth knowledge of their field, and what’s more the client gets access to some of the sharpest minds in the country personally rather that having to deal with the small fry as they might have to do earlier. It is also a very refreshing sight to see so many youngsters trying to standing on their own feet instead of continuing to have their careers and their livelihood jerked around by the vagaries of inclement business weather conditions.

Admittedly entrepreneurship is not in everybody genes. Who knows? Of the 1000 odd one-man shows trying to make their way maybe only a fraction might survive the journey. But the good news is that rather than seeking negative outlets, they are keeping their chin up and at least trying to make a brave attempt at independent livelihood.

This is when they will begin to slowly relish the joys of being their own master. Not having to report to seniors they despise, not having to curry favour, not having to justify when and why they come to office or stay out of it. The freedom of being on one’s own is a particular joy that only the free know. In fact it is a high that is so addictive that one takes on its flip side — the responsibility and the worries of where your next business will come from — quite willingly. So while I hope that these brave little ventures do manage to reach their goals, I am sure that this is one move they will definitely not regret.

Tribute to My Dad Dr.Bhogilal Shah
My Tribute to My Mother Smt Sushila Bhogilal Shah
Categories: Reminiscing

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