June of 1970 was one of the worst months for my father’s business in Mumbai, India. The market was turning very fast. My father had a strong reputation in the industry, and as a result, although far from being an ideal situation, it was still a blessing to have a small but crawling flow of work to keep the ship from sinking.
My father believed the looming political uncertainty led people to tighten-up. Cash flow started drying up, credit became expensive, and with customers having the same challenge, our payments stopped coming. Paying salaries to the 20-25 staff members became a stressful event for our family.
Most of his peers were forced to take the quickest route to keep themselves afloat. Layoff. I can only imagine what my father was thinking about his options. On the one hand, he had to sustain a family of 8 members and keep up his business, and on the other look after the welfare of his staff.
I wasn’t born yet, but I was told by his staff how my father handled this challenge. Instead of cutting down, he made a pact with his staff to pay them half of their salaries for six months to a year. And if the business bounced back, he guaranteed to bring up their salaries, and would also pay them the difference if possible. I am sure it must have been equally hard for the employees to give up half of their paycheck, but I can understand that it was better than the options other businesses were taking. The agreement was made, and the business kept going.
Months later, the political situation began to normalize, the market started picking up, cash flow was improving, payments began coming, and before the end of that year, the business was back to where it was.
Everything was now the same except for one thing. Through the decision, my father now had built a powerful brand for himself. His fan (staff) following remained loyal for a very long time, which helped the business even more. My father was not educated but had the wisdom to make the best decision that makes him a brand.
The previous chapter concentrated on the basics of character formation, the foundation to build on. In this chapter, we will chisel the foundation further to sculpt our Brand.
What comes to mind when you hear the name, Disney? Is it family fun, quality family entertainment, Mickey Mouse, entertainment? Now, how about Abe Lincoln? Integrity, courage, freedom, strength? Hitler or Trump anyone?
Now let’s try some that are closer to you.
What comes to mind when you think of your father, mother, your best friend, your spouse, your work boss? How about yourself? Does that portray you for what you are? Does it emanate you? The unique you that has no parallel. If it’s dormant inside you, then you need to stir it up a bit and make it speak for you.
Why do we need to build our brand?
Granted not all of us desire to endorse a product or be a brand ambassador. I don’t believe we require doing it for name, fame or money. They may be the outcome, but not the means. I think we all owe it ourselves and to others what we have to offer. Perhaps to be remembered when you are gone. Maybe you may need just your name on your obituary to say everything about you.
The whole idea behind your Brand building is to be able to sum one up in a few words. This chapter will try to bring out our core selves that make up our brand.
If you do not create your brand, then someone else will.
If you have been with me since the beginning of our journey, then please accept my sincere gratitude. And for those who happen to be new, thank you for joing us. To make the most of this collective wisdom, please refer to Read it like a Book. If you are in a rush, then here’s a quick summary from chapter one.
Thank you for staying on.
Success to you!