Category Archives: Uncategorized

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Being Employee #1 at a Startup

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This April, I completed 4 years at DeepRedInk Consulting. As the first employee of DRI, I have had some tremendous opportunities to learn, grow and contribute- personally, professionally (and even spiritually!).

Startup Employee

Here are some of the valuable lessons I learnt, being part of this roller-coaster ride:

1. Navigating through Uncertainty

We have always gone through days filled with overwhelming uncertainty about the next business enquiry, timely payment of salaries, etc. It does feel like driving at night, with minimum visibility.

The key is to be patient, persistent and optimistic.

2. Taking Responsibility

Having led various initiatives during my Undergrad, this came naturally to me. There was always this sense of psychological ownership towards DRI. It always felt like I’m contributing towards building DRI, from scratch. Over the years, I’ve done everything from execution to management, and now, I’m one of the 5 people steering this ship towards its next couple of milestones. The key here is be Intrapreneurial and strive towards leading from the front at all times.

3. Learning from Failure

Every individual (founder & non-founder) is bound to screw up somewhere, sometime with a key project. Instead of playing the blame game, we always preferred to look at the silver linings and took it in our stride. And, made sure we grew and got better, with every mistake we made.

The key here is to cultivate a growth mindset across the organization.

4. Developing a multifaceted skill-set (i.e, become a Generalist)

The flexibility that comes with working at a startup is unparalleled. Despite a background in Software Engineering, I chose to specialize in the poised-for-growth Social Media domain. After spending more than 2 years in this domain, I shifted to Brand Strategy, Account Management and finally to Program Management where I’m currently working.

In a startup environment, we are always short of hands and we try to cover up all the loopholes by playing multiple roles across different functions of the business. This gives a change to early stage employees to jump in and take more responsibility across core and support functions like Finance, Administration, (and HR). Being the first employee, I got exposed to most of these business functions that helped me develop a multifaceted skill-set, having done Business Development, Strategy Consulting, Marketing, Hiring, etc.

The key here, is to be open to new opportunities coming your way. And, keep building your repertoire.

5. Influencing effective Decision Making

Prompt decision making has been quite a challenge for DRI’s Founders. DRI, has always adopted the Decision Making through Consensus approach. And, for anything to reach consensus, takes time and energy. Over the years, we have followed various models/frameworks to arrive at decisions in a quick time. Some worked, while some didn’t. I’m grateful to have been part of most these experiments. And, glad to have rolled out some game-changing initiatives to propel the organization towards sustainable growth.

The key here, is to develop a deeper understanding of the situation at hand and view it from different perspectives to get a grip of it.

6. Evolving through Culture shifts

As the first employee, I have had the opportunity to work with almost all the people who were on DRI’s rolls through its short lifetime. There have been significant shifts in Culture of the organization from time to time, and I have been an integral part of this evolution. As one of the early employees, it helps to be the interface (only if required!) between the founders and the new employees. Also, in some cases, an early employee might find it comparatively easier to sell the vision/purpose of the startup to the newbies, than the founders.

The key here is to be conscious of your personal growth, to strive to build lasting relationships, to have empathy for your team members and to ultimately get work done (with so many dynamics at play all time), come what may!

7. Creating Win-Win-Win solutions

As a Senior Leader in the system, it has always been my endeavour to create Win-Win-Win solutions for the Client, for DRI and for my employees, respectively.

The key here is to be present and be conscious of the different dynamics at play between the Client organization, your organization and your employees. All this, while making sure that the project strategy is on track.

All in all, I can say that it is nothing short of an adventure! Looking back, I’m glad I made the decision to be the first employee of DeepRedInk. And, very grateful to the founders for considering me for this coveted position.


P.S: A word of caution for those looking to join a Startup, as its first employee/ early stage employee: If you are not confident about the Founder’s vision (or intention), don’t jump into it. You have to be on board from Day 1. Else, it wouldn’t be an ideal scenario for anyone. Once you’ve signed up, look forward to an exponential learning curve, ample opportunities to grow and great exposure.

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Celebrating 5 Years of DeepRedInk

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Five years have just flown by. It seems like just yesterday that we started working out of our homes, armed with just our laptops and lots of dreams;

dreams of starting a business around doing what we love
dreams of building a company that’s loved by its people
dreams of deeply engaging with our clients and partnering in their growth

And, we feel so blessed that so much of it has come true. Dedicating this journey to all the people; teammates, clients, partners, families, friends and well-wishers that travelled this far with DeepRedInk. Immensely grateful for the good times and the hard knocks that I’ve shared with each one of you.

I’d like to express deep gratitude to everyone who has supported me and encouraged me to be a part of this fantastic journey. Proud to have contributed to this fantastic startup journey! And, glad to have met such remarkable people along the way who pushed me out of my comfort zone, helped me realize my highest potential and made me the person I am today.

Looking forward to bigger and better milestones.

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Changing the conversations around Failure

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For a long time now, Failure, rejection, defeat et al. have been viewed with a negative lens. Failure happens in so many different ways, at unexpected times and often has a lasting impact on an individual or a collective. So, how about changing the way we perceive failure from its current negative shade to a more positive one? How about emphasizing on the learning from failure and celebrating it, instead of treating it like a unfortunate tragedy?

It is with this spirit and intention that we set out to do FailFest– a fun and engaging forum to celebrate and honor stories of failure by highlighting the learning, valor and resilience. 
We planned to explore this grey zone by calling upon the indomitable souls, who rose from the trenches of failure by reflecting and learning from it. 

We wanted to change the existing conversations, where Failure is considered undesirable, unacceptable. an outright defeat and a complete disaster.

Failure by all means, is truly ‘inevitable’. It is a quintessential part of life and we get to see it time and again. Like the classic dichotomies of life: Day-Night, Good-Bad, Black-White, Failure forms a pair with Success. However, one can’t succeed every single time. We are bound to screw up on some occasions. But at the end it’s these failures that help us learn. These mistakes enable us to think, be creative and do the innovative.
FailFest is a manifestation of this whole idea around changing the conversations around Failure. The first FailFest was held on May 3 at Hyderabad, India. We invited people from all walks of life, from book authors and actors to techies and entrepreneurs. Anybody, who wanted to share their major learnings with a compelling storyline was welcome.The speakers spoke about their challenging journeys where they faced failure, in some form or the other at every step and shared their biggest learnings from those thrilling experiences. 

In short, FailFest was all about:
– Victory over vulnerability
– Acts of bravado
– following your heart; your passion
– persistence in times of adversity
– Learning. Reflection. Introspection
– gaining Insight and Hindsight; developing Foresight and more…

To view the Event on facebook, kindly go to

FailFest is one such initiative to change the conversations around failure. We hope to build on this momentum and do more such activities to bring about this shift. If you are interested in changing the conversations around Failure, kindly join our community on Facebook-

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Hero MotoCorp Anthem

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A fantastic ad, with Indian-ness written all over it. Along with that, Triumph & Celebration the Human Spirit.

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Harsha Bhogle: Attitude over Talent

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Harsha Bhogle, the renown Cricket Commentator discusses here on the importance of Attitude, over Talent.
 A Must-Watch !!!

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Actor Siddharth throws light on some pressing issues in present day India

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An exceptional speech from the Actor Siddharth, where he throws light on some pressing issues of contemporary India.
  • the present Generation
  • Individual Empowerment
  • Need and value for Documentation
  • Media as a fourth estate.

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Steve Jobs: How to live before you die

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At his Stanford University commencement speech, Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple and Pixar, urges us to pursue our dreams and see the opportunities in life’s setbacks — including death itself.

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How Great Leaders inspire action- Simon Sinek

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Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” 
 His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers…

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Significance of ‘Why’

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Among the six honest serving men- Who, What, Why, Where, When and How that I had mentioned in my last blog, I find Why to be the most intriguing one.

The use of ‘Why’, questions the mere existence of an entity! It can refer to the following words
·         Reason
·         Purpose
·         Explanation
·         Rationale
·         Motive
·         Cause
·         Intention
‘Why’ is a question that one should ask himself repeatedly all the time. It forms the very motive behind him carrying out any action or task in his day-to-day life.

Many of us simply fail to see the very purpose or the reason for the occurrence of certain events in our lives. It’s time we start paying heed to these ‘signs’ and work towards exploring them. And if there is any threat from these signs, try to find a solution. Never leave these signs unattended. For who knows, they could very well spell your doom!

Almost all of us go by this catchphrase– Everything happens for a reason. In some cases this reason refers to future prospects while in others, it simply refers to consequences of a past activity.

For instance, in the case of Global Warming, it was observed that there were variations in the temperature of Earth as well as the ocean’s temperature. So, Scientists and Researchers set about their task of finding the Why behind this phenomena. After extensive research and study, it was discovered that it was caused by increasing concentrations of Green House Gases, which resulted from human activities (deforestation, burning of fossil fuels, etc.). Subsequently, crucial measures were taken to arrest this problem and the necessary solutions were planned and implemented. Just imagine, if those signs were ignored, it would have put all the earthlings’ lives at risk.

At the turn of the millennium, ‘Why’ was rechristened as simply ‘Y’ and used extensively in instant chats, emails, blogs, SMSes and almost everywhere. Young children who often asked their parents- How and Why were received with either misleading or no answers at all. Students did not have the courage to clear their doubts by posing questions. But today, times have changed. All the queries of the kids and school students are being entertained and innovative ways are being devised out to answer them. Thanks to the web, we don’t need to go too far to find answers to our queries. We have got more inquisitive about everything that concerned us in some way or the other. Be it Nature or Politics or our own health as a matter of fact. And we try to find more and more solutions and if any problems arise, we try to conquer them.

Remember Even in You, ‘Y’ comes first. So when its anything to do with you, you first need to know ‘why’.

Simon Sinek, a marketing consultant and the author of ‘Start with Why’ clearly emphasizes on the use of Why.

So, before you set out for your goals and destinations, and make plans for the future, make sure you start with Why!

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Social Recruiting- adding a new dimension to the Hiring process

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You must have come across the word- Social Recruiting in recent times. How many times have you googled it? Did you get the right answer? Here, we’ll deconstruct this process for better understanding and gradual implementation. 
To start off with, what does it really mean, well Social Recruiting is nothing but the new-age process adopted by companies and recruiters to source and recruit candidates for employment, using social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. 
As per a survey carried out by a leading firm in the year 2009, more than 70% of the hires were made through Internet. Print has lost its relevancy and currently accounts for only 15% of all hires, followed by Employment agencies and others. With more than 2/3rd of the world’s internet population visiting social networking sites every day, it makes it one of the most popular online activities (even ahead of Email!). And with the exponential growth of ‘social networkers’ on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, et cetera, recruiting via social media is a great option.
Accenture was in the news recently, it has plans to recruit 50,000 people this year, with 40% sourced through social media and websites such as Twitter and LinkedIn. Another big player- Deloitte(in the Netherlands) is using social media to improve its recruitment process and websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, all have parts to play.
Lets talk about Recruiters or Headhunters first. Their prime task is to ‘attract’ the candidates with the help of these social platforms. Gone are the days when a company solely depended on their website and other job boards. Biggies like Google, Microsoft may be a little relaxed when it comes to social recruiting but for SMEs and the Not-so-Biggies, Social media is the perfect channel for hiring. Recruiters need to have a complete social footprint to ensure job seekers find them. They should also integrate social media into their websites and use these social networks as traffic drivers to them.
The next step involves the screening of the candidates and a background check. Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter can be used extensively to attract the best of talent and screen them. On Facebook, the employers can extend their recruitment brand as well as have two-way conversations. Coming to LinkedIn, the companies can set up a corporate profile page and use an RSS feed to list the vacancies. Vacancies can also be posted in User groups. The use of Hash tags and lists in Twitter make it another possible option for Employers. YouTube is a difficult option but if done right, the employers can get masses to their doorstep. It can help immensely towards Brand building and job offering.
We recommend the following tools to Recruiters- LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Jobvite, Jobmagic, HirePlug, Work for Us, Zubed Jobs and a few more that can help recruiters track down the best of talent.
The recruiters need to remember that social media will eventually become intrinsically linked to their hiring strategy as well as their brand.
Now, coming to Jobseekers; Companies are increasingly using Social Recruiting in their hiring process and it pays well to get a good understanding of that process which can be used to the advantage of the Job seekers. The job seekers can position themselves better to be discovered by companies this way. They need to make sure they don’t post any inappropriate content on social networking portals. Bitching about your peers, Boss, co-workers, your organization can have a perilous impact on your social as well as professional life. In recent times, cricketers Kevin Pietersen, Dmitri Mascarenhas, Phil Hughes were severely reprimanded for their untimely outbursts on Twitter.
Bickering on social networks can even lead to loss of jobs as in some cases. At the same time, it may also affect your future prospects. So, one needs to be extra careful with what he posts on these sites.
To increase your chance of ‘being seen’ on social networks, you need to Position yourself well by posting relevant, informative content through blogs, content sharing and discussions. Always look to make new and useful contacts who’ll be helpful in your future undertakings. Initiate and participate in conversations to enhance your knowledge and establish a healthy relationship with your co-networkers.
We recommend the following social platforms that can help job seekers in their quest-  LinkedIn, Xing, Facebook, Viadeo, Twitter, Ning and Koda
And now to close it off, I’d like to say that Social media is just a new means for recruiters, but the fundamental process of effective communication and building relationships with the candidates remains the same.