Once upon a time…. That’s how my Mom use to start narrating all my favourite stories when I was a kid. Stories have always fascinated me. They transport me to a world of dreams, knowledge, adventure and fun; a world that is mine to own!
Last week, when speaking to a dear friend, I asked him to share his narrative on the ingredients required to be among the top communications professional. And just like a twist that makes a story even more interesting, he shot the ball back in my court by asking me to pen an article on “10 things a Chief Communications Officer should do to become best in class”.
How I wish I knew the secret! I felt like the Kung Fu Panda trying to decipher the secret of the scroll that will reveal the 10 ingredients necessary to be the best Chief Communications Officer.
Just like Po, it dawned on me that, “There is no secret ingredient. It’s just You!” Post my early morning run, I sat down and started running my fingers on my computer keyboard typing in a recipe, which I’ve been following. Giving me company on this writing journey, were popcorns, strong filter coffee and some crispy toasts.
Why 10 things? Why not 3, 4 or 8? This was the first question that popped in my mind as I sipped coffee from my favourite mug. And thus, I reached out to Google Baba for some enlightenment.
Number 10 symbolises the completion of a cycle. It is the holiest of all numbers. The first letter in Greek word ‘deca’ (ten) is formed like a triangle. Angel number 10 is a reminder that your true nature is both physical and spiritual being. In Chinese culture, number 10 is considered a ‘full’ number and rarely used as meaning too much can be just as bad as not enough. However, in Tarot, 10 is the card of Wheel of Fortune. And my favourite trivia on 10 being, 10 is the highest score possible in Olympic competition.
And thus I began writing the 10 chapters of my journey as a Communications Professional.
- #Curiosity: Ask questions, search answers, there is so much to learn. Do not take things on face value. I have asked questions and have been ridiculed at times. Idiot is not the person who opens the mouth to learn what he does not know but a person who thinks he knows it all.
“What we need is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out” said William Wordsworth.
- #Character: It is often said that culture eats strategy for breakfast. To be successful in life, I believe a strong character is important. I have benefited by following a disciplined life. Values such as integrity, honesty, loyalty, courage build up a good character and these traits benefit a person in his personal as well as professional growth. I have worked with two competitive consultancies. It was because of my character that I enjoyed a great working equation at both these places. Even today, as an ex-employee, I am as much a part of the two families as I was earlier.
- #Content: I remember content was the first topic when I was teaching young public relations professionals. Content is the bedrock for communicating. We should master the art of storytelling to engage our stakeholders and deliver the key messages that are necessary. Today, with social platforms and bombardment of messages one has to develop a thumb-stopping creative content to grab attention of the target audience. A clear message through print, TV, digital or through a direct connect goes miles in creating the campaign outcome.
- #Commitment: It is part of one’s character and values. I am what am I is because of my commitment. As Salman Khan says in one of his blockbuster movies that once he gives a commitment he does not even listen to himself. In my last 28 years I have realised commitment is a trust, which builds relationships and achieves desired outcomes. When you are committed, you accept no excuses; only results.
- #Collaboration: As the famous proverb goes, “Rome was not built in day.” But people tend to forget that creating something requires collaboration as a TEAM. Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM) is the secret mantra for success. I realised the essence of team work early in my school days when playing the game of Tug-Of-War. Although I was the strongest with the rope tied to me I could not pull the opposite team without my fellow team players working in rhythm. With every step we took, it made us come closer to our win. Today’s CCOs are working more closely than ever with CIOs on cybersecurity and digital engagement platforms; with CHROs on talent and employee branding with investor relations on shareholders, analysts engagements and with legal function on crisis and regulatory issues. In today’s VUCA world, collaboration is the key to achieve desired results.
- #Cyclical: The weather changes are unpredictable but the seasons can always be counted on to move in cyclical patterns. Same is with life. In my journey I have realised no two days will have similar ups and downs. One needs to be aware and act to have more ups than downs. The illiterate of 21 century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. To have more ups and less downs one needs to constantly keep upgrading their skills. In our profession, we are as successful as our last big hit. We must constantly keep learning to be with / ahead of the times to maintain the winning streak.
- #Change: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world” said Mahatma Gandhi. As professionals our duties and responsibilities are hygiene to our organisations. But can we, with our skills, create a change we wish to see? Can we lead a purposeful campaign to bring a change in society? I have given my professional knowledge and skills to be part of some of the great change movements and as a volunteer I have received more than I have given. We all need to be part of some pro-bono activities, which act as a catalysts of change for us as well as for the society. Hats off to PRomise Foundation to elevate the communications space.
- #CommTech: A seamless integration of communications with technology is the future, which is already in our present. Today’s world is the era of #CommTech; a marriage of old with new. Analysis, smart tools have made life simple as well as complicated. Data is the new oil. Anticipating and seeing ahead to future possibilities and translating them into breakthrough strategies is one of the most important characteristics of a CCO.
- #Co-worker: As a leader one has to not only achieve the desired outcomes for the business but also be a partner and lead the progress of co-workers who are part of his/her team. Investment in workmates’ knowledge, skills, emotions and above all growth is of vital importance to be a true leader. Today I’m happy when I see my co-workers excel and do well personally and professionally.
“There is nothing noble in being superior to others, true nobility lies in being superior to your former self.”
- #Consistency: Be consistent in whatever you do. If you want to grow, change is the only constant that’s fuelled by trust. Trust is developed with consistent behaviour and practise. My stakeholders have a trust in me for my consistency.
These 10 points are no commandments but what I practise.
Be passionate and love work. Rest all will fall in place. This is just the beginning…happy communicating!
The views expressed here are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Reputation Today.