Terms of Endearment

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.” – Winnie the Pooh

Every time I read this quote, I think of a special relationship that I have – where we dream together. This relationship can keep me awake or it can put me to sleep. It is the one with my partners in crime –

  • The consultant
  • The consultancy
  • The creative agency

Today’s column is all about them.

One night stand

“If there comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart. I’ll stay there forever”.  Winnie the Pooh

I met Tanya* way back in Calcutta in the third year of my career in PR. Tanya was a successful, dynamic, intense graphic designer who demanded and got what she wanted. We worked together on a brand identity and she truly brought the brief alive. The designs dazzled and added the right highlights to the concept. During this 8-month long project, she astounded me with her zeal for the best. And the outcome was wonderful.

But I never chose to work with her again.

She was a powerhouse. And I learned that it takes a special set of skills to manage one. Her deadening inflexibility, her slavish demands for deadlines, her overpowering persona – drained me. The engagement took way more out of me than that I had budgeted for. But I remember her with fondness and wish her well.

One night stands that work, are these amazing enmeshed experiences that delivered better than the set goals. But it takes a lot out of you in the end and it is better to keep it a lovely memory.

Soul mates

“‘We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet. ‘Even longer,’ Pooh answered.”

I have chosen to work with Shekhar* and Vijaya* repeatedly in my career. They understand me. They read me. I trust them. Our collaboration is this amazing dance where one picks up from where the other left and moves effortlessly to the beat.

It was 2002; I was trying to settle into Mumbai – there were many demands – of motherhood, of exhausting Mumbai travel, of working with a new team to set up a new outlet for the company.

It was a Friday and we were looking at a working weekend, preparing for an event the next day. At about 2 pm I get a call from Boss. In addition to ensuring media presence, I had to get people to attend the event as RSVP numbers were not looking good. Tired and tearful, I called Shekhar. I think he could hear the helplessness in my voice. His response was “leave it with me”. Next day there appeared 800 little kids in the store who had a blast engaging with the young authors. Parents and teachers were delighted. The cash register kept ringing. Media were enthused to cover the event. We all won. HT to Shekhar – he pulled the rabbit out of the hat.

That day, Shekhar and Vijaya understood the plight of an exhausted mother, trying to juggle work and home in the maximum city. And her need to win. They just stepped up and did their magic.

Soul mate relationships are rare. There is a mutual trust that pulls through everything and keeps one seamlessly invested in each other’s success.

The one that got away

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” — Winnie-the-Pooh

Swati* worked with a top-notch creative agency. Her work won awards, her work made us visible, her work was cutting edge and that edged out the competition. I was, and continue to be, in love with her wordsmithing. Her commitment to the brand was unquestioned, albeit a bit brash at times, especially when she released an ad without client’s permission because she was convinced that it had to be done! We agreed – in retrospect. She was simply superb.

It was all that and more. Till it was not. She decided to start her own agency and move out. While we worked with each other again, somehow it was never the same. The magical team had broken up.

Partners change for many reasons – global alignment brings in mandated change, people leave for new jobs, teams break up. And it is not the same. At least for a while.

The true love story evolves

“As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was going to happen.” – Winnie the Pooh

Every relationship is an adventure that teaches you something and brings something to the table. No two are the same. In fact, in today’s world of swipe right swipe left, there are more new ones evolving. Dynamic teams are coming together for a shared purpose and are then dismantled at the end of a project. You just need to focus on what you bring to the table for the win.

My terms of engagement with my partners have remained the same simple ones 

  1. My partner IS my team. They are not THEM
  2. I invest in my team and work with my team for a collective win.
  3. I fight with my team. But fight for my team too.

These rules really don’t change from a partner perspective either –

  1. Your client is your team.
  2. Invest in your team – teach them to understand you better
  3. Fight with your team. Fight for your team

I must end with a plug – for the ‘team’. Recently, I was delighted to learn that our campaign for Horlicks “Emotional Nutrition” won the category Gold at the PR Week Asia 2019. It was an example of seamless team work – GSK, GBCW, FCB and some more. This was the 10th award for the campaign and the first one for Comms. We won as a team. My team won.

You can see the campaign here.

Keep winning!

Tweet to me @ddey67 and tell me your stories of endearment.

*Names changed 

The views expressed here are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Reputation Today.

Deepa Dey
Head - Communication & CSR India Sub Continent at GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare
Deepa started her career as a journalist for a reputed Business Paper in India and then moved to communications 25 years ago. During her career she has worked in leadership positions, both in-house and with a consultancy, supporting communication outreach for a range of industries including Hospitality, Infrastructure, Media, Consumer Electronics, Aviation, Telecom and Healthcare. She has worked to support Philips India Limited, launch of CNBC in India and has been in Indian Telecom space leading the Communication function at Airtel.

Currently she is the Head of Communication and CSR for GSK Consumer Healthcare, India Sub Continent. Her areas of expertise include Consumer Communications, Industry Orchestration, Corporate Reputation & Employer branding, Change Management, Online Reputation Management, Crisis/Issue Management and Executive branding. Deepa joined GSK Consumer Healthcare in 2013 and is a part of the India Management team, and APAC Communication Leadership Team.

She loves to travel, read and eat. Her current passion is “shinrin – yoku” and going for long walks with her family.

1 Comment on "Terms of Endearment"

  1. Awesome read
    Some thoughts to reflect on

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