Reinventing Marketing Strategy ft. Rishad Tobaccowala

Rishad Tobaccowala, based in the Greater Chicago Area, is a visionary thinker and leader. His articles offer insights into thriving in the modern workspace and rethinking presentations. As an Advisor to Glasswing Ventures, he continues to shape the tech landscape. Rishad’s Culture & Code podcast and thought-provoking posts make him a respected voice in the industry. In

Reinventing Marketing Strategy ft. Rishad Tobaccowala

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    The future of marketing is explored in a podcast episode featuring Rishad Tobaccowala. He discusses the evolving landscape of marketing and the importance of adapting to new technologies and consumer behaviors. Tobaccowala emphasizes the need for marketers to focus on building trust and creating meaningful connections with their audience. He also highlights the role of data and analytics in driving marketing strategies and personalization. As the industry continues to evolve, Tobaccowala encourages marketers to embrace change and stay ahead of the curve. The podcast provides valuable insights and perspectives on the future of marketing, offering guidance for professionals looking to navigate the ever-changing digital landscape.

    Key Take Aways

    8 Key Takeaways for Digital Marketers from “The Future of Marketing” by Rishad Tobaccowala:

    1. Embrace the power of data: Utilize data-driven insights to understand customer behavior and preferences, enabling personalized and targeted marketing strategies.
    2. Prioritize customer experience: Focus on creating seamless and engaging experiences across all touchpoints to build strong customer relationships and loyalty.
    3. Adapt to changing consumer behavior: Stay updated with evolving consumer trends and preferences to tailor marketing efforts accordingly.
    4. Leverage technology: Embrace emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, and automation to enhance marketing effectiveness and efficiency.
    5. Emphasize storytelling: Craft compelling narratives that resonate with consumers, evoking emotions and building brand affinity.
    6. Collaborate with influencers: Partner with influencers and thought leaders to amplify brand messaging and reach a wider audience.
    7. Invest in content marketing: Create valuable and relevant content that educates, entertains, and engages consumers, establishing brand authority and trust.
    8. Stay agile and adaptable: Continuously monitor and adapt marketing strategies to keep up with the ever-changing digital landscape and consumer expectations.

    Read Transcript

    Rishad Tobaccowala:- A brand, brands are still very important but the way they’re built today is different. It’s no longer just through communication and marketing, it’s through things like experiences and word of mouth. Marketing, and what I basically called it, is the future of marketing is people, and so what happens is we should not think about marketing to people, we should think about marketing through people. So what we are thinking about the future of marketing is how it has shifted audience, brand, content, data, enterprise, the other one is it’s all about people, two people and about you the marketer as a person. And so what are the four shifts? The four shifts are technology shifts, power shifts, boundary shifts and mind shifts.

    Shelly Singh:- Hello and welcome to The Growth Genius Series brought to you by DMAasia and Infidigit. My name is Shelly and I’m the host of this series. Today we have a very special guest Rishad Tobaccowala, Rishad is a senior advisor to the Publicis Groupe where he has spent his entire 37 years of career, most recently serving as the chief growth officer and chief strategist of the group. Tobaccowala was named by Business Week as one of the top Business Leaders for his pioneering innovation and Time magazine dubbed him one of five marketing innovators. He’s in the Adage Interactive Hall of Fame and has received a lifetime achievement silver medal award from the Chicago Ad Federation. Rishad is on the board of several firms and is a renowned speaker. He’s the author of “Restoring the Soul of Business – Staying Human in the Age of Data ”, which helps people think, feel and see differently about how to grow their companies, their teams and themselves to remain relevant in transformational times. He’s working on his second book,  “Rethinking Work”, to be published by McGraw-Hill in 2024. Rishad is the chairman of the Tobaccowala Foundation which helps 10,000 people in India gain better health care and education. A very warm welcome, Rishad.

    Rishad:- Thank you very much for having me and for that very bombastic introduction. I guess your guests will figure out that I’m not half as good as that introduction.

    Shelly:- No, that’s not true. So even though our audience, many of them would know about you, please tell us little about you and your professional journey so far.

    Rishad:- Sure. So I grew up in India in the city of Bombay which is now called Mumbai, but that’s where I grew up. I went to both high school and college in India, I got a degree in mathematics from the University of Bombay and then I came to the United States in 1980 for a MBA at the University of Chicago. And after I graduated in 1982, I got a single job offer at a, it’s very hard to get jobs because I did not have green card status, so like it is today, and I got a job at a advertising agency called Leo Bennett in Chicago and I thought I’d spend three, four, five years there, learn a little bit about marketing, get a green card and then maybe figure out what else happen. So it’s now 40 years since then and I still have a key card that works in the Leo Bennett building and I spent my entire 37 year full-time working career there, but because I remain an advisor my email and my key card works. Looks like I haven’t got anywhere in 40 years. However, the last time my business card said Leo Burnett, though I joined the Leo Burnett company and I had an office in the Leo Burnett building in Chicago, the last time my business card said Leo Burnett was 1994, right. So for the last 30 years or almost 30 years, I worked in the same company but my cards kept changing for a variety of reasons and those included building one of the first digital agencies with some colleagues and that was called Giant Step. Then helping another group of colleagues spin out our media companies from the overnight media into Starcom, merging into another company called Mediavest, we then got purchased by Publicis Groupe, a French company in 2002. and then I worked with their management to buy companies like Digitas, and Razorfish, who also created a big company called Publicis Media. I ended up running innovation for Publicis Media, I ended up becoming the chairman of Digitas and Razorfish and then for the last five six years of my career I worked at the group level on the, what they call a Directora Plus which is sort of a Board of director kind of executive management team as both the chief strategist and the chief growth officer. And that went on until 2019 when as part of a plan with my CEO moving up to becoming executive chairman and me wanting to do something different when I turned 60, I created a new career as a writer, speaker and advisor and I’m fortunate that I keep advising my old company, no longer have anyone reporting to me, I don’t have bosses, I don’t have clients, I don’t have P&L, I have that and I advise other companies, private equity firms as you noted I’m a writer, I write a weekly sub stack that’s read by about 30 000 people. I’ve written one book, I’m working on another book and I speak all around the world and all around the United States, different companies and events, so that’s me.

    Shelly:- Great, thank you so much for sharing. So let’s come back to the marketing now, so we all know that so much has changed in the last few years, the pandemic has changed consumer behaviour plus the advancement in Montech, so you have written very insightful articles on this subject. Can you please give us your views on how the marketing and advertising landscape has changed?

    Rishad:- Sure. So there are two ways I will speak to you about, one is how marketing is being reinvented and there is a piece which may be in the show notes, you can, you know, provide a link to in my – I have a page with all my writing but on my sub stack which is simply called “The Dawn of a New Era – Reinvented Marketing”, so I’ll speak about that right now.

    So in the three four decades that I’ve been in the marketing business, we’ve always focused on five different things. I always believe that people make marketing very complicated but it’s about five different elements. I’m going to call it a, b, c, d, e, right, so A is for audience, B is for brand, C is for content, D is for data, E is for enterprise. So audience is who are you marketing to, b is how you’re building your brand, c is how you’re developing content that helps you build your brand how are you telling your story, d is data how do you use it for all kinds of things from insights to targeting and measurement and then e is enterprise, how do you partner with different companies, how do you change your own company, how do you hire people for the future. That’s basically all a, b, c, d, e, okay, and if you care a lot about money you can add f, finance, okay, but it’s a, b, c, d, e. And as soon as I say that, people say okay, that’s interesting, so I said yeah, now let’s think about how those have changed and why, as those have changed marketers sometimes both have new opportunities but new challenges. 

    So A – audience is no longer the right word for anything because you and I just don’t sit and watch things, we sometimes create things, we interact with things, we share things, right, so we’re no longer an audience. A brand – brands are still very important but the way they’re built today is different, it’s no longer just through communication and marketing, it’s through things like experiences and word of mouth. C is content, you know, when we thought about content we used to think about big companies, television networks, magazines, all that continues to be true, but more people interact with the D’Amelio sisters of Tiktok and the Kardashian sisters of Instagram in a day than all the people who will watch the Super Bowl this Sunday, okay. So what is a content company? I write this weekly sub stack that I believe is read by most CEOs and CMOs that read Adage and ADweek and I sit at home and I do it by myself. So what’s a content company? What is content? D obviously data is extremely important and data is like electricity, it’s not itself, you know, without data you can’t succeed but companies don’t differentiate themselves on the fact that they have electricity, it’s how they use electricity which, you know, to a great extent is how do you actually get insights from data. And these enterprises, how do you organize in a world where the journey of the customer or consumer is no longer the way it used to be, you know, we used to say awareness and then interest and then purchase, you know, all of that, sometimes you could purchase something and then be aware of it afterwards. There’s no offline and online, there’s not above the line below the line, you see something on Tiktok and buy a product and pick it up from a store, what is that? Is that video? Is that social? Is that offline / online, above the line, below the line, so all of those are what marketers are struggling with. And by putting it into that pattern and showing in each of those things the three big shifts, it allows people to think about it. So it’s called the Dawn Of A New Era, so that’s one but at the very same stage this past Sunday I wrote one of my more popular pieces, it’s already been read like almost a hundred thousand times, okay, and it’s simply called the future of marketing is people because what happens is sometimes marketers start to believe because what I’ve just said a, b, c, d, e, they start believing the future of marketing is some weird combination of data and technology, okay. And yes data and technology are important and I started some of our first digital agencies, I have a degree in advanced mathematics, so I’m all for data, I’m all for technology, however that’s not really what marketing is. Marketing and what I basically called it is the future of marketing is people, okay, and why did I say people? I said one is we think about consumers, we shouldn’t think about consumers and users as members and members. We should think about people because if you understand me as a person you’re more likely to understand how to market to me, but if you understand me as a consumer you’re looking at me from the lens of your brand. You’re only understanding how I’m using your brand. I don’t define myself with your brand, right, only brand managers want to have relationships with their brands, nobody in their right mind wants to have a relationship. I just want my headache to go away with Tylenol, I don’t have a relationship with Tylenol, right, so I think people versus consumers and customers, that’s number one.

    Number two, today one of the ways you build your brand is through what people say about you and if they basically have great experiences or they like you and they talk about you, my entire speaking career is built on word of mouth. I don’t have an agent, I don’t have any advertising, right? I go to one place, people say, “Oh this is really good,” and they tell other people, right. And so what happens is we should not think about marketing to people, we should think about marketing through people, okay. So that’s the second part, so don’t think about consumers, think about people, don’t think about marketing to people but through people. And then the third is marketers themselves, marketing has grown more important because it’s become a part of experience and transformation and growth because customers and consumers and people have become more powerful, but marketers themselves are less important in most companies than they were 10,15 years ago. So I believe that marketing people need to upgrade both their skill sets and upgrade where they sit in the company because I believe the future of most companies is going to be highly driven by marketing, primarily because marketing is about understanding people and people have become more powerful, right? So one way of thinking about the future of marketing is how it shifts the audience, brand, content, data, enterprise, the other one is, you see, it’s all about people, two people and about you the marketer as a person.

    Shelly:- Yeah, it’s very interesting that the future of marketing is people. Thank you so much for telling us this. And another thought leadership series which I found very fascinating and I want to talk about that as well is the future does not fit in the containers of the past. So to give our viewers a peek into this series, I want to ask you a few questions. Can you give us an overview that what inspired you to write on this topic?

    Rishad:- Sure. So what inspired me was many years ago. What I realized was people were asking me why I was creating a new company to do interactive marketing and not doing it inside Leo Burnett, the advertising agency. It was going to be owned by Leo Burnett, I would remain a Leo Burnett employee but I was going to create a completely new company. Why did I want to create a new company, why couldn’t I do it inside the current company. And that’s when I came up with the “Future Does Not Fit in the Containers of the Past”, okay. I’m not calling Leo Burnett the past, I mean from then it’s still around, but basically there were three big challenges that I began to understand. I tried to first do it inside, right, but then I realized I couldn’t do it inside and that’s why I said I had to do it outside. And what were the reasons? The first reason is usually when something new happens, it has a form of technology or change that threatens the old business, okay. So think about the fact that when streaming happened, it threatened Blockbuster stores and for a long time Blockbuster, eventually they got into the streaming business, they almost went and bought Netflix, right, but to a great extent Blockbuster was threatened first by CDs through mail, but the entire way you made money was this way and this would change it. Think about Gillette, Gillette charged a lot for their blades and had television networks and selling through Walmart and Dollar Shave Club said I’m going to go direct, not sell through Walmart, use YouTube and sell blades to subscriptions that are cheaper. Why wouldn’t Gillette do that? Because it would hurt Gillette’s margins, it would hurt their relationship with Walmart. He didn’t know how to do the subscription business, they didn’t have the same efficiencies with sampling as they did with television networks. So every time a new idea comes, if the idea is really new it actually threatens the old company, right, it threatens the old way of working, it threatens the old talent.

    I was in a company where all the creative talent made film and went to LA to shoot film. But digital, I needed people who wrote code and sat on their computers and created work and didn’t go to LA and didn’t do a film. The person who was doing the film, brilliant as they were, didn’t know how to write code, right. How would I attract people who wrote code? I couldn’t say by the way you report to people who make films, they say why would I do that. And then the way you charge for digital was very different from how you charge for television. So I had to have a different business model, an economic model in a different company. Otherwise my client would basically say it’s part of Leo Burnett, it’s part of the services, you should offer it for the same cost. So for those reasons I began to realize that the future does not fit in the containers of the past or the mindsets of the past and what we often do is we try to put the future into the way we’ve designed for today. And every company is designed to succeed for today, they aren’t designed to succeed for tomorrow, right. Then they create models so that they can also remain relevant tomorrow. But one of the reasons so many individuals and companies fail when there are transitions is because they are not ready for the transition and when you are ready for the transition it means you have to sometimes destroy what got you to the party.

    See what most people don’t realize the product that saved Apple, right, was not the iPhone.  The product that saved Apple and made them very profitable initially was the iPod, okay, and the fact that they had the Apple Store, the iTunes Store and the iPod. When the Apple phone came out, it had an iPod inside it, you didn’t need to buy an iPod, go and try to buy an iPod today at the Apple Store, okay. So they destroyed the business that they had built that had saved them and created this new business, right, that was interesting. Similarly Netflix destroyed the business that they had which was CD through mail to build a streaming business. Some companies make their transition, but if you notice it’s completely different businesses and that is why – and then the  “Future Does Not Fit in the Containers of the Past”, then is the sub stack which I write and then I have this page where which you’ve seen which I’ve organized all the best articles, speaks to all the challenges that people have, how do they think about the future, how do they manage change, how do they themselves grow as skills and leaders, what’s the future of marketing, right, those are the things that eventually you need in order to succeed in the future.

    Shelly:- So that’s what I was coming to next. you have written about four shifts, so tell us a little brief about these four shifts.

    Rishad:- Sure. So actually the four shifts interestingly since you have a global and other audience, happened during December and early January, so December of 2022 and early January which is the first time I returned to Asia and a little bit of Europe, Europe and Asia after three years, right.  So, because of COVID I had not travelled and the only two International trips I took prior to that was I went to Australia and I went to Iceland, so two big Islands, okay. I then went to Italy and India and the Middle East for like a 10-12 day period and that’s when I wrote the four shifts because in the back of my mind I realized that something big was happening. 

    And so, what are the four shifts? The four shifts are technology shifts, power shifts, boundary shifts, and mind shifts and I’ll explain to you what those are and they have shifted so much that I spend a lot of time with very senior people and best senior people in companies saying do you know this is happening and if this is happening don’t you think you should shift the way you think about how you do things because there are these shifts going around you, right. So what are they? So let me start with something which is very simply a power shift. So power is moving in two ways, it’s moving from the Western World to the Southern and Eastern world. Primarily it is moving in big ways right now to Asia. So when I was in India which is already become the world’s fourth largest economy in the world and it’s going to become the world’s largest population this year and likely the third largest economy soon, after China and the United States, most people there want to be 30 years old because they think the future is ahead of them. In Europe and the United States most people don’t want to be young because they think the best days are behind them, okay. Most people in Asia believe that their system will get them to the future. Most people who are millennials and gen Z in the United States believe the system is stacked against them, right. So one is there’s this power shift going from the West to the East, the other power shift is from the company to the individual. Because of technology, because of marketplaces like Shopify, because of technology like say Substack, right, each of us now have world-class technology available to us for free, soon we will have the best of ChatGPT and AI for $20 a month if we want or even free on Bing. That basically gives me all the stuff that big companies now have. I have marketplaces, I have technology, I have, you know, ability to reach people, right. As I tell you I sit at home and I reach people with Substack and my podcast by myself. I couldn’t do that 10 – 15 years ago, right. So when some big person says, “I control access to my client,” I say “I’m already talking to your client, what are you talking about?” Okay, so that’s a power shift, right, to the East and to the individual and to the smaller, not the smaller. So for instance all the net new jobs in America in the last four years have been created in companies less than 250 people, all the net new jobs, that doesn’t mean big companies haven’t created new jobs but they’ve also lost new jobs but they’re net newer among the small companies, so that’s one. Second is their technology shifts. We had the first connected age when the internet came around and we connected to share and transact, we call that e-commerce and search. Then we have the second connected age which built on the first where we were connected to -everybody connected all the time and connected to distraction, we call that mobile and streaming and social. And now we’ve entered the third connected age which builds on those of which one is data connecting to data or machine learning or AI which is what we’re hearing about like ChatGPT, 5G is going to change things, blockchain is going to change things and then AR VR and voice is going to change things, right. So that’s the second shift is technology shifting which you’re already seeing in the Microsoft – Google wars, you know, Apple doing things that hurt Facebook all of that’s shifting.

    The third is what I, you know, basically do believe is another, so the major shift is the boundary shift which is the boundaries between offline media and online media, the boundaries between countries, right, they’re all dissolving. So a lot of people say, you know, there’s a firewall in China. There is a firewall in China, but how about if I tell you this, that 40% of all the merchants who sell on Amazon in the United States are based in China, okay, the number one, people who are on LinkedIn are in Asia, entire North America, right. So this whole idea of like boundaries, whether it’s the journey, the countries, it’s all changing. And then the last one is the mind shift and the mind shift is the one that many senior people are having the biggest problem with which is the generations are very different and for the first time we have four generations at work and the young generations don’t believe in the same thing as the older generations and it’s very dramatic, right. And it’s not like they’re going to grow up, they’ve just grown up completely differently, young people have college debt, the old people didn’t have college debt, right. Old people believed in capitalism 62% of the young people don’t believe in capitalism. The old people like to have one company, one job, the young people basically say I don’t want to be controlled by a company, I want to have side hustles and side gigs, okay. So that happens to be like one shift.

    The other shift is because of COVID all of us are like champagne corks, when you come out of the champagne bottle you can’t put it back the pork swells, our minds have swelled. We have understood about new possibilities and flexibility and new ways of doing things and you can’t take us back again, right. And so to a great extent I’m not saying that in-person interaction and events aren’t important, they are, but the office is going to be less and less important, right, and forcing people five days a week into the office is dooming companies, dooming companies, right, because they are going to be less flexible, less agile, less talented, right, you can do that without doing that. So you take the power shift, the boundary shift, the mind shift and the technology shift and then you come up and you say I’m going to market the same way, come on.

    Shelly:-  You can’t.

    Rishad:- Right, and so that’s the key and what I’ve done as you’d have probably have seen is I can take a lot of these complicated things and make it easy and make it urgent which then makes senior and middle market people, not just marketing, I work across all brands, say “Ph, we have to change,” and then I show them how to change because I just don’t like to say, “Okay you have to change.” What do you do? So I say, “Yes, how you can think about it.” I can’t say specifically what you do as a company because I don’t know the company but I basically set up frameworks on how to think about it, how to do any particular thing you want to do.

    Shelly:- Very interesting. So in the next article of this series you also speak about the six key skills that will be essential in the future. So what are these six Cs and why are they so important?

    Rishad:- So here is what they are. Just like I started by saying, you know, marketing is about people. I believe companies succeed because of the quality of the people, that many companies are very much like sports teams. If you have better players who had a great culture working together aligned against a goal, that team is likely to win. So you need two things, you need better players and you need a culture that allows them to work together against a goal. Sometimes you can have better players who hate each other and that team doesn’t work, okay, so you need those two things. So therefore I tell management of companies, it’s like sports teams and most management people watch sports news. So I said you need better players, a disproportionate share of talent and you need them to work together, so then they basically ask me how do you identify great talent or what are the skills that great talent needs to have. So that’s when I came up with the six Cs , okay, and this was in my career this is what I discovered, after 30 – 40 years I discovered this. 

    Three of the Cs have to do with a person and three of the C’s have to do with how a person works with other people. The three of them are innate to the person, so when you’re looking at the person you should look for these three which are cognition and creativity and curiosity, okay. So cognition is intelligence, okay, and if you have a job that requires a lot of intelligence and the person is not intelligent it’s not going to work, okay, it’s not gonna work and so you can check for intelligence through a conversation with people, right, so that’s one. The second one is curiosity, is the person curious, do they ask questions because if you aren’t curious you can’t separate yourself from a machine, you can’t solve problems. And third is creativity, can you connect dots in new ways which are not obvious, again machines create dots in obvious ways, but not in new ways. So you can go and put anything you want about the topics I write on into ChatGPT nothing will look like my stuff, but a lot of other people’s stuff will look like  ChatGPT , right, because they don’t connect dots in new ways, they don’t bring in human insights, they don’t interrogate and question, they just pop out what’s out there. A machine can buff out what’s out there, okay. So curiosity creativity and cognition are the first three C’s, but unless you are like me who in what part of my life is a writer so I could sit at home with curiosity creativity and cognition, but most people including myself when I worked in my career and when I do my other parts of my job which are my advisory business and my speaking business, requires you to work with other people. So in addition to having these skills you need to have these other three skills which are collaboration how do you work with other people, communication – can you actually write and speak, right, and then the third one is convincing which is eventually everybody is a salesperson, you have to sell your idea, you have to sell your point of view. So I look for those six, now it’s very rare that someone has A+ on all six, but what I look for is do they have at least A in one or two and do they not have a C or a D in the collaboration communication and convincing because if you are bad, really bad at collaborating communicating and convincing, doesn’t matter if you’ve got all As on curiosity, creativity and cognition, you will fail, okay, because people will not work with you, right, and you seen so many times amazingly brilliant people failing inside companies because the company doesn’t take. On the same end, if you get a person who’s very good at convincing and communicating and collaborating, which is fantastic if you’re a salesperson, the salesperson also requires one of the other C’s minimum, curiosity to ask what problem they’re solving, creativity to try to solve the client’s problems that they’re selling in a different way, right, and cognition just to understand what’s going on, but everybody requires some combination of these skills, these six Cs and so what I look for is, can I get many of them and can I make sure I don’t get somebody with a D or an F especially on the right hand side.

    Shelly:- So how can someone acquire these skills?

    Rishad:- So, almost all of them are acquirable, one of them you can shift a little bit, the others you can shift a lot, okay. The one that you can shift a little bit is cognition which is your intelligence and that is basically, you know, everybody has a, I think the average intelligence, you know, is it the 90 to 110 IQ range, okay, you can operate let’s say you’re at 90 to 110, with a little bit of help you can get 210 versus 90, okay. So you can get to the extreme of what you’re capable of and that is primarily through doing the other five things well. So if you do the other five C’s which are all teachable, this one also improves.

    In curiosity it’s basically asking people the following questions. So I always tell people you want to be curious and ask the following three questions, that are simple. Number one, what are the three people in your life that changed you, right, or what are the three events in life that changed you, what are the three decisions you made that changed you, right, and very quickly you’ll learn about the other person and you learn about a whole bunch of things and so that’s how you can build curiosity by just asking what if, right, what if this wasn’t the way, what if I could something – so that’s one. When it comes down to creativity, it is basically exposing yourself to culture and by culture I tell people, in my book I have a chapter called Inserting Poetry Into the PowerPoint, okay, and what I’ve learned about that is broadly culture means go to concerts, watch a lot of television, read, right, go to exhibitions and talk about it because what tends to basically happen is you see artists create by creating dots in new ways, right, and by exposing yourself to artists of every type, vocal artists, sculpture artists, film artists, you begin to grow, right. And then you always ask, when you see one of these things what are the three things in this particular thing that I liked a lot or disliked a lot and why, what were the three best scenes in the movie, what were the three best paragraphs or three best stories in this book you read, right, and why, and then you begin to see patterns,  that’s creativity. So creativity, curiosity is asking the questions and cognition. In collaboration and in communication there’s no way you can learn to communicate without practicing. So write and get people to constantly edit your writing, speak and get people to communicate and give you feedback when you’re speaking.

    When I was growing up, I was in my first evaluations considered growing up in my business career, my first two three years my weaknesses were my ability to write and my ability to present and I was given constant feedback and constant help on how to improve those, right. Today I’m an author and I’m a professional speaker but by the way when I started, they said you don’t know how to speak and you don’t know how to write. And the way through it was practicing how to speak and write with people constantly kicking me on how to make it better, right. So that’s how you do the convincing as well as the communication and the collaboration is basically recognizing that your success is through other people, you scale through other people, right, you don’t scale through yourself, if you’re by yourself you don’t scale, you scale through other people. And so what happens is, you know, when I was working even at Publicis the reason I was successful is not because of what I did but because of all the people around me who I helped and what they did, okay, and that made me great. So collaboration isn’t necessarily a not selfish thing, by helping other people you help yourself.

    Shelly:- Yeah. That’s great. So another question which I want to ask you is that we all know about Philip Kotler’s  four P’s, so what about your five P’s?

    Rishad:- Okay, so my was basically – it wasn’t specifically on that, but here’s what happens is today there are three things that I see this a lot, I saw this when I was working and I see this even more now and I’ve been – so someone will come, you know, all of you all will go to a boss’s office or you will go to a client and you will basically say here is my recommendation and client will ask or your boss will ask, why is that your recommendation and you’ll say I did this data thing and this is what the data says and I looked at this and this is what that said and so therefore this is what we need to do. So when anybody would come to me with that I would look at them and say, “Why do I need you?” so they say, “What do you mean?” I say, “All you’ve done is you’ve come and told me what the machine has given or what is available on the internet and you put those looks together.”, okay, increasingly modern technology will allow me to do that without you and this I did like 10 years ago before there was ChatGPT and things like that, okay. Can you tell me what your point of view is, so that’s one of my pieces, what do you think? I don’t care what this is, what do you think, right?  Second is, give me a perspective, frame this, explain to me how this works. As I told you, you saw a perspective, when I said there were three connected ages and here’s the last 30 years, right, that’s an interesting way of looking at it, that’s a perspective, right. I will give you a point of view. I think successful people have six Cs and here’s what the six Cs are, that’s the point of view. I will give you a provocation and the provocation was marketing future is about people it’s not about technology and data, right. So give me a perspective, give me a point of view, give me a provocation or give me a plan of action. What should I do, okay, think about how many times you go to a meeting without any one of those four Ps. I’m not saying you need all those four Ps, but going to a meeting without at least one of those four Ps why the hell are you in the meeting, right, and we don’t train for that, we train for -I compiled all this data and I put this all in a nice PowerPoint and I’m bringing it to you, why do I need you for that.

    Shelly:-  That’s so true. So before I wrap up the interview, I want to ask you what are your three to four recommendations to marketers about what they should do for the next horizon of three to five years? Where should they focus?

    Rishad:- So here’s what I would basically do. I would – obviously everybody has their own lifestyle, a lot of people can give me advice, I don’t know I’m giving them advice, but I’ll give them advice, okay. So a lot of people have asked me a very simple question and I’ll give you the answer to that, right, which is how have you managed to remain relevant and current 40 years after you started, right. For somebody who grew up when there were typewriters and when I was building the case that there’s going to be cable television and it wasn’t going to just be taped television and now I’m giving presentations on the future of the internet to boards, what happened like you’re supposed to become senior and old and aged and not interested, what did you do. So the thing I’m going to tell people or share with people is how do they make sure that they achieve their full potential and become as good as they can be and remain relevant in changing times and to that there are three things I would encourage. The first is that everybody , regardless of how senior you are, needs to spend one hour learning every day. The only reason I know my stuff is because I spend time learning about it and if I can learn about it, anybody can learn about it, but you need to spend time learning. So you set aside an hour and you decide to learn. What do you learn about? Whatever is interesting, you know, you hear about ChatGPT, go check that out, right. You heard about some crazy thing on Tiktok or you heard about Tik Tok, go figure that one out, okay. I’m not saying what to do, right, you heard there’s a great book of poetry, go read that, okay, but learn every day some way in one hour.

    Second is once in a while build a case in the exact opposite of what you think is true, so build a recommendation against your recommendation. So if you’re recommending something to a client build the exact opposite, if you believe something about your company build the exact opposite, okay, if you can’t build the exact opposite case how do you know what you believe is true, if you can’t build a counter case, right, and the reason that’s very important in today’s world of polarization, algorithmic feeds, we sometimes are surrounded by people and stuff that tells us that we are great, that, you know, our sort of flatulence smells like Chanel 5, it doesn’t. So this allows you to actually build an exact case.  And the third is regardless of how old you are and how difficult it might be, try every year to learn something not just new but to do something new. So learning is learning and building a case is building a case, so learning is about you building the opposite case is about what other people might think but then actually do stuff. So I learned how to write a book, right, I decided how to use Substack. Some time ago I decided I wanted to figure out how to work on the blockchain, okay, it could be anything but once in a while you actually do and if you do those three, big things happen. One is you get less scared about change because you are changing, right, you’re learning about it, you’re building the opposite case, you’re trying new things, you get less scared. But the second is by doing it people around you see that you’re doing it and they think you’re very cool, right, and over time when I got more senior I had people helping me. So I now have different people helping me even today like on things that are a bit more complicated like Web 3, I need people to help me, right, but the people who are helping me used to work for me 20 years ago or were 20 years my junior, now they’re senior, right, and I’m unemployed sitting outside and like teach me, but I ask people. But when I was inside the company I would ask young people what’s social media, what’s this thing about, so you should ask.

    Shelly:- Curiosity.

    Rishad:- And the people think you are really cool. They say, look, this senior person is asking me for my help and he’s trying to stay current or she’s trying to stay current, isn’t that great, so that’s what I do, those three things.

    Shelly:- Great, very, very interesting and this brings us to the last segment of the episode. Please tell us any one passion you follow and how it elevates your profession.

    Rishad:- So the passion that I particularly follow is I love watching films and increasingly I would say specific types of television series, okay. So I used to say only film but sometimes some of the best art now is in television and not just in film. And so I have written a piece on what I consider to be the best television show ever created, okay, and it’s available globally on Netflix. So if you have Netflix you can get it and it may be in other places and the show is called “Better Call Saul”

    Shelly:- Oh yeah.

    Rishad:-  Right, it’s the prequel to “Breaking Bad” and “Breaking Bad” along with “Sopranos” and “The Wire” are considered one of the three best shows ever. I’ve watched all those three and this one is better than all those three, okay, and the reason is because it’s the same people who created “Breaking Bad”, most of the same cast but with much more experience and with 10 years of advanced technology of telling stories. So what I would do is I would watch each one of these and then there was a podcast with the people who created the show saying how the show was created and unlike most podcasts which talk about, you know, what happened, they take only three scenes and it might be the music person saying how they ran music or the editor saying how they edited or the light person saying how they used light. And so, those two things helped me in two ways, that passion, it helped me in understanding when I see something to see things in different ways, right. When I hear something in different ways, it really makes me much more curious. It was like oh I didn’t realize that that’s how they do it but that’s how they do it. But as importantly they are master storytellers and a big part of their master storytelling is not what you say it’s how little you say and how you frame something. So what I learned is how to frame something. So if you notice I’ll frame things like a, b, c, d, e, six C’s, right. By framing people you actually give much more stuff to people then giving them a big thesis yeah and that I’ve learned from this “Better Call Saul” of watching it and listening to the podcast, all of which are, the podcast is free, it’s called the “Better Call Saul” podcast.

    Shelly:- Yeah, very, very interesting. So where can our viewers find you connected to and also please tell us how they can subscribe to your thought letter?

    Rishad:- Perfect. So very simply people can basically find me at [email protected], simple email address, on Twitter I’m @Rishad, on LinkedIn I’m Rishad Tobaccowala, the better places to interact and learn from me is to subscribe to my Substack, which is completely free, so it’s no cost to you and when you come to it, I’ll talk about pledging dollars, please pledge zero, that’s the Substack thing, there’s no cost at So my first name dot but then to see the best of everything well handled which is what you and a whole bunch of see, you go to my website which is simply, and when you’re up on that URL bar just add backslash 100, okay, it takes you to a page which has the best of my writing continuously updated in 12 categories.

    Shelly:- Okay.

    Rishad:-  Okay, so or and you’ll get everything. All of this stuff is free. If you have money you can go buy my book which is available on every platform, Close, Amazon, Kindle, Book Wise which is simply, you know, “Restoring the Soul of Business”, “Staying Human In The Age Of Data”.

    Shelly:- Yeah. Great, thank you so much, Rishad for the wonderful.

    Rishad:- Thank you

    Shelly:- Practical insights today. Your writings are a treasure and I highly recommend our viewers and listeners to subscribe to your thought letter. 

    To all our viewers, thank you for listening and please subscribe to this channel. If you enjoyed this episode and you’d like to help and support this podcast, please share it with your friends, post about it on social media, or leave a rating and review. I’ll see you next time in a new episode with a new speaker. Till then peace.

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    Reinventing Marketing Strategy ft. Rishad Tobaccowala

    Reinventing Marketing Strategy ft. Rishad Tobaccowala