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Mind set on success

Santha John is one of the few women who have made a mark in the field of advertising. With accounts across countries, Santha's name spells success and she attributes it to hard work combined with integrity.


HOW TO GET AHEAD: Santha John

TO WORK or not to work seems to evolve from one's background, family and peers. My father's eldest sister actually sailed to England in the 1930s to study further and I am told her shipmates were some people from Hyderabad! Usually in Syrian Christian families the women are encouraged to study and work.

Having got married at the age of 19, I grew up after marriage. We were living in Delhi when I realised that all my friends and classmates from Nainital, Delhi and Madras were "doing" something and that one could not simply be doing nothing - neither looking after a baby nor working.Unless one has an understanding husband who realises your need to work, to achieve something in life, it is not easy to have a harmonious life. My husband and my son are my greatest strengths and supporters and even my 82-year-old mother-in- law is quite proud of me!

Some people are never just employees and some employers never shed the mantle of employer! I think I am in the middle of this circle. All the years when I was an employee of a national agency and later an international agency, it was still my own baby with all the heartaches and headaches of running a business.

Four years ago, opportunity knocked when I was invited to start an agency by Saatchi & Saatchi as they wanted to pull out of the Hyderabad market. The smartest move I made was to invite two others who were all working at Saatchi with me to start the Agency together. I think this showed my greatest strength - that of a lack of ego which comes in between so many achievements in life.

I have often wondered at the word "grit". Is it god-given or is it inculcated by parents/school or life itself? I explain grit as taking hold of oneself and to quote my good friend Venkat of Eenadu- "Bash on regardless"! Corny as it sounds there is another saying ``everything that happens, happens for the best'' and this has been an underlying principle in my life.

When you come to think about it what can one do about something that has already happened? The worst that can happen in our field is to lose a client. If it happens then one just needs to pick oneself up and look for fresh opportunities.

What is critical now is man management and to motivate people to work and stay with you because they are happy to stay and not just for the pay packet. After all isn't there always someone to pay a higher salary? While working in advertising one becomes as good or as weak as one's peers.

Today we have evolved a lot, and Ram, Anvar Alikhan and myself are the stakeholders in Mindset EYW Advertising Private Limited. The single most valuable contribution we have made to the industry is getting talent from outside to come, see and get conquered. We have people who have come from Singapore, Mumbai, Baroda, Chennai and they are all under the Mindset roof!

I have also realised that barring unrequited love, if you don't like someone, then chances are that person does not like you! In the final analysis we are all in the peoples business - we need to deal with other human beings, we need to convince them of our ideas and basically make people want to deal with us. To quote my favourite book- Markings by Dag Hammerschold (which has twice been taken by friends never to be returned!) It is easy enough to be nice to people - out of lack of character.' I try to be nice but never at the cost of integrity to oneself. If there is one mantra that I have is, do, what you have to do as fast as possible and not procrastinate or never do it. This involves hard work and a lot of self-discipline. One finds that one can exert this discipline as and when one needs to do so. For instance, I wish I had this single-minded drive towards exercising! But I do have it towards work!

(The writer is the Managing Director, Mindset EYW Advertising Private Limited.)

SANTHA JOHN

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