Do You Have A Unique MAP For BRAND-i


Explorers don’t need a map. They are adventurous. They love taking risk. However, most of us are navigators. For us, life is a journey. And most of us don’t have a map for it. We work with vague sense of direction.

We keep defining the destination and the road that will lead us there. We have untested ideas. We brilliantly follow other’s template; including the professional Institute, we join. We are happy waiting for failure before we take action.

Life is far too complex and fluid for us to have a complete map. We appreciate it and hence enjoy the milestone-to-milestone approach to life.

We are highly adaptive and flexible. Minor aberrations and failures do not affect us. However, we are impacted by society approach of materialistic success. House, car, vacation and lifestyle become a surrogate of status.

Is that the real success? Both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are acceptable answers. What matters is what you have been looking for. It’s your race, your journey, and hence you define and decide the benchmarks.

At the risk of offending a few; I push for the need of a more holistic success, where emotions and relationships are also importance. To appreciate, you must stop measuring success with the lens of a societal telescope and use the internalised microscope to explore what real happiness and success means to you.


Once you buy into this philosophy and approach, you are ready to attempt creating a framework of your MAP. It will be a good indicator to tell whether you are moving in the right direction.

MAP has standard points of references like origin, destination, alternative paths, mode of transport, travel accessories, a compass and identifiable milestones. MAP is a waste unless you know how to read it. Hence I believe the traveller must draw his own MAP.


The origin is your current status. It is about you. In your map, you are always at the starting point. Your name, age, professional assignment, role is just a factual statement with no fire. It will never do justice to your potential and capabilities, while it may identify you.

It is not easy to deep dive inside and understands self. Are your values and belief system strong enough to withstand a debate? Maybe the best way to make a beginning is to define the five most memorable; not necessarily happy or sad moments of your journey called life. Evaluate your behaviour from a third person’s point of view. Maybe you will not recognize yourself.

The starting coordinate in your map has all the elements that create the inner you and the societal experience in day-to-day interactions. Your knowledge, talent, acquired skill and reflex actions define you. Today is a result of the choices we made. Tomorrow will be the result of the choices we will now make.

Do take a simple test. Answer these questions. What is your stance on gay marriage or love jihad or khap panchayat? Write it down as clearly as possible. Now put a dear one in that situation, does your approach changes? What is your view on cow slaughter or Gau Rakshak? How secular are you? Do you believe that women with short skirt got nothing to do with the increasing cases of sexual offences? Who do you really serve? And to whom do you pray? Does it have a form? Does it have to manifest itself in different ways? What is perfection for you? What is your definition of a good brother, son, mother, daughter, husband and wife? What does success mean to you? Are you prepared for success? What are you willing to sacrifice or pledge to be successful?

These are the framework and position on the grid that defines your Brand-i-MAP.


To start the journey, you need an idea of the destination. There is no guarantee if you ever reach there. Maybe like Christopher, you may discover something new. Note it down; life is about shifting target and values. They change as you evolve, as your needs, desire, ambitions reshape continuously.

You can define the destination in many ways. You could start the journey with a vague hint of direction to take. Remember, you have answered this question many times. Where do you see yourself after 15 years? What is the reason for your existence? What do you want to achieve in this life?

Do you answer in form of designation and materialistic ownership? Do you have another way to define success? Is your life all about earning status by flaunting materialistic items? Is it about making people smile with joy?

Don’t be surprised if the questions stump you for a moment. Most of us (including me) will fail to answers them with complete confidence and honesty. To finish the argument, we are capable of answering. We will defend it knowing it is not the truth. We, can lie to everyone, but not lie to ourselves.

The destination you chase in real life is multidimensional like you. It can be measured across mental, social, emotional, physical, monetary, sexual satisfaction, hunger and desire … and many more dimensions. Our life is all about balancing our numerous roles and emotions, no doubt that the destination is a series of complex equations. An equation that only we can see, solve and resolve. Only if we understand self.


Even in the physical and metaphysical there are alternative routes to reach the same destination. There are possibilities in every interaction we make. For your life goals, we need to be a bit more cautious in defining the route.

To be a successful entrepreneur, we could take the IIM- earn- invest- plunge route of take the plunge right away. Only time will have the answer, if we succeed as per our definition and yardstick.

The route to success requires clarity, confidence, passion, dedication, flexibility and openness to new ideas.


Having an MAP and being able to read it is not enough. It shows us the start and the destination, the alternative routes and the chosen path but not the pace.

What defines our pace is the vehicle you ride. A vehicle is the means to reach the destination. We call it vision, or mission in life. And our current co-ordinates, self-awareness defines it. Many of us start with a hint of a vision, and later change it due to circumstances. There is nothing wrong in it. Nevertheless, if we change it too often, it may be better to re-examine our starting points, destination and the chosen route.


The journey is a long one. What come handy are the experience, knowledge, passion, dedication, skills, attitude, aptitude, talent and a fire to keep learning. These are interlinked as comes as part of our upbringing and outlook. It’s tough to be yourself by separating, replacing or modifying them. They are because you are.

In our journey, we pick things, modify and even discard them. We pack according to the journey. Hence, before formally starting, we need to understand the requirements and the things we will need. At times, staying a bit longer at the starting coordinates and acquiring more accessories (knowledge and experience) before embarking on to the journey may be the best choice.


In our journey, we need markers to help monitor progress. Our achieving them define how true to the path we have been traveling. The journey of life is too long and the far too complex. Moreover, we never have the complete map; we discover the new piece at every milestone. Hence define the journey and break it down in measurable SMART segments, which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.


The MAP is simple. We can trace the path without any problem. We need to identify our facilitator and barriers. There are speedways and potholes. There are places where bridges need to be created and places where you need to take a detour. No one has really seen the path. No one understands it. Each one of us takes a path that is newly discovered and unique to us. Every experience, failure and success is unique too. There is no one to blame.


We must learn to enjoy smallest of happy moments. We must be strong to leave behind bad experiences and move ahead with the learning’s. The journey and the map are unique. Every moment we are writing a new story. The past is gone as I write this. We can’t change the characters, the incidents or the results. However, we have the option of changing the story that is being written with every choice we make for our future. What is the next chapter? It is something that we only can define.

First published in under KotMartial 



Don’t Kill Yourself Overworking?


‘If you don’t have hypertension, kidney problem, sleeping disorder or heart problem, even after working 5 years in advertising, you have not been working hard enough’.

Don’t know who said it first, but have heard it repeated many times in the advertising and marketing. industry. Many of us laughed as we shared it with the new trainees. We never saw the irony in the statement. It is time you sincerely evaluate the lifestyle and think about the stress that is getting absorbed.

Indian advertising and marketing firms seem immune to the work stress-related problems. It exists, but the excessive working is a tradition, a norm that remains unquestioned. No one is really bothered about the work stress. Moreover, it is not yet a legal issue in India.

Everyone looks the other way. It is like ragging. The seniors must make the juniors go through it to earn their spurs.

Employees themselves take pride and boast of the hours they put at work.

We haven’t moved away from the old concept of face time and visible hard working. The art of smart working remains a subject of symposiums, conclaves and training hours.

Unfortunately, unlike some of the countries, India is far from imposing compensation for injuries resulting from continued stress on the job.Medical research has proven, there exist a strong correlation between workplace stress and diseases like heart, hypertension, respiratory infections, ulcers, migraines, depression, and suicidal tendencies. Such continued stress can even lead to emotional distress and major psychological impact. Still, we don’t take the cause or the symptoms seriously.


We work in a surreal hypersensitive challenging cut-throat work culture and expectation. It is the world of KRA, KPI and inflamed ambitions. Stress is considered a natural by-product. Employees are aware of it and willingly subject themselves to the torture.

They suffer from the big Indian psychological disorder that makes them believe. They are immune to dangerous situation. A firm belief, it will not happen to them.

The culture of adjusting and a case of helplessness with the ‘It’s like that only’ does not help. We defend the reality with a new set of question. Is the ideal stress-free workplace not just a thought?

You are dealing with your life. The results will be for you to suffer. Even so, I don’t expect you to take the precautionary step and even check to realign your work style and hours.

In May 2014, 24-year-old ad Li Yuan at Ogilvy & Mather Beijing, died of a sudden heart attack at the office. The organisation refutes that it was due to overwork. However, it is known that Li Yuvan worked overtime the whole month and was not leaving the office before 11p.m.

Check and if you have any of the symptoms, please take immediate action. Like difficulty in concentrating, frequent tearfulness and mood swings, disorientation, difficulty in making simple decisions, sudden changes in behaviour, drop in patience level and quickly getting irritated, avoiding work, not feeling like going to work, frequent temper flare-ups, feeling or decreased libido not related to ageing. Even chronic back pain, neck pain, chest pain, rashes, breathing problems, constipation and diarrhoea is classic symptoms of work-related stress.

In 2014, Joey Tocnang, the hard stressed work schedule of the 27-year-old trainee at a casting company in central Japan died resulted in his heart failure at the firm’s dormitory.

Stress leads to sleep deprivation. This prevents the body and mind to have the desired time for everyday recovery, resulting into further stress and the cycle continues. At some stage, it gets out of control. It’s important to get the right amount of sleep.

Some time back, Matsuri Takahashi, a 24-year-old employee of the advertising giant Dentsu, was driven to commit suicide due to stress brought on by long working hours. She regularly worked more than 100 hours of overtime a month, including at weekends, in the firm’s Internet advertising division.


It is believed that in China, some 6,00,000 people die from causes linked to work-related stress. Japan believes 20% of the entire workforce is at risk of death from overwork. They even have a name for it ‘karoshi’. The figure for India is unknown, but the problem is very visible before the eyes.

The people in advertising and marketing know the reality.
Japan is worried that its 21.3% employees work 49 plus hours a week.

It is believed that 80 hours of overtime a month is a real trap; it is like a suicide mission; it is walking towards serious stress related issues, problems and maybe death.

Most in advertising and marketing in India would be happily punching above this level.

Let me simplify the equation. Working 3 hours extra for 5 days during the week and putting another 7 working hours during the weekend is equivalent to 88-hour overtime. ! This is without buffering for the traffic led anxiety and additional stress that is affecting your life.


Give yourself some time. Learn and implement time management. Check if you are biting more than you can chew. Address the causes and maybe speak with the HR and seniors at work. Invest into a hobby and even take some time out with friends and family that is not necessarily about partying and drinking.

I hope you do not suffer from the phobia of missing a message or notification.Realise that your work style is a lot dependent on computer and mobiles. You are almost married to these screens. You log on to Facebook, whatsapp or whatever is your solution, and you browse for long stretch. It can affect your mental and emotional health?

You do not suffer from anxiety attacks about not replying to another update.

There is no fear of missing out, and you are yet not an emotional loner. All your life answers are not on the screen. You are not addicted to it. You do not hear unending silent notifications that never were.

Truth is that these repeated innocent interruptions eat into the time available for other things. The result; enhanced time pressure.

Stop constant staring at the screen. Stop keeping your phone and notification switched on, all the time. Maybe you could start with defining your own mobile-visiting hours. Do not keep the email open all the time. Yes, answer the call, if you have to. Or plan to answer them when you take a break from your work.


Organisations that promote the culture of extra time in their attempt to increase productivity and efficiency are living a false dream. Excessive long hours do not increase productivity or efficiency. In fact, they cause more issues, problems, lead to more error, flared-up relationship, insubordination, lack of creativity and damage the organisational fabric.

It is your role to check the processes and culture. What are you promoting? Are there sections and people who can be a potential victim of work stress? How can your policies, Manpower management, expectations, reviews and systems bring it under control?

Remember It Is Your Life. Your Loved Ones Takes The Brunt Of Work-Related Stress. Organisation is immune to Such Issues. Think Again. What Are You Doing? Is The Cost Or The Outcome Justified?


Sanjeev Kotnala with 28 years of corporate experience is the founder of Intradia World; a Brand, Marketing & Management Advisory. His focus area includes Ideation and Innovation; he also conducts specializsed workshops like IDEAHarvest, Liberate and InNoWait. Email tweet @s_kotnala web:


REFERENCE: (1) Who is liable for stress on job : (2) The alarming long term consequences of workplace stress : (3) Seven ways stress harm your body: (4) Can’t tear yourself away from the computer? Too much time online can lead to stress, sleeping disorders and depression: (5) Death from overwork Japan’s ‘karoshi’ culture blamed for young man’s heart failure: (6) Yet another reason to avoid stress- sudden death

Get Ready to De-STRESS


Continuous stress was never supposed to be part of your life. Unfortunately, in today’s life, you expected to carry multidimensional stress. There is a tremendous pressure to perform and deliver in professional and personal life.

Person in every stage of life is just crumbling under this stress.

The school going kids are as stressed as a soon to be mother.

There are more reasons to be stressed than there seem to be ways to de-stress. It becomes for all to realise the danger of stress and how to deal with it.

Headaches, increased or abnormal heart rate, tension in the shoulders and neck, digestion problems like nausea, heartburn, constipation and/or diarrhea are some of the outcome of higher stress level in life.

If you have been under stress and have noticed any of these symptoms, it is time, you consult a doctor.

ref-uttrakhand-20161106-copy2No surprise that people with higher level of stress also fall ill more often. Their depleted immune system is unable to cope with even the most common germs. Stress can lead to problems with heart, the engine that runs the whole-body system. Stress is linked to high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to heart attack, blood clots and death.

So, what should you do?

One of the best medicines for de-stressing is to have a good friend. A friend you can open up to, confide and trust in. A sounding board to help get things off your chest. You will be surprised how talking and sharing your issues, problems, anxiety and excitement with someone can help.

Do not under estimate the power of a good friend and a cup of coffee?

It is recommended to take a preventive rather than curative view of stress. Stressful situations are dangerous. You need to find a way to deal with them before stress built up. It is important to learn techniques to deal with things as they come and eliminate the stress possibilities.

There are numerous known techniques to reduce the amount of tension one feels in life.

Some of the simpler ones are relaxing in a nice hot bath after a walk. Being in nature is known to be a great stress reliever. Breathe the fresh air and feel the nature in its glory, it will do you a lot of good. Exercising, gym, cycling and working weights, all help you take the tension out.

It is important that you find ways to distress otherwise in the long run after-effects of stress will ruin your health. It will not only impact your life but the life that surrounds you.


Will your chapter change the title?


The past is just a story. You can do nothing else but learn from it. And future is vague, undefined but intended. So today is when you are nearest to the reality, ready to write the next chapter. Today or for that every moment of your life has been the opportunity to write the chapter that can give your story a new direction. However, maybe you have been working on a default mode or your conscious and subconscious has not been in sync.

Writing a new chapter starts with the passion and intent to define something and make a mark. To be constructive and proactive. With this intent, you invest time and energy to Read the story. You understand the situation, support cast, their capabilities and potential. This is what will be the foundation, barrier and the catalyst for you writing the next chapter.

The story exists  and most likely it has a title. Title that did justice to the story. It is usually a working title until it hits the press. And here you are, determined and destined to write the next chapter.

Now the new chapter you write can possibly do one of the two things.  It can help move the story forward in the intended direction towards its destiny, or it can re-evaluate and decide the direction the story should be taking. What will happen, depends upon few definitive alignments defined by the author. Why is the chapter being written? Is the author of a follower or a leader, an execution specialist or a strategist, committed to the cause or just a fellow passenger?

In case of Apple, the chapters written by Steve Jobs not only changed the title to the story called Apple, but it went further and redefined the title to the story of information technology, telephony, music, camera and marketing. When MK Gandhi started the chapter of non-cooperation in Indian freedom movement, he did not rewrite his story, he wrote the story of an Independence movement and gave a new tool to fight. When Verghese Kurien started the white revolution with village cooperatives, he redefined his story, image and many more lives. When E Sreedharan the metro man first took the project, the story of Metro rail was hazy but with his actions, he has written a completely new story. Most of them were not happy with the story they were in.

The impact of the new chapter can be felt on the front page, the cover of the book. Does the chapter (revision or an update) in the story is powerful enough to demand a new title? Is it so revolutionary and disruptive that it is reorienting organisational resources and redefining how it is known and perceived? If your actions impact the equation organization has with its stakeholders and the way it syncs with its ecosystem. This will need a change of Title.

Don’t be awed by the names like Kurien, Steve Jobs and Gandhi and believe that you do not have the opportunity to read the story, forget about writing the chapter. Look closer home and you will see the Bansals rewriting the chapters, Kishor Biyani, Subash Chandra, Ronnie Screwvala. R Balki is writing a new chapter in his own story. See the students who have secured good marks in schools or have made to IAS coming from a background that only said, you should not dream. But they dared. Instead of accepting the constraints that were better defined than the possibilities, they moved on; they pushed themselves because they had the passion and conviction not to be part to the story they found themselves in.

Write a powerful chapter or change the story you are in.

Once you write the chapter and change the title, do not for a moment think that the job is over. The new title became a reality when you wrote the chapter is just another working title. A co-author at a later date and time through action and inaction will redefine and give the story a fresh title.

It is rare that a chapter completes a story. ‘The end’ is not a chapter in the story of organizations. In professional life, it is the day you stop contributing and not necessarily the day you stop working of retire. In personal life, ‘The end’ is the universal truth- death.

However, when you do write a new chapter that is powerful enough to change the title of the book, you can be assured that when ever the book is read, referred, discussed or published- the Chapter, you wrote will have the title you intended. After all, all you were interested in was not the past, that was just a story ad future was always intended and vague. You were and are the present, and that is what should be the focus, writing the current chapter that will change the title of the story.


Sanjeev Kotnala with 28 years of corporate experience is the founder of Intradia World; a Brand, Marketing & Management Advisory. His focus area includes Ideation and Innovation; he also conducts specialized workshops like IDEAHarvest, Liberate and InNoWait. For soft skill training, he follows SHIFT (Specific High-Intensity Frequent training), a process of continuous training with frequent shorter sessions. Email tweet @s_kotnala web:



‘I am like this only’. ‘I am the result if my experiences and my attitude is now so hardened it is tough t change’. ‘But, that’s me’. We all have heard such statement and under my breath I believe we all have sued these to explain ourselves. No doubt it is one of the best excuse and a perfect way to defect criticism. A way to defend yourself and live the image you are. Unfortunately in the process you lie to yourself and utterly fail in the process. BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, YOU ARE WHAT YOU WANT TO BE. And your character is just one of your desired reflection.

Character is not some hardened enamel that cannot be re-molded. Even when you do not want, it is building and rebuilding inside you, it is like you and your body- a system always ‘Work-in-progress’. It is an unfinished painting or a sculptor where slow refinement is in process.

There is a desired reflection that you what and all your efforts are guided towards ensuring a perfect fit. You are what you want to be. And you are what people perceive you to be. There will always remain a gap because these are two different measurement practices. And will remain different. Even we do not use the same matrices in evaluating our efforts and reactions and those of other.

Character is the result of uncounted choices made through out your life. Many guided by others and mostly decided by you. Slowly but surely creating what you are and sometime defining what you should be.

It is simple to see what will work. Will an aimless molding work for you or conscious directed efforts with a clearly defined character will work for you. One can lead to creation of a personality that is more guided by external forces and the other- character-, which is the inner core of you.

There is not much a proof of any DNA linked transfer of character. It is not like fingertips or retina.

It is not something that cannot be changed because it is something that gets created after you are born.

Initially your parents and society does have the responsibility in initially seeding your cheater. But, soon your conscious self takes charge.

Character does not need an unpleasant or adverse experience to become rich. Nor does success corrupt it. But the firmness or the resolve of a character may be tested and demonstrated in unfavorable situations.

It is after all your inner reaction mechanism to external triggers. It defines how you respond.

A mechanism only you are responsible for. A mechanism built only to respond to you.

It is something that only you can nurture and you must nurture.

It is your inner self and who better than you to understand it. It is as simple as that.

If you are willing to make conscious efforts to convert yourself into the person you want o be. Nothing can stop you from being one.

All you have to take is to create the image of person you would want to be and then strengthen the qualities you need. Once you do that, you will find it becomes the foundation of your life. Your life will be built around your character. You will then not be trapped to live with a character that is built around your life.


Contact Sanjeev Kotnala a certified coach  at


Only you decide, who Influence’s you.


Being human, it is natural to be influenced and influence others. We are societal animal with analytical skills and emotional levers. It makes the influencing easy. Sometime the influences are not positive in nature but powerful enough to get you off your focus. It is normally too late by the time realization hits. We ask ourselves questions and see patterns to blame everyone else but ourselves.

We know the answers and hence we fail to raise the right questions that may hurt. We fail to take a hard rational dive into the situation. What is the company I keep? Who are the people who can influence me? How have they been influencing me? Is the influence negative or positive? What have I learnt from these earlier instances of being influenced? Is the association right for me? What am I gaining out of these associations? How do I feel about such associations?

The answers were always there with us. Questions help to place them in the right perspective. Still they mean nothing till we are willing to act. The options are limited.

You can DISASSOCIATE. And the decision has to only yours. It is not easy to take such a step. As we have interlinked associations and dependences. If you must disassociate, do it as early as possible. It maybe the best decision you take affecting quality of your life. It is always a case of amputation and a corrective surgery.

STRENGTHEN the association. If it is a positive influence than it is natural that you should strengthen the association. Yu could spend more time with them. Learn more for them. Maybe willingly allow yourself to be influenced.

LIMIT association. It may be required in two cases. Sometime it is not easy to disassociate so you could decrease the level of association. You maybe unsure of the nature of association hence you may want to test the association.

There is no point in saying that your time and effort investment should be skewed toward the positive influences. You must be clear that the degree and quality of influence are two different elements.

INVEST to EXPAND associations. Find other successful people and invest time with them. Learn from their actions and statements. Better and success are contextual and comparative in nature. Do not just focus in professional success to learn, learn in every sphere. Physical, emotional, mental, family, married life – find people who have been good in the filed and associate with them.

BRING PURPOSE in your associations. Creating a wider set of positive influencers and getting to be on their side. It is the purposeful influencing. A willingness to be positively influenced by people you have hand picked and built your association.

Connect with ICF Certified Life and Mid-life Transition coach Sanjeev Kotnala   +91 9819728963

What will make you react.


People do not react to danger when they confirm to people surrounding them. When they are faced with the situation alone they will act as the onus of solving the problem is on them.

This recreates a classic social psychology experiment on ByStander apathy the phenomenon that people are less likely to act in a crisis if others present are doing nothing

Fire Your Ambition- remember only you can do that