Success is a relative term and keeps changing in different stages of life. “Happiness is the key,” says Ujaya Shakya, Founder & Managing Director of Outreach Nepal. He adds, “For me, the key measurement of success is achieving my client’s objectives, making my team happy, and reaching our goals together for the company.”
With over two decades of experience in the field of strategic 360-degree communication, branding and social communication development, Shakya has also been honoured with the prestigious Flame Leadership Award 2018 by the Rural Marketing Association of India. He spearheads one of the most sought-after communication groups in the country and has developed and implemented successful advertising campaigns, media and PR strategies, and BCC programmes on public health and social issues over the years.
Shakya has also authored a book called ‘Brand Sutra’ on branding and advertising that was published in the year 2015. He is regularly invited as a jury member and speaker for advertising and brand awards across the globe. He is also a regular columnist for global publications on topics related to Nepal’s advertising. In this issue of Business 360, Shakya speaks about the five things that have impacted his work and life.
Career is like a marathon
They say, career today is around 40 years and can be broadly split into two halves – the first and the second half. The more significant career achievements are often in the second half as you evolve in the leadership roles beyond your proficiency as a functional head. But success in the second half of your career is largely a function of the foundation and pillars built in the first half of your career. Most of us have heard the story of the rabbit and tortoise. The rabbit starts at a rapid pace and takes a break while the tortoise carries on steadily without a break and wins the race. Professional career is like a marathon. You have to win where it matters i.e, in the second half of your career close to the finish line.
My inspiration, my father
My father has always been inspirational not just for me but also for my two brothers for his willpower, courage and optimism. He gave us this famous quote from the movie Rocky: “Nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.” He always advocated positive thinking by teaching us to continue doing our karma. We could not comprehend much as kids but today as a father myself, I feel that fatherhood is the most underrated relationship as we cannot be very expressive.
Besides my father, I am also inspired professionally by many others as I read their autobiographies. At times while reading their stories, I wish I could live their life as a key protagonist who overcomes challenges all the time to achieve greatness in their respective fields. Some of the most inspirational leaders are Akio Morita, Lee Iacocca, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Indra Nooyi, Ratan Tata and when it comes to my own industry, I love Martin Sorrell and Sam Balsara.
Patience is key to success
My mother always said we have so much to learn from nature. She always gives me the example of an apple tree which takes about eight years to actually start bearing fruits. And then she used to tell me about how we need to be careful because with the change in season the tree could be infected with parasites. This might look very insignificant but if we don’t kill those parasites, soon enough the entire tree is going to rot as it extracts all the nutrients. I feel, this also reflects in our work. The first few years are required to build the foundation which helps in making us understand the ecosystem, on-ground experiences and build our networks around the profession that help us to enjoy the fruits in the later part of our life. But of course, there are distractions similar to the parasites and we should learn to control them to continue on our path.
In fact, these unprecedented times have taught us many new lessons and as a communication professional, I strongly feel that ‘empathy’ is going to play a larger role in the spectrum of brand communication. Going forward, it will be ‘empathy’ which will help create that salience for the brand.
The last two years have not been easy as we had to go through these exceptional times. Undoubtedly, all business establishments irrespective of their strength and type of industry have been affected and now trying to recover from those repercussions. The list of challenges is many for all of us. But if you look at it positively, there will probably be a few opportunities in our professional careers where we will get a chance to handle multiple priorities with so little resources. The chances of achieving success in the short term are low, but the choices we make today will bring longer-term success for our future. Despite all the struggles, we all tried our best to take charge of our responsibilities in our own way by doing regular business activities even though it’s not business as usual. We all are hopeful that our future will be brighter with the ongoing aggressive vaccination programmes across countries.
A decision that changed my life course
During the Covid pandemic, I got time to revisit the Noble Eightfold Path – Right View (Know the truth), Right Intention (Free your mind of evil), Right Speech (Say nothing that hurts), Right Action (Work for good), Right Livelihood (Respect life), Right Effort (Resist evil), Right Mindfulness (Control your thoughts) and Right Concentration (Practice meditation). With these practical solutions, Buddha helps us to overcome our ‘cravings’. And his greatest gift to the world is that it’s compassion, empathy and knowing through which we can truly make the world a better place for all of us to live together.
In fact, these unprecedented times have taught us many new lessons and as a communication professional, I strongly feel that ‘empathy’ is going to play a larger role in the spectrum of brand communication. Going forward, it will be ‘empathy’ which will help create that salience for the brand. And if you see all the good works, most of them are inspired by the thought of empathy towards their core target group so they can connect to their pain points and relate to their life journey.
Continuous learning is important
Knowledge and skill are two different things. Going to school gives us knowledge and it is about gathering information to form the concept while skill is about performance with a set objective to achieve. Skill is generally gained by practicing it consistently. While practicing skills, you are paying explicit attention to your performance and correcting in the process. What separates people who are GREAT Vs GOOD is paying attention and learning the variations that allow to develop great skills.
Therefore, continuous learning is important. Particular in my industry, as it is changing radically, I need to update myself with new skills, which is relevant to current ecosystem. Also, to be open-minded so I can see the changes and accept them.