Kumar Ganesan is a copywriter, a leadership coach, a brand strategist, a certified E3ian and a first generation entrepreneur who co-founded Kaleido Communications- an advertising and marketing communications agency. Kumar has penned the best-selling book “Storywallah”, published by Half Baked Beans. The publishing house recently, and this time for his readers, got the chance to get up, close and personal with Kumar Ganesan.
1. Tell us about your journey from advertising to becoming a writer?
I always dreamt of being a writer. It was something that got kindled in me by my Teacher NAIR SIR who had read out one of my essays loud in the class. The topic
I had chosen was “My open Window”. I wrote a story about myself living in the midst of a filthy locality in Mumbai where garbage strewn roads were the order of the day and yet I would keep my window open in anticipation of a girl next door whom I had an eye for.
I must be in standard 8th then. Nair sir believed that I had what it takes to be a writer and said, “I don’t care what you score in Physics, Chemistry & Maths but you must score well in language”.
I passed out from college doing my BSC in chemistry and the reason for taking up Chemistry was to get an opportunity to hang out with my friends who chose to do the same. Predictably, while in my graduation I took up working for a market research firm and then took up sales. For 7 years I sold everything from a computer to cable management solutions to teak plantations.
Then came the opportunity to head overseas and I landed in Dubai working for a small agency. The stint did not last long and then I spent a few years in media sales. After a good 3 years I finally got hired by one of the largest agencies in Dubai as a copywiter. My first account given to me was IKEA and my first headline for the brand was “STOOL TEST”. That campaign passed the test and then I spent a good 14 years growing from a Junior Copywriter to a Creative Director.
I came back to India in 2007 worked with an advertising agency for a year and later decided that I should start something on my own. Kaliedo, my agency was then founded in 2010 and since then we have grown from a 7 member team to a formidable force.
The idea of authoring a book was always there and I took upon the mantle of writing down incidences from my very own life that made up for a great short story. Initially the stories were shared amongst my family and friends and then as fate would have it I finally got to publishing it with HBB.
2. How do you think communication helps connecting with young minds who have a completely different outlook towards life?
The very genesis of communication begins when you train yourself to speak in a manner that others want to listen to you and listen to others in a manner that they want to speak to you. You need to be a keen observer and that helps you connect with people. I choose simple language, insightful examples and anecdotes that can be recalled as my mantra to connect with people. The minnenials have a mind of their own, you just need to listen to them with intent to connect to them and nothing else.
3. If you had to suggest one place to travel to, which place would you suggest?
Egypt. I have been there twice and I guess that place simply wows me. The food, the history, the people and their warmth and more importantly their fondness for all things Indian. The Giza Pyramids is a thing that you must see to realise how insignificant we are in context of this gigantic structure that stands tall imposing its stature silently.
The other place I would recommend is witness migration in Masai Mara. This is a once in a lifetime experience that you will cherish forever.
4. Since you work with the communication industry, do you think communication is the key to solving all the problems? How so?
Absolutely, positive communication with a intent to solve a problem actually goes a long way. Unfortunately the media industry today themselves have crossed the limits employing communication as a way to manipulate views and instigate bias and hatred. We need to be responsible in the way we communicate and accountable for every word we say. Integrity is the key here.
5. Your book is suggestive, that it is so much like R. K Narayan’s Malgudi Days. Was it actually inspired by it?
I am happy that people relate ‘Storywallah’ to Malgudi Days. I belong to that genre of storytelling and believe that most stories that are remembered are the one that are the simplest. I loved R.K Narayan and Ruyard Kipling as storytellers and even Sudha Moorthy. They have a way of making the simplest of tales endearing. Yes I will not hesitate in accepting them as my inspiration for ‘Storywallah”.
6. Who is your favourite author? Or a book that you would read again and again?
R.K. Narayan. Ruyard Kipling. Sudha Moorthy are amongst my favourites. I am an avid reader and have several books that make my list of favourites. It would be unfair to single out one.
7. What do you like doing to pass your time or take a break from work?
I read a lot on my Kindle, I like watching films, TV shows and whenever possible catch up the reruns of “FRIENDS”. I can watch it like a hundred times all over again.
8. How do you prefer spending your time with your kids?
I love to cook for kids and spend most of my time doing that when I am around them.
9. Do you enjoy cooking or eating? What is your soul food?
I am an absolute foodie and enjoy cooking and hosting people. My comfort food is a south indian stew called “Keerai Molagutal” eaten with rice. And Baingan is my favourite vegetable.
10. How do you suggest we use social media fused with communications for the betterment of the society?
Social Media is a great connect. It is also a powerful medium to reach all parts of the world. You have that power in your hands now. All you need to remember is that with power comes responsibility. So be responsible in what you put out there. Be accountable at all times.
11. One thing you miss and would want to bring back from the 90s?
I’m very fond of vinyls and have a good collection of them. I seriously feel we should go back and recreate the good old gramaphone. I am more an 80s guy but if I have to bring back one thing from the 90s, that would be my assembled Dolby Pro Logic Home Theatre.
12.Can you describe your life with a food?
My life’s like the PAV BHAJI. It has a little of everything you can think of putting in. And yes dollops of butter that makes it rich, comforting and enjoyed just about anytime. And personally I make a mean pav bhaji too.
Sum up line “Storywallah’s life is as interesting as a pav bhaji”.
Get your copy of Kumar Ganesan’s book here.