Guest AuthorPrarthana Sethumadhavan


By | Sakalya Holistic HR Solutions | Services across HR Consulting

The last week saw me (surprising even to myself) participate in a huge, much hyped seminar. Like any other person, I had the adrenaline pumping and was raring to go. The curiosity of what would happen; the grandiose of what was going to happen and the expected transformation were all the words that were being drummed in my mind, by flunkies of the Great Master.

The D day arrived. Anxious trepidation prevailed as I entered the venue. The mystery and the enigma called out to me, as I saw the place teeming with people, all eager and pumped up. People from all sections, professions, age  – scurrying  through the shiny corridors of the 5 star hotel, crowding the elevators, and jostling with each other to register first!. The men, women, boys girls were all at their Sunday best, preening and going into the mobile shutterbug frenzy. The grandeur was rubbing on everybody.

I carried my backpack and awaited my turn to register at the counter for the Economy seat (story of my lifeL). Prior to the event, I was plagued by phone calls by the event handlers and managers of how I would be missing the defining moment of my life by not upgrading myself to the higher and highly priced seats and how I could not be part of their lunches and special events, if I chose to be miserly. Thankfully a little bit of grit and an abysmal bank balance helped me evade the allure that was relentless. I give full points however to the persuasion and the dogged determination of people , who were assigned the unpleasant task of converting the `pinched pockets’ to loosen their wallets. Surprisingly, with the constant phone calls and the promised goodies, many of the people did realise that they were not so poorly off- as they had previously imagined themselves to be!

 It showed me the lure of promises made; of a picture painted and how most people would do anything to be a part of it, without truly knowing what that IT was. It surprised me how in the wake of powerful persuasion, we relent, if only to escape the onslaught, or that we truly believe that we will get all and more. As the event got nearer, the paid seats got filled up, and people `upgraded’ from economy to the seat that would show them the picture of their dreams. I ask myself – `who truly decided here??’  Most detractors would feel like hurling something at me right now, and say loudly -`of course I decided ! I can always change my decision! I have the right to choose!! I made my informed choice!!!’’ Well, its just me, and remember.. I am musing: J

Act 2 – Post the registrations, was now our entry into the humungous hall that would touch my life significantly – as promised. I felt like a poor cousin, as I watched the paid ticket entries strut into the hall, while me and other poor cousins were waiting indefinitely in the side-lines for our cue to take our place(pun intended) in the larger scheme of things. The stage and the set up was awe inspiring!. I had many a niggling doubts if an ` Economy ticket “ was really the right thing to have been done, maybe I was just being very miserly –surely I could have done the upgrade!.. But at the venue, it was never too late to change.. the offer was on going, anytime you felt that allocated place was not for you.. you could just change & upgrade minus some currency notes flowing out. Bravely I decided I would stick to my guns . .. in this case my chair and watch the scenes unfold. I would decide to enter the promised land the next time, should the offer come my way. I even carried some eats in my backpack to nibble. Well that is what poor cousins do.. don’t they?!:)

Act 3 – The build up, the anticipation and the mystery is being milked to the maximum before the Grand Master arrives. The crowd is foaming in the mouth waiting for the same. I am no less. I have heard so much, and here I am –finally in the moment of truth and revelation. I will see it all, hear it all and experience it all, even if it is from a distance. I can feel the waves of energy engulfing the room, as  there is mass hysteria with the DJ going millions of octaves high and the Grand Master making his grand entrance. The crowd goes ballistic and ecstatic. I am no less. I feel a bit silly, but hey, I am with around 1000 people who are charged up 100% like my mobile phone. And the event begins…

Act 4 – The 3 days event – the props for the event are all out. There is music, huge screens, laser lights dancing and the crowd waiting in eager anticipation. It starts. Powerful and emotional stories are told, and many can feel the heart go mush and the eyes go moist. A master player , playing his orchestra to perfection. It feels real, about real people about values we all believe in or like to believe in and I can see everyone sitting glued to their seats hanging on every word and watching with intense fascination all the goings on, on the stage. I sit with my pen and paper. I was here solely to learn, glean content. So far I had not written a single word. Maybe my mind was absorbing all.

And then was the audience participation. Endless questions , some of which,  I was wondering if really had a place in that hall, eager hands up, all hoping to catch the eye of the Master and feeling blessed if he saw you, talked to you or took your question, or got you on stage to dance with him, or be a part of his process. I was trying to mentally grapple with it all.. the devotion, the fervour, the eagerness and yet I was still sitting with a blank paper, watching it all in rapt fascination. Then came the marketing part .. the part that fascinated and transformed me the most. Relentless and with a sense of urgency and emergency.

The window to the next promised land is very small. The fripperies are being added and the anticipation is building and the product is pedalled and we see the next fascinating picture that is being shown to us. It has put most of the crowd in an altered state of consciousness and the picture is very alluring and tempting. Many a rational minds got felled. There were no questionable gaps anywhere. The picture was perfect, and now you could own it, if you decided on the spot that you would go for it.. else it would just slip through your fingers. The picture and the dream shown is what everyone wants and aspires for and spends a lifetime but few are able to realise it; and here it was so seductively close to us and all we had to do was go and sign up – strengthen our intent to pursue it, believe in the guy who had it all worked up to deliver it to us without a glitch — and few can withstand strong against such a powerful lure. All dreams are high end, and hence they remain dreams. This picture is high end too, but promises realisation. We are treated to all people who had put their faith in the system and were now Dream Actualised. That was strong motivation. Everyone was jumping at the offer and before they or we realised we had latched on to the next dream boat. I was still with a blank notebook, but now I started taking notes. It was a live case study of consumer behaviour at its very best. How a product was pedalled, how a consumer reacted and how the conversions took place all in an environment of passive aggression camouflaged by bright lights, loud music, beautiful people, valuable endorsements and the people were raring to go. We all were in an extremely controlled simulated environment, forced to take a decision – many of who would have not taken, had they been allowed time to do so with rational thought. The air was charged with energy and hunger of dreams jostling each other to get fulfilled,  and on the stage was the offer of Nirvana – the customer cannot/ and now will not resist the allure , and so it ended .

I had valuable lessons on human behaviour, product creation and packaging, time and juncture of delivery, lessons on powerful delivery of stories, brand ambassadors applying subtle but very real and aggressive pressure and subtle coercion and instilling a huge fear in all consumers… we may never be able to make it on our own, without getting on to our dream boat in their chartered waters…

Interesting musings for me… well I am just looking at it through my lens – and I did get my promised transformation. So am not complaining

Republished with permission and originally published at Sakalya Holistic HR Solutions’s Linkedin

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