Welcome to the second edition of the Above N Beyond Quarterly newsletter. Wish you a very Happy New Year! With surprising political developments around the world to our own demonization zinger, 2016 was certainly a tumultuous year for businesses, although not necessarily in a bad way.


But through it all, one thing that has remained constant is the need for organisations to have clear and aligned values, structures and processes to deal with the dynamic nature of business. In this year, we hope to work closely with our clients to enable them to build the right team and then ensure that the team is equipped to deliver what is required for the organisation’s success.


We hope you find this edition of our newsletter useful and engaging. We’ve tried to compile some interesting insights around helping you get the most value from your people.


Read on and do send your feedback!


Best wishes

Vivek Subramaniam



Why Emotional Intelligence Deserves more Attention in the Corporate World


Every interaction is governed by two aspects – intellect and intuition. Effective leadership calls for the right mix of cognitive and emotional capabilities. But while organisations put a lot of focus on building cognitive capabilities (IQ), very little is done to build the emotional capabilities of an individual. Read our blog for more




Why Reskilling is the Need of the Hour…And so is Responsible Growth


A report by CBRE has predicted that nearly 50 per cent of occupations that exist today will be redundant by 2025. The good part of this is that while automation will make several jobs redundant, it is likely to create several new opportunities as well. Read our blog for more





What my Yoga Class Taught me about Leadership Styles


Same form of yoga and two very different approaches. One seeking perfection and the other progress. In some ways, leadership and leaders are at various points asked to make a choice between the two. In today’s dynamic world, one cannot get stuck. While perfection is needed (when building airplanes, safety equipment, medical procedures etc.) it should not stop things from moving ahead. Many a time, being good enough is sufficient; rather than seeking perfection. Read our blog for more




Execution May be Unglamorous and Tedious, But it’s What Brings in the Results


Most discussion on management is heavily skewed towards aspects such as approach, strategy, concept etc. ‘Execution’ usually gets very little air time. Read our blog on why there needs to be greater emphasis on execution. Without effective execution, even the best strategy has no value. Read our blog for more


Vijay Subramaniam

Partner, Kwan Entertainment


Founded seven years ago. Kwan' services are in the area of casting, talent management, fashion and modelling, and live entertainment


For the longest time, Bollywood celebrities have worked mostly with ‘secretaries’ whose primary job responsibilities were to liaise with producers/directors to push their ‘talent,’ managing the star’s calendar- shooting schedules, appointments etc. This model was a good fit in an era where the film industry itself was largely unorganised and heavily dependent on relationships, family ties etc. Also, this arrangement worked well because films were the primary source of revenue for stars.


In the post liberalisation world, things slowly began to change. As avenues for celebrity engagement started to extend beyond films to endorsements, appearances etc.; there was suddenly an opportunity to bring some method into this chaos. This was the opportunity that we spotted and as a result, Kwan Entertainment was born.


In our founding team, we were all outsiders. We were not part of any filmi families and had zero Bollywood connections. But we had what I believe were some key strengths. One, we knew how brands are run in the corporate world. We had a fair understanding of how people view celebrities and Bollywood’s strong impact on popular culture. Armed with these strengths, we decided to take a different approach to celebrity management:


Establishing our value proposition


Right from the get go, we positioned ourselves firmly as consultants/advisors rather than glorified secretaries. This meant that our role had to extend beyond getting good roles or plum endorsements. We had to work on bringing in the ‘thought’ aspect, building the celebrity brand and weaving the entire story rather than taking a piecemeal approach.


Just to put it in perspective, this approach was quite a shift from the regular working of the film industry as well as endorsements at that point. Decisions to use one celebrity versus the other to endorse a brand were often arbitrary and not rooted in any kind of research or insights. A company CEO would just decide for example, “Let’s sign on Shah Rukh Khan” without giving any thought about “Why Shah Rukh Khan? What does he represent?” etc. On their part, celebrities didn’t put much thought into their own ‘brand’ either. This is what we worked on changing.


Celebrity as a brand


If you look at it practically, managing a celebrity is not that different from managing a brand. The image of a celebrity is built based on certain attributes that they stand for. Shah Rukh Khan represents certain attributes that may be completely different from what a Hrithik Roshan represents. When you take this approach, it automatically brings in a certain method, a structure in the way that a celebrity is managed. At that time, celebrities didn’t have anyone who could effectively pitch them or represent them to companies.


We also reached out to companies to find what they needed. Who was their target audience? We worked backwards to gain insights into why a certain celebrity appeals to housewives versus another one who appeals to 18-24 year olds. We were able to act as the bridge between companies and celebrities to facilitate deals that were rooted in insights rather than just relationships.


Building the team


Working in an environment such as ours requires not only a professional approach, but also a strong personality to be able to hold your own without being intimidated by celebrity clients. At the same time, it requires immense flexibility and drive to be able to accommodate our celebrity clients’ crazy schedules. We’ve worked hard to build a team with these attributes.


We have also built a strong performance culture where people are judged solely on their ability to deliver. We take care to ensure that we are playing to each one’s strength and assign roles accordingly.


Gaining trust

Celebrity management entails managing everything from an actor’s appearance, image, films, endorsements to setting up businesses for them etc. Given the high stakes, earning the clients’ trust is paramount is our line of business. Your client not only needs to trust your judgment and capability, but also be convinced that you are committed to protecting their best interests – both monetarily and in terms of their image. The only way to gain trust is to be confident, know your stuff and most importantly, walk the talk.


Bringing transformational change isn’t easy, but it’s also exciting to be able to challenge existing norms and bring in a professional culture. In our industry, it all boils down to building a strong value proposition and delivering on it.


Jack Welch’s take on crisis management is spot on and grounded in reality. ‘When that bombshell drops, your instinct will be to go into panic mode. You may want to run away and hide, or lash out, or get defensive. All of these are perfectly natural reactions, but all are the exact opposite of what you should do.’ Must read for all businesses.Read More


Can ‘mindfulness’ become part of an organisation’s culture? Yes, says psychologist and researcher Jutta Tobias in this Huffington Post article. The bad news though, is that there is no systematic formula for “making an organisation mindful.” Each organization needs to find its own path.Read More


Most leadership programs center around classroom-taught, rationally based, individual-focused methods. This is despite overwhelming evidence that the qualities that leaders in today’s world need are intuitive, dynamic, collaborative, and grounded in here-and-now emotional intelligence. HBR article on why most leadership training fails to deliver.Read More


Get Rid of the Cake Culture


These days, it is quite common to celebrate employees’ birthdays by cutting a cake in the office. It may seem like a harmless and fun way to make your employees feel special. But the truth is that this "cake culture" is fuelling obesity and dental problems.


We may have laughed our guts out watching the popular Seinfeld episode where Elaine gets addicted to the sugar rush from regular cake cuttings; but with most of us already dealing with fairly sedentary lifestyles, we don’t really need the extra sugar. How about thinking of some healthier food options to celebrate birthdays?


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