I’ve never been a financial savvy guy. I’ve not had a keen eye on investments, or on numbers. Stockpiling money, or what the ‘smart’ people call financial robustness has always felt a bit vulgar, or selfish to put it mildly. For me it’s always been about people; passionate, brilliant, rebellious creative people. And they can come from any sphere of life. A chef who finds a way fight for ethical practices in an assembly line culture of fast food, a musician who is more bothered about originality instead of selling out as soon as possible, or a writer who chooses to use words as information instead of pandering. And I’ve associated with them, in work and in spirit. Because I truly believed that if five smart folks were locked in a room, they will find a way to break down the walls. In both literal and lateral terms. It’s always been about the bigger, better ideas; about bigger, better brains. I truly believed that the world will see value of a great idea, and choose it over the good ones. That if I can somehow find a niche that is primed for mainstream, there will be people who will find the same enthusiasm, and share the spirit of eureka, and no, I’m not referring in any way the mediocre consumer goods brand.
But I’ve realised this over the last few years that ideas don’t matter, honesty even less so. I’ve learned that people with investment capabilities can give less of an eff about passion if that was physically possible. They care about mad creative people even less so. In fact, I’ve been repeatedly told not to be honest, to never mention that I’m fiscally challenged or that I think money will come if the idea is great. I’ve been warned about how to dress, how to speak, when to keep quiet. I’ve been told not to come across as someone overtly passionate as to not scare off the oh so elusive VC, or seed funder or angel investor or whatever self-fellating names they want to be called as. Because they don’t want passion, they don’t want someone on fire, they don’t want someone who is all heart. They don’t want beautifully crafted pitch decks, they don’t want art, they don’t want design. What they want is an excel sheet. They don’t want genre bending, vertical creating ideas; they could give less of a bird’s hind-side about them, irrespective of all the jargons they throw around. They want projections, numbers and lofty ideas boxed in to the smallest row & column. Logic is irrelevant, common sense is irrelevant, data is irrelevant. The only relevant thing is what they see, and how they see it. And that’s fine. That’s absolutely fine. No one cares about a mad man screaming about intangible, when the world is run and ruined by ‘smart’ people with financial skills & ‘smarter’ investment bankers. They know how to make money through the power of arithmetic, and thats all that matters. This percentage there, that percentage here; Boom! Profit. Its all a numbers game. So it’s fine. Turns out the only way a creative person can scratch their itch and go free is by saving up, using their own money and persevere to a place where the same numbers people find value in their endeavours and figure out a way to milk it to their benefit.
If I sound extremely naive, stupid or completely impractical; that’s because I do realise that I am. But I’m not supposed to be otherwise, am I? No one expects Warren Buffet to ace cubism, or Tim Cook to write a sonnet. Then what is this insanity where a writer, an artist, a musician with a dream and a potentially brilliant idea also needs to have the financial wizardry of a retired banker? I call them wankers actually. Because through these fifteen odd years of me building brands, I’ve come across CEOs & CMOs & COOs who can’t hardly contain their smugness, or wait to instantly judge you when they realise that you aren’t savvy in their skills, that you actually value people more than money, or that there are actual ethical lines you wont cross. Oh the disdain; but its actually extremely motivating. It’s actually freeing to not see your team, yourself or your subordinates as more than head-counts that you need to bill the client on, to see them more than work hour multipliers, and as people. I have never understood this culture, of time sheets, of man hours; because it’s really NOT a system. A dedicated resource will work first and fore mostly for themselves, and then for you. It’s immeasurable how long it takes to get to a better idea, a bigger concept. So boxing that person in to timesheets is in every way counterproductive. And the person who is happily complying to this system, is doing so because it helps them not do their job, since the quantifying nature of what they produce is quantity and not quality.
I’m ranting and raving because it costs nothing to do so. I’m sure there will be others who find themselves on the opposite end of my belief system. And that’s absolutely fine. I’m not here to change your opinion, I don’t know you, so I could give a damn. This is to reach out to the fence-sitters and the ones who disagree to turning talent into numbers. Because numbers are demeaning, numbers are void of emotions, numbers are a very biased way of looking at ideas. Mostly because numbers are quantified through the lens of today, the dreamers are always ahead of that. And finally, numbers can’t predict, they can only assume; numbers cannot calculate what doesn’t exist, they can only tell you what’s already been done. I effing hate numbers, and people who box themselves and demean others by turning people into nothing more than decimals.
The idea is dead. Long live the idea.
Guest Editor: Mr. Abhishake Das – Founder, Creative Director – Orwellian Dreams