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KV Sridhar (Pops) is one of the most respected creative leaders in the Indian Advertising World and has been the driving force behind several international awards including 22 Cannes Lions. He currently runs Hypercollective - a cross-disciplinary platform for leading independent companies in strategy, communication, content, design, technology and data to collaborate and solve real world problems for brands, institutions and governments.

In our conversation, Pops spoke about his humble beginnings and how dyslexia (which was a diagnosis that happened later in his life) had an implication of the choices he made. He candidly shares about a passage of play when he was beginning to be noticed in the ad world and was getting several job offers but he went against the flow and took a 6 month break in Goa to discover his voice and develop greater conviction in his career direction. He talks about how he has reinvented himself in the context of the changing role of Advertising and Technology in the lives of consumers. He also shares some of the insights from his book 30 Second Thrillers - the story behind the making of some of the most memorable and enduring advertisements in India. 

Published in Jan 2018.

Convergence of Strategy, Creative, Tech and Data

KV Sridhar (Pops) talks about how Hypercollective (a company he has just started) operates at the intersection of Strategy, Creative, Technology and Data and combines all four diverse disciplines to present an integrated offering to the clients. He specifically talks about the crucial role of orchestrators that connect the dots across the various disciplines.

Early Childhood and Dyslexia

KV Sridhar (Pops) talks about his childhood and how he had challenges due to Dyslexia (which was discovered much later). He mentions that in a lot of ways his story is not that different from Taare Zameen Par (Bollywood movie starting Aamir Khan). He also talks about his daughter being diagnosed with dyslexia and how he worked with her to overcome the problem.

Early career choices - Medical Rep/Painting/Advertising

KV Sridhar (Pops) talks about how he thought about an early fork in the road where he had to choose between disparate options in front of him. One was to become a Medical Representative which was highly lucrative in those days, Second was to become a Drawing teacher and the third was to pursue art in the world of advertising. He discusses how he walked the tightrope where the mind and heart were pulling him in different directions.

Rejecting 3 jobs and painting in Goa

KV Sridhar (Pops) talks about how came to Mumbai to pursue commercial opportunities and cast his net beyond Hyderabad – where he grew up. He also talks about the fact that very quickly he got himself three offers (on the creative and commercial side) but decided to go to Goa to learn and reboot. He talks about how he led the life of a vagabond for a few months and how he landed the next role at Ulka.

Transitioning from Advertising to the Tech world

KV Sridhar (Pops) talks about how he thought about the move from the world of Advertising to the world of Technology. He also speaks about the notion of staying relevant in the context of children and consumers and how one needs to be in sync with them to be able to connect with them.

Advertising as a career option

KV Sridhar (Pops) talks about the inherent traits one should possess to flourish in the world of advertising. He talks about the notion of story-telling relating it to how children lie but get away with it because of the innocence. He also alludes to the criticality of understanding the client business, socio-cultural trends and a nuanced understanding of human behavior to flourish in the industry.

Evolving perspectives on success and impact

KV Sridhar (Pops) talks about how his metrics of success have slowly shifted from business outcomes (brand performance, ad recall) towards the impact he makes on humanity. He talks about the responsibility the advertising industry has in addressing and influencing the biases (conscious and unconscious) that exist in the society today. He specifically refers to the unconscious biases towards girls and women and what he did to sensitize the ecosystem.

Developing as a leader

KV Sridhar (Pops) talks about the downside of being competitive in a space like Advertising where it is critical to create a climate where the members of the team can be creative and come up with impactful ideas that work. He also talks about how he has approached learning and his self-development as he has gone through his career.

Settling effectively in a new organization

KV Sridhar talks about his perspectives on settling into an organization and how leaders should think about what to maintain and what to change. He makes the case for imbibing the values of the organization and then interpreting it differently as you slowly build trust with the ecosystem.

Secret sauce behind great ads and film-makers

KV Sridhar talks about what separates the great ads and film makers from the rest. He shares his insights from his recently launched book – 30 Second Thrillers where he goes behind the scenes of legendary ads (tag lines such as Wah Taj, Hamara Bajaj, Only Vimal, I love you Rasna) and breaks down the secret sauce behind the ads and the ad film makers.

Building story telling skills

KV Sridhar talks about the distinction between creativity and craftsmanship. He mentions that all living beings (not just human beings) including creatures like ants have the ability to be creative. But for us to express it effectively, we need to practice our craft – whether it is story writing, photography, humour or anything else. And mastering that takes years and years of practice.

In Summary - Playing to Potential

KV Sridhar talks about the criticality of finding one’s purpose and impacting society beyond oneself. He also talks about not being anchored or limited by one’s educational background. He talks about how (irrespective of what we end up doing), our past learning almost always comes into play in some shape or form.

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