Shombit Books

My books are from my experience in society, business and art

My books are from my experience in society, business and art
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Subroto Bagchi
Author & Chairman, MindTree Ltd.
At the launch of Shombit Sengupta's Strategic Pokes in Bangalore
I first learnt about Shombit from Azim Premji. I was the chairman of Wipro’s Sales and Marketing Council at that time (mid to late 1990s) and Azim Premji told me about rebranding Wipro. The Chief Executive Council (CEC) of Wipro had no idea about branding; I had no idea about branding either. Here comes Shombit. My job was made more difficult trying to translate Shombit’s French- Bengali-English into a language that post 50’s men could understand. It was a hell of a torturous task I had to go through for 18 months of our consulting experience with Shombit. But for me, that was a defining period.

Shombit talked about stuff like P & P (perceived and potential) research, which was about the brand’s existing value and potential value. It was the first time we heard about doing brand research. After his research, he presented his recommendation to the CEC. People were just stunned to speak, it was obviously very shocking. Premji would never overrule his Executive Council. Shombit was not just there to recommend a brand or brand path and take his fee and go; he was so passionate, he wanted it to be implemented. He wanted a decision then and there. Premji looked around his reportees. They were shocked, silenced and didn’t know how to react. They certainly were not buying the new ideas because they were too radical. So Premji also kept quiet.

Shombit sensed that it was not going anywhere. He really got mad and said, “Azim, if you don’t do this, I’m…., I’m….” he paused, looked around and continued, “I’m going to strip right here!” Premji quickly reacted, “No, no, don’t do that!” Everybody laughed, the ice was broken. That’s Shombit for you.

In the mid-1990s, Shombit told me that Indian brands were not yet ready to take on the world. In fact he would always proceed by research, and talk to his potential and existing clients about the importance of research, but Indian corporations, he said, didn’t understand the essence of branding that he evangelized, and were ill equipped to handle the opening of the economy.

If you look at Shombit’s progression and his current book, it’s quite phenomenal that he has evolved cerebrally as a writer. You must be wondering about the thought process behind the book, his approach to branding, to understanding consumer behavior, his whole take on life and living, and understanding where it all begins. The book is phenomenal, an exploration of many issues for you to read.

How Shombit’s mind works?

How does Shombit’s mind work? I have seriously been flummoxed and surprised, sometimes shocked, not just today, and tried to decode what goes on in his head. If you look at the audience here, you would find the biggest head is Shombit’s. The other man who had a big head that stood out was CK Prahalad’s, both fundamentally because of the size of their brain.

There’s a lot of research going on about how people think. Why does Shombit think like this and others don’t? This brings us to the idea of how thoughts happen to begin with. If you look at Shombit’s brain and your and my brain, what’s common is the primitive brain which is the amygdala. Now this is the intuitive brain, the primordial brain that does not see in alpha numeric characters. We are factory fitted and shipped into this world with the primitive brain that’s fully formed in the mother’s womb. It basically interprets sight, sounds, movement and color. That’s why Shombit’s clothes are so colorful like what he’s wearing.

Above that is the neocortical brain which keeps growing until you are about 8 years. The neocortical brain has two sides: the left brain is logical; the right brain sees patterns. If you look at Shombit’s whole approach and thought process with ours, we engage one part of the brain at a time when looking at something. Some get triggered by the emotive primitive brain. Some people rationalize. That’s neocortical brain thinking, the left, logical side; the right has the relational brain. But the way I have seen Shombit working, his entire brain lights up at the same time. That is something you will experience when you read his new book – Strategic Pokes.

Once you understand how his brain works, that he is simultaneously using left brain and right brain, neocortical and primitive, there is no need for sophistication because he is continuously thinking the same way. He is not trying to sugar-coat something nor is he trying to say something which sounds good. He will say just what comes as it processes in his mind. That is a very fascinating, powerful thing.

Of late what is happening is that branding, which was considered witchcraft, is becoming more scientific. People understand how the human mind works, which is basically a function of four kinds of people sitting together: the neuroscientist, psychologist, the geneticist and fourthly the whole imaging technology. Now with this I think people like Shombit will gain significant currency.

India’s future lies with no-collar working class

Another significant thing in this book is the way he desperately tries to draw attention to the fact that India will not succeed unless people who are neither blue collar nor white collar, the in-between category, they become world class. If you walk into an electronic showroom today, the person presenting the product doesn’t even know what goes inside the product. That’s social failure of the same kind as the lock and key for the refrigerator. Society is not questioning why. This book is an urgent call for policy makers, thinkers and industrialist to actually pay attention to that human capital.

Strategic Pokes is a call to action for those hiring the salesman in the electronic shop, the bespoke tailoring guy, technicians of various sorts and other in-between categories. Those in authority have to bring a level of training, understanding and capacity building.

The book is about challenging Indian social thinking, asking that we disengage with our traditional way of looking at the sense of fairness. People imagine branding is about advertising or marketing. Actually Shombit’s branding builds a value centric company in a society where consumers ask a question and industry responds with something valuable. In this book, Shombit is basically asking policy makers, thinkers, teachers, students and certainly the industry to re-think their priorities.
Dr Giorgio De Roni   Jacques Vincent
Dr Giorgio De Roni,
CEO, GoAir, sharing his views on the book Strategic Pokes at KIIT University, Bhubaneswar
  Jacques Vincent,
Director & former Vice Chairman of Groupe Danone, at the launch of
the book Strategic Pokes
Harsh Mariwala   Subroto Bagchi
Harsh Mariwala,
Chairman & MD, Marico Limited, at the launch of
the book Strategic Pokes
in Mumbai
  Subroto Bagchi,
Author & Chairman, MindTree Ltd., at the launch of the book Strategic Pokes in Bangalore
Prince Augustin   S Raghunath
Prince Augustin, EVP - Group Human Capital & Leadership Development, M&M, at the launch of the book Strategic Pokes in Mumbai   S Raghunath,
Author, Dean & Professor, Corporate Strategy & Policy, IIM Bangalore, at the launch of the book Strategic Pokes in Bangalore
R Gopalakrishnan   Abhijit Bhaduri
R Gopalakrishnan,
Executive Director, Tata Sons, at the launch of the book Strategic Pokes in Mumbai
  Abhijit Bhaduri, Author & Chief Learning Officer, Wipro Ltd., at the launch of the book Strategic Pokes in Bangalore
Vivek Mehra   Sonia Kumar
Vivek Mehra,
Managing Director & CEO, Sage Publications, at the launch of the book Strategic Pokes in Mumbai
  Sonia Kumar, Senior VP Finance & Operations, Sage Publications, at the launch of the book Strategic Pokes in Bangalore
48 hours to leave France   Art of the brand   Jalebi Management   Strategic Pokes   Corrugated Slices
1st book: 1991
48 hours to leave France
in French
Publisher: Michelle Lafont, Paris
2nd book: 1994
Art of the brand,
The 10 commandments of strategic design
Publisher: Rupa, India
3rd book: 2007
First book of Jalebi Trilogy : Jalebi Management,
All stakeholders can enjoy
a bite
Publisher: Sage Publications, USA
4th book: 2014
Second book of Jalebi Trilogy: Strategic Pokes,
The Business Jalebi
Publisher: Sage Publications, USA
Forthcoming 5th book:
Third book of Jalebi Trilogy: Corrugated Slices,
The Business Jalebi
Publisher: Sage Publications, USA
  Shombit Sengupta  
  Available online:  
  Shombit Sengupta, Strategic Pokes Infibeam, Flipkart, Crossword, Bookadda,
Amazon India, Amazon UK, Amazon US
Crossword Bookstore, Frazer Town, <br />
Bangalore Hyatt Hotel, Adjacent to Lido Mall, <br />
Bangalore Grand Hyatt, Santacruz East, <br />Mumbai School of Management,<br />
KIIT University, Bhubaneswar Breaking news in 24 Ghata news <br />
channel in Kolkata Author’s Corner @ Hall no. 12,<br />
                                  World Book Fair 2014, in New Delhi