If you ever receive a mail that begins with ‘Congratulations!’ you know you’ve won some discount or some reward points (that’s what advertising does). But the mail I received one night was different. It was an invitation to Malaysia for Fasttrack 2018 by AFAA from Colvyn Harris (Trustee, STACA). My entry had made it to the privileged list.
Fast forward to a few weeks later, I was in Malaysia in a hotel hall with 35 strangers. Bharat Avalani, the chief knowledge officer of AFAA welcomed us and quoted an interesting line, ‘There are no strangers in this world. Just friends you haven’t met.’
The programme went on for three days. I disconnected my phone and connected with participants, exchanged views, learned about their countries, shared stories, participated wholeheartedly in every session, formed groups and a lot more that can’t and shouldn’t be described here. Simply because the training deserves to be experienced. Like the first rule of Fight Club, you do not talk about fight club.
Imagine Fasttrack as a mystery that’s waiting to be unlocked. Only the chosen few from each country get to experience it and receive the magical powers. Sounds like a super-hero fiction film, right? Yes, it is something like that.
Also, if time permits, you get to indulge in touristy activities, savour local food and experience Asia truly. Ad folks know the tagline I'm referring to.
For instance, here’s what some Fasttrackers were up to:
Ricky Chhajed, manager at Hansa events, scaled to the top of the tower only to realise he had vertigo.
Atreyi Nag, senior account executive at Bates & CHI, watched her Ringgits disappear and luggage weight increase.
Hesham Choudhary, account manager at WATConsult, went on a solo-honeymoon and gave his wife and others travel goals.
And this Fasttracker settled for burgers after failing miserably with chopsticks.
I'm thankful to AAAI and my seniors from Ogilvy for granting me this opportunity.I feel blessed to know my friend-list has become slightly richer with friends from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Nepal, Taiwan, Macau, and Indonesia.
Fasttrack isn't just a training programme or a workshop or a seminar. It's an experience with valuable lessons that will stay with me forever. An experience that has helped me transform strangers into friends and armed me with some magical powers.
(Sheldon D’souza is a copywriter from Ogilvy, Mumbai.)