I was delighted to accept.
Breakfast at 8.30 and Shelley walked in at 8.30.
She traveled across continents, had a full day at the office the previous day, attended a party in her honour at Piyush’s (Pandey) house and mine was the first appointment in a day packed with appointments.
Shelley was as well prepared for my meeting with her as I was; she’d obviously been given a briefing document which she had absorbed intently.
One could safely presume that she would have done the same for all the others she was meeting for the first time on this India visit.
For someone her age, the raw energy and commitment to her job is fantastic. I won’t reveal her age, but I can say that she has worked for O&M for almost thirty years.
Before we had our formal talk, we spoke about cabbages and kings. Of the differences between China and India. Of the changes in China since she first visited that country. Of the developments in new media. Of Miles Young’s house in Shanghai. Of the slowdown and the downturn.
And of meetings and travel and video
Why does she travel around the world (often waking up in a sterile hotel room, taking a few seconds to figure out which city in which country in which continent she was in) when she could have these meetings without leaving town at all using modern tools and technology?
She’s not the only one. Earlier in the same week, Publicis Groupe’s Richard Pinder was here (and he was bang on time for an 8.45 breakfast meeting) after visiting Australia and en route to Paris.
Early next week, Tom Carroll, Keith Smith and Phil Brett will set up camp in Mumbai. Carroll will return to the US, Smith to Hong Kong and Brett to Singapore.
What makes them travel when, as I said earlier, much of what they seek to achieve could be achieved using technology and modern tools? Add to which travel is expensive, tiring, time-consuming?
Obviously, all of them believe that the cost of travel is worth it, the tiredness worth it and the time spent worth it as well.
There’s only so much that technology can do.
In the creation of advertising communication, the one thing that technology cannot do is to create the idea itself. Technology can help enhance the idea, probably help in reducing the time in transference of the idea to a piece of communication and so on – but cannot create the idea itself.
However much the Internet and mails can help you keep in touch super-efficiently, there’s nothing like a face to face meeting. You get a far better sense of the person you’re talking to, of his or her confidence, of the comfort and ease with colleagues and clients. There’s the body language, the clothes, the carriage, the bearing that you completely miss out on in electronic meetings.
Personally, I try and meet as many of the people we write about as possible – even if it means that I am often exhausted at the end of the week. I meet people over breakfast, lunch, a coffee or tea, a drink or seven or dinner.
I sometimes find it difficult to explain why I do this.
Because I often find it difficult to understand why I do this.
But looking at Lazarus, Pinder, Carroll, Smith and Brett, to name just a few, I feel better about my madness.
And feel better about my pressuring and prodding colleagues into doing the same. Get less electronic in your relationships and more old world. More real.