EXCLUSIVE | Ashwani Singla, Astrum: 2020 – A Year to Remember, not Forget

image-Ashwani-Singla-Founding-Managing-Partner-Astrum-Exclusive-MediaBrief

Ashwani Singla, Founding Managing Partner of Astrum — India’s first specialist reputation management advisory that uses science to understand and shape public opinion ethically – is counted amongst the most remarkable PR and Strategic Communications professionals in the industry. Across two decades of stellar experience, Ashwani has donned the role of a trusted advisor and strategist for both — the C-Suite and Political leaders, and has advised Indian and multinational corporations across a range of sectors.

Ashwani has been the election campaign strategist and pollster for leading national and regional political parties, and has been involved in several successful national and state election campaigns for close to a decade, including the defining 2014 campaign of the BJP.

Prior to founding Astrum, Ashwani was CEO and Co-Promoter of Genesis Burson-Marsteller, and Asia MD of Penn Schoen Berland. He is also the Founder & Executive Director of Impact Research & Measurement.

In this exclusive piece, Ashwani reflects upon 2020, which he describes as the year to always remember for the never-before learnings it yielded when it gave us the opportunity to pause and reflect upon what is most meaningful to us in life and at work.

This is an insightful reflection filled with empathy, sensitivity, wisdom and the kind of inspiration that will remain an ever relevant guidance for us across our professional and personal lives as we emerge from the wake of the most disastrous year in living human memory.

Read on.

Many of my friends and family talk about 2020 as a year to forget, and for good reason.  Not only did we lose several family and friends to COVID19, but also did not get an opportunity to properly condole and console; we had to reset our lives to accommodate each other’s extended work hours while coping with loss of income/jobs. The pandemic took its toll on many lives and the livelihoods of many.

I could go on about the physical and emotional upheaval caused by COVID19, instead I want to focus on what it taught us and how we emerged stronger and smarter from it and become better versions of ourselves.

The lessons learnt about leadership and compassion during a human crisis are priceless: Ashwani Singla

In 2020 we learnt to appreciate each other a lot more; whether family, friends or colleagues, we met virtually, had real conversations and got to know each other better than ever before. This connection, although established virtually, is priceless.

In 2020, we learnt to value of our health & well-being. COVID19 and lockdown increased our focus on keeping our minds and body fit. In fact, a new acronym was coined: MAMAL (Middle-Aged-Men-In-Lycra). Sounds facetious but points to a new reality of fitness focus of those who traditionally ignored their health at the altar of their career. Families chose healthier meal options; regular exercise became the norm and return-to-the-roots yoga became fashionable with the New India. This focus on health and well-being is priceless.

We learnt to value of our health & well-being. COVID19 and lockdown increased our focus on keeping our minds and body fit. In fact, a new acronym was coined: MAMAL (Middle-Aged-Men-In-Lycra). Sounds facetious but points to a new reality of fitness focus of those who traditionally ignored their health at the altar of their career: Ashwani Singla

In 2020, we learnt to learn. We invested in ourselves to upgrade our existing skills and add some new ones in our arsenal. We OD-ed on webinars and virtual conferences. MOOCs became our BFFs. This investment in learning to learn is priceless.

In 2020, we learnt to do a lot more with a lot less. Some of it forced upon us as travel and hospitality options dried out and salary and/or job loss necessitated the need to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’. We learnt the value to simple living and enjoying the little things that mattered more than material. Living a sustainable lifestyle is priceless.

In 2020, we learnt to be ready for the ‘just-in-case’ scenarios. We learnt that none of us are insulated from a crisis in life or at work. CXOs struggled as revenues fell off the cliff, supply chain came to grinding halt and staff was locked down and they perhaps faced an unprecedented threat to their business and business model. The lessons learnt about leadership and compassion during a human crisis are priceless.

In 2020, many a homemaker and working professional grew to be an entrepreneur, spawning a variety of businesses run from their kitchens, bedrooms or balconies. This unleashing of the entrepreneurial spirit is priceless.

My point is simple, our glass can be half-full or half-empty. The pandemic whilst extracting a tremendous cost has also afforded us a rare opportunity to truly pause and reflect upon what is most meaningful to us in life and at work. Let’s not allow these reflections to be wasted as we emerge out of
this crisis: Ashwani Singla

In 2020, we learnt that science would prevail and developed vaccines in the shortest period in human history! That is priceless.

We heard stories of the triumph of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable adversity and the will to prevail no matter what. That will to prevail is priceless.

My point is simple, our glass can be half-full or half-empty. The pandemic whilst extracting a tremendous cost has also afforded us a rare opportunity to truly pause and reflect upon what is most meaningful to us in life and at work. Let’s not allow these reflections to be wasted as we emerge out of this crisis.

Therefore, the biggest opportunity going into 2021 would be to generate maximum returns the lessons the pandemic has taught us. They say, ‘public memory is short’ or a ‘leopard never changes it spots’.

Can we break through our own stereotypes as we step into 2021?

Think about it.

Your thoughts, please