Moneycontrol
Aug 27, 2012 03:06 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

Innovation nothing but a mindset: Mahesh Murthy

Over the past couple of years Samsung and CNBC-TV18 have worked relentlessly to bring to the forefront entrepreneursand innovators who have the potential to create a better tomorrow.


Over the past couple of years Samsung and CNBC-TV18 have worked relentlessly to bring to the forefront entrepreneursand innovators who have the potential to create a better tomorrow.


Today, We get up-close and personal with women and men who are keeping the spark of innovation and entrepreneurship alive.


We will meet three people who are grown to be industry icons for their outstanding innovations in the worlds of music, literature and advertising. Leslie Lewis, the person who shot to fame almost  15 years with his chart busting songs 'Pari Hoon Main' and his album Colonial Cousins. He has kept the flame of innovation alive with his work on the CokeStudio Indiaseries.


The second guest is a college dropout who sold vacuumcleaners for a living. After that he spent 27 years in managing brands likeUnilever, The Economist, Pepsi, MTV, Channel V and Yahoo. He is now a venturecapitalists, columnist and CEO of Pinstorm, Mahesh Murthy.


Our next guest proudly claims that he dropped out of college and sold vacuumcleaners for a living. After that he spent 27 years in managing brands likeUnilever, The Economist, Pepsi, MTV, Channel V and Yahoo. He is now a venturecapitalists, columnist and CEO of Pinstorm, Mahesh Murthy.


Our third guest on the show, works on the philosophy of why wear justone hat when you can wear them all. Columnist, journalist, screen writer,author of the critically acclaimed Game World series and Turbulence, a name toreckon with in the world of science fiction in India, Samit Basu.


Below is the edited transcript of the interview.


Q: What is innovation?


Murthy: Innovation is the act of doing something differently and more efficiently from the way its always been done to solve a particular problem.


Q: So, two aspects, differently and more efficiently. Just differently is not good enough?


Murthy: Just differently is just the sake of being different. That difference has to end up with some tangible advantage or some tangible importance to you.


Q: Everybody talks about innovation. Books are written about it, consultants are paid millions of dollars to achieve it. People give seminars and talk aboutit endlessly. Can innovation actually be taught or can it be transmitted from one person to the other?


Murthy: Innovation is a mindset. We Indians have always been famous for this innovation thing that we call "Jugaad". It is always how do we make the best out of constricted circumstances and you find a way out. We find a way to make sure that we get our passport on time, our ration cards on time, ourdriving licence back from the cop who stopped us. Every one of these things is innovation. It is a mindset.


I don’t know if its hard to formally teach innovation. I used to teach once at one the colleges, but certainly you can bring people up in an environment where it is expected and they are rewarded for being innovators.


Q: The words different and efficient may not apply to innovation as you would see it in the world of writing?


Basu: In writing and in arts in general it is finding a way to be eccentric that the rest of the world can also relate to. It is not just a question of having a new idea. It is a question of having a new idea that other people don’t think is just strange.


Q: So, acceptable, eccentricity that is a pretty unique phrase. So, how do you keep this environment that Mahesh talked about? He said if you are in the environment that inculcates innovation, you will probably end up being innovative. What is your environment?


Basu: When you are trying to make a living as a writer, what you have to do is, not only keep coming up with new things, but come up with new things that some idea of how to sell as well because that is how you make your living.


When I started writing about 10 years ago, I was obsessed with the idea of just inventing something new with everything that I did. I kept finding that if it wasn’t something that was generally identifiable while it might seem that writing is a one person industry, it is really not. You have your publisher,they have their distributors and so on. The practical thing to do - in films as well, is to simply give people what they are already familiar with. That’s by nature less exciting than coming up with something on your own.


Q: Do publishers ask you to to write Indian version of Lord of the Rings, science fiction fantasy novel or an Harry Potter?


Basu: Seven producers so far – Lord of the Rings styled --- based on the Mahabharat. I actually dropped out of IIM-A after a month, so I just got a little degree.


Q: Leslie Lewis, 15 years ago you came up with 'Pari Hoon Main' with Sunita Rao and that song literally stopped the nation in its tracks. People hadn't heardmusic of that nature. You gave birth to this whole phenomenon which was impolitely called Indi-pop at that time. So, what do you think it was? What about that one song you think it was that gave people sudden new meaning and access to relating to music?


Lewis: Actually, it came from my own personal thing of not wanting to go the tried and tested Bollywood way because I come from a background of not just Bollywood, but also Eric Clapton, JB Hendricks and Beatles and stuff.


So, I said how can I just bring them together in my own way and having grown upon a lot of folk music through All India Radio, they have got some great folkmusic. If you listen to Pari Hoon Main, it is very pahadi, at the same time it is very pan-India feel.


It has got a nice vibe that Indians love and it is Western enough for the fashion industry to have woken up and say "we want to walk to this track." So, I think for me it was just about expressing myself more than trying to create something, but I think that's what keeps happening, everytime I want to sort of reposition what I am doing to make it exciting for myself, it gets noticed by others and they say "Oh! that's great"and like Samit said whatever you do, I could do stuff that nobody relates to and I will be very happy.

But for Colonial Cousins, when we were recording andHariharan is a great singer, he is a fabulous singer and he was just singing and I said "no not that, only this much" and after sometime he said "you are not letting me sing, I am only singing 20% of my ability", I said "that's all we need" because we will go pass the mass audience and maybe that's what kept the mass audience on Colonial Cousins when we first released it.

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