I’m a Social Media Entrepreneur, Professor of Digital Marketing, Author of 5 books, Podcaster and an Organic Farmer.


Seeing Tech Folks Blossom as Writers

The people you see in this photo are special. They are wonderful programmers and coders with a treasure trove of technical knowledge. However, much like most tech folks, they lack the confidence to share their knowledge in writing. That’s when Suresh Sambandam, the CEO of OrangeScape and KISSflow, came with an idea. We discussed a writing workshop and I helped conduct one at Vaksana Farms over a weekend. This was a month ago and today we had our first review meeting. I was super impressed that all of them have consistently written their blog posts and on their way to successfully finishing their 100 day writing challenge. We even shortlisted names of Chief Guests who will headline the celebration event on March 26, the 100th day of the challenge.

Here are my key learning.
1) The Team Spirit is the Magic Potion. It’s no longer an individual goal but a group effort. We are all social animals and we perform better in groups.

2) Consistency is Key: Every afternoon the team gets together for a writing session. This is self-organized. No pressure from me or the CEO. Regular freestyle writing let’s the thought juices flow and makes writing easy.

3) Deadline Matters: March 26th is the 100th day of the challenge. Everybody has clear view of the end goal. This gives clarity and forces to put the writing as a priority task as no one person wants to be seen as a laggard during the launch function.

4) Just Ship it: Much like the agile method that the developers are very familiar, the trick is to quickly publish it and NOT put it in draft. For a person getting started with writing, publishing anything, even a half baked blog post, is better than putting it in the dungeons of drafts which may never see the light of day.

5) Have Fun: No wonder OrangeScape won the top slot in the best places to work category. There is such positive spirit, joviality and supportive camaraderie amongst the team.

Seeing the team succeed is what gives me high and motivates me to conduct the workshops at my farm.

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The Thambi Vilas Dining Experience

After finishing a work meeting, we decided to head out for lunch. ‘Thambi Vilas’ hotel was recommended and so we decided to try it out.

The first impression was a good one. It’s a Chettinad restaurent and must compliment them for the wonderful, well thought out design that did justice to the place.

Attention to details such as brass taps, black and white flooring, colonial furniture, old photos and even the vintage switches. I wish they has used vintage fans. This could have greatly added to the authentic ambience.

Here are a few photos of the restaurent.

However, the food was below par and did not live up to expectation. Our team had both veg meals and non-veg meals and both could have been better.

The elaneer payasam though was heavenly and that gave a nice finish to our dining experience.

Visit this place for the ambience.

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The Amazing Feat of Getting the Entire Tamil Film Fraternity to Malaysia

Kudos to Shahul Hameed Dawood (standing next to Kamal) for pulling off the near impossible… organizing a *M.A.S.S.I.V.E* show getting almost the entire Tamil film fraternity to Malaysia…including Rajini and Kamal. This includes all the heroes and heroines of not just the current generation but previous two generations as well.

When I was in KL last year, I remember the time when Shahul and his team had started to ideate on this. Now to see his small but a cracker of a team pull this off is amazing and inspiring.

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Podcasts with Sterling MD & CMO Coming Up

Today, am heading to the new Sterling office to meet its MD, Ramesh Ramanathan and its CMO, Peshwa Acharya. Sterling is among India’s largest holiday companies and they are credited with a brilliant business turnaround and recently went through a complete overhaul in branding.

I’m interviewing Ramesh, who I have known personally for two decades now for the Movers & Shakers Podcast to discuss the power of thinking big and importantly acting on those ambitions.

The conversation with Peshwa will be for my soon to be launched show exclusively focusing on Global CMOs and the cutting edge marketing techniques.

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Non-Agri Lessons I Learned from Conducting the Food Forest Workshop

Lessons #1: During our lunch on Day 2 at the Temple, Amar Ramesh, the founder of StudioA, encouraged me to use Instagram more often. He looked at me and said, ‘Kiruba, the World is moving away from Facebook’.  Taking a cue from him, I have updated the Instagram account for Vaksana Farms. Also, committing myself to keep it updated regularly along with Facebook.

Lesson #2:  I’ve known  Amar Ramesh and Venkatesh Pannirselvan, a serial entrepreneur, for some time now. Both of them attended the Food Forest Workshop that I recently conducted at Vaksana Farms. I have noticed a certain characteristic of them. They consciously invest the time and effort to continuously keep learning. They regularly attend training programs (both of them have been to Vaksana farms programs three times).  This inspired me to take action today. I have signed up for a Permaculture Workshop conducted by Krishna McKenzie of Solitude Farms on Feb 26, 27 & 28.

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Lessons from the Auroville Farms Visit

Here is my list of learning from the visit to the three Auroville farms as part of the Food Forest Workshop I conducted on the first weekend of 2018.  We visited Buddha Garden, Pebble Garden, and Siddhartha Farm.

 Install Drip Irrigation: I was earlier pussyfooting on this because of the cost. Now, I strongly feel its worth the investment. All the three farms had drip installed and they were flourishing. Its no wonder they are able to run the farm with such minimal labor.

– Volunteer: I have decided to stay and volunteer for three days at Buddha Gardens. An immersive practical experience would be helpful to learn the finer aspects. They key things I intend to learn are 1) Do’s and Dont’s in drip irrigation setup. 2) Mulching and Composting best practices 3) Best practices in fruit trees maintenance.

– Neem Pesticide:  This is an important lesson I learned from Herbert at Siddhartha Farms. He recommended collecting neem seeds, crushing it into powder, soaking it in water overnight and spraying it on the saplings.  Pests are a big problem at our farm and this is something I intend to put into action right away.

– Ponds:  In all the three farms we visited, ponds were a standard feature. I intend to dig two small ponds near the food forest region.

– Storytelling: I really liked how Priya of Buddha Garden had put up descriptions and key learnings in all parts of the farm. This is useful for visitors to do self-tours of the farm and still learn without a guide. This is not my priority right now but I foresee doing something like this in 3 years time.

– Compost Toilet: Definitely building one. Bernard of Pebble Garden mentioned the importance of urine and humanure. Besides, we need more toilets at Vaksana Farms to reduce the rush when large groups come to stay at the farmhouse.

– Outdoor Bathrooms: I’m sure the folks who took bath in the open and shivered at 5 AM will support this decision!! 🙂  Currently, we only have one indoor bathroom. The place clearly requires a few more outdoor ones.

– Raised Beds: While my entire focus will be on ensuring the survival of the fruit saplings, I plan to invest and build raised vegetable garden beds in 2019. I saw how well this was done at Buddha Gardens and Siddhartha Farms.

– Light Roofing: I’ve been wracking my brain on what roofing material to use for the second farmhouse I intend to build. Certainly concrete was out because of the cost. Asbestos is out because it is carcinogenic. Steel sheets are out because of the heat and noise during rains. Thatched roof is out because of the high maintenance and low longevity. Mangalore tiles are nice. The light roofing material at Buddha Gardens offered an interesting alternative. I will investigate more on the pros and cons but right now this looks like a good option.

I intend to organize one more  Food Forest Workshop in a few months. By that time, I would have visited a few Food Forests in New Zealand and attended a few more permaculture courses to arm myself with more practical knowledge.

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The Status of my Blogging One Week into 2018

2018 is eight days old. So, how am I doing in my 365 blog posts challenge?  Lagging behind already by 3 posts.  I know the problem. It’s not lack of ideas. I have lots of them. It’s not the writing bit. I can write freestyle with no problem. The problem is discipline. Actually the lack of it. The solution is to write down my ideas as soon as I get them and not hold it for later. Once I start doing this regularly, the habit will start to stick. So, how is your new year goals holding up?

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Received the Seeds from AliExpress

When I ordered over 15 varieties of tropical fruit seeds from AliExpress, I was very sceptical. The prices were so low that they were to good to be true. I checked with my friends on Facebook and had favorable response and so I went ahead with the ordering fully knowing that I might get scammed.

So, you can imagine my pleasant surprise when I received all the seed packets. The 15 packets came separately via regular post.

AliExpress had passed the first test of confidence. However, none of the packets had the name of the seeds. So now, I’m quite confused which one is which.

I read online that the seeds don’t match that if the fruits promised. I can only asertain after the seeds have sprouted which could be a few weeks away. This will be the second and the most important test of confidence for AliExpress. If they pass through this, they would have won an ardent customer in me.

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Food Forest Workshop at Vaksana Farms

I’m very excited for the Food Forest Workshop that’s taking place at Vaksana Farms, my 13 acre farm in Tamilnadu. It’s happening this weekend on 6 & 7 January.

The party I’m most excited is meeting other farm enthusiasts who are coming from across India. It’s going to be an amazing two days of knowledge sharing.

I’ve just begun the food forest journey at the farm and this workshop was the perfect reason for me to spend quality time preparing for it. I’m not coming in as an expert but as a facilitator to bring out the best from the participants. On Sunday, we are visiting the established farm in Auroville to learn from experience who have been farming for close to two decades.

There’s an intense goal setting for our farms in 2018 and this should be exciting. I’ll soon share my experience and photos from the workshop.

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Write a Letter to Yourself in the Future.

I recently discovered this site which lets you send emails to yourself in the future. We can’t talk to our past self but we can speak to our future self. An interesting way to visualize the person you want to be and describe the achievements you want the future self to accomplish. An interesting novelty worth a try. I sent three letters to myself and am conscious I need to accomplish certain important tasks before emails reach me in the future.

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