Our lessons from the Covid 19 crisis: Dr Rishi Bhatnagar, President, Aeris Communications- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Dr Rishi Bhatnagar, President, Aeris Communications, tells us how his firm’s preparedness for disasters has helped it maintain business as usual
We, at Aeris, stand by our commitment to serve our clients, partners and associates while keeping health and wellbeing of our employees, partners, associates and their families on priority. Taking cognizance of WHO data that social distancing in the fourth and fifth week after first case is crucial to contain the infection, we have mandated work from home and obeying the directive released Government of India to the private sector to lockdown office premises. There is a great responsibility on us as a trusted IoT technology partner to do what it takes to make sure everything works at this time of stress. Hence, before locking down our office, we successfully tested and executed department wise Business Continuity Plan for uninterrupted services from Aeris to our customers.
Key IT initiatives taken 
Digital Access: Aeris Customer Support and Helpdesk teams are available round the clock to extend any support and information to our customers over the email: [email protected] IoT device installation videos and self-help guides have been made available to clients.
Deployment & Device Implementation Services: Our deployment and installation support team is fully equipped for working from home. All processes related to national and international customer onboarding, account related operations and troubleshooting are enabled for smooth functioning along with remote testing and verification activities. Each team member provisioned and trained on at-least two functional processes.
Sufficient Inventory has been stocked and ready in advance to meet any contingency. Our partners are enabled to send the inventories directly to customer locations. Measures have been taken for priority and speedy courier. However, actual delivery may get impacted with due to the courier service availability and government advisory on regional lockdown. All on-field visits and 3rd Party physical installation activities are currently available, subject to government advisory on travel and movement of goods and people for each region of operations. Installation training video and self-help guides have been made available for installations.
Operational Redundancy: We have built a full-fledged contingency plan to deal with any event. Our critical Global Network Operating Centers and Help Desk are operational 24×7. We have enabled our teams to work remotely with cross functional training. Additional back-up resources in each shift have been identified to work in emergency situation to ensure smooth operations.
Key challenges faced
Impact on organizational cultureWhile work from home is the trend these days, we have always valued and encouraged face to face collaboration. Hence, it might be challenging for everyone adjusting to this new routine. We have always worked closely as a team and seeing faces of employees every morning while stepping inside the office has brightened the day.
While, there are much fewer opportunities to connect in person throughout the day, employees are leveraging virtual mediums to connect. For managers, setting and managing expectations on working from home means taking a big leap of faith with respect to team management. This means trusting that they will take care of their daily work routine as well as personal well-being. Challenge for HR is to make sure Leaders are cognizant of the challenges and need to keep their teams engaged and connected during this period.
Much before the lockdown was announced, we had successfully completed dry run on making teams work from home in different departments from President’s office to Finance, to Engineering and GSOC to Deployment and Implementation and had aligned our partners for the worst case scenarios. The business continuity process was also initiated. However, the biggest challenge is faced by our salesforce who cannot meet clients face to face. This adds to the lack of visibility of the overall business realisation for this and coming quarters.
SecurityIn an age of global hacks, cyber terrorism and in fact, physical terror attacks, the question of how to keep our employees, our data, and our information safe, is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. In the office, we have protocols, procedures and policies covering everything from virus protection and password policy through to fire evacuation or what to do when working alone in the office.It’s Work from home and Work For Home both: Improved work-life balance is usually cited as one of the major incentives, and benefits of, working from home. However, it’s not a given. Managing family expectations and being unavailable to cater to their needs while working at home is not easy.
Key lessons learnt
The current time has made us realize that a sturdy business continuity process truly come handy. If you trust employees with the problem statement, they will come up with innovative ideas to make sure that the problem is addressed.
FutureWhile organizations might have to relook at making the BCP strategies sturdier in view of the current situation, I don’t feel this situation is going to culturally alter the DNA of organizations. If anything, this is going to reinforce the importance of face to face collaboration. It will reinstate the belief that face-to-face collaboration – with clear timelines and decision makers – is critical to creativity and success. This will, of course, be balanced with the now tested conviction, that the organization is ready to deploy work from home policies at short notice in case needed.

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Our lessons from the Covid 19 crisis: Rajeev Agrawal, Founder & CEO, Innoviti Payment Solutions- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Rajeev Agrawal, Founder & CEO, Innoviti Payment Solutions, shares his thoughts on how his firm has ensured business continuity in the midst of the crisis
To ensure business continuity in the time of all employees having to work remotely we had taken a few measures. To begin with, we had conducted a few dry runs of work from home to ensure there are no challenges that might arise later on. We also set up network fallbacks and allowed our employees to have access to all organization tools remotely. This has helped us conduct our business seamlessly.
We have faced a few challenges when it comes to discipline and log in times. There’s also the issue of tracking activities that have been done for the day.
Lessons learntThroughout the last two weeks, we have learned that a daily task based scheduling works very well, sometimes it’s even more productive than coming to the office. Also, offering employees the choice and flexibility of time actually allows a longer overlap.
We are using a host of tools that allows seamless collaboration across locations and teams. Zoom and audio conferencing have been especially helpful to conduct meetings and huddles. We are also using cloud tools such as SFA and Freshdesk to ensure smooth functioning.
Working from home has been quite efficient. We always had a remote working policy but it was implemented only on exception, but now we can be more liberal. We have also noticed that our people are also less tired and more enthusiastic to work due to the travel time being cut down.

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Returning to the workplace: The lessons learned and what to keep in mind- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

With England beginning to ease lockdown restrictions ahead of the rest of the UK, some are returning to their offices in an attempt to pick up the pieces, despite a continuing uncertainty as to what is ahead. Lawrence Weber, a partner at Curve, discusses and relays insights he has heard from colleagues and partners across the industry around what they have experienced and the working lessons to take forward.
As we all slowly wipe the sleep out of our eyes and the biscuit crumbs from our jumpers, perhaps even contemplating whether ‘Stay Alert‘ means starting to wear trousers on Zoom calls, the thoughts of many in the marketing community will turn to the when, if and how of returning to the office.
It seems natural for a people-dependent industry such as advertising to want to do that, not just because of the allure of free coffee and the posh sandwiches left over from client meetings, but because of our need to be together to collaborate and create.
Since we at Curve are a business that teaches leadership teams and practitioners in agencies, start-ups and brands to better collaborate and create all sorts of things together – mostly in person – we’ve been asking our clients and friends how they feel about the return and how they’ve been trying to be creative, remotely in the meantime.
Unsurprisingly, there are a few who, off the record, fear that their offices will never re-open. Concerns about high rents, ongoing workplace safety and what they see as cynicism from those located in the finance department – who have, let’s face it, always winced at quite how much space it takes people in our industry to knock out some ads – prompted some to tell us that the future for them might mean small numbers of desks in co-working spaces and large numbers of staff working from home.
Most though want to see a return but acknowledge that unlocking the doors will be much harder and slower than locking them was. Rachel Armstrong, UK studio partner for global technology consultancy Globant explained: “We worked as a coordinated management team to close our offices worldwide, driven by clear government lockdown guidelines. The back to work advice is quite vague here in the UK and differs across regions, so we have established a global Covid-19 committee who will look at how we can bring people back safely and establish a “new normal” way of working”.
Others like Eric Schmidt, formerly of Google, acknowledge that when the time comes to dust off the coffee machines and pool tables, the huddles of creativity and noise that make us yearn for our previous hangouts will be replaced with quiet, segregated but possibly safer environments, that our parents would have called “proper offices”.
Whoever you talk to though, it’s very clear that people sitting in rooms having face-to-face meetings is not something anyone is willing to contemplate anytime soon. Much has been written about the vague communications soup that is ‘Stay Alert’ – no IPA effectiveness award for you Mr Cummings, but no-one can claim that its over elasticity stretches to allow in person brainstorms, co-creation and workshops.
The reality is though, the thing that makes us and our industry tick, is working together to solve problems that we just can’t crack on our own. The best of our output is messy, time consuming and the product of people from different backgrounds with divergent opinions grappling with ideas and, often enough, each other.
It is also frankly the product of being in close enough proximity to each other and have the freedom to let our minds and feet wander. Laila Milbrow a senior creative director, said: “A lot of creatives go outside to talk about their work, coffee shops, pubs, I’ve even worked in the entrance to an Everyman. The aimless wandering around the streets of Soho isn’t really aimless in hindsight, a lot of ideas have been born there from just being on the move and chatting total rubbish.”
Whilst we can’t be in the same room, pub or even cinema to spark off each other, we do need to and can properly embrace the remote spaces and skills that can help us keep collaboration and creatively alive and well.
We’ve been struck by just how many great things are happening remotely. Author and Bafta-nominated documentary maker Chris Atkins told us that he is “trying to edit, sound mix and grade a KLF feature film remotely, which is a bloody fiddle and a half. But we obviously don’t have much choice as we want to get the film out asap, as it will hopefully cheer everyone up.” We also absolutely love the ‘#TwoMetresProject‘, a collaboration between creative director Cathy Hutton and award-winning portrait photographer Tom Oldham, which captures photographic stories of lockdown from a safe distance.
Catherine Peacock, managing partner at Uncommon sums it up well when she says: “I believe our industry has proven that remote working can still foster close collaboration and creative excellence. I’ve been lucky enough to produce a film ‘Clap From Our Carers’ (in just six days) with our incredible new creative team Jonas and Rasmus, who I’m yet to meet in person, but this is a great example of creativity during the restrictions of the pandemic.”
However, we have also been struck by how nervous some people are about running a workshop or co-creation session remotely. Concerns that technology might get in the way, that people can’t or won’t embrace unfamiliar tools or concepts, or that it seems just unnatural to collaborate through a screen, are all fears that we try and allay.
So, in case you are also concerned that collaboration and creativity, like your next trip to Shoreditch House, are just too painful to contemplate, here are three tips for you.
Design and facilitate for human connection. It seems that people are doing a decent job of ensuring productivity, but it’s become very functional and task-orientated. We are busy scheduling, delegating and keeping everyone on track through all kinds of feature-rich digital tools. However, what’s missing is the deliberate moments that bring people together, deepen their relationships, offer opportunities for serendipity and allow tangential conversations.
Pick up the phone. You’ll probably be noticing that your days are filled with Zoom meetings, and most people we speak to say they feel busier than ever – and also more tired, indeed there’s lots of research that explains the phenomenon of ‘zoom fatigue.‘ There’s lots you can do to make it better though – ensure breaks between calls, take regular breaks and get up and walk. One of the most powerful is to simply speak on the phone rather than video call. It may feel old-fashioned but it can lift your energy.
Laugh! It’s a brilliant fact that people having more fun are more creative. Find ways to inject humour into your work: tell each other jokes on Slack, find funny Zzoom backgrounds or simply turn off twitter, close the laptop and go watch an episode or two of Bojack Horseman – or maybe Friends if that is your thing.
We know that being in the same space and close enough to create is the ideal- and why offices as creative spaces still seem so important in the long term. Until we can get back to those though, let’s embrace some remote collaboration and above all else ‘Stay Alert‘ to the power of creativity. It’s what Dominic would want.

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Lessons from lockdown: inside Fender’s coronavirus marketing retune- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

In April, Johnny Marr gave a virtual guitar lesson on Instagram Live from his home studio. Before strumming the chords to The Smiths’ 1985 tune Headmaster’s Ritual, he held up a recognisable gold guitar and explained: “This is my custom jag – a one-off comet sparkle that they made for me.” “They”, of course, being Fender.
No guitar brand is as synonymous with loud, live music. Just like everyone else, however, Fender has found itself forced to dream up new ways to maintain its relevance in the new normal that lockdown has ushered in for the music industry. Coronavirus benefit gigs, like the recent One World Together At Home, are now held entirely from artists’ houses (or gardens if you are Elton John). Musicians like Gary Barlow have been hosting remote duets over Instagram Stories (you can watch the Take That star’s latest ‘Crooner Session’ with James Blunt here). On the dancehall side, Defected and Glitterbox have been running virtual festivals.
Fender’s chief marketing officer Evan Jones was swift to spot that coronavirus would be a “real leveller of musical expression” and set about exploring ways for the company to weave itself into people’s lives in lockdown, starting with guitar lessons.
Now, he explains to Tempemail, lessons gleaned over the past few months will change the brand’s approach to content going forward as huge names from the world of music continue to get involved in its ‘Artist Check-In’ initiative on platforms like YouTube and Instagram.
Speaking to a wider audience
To support its community during social distancing, Fender moved quickly at the start of April to offer 1 million people around the globe three months of complimentary lessons on Fender Play, its online learning app for guitar, bass and ukulele. The move drew praise from the likes of Led Zepplin’s Jimmy Page and HER, as well as 750,000 new sign-ups (100,000 of which were from the UK).
Jones admits that his team have been “blown away” by the response. “We had over 200 artists that we work with share it on their channels over the first few weeks, which drove a tonne of interest and awareness.”
Though initially intended as a “gesture of goodwill”, the play has undoubtedly boosted the brand’s data pool and CRM capabilities, which it has been steadily building out through the Play platform since 2017.
“We never had a grand plan or master strategy behind [the Fender Play] giveaway,” he asserts. “We just wanted to do our part and provide a little relief. But now, it has given us an opportunity to build an ecosystem for those who are at home or looking to play that will surround them with tools, services and access to Fender that wouldn’t have been possible five years ago.”

When Jones first arrived at Fender in 2015, the guitar marque had been concentrating its marketing efforts on trade and retail – a strategy he has jettisoned in favor of consumer-based storytelling that speaks directly to a wider, digital audience.
Last year, he launched a strategy to get more women involved in the Fender community, which spans some 13 million people on social. Part of this included actively growing its CRM team to establish a more direct relationship with those members. Fender told Tempemail last year that, within the first three months, it had added “about 20 people” to the division in Los Angeles, including the new vice-president of CRM, growth and media, Matt Annerino.
Over the past year, the gender split on Play has reached 50-50, he says, showing that this investment is paying off.
A content evolution
The huge surge in people signing up to Fender’s services will undoubtedly result in a sales boost for the company, which offers Play members a special discount on select gear if they choose to continue playing. Though like its bedfellows, Fender is already seeing the impact of Covid-19 on its marketing budgets.
As a result, it’s having to find ways to work around this as it seeks to support not only music fans but also musicians.
“Like every other company out there that’s being affected by the coronavirus when it comes to business, we’re having to manage our spend in line with that dynamic, but at the same time we’re doing our best to maintain our commitment to artists,” Jones explains.
This is chiefly being done through organic content on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and more. It recently launched ‘Artist Check-Ins’, starring the likes of Marr and The Deftones’ Sergio Vega, to give fans “unique access” to players’ home studios and get an insight into their techniques and tricks. For each artist that creates a check-in, Fender donates to MusiCares’s Grammy-backed Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide support to producers, engineers, singers, songwriters, musicians and more.
It has also been supporting the Uncancelled Music Festival, which has been bringing together musicians, fans and venues from around the globe for a virtual concert experience.
The ad-hoc videos created to promote these propositions has been a far cry from Fender’s usual glossy production methods, but the brand is learning lessons from the process that will serve it well beyond lockdown.
Jones says: “What we’re seeing is an evolution in the type of content that’s being put out there. We still want to invest in rich storytelling when it comes to product launches or artist signature models, but what we’re finding – and I’m sure others are seeing too – is that a great video, shot authentically, can be just as powerful right now.”

Post-lockdown, when gigs restart, pubs reopen and people make the most of a return to freedom, is Jones worried that people are going to put down their guitars and forget about the brand?
“We’ve actually identified that a pretty significant portion of today’s players are what we would describe as ‘self-improvers’. These aren’t people who are necessarily looking to play on stage or write their own music. Instead, what they’re looking for is a release and a hobby, something that they can bring into their lives, do for 30 minutes a day and help them relieve stress or relax.
“That segment is growing not only in size, but also its willingness to buy guitars. So, in some ways, Fender Play is perfectly suited to serve that audience.
“They might not have as many hours as aspiring musicians to play music, with a lot of them have full-time jobs or going to school, but our hope is that we can begin to understand them more better serve their needs. In doing so, we hope to further expand the aperture when it comes to bringing new people into guitar and then also keeping them in over time.”

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Leadership Lessons: WPP senior advisor and author, David Sable- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

In the latest episode of Tempemail’s Leadership Lessons, executive editor Stephen Lepitak speaks to David Sable, senior advisor for WPP and former global chief executive of Y&R, about his views on and experiences of leadership. Sable tells us what he thinks leadership should look like, along with sharing who he has been inspired by and learned from during his career.
“Leadership is about leaders,” he says. “It’s a big word that doesn’t mean much because we don’t have any leadership without leaders. One of the biggest problems we have in the world today is that we conflate power and leaders because we have people who are very powerful and some run very big companies, but they are not leaders. They are just people who exercise a lot of power because they can and the difference is huge.”
One of the most important traits of good leaders, according to Sable, is communication.
“Communicating is sharing. There is nothing more important than being seen and being out there, but you have to apply the rest of the equation, it can’t just be about you. You need to be a presence, you need to be seen, because people want to know that you are in the game with them.”
Listen to the full interview with Sable in the audio section below while further episodes of the Leadership Lessons podcast can be found on Tempemail’s website.

// Featured in this article

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Covid 19 situation provides important lessons on dealing with future large-scale crises: Chandrahas Panigrahi, CMO, Acer India- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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At Acer, we make sure employees have up to date passcodes, know how to authenticate to their systems, and are aware of increased scams and phishing attempts that are happening around COVID, states Chandrahas Panigrahi, CMO and Consumer Business Head, Acer India, as he describes how Acer is handling the Covid 19 crisis.
Some edited excerpts from a detailed interview:
From an IT standpoint, what are some of the key initiatives initiated by your organization in ensuring that business continues as usual?As a global PC brand, we are looking to be predictive and proactive in all our decision-making to preserve business continuity and build enterprise strength. At Acer, we are navigating the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and there are a number of initiatives and steps that we are taking not only to react to severe business shocks now but also to reshape our business and plan for recovery.
While this sounds all easy and comforting, it all comes down to if and how are organizations going to sustain work productivity in times like these. The burden inevitably falls on IT teams to establish and implement sound strategies to organise a synchronized virtual workplace. This is the first significant step that involves organisations enabling their IT teams to build a fool-proof and efficient foundation for a remote workplace. This includes taking stock of company assets, systematically encrypting on-premises, mobile devices and applications such as through a secure virtual private network.
Also, ensuring that employees have the right collaboration, data access and productivity technologies to enable a baseline remote work experience. At Acer, we make sure employees have up to date passcodes, know how to authenticate to their systems, and are aware of increased scams and phishing attempts that are happening around COVID will also be a top priority for our company.
What are some of the key challenges faced to ensure a Work from Home Policy?Remote working is more difficult than it seems. During the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic like many organizations, we are also recommending and requiring staff work from home. Here are few key challenges one might face during remote working.
Problems with technology may not get resolved as quickly as they would in the office and can make it difficult to work remotely. While the flexibility of remote work can be excellent, but challenge comes when your WiFi connection drops.
Less productive: Without co-workers around, employees may not be as productive when working from home.
Communication with coworkers or clients can easily be misconstrued.
Prioritizing work: Remote workers need to be self-motivated experts at time management because we don’t have others constantly overlooking our work or managing our time for us.
What are some of the key lessons learnt during this crisis?Last week everything has changed. Before March 16, corporate executives were keeping an eye on the coronavirus crisis and the instability of the stock market, but it was mostly business as usual. When the government issued stay-at-home orders, everyone had to shift their priorities.
As a leader, I would say lesson learned from this crisis is that a pandemic is not your normal business disruption, it is always good to identify and prioritize your risks and develop appropriate responses. However, there are measures that can be taken now even if you’re not fully prepared.
And although its long-term consequences are yet to fully play out, the coronavirus outbreak already provides some lessons about how you can better prepare your company to deal with future large-scale crises. As the current pandemic appears just to be starting, so we will undoubtedly have to learn more lessons in weeks to come.
What are some of the technology tools used to facilitate smooth collaboration between employees?
In this current scenario of Work from Home, Acer is taking precautionary measures to protect Acer employees, Acer clients, business partners and Acer itself from exposure to risks such as loss of data, virus attacks, compromise of information systems and IT assets, illegal or damaging actions by individuals, either knowingly or unknowingly, damage to the brand or business reputation and legal issues arising from these.
Our IT team has also taken enough measures to ensure that our workforce can work from anywhere and many of our services and meetings can be performed virtually. We are also addressing in-person meetings and site visits on a case-by-case basis. We have inhouse tools such as MFGPro that assesses in the clock in and clock out time of an employee. Also, we have global tools that can be used by any of our employees through a simple VPN setup.
Do you believe that the current mandatory use of remote work for business continuity is a signal to all organisations that it’s time to revisit their remote working policies and redesign them for wider application for business as usual? Please share your perspective?
The recent outbreak of coronavirus has made organizations to re-evaluate their work-from-home policies. As you can see, the work-from-home trend has gained fresh impetus in the last few weeks. It is not only an effective way to alleviate the risk of infection, but it also allows employees to continue to contribute to the company’s business without disruptions.
To make a start to adopt a remote working environment, companies need the tools, policies, and processes in place to keep remote workers connected and successfully contributing to assignments, projects, and primary business goals. Whether it’s a choice the company is making on its own or whether present conditions are forcing them to adapt, effectively embracing remote work needs leadership support to create a culture that encourages this type of flexibility.

If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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Ogilvy UK CCO Dede Laurentino on the lessons marketers can learn from ‘flawed’ leaders- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The late, divisive Winston Churchill may not seem like an obvious figurehead for marketers. However as agencies and brands continue to grapple with their business responses to Covid-19 , Ogilvy UK’s chief creative officer, Dede Laurentino, argues there are lessons to be gleaned from the former British prime minister’s approach to leadership.
Speaking during Tempemail’s Digital Transformation Festival as part of the ‘What’s on your bookshelf?’ series, Laurentino argued that one of the most important page-turners for the industry at this tumultuous time is Andrew Roberts’s biography of the wartime leader.
The creative and published author explained how when he arrived in the UK from his native Brazil in 2011, his then-agency ran into financial issues.
“Within the first three months we got hit by someone over in New York signing a piece of paper that meant we lost one third of our revenues as accounts were shifted around within the same organisation,” he said.
“I had just come to this country and suddenly my mission looked like a very different one to when I had landed.”
So, the first thing he did was go to Foyles on Tottenham Court Road and buy a copy of His Finest Hour by Christopher Catherwood, which offered a short insight into Churchill’s life.
“It helped me tremendously – I’m a big Churchill fan,” he asserted. “[The industry] needs to beef up our leadership skills by learning from someone who had flaws.
“Churchill was not perfect but he was one of the greatest leaders in history and we need that kind of inspiration right now.”
Taking ‘time to look’
Laurentino also offered some insight into how the global pandemic is changing working practices and creative methods.
“One third of the global population is working from home … this will have an impact on home life, consumerism and so on. The economy was set for a different dynamic and in the space of 72 hours it shifted,” he said.
“Coming out of this we’ll be different people.”
“The pace we were going at before coronavirus meant we weren’t stopping to look at life,” Laurentino added, dispelling the notion that time is money and saying agencies should adopt different ways of working.
“Time is the fabric of our lives. Now we have time in our hands, we should just understand what we’re doing here on this planet – we were running too much and seeing too little. Let’s all take time to look.”
Here is a glimpse at Laurentino’s extensive bookshelf:
What he’s currently reading:

The Last Reader by David Toscana

His favourite books:

The Human Factor by Graham Greene
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le Carré

His recommended reading for the industry:

The Pritchett Century – The Selected Writings of V.S. Pritchett
Fugitiva by Alice Munro
Story by Robert McKee
Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull
Walking With Destiny by Andrew Roberts
The Four by Scott Galloway

You can watch the full interview here and view more content from Tempemail’s Digital Transformation Festival here.

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Our lessons from the Covid 19 crisis: Chandresh Dedhia, Head – IT, Ascent Health and Wellness Solutions- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Chandresh Dedhia, Head – Information Technology, Ascent Health and Wellness Solutions Pvt Ltd, shares his perspective on how his firm manages to keep the lights on in this challenging atmosphere
Some edited excerpts:
From an IT standpoint, what are some of the key initiatives initiated by your organization in ensuring that business continues as usual? Ascent Health and Wellness is one of the Pioneers of Digital Transformation in Pharma Distribution domain in India, each and every aspect of our business process is “Digital”. During ongoing Covid-19 crisis, we were able to manage our operations well and with minimal disruption. People unavailability for the first few days was a challenge, but this too was managed well by our on ground teams and we are now providing medicines to all our customers.
What are some of the key challenges faced to ensure a Work from Home Policy? There were a few challenges that we faced:
Remote Connectivity – VPN was not configured for 100% use cases, but we quickly got into action and made sure 100% of our team are able to access the resources from home.
Availability of Laptops – While looking at an option to hire Laptops for WFH, we realised the opportunistic vendors were quoting 3x-5x of the market price, this forced to think for an alternative and we made the required business arrangements.
Remote Support – Supporting 100% user base was a new challenge for us.
What are some of the key lessons learnt during this crisis?
BCP planning for majority of the organizations around the globe was only for 10%-25% of the selected and critical users. We learnt that we need do BCP for 100% of the users. WFH changed the entire landscape and forced us to re-think about our IT Infrastructure and architecture. Build Infrastructure considering remote user loads and Internet bandwidth should be sufficiently available in such times. Team was not prepared for remote support, this made us start providing cross region remote support. When employees were working from office, we were measuring their productivity on their availability and output, now for WFH we will start measuring their productivity based on their output.
Vendor Management was very important lesson for us, now we have experience the partners who were opportunistic and also partners who genuinely helped us during the crisis.
What are some of the technology tools used to facilitate smooth collaboration between employees?
Being a matured startup, we were already using all the SaaS based tools to communicate, but WFH also ensure the adoption for such tools was 100% now. Some of the tools used by users include: GSuite Services for collaboration, Hangout for video calls, Slack for chat and collaboration and VPN and SDWAN for connectivity
Do you believe that the current mandatory use of remote work for business continuity is a signal to all organizations that it’s time to revisit their remote working policies?Yes, certainly the organisation will have to change and presume the worst case scenario and redesign their architecture which will help majority of the users to be able to WFH. This however does not mean we enforce user to WFH in Business as usual scenarios. The only exception being the on ground teams which are part of Manufacturing, Logistics and Operations can never ‘Work from Home’.
Also the companies who are digitally transformed, were able to sustain this change and quickly adopted to the new market dynamics. All the companies who are still on the traditional business model have had a huge setback and will take more time to recover from this disaster.

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Leadership Lessons: Syl Saller chief marketing officer of Diageo- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

In the latest episode of Tempemail’s Leadership Lessons, editor Stephen Lepitak speaks to Syl Saller, chief marketing and innovation officer at Diageo, about the importance of drawing leadership inspiration not only from other marketers, but also people within her own family.
When asked about which leaders made the biggest impact on her own leadership style, Saller spoke passionately about her own mother, who was a second-generation Greek immigrant and worked long hours as a nurse. “Back then women were confined to certain roles, but whether it was my mum in nursing or my aunt Mary, who was the director of the Pentagon’s Library and commanded all these politicians and generals around, I learned so much from them about the
importance of working hard and making a good impression. They showed me what being a strong women is all about!” said Saller.
She added: “I’ve also learned a lot from my boss Ivan Menezes, who is the marketing director at Diageo. When it comes to gender equality he has led so powerfully, but in a humble way, too. He doesn’t let the challenges of today get in the way of the bigger picture for 10 to 15 years’ time from now. He always meets challenges with optimism and ambition, and I’ve learned so much from that kind of mentality.”
According to Saller, great marketing leaders must really embody the values their brand represents and must avoid just putting empty slogans onto a wall. “When I say that Diageo is about ‘celebrating life every day, everywhere’, it is important that I really live out those values and that the business does too,” she explained.
“We really want to add true value to the communities where we operate; whether that’s becoming more sustainable in Nigeria, so Guinness there can be made with 60% less water, or working to ensure every employee, regardless of gender, gets six months paid leave when they go on paternity leave. It is important we’re genuinely making a difference not just to our consumers’ lives, but our employees too – that’s what great leadership is all about.”
Aware that leaders often project one image in public, but act another way behind closed doors, Saller says marketing leaders must always be their “authentic self” in order to win respect from employees. And fear, she claims, is often just a sign that a leader isn’t thinking things through in the right way. “Most fears and limitations are just in your head. When you really pick it a part, you start to see that nothing is insurmountable and can make real progress. If you bring your whole authentic self to your role then you will be okay, trust me.”
Last year, it was announced Saller had been given the honour of Commander for her service to business and equality in the workplace as part of the Queen’s New Year Honours recipients. And during the new podcast, Saller joked that she initially thought the letter could be a bill from the HMRC. “My husband thought it could be a bill from the HMRC, but when we worked out what it was, it really took us both by surprise,” she reflects. “You have to keep it secret for six weeks before the ceremony and it was so hard to keep it from my kids. They knew something was up and were convinced we were getting a puppy! They were maybe a little disappointed when they realised what it really was.”
A great champion of gender equality and getting more women into marketing, Saller says that her fundamental leadership values are about going after tasks that feel impossible and finding a way to make them work. She concluded: “I think you need real audacity to be a great leader. What I mean by that is going after things that people say are impossible and getting them done. If something
sounds difficult, whether it’s a sustainability or diversity goal, then that’s a good thing, as when you hit that target and make it work, you are going to grow so much as a leader.”
You can listen to the full interview with Saller in the audio file below while further episodes of the Leadership Lessons podcast can be found on Tempemail’s website.

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Lessons from a first year as a new MD- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Polly Atherton has been MD of Stir PR for just over a year, the first time she has led a PR agency in the UK. Here she describes the lessons she has learned since joining the 15-strong Shoreditch-based team, which has its heritage in food and drink.
After over 15 years working in the industry including more than a decade at Frank (with four years as MD of Frank Australia), Polly tells Tempemail why it is important not to tear the place apart on day one, how being small can be a strength, why doing your own PR has never been more important and she explains how leading a creative team in Oz differs from here.
Don’t rush in like a fool and smash up the place
My new team are incredibly hungry, ambitious and smart. I’d have been an idiot to mess with that. I realised I had to understand our talent for it to thrive, driving a natural evolution. Nothing was broken; it was important I ensured people understood why I was here. That was to take Stir onwards and boost our creativity, not rip it up and rebuild it in my own image.
You can’t make people like you straight away
Taking over at an established agency is tough when you know nobody. I had to pace out any changes to create the culture I hoped for. I wanted the team to like me but they had to get to know me and I had to earn their trust. So I accepted my position as the newbie. Thankfully we’ve had no resignations and staff surveys show great levels of happiness.
The starting point must be listening and learning
I don’t know it all so I left every preconception at the front door on day one. You have to live and breathe an agency environment to understand it properly. In Oz it took me a good few months to get into the swing of things. I met everyone individually straight away and talked about their story, what made them tick and what would make them feel proud to work here. This vital insight fuelled my strategy.

Build on what you are best at in the short-term
Stir punches above its weight in food and drink for its size with clients such as Nestle and Heineken. My ideal was to shake off the perception that this was the only sector we could work in. But this requires patience as we harnessed all the good work and successful creative campaigns we’d delivered in the F&D space and showcased how the strategic thinking that went into their creation was sector agnostic.
Never forget being a smaller agency has its clear advantages
There are many competing small agencies around but there’s no point letting this frighten you or to imagine those who are bigger must be better. We are in a group with many complementary skills to tap into so we can be nimble and fast. Crucially it gives us external experience to mine and the skills to build larger campaigns with influencers and experiential.
Don’t be afraid to accept there will be holes
You always have to learn and develop so I looked for knowledge gaps we had and got external trainers in to plug those. Boosting the confidence of the team in this way allowed us to think smarter. I also hired the talent we lacked. I am a big fan of collaborative working so I encouraged people to pull together knowing their success is the agency’s success.
Learn how to be a good boss from previous bosses
It is crucial to offer people the opportunity to step up. That’s how I grew. Not in a sink or swim sense but you can have someone’s back and give them a chance to rise to a challenge that you know will increase their own belief in the skills and talents they possess. This extends to spotting who is in the wrong place and giving them scope to do what they’re best at or love.
Put your own work ethic, experience and spin on things
Creativity has always been very important to me. I recognised quickly there was a chance to ramp this up and combine Stir’s excellence in account management with killer creative. I am proud of the creativity we showed at Frank and my experience in Oz, with a smaller media pool, taught me how to land sophisticated campaigns with a central, legitimate call to action.
Remember it is important to open new doors
I want our work to speak for itself with potential clients but you have to be proactive. You must get out and knock on doors and know you will add value to new clients you approach, even if you’ve no clear creds in that area. Good ideas always shine through. I aim to be proactive, even with industries we are relatively unknown in. Great creativity grabs attention.
So that’s it. 12 months on and I’ve not cracked it totally just yet but I wouldn’t have expected to. One thing I know to be true is that to succeed leading a new team you must be totally confident and clear in your vision. You have to believe in the strategy you are creating to gain a consensus among your senior management team and for that to filter down through the agency, your people and your clients.
My priority was to be recognised for creativity that stirs emotions. We have focused on that and already designed meatier campaigns with killer insights to build on our existing portfolio of work.
It’s still a work-in-progress and I will continue to refine our proposition, learning as we go.

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