Interview with Padmakumar Ananthakrishnan, The Author of Storyize Your Message
About Author: Padmakumar Ananthakrishnan is an International Story Teller with over 30 years of Corporate Experience in Business Development, Strategy and Execution Excellence. He started his professional career as a Salesman (now rechristened to Territory Sales Incharge!) in Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL). Selling soaps and shampoos in the hot and humid roads of Tamilnadu, under intense competition and scrutiny, gave him the motivation and the compulsion to spruce up his storyizing abilities.
He swung into IT when the industry was still in its infancy, and experienced its transition from a hallowed sanctum of mainframes and minis to a social cauldron of wearables and IoT. The sweeping changes that he has lived through, give a compelling quality to his narrations.
Padmakumar has travelled to over 20 countries on business and established country level teams and alliance partnerships as a part of Go-To-Market strategies for various products and services. His comfort with multiple cultures and the opportunity to experience those from close quarters provides him a unique edge in building long and trusted relationships.
Padmakumar continues to be a voracious student of storytelling. He loves to help others improve this wonderful skill, and this book is a firm step in that direction.
Ravi: What’s your favorite short story?
Padmakumar: The Gift of the Magi - by O. Henri
Ravi: The Best piece of writing advice?
Padmakumar: Don’t retrace to edit while you write. Take up editing only after you have the full first-cut version.
Ravi: Where do you write?
Padmakumar: In my home office mostly. Sometimes in a park under a tree.
Ravi: Where do you get your ideas?
Padmakumar: During my morning walks. That’s my fountainhead of ideas.
Ravi: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Padmakumar: Writing energizes me.
Ravi: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Padmakumar: 2-3 months
Ravi: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Padmakumar: Read a wide range of authors and subjects.
Ravi: What is your favorite childhood book?
Padmakumar: Aesop’s fables
Ravi: What are your favorite literary journals?
Padmakumar: The New Yorker, The Harvard Review
Ravi: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Padmakumar: Twitter (already done!)
Ravi: What was your hardest scene to write?
Padmakumar: The last part of the book. It appears to me that I still have a lot to say. With great difficulty I decide to reserve the uncovered portion for my upcoming books.
Ravi: Do you Google yourself?
Ravi: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Padmakumar: Not yet. Maybe I will try that when I write fiction.
Ravi: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Padmakumar: Mostly, I have had good reviews. I love good reviews. Occasionally, when the review is not good, I see what I can take as learning and leave out any insulting words.
Ravi: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Padmakumar: The White Tiger - the image of the protagonist had a very weird arc in the story.
Ravi: What did you edit out of this book?
Padmakumar: A deep-dive into the area of ‘feelings’.
Ravi: How many hours a day do you write?
Padmakumar: 2-3 hours.
Ravi: How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
Padmakumar: For around 12 years. Even now, I can’t claim to be a full-time writer. My consulting, coaching and training activities take up most of the time.
Ravi: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Padmakumar: My research happens parallely with the writing. Mostly, I research to ensure accuracy of the content that I put in my book.
Ravi: What’s the best way to market your books?
Padmakumar: Online and Events.
Ravi: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Ravi: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Padmakumar: There has not been much change. I am an impulsive writer, even now.
Ravi: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Padmakumar: Several contemporary first-time authors.
Ravi: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Padmakumar: It is a combination of both. I am focused on delivering value to my readers.
Ravi: What advice do you have for writers?
Padmakumar: There is a potential author in everyone. Write. The book will emerge automatically.
Ravi: What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
Padmakumar: Time, Newsweek, WSJ (read these at Corporate libraries, if you can’t subscribe. India Today, The Week are good to subscribe.
Ravi: Tell me about your recent book to our Ravi Reads Blog Readers?
Padmakumar: My book is titled ‘Storyize your Message’. The premise for this book is that many functional groups in companies (such as Finance, Legal, HR, Quality, Production Planning, Customer Service, R&D, etc.) find it difficult to make their internal presentations engaging and sticky for their audiences. Most such presentations are data and analysis heavy, and the audience quickly lose interest.
Using key elements from storytelling (not end-to-end storytelling), presenters can learn to make their communication and messaging very captivating for the audience. I call this storyizing. The mark of a great storyizer is the invisibility of the story, and the stickiness of the message. Storyizing the Message succeeds in Humanizing Corporate-Speak.
Thanks to Padmakumar for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you are an author who would like to be featured), feel free to email me at the address on my contact page.