In conversation with Piali Dasgupta, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Columbia Pacific Communities on creating a brand based on the philosophy of positive ageing.
What is The Little Book of Greatness all about?
The Little Book Of Greatness is a book that elucidates our brand philosophy of positive ageing. The book breaks down the concept of positive ageing into six pillars – physical fitness, mental wellbeing, emotional soundness, nutritional enhancement, intellectual prowess and spiritual enlightenment. Through the exemplary lives of a celebrated ad man (Prahlad Kakkar), a veteran journalist (Bachi Karkaria), a devoutly spiritual person (John Lazarro), a centenarian (Sarathy), a Masterchef Tamil finalist passionate about nutrition (Senguttuvan Subburathina) and 90-something potli maker (Latika Chakravorti), we present the six facets of positive ageing. The book is an ode to seniors who have not let age slow them down, dim their passions, or rob their zest for life. Through this book and the great lives it captures, we hope to inspire generations of people who want to live an extraordinary life.
What was the insight behind this book?
The insight behind the book was simple. We found that there was a great deal of interest and intrigue around our core philosophy of positive ageing, amongst our primary target consumer – senior citizens. It is this philosophy and our wholehearted commitment to it, that sets us apart from all the other players in this category. However, while people have an overall sense of what “positive ageing” entails, they do not have a very deep understanding of the various facets of the concept and how it manifests itself in the way one leads one’s life. And it was important for us to break the concept down to its molecular parts and help people understand what it truly means. We felt we owed it to our customers, our key stakeholders, our partners, the media, and also, to ourselves.
How does this resonate with Columbia Pacific Communities?
Positive ageing is at the centre of everything we do at Columbia Pacific Communities. We are committed to helping seniors live healthier and happier lives for longer by implementing the core principles of positive ageing. We are not really in the business of selling homes for seniors. We are in the business of helping seniors age positively. That is what is making seniors consider us.
How CPC is implementing the 6 pillars of positive ageing in the community and with its residents?
Columbia Pacific Communities is built on the philosophy of positive ageing. It is our credo, our raison d’etre. It is what makes us want to get up and come to work every day. The concept of positive ageing is practised across all our 10 communities. Through healthy, chef-prepared meals, we ensure nutritional enhancement of our senior residents. Through a packed, daily calendar of physical exercises and yoga, we ensure physical fitness of our residents. Our communities are designed to keep loneliness at bay and foster meaningful social interactions, thereby ensuring mental wellbeing and emotional soundness. With a promise of a worry-free life, we encourage seniors to nurture their hobbies and passions and cultivate intellectual prowess. With the help of meditation and devotional sessions, we help residents reach spiritual enlightenment.
Therefore, the concept of positive ageing is built into every aspect of a senior’s lifestyle at our communities.
Which are a few other campaigns that highlighted the concept of positive ageing?
Almost every campaign that we have done till now has highlighted the concept of positive ageing. Some of our award-winning campaigns that have brought to life the spirit of positive ageing are our launch campaign #Relearn, which aimed to shatter age-related stereotypes and question ageism in society, our initiative – south India’s first senior citizen’s flashmob done in December 2019. Our World Senior Citizens’ Day campaigns from 2020 to 2022 featuring Anupam Kher (#Unretire, talking about the importance of living one’s best life irrespective of one’s age), Boman Irani (#ReplyDontReject urging the younger generation to not reject messages from the older generation and spend more time with the elders in their lives) and Shabana Azmi(#ChiefExperienceOfficer, urging corporates to hire senior citizens in important roles) respectively, have all centred around the philosophy of positive ageing.
Our Christmas campaigns #MsSanta (challenging gender stereotypes and gender roles with an important message on gender neutrality from senior citizens to generation alpha), #ReverseTheJoy, and #SignsOfLove (done for the deaf and mute community of India) have all echoed the message of positive ageing, and enabling seniors to live their best lives in their golden years.
What are the challenges that you faced while publishing?
I think the primary challenge was to simplify the medical discourse on the six pillars of positive ageing, and make it comprehensible for the layman. There was a need to demystify the science behind the six pillars of positive ageing, so that people understood it entirely. The other challenge was to breathe life into the six pillars by identifying six positive agers that were symbolic of each of these pillars. We went through the length and the breadth of the country to identify six men and women that symbolise the six elements of positive ageing. Logistically, it was challenging to co-ordinate photo shoots across Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai.
Any tips for budding writers?
Budding writers should invest time and energies towards identifying the “why” of writing. It’s very important for a writer to have a clear answer to the question – “Why am I writing this book/essay/column?” It is this answer that will server as his/her north star throughout the writing process, which could often be tedious and challenging. As long as there is great conviction in the “why”, seeing a project through should not be impossible.
The other tip I can give budding writers is to read obsessively. The more you read, the better you get at writing. A great writer is usually someone who also reads voraciously. Reading opens up our horizons, gives us a greater command over the language we want to write in, and helps us sharpen our style of writing. Unfortunately, we live in an age where people don’t read much. But that could be quite detrimental for those who want to become writers.
And the final tip is what one of my ex-bosses taught me when I was starting out in journalism. It is to “kill your own baby.” Often, as writers, we can get very attached to our own work. Sometimes, we can even lose objectivity. A good writer is one who has the courage to kill his/her own writing if it doesn’t turn out to be what he/she expected it to be. It does not matter how much time he/she has spent writing a piece. If it doesn’t meet the expected standards, a writer should be able to bin that piece and move on.