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Behind the Scenes of the “Power of Scale”

By Rajesh Setty on Mon 01 Feb 2010, 12:01 AM – Leave Comment

I had an opportunity to see the work-in-progress for an awesome project (featured above) by EDF called “The Power of Scale.” The outcome of the project was a 90-second video. The video is about something that we should all be concerned about – energy and what we can do about it to save OUR world.

You can see the video and see the brilliance of thinking, design and delivery for yourself but before that, I wanted to get you “behind the scenes” of this project. Here is the story about how the story got developed in the words of Justin Evans of Stresslimitdesign.

We were approached by EDF earlier this year to make a short video that help introduce and popularize the concept of reducing pollution across corporate car fleets. After reviewing a ton of whitepapers, infosheets and case studies, we realized that at the core of this initiative was a simple story about  a quantity of little actions, that when put all together and applied across the huge number of fleet cars in America, would cause vast pollution reduction and huge money savings. Our visual research led us to Charle’s and Ray Eames Classic film “Powers of 10“. Repeated watching of this and other films of theirs helped us come up with a cool visual language, but also gave us the great central metaphor to tell EDF’s story as a story of  “power of scale”.

Once we had this central concept the idea of the story fell quickly into place:

1. Establish the idea from something that everyone is familiar with

Establish the idea from simple stories of scale that everyone can identify with- in this case how much faster it is to pick up trash when you are 50 people instead of one. We then decided to reinforce this with the great visual story of telling just how much energy can be saved when everyone in a city block turning off their lights at the same time.

2. What’s a Fleet?

Once we established the story of scale, it was time to tell the story of the fleets. Starting out, none of us even knew what a fleet was. A parking lot, and some cool timelapse photography gave us a great way to talk about what fleets are, and the simple things that they can do to save energy

3. The power of scale

Having established our protagonist, The fleet driver, we then introduce the story of scale- by using small matchbox cars to illustrate the huge number of cars there are, it becomes quickly apparent how these small actions taken by one driver in the parking lot can make a huge difference when everyone does them. EDF’s statistics and predictions come to life as our little cars drive in and out of configuration.

To make the message visually exciting we chose to shoot using a combination of Tilt-Shift photography; a technique when used with highly saturated and colorful images, makes landscapes and humans look like miniature models. Combined with the effect of time-lapse photography, time appears to fly by very rapidly. And finally we did a bit of stop motion animation using actual models! All the visuals were done using a Digital Single Lens Relex (DSLR) camera Tilt-Shift lens, and a traditional lens. Playing with the concept of models and scale became a great way to illustrate visually the central metaphor of the story we were telling.

Posted under Compelling Offers, Cool Movies, Main Page.

The LINCHPIN in “3 Idiots”

By Rajesh Setty on Sat 30 Jan 2010, 10:55 PM – 16 Comments

3 Idiots is a movie that touched my heart in the recent past. The movie was not just entertaining but was filled with so many life lessons. Brilliant storytelling made it memorable. I won’t go into everything as I am sure many of you have not seen the movie and don’t want this to be a spoiler

The characterization of the protagonist Rancho was what touched me most (apart from the core theme of the movie.)

The Protagonist Rancho (Aamir Khan, Aamir Khan’s blog) was not just different but someone who made a difference and touched the hearts and souls of so many people in his short stay in the college. Then Rancho goes missing and his two friends Farhan (R. Madhavan) and Raju (Sharman Joshi) search for him. They have not found him for five years but they don’t give up their search.

On a similar note, LINCHPIN (new book by Seth Godin) is one of my favorite reads in the last few days.

In LINCHPIN, Seth focuses on BEING rather than DOING. Seth’s compassionate plea is for everyone to “be” an artist – be a Linchpin rather than a cog in the wheel.

There is no premium paid for “being” a cog in the wheel. Not just that, your survival is at stake if you continue “being” a cog in the wheel. So, it is not like one has a choice on whether he/she wants to do something different. One has to start “being” a different person – an artist – someone who creates.

The book is BRILLIANT because it’s a wake-up call for most professionals. Wake up call to let them know that they are heading towards a cliff if they continue “being” who they are.

A LINCHPIN in simple terms is “someone who is indispensable.” Someone who has made such a significant impact that he/she is someone you cannot live without.

Now, combining the two of my favorites – 3 Idiots and LINCHPIN, what I can infer is that Rancho was the LINCHPIN in their lives. That’s probably one of the biggest reasons the friends never gave up the search on Rancho.

In this 5-minute song, his friends recollect memories of him and explain how he had touched their heart. The song is in Hindi but thanks to Bijith, I have found the translation for the lyrics.

A thought experiment for you:

1. If you go missing (and I pray you don’t) and your friends had to think about the difference you made in their lives, what would they think about? What would YOUR song look like?

2. What could you do in 2010 so that there is a better song for you?

You may not have an answer right now, but that’s something for you to think about.

Meanwhile, here is the song and the English translation for you to enjoy:

Translation Courtesy: Bijith

(Note: Made some minor changes to the original translation)

Behti Hawa Sa Tha Woh

He was like a flowing wind

Udti Patang Sa Tha Woh

He was like a soaring kite

Kahan Gaya Usse Dhoondo

Where did he vanish? Lets find him

Humko Toh Raahein Thi Chalati

While we were always following the path

Woh Khud Apni Raah Banata

He always made his path

Girta Sambhalta Masti Mein Chalta Tha Woh

[He] Sometimes fell, sometimes balanced but always went ahead cheerfully

Humko Kal Ki Fikar Sataati

We were always worried about tomorrow

Woh Bas Aaj Ka Jashn Manaata

And, he always celebrated today

Har Lamhe Ko Khulke Jeeta Tha Woh

He lived every minute fully

Kahan Se Aaya Tha Woh

Where did he come from?

Chhooke Hamare Dil Ko Kahan Gaya Usse Doondo

Where did he vanish… touching our hearts

Sulagti Dhoop Mein Chhaaon Ke Jaisa

He was like shade in scorching sun

Registaan Mein Gaaon Ke Jaisa

He was like an oasis in a vast desert

Mann Ke Ghaav Me Marham Jaisa Tha Woh

He was like medicine for wounded heart

Hum Sahme Se Rehte Kuwein Mein

We were living in our own well

Woh Nadiya Mein Gote Lagata

While he would do a somersault in the river

Ulti Dhara Cheerke Tairta Tha Woh

He used to swim against the waterfall

Baadal Awara Tha Woh

He was like a carefree cloud

Yaar Hamara Tha Woh

He was our friend

Kahan Gaya Usse Dhoondo

Where did he vanish… lets find him!

Have a great week ahead!

Posted under Cool Movies, Main Page.

Ways to Distinguish Yourself #207 – Learn To Notice What is Left Unsaid…

By Rajesh Setty on Fri 29 Jan 2010, 12:05 AM – 8 Comments

What is said is important. Equally important is what is not said. If you are not noticing is “what is not said,” you might be missing a LOT more than you think you are.

To illustrate the point, I am going to use a song from one of my favorite movies “Music and Lyrics.” The song is just around 2 minutes.

Follow along with me on this experiment (meaning: don’t cheat)

First step: Listen to the 2-minute song without watching the video. Simply click on play and then close your eyes for 2 minutes. If you are too busy and can’t spare 2 minutes, please proceed to step 2 (not recommended but it works too.)

Second step: Just watch the video along with the song. This time, observe everything. Try to see the story that is being told. Try to notice why something and someone are there.

Third step: Reflect for a few seconds how much more richer the experience was when you started noticing what was left unsaid.

I have provided some of my observations to trigger your thinking. They are no way complete and you may have better interpretations than what is being told here.

Here are my observations:

0:00 The camera pans through the entire room giving you an idea of where this is happening. The setting is that of a large party hall in a hotel room.

0:05 There is a banner to show that it’s a class of ‘87 Reunion. So, we know that it’s the get-together of a tribe.

0:10 You see a bunch of women cheering Hugh Grant. There is absolutely no men around that place. Shows that he is popular among women.

0:30 You see a name badge on one of the women confirming again that they are all part of a tribe.

0:35 You see “1987″ in big fonts in the background reminding you again that it’s a class reunion of ‘87.

0:38 You see so many women wearing a POP! t-shirt – showing how crazy they are on something POP! ( It’s a popular band in the 80s in the movie)

0:50 Shows a bunch of really bored men. They probably wanted this song to end right away. Making it clear again that Hugh’s target audience is women ONLY.

0:52 Shows Hugh’s Manager imitating Hugh’s dance and is totally engaged with what’s happening. Indicates special relationship between the two.

1:05 Half way through the song, two women enter. Drew Barrymore and her sister. From the expression on her sister’s face, you know that she is a huge fan of Hugh Grant.

1:20 Drew Barrymore’s sister can’t wait to get in front of the line and runs. Shows that she is not just one of those fans but someone that adores Hugh

1:24 Drew Barrymore shakes her head in disbelief. Shows that she is really not into all this now ( at leas at that time )

1:51 Drew Barrymore shows from her smile that she does think Hugh and his dance are cute.

2:00 Hugh’s Manager is imitating (or giving a cue to Hugh) Hugh’s dance moves. Shows that he is more than a Manager – he is more like a friend invested in Hugh’s success

2:06 Hugh hurts his back during his dance moves. Gives a clue about his age.

2:32 Hugh’s Manager steps out with a clear concern for Hugh. Shows the level of friendship there again.

Last but not least, I have to say that there is a lot of thought that has gone into making this song. So every little thing that happens has  a meaning attached to it.

In a business situation, this may not be the case but the need for noticing what is left unsaid will not go away.

Everyone can hear what is said, only a few will notice and powerfully interpret “what is left unsaid.”


Note 1: Here is a Squidoo lens that links to most of the previous articles in this series:

Squidoo: Distinguish Yourself

Note 2: The first 25 entries in the series have been packaged in a ChangeThis manifesto that was published on September 07, 2005. You can download that manifesto here:

ChangeThis Manifesto: 25 Ways to Distinguish Yourself (PDF, Free)

Note 3: My latest manifesto on ChangeThis was published on August 6, 2008. This is a photographic manifesto featuring 15 of my mini sagas (stories in exactly 50 words). Here is the link:

ChangeThis Manifesto: Mini Sagas – Bite Sized Lessons for Life and Business (PDF, Free)

Posted under Cool Movies, Distinguish yourself, Main Page.

Lessons from 9 Viral Videos and 3 Second Acts

By Rajesh Setty on Tue 18 Aug 2009, 5:00 AM – 17 Comments

You would have seen one or more of these viral videos – some of these took off like wildfire on YouTube.

There is no ONE reason why videos become viral but there are a few observations we can make about the characteristics of these videos.  A typical viral video will have some combination of these 7 characteristics:

1. Content:

The content VERY uncommon. It is hard (and takes a LOT of discipline) to re-create such content. Plus, even if you were able to re-create it, the duplicate may not fly the way the original took off. “Video #6 Noah takes a photo of himself everyday for 6 years” is one such example.

2. Chance:

This can happen to the surprise of the video creators. Gary Broslma (#4 Numa Numa video) and Matt Harding (#3 Where the hell was Matt) are examples. Both Gary and Matt have publicly admitted that even in their dreams they didn’t expect their videos to gain the popularity they gained.

3. Characters:

The characters behave in a way that is totally shocking or surprising for the occasion. “Video #8 JK’s Wedding Entrance” is one such example. Nobody expected that the bride, bridegroom and their friends would enter the way they entered (dancing) for the wedding event.

4. Comical:

The video captures a totally (unbelievably) comical moment that people are dumbfounded. They wonder “How could this really happen?” and share it with others. “Video #2 – Miss Teen USA South Carolina answering a question”  is a good example here.

5. Community:

The community (local or global) participates and becomes part of the video. Naturally, they help spread the video and because of the massive collective action, the video goes viral. An example of that is “Where the hell is Matt (2008)” version in the “Second Acts” section.

6. Compelling

The message is compelling and touches our hearts and souls. “Video #6 Dove Evolution” is an example of a compelling message. The video shows how we have a misconception of “beauty” in this world.

7. Creativity

Extreme creativity. “Video #9 Krishna Act” is gives an example of such extreme creativity. When you watch the video, you can’t do anything but to appreciate the sheer creative talent displayed by the team.

Now please enjoy these viral videos.

9 Viral Videos

These videos are in no particular order. They are there for you to enjoy but also for you to stop and think about the reasons that made them go viral. Enjoy the videos but also look for some lessons from them collectively.

#1. Free Hugs Video (with music by SickPuppies)

#2. Miss Teen USA 2007 – South Carolina answers a question

#3. Where the hell was Matt? (The original version)

#4. Numa Numa Video


#5. Noah takes a photo of himself everyday for 6 years

#6. Dove Evolution

#7. Will it Blend? – iPhone

#8. JK’s Wedding Entrance

Today show re-created the show once again bringing a ton of additional visibility

#9. India’s Got Talent – Krishna Act

Second Acts

Second Acts are not easy. The expectations are high and unless your second act is 10X better than the original, it won’t fly.

I have chosen three second acts just to showcase this.

Video #1 Where the Hell is Matt (2008) was sponsored by Stride Gum. This is one of the videos where the second act was more popular than the first one. The reason I can think of is the community participation. Matt repeated his world tour second time (with professional crew) but involved local communities to come and dance with him. The collective power of the global communities skyrocketed the second act.

Video #2 – The New Numa Numa Video was reasonably popular but not as popular as the first one.The reason I think is that the “surprise” factor was lacking. The second video was REALLY good but people expected that to be REALLY good. In fact, they wanted it to be more than that.

Video #3 – JK’s Divorce Entrance was a commercial venture that did not come close to JK’s Wedding Entrance. The new tried to repeat what JK’s Wedding Entrance (used some “knowledge arbitrage” there) but it was hard to convince someone that characters would be so happy to come dancing for a divorce.

1. Where the Hell is Matt (2008)

2. New Numa Numa Video

3. JK Divorce Entrance


I simply didn’t include a few more videos (eg: 1. Britain’s Got Talent – Susan Boyle 2. Flawless Dance Act) because embedding was disabled by request.

Posted under Cool Movies.

Validation – A touching movie (15 minutes)

By Rajesh Setty on Thu 18 Dec 2008, 10:47 AM – 7 Comments

Saravana Kumar from LightPharma in India sent me a link to this really cool movie. It’s only 15 minutes or so. I strongly urge that all of you please spend those 15 minutes to watch this. It will be well worth your time.

Thanks Saravana.

Posted under Cool Movies.

Love and Entrepreneurship – Right from Bollywood

By Rajesh Setty on Mon 20 Oct 2008, 10:31 PM – 3 Comments

Love and Entrepreneurship go hand-in-hand I think. Think about it – you can’t be an entrepreneur if you can’t be TOTALLY PASSIONATE about your idea.

Over the weekend, I saw this Bollywood movie “Jab We Met” (meaning: When we met) starring Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor. Here is the video of the one of the songs called “Hum Jo Chalne Lage…” (the song begins after about 20 seconds)

The song is a romantic song but you can easily apply every bit of the audio to the story of an entrepreneur.

Here is the first piece of the song.. (in Hindi)

Hum Jo Chalne Lage

Chalne Lage Hai Yeh Raste

Haaan Haaan

Manzil Se Behtar Lagne Lage Hai Yeh Raste

Sort of translation to English:

We have started walking

Started walking this path

Yes, Yes

A path where the journey is better than the destination!

Can you see the similarity to how an entrepreneur views his startup :)

Posted under Cool Movies.

October Sky – Against all odds!

By Rajesh Setty on Sat 05 Nov 2005, 6:05 AM – Leave Comment

My trip from Boston to San Jose couple of days ago had another

highlight. American Airlines was screening a movie called “October Sky

and since I was confident that I will complete reading Grapevine(by David Balter)

quickly, I chose to watch the movie. What a good decision it was! I was

proud of myself. Sometimes I do make good decisions altough Kavitha (my

wife) says that it is just statistics in play :)

October Skyky is a true story of Homer Hickam, a young student from a

town where all the people are employees of a coal mine. Homer (the

protaganist) gets interested in building rockets after watching Sputnik

(the russian space shuttle) and getting inspired by Ms.Riley (his

teacher). The rest of the movie is a brilliant depiction of what all he

has to go through when he starts to chase his passion and dreams. While

he gets support from a few people, most people think that it is a

ridiculous idea and wants him to give up.

Homer Hickam is currently a NASA engineer training astronauts for space shuttle missions.

A movie worth watching for sure!

Posted under Cool Movies, Main Page.

Shawshank Redemption – Redefining persistence…

By Rajesh Setty on Tue 28 Jun 2005, 7:27 PM – 2 Comments

Shawshank Redemption has been one of my favorite movies for a long time.

Here’s my take:

The protagonist in Shawshank Redemption

is an amazing person and he was willing to wait a few years (working

silently) to finally achieve his objectives. Most professionals today

have an opposite attitude. They want instant results and instant

success. Unfortunately, life does not operate that way :)

I posted about this characteristic in the Distinguish Yourself series under the title “Think long term

The protagonist completely redefines the meaning of the word “persistence”.

I was speaking with Seth Gottlieb this morning who shares the same opinion about the movie. Here’s Seth’s take on the movie:

“There is this hard to describe quality

to Andy Dufresne.  He is as relaxed as a Budha even in a brutal

environment. He is strong without being aggressive. He suffers without

being a martyr. He teaches without being atronizing. Crafty without

being sinister. He is clever and patient and sees angles that others

are not able to perceive. Tim Robbins did an amazing job portraying

this character.” 

Posted under Cool Movies, Main Page.