One day, Praveen Kenneth will let the world in on his big secret: the recipe for his secret sauce.
I’ve not known Praveen Kenneth for ages. I had my first serious conversation with him in 2007, when I went over to his office to understand what it was about Law & Kenneth that caused clients to a) work with the agency for many years and b) to heap praise on Praveen, the person.
Since then, I’ve had tens of lunches with him and many drinking evenings. For the most part of these meetings, Praveen listens. It took me some time to figure that out. He says a few words here and there, but that’s to keep up the pretence of a conversation.
When he listens, he absorbs. He sucks it in like a sponge, almost able to repeat all that you said verbatim.
I’ve had many of these conversations. On some occasions, I’ve made suggestions or offered some advice. Quite often, I’m pleasantly surprised to see, in a few days, evidence of my suggestion being acted upon.’
That’s his secret sauce. Listening.
He listens to his colleagues. He listens to his well-wishers. He listens to his critics.
Most importantly, he listens to his clients. He hears every word that they have to say – and he remembers every word that he has heard.
Then he acts on all that he has heard, remembered and absorbed.
That’s his secret sauce.
In a world where everyone wants to talk, Praveen wants to listen and to do.
And that comes as a pleasant surprise to all, because we’re not used to quality ‘listeners’.
To anyone, being listened to is the greatest acknowledgement of existence and a great demonstration of respect.
Real respect, not the fawning and sucking up to that people attempt to disguise and pass of as respect.
To clients, the listening translates into work that is on brief, to work that is delivered on time, to Praveen being punctual to a fault, to complaints being addressed in a hurry and commitments that are honoured.
That’s the secret sauce. The secret sauce that saw Praveen grow Law & Kenneth into one of the top ten Indian advertising agencies (despite whatever the Brand Equity Reckoner might say), that saw the spectacular deal between Publicis Groupe and Law & Kenneth and that sees an enviable roster of satisfied clients – and loyal colleagues.