Ambi Parameswaran is a brand! He was ‘branded’ early in life when he graduated from the country’s top engineering school, IIT Madras, and a top B-school, IIM Calcutta, with a distinguished alumnus award from both years later. After a stellar career in advertising, Ambi is now a brand coach, bestselling author of eleven books and newspaper columnist, much sought after speaker, guest faculty at top B-schools. The list is long.  

 Little wonder that Ambi chose personal branding as the topic of his latest book, All the World’s A Stage. As Ambi writes in the prologue of his book, he didn’t set out on a deliberate path to be a ‘brand’ himself. He was busy building brands for the company he worked with, Boots, and then he was building brands for clients in ad agency FCB Ulka as its CEO. But, along the way, his personal brand gathered sheen and when he stepped down from his CEO job, his brand halo stayed with him and he became a sought after speaker, writer and was invited to directorships on corporate boards.  

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Ambi’s book is set in his alma mater, IIM-C, and the entire book is based on a conversation among imaginary characters, Shankar, Rita, Kunal, Joe, including an Ambi, albeit a younger one, who walk around campus talking about various issues, ranging from personal branding to executive presence/ voice and managing one’s digital footprint to social media and the power of networking.  

The book’s an easy read, jargon-free and the style conversational as well, and for anyone looking for a ready primer on the subjects mentioned, this book offers a good overview what they entail. 

The book kicks off with two classmates at IIM-C, Shankar Shah, and Ambi, back in campus for their silver re-union, walking around the campus, kicking off a chat on brands and what they stand for. Gradually, Ambi ‘educates’ Shankar on what brands stand for and that people can also be brands in their own right. Of course, Shankar is incredulous that people can also be brands and along the way Ambi goes on to explain why and how. 

The two are joined by two other classmates, a couple, Rita Singh and Kunal Sharma, and their lively conversation builds up to cover a whole swathe of topics. The author has thrown in many anecdotes to buttress his points. Talking about the intangible quality of executive presence, Joe says one doesn’t need to talk loudly to establish it. He talks about Marlon Brando in the movie The Godfather; Brando mumbles through the movie, but his powerful presence resonates through the movie. It makes for a telling point. 

Ambi ends the book with a chapter on Mahatma Gandhi, who he describes as the most successful personal brand built in modern times, of course, without the Mahatma realising it or even consciously building his personal brand. He relied on the power of symbols that could resonate with the masses and the power of communication and hence wrote copiously for many years. As the book says, the Mahatma employed some of the most sophisticated personal brand-building tools even before they were studied and defined. He never consciously built his brand but was trying to help India gain freedom, but, as the author says, in his talks and deeds, he ended up being a ‘brand’ recognised all over the world.   

For a new student of marketing, Ambi’s book is a wonderful introduction - from the world of personal branding to leveraging social media and networking. For a casual reader too, the story flows lucidly. Maybe one can then be more cognizant of one’s ‘brand’ presence. 

About the book
Author: Ambi Parameswaran 
Publisher: Westland Business 
Pages: 166
Price: ₹499 

Check it out on Amazon.