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Don't do toilet ads to earn more: Arjuna Ranatunga @ Goafest 2016

Goafest 2016 began with a full house on Day 2. To add to the spirit was the morning session that had a bevy of creative innovators. It included Deshamanya Arjuna Ranatunga, Minister of Ports and Shipping and former Sri Lankan cricket captain, whose session was moderated by senior journalist, author and founder of the IBN Network, Rajdeep Sardesai. It was followed by interesting sessions by Benny Thomas, Strategy Head, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, and Prakash Sangam, CEO, redBus.

Setting the tone of the morning for the Knowledge Seminar by Dainik Bhaskar was Chief Corporate Sales and Marketing Officer, Dainik Bhaskar Group, Pradeep Dwivedi. He played an emotional video that ended with a poignant message, “Harr buri zidd ka ilaaj hai ek acchi zidd”. The message was picked up by Arjuna Ranatunga, who added on to it saying that “when we get together, no one can get you to lose”.

The session started by Sardesai asking Ranatunga the one philosophy that made his team bring home the 1996 World Cup during a time when his country was at a threshold of civil war. The two personalities then went on to speak about everything – from politics to his ‘strategic captaincy’ against the ruthless and aggressive Australians and more.

Ranatunga also added that he wasn’t a big T20 fan, because even though it was “quick and filling, it was non-healthy; like two-minute noodles”. “Asians are not power cricketers. We are ‘technically correct’ cricketers. Test is our thing. T20 is all about power,” he noted.

Contrary to most cricketers today, the former Sri Lanka cricket captain has stayed away from endorsing brands. Sharing an anecdote, he said, “When I played my first test match, I was in school. Once I got an offer and I asked the brand manager to meet my mother. After listening to him for a long time about money, fame, etc., my mother said, ‘Sorry, but my son is not for sale’. She always told me not to ever sell my talent or body for money. I was offered a million dollars after the 1996 World Cup. But I asked them to go and convince my mother.” Now that he has a wife and a daughter in his life as well, when Sardesai asked him if no one in the room could convince him to do a commercial, he quipped, “Convince my three ladies and I’m ready.”

While agreeing that there were players who were interested in sacrificing play time or family time to do ads, Ranatunga said, “I believe you need to identify what you are good at. Don’t do toilet ads to earn more. I’ve done three charity ads. I may have lost a lot of money not doing ads, but these are the things that kept me going.”

Concluding the session, Ranatunga also shared his four ideas of how to lead a team when you hail from a country of conflict:

  • Respect your players
  • Listen to them
  • Let them create their own identity. Have a plan and self-confidence
  • Have a target
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