How i failed in trying to change the world – Talk at GCS 2014

I was chosen to present a Lightning talk at Google Community Summit – Asia 2014 at Sri Lanka. I was representing GBG Mumbai and the theme was to talk about ‘impact’.


Here’s the deck and below is the transcript.

Slide 1: I would like to share my story of how i failed in my attempt to change the world. In the september of 2012, i moved to Mumbai, its often called as city of dreams. As early as march 2013, it was just in time that one my my dream came true, a google initiative and i get to lead a city? Being a digital marketing professional i couldn’t have asked for more to try and change the world.

i quickly set up a website and social media handles for GBG Mumbai, figured out a venue and put an event agenda in place. The event was promoted aggressively, a few phone calls, a few mails to acquaintances and colleagues yielded about 27 registrations. not bad right?

Slide 2: But the challenge was that, on the day of the event, just about 6 people showed up! Mumbai is a city comprised of 12 million people (that’s 60% of entire Sri Lanka!) and we could only manage to get 6 people? That was the moment i realised it is not in my hands to change the world

Slide 3: Not willing to give up, i spoke to few more people, asked them how things in Mumbai work and realised there are already too many initiatives for startups and SMEs. Parallely there was the last year community summit which gave some insights on how community building works. Together i realised there was a need to go deeper, to understand what this city needs and how can i be enabler?

Slide 4: In a desperation, we did couple more events and things did improve a bit, we saw lot more than single digit participations in one of the session someone asked me a question that most of us would see it as trivial. The question was “Can we really measure traffic for a website if we use Google Analytics?” this was the question that made me realise that, there is a huge difference between changing ‘the world’ and changing the world around you.

Slide5: So i started with ‘my world’ a world called GBG Mumbai where there are thousands of people who are do not know how to get the best out of web technologies.

The learnings from interacting from the community was steep, a grassroots level approach was what we needed, to start from basic and go forward eventually increasing the scale of using technology for business success. Our events now get an 80-90% occupancy per event with a high participation of women too.

Slide 6: How we did it? Teams win, individuals do not. If you assume to be the biggest doll in this sequence then you form a team that is smaller and smaller than you are. But the magic lies in you assuming the smallest doll and roping in team members who are bigger, better, and more knowledgeable than you are.

Slide 7: Measuring impact. Our team consist of 9 people, each one is an accomplished individual and is from various walks of life. Each one of the core team have contributed to the community in more ways that i can count.

In the last 18 months, we have organized over 18 stand alone events and 4 partner events. in the last 8 months alone, we have had 9 events including one for specifically building success stories. The most interesting part about the impact we have created is noticeable when we see repeat audience, should they have not learnt something worth, they would never showup again, whether you are google or anyone else.

With nearly 1500 members and 266 women patrons, GBG Mumbai is among the top three chapters in the world.

Slide 8: More than 10 success stories from GBG Mumbai

Slide 9: Everyone in this room is capable of changing your Own World, and TOGETHER, that is what will change The World, eventually. Thank you and enjoy your summit.