They say ‘To err is to human’. The idea of moving past the inevitable mistakes, however, is easier said than done. And when you bring large-scale investments into that mix, a simple error can have grave consequences. The occurrence of failure still remains inevitable. How one deals with that failure is what separates the great.

This idea reverberated through the transfixed crowd as Zaved Akhtar delivered his speech. Whether it was the frankness of his stories or the twists and turns of his career or perhaps simply the charisma of the man revered as a marketing guru, the harsh reality of the difficulties in the corporate world and the secret to bouncing back became a topic of mass intrigue.

As a humble man, Zaved Akhtar saw each of his failures as a stepping stone. As unwelcome as these obstacles are they are also an invaluable source to learn and grow from. According to Zaved Akhtar, his failures taught him more than his success ever did. But how do you mentally stay strong after that? He believes by taking responsibility and looking towards what’s truly important to you. The repercussions of a wrong move in the corporate level can be enormous. To keep your head up amidst that, pinpoint your mistake and then to learn from it is a daunting task. But it’s something Zaved Akhtar never shies away from.

An overlooked mistake in an otherwise good copy could bring turmoil for an entire project. What sounds good on paper might never reach the intended demographic. Zaved Akhtar learned this hard lesson through one of his earlier failures when he was a part of British American Tobacco (BAT). While marketing a less expensive cigarette, the entire point of premium cigarettes at an affordable price was lost due to miscommunication with the consumer. While the copy “Great taste, great price” seemed fine on paper, the words ’Great price’ conveyed the exact opposite meaning to the target market. A simple mistake but one that cost the company a hefty amount. And as a forerunner for the campaign, Zaved Akhtar solemnly took responsibility. This imparted an important lesson that would guide the man to his future success. The lesson would be better summed up in his words “Whenever I was smart I was outsmarted by my consumers”.

Failure, however, does not take a rest after a lesson learned. While Zaved Akhtar became more experienced and a master at the craft, he was still to face many more hurdles. When a million dollar ‘sure-fire’ promotion involving the like of Akshay Kumar failed to reach even a fraction of its target margin, the man once again had to come forward to take on the weight of responsibility. While the campaign was less prone to error this time the fault lied on the simple fact that the demographic was not eager for that product. A deodorant that prevents sweating wasn’t a priority for a demographic that would rather have fairness creams. And that is something that even an effective marketing campaign with Akshay Kumar can’t fix. Zaved Akhtar learned the valuable lesson of taking responsibility for his actions. Due to how he analyzed the entire program and its subsequent failure he managed to hold on to his position even after such a setback.

When jokingly asked whether big corporate executives rather prefer to shift the blame on their subjugates, Zaved Akhtar dismissed this misconception. The name he has made for himself is largely due to how he always treated his co-workers and how he handled each responsibility. Taking responsibility does not make one a scapegoat, it is what sets them apart as leaders.

After shedding light on his past experiences, the significance of taking responsibility could not have been more obvious to the audience.

The brilliance of Zaved Akhtar comes from his humble beginning. He’s a man who looks to learn each step of the way and build himself accordingly. To hear the stories where ‘All was not well’ and that too from a man of his caliber is undoubtedly an unparalleled experience. How he got through these moments to better himself is a person is a lesson we all can do with, in our own spheres of life.