At Soundboard, we believe in the power of seeing to believe.
We believe that by hearing the stories of people we admire, we will too feel motivated to search for new paths and push forward. By seeing another person reach the goals we’re striving for (and beyond) it’s easier to believe in the possibility of success and we get fresh wind beneath our wings.
For this purpose, we talk with people who we think are doing something inspiring and are willing to share their stories with us. We ask them how they got to where they are, the defining moments that got them there, and who their biggest Soundboards were along the way.
Today’s inspiring story comes from Naresh Ramchandani, a brilliant creative who is involved in several major projects that require lots of courage, creativity, and ingenuity.
Naresh Ramchandani is the co-founder of Do The Green Thing, President of D&AD, and Partner and Writer at Pentagram, the world's largest design consultancy. Naresh was a speaker for one of our Soundboard events in February where he shared with us the story of how he ended up Co-Founding Do The Green Thing and carving a successful career in the creative industry.
As with all of our guests, we start at the beginning with a little cultural background. Naresh shared that his view of life was shaped by the multiculturality and vibrancy of London mixed with his Indian heritage (Naresh is born in London, from Indian parents).
“Being one culture in another culture gives you a different perspective and that helps give you some leverage that can result in some sort of creative insight or observation. I’ve always thought it’s good to hang onto your differences a little bit.”
He also thinks that his current projects and career path are inspired by this wonderful combination of two cultures that promote creativity and beauty.
Naresh Ramchandani is a creative at heart and this is reflected in his career path so far. Everything started with a love for reading and writing (as a child) and continued with a love for literature and words.
“I really enjoyed digging into things and looking at how writers were using language to change your mood or switch emotion or teach you something.”
In addition, as a teenager growing up in London, Naresh had access to a wide range of multicultural events and various artistic expressions. As he puts it, the world of London, its sense of multiculturalism, and its wonderful artist expressions happening everywhere make for a brilliant place to grow up.
Due to his ongoing curiosity for words and literature, Naresh decided to study English and American literature. He spent his university years in Manchester in the 80s, a defining time for youth culture in the UK, both in terms of sounds and styles, with Factory Records, Hacienda, Tony Wilson, Peter Saville, or Joy Division. According to Naresh, it was a time when the city of Manchester could be represented by a creative idea or voice, using elements like graphics, music, and sound.
“I think it actually just made me really believe in creativity. It made me think “look at what you can do if you’re creative. The scene, the music, and the image you can create!”
Do The Green Thing (DTGT) & Other Projects
DTGT is an environmental non-profit that started 12 years ago as an attempt to make environmental action desirable with creativity. With his friend and DTGT co-founder, Andy Hobsbawm, Naresh wanted to see if creativity could turn the tide and motivate people and organizations to be more responsible with their consumption and overall carbon footprint.
As he puts it, “it kind of felt like things you grumpily did like turn off light switches.” Still, there were some signs that, with the right push, you could make environmental action a bit more attractive. In addition, Naresh and his team managed to find a new and ingenious perspective on things that most of us take for granted.
“I remember being struck by a Julian Opie picture (of people walking).”
As a result, they started looking for creative partners who could put an aesthetic of desirability around environmental action. Nowadays, DTGT has reached over 45M people, who are interested in taking climate action and know to question the systems and powers that hold the most influence.
His love for words and their power led Naresh to the world of advertising. This year, Naresh became the president of the D&AD and is also a partner at Pentagram Design.
Regardless of the project, his work is focused on using the commercial tools he acquired as an advertising professional for social purposes. His team works with foundations, movements, b-corps, even for-profits who are looking to engage a bit more meaningfully with an evolving society. This movement is also motivated by customers who want to see more involvement from their favourite brands.
Finding Inspiration & Teamwork
Throughout his personal and professional journey, Naresh has made it a habit to surround himself with inspiring and supportive people, from the teams he builds in the world of advertising or those aligned to his values so that he can build something the world needs, such as Do The Green Thing, he mentioned that creating a good support system of people to bounce ideas off helps steer your decisions and broaden your perspectives.
Naresh describes his Soundboards as “brilliant people who you can call up or grab a coffee with. They’ll just talk things through, aggregate and give their wisdom and advice in a very friendly way.” While he highlighted the importance of soundboards and mentors, Naresh also talked about finding people to aspire to.
“I have people who I just go “That’s how to be a human being/creative in this world!”
In addition, Naresh is the kind of person who finds teamwork most rewarding. According to him, “you’re as good as your team.” He admires and understands the power of a cohesive team, where brilliant minds can come together and just create without stumbling on ego. After all, none of the amazing work of DTGT could’ve been possible without a dedicated and solid team of collaborators who gave their all to create such inspiring projects.
On Staying Grounded & Inspired
As our discussion drew to an end, we asked Naresh to offer a bit of advice on how to stay grounded and inspired in an ever-changing world.
“Teams are everything.”
Of course, he talks about an aligned team, where every member is happy to participate and create. Speaking from his own experience, Naresh shared that you need a strong team in order to create the best possible work.
Moreover, it’s important to have all the team members united by a common goal. In his case, the team is united by the desire to create something that’s good for the world - “helping to shine a light on inequality or unsustainable practices or shine a light on their alternatives. There are ways the world can be a bit more just and fair and there are ways we can take climate action and be a bit more hopeful.”