Monthly Archives: September 2014

Minority has to live with the reality that the majority deserves.

This is the tale of two corrupt parties and a sorry state of Tamilnadu, which is kept backward by its two political parties.

It can be said that India has countries within a country. Every state in the country has its own culture, cuisine, language, festivals and peculiarities. Some states have achieved phenomenal growth and literacy levels whereas others are lagging behind.

The southern state of Tamilnadu is an example of the latter. Its two neighboring states of Karnataka and Kerala have performed much better but Tamilnadu has remained backward since decades.

A visit to the state reveals the pathetic infrastructure of the state. The state public transport facilities are very poor. Law and order situation is unsatisfactory. Sanitation facilities are absent. In Tamilnadu. If you travel for hundreds of kilometers on state highways, you will not find a single decent, public toilet. You are forced to halt at some restaurant on the way to attend nature’s call. And there are not many such places on the way.

We entered Tamilnadu from Kerala once and next time from Karnataka. Both the times we noticed that Tamilnadu has a long way to go in catching up in comparison to its neighbors. The difference becomes obvious as soon as you enter Tamilnadu.

Tourist places like Kanyakumari, Ooty, Kodaikanal are very badly managed. Even though beautiful naturally, these places leave the tourists unhappy because of government apathy. There is no decent state government transport facility between Ooty and Kodaikanal, even though neighboring Karnataka state transport connects them through a service from Mysore.

Yes. Development has missed Tamilnadu. And we can see the reason throughout the state. Almost every town, every village has many banners and posters having photographs of the leaders of political parties DMK and AIDMK. The two parties have been sharing power almost alternatively since so long. These are the two parties which have run and ruined the state since decades.

In Tamilnadu, the leaders of both these parties command a reverence matched only by Gods. The leaders have successfully manipulated the populace even after indulging into rampant corruption decades after decades. But, the local population does not realize this. Even when top leaders of both parties are convicted by courts for corruption of hundreds of millions, their devout supporters come out in support of them.

The majority public of the state lack the understanding to realize the exploitation they are subjected to by their political leaders. Sensibility is in minority in Tamilnadu. And unfortunately, democracy dances on majority.

Minority has to live with the reality that the majority deserves.

If you’re not paying for it, then you are the product

Many of us could not understand why Google and other companies give email, storage, audio, video and so many of their services FREE to us? For us, it was a welcome gift..!

But, think over. Why would any company give anything FREE? We must remember that there is no free lunch anywhere in the world.

So, in exchange of the FREE email facility and assorted other services, these companies are getting to know a lot about us. What do we like? What to we buy? Where do we buy from? How do we spend our time? Who our friends are? Which movies do we like? Which books do we read? Which mobile phone or Credit Card do we use? Where do we travel? Which restaurants we eat at?

And, this is very very valuable information. When they know all such things about us, they get a fair idea about us and our tastes and preferences. Then they themselves use this information for selling us many similar products and services and also to other companies who buy data from them. Also, bits and pieces of information accumulated from billions of people around the world finally result into a mammoth source of knowledge which marketers can use profitably by inferring trends from that data.

So, in exchange of giving something FREE to us, they sell our own data…! This is the price of connectivity that we are paying in the form of loss of privacy.

So, next time be aware and clear that if you are getting something for free, you (perhaps in the form of data about you) may be the product. Really, there is no FREE lunch, breakfast or dinner.

Here is why businesses can’t retain good employees

“I keep my staff working late because my home is nearby. They think I am a dragon.”

An advertisement screams echoing desires of a section of entrepreneurs. But think over. Who would love to work for a dragon?

A lot of entrepreneurs take great pride in the fact that they are “successful” in making their employees toil for unusually long hours. In other words, they measure the success of their leadership by the extent of exploitation they are able to exert on their people.

This is a completely misplaced concept.

Imagine, who would like to work in such an organization where their efficiency, productivity and loyalty is measured by the number of hours they put in? Where they are treated more like a machine than a human being?

Only those people who don’t get employment elsewhere may agree to work at such an exploitative places. In other words, losers, who don’t have any choice would agree for such an exploitation. And losers can’t help you build strong organization.

This exploitative approach is one reason why small, unorganized firms don’t get good employees. It is a vicious cycle which needs to be broken.

Entrepreneurs must remember that quality of work is more important than quantity of hours.

Real estate project naming – a case of meaningless brand extensions

The trend of naming new real estate projects throws up some examples of avoidable brand extension mistakes. We can find numerous instances of many smaller towns naming their residential and commercial complexes, streets, roads and areas by copying the names of famous names and localities of bigger cities.

In such an example of piggybacking on the image of some upmarket location, a prominent developer has named its upcoming project in a Mumbai suburb as “New Cuffe Parade”, drawing its name from down town Mumbai’s premium locality Cuffe Parade. The developer may have targeted the aspiring neo-rich who may wish to believe that they are getting a chance to be a part of a new posh locality of the future.

Such mindless brand extensions can be aimed at exploiting an existing, old locality’s posh brand image and recall. But, in my opinion, this exercise is wasteful and nothing less than “wannabe” naming. If at all, it only results into an added confusion for everybody.

For example, in a town, there is a very famous sweet shop called Khavda Sweets. After some years, inspired by the huge popularity of the original shop, an ex-employee or a separated partner or some unrelated stranger starts another similar type of sweet shop called “New Khavda Sweets”, with the word “New” written in very small letters in all signages and brand visuals. It tries to copy everything from the original shop – the products, packaging, pricing etc. But, in spite of all its efforts to be better or at least at par with the original, it never reaches the same level as the original, because it fails to copy the main USP of the original like quality, service, customer experience, employees etc.

At the best. it confuses people and in most cases, fails to get more than some limited, marginal success by luring some uninformed, gullible new customers who don’t know about the existence of the original shop. It only proves the New shop owner’s desire to be just like the original. In other words, he proves to be a “wannabe”.

Another such futile brand extension example is the Bollywood film Ramgarh Ke Sholay which imitated an iconically successful Bollywood blockbuster Sholay. The new film flopped miserably. All its producers’ assumptions fell flat, failing to create even a whimper.

We can find thousands of examples of such “wannabe” naming all across the country. Parents naming their children after famous celebrities is another common example of such “wannabe” naming.

Naming of a real estate locality should be done with a lot of practical considerations, because in future, that name becomes part of a large population’s daily lives. Avoiding confusion in people’s minds is one such consideration.

Branding requires very careful thinking and detailed planning. Mindless copying generally backfires. Only by declaring, NEW Cuffe Parade does not make that project a reincarnation of old Cuffe Parade. In fact, the contrasting reality of slum pockets amidst the upmarket highrisers of old Cuffe Parade, which make it unique can never be recreated by the manicured and professionally designed New Cuffe Parade. New Khavda Sweets can perhaps never be Khavda Sweets. It may perennially remain a wannabe.

And to be perceived as being a wannabe can be fatal for a premium brand. Originality is crucial to being premium.

Three Success Lessons From A Successful Indian CEO

At a recent speaking assignment at a company’s annual day, I got a chance to listen to the inspiring speech of Ghanshyam Dholakia, the managing director (MD) of the Hari Krishna Exports Pvt Ltd.

Mr Dholakia shared an advice with his employees to succeed in life. “To succeed in any job, profession, business or in life, you need to ask yourself the following three questions,” he said.

1) Do you do your job without being reminded?

If you need reminders and follow-ups to complete a task, you will find it difficult to achieve something really worthwhile in your life. Taking responsibility of a task is a characteristic of dependable people. If you need reminders to do something, you reduce the speed of the team of which you are part of. A team or an organisation can grow only if all the members take up their share of responsibilities, and perform the tasks on their own.

Being able to complete tasks on your own requires constant self-motivation. And this self-motivation is an asset, which can take you ahead of the others in life.

2) Do you do exactly what you said you will do?

Successful people keep their word. They do whatever they said they will do. They don’t cut corners. They always deliver satisfactory performance. On the contrary, losers speak more, and do less. They make a lot of promises, but don’t keep them. Their performance is less than satisfactory.

If you cut corners, if you always leave a task before its completion, if you over-promise and under-deliver, you are reducing your chances of success. Talking is easy. Doing is difficult. But, it is action alone which will produce results and that only will determine your trajectory.

3) Do you do it when you said you will do it?

Your relationship with keeping your time reveals a lot about you. When someone meets you for the first time, they believe your words completely. They presume you will do all that you said you will do. This belief remains till you perform your first task with them. If you fail to arrive on time or get late on your first promised action, the credibility of your words crashes down. Your punctuality about keeping your time will determine your dependability. People form opinions about you based on your performance on time front. If you are late in fulfilling your various commitments, your word starts losing its impact.

Your trait about punctuality starts when you arrive at your office everyday. For instance, if the time to reach your office is at 9 am with 15 minutes’ grace time, there will be three types of people in the company:

a) Those who always arrive at work before 9 am
b) Those who arrive after 9 but before 9:15 am
c) Those who always arrive late after 9:15 am

Everyday these later-comers give some or the other excuse for being late. These lame excuses are meaningless, except that those who fall under this category prove only one thing that they are not dependable. They can’t keep their word. These people will not get any responsible assignments, if there is alternative. Their chances of success will always remain limited. Also, it is not only at work that the credibility of these late-comers is weak. Such people fail miserably in keeping up to their commitments in all areas of life, at work, at home or in the society. Arriving late or not doing anything on time is their common trait.

So, ask the above three question to yourself. If answers to all these questions are ‘yes’, you are on the path to success. If not, you have some work to do.

This is a really useful and ‘workable’ advice from a man heading an organization of more than 8,000 motivated employees.