Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Anding & Butting

Earth is a big planet. And it has water. And it has vegetation. And it has fish. And it has humans. And it has volcanoes. And it has storms. And... And...

But it isn't the universe.

I read. And I write. And I workout. And I watch movies. And I listen to music. And I play drums. And I FB. And I want...

But there are only 24 hours. But I have only so much money.

There's no end to Anding. But there's always a significant But. For good, may be for bad. And it is that significant But that will force choices. And those choices and living with those choices will make or break us. Make or break brands. Make or break great stories.

Where's your Butt?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Pizza ki delivery


Ana: PHD?
Clado: Yeah!
Ana: Ooooooo PIZZA HUT DELIVERY it is!
Clado: Ana, tell me, would you like PHD or Khushiyon Ki Home Delivery?
Ana: The thing is, I didn't know PHD was a short form. I mean, short form for Pizza Hut Delivery.
Clado: Now that you know it...

zeus FITNESS POINT - the gym


Ana: Clado, see that Christmas Week offer?
Clado: Seems every occasion offers a chance to offer. Are they offering a Christmas tree free? Check no...
Ana: Okay wait...

Ana: And what's this zeus?
Clado: Greek Goddess, perhaps?
Ana: Fitness Point, the gym?!
Clado: Yes. Word meanings!
Ana: So again, why zeus? Is it for women?
Clado: I see no women there. No men either.
Ana: Seems they worship zeus...
Clado: They are pantheists, actually.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Book F***ed

Vete and Candi are sitting across the table. Part of the conversation and few questions have already taken place. Coming to the crucial part.

Vete: Take a book launch. Say a writer has already written the book and now you have to launch it. How will you market it? Give me a step-by-step approach. Take a few minutes if you want.

Vete leaves the chamber. Candi is thinking.

5 odd minutes pass by. Vete comes back.

Vete: So, tell me what is the approach?

Candi: I would ask the writer what did he think of while writing the book. Whom did he write for? What are the special points? Which genre does it fall into? What makes it different from other books around?

Vete: No! First you go to the customers and ask them what is their need. First you find out what is the need in the market.

Candi: But the writer has already written the book. He would have something in his mind. He would have written it for someone. He can tell us what 'need' is he addressing...

Candi wanted to continue. Had he continued, he would have said, since the book is already written perhaps talking to the writer might pre-empt the need to go to the consumers and ask their needs. If the book weren't written already, perhaps going to the consumers would be the ideal start...

But of course, Vete cut his answer short.

Vete: Candi, I can take you as a Marketing Trainee. You aren't fit yet to be a Marketing Manager.

Candi: Thank you Sir. I am here to do business. Hopefully, we'll meet again and do business sometime.

Candi felt embarrassed. A little flummoxed and amused too. For a moment, all study, theoretical frameworks and stuff went for a complete toss.

This happened in late 2007. Candi was me. Vete was a marketing veteran, I was informed, who came from a big Indian FMCG company, and had joined this new outfit where I went for the interview. I could say he was above 55 or so surely. His hair was white and he had an air of super-seniority about him.

So, how would you launch and market a book?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bhagwad Gita called upon to fight Anna Hazare - A conspiracy theory

Congress is in a spot. Corruption is an age-old issue. And Anna Hazare and team have raised a storm which just doesn't seem to subside. It isn't a wonder coz when it comes to economic progress, more than the policies it is corruption which has hurt the common people the most.

The attempts to make Anna Hazare seem a controversial figure have so far failed. For most part since Independence, Congress has been in power at the center. The current situation might put a full and final stop to that.

What's the recourse? Play the next best card. Religion. Seed a controversy to kill a controversy.

Go to a far off land. Attack the most celebrated and followed scripture of the country. Create an external enemy. A religious one. Make the important men and media give it time and space. Make the important men speak gibberish. Plaster pictures of protest. Make it seem like the identity of the country is at stake.

Arouse a religio-patriotic emotion to kill the existential grouse. Can they pull it off? Hide corruption behind religion? Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Starring YOU

I like movies and celebrities like any other person who seeks entertainment. Here's what amazes me.

A movie isn't made linearly like we see it. The starting scenes of a movie might be shot after the climactic ones. That's still fine until we talk of actors. I don't know in what sequence was Sholay shot but it could very well turn out that the scene where AB dies was shot (even) before the scene where Dharmendra & AB reach Ramgadh. If for once this is taken to be true, I wonder about the actors' 'sense of story', sense of holism, sense of linearity.

I also wonder about the oft-repeated claim of getting into the skin or heart or mind of the character. Even if that is done, lack of linearity would put anyone off the course. For the hero is dying before even romancing the heroine and is romancing her and singing songs with her even before meeting her for the first time.

And these days, with graphics, animation and special effects occupying a good part of the execution, imagine yourself dressed as a warrior against a bland-colored wall and swinging your sword to cut an imagined dinosaur and then grimacing and then showing stoical triumph on your face.

Have the story/idea in your head? Execute, basis convenience. Last, first, fourth, second, third. Make faces in that sequence. Bear the strangeness of it all. Then before you talk, juxtapose and order the events in a sequence and check if it's convenient to make faces in that sequence. Finally, talk as if all events happened in a sequence, make faces in that sequence and it's all well.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Stress-marks

Was talking to a school-friend, who runs tuition classes in the same complex where Mississippi Earrings is located, last night. Two old mates finding common ground in 'training' will not refrain from talking about the strange things.

Few years back, schools started becoming the target of parent-groups. Why? Students were finding themselves under immense pressure in the competitive world of academic excellence, signified by 'marks'. And schools were somehow seen to be the culprit. So schools changed the ways they trained students.

That change meant schools almost became a stroll in the park. Leisurely. And 'marks' became a casualty.

How could have parents tolerated a drop in academic excellence! No way! Having accused and believed that schools were stressful, parents rushed to tuition classes in search of 'marks'. Tuitions classes run by school-teachers who knew no better than the old methods of the very same schools which had changed their methods and where they were employed for years. Applying the old methods more rigorously, these tuition classes rewarded the parents and students with academic excellence. Marks!

My friend says the kids have no time. While schools give limited homework, tuition classes load the kids. The latter are asked to write the same things/exercises over and over again. Of course they get marks in return. Parents are okay with the stress as long as the kids are minting marks.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Martial Arts

Another post on juxtaposition, this one.

Martial & Arts, two words typically sensed as opposites placed side by side. The first sentence on wikipedia describes it as:
Martial arts are extensive systems of codified practices and traditions of combat, practiced for a variety of reasons, including self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, as well as mental and spiritual development.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

THE MOST IMPORTANT WORD

Yes, this post needs a Capitalized title :).

If I am not mistaken you must have heard this word in Amitabh's song My Name is Anthony Gonsalves in Amar Akbar Anthony. Of course the words in that part of the song were rattled out at some pace. 

The most important word in my life is turning out to be 'juxtaposition'. And the meaning isn't as complicated as the sound of the word :). Dictionary.com offers these meanings:
  • an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast.
  • the state of being close together or side by side.
And here's an example of juxtaposition.

For most of us trained to believe in causation, this might be a tough ability and a tough way of thinking. Simple example, saying "he is so strong" might imply a thought somewhere in our head "he is not so sensitive". But 'strong' and 'sensitive' are so often found together and one may be the cause/consequence of another. Might be a bad example but you get the point I hope.

Observe everywhere. Sources of great surprises are so often juxtapositions. Amitabh's white beard and black hair? :)

Will share more...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Are you bored with Management Education?


Came across this ad in today's TOI. Found it compelling enough to share here and talk about it. My perspective of course.

The headline ARE YOU BORED WITH MANAGEMENT EDUCATION is just so apt. A lot of academicians engaged with management institutes here in India might just have been bored with the way things are done. Forget academicians, ask the students studying in these institutes. Ask them if given a chance to change their decisions by going back in the past, what would they do and why?

Reading through the copy might make one expect different things to happen at this institute. Mind you, we aren't talking about the right and the wrong. For the rightness of educational settings has been debated and questioned all the across the world.

Most interesting thing about this ad is what it expects the candidates to do. EMAIL THEIR RESUME WITH A WRITE UP ON "MY VISION OF MANAGEMENT EDUCATION IN THE FUTURE".

The ad seems to be walking the talk.

The only disappointing aspect is QUALIFICATIONS, EXPERIENCE AND REMUNERATION AS PER AICTE NORMS. I fear that one thing might just cut out a lot of interesting things that the institute promises through this ad.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A big compliment

Quite some time back I read about Yossi Vardi. And one of the things he conveys is:

Judge the individual over the business plan.

If the size of any business is calculated by the money it earns, then any compliment in the context of business could be judged by the same metric, right? :)

Some time back I pitched for funding (for a business idea) to one of my Dad's business associates. A director of a fairly well-known and financially sound construction company based in Ahmedabad, was also present during the pitch.

He seemed to have taken a little interest and listened to a part of what I had to say. At the end he said (in typical Gujarati) to the associate I was presenting, "Chhokro saaro laage chhe. Ek-be khokha naakhi ne bhooli java na." It means, "The boy seems good. Invest a crore or two and forget about it."

My valuation as a business professional at a crore or two is still notional coz that compliment didn't manifest in real. But that notional value was good enough to get me started; one estimate of the size of my idea - as mentioned in the presentation at that time - stands at Rs. 1500 crore :).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chemistry in Professional Relationships

Read this remarkable write-up by Atul Gawande, the world-renowned surgeon. It's about the importance of coaching in professional set-ups. Yes, coaches for surgeons!

Corroborates my long-held belief. I try to plot here the way I observe certain professional relationships.


What do you observe?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Innocuous crime

There's a tuition institute right opposite Mississippi Earrings.

This afternoon, I observed a girl looking into another note-pad and scribbling hurriedly into her note-pad. It was geometry. Some theorem I guess. Seemed tensed and was writing furiously. Must have been homework which she couldn't manage to do at home. All this to ensure entry into the class.

There's school. There's homework. There's tuition class. There's homework. And so many hours spent only to lead to copying. While this instance is anecdotal, am sure it gets repeated frequently and among majority of the students.

Impulse is just not impulsive - a test-ride review

Picture courtesy: http://www.heromotocorp.com/impulse#
Just went for a test-ride of Impulse from the newly christened Hero Motocorp.

Well, I knew that the engine is the same that's planted in CBZ Xtreme and Hunk. But the styling captivated me enough to check it out and ride.

Well, the showroom guy, who must be anywhere around 75-78 kgs, also sat behind :(. Since Hero has styled it like an off-roader and calls it a transroader, I was expecting - in spite of my prior knowledge of the engine - that the bike will pull rather sprightly. It doesn't. It runs like a typical 150cc. I don't believe that!

On the positive side though, the fit and finish is great. The build quality impresses. Color-schemes are super. However, these are a given I suppose for the money that one pays to own one.

Tyres and spokes are definitely the kind that can serve well on a rough patch. Stance is good too. But given its apparent character (going by the styling) and Hero's desire to position it as a transroader, Impulse really disappoints. The engine needed to be more responsive for sure, so what if it's a 150cc.

I own an FZ. And it feels more responsive than the Impulse.

What disappoints me about Hero is this half-hearted attempt; surely it is more than the sticker-jobs that it is typically known for. But it is still half-hearted and exposes Hero's limitations in engineering. Impulse is an eye-candy. But stops just at that. Doesn't back it up with performance. Is the intention to just take in the moolah without doing the hard work?

Hero might just lose another battle in spite of taking the lead and popularizing a new category of bike.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Wield the sword, carefully!

Even if you are careful, there are others who will run riot :)

The eternal human urge to conserve energy which translates into seeking convenience percolates into B-school marketing too. How?

B-schools directly or indirectly market 'guaranteed' placements and hefty packages to lure students. For a parent or student reading an ad or an article, the equation is simple. A B-school might charge a good amount of fee but in return it will offer placements (on a platter).

The result is that students wait for companies to visit campuses and offer them jobs, packages and whatever else. The very thing - initiative among budding managers/businessmen - that a b-school ought to inculcate takes a real beating when students simply wait for the most important milestone to happen in their careers. Just as it happened in movies where a car would stay in its place and the reel would run in the background to make the audience feel that the car is moving. But even if the audience did enjoy the story, they always knew the truth, no?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Paying off liabilities

is important for doing stuff that is personal, artistic and hasn't been backed by intensive truckloads of market research and hasn't been appreciated by the experts as yet.

So you do an MBA.

Most organizations aren't into a mode of giving you good personal space and time. They fear you'll run away and earn more at the organization's expense. The other side is also true. If organizations offer some personal space, people might just be as willing to credit the organization with their success and therefore, turn the organization into a bigger brand.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On hard work

There are two forms of hard work:
  1. Physical Movement
  2. Thinking & Remembering
Lack of first leads to obesity. Leads to lack of grace, lack of performing arts, lack of beauty.

A contributing factor to lack of physical movement is laziness. It seems to be a tool of age-old conservatory habits of humankind when we were afraid of spending a lot of energy for fear that we might not be able to hunt/fetch food for the immediate future. But food is available to us every few hours now!

Lack of second leads to ungratefulness, dumbness, arrogance, wastage... Leads to lack of beauty again.

A contributing factor to lack of thinking and remembering is lack of reading. Blame the systems - education, governance, social mores and such.

SEXC

Short form for Strategy Execution Coach! ;)

Or another short form could be STREXECO; this one sounds like a medicine for bad throat. :D

Anyway, so who really is a Strategy Execution Coach?

I've been presenting myself as a Strategy Execution Coach for the last one year or so. It's fairly self-explanatory and there isn't much unsaid but still people look at me questioningly so often. As if it is some rocket science.

Strategy Execution Coach is a professional who understands and helps define business strategies and who oversees/facilitates execution of those strategies. Any confusions?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Quality of tiredness

You have a good workout or run long in the morning. Your lungs open up and fresh air circulates with in. Through out the day, your body stays agile and mind alert. Work seems to happen in rhythm and rhymes. You feel a lot's been done already by 8pm. Have dinner. Before you know it, your eyes, mind, body prompt you to lie down. Bed feels amazing. Combined with the little aches, here and there, all the more comforting.

Next morning, you realize how deep and joyfully you slept. You are back on the track.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Nude Veena Malik & Free Laptops


These things work it seems.

Alright, let me honestly say that I got tempted to check this page out; the actual purpose of checking Rediff.com homepage was to read about Dev Anand.

An MBA program which always DARED YOU TO THINK BEYOND THE IIMS highlights Free Laptops to lure students into doing the course.

A magazine on the cover of which is a news item WHY NAKED PROTESTS ARE JUST AMATEUR PORN features a Veena Malik nude. I wonder what is this ISI tattoo gonna mean on her nude body.

And all this on a very respectable rediff.com. :)

These things work!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lost sense of adventure

When majority of the world could be termed lower middle class or poor, and entire lives were spent being just that, I wonder what was called risk. Perhaps going on an adventure trip (typically would mean traveling in unknown unpaved geographical areas) was the biggest risk. And such risks were almost a result of real critical needs. And therefore, adventures got their meaning. In fact, it might not be wrong to say that meaning arose only out of adventures and courage.

In the current world such geographies exist but not many of us feel the need to travel through such geographies. In a lot of ways, we are way too safe. Think about it. How regularly, frequently and unfailingly we meet our needs? Having a little money ensures meeting basic needs pretty easily. That ease also seems to have resulted in a loss of meaning. And yet, how so few of us want to have even a little adventure? Let's say by putting money into a venture, by starting or trying something which involves money and courage...

Musings on Executing a Wall Bed or Murphy Bed

The cost of real estate has ensured that I stay hooked to the concept of wall-bed. I think any piece of estate that makes multiple uses pos...