To the Top

Little kitty jumped

Attempting to climb

The compound wall

Failed, fell down

Not to be deterred

She tried, a second time

In vain

Not concerned,

Who watched

I thought,

Aww, don’t worry little kitty

Come again tomorrow

For now,

Go, play someplace else

Not one to give up

She tried a third time

Landed, successfully

Not concerned

Who watched…

Last Sunday My elder son and I were on our morning walk and near Bagmane Tech Park, when we saw an adorable white kitten. With the reassuring presence of her mother in the background, she was oblivious to the dogs lurking around. We watched her fascinated as she made her multiple attempts to climb the 2 feet high wall.

The kitten, unlike me, had

No self doubt

No fear of failure

No concern about passers by who might watch her fall

She had a single minded focus on her goal – of climbing the compound wall and playing on the other side.

Her attempts to climb were purposeful, energetic and enthusiastic. When she fell, her mother did not fuss over her, she was just there… probably to the kitten, a re-assuring presence.

Why am I narrating all this? Well,  that day  I learnt a beautiful lesson. These lovely animals whom we, humans consider inferior (to us) are so resilient. Inspired by this incident, yesterday during my coaching exercise with a co-participant, I decided to call my shine goal as the ‘White kitten goal’…

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kindle at CCD

Today I was at the Koramangala CCD (short for Cafe Coffee Day) to meet a friend and was pleasantly surprised to see a placard detailing kindle paperwhite loaded with some popular titles like – I am Malala, The Election that changed India by Rajdeep Sardesai and a couple others.

kindle CCD 2Kindle in CCD

Responding to my query regarding the promotion, the store in-charge explained to me that there were 5 or more Kindles in the cafe and they encouraged the patrons to explore the product. She was of the opinion most people already had a kindle of their own, as was my case! She clicked a couple of my photos after taking my permission…

Pleasurable experience while waiting for a friend.

I would like to know details and  effectiveness of the campaign 🙂

An event with a difference!

Yesterday & today, I was at the InTech50 – 2015 edition at The Leela Palace, Bangalore – 2 days of action packed event with 50 innovative product companies pitching to 25 Global CIOs and an equal number of their Indian counterparts. The audience also had a sizable presence of VC firms! The enthusiasm of the entrepreneurs was palpable.

Organised by iSPIRT & Terenne Global Leadership  Network, InTech50 is not a regular conference, here each product company is given a 5 minute slot to pitch. Each of them was assigned a mentor or a Guru to help them sharpen their sales pitch.

While I enjoyed the event immensely and connected with many of the delegates, I also had an opportunity to understand what the CIO’s expected from the product pitches.

Below is the summary of my interaction with a couple of the CIO’s :

  1. A Clear understanding of your Target audience and their requirements help make a clear and precise presentation.
  2. Focus should be on the business issue or requirement the product solves. The founder who is in love with his or her product they tend to get into too much of detailing.
  3. Showcase a used case, while focusing on how exactly the product solved the business issue.
  4. While the CIO appreciates the superior technology deployed, the time given should be better utilized to explain the benefit to the customer.
  5. Be unique in your presentation, passion and humour help.
  6. Don’t waste time by being repetitive.

It was interesting to note that many of the VC’s and CIO’s were meticulously making notes of the products they liked and then went in search of the booth where it was demonstrated. The purpose of the was very clearly either to invest in the company itself or to procure the product.

While I probed further a CIO was patient enough to explain the way to win an order:

  1. Doing your homework by researching the delegate’s background and unique needs help to sharpen your pitch.
  2. The ability to respond to all the queries, the prospect raises, helps cinch the deal. Most often a deal is lost when the seller is unable to answer a query as he / she is unable to say ‘No’. It is ok to say that you do not have all the complete solution and to accept that your product may have some gaps, in which case the product can still be sold to solve part of the issue.
  3. Listen to the prospect and clearly understand his/her needs.
  4. Be sharp on your Marketing & Communication.
  5. Demonstrate your staying power, the prospect may be wary of investing in a company that may fold up his / her operation. Conviction in your product helps convince the prospect to invest in your product.
  6. Build a relation with your prospect; be in touch with your prospect on a regular basis. If the prospect remembers you and is convinced about your product, he will reach out to you when the need arises.

Happy selling people!

Karna

Though I’ve  exited most of the groups on WhatsApp, there are still one or two which keep my inbox full! People vie with each other to send messages, jokes or videos. I usually delete most of them after a cursory glance, but today there was one which held my attention and made me think… Let me first narrate the story (with small enhancements but without changing the story) that was shared:

Once Lord Krishna and Arjuna were walking towards a village. Arjuna was pestering Krishna, asking him why Karna should be considered an unparalleled Donor & not him ?

To pacify Arjuna, Krishna, turned two nearby mountains into gold.

Then he turned to Arjuna and said,  “Arjuna, distribute these two gold mountains among villagers living in the vicinity, but make sure that you donate every bit of it”.

Arjuna went into the village,  proclaimed he was going to donate gold to every villager, and asked them to gather near the mountain. The villagers sang his praises and Arjuna walked towards the mountains with a slightly huffed up chest.

For the next two days and two nights Arjuna shoveled gold from the mountain and donated to each villager. The mountains just did not diminish in the slightest. Most villagers came back and stood in queue within minutes. By now Arjuna was exhausted, but not ready to give up or accept defeat (let go of his  ego), told Krishna he couldn’t go on any longer without rest.

A bemused Krishna called out to Karna who was in the vicinity and told him to donate every bit of the two gold mountains.

Karna without any hesitation called out to the  villagers,  and announced “Those two Gold mountains are yours. share them among yourselves” and walked away.

Arjuna who was a mute spectator was dumbfounded. Why hadn’t this thought occurred to him?

Krishna smiled mischievously and told him “Arjuna, subconsciously, you were attracted to the gold, you regretfully gave it away to each villager, giving them what you thought was a generous amount. Thus the size of your donation to each villager depended only on your imagination.

But Karna has no such reservations. Look at him walking away after giving away a fortune, he doesn’t expect people to sing his praises, he doesn’t even care if people talk good or bad about him behind his back. That is the sign of a man already on the path of greatness or enlightenment”. Giving with an expectation in return in the form of a compliment or thanks is not a Gift, in such cases it only becomes a Trade!

Well! lovely story, I’ve not verified whether this story is factual. Because my belief is that these stories are the best method to get us to introspect or to look around us.

How would a typical corporate executive have behaved? probably he or she would have tried to prove his/her ownership… or would have installed maximum security, weighed the fold multiple times before giving it away…

Why was a Karna able to walk away from humongous wealth without expecting anything in return? Why was a brilliant Arjuna unable to resist the lure of gold? Is this story relevant in these times?

Repeatedly my mind tells me that it would be a very difficult test for most of us to pass today…

Karna, though born into royalty, was a child abandoned by his mother at birth. He was brought up by a poor charioteer in abject poverty and later was made a king by the proud Duryodhana (the eldest Kourava). Ridiculed by droupadi  that he was not a prince and so not worthy of marrying her. It is hard to imagine the kind of repeated humiliation he had to go through,  yet he retained his dignity.

As I’m signing off, I wonder what made Karna so noble and generous? May be some stories and some enigmatic characters are not to be deciphered…

Gandhi – The master PR practitioner

Mahatma-Gandhi-Sketch

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who is hailed as the father of our nation in my opinion is one of the most effective PR practitioners. He was a master strategist and understood his target audience very well and crafted the communication accordingly.

Although he held no office, he was able to captivate the minds of India’s millions, and also took control of Congress and its highly educated, sophisticated and cynical leadership. It was his passion, careful consideration and discipline which got him the recognition.

Let me discuss briefly the reasons why I think he was the ultimate PR personality:

The Salt march:

The Salt march was probably one of his most powerful campaigns which had a wide spread support. The Salt Acts imposed on Indians prohibited them from collecting or selling salt. Indians were forced to buy salt which was a natural resource and a staple in the Indian diet. The British, who, in addition to exercising a monopoly over the manufacture and sale of salt, also exerted a heavy salt tax.

Gandhi the brilliant strategist thought that a Mass civil disobedience was the best way to tackle this issue. In March 1930 Gandhi and 78 of his close associates marched from Sabarmati ashram, some 240 miles to the Arabian sea to take a pinch of salt. He informed the government well in advance about his intention to break the law to make salt. The British government threw people in jail for violating the law and censored the press. Despite that, the Media covered the event in great detail and  people across the nation followed suit even though Gandhi was already in prison. Jails in India were filled with 60,000 Satyagrahis whom the British imprisoned.

Effective use of media:

Gandhi was probably one of the greatest journalist of all  time, and the publications he ran and edited were probably the greatest ones the world has known. In 1904 in South Africa, he had taken over the editorship of the ‘Indian Opinion’ and published it in English, Tamil and Gujarati, sometimes running the press himself.

He is known to have written on all subjects; he wrote simply, clearly and forcefully. His writing was passionate and burning indignation. He believed that the objective of a newspaper, is to understand the popular feeling and give expression to it; to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments, and the third is fearlessly to expose popular defects. He took up journalism more as a service to public and he was devoid of any personal ambitions. He used his writing as a vehicle to present his various experiments to the public.

Signature style:

He believed in powerful symbols and designed a headgear as a symbol of Indian unity which later came to be known as the Gandhi Topi. His own dress was one of the foremost and most visible symbols he adopted–the loincloth and shawl of homespun fabric –which he deliberately chose, after careful consideration, to show solidarity with India ’ s grinding poverty.

This eventually got him a name of ‘half naked fakir’ from Sir Winston Churchill. This way of dressing was Gandhi’s rebuke to the pretensions of the imperialists and became his trademark attire.

By the time that India’s independence was won, the homespun cloath or Khadi was inextricably woven into the fabric of India’s life. Even today Khadi is the unofficial uniform of India’s political leaders.

Powerful Orator:

Gandhi is seen as one of the world’s great inspiring public speakers. He could inspire all classes of people whether they were freedom fighters, thinkers or even the farmers. He was very articulate and considerate in expressing his thoughts. His talk was authentic and could move the whole nation into action.

He created influencers who believed him and championed on his behalf. The way Gandhi worked was to identify the Sarpanch or the administrative head of a village, influence him to practice the simple, ideal ways of the Gandhian philosophy, after which the whole village followed suit.

Campaigns for social justice:

Gandhi launched himself into campaigns for social justice; especially the two movements where he actively participated – the Champaran movement to save the indigo plantations and the Kheda Satyagrha – mill workers union in Gujarat. Gandhi supported the causes by resorting to satyagraha and wrote letters to the various editors of publications informing them about the development of the movement that he was participating in.   The government finally relented and relief was provided to the aggrieved.

 

Let go, move on & grow!

“The reason many people in our society are miserable, sick, and highly stressed is because of an unhealthy attachment to things they have no control over.”
― Dr. Steve Maraboli,

I had a chat with an entrepreneur friend recently and learnt a profound truth; that the only way to move forward in life is to severe attachments which are harmful and move forward.

This gentleman runs a very specialized ERP solutions company but has not been able to make a sale for the last year and a half.

When he set up his business 5 years ago, the opportunity size of the Indian market of about 2,500 entities had looked big enough. Today he has exhausted this market already. The issue is unique, while the very large players opt for the more established MNC ERPs, the smaller players are not mature enough to either implement or afford his software. So that leaves our entrepreneur only the mid-sized companies, whom he has already sold to, while the AMC revenue has been trickling in, the prospects of selling any more licenses of the software within the country looks bleak. He has liquidated almost all his assets to pay the salaries of his dwindling staff. And he is in a stage where he is wondering ‘what next?’

On my way back from the meeting, I caught myself wondering how – most often we ‘hold on to something’, a job, a relationship, a floundering business just because we’re afraid to let go. The spontaneity and enthusiasm would have dried up. We would have stopped enjoying the very thing we fell in love with, believed in ardently and cherished.

It is a paradox! Holding on to the business is only sapping him of his energy and resources. Yet the power to ‘let go’ eludes him! Even to his tired senses, it is clear that there is no merit in holding on! Fear of society – and the inability to deal with the vacuum that will stare at him, once he winds up the business has kept him from taking the decision to throw in the towel. I wonder, how long can he hold on?

Is he grappling with a sense of responsibility to his existing customers or is it the worry of abandoning the employees who have stuck to him through thick & thin? Is the industry responsible for pushing the vendor against the wall, till he succumbs? If players like him decide to pull out, what are the options they (the industry) are left with? Can they manage without segment specific software?

These will be interesting questions to deal with, for which I do not have ready answers. I am sure each one of us at some point in our lives are left grappling with similar questions. My dear entrepreneur friend, you better find the answers and deal with them, before it is too late. All the best to you!