Thursday, December 30, 2010

Enjoy your coffee - Happy New year.

As we step into another new year, just wanted to share a very nice thought which is a good way to look at life differently in the coming year. Hope you enjoy your coffee and your life !

Enjoy. Happy New year, may you have the wonderful one.

Thanks Kamlesh for sharing this.




The happiest people in the world are not those who have no problems, but those who learn to live with things that are less than perfect.”

A group of graduates, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor.

Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the simple and cheap ones.

While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee.

In most cases, it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink.

What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you Consciously went for the best cups… Then you began eyeing each other’s cups.

Now consider this:

  • Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups.They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live.
  • Sometimes, by concentrating on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us. Enjoy your coffee!.”
  • The happiest people don’t have the best of everything.

  • They just make the best of everything.”

1. Live simply.

2. Love generously.

3. Care deeply.

4. Speak kindly.

5. Leave the rest to God.

You are the miracle, my friend;

Your life either shines a light OR casts a shadow!

Shine a light & Enjoy the Coffee!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Learnings from bosses 2

Continuing with my learnings from my bosses here are the next 3 important ones from my perspective.

- Kick them but stand by them : I have had two bosses who would literally kick you on your backside every time you made a mistake, but would also stand by you and help you in the time of crisis in helping resolve the matter. I have also had bosses who would shiver at the thought of getting involved in an issue of crisis, but would keep giving you advice on what you should do next from the sidelines, and most times their advice was more disastrous than the situation itself. Crisis has always been part of work that I have been involved with, so having people who did not mind getting involved in the crisis really helped in keeping you calm and senile and doing the right things to resolve the issue. This is one of my most important learning from some of my bosses that has helped me in my work immensely.

- Satisfaction leads to incompetence : Never be satisfied with what you have achieved is something that I personally really liked about a few of my bosses, who would continuously challenge you to doing things better. It ended up haunting all my team members by way of a constant statement from me, i.e., "I am not happy with your performance". But definitely the caveat being that it did not mean they would not recognize the effort put in or the success of those efforts. The thin line was about never letting the team feel that they had arrived and had nothing more to achieve.

- Politics bites back : Some of the bosses who indulged heavily into organisational politics ended up in very difficult situations when the politics got back to them. Key learning hence was to stay away, focus on your goals, set your own standards for yourself and understand and accept that organisational life is not fair, so that you have a way to deal with heartbreaks when people get more than you without deserving it. Hope and pray that some day someone will recognise your true worth and you will get what you deserve, in many cases I have seen that happen.

I hope that some day I would be able to follow all these principles in my work life and be a role model for myself as a boss. Would love to hear other perspectives around the same.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lessons from my Bosses!

I have had more than a dozen bosses in my working career till now, and was trying to figure out if I had to pick out a few things about them that I have admired and would like them to be qualities in myself what would those be. So in the next few posts I am going to put down a few things which I really liked about my bosses to create a reminder to myself about what I need to have as my leadership style. They are not in any particular order or preference just how they are coming to mind.

1. Show the way : I have had many bosses and many of them have continuously used one phrase "work smart not hard". The only problem with this being not many could explain 'WHAT THE HELL DOES IT MEAN'. Being a film buff it seemed like Fardeen Khan telling people to act better, but how dude, you seem to have no idea about it.

I was lucky to have two of my bosses who could tell me exactly what they meant and it was such a great luck to have people who could not just tell you what you were doing wrong but also tell you about how you could better what you were already doing well.

2. Dirty your hands once in a while : The reason why these two bosses, I think, could tell you what to improve was because they would dirty their hands once in a while. They would not just sit in their ivory tower but would be talking to customers, talking to employees, getting involved in all parts of the process, ofcourse only sometimes when required, but they were in touch with the entire process to understand the issues at each level and that I believe helped them also think about ways to resolve issues faced at each level of the process. And the key was to think about them, process suggestions by others and make the correct judgements about how things can be better.

3. Hire hungry people : Given the amount of food we used to eat, in all my jobs, it seemed true always :-) across all bosses. But the more important part was to hire people who were all hungry for success, achievement, growth etc. I can say half my bosses could manage to do this to multiple levels of success and once you could put this restless lot together then you had created an environment for success without any effort, they would all do it themselves.

This also gave me a lot of opportunity to work with great people who had lots of interesting ways of looking at the same problem and helped me broaden my knowledge base.

I will continue this post in a series and if you agree to some of these and have good experiences then would love to get your opinions on the same.

In the next post will add the next 3 qualities I have admired in my bosses.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Game Theory

I read this on my friend Abhinav Sinha's blog ( and found this to be an interesting explanation.

Game Theory :

While driving around the India gate, have you ever wondered why most (if not all) ice cream vendors are stacked together in and around a small patch. Or that most highway ‘dhabas’ are located in clusters. Or maybe, next time when you fly out do check why various airlines schedule flights fairly close to each other, on a given route!

It comes to me as a surprise why would each one of them choose to operate in a zone of maximum competition. Maybe a possible explanation is that since the cluster is already frequented by a lot of potential customers, it makes sense for a new entrant to logically attach itself to the cluster, rather than someplace else, where he would have to invest in building customer traffic.

The question to be answered is how the clustering begins. What would the scenario be like if there was a unchartered territory and just two players in perfect competition. Does system thinking in any way influence the way, they would approach setting up their respective businesses.

Consider a scenario where the two ice-cream vendors A and B, who have to sell their products at similar pricing for sustenance, have to decide on where to locate themselves on a stretch of road, that will make perfect business sense.

To capture the sense of this example, imagine that customers are smoothly distributed all across the road and brand and price being the same for both A and B, they choose on the basis of sheer convenience and proximity.

Imagine that the two vendors ‘A’ and ‘B’ start by locating themselves at roughly a position shown above. It now appears to ‘A’, that they have a equitable access to business opportunity, since half of customers located between ‘A’ and ‘B’ will go to ‘A’ and the other half to ‘B’, depending on a convenient walking distance for them.

‘A’ turns out to be an aggressive competitor to ‘B’ and decides to move a 100 meters towards the center of the road so as to gain access to a share of ‘B’ customers while protecting his own share of customers (lying to his left).

To offset this, ‘B’ plays his own counter move and moves 200meters towards the center. Subsequently, ‘A’ moves 300 meters and this continues till both ‘A’ and ‘B’ are located right next to each other, at the center of the road.

Both A and B have created an equilibrium that stays even when a third player C enters the market. C has limited choice, but to locate itself within the cluster for survival.

This is of course until C weighs his payoffs and decides to locate at a niche location and offset the disadvantage by offering a discounted price to the customers. This of course will set up another un-equilibrium which in due course will be answered by the competition A and B.

The study of strategic decisions making process in an interactive environment is called ‘The Game Theory’.



Monday, September 06, 2010

Taking the plunge

I am pleasantly surprised by the number of calls I have started getting from people who want to know about how I managed to become a successful entrepreneur, its besides the point that the successful part is questionable to a great extent, but nevertheless, its a good kick that people think you are worth calling for advice :-).

Its good to know that there are a lot of people who are allowing themselves to think outside of the comfort zone of monthly pay checks and fairly limiting work environments. Its also good to know that people have such brilliant ideas about new business ventures and I hope they manage to convert them to reality.

One thing that concerns me though is that most people who are looking at a potential entrepreneurial journey come with an exception clause, if this does not work out in 3/6/9 months then I will go back to a job. This is the single most reason a lot of these entrepreneurial journeys fail to proceed as planned.

My advice to anyone who is looking to start their own venture is to not have that exception clause, not at least something which is below 2-3 years. I remember someone mentioning to me a comment by one of the entrepreneurs about how he had become an instant/overnight success after 20 or so years of struggle. Business is like that, it takes a lot of time to establish and create a business venture. Very rarely does it happen overnight and a minimum timeframe that one should look at is 2-3 years. The problem is we only hear of the success stories packaged such that they feel like overnight successes.

Most of the times it takes a minimum of 6-9 months to just research, hone and put your idea to a shape where it can then be taken to some plan of execution into reality. The business comes much later, so many of these friends who call, end up quitting too early and are back in their cushy comfort zones before the action actually is set to begin.

When one decides to go out on ones own, you have to take that as a long term career goal, unless ofcourse if you realise that you are really bad at it. Even then I would advice looking at role models in Tushar Kapoor, Fardeen Khan, Bobby Deol etc, who have never allowed the handicap of not being good at their craft stopping them from doing what they really want to do.

My simple thought for all people wanting to take the plunge would be to jump in and jump in deep and then stay in, don't think of being too close to the sides so that you can pull yourselves out, an important lesson I learned during swimming classes which comes in handy in real life as well :-).

Go ahead follow your dreams, all the best.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

To Teach is to LEARN

Recently had an opportunity to teach at a Management College, thanks to a friend, who called me in for a full course on HR due diligence in M&A. It was quite an experience. I have been in situations where I have had to address client organisations and teach them about various new / old concepts of HR / Business, but teaching a bunch of youngsters in a management college is a very different experience.

The most satisfying thing from my perspective was the fact that I learnt a lot during the experience. Having had to read a lot to prepare the course outline and to combine the experiences from my past work situations by itself helped me in doing like a review of things which were done in those situations and understanding what else could have been done to make those better.

In most of the consulting assignment, we were always short of time, so one worked with available tools, tried methodologies and templates to ensure that the deadlines were met. There was rarely an opportunity where one could sit back and find new ways of doing things. This experience gave me time to look at alternate theories / tools / processes etc which could have been applied in the same situations and how we could have made the deliverables better.

I also learnt that easy availability of information on the net can be a good learning experience as well as a bad learning experience. Good if you took the pain to read through and broaden your perspective. Bad if you just found a quick link and completed your assignment :-) since one did not apply ones mind.

The other learning experience came from the questions that the students asked. Some of the questions can really require you to think very differently and open up a new perspective that you may not have thought of a situation about.

My suggestion to everyone who wants to learn or become better at his / her subject will be to try teaching a course on that subject. Because I believe from my first experience, that to TEACH is to LEARN.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Is freelance consulting a good option ?

Having jumped ship and started my entrepreneurial journey a lot of people often ask me about how I managed to take a big career decision and survived the crash that the world market has seen. My savior during the process of setting up our retirement home venture has been freelance consulting work. A lot of people ask me questions around how difficult or easy it is to find freelance consulting work and many a times I find that they carry a lot of wrong notions around how lucrative it is to be on your own. So thought will try and put down my perspective on freelance consulting, hope it addresses doubts in a few people's mind.

Freelance work is easy to get
Sure its easy to get, but then you need to have something of significant value for people to want to work with you. There is a big requirement that a lot of consulting companies have for associates on a flexi basis, many corporates would like to work with individuals and there is lots of requirement out there. The challenges is to be in the right place at the right time, to encash an opportunity, and believe me its a big big challenge. As a freelancer you have limited reach and don't have others selling you.

Freelance work is very rewarding
For some it is, but for most its not. If you are not attached to a regular source of long term freelance work and have to go and sell yourself practically on a daily basis, then budget for approx 3 days of selling for 1-2 day or work. This makes the equation very unfavourable. Mind you no one is paying huge amounts of money for freelancers, cost saving is the biggest driver for employing freelance consultants. Consulting companies employ freelancers predominantly to bring down their cost of delivery, a full time consultant would be priced nearly 4-5 times for equivalent talent.

Freelance work is easy to do
One of the biggest challenge I faced when I moved out of a big consulting firm on my own was the challenge of managing everything on my own. There was no one to do research, no one to print invoices, no one to format presentations and so on and so forth. Suddenly doing the same assignment becomes much more difficult to do, especially availability of information, templates and benchmarks that did not require any effort become big challenges. And when you start thinking as a consultant, thats a lot of valuable, expensive time going waste.

Everyone who is freelancing is having a great time
The grass always looks greener on the other side :-). Freelancing's biggest challenge unpredictable work load. One would have to be prepared for long periods of vella time and then hopefully sudden level of activity. If you do not know how to utilise your vella time well, then you are in deep trouble. If no work coming your way makes you anxious then you have had it, be prepared to enjoy watching TV, meeting friends (hopefully they would have time for you), generally flooding all social networking sites with arbit information to make people jealous or take up new hobbies. I know of many of my friends who tried it but could not bear the uncertainty and were back in their jobs. If you are a married guy, also factor in the fact that your wife who used to complain about you never being in the house, will start chasing you out of the house precisely after two weeks of sitting at home :-)).

My friends will give me work
This could be the biggest mistake when you are out looking for freelance work. Most of your friends and network will not be able to help you, and many a times genuinely, because of company policy or engagement with other established consultants. This can create a situation where people may start avoiding you and you may lose a lot of friends, especially if you start chasing them aggressively for work. Don't expect much out of friends in established large corporate setups, they will feel jealous about your guts, they will always say they will push your case, they will always meet you for the first couple of times and then they will suddenly get very busy :-). Be prepared to not push your friends who you genuinely want to keep.

If you still decide to go ahead and take a plunge, some of my golden rules are the following :

- Have good friends, who believe you have genuine talent, you need to have something of significant value that your friends can push your case
- Attach yourself to a few consulting organisations who are on a lookout for free lance help, most of them are, so you are in luck at this time.
- Never sign an exclusive arrangement with a consulting company, unless there was guaranteed days of work in the agreement
- Find friends in smaller organisations, they want good talent at low cost, thats the sweet spot
- Create consortium with other free lancers so that jointly you can create bigger market reach and support each other on large, complex assignments
- Make sure you know how to enjoy your free time, believe me you will have lots of it, else what was the point on going in for freelance work :-)

Hope you guys find this useful. Feel free to ask questions and will be happy to help.



Friday, April 16, 2010

Complicated Consulting

Sometimes we consultants can really make things too complicated. Faking News carries an interesting perspective on how a Chai wallah hires McKinsey to find out if he should sell omelets and maggi too. Found it very funny, which can mean that probably I am not a true consultant.

A true consultant would be able to find multiple arguments around how McKinsey is ignoring some critical assumptions which are important to get the right business model :-).

Cheers !

Monday, February 08, 2010

Build on your strengths

Recently I was addressing various groups in a client organisation around creating development plans for their subordinates. The people were required to identify strength and weakness areas for their subordinates and then create a plan for the next one year.

Nearly all the development plans got created around the weakness areas and hardly anyone thought of developing the strength area further. This is a huge problem with development planning in my mind. To me the strength areas are more important than the weaknesses purely because those define my uniqueness and my capabilities which I need to focus upon and use to my advantage. There is no point in teaching a creative person numbers but the best use of the person is to use their creative skills to the advantage of the organisation.

Most of us as managers need to focus maybe 75% of our energies in developing our as well as our subordinates strength area and only focus on 25% of our energies on bringing the weakness areas to a level of acceptable performance, which should ensure that the performance of the strength areas do not get diluted by the problems in some of the weakness areas which are interlinked in some manner.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010


India is apparently a democracy, but is it really? Looking at the recent happenings in Mumbai, does not seem like it. So the Shiv Sena and the MNS have the sole point of view about Mumbai and who can live there. Any other person, including Sachin, who is also a Maharashtrian cannot have any other opinion about it, which is counter to the opinion of the Thackrey family. And also if you decide to have any other opinion we will not let you do business hear, beat you up or threaten with all kinds of things.

The government is a silent spectator to all of this for a long time and does nothing, because there are votes to be counted in the end. Despite the fact that the fundamental rights of citizens provided in our constitution about freedom of speech are being trampled upon.

But what is amazing about the Shiv Sena and MNS is that they hate competition. They want sole right to bash up North Indians and take offence when the Australians do the same, I atleast did not see a Maharashtrian name in any of the ones reported in the newspaper.

Its high time we stopped these elements from spreading more discord in the country, we already have too many points of differences available to fight about.

Hope good sense prevails and the government takes some action against such open goondaism.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Aall izz well !!

Today, no conversation is complete without mentioning Aall izz well so let me start out by saying that and be done with.

For some of my friends who keep asking me why I have not been writing on the blog, some clarification. There was a recession of ideas that I was facing predominantly because I was working on a new business venture, which refused to take off given the market dynamics. So was not involved in too much consulting work during this period hence was not generating too many ideas in my head.

I am happy to report that our new venture "Aamoksh One Eighty Hospitality Pvt. Ltd." has taken off and has launched its first Retirement Home, which will come up at the foothills of Kodaikanal and have world class international facilities for Retirees, including a Golf Course. So all you people who have been wanting to retire early, we are giving you a good reason to take the plunge now.

Please visit our website at for more information and of course please inform people who need these services about us.