Category — people
Conversations, how we love and hate them(at times). Our lives are filled with conversations of sorts, some meaningful bust mostly meaningless. Even the most introvert people can’t do without engaging in conversations and there’s little chance that one can do away with not having any conversations at all.
Conversations, like money matter more in certain places than others. So much so that in certain situations conversations are the most crucial element. Running a business is one such case in which having conversations is one of the core aspects of operation.
Day in and day out, an entrepreneur needs to engage in conversations of all sorts with their fellow co-founders, investors, employees, partners, vendors and others. From the vision of the company, its direction, targets to execution plans these conversations not only discuss the functioning of the company for also decide how even the smallest of peg in the machine called a company will run. Since these conversations are that important one needs be really good at handling them (kinda like story telling).
It’s fair to assume that all great entrepreneurs must be great and doing conversations across the wide spectrum of their stake holders.
Over the last few months I’ve noticed that certain people (including business owners and well to do professionals) are noticeably bad at handling *difficult conversations*. By a difficult conversation here I mean a conversation which involves either saying “NO” to something or “to negotiate” its details. I’m excluding the cases where one has people below them in the ladder to play the bad cop or do detailing/negotiation.
Certain conversations by their nature or the nature/situation of people involved can be difficult. Think a girl wanting to break the news of ending her relationship with a guy because she feels she doesn’t love him (anymore?) or a manager who has to tell his subordinate that he’ll have his paycut or worse be fired from the organization. The examples of difficult conversations are abound, they vary across the personal and professional lives.
From saying No to something/someone, breaking bad news or negotiating terms for a deal, difficult conversations often find very few takers. People’s response when faced with a difficult conversation could range from avoidance till limit or experiencing emotional turmoil and more. Many a times, people’s response catches many by surprise and keeps them wondering what happened.
To keep things succinct, we’ll limit the scope of the post to that of ‘Difficult conversations’ related to work/business.
Consider This: A guy from a services company approaches a business owner to offer their services and after a couple meetings and deliberation for whatever reason the business owner decides against the deal. Quite a few people which I know (including myself sometimes) would stop answering the calls/emails from the services guy. This I feel is totally weird and uncalled for. The most obvious and the best way to go about this is to simply communicate the reason (briefly maybe) on why you have decided against their offer/proposal and clear the air instead of leaving them guessing and needless to say feeling treated badly. There are many more cases like these and I feel having a lack of confidence in breaking the bad news or the fear of someone forming a different impression about you could be the reasons.
Are there more reasons for this? Why do you think people avoid difficult conversations?
April 21, 2013 No Comments
Getting into a routine of doing things is something I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with. Someone who is successful/achiever or great at something might have a tough time at doing something regularly say as *simple* as going for a 15 minute walk.
There is a lot more to the routine (doing things repeatedly over a period of time) than what meets the eye. So much so that you can judge someone to a fair extent but knowing if they follow any routines. If they follow a routine for anything (except watching TV, reading in the loo etc) they have
- Discipline/Will Power
- Will or Desire to learn/get better at something or help someone
- Comparatively better ability of plan/utilize their time
- Some level of resourcefulness
So, if you want to be better at the above mentioned things, you know what to do.
I’ve pondered a lot on how to improve an individual’s intellect or widen their horizon( especially about understanding how they and to an extent the world around them works) and I strongly believe that to get someone to improve or move to the next level in their personal or professional life, one of most effective and doable things is to make them get into a routine. This routine could be for anything. Anything they like or want to learn. Not only these, even if they are able to get up in the morning everyday and go for a walk/job I believe it would be of definite help.
Also, I feel if a person is in a habit of doing something regularly, and they add more items in their routine they can evolve and become better.
Want to start a new routine/habit? Check this presentation out
January 18, 2013 No Comments
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ― Søren Kierkegaard
Humans, I believe are not very good when it comes to reflecting. Reflecting about time, relationships, events, patterns and deviations from patterns. I, myself am not significantly better at it. Not sure why but for me(and maybe a lot others) the act of reflecting is connected to certain dates/events.
“Some nights are made for torture, or reflection, or the savoring of loneliness.” ― Poppy Z. Brite
I am highly likely to reflect and introspect on/around my Birthday, around New year’s eve or a few other dates while I am highly unlikely to be looking back in detail on most other days of the year. Possible reasons for the same could be
- The Power of Habit: I am used to take out time especially to think on my birthday but not used to doing this on other days
- Rut of the Routine: We are so busy doing zillion things on normal days that it becomes difficult to be thinking deep
- No Clue: Going by the ratio of people I am close with and the number of people who talk to me about reflecting I guess most people are oblivion to the concept of reflecting.
“Reflection is the business of man; a sense of his state is his first duty: but who remembereth himself in joy? Is it not in mercy then that sorrow is allotted unto us?” – William Shakespeare
I feel thinking deeply about the past and what it was like is a great tool in understanding oneself and where/how one’s life is progressing (if at all). There are many a times important realizations about oneself, and others which are invaluable if worked upon.
Maybe it’s time we integrate the various elements of internet/startups in life. Maybe we should have
- Life Model aka Business Model or Happiness Model aka Financial Model
- Key Performance Indicators
- Monthly/Quarterly Reviews
What do you think?
January 1, 2013 No Comments
If you are an Indian and watch Hindi movies, chances are you must have heard of the hugely popular film “Munnabhai MBBS” starring Sanjay Dutt(as Munna) and Arshad Warsi(as Circuit). I too like millions others watched and re-watched the film to cherish the beautiful message of putting the human touch in Medicare and focusing on improving patients quality of life.
While the film was great, I (and most others) didn’t know that it was inspired (not copied, ok?) from Hollywood film Patch Adams. The bad bit is that Vidhu Vinod Chopra and co didn’t even bother to give credits to the film or the man himself at the end of the film.
Me and my brother happened to see the film yesterday and loved it to tears. The best thing about the film however is that it’s based on real life story of Hunter “Patch” Adams . There’s nothing more beautiful and inspiring than a honest pursuit of simple philosophy which one holds dear.
My immediate reaction after finishing the film at 1:30AM was to read more about the real Patch Adams and here’s what I found. There’s indeed a Gesundheit Institute (you can read more about it here http://patchadams.org/) and Dr Patch Adams is alive and still trying to revolutionize the system.
While some of us might expect that after two films by two of the biggest film industries (Hollywood and Bollywood) things would have changed for Dr Patch Adams and Gesundheit Institute for good but sadly none of that happened, no big donations came forward their way and their team had to struggle to get the project off ground.
This talk shares more details about the real deal
What’s disappointing really is the fact no big names and not enough smaller ones came forward to support such a noble cause. Is it too Utopian to be true?
What do you think is the real reason? What would it take to catch fancy of the Social Media Generation?
PS: Really bad of the film maker Tom Shadyac and co for not doing anything for Dr Patch’s work
January 29, 2012 No Comments
I am one of those whose minds are mostly occupied by something or other related to their work. It’s something I’ve grown into ever since I stopped working for someone else about three years back . Whether it’s execution details about a feature/project or a new idea all together I am mostly thinking and when not thinking something in particular I am thinking about thinking. While doing the latter, I’ve realized that I like many others have some favourite spots for specific things i.e a preferred place for watching a film, having chai or taking a stroll.
When you are at this preferred place doing what you like doing you are at your natural optimum best. For some strange reason I’ve always felt that I could brainstorm better/longer if I am at a different/unusual place. Not surprisingly it has turned out to be the case indeed. From reading a business book to ideation on a business idea Cafes and open spaces(esp Parks) seem to work very well for me. I’ve spent quite some time by myself sitting in a cafe sipping cappuccino reading a book or scribbling ideas with a pencil at a park.
Another place where lot of interesting big/small ideas pop in my head is while having bath. It’s been quite a few times now when I have gone to shower with a thought seed and have come out with a cool idea ready to be detailed and execute. Obvious as it sounds, most of us need an optimum environment to be at our productive best but despite it being so obvious we tend to not take it seriously. I for one don’t go to a cafe everyday/every other day.
Maybe we all should try to identify such zones and try to visit them more often. What do you think?
January 26, 2012 1 Comment
About a couple weeks back I happened to come to know about Mr Bala Balachandran from a friend of mine who also shared with me the printouts of an article titled “I firmly believe that all customers are not equal” that appeared in Business Standard on 24th December 2002(couldn’t manage to find a link). It’s not often that one comes across this much business wisdom in a 4 page printout.
After giving that article a re-read yesterday, I searched a bit on Mr Bala Balachandran and amongst other things I stumbled upon this series of fantastic videos on everything from Cost Management to Customer Astonishment. This would by far be the best material on business I’ve come across in 2010 and the fact that these gems are hidden from the world is reflected in the fact that these videos had been viewed 2-5 times at max. It’s only now after repeated views from me that these numbers have jumped up . Also, Balachandran not only shares his business wisdom, he does so in a nice and funny manner. At 72, he has contagious energy and passion.
Only if someone could stitch these small 2-3 minute videos together would they make into an amazing video.
March 26, 2010 No Comments
Building a brand, product or an idea is like raising a child. You need to nurture and protect it during its early days and slowly set it free to grow. Sounds simple and obvious? Trust it me it’s not, at least for most people.
I’ve seen numerous cases of product(primarily web) founders, small businessmen and more falling into the trap of holding their product/business/idea too close to their hearts to let it grow, grow beyond them. Things are quite easy (in this context) during the initial stages with people putting their blood and sweat into their business and helping it stand on its feet and start walking. The real problem occurs in the next stage in which the business needs to start running not just walking.This is the stage where all sorts of conscious and unconscious forces come into play that tend to prevent the owner(s) to from letting their business/idea take the leap.
During the initial phases the business/idea is known more by the people behind it, both are synonymous with each other and that’s all that there is to it because the business is mostly driven by it’s promoters/founders, it’s known mostly in the promoters’ circle of friends and is yet to grow and have an independent existence of it’s own. Once the business has firm grounding and more people start nurturing it directly or indirectly the pace and scope of its growth depends on how the core group of promoters loosen their strong ties with it.
Essentially it’s all about loosing the tight control and dependency that once the business had on its promoters because these factors now become the limiting force in its growth. The conflict that thus arises is a peculiar one in which the promoters still want to be involved as much as they were some time back in almost everything related to the business, while the business itself strives to outgrow its promoters. This is the stage where like a growing child the business needs to venture out, meet new people, develop new relationships, try new and different things not necessarily within the scope of its founders, in short this is the stage where the business needs to start getting a life of his own.
For some businesses it might mean raising funds, for some it might mean getting more people on board (not necessarily as employees who merely execute the promoters plans/ideas) and outsourcing a part of your business to someone else. The idea of loosing control is what troubles most promoters but the hard fact is that in order to make your business grow beyond you, you need to loose some control and this is what smart people realize.
The goal rather than trying to have your business as integrated as possible with its founders should be to let it loose as early as possible as only then the business can have a life of its own and it can grow into something big, much bigger than its promoters.
October 21, 2009 1 Comment
It isn’t often that you get a chance to listen to the likes of Alok Mittal and Pramod Bhasin and TiEcon is one of those very few platforms that offers you a chance to not only listen but also to interact with successful entrepreneurs and connect with them.
On 18th and 19th of September I attended my first TiEcon at Delhi’s Taj Palace. Being a first time attendee I wasn’t really sure of what to expect from the event which looks as serious(boring?) to a 26 year old as it can be but thankfully I gave it a try, for it was well worth it.
Five minutes into the registration I happened to bump into Amit Agnihotri (Director-Exchange4media) and there was no stopping to meeting new and interesting people. As mentioned in my previous post I was invited to the conference as a blogger and as it turned out we were to register(and enjoy some privileges) as press which included reserved seats in the second row, dedicated room with continuous beverage supply etc.
Day 1 had quite a few interesting and relevant panel discussions on
- Starting Up – Is there ever a right time?
- Biggest “Marketing” Bang for the Buck
- Smart Innovation
It helped that the panel members were experienced entrepreneurs and professionals from big brands like Pepsi, Samsung and Microsoft. The session on Smart Innovation led by Prof Anil Gupta was particularly interesting. It was wonderful to learn about various innovations happening in the country at the grass root level.
In parallel to the main sessions/panel discussions there were small ‘Guru Sessions’ happening in another hall. These sessions had 2-4 VC’s or Successful entrepreneurs answering questions to a small bunch of 25-30 people. These session due to their small size were more personal and gave the attendees a very good chance of networking with the speakers.
If you thought the event was all about successful people sharing entrepreneurship gyan with young entrepreneurs or wannabe entrepreneurs, you couldn’t be more wrong. While learning a thing or two from seasoned entrepreneurs would definitely be on the agenda the real deal was NETWORKING. Acting on the feedback from last TiEcon the TiE folks had smartly booked a separate hall(or two?) for just networking and there were other small sessions happening in parallel to the main panel discussions. So sitting through a session which you aren’t finding interesting for whatever reason is not mandatory and there are about 5 other halls where you can go and randomly bump into someone and get talking.
In just a matter of minutes you can sense the fact that TiEcon 2009 was designed to facilitate networking and to be honest it did the trick. A look around any hall will confirm the same, you could see numerous 2-5 people groups scattered across the Taj Palace(even in the Lobby) interacting and/or exchanging business cards. I too tried a bit to meet some new people and ended up collecting some 40 odd business cards(gave lesser cards than that).
The exchange of follow up mails has begun, let’s see where things reach eventually.
All in all TiEcon Delhi 2009 was worth every bit of energy and effort spent. Shall look forward to the next years conference.
September 22, 2009 8 Comments
This would probably be the first sighting(for me at least) of a Twitter equivalent of an Orkut
Update: Sighted another ‘frandship request’ (Thanks @jasdeep for the hat tip)
September 4, 2009 6 Comments
Most people start their businesses in partnernships/collaboration with some one they know. It could be a family member, friend, relative or just a known too. Trust is the first thing that people look for before getting into a venture with other things being what the other person brings to the table; money, connections, skill set etc. It’s commonplace to find businesses being run in a fashion where one or more partners put the money(or maybe contacts) and other(s) put skills and effort(or maybe contacts).
Due to inherent nature of the factors in place(time, effort etc), things get a bit difficult at times as contributions start to vary from what they were initially agreed upon. For example: If two people start a business with one person putting the funds and infrastructure and the other bringing in clients and contacts needed to get the job done. Now in this case it’s easy to quantify the funds spent on infrastructure and other activities but it’s a bit difficult to quantify other inputs like efforts, time spent etc. What further makes the puzzle difficult is when both partners feel they are doing their share of the job as initally agreed upon.
A situation like this can easy reach a deadlock with both parties proclaiming to be doing their bit of the business. What further makes matter worse is if both the partners have agreed upon equal share in the profits. The matter gets really complex if say the guy who was supposed to get business and contacts with his effort isn’t doing his part efficiently but believes he is doing it right and thus deserves and equal share in the profit(which they make due to the efforts of the other partner who was just supposed to put funds for infrastruce etc) as mutually agreed upon initially.
Human Ego is another factor in play in situations like these as even though a person might know that he isn’t putting in the required effort in the job but his ego will prevent him from accepting it and agreeing to get an unequal share in the profits. I’ve had a few direct and indirect experiences in this regard which have forced me to think of a way to reduce the possibility of such situations.
A couple possible solutions that I could think of are
1) To partner with someone who is as equal as you are
If both partners are equal in most respects like finances, contacts etc then I think the scope of running into situations where one feels the other isn’t doing enough is reduced. By quantifying one’s contribution in terms of money, contacts or other resources, the factors which could cause confusion/dissatisfaction are reduced. Also, I feel with equal partners it’s a bit easy to find out and accept if one isn’t doing his bit properly
So it’s a good idea to find out in the start what the other person is bringing to the table and ensure that it’s not too high or too low for your contribution.
2) Decide on a profit sharing model based on one’s contribution:
In case of partners with unequal inputs, it’s a good idea to decide on different profit sharing models based on situations with varying contributions. For ex:
a) For every deal where person X does this and this and person Y does this, X gets 66% of the profit and Y gets 33%
b) For every deal where person X does this and person Y does this and this, Y gets 66% of the profit and X gets 33%.
c) For every deal where person X does this and this and this and Person Y doesn’t do anything, X gets all the profit and vice-e-versa.
I feel predeciding things like revenue/profit sharing in various situations where there’s a possibility of unequal contributions will serve as a base and reduce the number of potential conflicts.
What do you think?
July 20, 2009 4 Comments