How to vote in elections?

Hi..! I am back,

Again, let me clarify that I have no affiliations with any political party…..:-)

As the time of any elections come near, every time the word “Cheers” is heard (now I don’t have to explain why)…..a big sip and/or a gulp happens which is then followed by one standard question…”So, who are you voting for?, Aur beta kis ke liye vote kar rahe ho iss bar? Or any of many variations of the same question…

I thought I will share my thoughts on this subject…..as always you may find them a bit off the track but anyway, social media gives me the tool to be off track!!!

Here is my recommendation for you, carefully look at all the candidates in your constituency

And

Vote for the best person (does not matter which political party it belongs to)…

By best I am talking about a person who is most honest, most sincere, most committed a person with a good heart and good intentions…

Needless to say, nobody is 100 % so you will have to look at them relatively…

If theoretically this happens all over the country, you will have decent people sitting in the parliament, congress, senate or whatever the representative body is called in your country…

BTW, I refuse to accept that decent people cannot be good in governance also…

Don’t you think decent people (belonging to whichever party they belong to) will try their best to do things which are good for the country, for its poor people, for the needy, for its future, for it to become Economically, socially and morally strong…….i think they will….

I know that this write up will generate lot of skepticism initially, but may be……just may be even if we get majority of decent people in, it will start making a difference….

Well that was my thought, share yours….and if you like this thought, please share with others as well….

Till next time, NZOY..!!!

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Can’t we do just this much…

A beautiful thing happened with me a few years back. I saw something and it re-triggered my thoughts. So sharing with you.

My mother, who was very old, was having a problem for quite some days and somehow to allopathic medicine was not working. I came to know (thru a friend) that there is a homeopathic doctor who has a clinic nearby and he has some expertise in that area.

Deciding that there is no harm in trying I took my mother to the Doctor. He came down 3 stories from his clinic to see my mother in the car where she was sitting (she was not mobile), did the check up and discussion in the car and then he and I went up to his clinic where he made the medicine.

After he had given the medicine to me and given me the instructions on how to administer them, I pulled out my wallet to pay him his regular fees……

He immediately stopped me. Confused, I asked why…..he said something very nice and interesting…..

He said, I don’t take money from patients who are 80 + years and older.

I asked why…..and his logic stumped me….stumped me by its simplicity, common sense and effectiveness as an approach.

He said, look like most of us I also want to do something for others but then being a fully occupied doctor I don’t get time to devote to helping others. Therefore I thought and came to this conclusion that can I bring in the element of social service in my work itself. That way, I won’t have to work extra hours, I will be able to do some real help for the old people and I will be doing in the area where I am best at…..

Now, that also triggered my thought process.

Why can’t our hospitals and doctors do something like this…..the social security net is highly inadequate and as a result our super seniors are forever struggling. It will be able great way to do CSR, help our very old people and do it in the area of their strength without putting any extra work outside their normal work hours. And yes, there will be some monetary impact but how much? After all how many people reach that age bracket?

Also, every organization spends a good chunk of money on CSR; use that for helping the old…instead of for…to be a bit blunt….doing things which in some organizations can be bit of a PRish CSR activities….

Add to the above; imagine also the good wishes, blessings and the goodwill it will generate….

This is the least we can do for our elders….at 80 + they are playing their last innings, they are weak, they have done their bit for the country, and they know that……the end is near….

Can’t we….do just this much?

Think about it?

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Women’s right, who needs it who gets it.

These days where ever you look, read, tune into TV channel, attend a seminar on anything even remotely related to the women…..one omni-present thing is some variation of the following “women are the weaker section, they suffer all the time, men rule women, women have no say in anything….etc. etc. and etc.”….

As chance could have it I go so much exposed to “poor” women radiation that it forced me to think….

I am sharing my thoughts with you…..please you also think (does not matter if you are a man or a woman)….and reach your own conclusions…And yes, read till the end, please don’t get emotional, keep your ego aside and read with your rational hat on…..

I started by looking around me, my family, my relatives, my friends, the social circle I move in (essentially middle class people) and I did not find many examples of “poor women” as described in the media. I got completely confused….on one side my intuition was telling me that women do need support but I was not able to find that women….

And then suddenly it popped…..

The seminars, discussions, debates etc. are happening in the big cities, amongst middle to upper class women, among elite women of the country (financial, education, career wise elites) but they are not that much of the sufferers….However, due to this massive pressure getting generated they are getting the benefits…..

As they say which kid cries more mothers tends to give more milk to that child….. (well not exactly but you get the drift)….

Then who are those “weak, poor women”? I thought and finally I think I got the answer, fundamentally because I grew up in very small cities and got a chance to see the rural India…

They are the ones who live in rural areas, in the part of India which is very poor, dependent on agriculture for their survival….and trust me, it is a huge part of India…they are uneducated, unskilled, live in a social milieu which is very old fashioned, old thinking, traditional to the extent of being almost idiotic, where men rule the house with a stick etc. etc. They are the ones who need all the help, reservations, externally given power, economical crutches…

And who gets benefited with all the rhetoric being generated in all the media (and we have tons of it these days including the latest cousin….social media)….the ones who already have it….

The kid who has the wherewithal to cry gets the milk and the kid who doesn’t know how to make its cry heard, doesn’t…….

Are you as unsatisfied as I am…..And yes, before I end, read the same article again, only replace women by people of reserved category….….!!!

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How to be in the 10 % of Start-ups which succeed?

I am sure you all know that there are various surveys, studies and analysis done globally which conclude that majority of start-ups fail.

If this statement makes you feel uncomfortable, it is meant to.

Because unless you feel uncomfortable and, therefore, become more careful you will join the 90 %. However, if you do things right and in the right way, there is no reason why you won’t be in the 10 %. Since, I work with start-ups and SME’s for a living; I have interacted with lots of eager beavers… (Young ones with dream, gleam and dollars in their eyes) and have, sadly, seen many of them with same eyes with emotions replaced by dejection, a sense of failure and brooding about their future.

So why this 90 % failure Start-ups rate, here are some of the reasons that I have observed:

1. Doing a start-up because everyone around me is doing:

Sometimes when I am at various events, meetings and mentoring sessions I feel as if “doing” a start-up has become a game for both the people and the investors. These are strong words but I hope you know what I am talking about.

2. Weak business model:

We all know that most of the start-ups today (especially in e-commerce space) are running in losses. We all know that if we buy something at Rs. 100 and sell at Rs. 80 and use the investor funds (which I believe are more easily available than ever before) to bridge the gap, it will eventually fall flat. Loss leading philosophy can work but only if it is well thought out, is reasonable to execute and turns around to profits within a reasonable time frame and at a reasonable scale. Now, I don’t want to take names here but there are companies and investors which have gone from launch, to seed, to Series A, B etc. and are still not making money. Every next line of investors puts in money at a higher valuation hoping to get an exit at an even higher valuation, but if the basic business model and execution is not sound how long do you think this climbing on each other’s back can happen……I leave the answer to you.

Related Blog – Is Money EVERYTHING?

3. Are you really solving a long term problem of your market and customers?:

Think very deeply, this question has multiple questions and issues hidden. We are seeing start-ups which are solving imaginary, temporary or problems which are not much of a need/pain for the customer. Clearly, a sure shot preparation for failure.

Now, I have said many things above. Due to lack of space, many of course, are left uncovered. But let’s talk a bit about how does one judge if one is serious about a start-up, how does one know that the business model is sound and how does one know if the problem being attempted to be solved is a real, long term need of your customer eco-system.

Here are my suggestions. By no means this is a complete list, I am sure much more could be added but let me give a few:

Why are you doing a start-up:

1. Would you like to work:

a. for 16 hours a day

b. have no earnings for at least 1 year

c. get no holidays

d. and no one to recognize you

If the answer is “yes”, then is it because:

e. you think the eventually you will succeed because

i. many around you are succeeding

ii. do you dream of days when you will be driving a swanky car and living in a palatial home

or

iii. is it because you are seriously passionate about something and you want to see it coming to fruition? And benefitting the users (Business or Consumers)

If your choice is i and/or ii then please think again…..history has shown repeatedly that people who chase money do not mostly get it but people who chase excellence in problem solving make it big.

2. Do you have a good business model:

Try and answer the following question:

a. Will your business succeed even if there was no funding? If it will, just much more slowly, you are on the right track. On the other hand, if your model will succeed ONLY if you got x amount of funding, analyze things again, very carefully, you may or may not be on the right track.

b. At what scale will your business start making money? Is that scale achievable in reasonable time at reasonable level: A business which takes 5 years and assumes 7 times the growth (numbers indicative to show the point) is not a good idea to pursue. Why, because in that time and at that level of growth even a small slip can derail your plans.

3. Addressing a REAL problem vis-à-vis a short term problem or a non-issue:

We are observing that these days’ people are thinking that digitizing anything is solving a problem and thus will work as a business.

Think like this, IT is only a tool, a tool to enable doing things faster, better, in a more efficient and effective manner. However, by itself it is nothing.

Therefore, to be sure, whenever you look at possible business ideas, look at things which have been problematic for people for a long time, things for which people will pay for now and in the future, look at the needs which fill a big gap in people’s lives. Once you have done that augment and/or support your solution with technology. Don’t think technology before the solution, first think solution then think how you will make the solution stronger by using technology.

Although I have not covered all the possible points that I could have regarding deciding about a start-up but the above discussion would have given you a decent picture of what and how you need to go about deciding if you should do a start-up and if yes then why and how.

Hope it helps some of you to succeed, even if it helps 1 of you, my writing’s purpose has been achieved.

God Bless you….

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Journalism, Journalists and Media — Have failed us, MOSTLY

That’s a strong statement to make, isn’t it…Yes it is…I will tell you why

Let me tell you a real story…it was around 10 years back, I was sitting with a very senior and respected Indian journalist of his times (his times because he was retired by then).

I asked him, how has journalism changed over a period of time in India? He gave me a beautiful short statement which hit the nail on the head…here is his exact statement:

“Earlier Indian journalism was heavily influenced by British style of journalism, “Newspapers are for news, and if they make money too it is great. Now days, journalism is influenced by American style of journalism, Newspapers are a business, their primary job is to make money, if they have to give some news towards that purpose then so be it”.

(Now, my American readers may feel a bit upset to let me give a disclaimer here, his use of the word American was more of a way to describe two approaches rather than bad mouth any country).

Today’s media and journalists seem to be working with only one agenda in mind….how to make more money…open any newspaper and news channel and you will see the examples…

Gone are the days when news reporting was balanced based on facts, looking at all the perspectives and sides etc.

Let people make their own judgment, their own conclusions.

Now, why am I writing this on Press, Media and Journalists?

Simple, they have the biggest reach, biggest influencing power, and therefore the biggest accountability / responsibility for doing their job in a sensible, mature and responsible manner.

Just in case you are thinking that I am arguing for only painting a pretty picture, let me answer it upfront, I am not…

The picture is not always pretty and so there is no need to paint it that way.

Do tell us what has happened, good bad ugly but don’t make is worse or uglier just because it sells more.

You have a huge reach, don’t misuse it.

To read the full article, please click on the following link

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Is Money EVERYTHING?

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction and any resemblance with any reality is purely coincidental. Any resemblance to any person, country, or incident is purely a matter of chance. The writer is not responsible for it.

Although, it is quite possible that many may identify with this write-up.

My name is John (although it could be Bob, Micheal, Arun, Jose or Platini). I am, thanks to my hard work and luck, now a CXO level officer in a large multi-national company. I started my career at the lowermost level in the organization and by sheer dint of my consistent performance reached the level I had always dreamed of.

A CXO level executive.

Today, working from home, my mind is torn between what I am asked to do and what I believe should be done….my conscious is killing me, the pain is written all over my face. Should I or Should I not…..the muddle in my mind is become deeper and deeper and deeper….more of that in a bit.

Here is what happened:

John’s phone rang. It was the companies CEO. He said we need to talk, is this a good time? One thing John had learnt in his working life was that when the CEO calls, it is always a good time.

As expected, he said “Yes Boss”.

“John, I will not waste my time in pleasantries because there is nothing pleasant about what I have to tell you. The Board has decided that to tackle the drop in business, due to corona, we have to lay off at least 25 % of our employees and cut the salaries of the remaining employees by 10 to 20 %”.

John was shocked into silence. His biggest fear was coming true. John always believed in the power of good employees. He always believed that the success of an organization depends on the quality of its employees. He believed, that he has been successful in his career because he always chose a great team to work for him. He clearly communicated the objectives to them, monitored regularly, provided mentoring and guidance whenever required and boom….the success happened.

This approach has worked for him, time and again. And now this. His mind went in overdrive.

John called the CFO of the company; he was keen to know the financial situation of the company. He could call the CFO because he and Bob (the CFO) were school friends.

He mentioned about the call he has received and asked Bob, “Are we in that bad a shape? I thought we were doing well. At least, that is what I have been reading in the press”.

Bob’s loud sigh could be heard over the phone.

Bob said in a quiet tone, “So it has started finally. Well, no we are not in a bad shape. We are sitting on enough cash to last out more than a year”.

John exclaimed, “then why”??

Bob responded in a de-moralised tone, “John, this debate has been going on in the Board for the last 3 days, all of us including the CEO have been trying their level best to convince the Board that we can and we must be more patient. Let’s at least sit tight for next 3 months and if we see Covid coming under control and if we see that a vaccine is around the corner then we may not need to take any drastic action otherwise we can pull out our swords at that time.

John “Makes sense, so then?”

Bob “We failed. As you know John, the Board is run and dominated by the owners of the company. From their perspective, waiting for 3 months is throwing cash away. They want the money NOW.

John, an employee-oriented CXO was disappointed, his mind’s whirl became even worst…

John, having worked in the industry for a long time, knew that sometimes the power and desire of money/ambition clashes with the requirements of being a good and sensible human being. And sometimes one has to do such things to save the jobs of other employees, ensure the longevity of the business and for the “larger” good of the other stakeholders….But should the same priorities apply in case of pandemics like this? Knowing that employees laid off will not be able to find jobs these days.

Companies spend a lot of money on Corporate Social Responsibility. In such a situation, should not the charity begin at home? Or CSR is only done because companies get tax exemption??

John’s mind went towards another issue, the average age of the company’s employee is 27 years (termed these days as “millennial”). For some reason, they don’t understand the seriousness of the situation. They are still working hard, they are upbeat about the company, they believe that they are working for a successful company which works in cutting edge technologies and they are proud of the work they do and the company they work for.

Hi, This is me Manoj Tandon; back again……

please look at the above situation from a distance and give you thoughts and opinions on the following questions:

1. How do you picture the Board’s decision? And what do you think they should have done?

2. What do you think about the reaction of the top leaders? What can they do or should do to make the situation better?

3. Read the above as if you are an employee of the company and tell what you think would be the right answer to this puzzle.

Here are my answers (due to shortage of space, I will try to be as succinct as possible):

1. Boards, for obvious reasons, tend to look at things in money, market, margins etc. kind of terms. Since they don’t have to meet the employees daily, share the pleasures of success and pains of failure with them they mostly tend to become impersonal in their decision making and behaviour.

2. Reactions of top leaders are more understandable, for two reasons. One, that since they are dealing with the human side of an organization (it tends to be almost 50 % of their daily work), they feel more the pain of the people who work for them (compared to a typical Board). In this case, however, there is one big weakness that is coming to the fore. If the young employees are not feeling the sense of trouble looming then it is the fault of top leaders. It is their job to communicate with the employees regularly. If the employees are living in their world, clearly the Top Management, while people-oriented, is not leading properly.

3. If I look at it from an employee perspective, I have all the reasons to be a bit upset. A bit, because while my company has been doing well but due to the prevalent situation across the world, I must have my antenna’s up to know that something like this can happen and I need to start thinking and preparing my Plan B.

Now, what should John do? Again my recommendation (would love to hear you):

On the Board and Senior Side:

1. Taking the matter to the board or seniors with just the human side will not help. They will all express sympathies but will not change their decision

2. If any change of decision is possible, John needs to build a business case out of it.

a. What is the impact on the company’s ability to deliver now and in the future if people are laid off?

b. Will some revenue remain unrealised? If there are less or demotivated people, once you lay off a substantial amount of people, whether one likes or justifies it whichever way, the morale does always go down.

c. Many companies (those who can afford it and this company seem to be able to), are using this time and availability of resources to create new IP, new Post Covid 19 offerings depending on how the market is expected to change. John has to ask himself this question that can the extra workforce be utilised for creating IP or a group of IP’s in a short period of time judiciously using the people. If yes, then make some very specific and focussed plan for it and present that to the board.

On the employee side:

1. Start orienting them towards the fact the business is down. Not because the company is not doing a good job but because of Covid 19. Draw parallels between other companies facing the same problem.

2. Urge them to think of ways they can contribute more

3. Maybe form task groups to come up with ideas about how they can contribute directly or indirectly to increase companies business.

Some more thoughts from my side:

1. Most specialists are reasonably confident that a solution will be found soon. Vaccines are under preparation and are being tested in various labs all around the world, and very competent doctors and scientists are working around the clock to find a solution.

2. Although overall the world is in a state of high alert, however lurking somewhere in everyone’s mind is confidence that given the amount of effort, energy and money being put in to find a cure/vaccine, the solution will inevitably be found. It may take some time, but it will happen sooner rather than later. Medical science has advanced too much to not be able to find the solution.

Will it take 3 months, 6 months, 1 year or more? No one knows.

You may be wondering why I have authored this article?

Simple:

· this situation is currently happening in many places

· is being thought about at many places and

· if you follow the news closely, it has already happened in many places all across the world. It is REAL.

So the question is — Is money EVERYTHING? Are their situations where “employee welfare” tops “money for the business”? Please do remember, as I had said before, there is enough cash in the company to last more than a year.

As always, please do like, share and comment below. More opinions, better thinking, better judgement.

Meanwhile, stay safe and God bless you.

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Metoo…..Social Media..

I normally avoid social media for social purposes (you know what I mean….) but then sometimes when one has time, a whiskey on the side table, plate of kebabs on the other side table…..one does open it to see what is going on…..

Every time I log into any social media platform, I see people posting about:

1. Where are they eating? This fancy restaurant, that fancy restaurant….

2. Where are they vacationing? The more exotic the location the better….

3. Where did they lecture?

4. Where was their photo printed?

5. What have they won?

I think you got the picture……

For some reason, my mind started wandering why do people post so much about what they are doing, their self-perceived accomplishments?

Earlier, when there was no social media, we only had “social life” wherein friends/relatives would meet, chit chat, laugh, joke even bitch around and then go home…to go back to their regular routines. It was essentially a nice laugh away your stress kind of time.

So, what happened? When did we stop enjoying the “social” bit and convert e-socializing into e-gloating (pardon my use of strong word)….and why?

Here is my analysis, please do share yours…enrich the discussion.

The factors that seem to be in play are:

1. It is very tough to show off when you are sitting with someone or some people. The average Joe himself starts feeling uncomfortable. Out of sight, it is much easier.

2. Most of us (and it is normal psychology) believe that we deserve more than what this life has given us. We try to compensate the gap by trying to push ourselves in the lime light.

3. With some people, at some level their appears to be an almost desperate attempt to say please, please, please look at me……see how awesome I am….how big a person I am….please, please please…… social media seems to be a place where you see a slew of people desperate people crying and screaming for recognition (I know I have used a bit strong words but that is only to make the point).

If you have interest in human psychology and behavior, please read Maslow’s Need Hierarchy. He had proposed and predicted this kind of behavior in 1943 but it still seems to very relevant.

And finally, since social media is unregulated, self-run & managed it has given people a free hand to do whatever they want (a unconditional unbridled freedom)….

As someone said; Never before a generation has achieved so little and talked so much about it..

And THAT is the reason why all the social media platforms (Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram etc.) have succeeded so handsomely……because ….they pander to one of the strongest desires of human beings…..which is…..

I am worth it and I am bigger, better than others…..humans will do anything to get that feeling

Think about it…., like it, share it and please do write your comments….God Bless you.

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Corona — Are we progressively barreling down towards HAD (Human Assured Destruction)

Many years ago, while doing me research on Warfare, I had read an article which was about where and when will the next plague come from.

The main theme of the article was that while we all worry about Nuclear wars etc. but, for some reason, we don’t look at the real danger to the human race which is a very potent virus. It said that this virus will be so potent that it will kill people within hours. By the time the researchers all over the world are able to find out an antidote to it, the virus would have killed half the world’s population.

It also said that this virus, most likely, will come from the Asian region because this region is the best crucible for the growth of any virus. It is hot, humid and dirty. An absolutely perfect environment for a virulent strain to develop.

At that time, it sounded like fantasy or maybe science fiction to me.

Cut to present time, in the last 2 decades we have had many viruses hitting the mankind, we have had SAARS, Dengue, Swine flu and now Corona or Covid-19.

Let’s now have a look at some patterns about some of them:

· They all started from Asia

· They have spread across the world.

· They all have been progressively more virulent etc.

Now, go back to what I mentioned about the theme of the article that I had read. A bit creepy isn’t it. Everything that the article said appears to be coming out to be true except that the virus being so virulent that it kills people in hours.

However, do you also see a pattern, the viruses are becoming increasingly more dangerous and harder to control and manage. In fact it has been 3 months but no vaccine is in sight for Covid 19.

While there have been unsubstantiated rumours that this virus is nothing but a attempted biological weapon gone rogue or somehow. There is no evidence of it. It could be just a rumour. But either way it points towards the same thing.

Think about it; do post your thoughts……specifically is there a solution, is there a way to reverse this process? I will look forward to it.

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