To create or to consume? That is the question..

“Stop going for the easy buck and start producing something with your life. Create, instead of living off the buying and selling of others.”

Says Carl Fox in the movie Wall Street, to his son Bud urging him to do something worthwhile with his life. He advises Bud that there is a deeper meaning to life than simply running after things and money. I had a similar conversation with my young guy a few days back which I think went a few levels deeper.

Since the summer vacations have started I have been watching my son Anant move from one screen to the other – playing video games, watching you tube videos and generally surfing the net or e com websites. The only time he is not looking at a screen is when he goes for his football and swimming. Well, it’s pretty normal for a twelve year old. Isn’t it ?

For sure it is and that’s where lies the problem. And I am not going to talk about the usual it’s unhealthy to watch TV crap. Let me take you through our conversation :

Anant, you created your you tube channel few months back. Right ?

Ya I did. So ?

How many videos have you posted on it so far ?

None.

Why ?

Why means ? I didn’t make any videos so how can I post them ? What are you trying to say man?

Yesterday you asked me to order the latest version of FIFA from Amazon. Do you think someone was working on that since a few months or may be a year. Also, do you watch the same you tube videos over and over again ?

Of course, someone would be working on the new version Dad! And why would I watch the same videos? The channels I have subscribed to keep posting new videos. In fact all you tubers must do at least one new post every week.

Great. You know when you created your channel you had made me subscribe to it.But unfortunately you haven’t posted a single video till now.

Anant was fiddling with his I pad till now. He kept it on the table and started looking at me. I had his attention.

Are you going to scold me for this now ?

Why should I scold you and all? I just want you to think that unless something is created it cannot be consumed. And it takes a hell lot of discipline and effort which perhaps you don’t have. As such I will unsubscribe your channel today.

Dad you can’t do that ! I will surely post something soon. I have just one subscriber.

But I can bet you won’t be able to. Because your attitude and your mindset is that of a consumer, not a creator. You have this constant urge that your senses be fed by content that’s created by others. Even the money by which you buy stuff is not yours, it’s been paid by money. I have “earned” it not you.

Dad why are you trying to show me down?

I am just showing my darling. You are the one who is feeling down. Think about it.

After giving this gyan to Anant I went out for my walk. The idea of consume vs. create kept haunting me. It dawned to me that actually our world is divided into two kind of people – the consumers and the creators. While the consumers are everywhere, the creators are few, very few. A simple way to look at it is to divide all our activities through the day and classify them as consume or create. You will be amazed, even aghast that more than 90% of what we do falls under consumption. No wonder there are so few Steve Jobs, Jack Ma’s, Mirza Ghalib’s, Einstien’s and Van Gogh’s.

But then a question comes aren’t all of us also creating as part of our jobs? This question was asked by a friend when we were having our customary weekend drink at the local bar. At the outset it does look like a valid argument only till the time you dissect it a little further. So I asked my friend – what do you at your office ? He said I do this, I do that, I handle this and I handle that and so on.

To help define “creation” for both of us., I asked him a question  I said “Tell me one thing are you really creating something or just doing your tasks? He smiled and said : I know where this is going.

No no I am serious. Anything that you do is a task if you are replaceable and if you did not create the system of which the task is a part. In a sense you become a consumer, not the creator. Let me add to it so that we have more clarity. What happens to the task if you leave the company ? Someone else would do it..Right ?

If we extend the logic this way then no one is a creator. Tomorrow if our founder and CEO dies the company will still run. It won’t just close down.

Well it may actually close down depending upon how much influence she has in driving things forward, in imagining a new future, in selling that love for creation to the teams. Apple struggled quite a bit after Steve Jobs. And we are still talking about organizations. What about individuals ? Can anyone else give Beethoven’s 5th other than Beethoven? Can anyone write short stories ever like Munshi Premchand ? Can anyone else give Calculas or theory of relativity to the world except Newton and Einstein ?

So what is the way out for ordinary folks like us ?

We had a few drinks by now and I could sense that my friend was really feeling miserable about himself – which was great.

“I have figured out a mantra” I said

And what is that ?

To consume less.

C’mon why are we suddenly moving away from the topic? What is the connection?

There is a big connection. In fact consumption and creation are like the Ying and the Yang. The only difference is that while Ying and Yang complement each other, consumption and creation are inversely proportional.

My friend took a drag from his cigarette and said – Go on. This is getting interesting.

See the less we consume the content others have created, the more time we will have on our hands. The more time we have the more opportunity there will be to create, to think something different, to try something new.

Are you saying that we should stop watching TV, going to the malls, reading books, have drinks like we are having now. Life will be screwed boss !!

I am not saying that at all. All I am proposing is a balance between create and consume with a consciousness that net net we have to be creators, not consumers. Extend that to all aspects of your life and you will need less food, you will buy fewer clothes, you will watch fewer movies, you will need less money, you will have more time. You will be free..

Today morning when I woke up Anant was once again playing FIFA in the living room with few of his friends.

The moment he saw me he said : Dad, you know what. I have been thinking about what you said yesterday and I have arrived at a conclusion.

Baby, it doesn’t look like that. You are still playing the same video game with the bunch of monkeys !!

Actually after a lot of thinking I concluded that if everyone starts creating then who will consume ? And by the way you just insulted my guests.

Ya guests. Switch off the TV and all of you judt vanish from here. Else, I will “create” patterns on your ears which will remind you of “consumption” for next few days.

As the band dispersed I picked up the laptop and started writing this post. I have vowed to myself to be a net net creator going forward 😊😊

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Indian E Commerce – Is the party over ?

I wrote a post on Linked in March 2016 which went viral and was trending as top posts from India on the Linked in Pulse platform on 15th March 2016. Here is the link :

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/indian-e-commerce-party-over-rajnish-kumar

Later it was published by other websites :

http://www.oneyearmba.co.in/is-amazon-profitable-is-flipkart-making-profit-e-commerce-profitable-industry-bubble-india-unit-economics-why-failing-customer-acquisition-high-cost-online-shopping-marketing-bleeding-retail-business/

Business Today carried the same cover story ( with exactly the same title ) the very next month in April 2016. It could very well be a coincidence but then it would be a very wonderful coincidence 🙂

हिंदी में बोलें तो बहुत हसीन इत्तेफ़ाक है ये !

Speed of the team….

A couple of days ago I read this wonderful quote in the Newspaper by Lee Iacocca – Speed of the boss is the speed of the team.

At the first instance it didn’t seem like much but as I pondered over it contrasting Mr. Lee’s wisdom with my own experiences over the last 17 years of corporate existence, I  discovered how deep and true was the meaning. Let us look at the word speed which comes twice in the sentence. Now speed could be either slow or fast which is obvious but at one level it also means alignment of goals and objectives along with the timelines  set for their achievement. I have seen many times that the goals set by the Bosses for Themselves are not communicated to the team and even if they are it is not necessary that the team believes in the value that they will bring to the individual or the organisation. An individual will always link the growth of the organisation to their own growth and if they cannot see this critical connect the ‘speed’ does not match, in direction and therefore not in velocity. The team feels that they are direction less and the Boss feels that the team is too slow. Ultimately it leads to friction and low motivation levels.

A classic case in point are the Indian elections. We have The BJP all aligned and motivated and running towards their goal of making Modi the PM, the congress slogging it out somehow, fearing the eminent defeat with little chance of victory and finally the AAP which is a congregation of headless chickens running in all directions not knowing why and where to?  While the BJP and its cadres are rejoicing in the sunshine they could have well been facing the heat as their counterparts are, had it not been for their Boss. Can you imagine if Advani was named the PM candidate ? Would BJP still be having the same drive jumping all over the rivals pumped up with their winning spirit ? Election results are due and we will have to wait and see if Modi was able to achieve the goal but at least the campaign was charged with energy and enthusiasm.

Going a step further in our analysis we would realise that it is the belief in the ability of the leader to win not only for himself but also for the team which makes all the difference.In a highly competitive environment this becomes paramount and the team looks up to a Boss who can show the way. The teams are pitched against each other and they know that the one which has not only got a great strategy but a plan to deliver effectively will win.The decision to make Modi their PM candidate was not an easy one but they were almost forced into it as he was the only one who had the vision, the capability and the plan for execution. And yes he also had credentials.  Rahul Gandhi had none of these and Kejriwal probably had the vision but is lost as far his execution plan is concerned. His Delhi exodus also put a big question mark on his credentials.

So much for the team…but let us also look at the Boss. Not every Boss is a Modi to be able to do some 1400 3 D rallies, travel 300000 Kms, work tirelessly for 18-20 hours and still have the energy to think and walk straight. Most bosses are not born leaders or supermen but are pushed up the hierarchy riding  on age and experience. It’s  quite possible therefore that the sparks of vision and creativity allude them or what they feel as the next big wave may just be a hump in the continuum.  They may lack the same energy level 24x7x365 and even suffer break down once in a while. What about Bosses alignment with their own Bosses ? They might have a great idea but it may not fit in well with the overall strategy of the company. While Modi played favourites and got away with it, not everyone would be lucky enough not to end up with a fractured group with small power centres within.

Can members on cross purpose achieve the same goal ?The resultant drag speed will certainly get compromised for the team and for the boss too. Managing aspirations within the team is a challenge as individual ego stems from self image as well as how others perceive you. Then there are comparisons made between grades, levels, remuneration where understandably most would not be willing to understand the Bosses point of view unless backed by impartial data and unwavering trust.

So while the statement made by Mr.Iaccoca  holds true in case of a great Boss and a good team to back him, it takes different dimensions when a gap exists and there are limitations. In my personal experience there are more gaps when we look around us than there are ‘ made for each other’ stories. I am not sure if a solution exists but I feel that if we replace the word speed with ‘pace’ things would get more sensible for lesser mortals like us.  While speed is about competition and keeping up with others, pace is about doing things that you believe and enjoying the journey more than constantly being anxious about the destination. Whether the pace will be gentle or  intense can be decided by the Boss and the team but one thing is sure they will be happy with the overall results.

 

 

 

 

 

www.mynesthome.com – online retail venture of my better half :-)

home-sweet-home1

 

Home, the spot of earth supremely blest,
a dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.
~Robert Montgomery

What is a home? A home is a space within four walls which has many connotations like an abode, a haven, a dwelling, a safe and secure cocoon and also a sound financial investment. There is nothing in the world as sweet as a home”. ‘East or West, home is the best’ as the saying goes. Home is the symbol of human togetherness- a place where all of us learn the first steps of life. For most people the very thought of home brings fond memories, nostalgic feeling and a gamut of emotions. Some say, “Home is not a place but a feeling”. For some ,” home is where the heart is “, while for some others it’s a place where you can relax and have a cup of coffee with Pablo Neruda and his verses for company.

A post on our facebook page www.facebook.com/mynesthome declares “ A home encourages day dreaming, protects the dreamer and allows one to dream in peace…..my home, my nest my dream machine !”

Another quote on the”mynesthome” Facebook page said, “Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.”

As famous poet Payne has opined,

 Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.

While many people come back to their homes as a matter of habit and do not expect anything more than the comfort of home –cooked food and a soft pillow bed to rest their aches away, it is not unfair to say that a well- kept and stylish home is an unfulfilled dream for many of us. A large percentage of us would jump at the opportunity to add color and style to our homes at a reasonable budget without getting stuck in traffic jams or stepping in and out of shops spanning the length and breadth of the city!

A home is where your creativity can take wings and what better advisor and friend than www.mynesthome.com – the Ultimate Destination for all your home and Living needs. Whether you want to brighten up a dull nook of your house or revamp a whole room, you can do it at the click of a button.Our website offers a vista of products ranging from velvety kaleidoscopic cushions to balcony swings and other outdoor furniture to sturdy and stylish indoor furniture to kids furniture to kitchen essentials to bathroom towels and other styling accessories under one roof. Atwww.mynesthome.com you can shop for your needs while taking part in exciting quiz contests and writing witty captions on the Facebook page. People already love the site and have given feedback like” never seen such a good collection”. Says Neeraj Agarwal,”Seems like a nice collection they have…great shopping destination…” Vidushi Gupta says,” This will definitely be the best online shopping portal for our home. I’m dam sure… waiting 4 d same…”

The grand launch of the portal is being anticipated with bated breaths and eager fingers. Just as it is true that a home is not something that is made only of bricks and stones, it is also true that certain items in the house add to the warmth factor of the house and make everyone feel welcome and wanted. Household items sometimes substitute for or take on the role of family members. For e.g.: A child resting his head on a soft feather pillow listening to a bedtime story and mummy’s finger’s stroking his hair is assured of a good night’s sleep and wonderful sweet dreams .Similarly, your wife’s specialty cheese cake or gajar ka halwa will look even more tantalizing if it is served in a colorful Dessert plate .  Wouldn’t your morning cuppa energize you more if you had it on your balcony swing? At http://www.mynesthome .com what you want is what you see and what you see is what you get! So watch out for a grand launch to brighten up your New Year .

Log on to www.mynesthome.com and serenade into the world of home décor and living.

Swagatam!!

Lucknow Boy – Book review

Its been a while since I put up a book review on my blog. I was compelled by a feeling of utter disappointment to do this one. Lucknow Boy is a memoir of much celebrated Editor of Outlook Mr. Vinod Mehta to whom my alma mater Lucknow university bestowed the life time achievement award last year.

I wouldn’t say that I am a huge fan of Mr Mehta but nevertheless I have intently heard the debates on TV in which he is participating as I have felt that he is one of the few sane voices in a medium infested with the ‘ sound bite’ disease. Journalists today are the a bunch of ill informed megalomaniacs and psuedo intellectuals peddling their stale wares to an equally dumb franchisee. I thought Vinod was different till I read his memoir. I still hope that I am wrong and he was just ill advised by some of his media savvy friends in turning his observations of himself into a rant on Indian public life aka tamasha we all love to hate. What really put me off was that someone of Mr Mehta’s wit,stature and intelligence could not figure it out. The only excuse I can muster is that he himself did not bother to read the 500 odd pages from start to finish else he would have shared the disgust I was subjected to.

The book begins in Lucknow (obviously)  where the Young Vinod goes to La Martiniere  School. I must say that this was perhaps the most interesting part may be because till this time Mr Mehta was writing with a pen on his heart lost in the deep love,wonder  and nostalgia of childhood and youth. I could as would any other youngster of Lucknow identify with him perfectly. Lucknow is not only a city, it’s a character that grows on you until it becomes a part of how you Live,eat,pray and love. Lucknow Wallahs tend to create  a dream world of their own which has subtle humor, sarcasm, a laid back lifestyle, good food , great wine and lots of women ( mostly imagined). The world of a young Vinod along with the pranks and trials could be of anyone growing in a city that  defies all definition but remains charming in an odd way.

The story moves on as Mr. Mehta goes to England and is still readable and engrossing as you empathize with a small town boy finding a place in the big bad world full of intellectual Pseudisms   and societal pretensions. But this is where it was ‘ innocence lost’ and nothing gained for the young Mehta. The more He thought he found the world the more he started losing  himself.

Life is Mumbai and the stint with Debonair ( all of us grew up with it) was the last leg of the journey that warranted companionship.After this Mehta is on his own churning  a sagging tale of the various interactions he had with a milieu of corporate,business and political characters – some he won and some he lost but for the reader the plot started to dwindle to sorry little details of who drank what scotch and who screwed whom with all the soggy details thrown in.

By the time I was half away I  started skipping paragraphs.Since I did not find anything interesting especially in the context of a Memoir I will jump the details and highlight some of the stuff that Mr Mehta must take a note of. Being the Iconic editor that he is I am sure it will give him some pointers as to what went wrong :

1. Found it absolutely funny even out of place to see pages written about various celebrated personalities of India Sonia Gandhi dot dot : 4 pages, atal behari dot dot 4 Pages, Rahuil Gandhi !!!! who writes about Rahul Gandhi in his Memoir ??

The craziest thing was to try and belittle Amitabh Bachchan for his visits to temples for the good of his sons married life. Why did you do it ?? It was your memoir and I can promise you that Amitabh would never bother about a non entity like you in his Memoir. And by the way I bought the book to read about your journey not his.

I don’t know whether your wives – ex and current will bother to read what you have come up with but if they do they would be singularly disappointed to find a chapter about your Dog and not more than a line about either of them. Guess Dogs are more important than Soul mates.

Last but none the less the least and lowly was the bit about giving gyan on what to do to become a successful journalist and what not to do. Sir it is your life story not a Navneet ki Kunji for High school Exams. Passing out in third Division in arts stream from one of the most lowly ranked universities in the world If you could figure it out I can assure you that the future generations can as well do it – without your kind advice.

Agree  ?? My sincere suggestion is that you pull back all copies in circulation and rewrite the whole thing.This time all by yourself and strictly without the commercial advice of your publisher friends. You made your money, now make your mark….

Fortunately for me I picked up The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghssh on my return flight and was washed off from all my sins of the onward journey.

Six Men, Elephant and FDI in retail….

Watching the circus on TV  for the last two days since FDI in Retail has been announced I could not but help comoparing the situation to the famous parable of the elephant and six blind men. While each has its own opinion based on what part of the elephant they are holding ( like the opinions of our learned media,business men and politicians) , no one exactly knows what the animal ( in this case quite literally ! ) looks like. For someone like me who has worked closlely with the farmers as well as in retail for a long time the picture is quite clear. We are talking two different business models here : one is based on scale and the other is based on service and convenience. If you just look around : has a single mom and pop store closed down even when you have a number of so called organized big box retailers are all around them. Within a Km radius of my place in Bangalore I have a Big bazar super centre, a More Super centre and a number of Nilgiris, MK Retail,Reliance and others but I still order from the store next to my place or go and buy it from there for day to day needs : No ques therefore quick transaction or homedelivery that gets the store to your doorstep being my simple drivers.

For farmers there is absolutely no link between FDI and what they will get for the price of their produce. They sell to the mandis governed by APMC act today or just sell their produce to anyone that gives them a better price. On what basis are people debating that farmers will be adversly effected beats me completely.Typically in all economies with dominance of organized retail farmers realize 2/3 of the retail price of their produce vs. just 1/3 or lower in economies where such a mechanism does not exist.It’s quite simple if You know that at what price the retailer is going to sell what he buys from me and if all farmers know what price their produce sells in organized retail are they fools that they willl give it up to a Wal Mart just like that ?? It is this non transpareny that kills them today.When we are buying Onions at Rs50 a Kg the farmer is still getting just 5 Rs for it , so where does the Rs. 45 go ??No one knows or those who know are crying wolf wolf !! I don’t even want to go into the efficiencies in supply chain etc which will of course add a lot o value to consumers, producers and retailers alike. I have seen Wal Mart very closely and I know that it is one of the most hoenst, forthright and efficient companies in the world. What a lot of people say about Wal Mart is mostly out of ignorance or their own selfish interest. It’s a giant that competition is afraid of and fear always brings in insecurity.

Anyways you enjoy the poem and try to figure out which of the blind men is Politicians, Media, Businessmen, shopkeepers, farmers and general public :

It was six men of Indostan

To learning much inclined,

Who went to see the Elephant(Though all of them were blind),

That each by observation

Might satisfy his mind

And so these men of Indostan

Disputed loud and long,

Each in his own opinion

Exceeding stiff and strong,

Though each was partly in the right,

And all were in the wrong!

So oft in theologic wars,

The disputants, I ween,

Rail on in utter ignorance

Of what each other mean,

And prate about an Elephant

Not one of them has seen!

For the complete version click here : http://www.wordfocus.com/word-act-blindmen.html

Let’s first see the elephant and then we can talk about it.