Are you concerned for your customer?

A while ago, around my neighbourhood, there was a small store selling only products for the Keralite community. It was manned by a single individual. You could find grains, masala, snacky items as well. A pure ethnic general store. The store was more like a stall and occupied some 5 X 3 ft space in a larger store.

Now except for the banana chips, there was nothing that my kitchen could use. Except for the small onions, which are pretty flavourful, which I bought to put in sambar. My family could never understand why I picked up a packet of banana chips every now and then, when I really don’t favour banana chips that much. Well, to support the local store I said. Keep the local business guy running. 

One time, I buy the banana chips and when i open the packet at home, it’s soft and stale. I take the packet back to the store immediately and show him the chips. And he says, “kya karega madam, aisa hota hai” (What can I do Madam, these things happen). He did not replace the chips. And continued to go about his work, leaving me hanging there. I was shocked. I never went back to the store. After a while, that store disappeared. There was a flower shop in front of the store too. That still exists. 

I wonder how much money the man would have lost had he replaced my chips. What makes a seller behave like this, when he knows he has sold a bad product to a customer. I have seen this in many traditional indian stores. The care-a-damn attitude. When we speak of #makeinindia, we also have to speak of attitude to doing business, to be customer oriented, to build and serve products that are functional. That seems to be missing, in many many places.

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Teaching our women to want to lead.

Took a session on how to deal with stress for women, few days back. I put a question to the group, and these were all professionals. How many of you wish to be a CEO of a company. Barely 10% raised their hands up.

As women we are frightened to even pretend for the sake of discussion that we want to lead companies. The glass ceiling does not just physically exist. But its has also been hammered into the minds of women. To even think about the idea of leading something takes phenomenal effort and courage.

And that’s where women’s rights has to focus on. Where organisational systems have to focus. To encourage women to dream about front ending ideas and failing even. Because many talented women would not think twice, pointing fingers at a man to lead an idea. But will think a hundred times in pointing that same finger to oneself.

As society and systems, we believe women are good workers. But we barely speak of women as good leaders or can be good leaders too.

Learn from your betrayals

The most crucial takeaway from experiencing a betrayal is that one has lived! And it teaches you a lot of things if you keep your heart and mind open. Trust is not a ‘thing’ that is given. It’s a process. Crappy things that happen, allow one to fix that process and channel one’s trust in the right direction. It’s a hard way to learn. But that’s life, we must experience the shit to value those who matter.

Creative Destruction

There is something called ‘creative destruction’. Where an organism is destroyed or bought to its knees, just so that it can claw its way back up. When the survival instincts kick in, one does what ‘needs’ to, and not one ‘wants’ to, to get back into the game. If the organism gets this, and can see the original flaws, it begins to start repairing what has been ruptured and what caused it to fall. And if indeed it does so, it emerges much more stronger than before.

Creative destruction, is sometimes self applied, sometimes the universe, takes it upon itself to do it for you. Many a times, businesses survive not because their growth is linear. But because they continuously self destruct and relook at things internally to attack external variables and to protect itself against the offensive onslaught. There is a sort of continuous evolution.

How is this creative destruction? Imagine something that functions fabulously, what do you do? Hang on to it forever? Nope, you come out with better and more better versions, thus creatively destroying the original fabulous thing. That’s creatively destroying oneself. If one has to grow, strengthen, very very important to keep the process of creative destruction’ on. 

How much do you save on tea?

Garbage served to employees in the name of coffee and cost efficiency. How much do companies really save by serving machine made flavourless stuff? When you add back the social costs, the time lost in going to the tupri to get a cutting, the loss due to dissatistfaction one feels after drinking this, the sense of disloyalty that enters the mind when a company where you slog for 8 hours can’t even offer you one good cup of tea or two, what is really saved in costs? Not much. But what you can’t see you don’t bother about. What you can see is, an extremely cheap cup of coffee. That’s saving cash. And it does not matter that it’s destroying value.

Learn to give it back!

Being nice is hygiene. But being nice is not a synonym for being a doormat. It’s ok to take your tongue out for a good word lashing on someone, when someone crosses that line.  Don’t fear. Use that fantastic piece of equipment ferociously when needed.  Don’t think – let it go. NO.

Every time a line is crossed with you, and you don’t respond appropriately, you are raising the threshold level higher for people to do what they want. And you won’t even know it.

Disrespect and abuse is sometimes very very insidious and you won’t even know it’s happening to you. So you need to force yourself to respond and defend the self every time that line is crossed. It’s an important act to keep your self esteem high.

Do the George!

Insecurities and fear make you do crazy things, which can be self-destructive. If you come from fear, if you feel scared, do the ‘George’.

Remember George Costanza from Seinfeld. There was an episode when he said to this effect – ‘every time he does something he loses, so now he will do everything against instincts and do the opposite’. In the episode, surprisingly things start to work out for George.

When the emotional construct is screwed up, all your instincts are in extremes. So if you wish to start normalising, you need to begin to control the urge to go over board or under even. Practice emotional rationality.

Ask for feedback from close friend. Did i over react? Was it right I did this or felt like this? Slowly your emotional structure will straighten out. It’s a long-winded lonely road to get to normal. But what else you gonna do?