Wednesday, April 16, 2014

From fortune hunting to institution building!

Happy is the Founder & CEO of 

NEMCO - New Era Manufacturing Company.

Happy had to drop out of school to start a business of his own. 
Unlike most of us, he could not go to college, graduate and take up a comfortable and steady paying job. 
He had to learn to survive the hard way. 
Everyday was an adventure in survival and he learned some very difficult lessons that were served up to him by  the school of hard knocks. 
Everyday was an examination he had to pass or face the prospect of failing with merciless consistency.

He grew up admiring the several companies that started around the same time as he did, but went on from being an ordinary, small and medium enterprise to becoming big and extraordinary. 

He wondered to himself, ‘After all, we all of us are in it to make money and hunt for our fortunes. All of us are braving the same battles of daily shortages, perpetual scarcity, endless queues for basic amenities, limited allowances for capital investment at painfully high rates of interest that discouraged enterprise.’
To cap it all, there was the  plethora of quotas, permits and licenses that were monopolized by the wealthy few and sold off at a premium to the underprivileged many. 

Curiously, while many fell by the wayside, a few not only managed to survive but went on to grow and become enviably everlasting. Could he also build NEMCO into an everlasting company?

Happy knew that great leaders were doing something differently to make their companies everlasting. 
When he asked his friends around, nobody would tell him. 
May be they did not know or want to find out.

Happy was undeterred. 
He simply had to know.
So, he resolved to find it out for himself. 
After all, ‘If they could, why can't he.’ he wondered to himself.
He wanted to crack the mystery and the magic underlying these everlasting entities.

Are we ready to graduate from being a mere fortune hunter to becoming an institution builder?  

Monday, April 14, 2014


Happy’s dilemma.
How to put the fun back into managing his business? 

Until sometime back, business was sheer fun for Happy. 
Not so now.
And therein lay the problem. 
Quite like owning a BMW, his misery or happiness originated from the choices he made.  He realized that unless he understood the consequences of his choices, he may never be able to make it worthwhile. 

First, he discovered that there was a dilemma to be dealt with: 
If he were to assume his business to be like the BMW he owned, it was no fun owning an expensive possession that gave him no joy. It simply made no sense owning something for the sake of owning and losing whatever we had. So,one choice would be to  suffer it and live with it. He could hold on to it! 
On the other hand, he wondered it it was wise to continue when misery was the only guarantee. 
Was he so powerless that he could not find a way out of a boring routine? 

Second, he chose to think differently.
‘Imagine. What if I could break free from that dilemma? What if I could restore the pride of ownership without losing the joy of enterprise?’ he wondered to himself!

Is it possible to have the best of both worlds? 

Yes it is, indeed!
Business Twenty20 helped Happy make that mind shift. 
It can help us think differently and productively.

It may be challenging at first but can get seductively simpler and more enjoyable if we persist with the tough minded thinking it calls for. It encourages everyone, more particularly the owners of the business, to explore their options with an altered  perspective. 

From an either-or perspective, to a both-and perspective.  

Why should we be so concerned? 
Because it is our life and we owe it all to ourselves.
Because we are in competition with tough minded stakeholders. 
If we don’t think tough, we will merely work to our own disadvantage and help our competitors choke us out of our own existence. Our mindset dictates not only our own destiny but the fortunes of all those who look up to us to lead them. 
They trust us. 
The privilege of leading them comes with an obligation to out-think ourselves and vindicate the faith they have reposed in us.

Business Twenty20 is an illustrated business novel. 
But the subject is no fiction. 
It is real and, concerns all of us.
The novel is based on day to day dilemmas and offers insights on how to resolve them gainfully. 

Who may the owners be? 
Founder business owners, Solopreneures, Profit center managers and country heads and Subject Matter Experts who offer techno-managerial expertise or provide professional advice to their clients. 

We may think we are not the owners. 
Think again! 
We all are, and it concerns all of us.

Let Harpreet ‘Happy’ Singh guide us through the journey of life and light up a joyous future!

Get ready to watch this space tomorrow!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sharpen your business acumen

Why do it, if it is not for fun?

Imagine ourselves on our way to work, riding a nice BMW.
Everyone looks at us with envy while we try to hide our misery. 
Why should we feel so miserable inside?
Because, the traffic is thick and our journey is a series of stop-start-stop-start. 
We own the car no doubt, but everybody outside of us, controls the traffic.
We are on a journey we don’t enjoy performing any more! 
It is not what the highway cruise we dreamt about when we took delivery at the show room!
What plays on our minds at such moments?

That is the MIND GAME.

The game that goes on all the time in our minds.
Unless we rule the game in our minds, we will be thoughtlessly persistent and short change our own selves, at the cost of our own self respect.

Welcome to Business Twenty 20.

On the one hand, we cannot let go of the BMW. Out goes our asset, taking our self pride along with it.
Yet, we can’t suffer the BMW any longer because we feel cheated, unable to have the fun we were promised.
What to do? 
Would we continue doing anything if it is no longer fun? 
Probably not.
Still, how many of us continue to play on unwillingly, even when we feel bored, depressed and denied our legitimate dues.

Harpreet HAPPY Singh, the hero and the CEO of New Era Manufacturing Company was exactly in such a predicament.
He wondered to himself, "Why do I do and continue to do the things  that leave me powerless to do anything about it. 
Unable to think of a better way, he resigned himself to fate. 
He felt stuck. Trapped. Exploited and vulnerable.
He realized very soon that that was no way to live. 
He had always known himself to be capable of innovating himself under the extremes of pressure, to out-think his reality and reinvent himself.

Prisoners of war, illegal immigrants, jail breakers, terminally ill patients and revolutionaries managed to successfully break out of their mind barriers and broke free into a brave and bright new world!
If only he could think like them, he wondered, he could change the prospects of his bleak future.

It is my pleasure to welcome the readers of Thought Catalyst to a sneak preview into my maiden effort to publish a book on transformational thinking for breakthrough management!

BUSINESS TWENTY20: How to build an Everlasting Company

Happy is still celebrating BAISHAKI with his friends.

Happy will be delighted to connect with you as he returns to work tomorrow!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Karthik Vengatesan's: Non Value Creation - The Flipkart Way

Karthik Vengatesan's: Non Value Creation - The Flipkart Way: While I was introduced to Lean Concepts at Cognizant, there were three important terms that was explained. Value added activities - those a...

Karthik, just to supplement your wonderful observations on FLIP KART, here are the five ways to compute the arithmetic of Value creation.

1. Value addition - Employment - Input + value add= Value added output

2. Value erosion - Investment in any hardware that depreciates with time - Like a car : Real time resale value always less than real time purchase value

3. Value division - Tragedy of commons- Ancestral Property gets divided and subdivided with every generation until the value of the parts gets infinitely smaller than the value of the whole - Same applies to politics and brand equity.

4. Value multiplication - Customer loyalty that grows the intrinsic value organically with time and

5. Value exponentiation - Education -pay once and enjoy accelerated rental value for life.

I like the design of your website and would like to upgrade my blogpost to yourstandards from you when we meet today.

Please bring your laptop.

Congratulations again.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Enjoy the freedom to do what you please - 3

The frog on the boil
By hindsight, all of us can justifiably claim to be ‘wiser.’
In the midst of a crisis, there will always be some who will claim that they had seen it coming.
Be that as it may, what stopped them from raising the alarm earlier on?
Welcome to the syndrome of the ‘Frog on the boil.’

During the 2008 sub prime lending crisis in the US, everyone expected the ‘home loan’ bubble to burst any time but continued to disregard the forebodings. They persisted with taking ever larger exposures thinking they will be the exception to the rule. Unable to size up the true dimensions of a reality, a few played excessively safe or while the majority were reckless in their choice. When the bubble did burst eventually, it spared no one.

Quite like the frog on the boil, some of us may be caught up in a maze.
For a while, we can blame the fate or the circumstances. We can hope for things to get better.
Eventually, we are compelled to realize the futility of holding on to options and choices that may have lost their relevance.
When is patience not a good virtue?

We reach a point of inflection.
A point of no return.

Where lies the secret to detecting that point of inflection?
It lies in the power to make a connection with the inner self.
At that moment, we let go the meaningless props we had mistaken to be our source of support.
We realize how much of an impediment they have become.
We restore our sense of ‘balance’ by connecting with the anchors within.
We learn to weather the storm by our own devices.

For Ram the internal anchor lay in his mastery of the science of numbers.
Dharam realized the significance of robust health above all else. He let go of the idea for IPO.
Suket, summoned the moral courage to do what had to be done, as always.  continuance in the job did not really matter any longer.

If that were so simple, why does it take a crisis to precipitate such a frame of mind?
The catalyst for fresh thinking lies in feeding the mind with challenges it needs to learn afresh to solve.
Not really.

Research on the plight of prisoners of war, illegal immigrants, jail birds and stowaways show that they never surrender to the challenges thrown at them.
Instead they connect with the anchors of freedom, justice, equality or what ever value they hold dear to themselves and launch them afresh.
They do not wait for advice.
If any thing they defy the establishment, embrace the adversity and deal with reality.

Are you surrounded by insurmountable walls around you?
It is time to break free.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Enjoy the freedom to do whatever you please, responsibly - 2

Where lies your passion?

During my early childhood, it was always the youngsters who sought advice and, as a rule, the elders never failed them. Sure enough, the elders ruled and the youngsters obeyed them faithfully. For a long time, I equated wisdom with age and assumed that someday, I would also be considered senior enough to be consulted. 

Alas! By the time I aged enough in my seniority to offer some advice, the rules had changed.

No longer was any advice taken or accepted implicitly.
Often, the seekers of advice argued vehemently as to why the piece of advice I offered at their behest, was not the right one or the only one.

What was even more amusing was that they expressed a measure of disappointment with my inability to be creative or empathetic towards their predicament. 

Crestfallen, to save face, I resisted any temptation to tender advice no matter how sincere the invitation to do so.

Interestingly, a few months down the road, I discovered that they looked relaxed and enthusiastic. 
I was curious to know how they had resolved their challenge. Although their backgrounds and experiences were dissimilar, there was a near unanimity in their evolution. All of them had found the answers, entirely out of their own efforts, and from within. 

Ravi the wizard with numbers, found a third alternative that helped him make the best of both worlds. He set up a query desk in Chennai, for customers the world over to post their problems on that algorithms that run the backbone of the insurance industry. It was painful at start but leaves him highly energized today. 
He loved puzzles and challenges. 
That had always been his passion. 
He had managed to convert his passion into his profession now. 

Dharam discovered that the stock market was a beast with a voracious appetite. 
In trying to appease the market, he did not want to lose the joy of making steady and definite progress through internally generated funds. He could resist the urge for celebrity status and free cash that an IPO brought with it; he was also aware of the price it would extract in terms of his youth and creativity. 

Suket did the unthinkable. 
He identified several time tested ‘people practices’ from the Armed forces that the industry was unwilling to take note of. He met each of the board members individually. 

In absolute privacy, he appraised them of the need for expertise and maturity in addressing the challenges faced by the company. He cautioned them on the ‘low staying power’ of younger executives who may not have the ‘battle scars’ he had picked up along the way. Instead of buckling down under pressure, he had vindicated his value to his employers without closing the doors on fresh talent permanently. 

When the student is ready, the teacher, they say, will appear!
In each of the cases above, the teacher seemed to have appeared from within.

I was curious to know how they had managed to invoke the ‘teacher’ resident within themselves.   

Their determination to stay true to their passion, they said, had made all the difference.
How then, did they manage to discover their true calling or passion in life, I wondered.

What do you think?