When things go wrong..

From my rather vast experience in the field of things going wrong(;)) thanks to the unlimited number of screw ups I almost seem to generate, I have noticed that when things begin to go wrong, everything cascades into lots and lots of screw ups! Its almost a situation like when shit hits the fan, there’s just a lot of it all over the place hitting everyone around..

But it is indeed true that when things begin to go wrong, it all tends to go into this loop of self destruction(with me, atleast) and almost everything I touch ends up worse than it was before. Similar to – when it rains it pours. I guess, firstly, it is true that, when you are in a hole – stop digging! But how do you really do that?

The least I’ve figured is that if the screw ups are because of issues within yourself that have to be changed, then, the best way to look at it is that you are doing well and you have done all you can with your current set of values, good qualities etc.. but to move from this peak to the next, you are going to have to climb down and climb again as between two peaks, there is always a valley. Somehow, I find this to be refreshingly positive as I have been trying to get out of a similar loop thanks to my personal refusal to use my own brain but the thought that its just because I’ve peaked prior to this, and am just heading to a taller and better peak is heartening.. :)


I’ve missed 2 learning days in a row. Well, I ‘can’ blame it on long/irregular/busy days among other things but its best if I learnt from this and moved on and hopefully did continue posting a learning a day..

Sustainability – I never really understood the concept till I came across the idea in various similar forms; like consistency, dependability etc. In simple terms, I understand sustainability to be the essential difference between a pro and an amateur, a business and an idea, a billion dollar company and a million dollar company and so on..

In simple terms, the implications are immense – for instance, you would expect Fedex to deliver within a day, whether it means travelling through rain, shine or even thunderstorms. And many such basic examples. What I have further learnt is that it is not easy to think of it in simple terms but in any case, if, hypothetically, this blog had 1 reader who came back for a blog every day and found no entry even on 1 day(forget an unforgivable 2 days..), the chances that the reader would want to come back is never, and when you talk about a service that caters to a few million customers a day, there is just no choice but to be sustainable…. ;)

Team dynamics..

I can’t help but mention the breathtaking Manchester United victory establishing themselves as the kings of Europe. At this point, however, my learning is based a lot on team dynamics. Both the teams going up to the final(the other being Chelsea) had a bunch of the finest talents in world football. Chelsea would have the edge in terms of experience because of the presence of a larger number of proven match winners. But, that’s really where man management is crucial..

A month ago, in a match between these two teams, there was a very open, and rather shameful, clash between two big names in the Chelsea side. This was so bad that one of their teammates chose to cover his face with his jersey as he couldn’t believe it was happening. Despite going on to win and beat United, it was hard to see them taking that forward with such team dynamics. Their season has been marred with spats with the coaching staffs, players blaming each other etc. And I was curious to see if they would indeed manage to win anything given the enormous internal friction thanks to huge egos and equally poor man management. I was curious to see if this assortment of match winners worth millions of dollars would manage to create history despite(very obviously) not enjoying working with each other. This – versus a young side brimming with all positive vibes, a healthy mix of experience and young talent managed by a manager whose man management skills are probably unequalled..

And thankfully, yesterday night at Moscow, justice was done..

(Note: This learning is with all due respect to Chelsea manager Avram Grant who’s done a great job in managing a side which was never his.. and that was what probably made all the difference in the world..)

‘Self Made’ Man..

I’ve been learning that there is really no such thing as a ‘Self Made’ man and its high time I get my people priorities right. I guess the other important thing is to understand that life is a very natural process of give and take and some of us are indeed lucky that we are in situations where we can keep taking without giving(eg: loving/doting families) and it is important that we do learn where to draw the line.

And more importantly, understand when we are taking the situation/resource/person for granted and start using our heads to add value.

Wiser people call this process of understanding “growing up”..

Your work..

is a clear reflection of your ability. I guess the ones that realize this and put cent per cent effort into everything they do are the ones who go farther in life. On a honest assessment, I probably do 20% of the things with that much effort and the results show… :)

I guess the greatest thing at this moment is.. thank god there is tomorrow for us to do more than we did today!

Standing out..

There are many popular sayings about standing out of crowds. Like the one I just saw, which went like – ‘You either stand out of the crowd or get lost within..’

I’ve wondered what this really means – as we could define dressing up in multi colored clothes in a formal board meeting would be standing out – in a way. That’s similar to a sports pundit I spotted on TV prior to the final Man Utd game wearing a yellow suit, pink shirt and blue tie if I remember right.

It was then I heard this – ‘To stand out, you must first fit in and then stand out’

Suddenly, it all made sense..

Taking Swings..

John “Jack” Welch is probably one of the most legendary leaders alive. Within 20 years of being CEO, he transformed General Electric from its worth of a few billion dollars to a net worth of half a trillion dollars! His one constant emphasis to all wanting to do well is to ‘take more swings’ (a connection to his baseball background). And the fact that it doesnt matter how many times you miss, but the number of times you try that really matters!

This insight helped me understand. There are many reactions to the obvious success of the United States. There are friends of mine who love digging up conspiracy theories about the states and, hence its success, yet other dismiss it and keep pointing at the “growing” and “future powers”. As time has passed, these have shifted from Germany at various times to Japan to China etc.(Its helpful to note whats the most in demand language in the world. Its gradually shifted from European languages and Japanese to Mandarin these days..)

Anyway, digressions apart, I’m astounded to know that, of revenue earned by the country, the United States spends 12 times more than an average developing country on research and development. As someone wiser than me once illustrated, it basically meant betting on 2 guys shooting a basketball through a hoop – one guy taking 1 shot and the other taking 12 shots. Now, even if it was Michael Jordan vs me(taking the 12 shots) – notwithstanding my primitive basketball skills, you would bet on 12 shots doing the trick. Sounds like a simple and straight forward answer, doesn’t it?

Voila! Here’s the answer..

A noticeboard sign that changed a life..

One of the most respected Heads of the US Chamber of Commerce was retiring and was asked in his felicitation dinner as to what he would attribute his success to.

He said that it went all the way back when he was a young man in just another ordinary job hardly doing anything of note. One day, while he was walking back home, he spotted a noticeboard outside a local school which said –

‘Your success is directly proportional to the amount you do after you do what you are supposed to do’ …


Here’s an interesting story I heard..

There were a bunch of miscreants who used to harass their old neighbour next door by stealing mangoes from a tree which she grew with lots of care. Every day the old lady would chase these boys out and they would come back again. Till finally, one day, the lady left them $10 at the foot of the tree. The boys were obviously delighted.. and when they came back the next day, they saw $9 and this came down $8 and so on till the day came when they no longer found money at the foot of the tree.

The boys stopped trying to steal the mangoes altogether and a few days later, the old lady met them in the local market and asked them as to what happened and their reply was – “So what do you expect? Now that you’ve stopped paying us to do it!”

This story sounded amusing at first until the power of giving someone something and then taking it away..hit me!

A learning from Sir Alex Ferguson’s book

For all those who do not follow football/soccer – Sir Alex Ferguson is the current manager of Manchester United and has been for an illustrious career spanning 22 years in which he has won everything that can be won and his hunger for winning is still alive. Moreover, in this time, he converted the club from a ‘has been’ to a footballing powerhouse winning the love of 330 million fans around the globe thanks to attacking yet result oriented football. This is just the first of many learnings from the great man’s book.

Probably, the greatest challenge that Sir Alex faced when he came to Man Utd in 1986 was that the club had a big drinking culture amongst its players. As the club had had a glorious history thanks to another great Scottish manager by name Sir Matt Busby, in whose time they had won league titles and the prestigious European Cup, the club, since his retirement had only declined.

SAF’s first move was to gradually weed out all the players who were part of this ‘drinking club’ as he said famously that he plans to run a football club and none other. Fans were intially outraged as a number of popular players were out before they knew it and gradually the results showed..

My learning from this is his innate belief that intrinsic control is the first step to success. SAF is reknowned for disciplining youngsters with strict hairstyles, diets and punctuality. And it shows.. as Man Utd are on the brink of their 2nd European Cup Final in his glorious tenure as manager..