Sunday, December 27, 2009

N D Tiwari's THE END

N D Tiwari's alleged sex scandal in the Raj Bhavan with 3 ranis gave scope for some fun and frolic. I am sure humour columnists and cartoonists will have a lot to write and portray. Anyways... here is my contribution as well :-)

1. 3 Idiots of Rajkumar Hirani making news all over. I am more keen to watch 3 Idiots of N D Tiwari!

2. Who says Governors are only rubber-stamps and have got not POWER?

Why did N D Tiwari resign citing 'health' issues? Because he did the 'unhealthy'

4. After his own version of '3 Idiots', N D Tiwari is contemplating a change in surname from Tiwari to TEENvari or TRIpaThi or TRIvedi or TRIvari.

Which is N D Tiwari's favourite movie? TEEN Deviyaan.

6. What would N D Tiwari's favourite movie be if he had non-platonic relationship with 3 men? TRIdev.

Andhra Pradesh's Raj Bhavan will be renamed to 'TEEN Moorthy Bhavan' commemorating NDT's CONTRIBUTION in the Raj Bhavan.

8. Citing 'Health reason' NDT resigns. Actually it is not 'Health reason' but 'Unhealthy relation'

9. What would you call NDT's resignation much ahead of his term completion? 'Premature ejection' (Ok. Now thats not original. It is the headline of Times of India website)

NDT's adventure reminds me of a 'sher' - "Kaun kehta hai ki booDhe ishq nahin karte? Yeh toh humaaree naadaani hai ki hum un pe shak nahin karte". After NDT's episode 4 letter word ISHQ can be replaced by one more word with same number of letters.

11. Which is NDTs favourite Tea? '3 Roses'

12. What would have NDT told after his 'adventure'? "Just loved it!"? NO! "Just did it!"? NO! It's "Awesome threesome"
Now my serious take on this.
There are many N D Tiwaris in the political arena. It is just that he is exposed, we single him out. Why only political arena?? Take the civilized society, students, professionals, industrialists etc etc. So many scams..., both sexuals and otherwise go unearthed. NDT is any day better than DGP Rathore!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bang Bang B A N G A L O R E.... Bang Bang!

Had a good Sunday with one of my old friends who was my college-mate in Mangalore. We were supposed to make it for lunch and had decided to meet on Brigade Road. I reached opposite Eva Mall a bit early like I always do and my friend called me up saying he would be late by another 15-20 minutes like he has always been doing! I stood there gazing at passerbys and in less than a minute I had been the discussion topic to the rickshaw-wallahs and corn-wallahs. Not wanting to look too suspicious, I thought of exploring Brigade Road-MG Road more than I did so far.

I walked on Brigade Road (where you have KFC, McDies, Levis et al) and took a left to enter Church Street. I had been earlier there as it houses Oye Amritsar and Oye Shava where we had been a couple of times. But this time I was alone and observed some things closely which I hadn't observed earlier. One of the beggars had denominations of 50s and 100s with him. Some well-dressed girls were even taking 'chuTTa' from him! I was taken aback by the progress this 'profession' has made even during recession (or just post-recession) Looked like Bangaloreans have too much money. Soon I was proved wrong. Again some well-dressed people, this time some guys were bargaining with a book-vendor who was selling books on footpath. This vendor had everything - from Satanic Verses to the Verses of the Lord, 2 States to Imagining India. One side we have Landmark and Bookmark which is always crowded, on the other these street-vendors - both places are thronged by the same sophisticated people. Strange!

Then there were hotels - Punjabi, Chinese, Andhra and the most popular, 'Indian Cafe House' - darling of the 80s people of 'Namma BengaLuru'. This street also had a lot of pubs, in fact I felt there were more pubs than people. There was some kind of chaos as well. Contrary to the noise and dusty atmosphere, there was 'Parisara Bhavana' which houses Karnataka State Pollution CONTROL Board. Given the kind of chaos, CONTROL should be replaced by CAMPAIGNING as it best suited the atmosphere. I reached the dead end of Church Street and guess what I had NOT found - A Church. Or may be I hadn't explored enough to find one, quite possible.

Some more observations. Most cars were parked on the wrong side or at times even at inconvinient places or opposite to gates. Some also occupied half the footpaths, forcing pedestrians to opt the roads for walking. Speaks lowly of the rich and the affluent. Jay Walking already looks to be a norm on Brigade Road. You are an alien if you walk briskly. Oh yeah... even the 40 plus and 50 plus have become fashionable. They too were in the latest trendy clothes from UCB and Levis. Great transformation I must say. Why should Youth have all the fun?? Also, every guy had a girl with him and every girl had a guy with her. Now I know why guys don't fight over girls these days, everybody has one. Such fights were too common during my college days in Mangalore. Soon we might be blessed to see every boy having a boy by his arms and same with girls. We are just 90 odd years away from 22nd century. There were too many foreigners as well, a lot of chinkies too giving a neck-to-neck competition to our Indian babes.

But one unknonwn voice spoke loud & clear, it is a place for gala-time for the rich, wealthy, ameer baap ke garib beTe, if you succeed to hook on yourself to a welathy guy, those who are well employed in IT-BT sector. There is nothing much to count on for the not-so-privileged-people in terms of wealth. Anyways... thats always the case in India.

Oh... soon my cell rang and I was off with my friend to a Mangalorean's Hotel to have some Mangalore style fish curry. Had missed it for long time now. MOMMAAAAAAAAAAAAA.... Will be on the dining table soon!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Straight down the ground.... into the stands she goes!

It was a day after my 'Middle Stump debacle' (refer the previous post). A Sunday, which is a 'getuplate&donothing day' ever since I've joined IFIM Business School (OK. I do go shopping and mall-hopping at times) Somehow the 'blow' that I had got the previous evening was still hovering in my mind. I had made it an issue for myself, thinking about it (and of course thinking about 'it' as well) the whole night. For me it was an issue of more seriousness than the Hiroshima & Nagasaki blasts back in the 1940s.

Cricket match with our Faculty the previous day had charged me up again and from being 'as dead as a dodo', I was back to that mood which I used to carry during school and college days. But like it happens with most of them, corporate world asks had forced me to break ties with some friends, Cricket being the one that topped the chart (We blame every damn drawback on 'Corporate World' on one side and eulogize 1991 economic reforms. We want education like IITsque or IIMsque and work like 'SARKAARI DAFTARsque') Add to it the gift (lower back pain) I earned for myself by over-exercising during my 'exile-in-daylight' i.e. the 6 month gap between Wipro and IFIM, ensured that I restrict my Cricket adventure only upto Cricket commentary and nothing beyond that. But now that things had gone well and with battery charged (why does 'battery' remind me of the 'blow' I got the previous day while batting?), I thought I must join my friends on their usual Sunday routine of a Cricket match. So did I - my shelf-ridden track-shorts came out and so did my dust-driven sports shoes. Soon I was ready and up to face the challenge :-)

I snatched the bat and asked the juniors to bowl at me from short distance. It was fun to defend the ball or jab it back to them. Was doing it after a long time and wanted it do it for some more time. But then we got into the game straight-away. It was a Juniors v/s Seniors match of 10 overs each. We won the toss and elected to bat. It also meant that I would sit aside and watch the regular players bat, those who are known to hit big sixes and fours, in short - Big Guns of our batch. But things went differently that day, our good start punctured in between and with wickets falling like a 'bicycle in a bicycle stand at Rajendra Talkies in Patiala', it opened the doors or me to get in during the 7th over. Another wicket fell by then and by the end of 7th over, we were 49 with 2 wickets to go and Juniors with their tail up and wagging. The last 2 wickets seemed to be a mere formality but Anshul and me had different ideas. I told him to hit hard but along the ground, our predecessors had fallen by lofting in the air or with some reckless freeing of the hands. But playing in the slog overs, prevented me from following my own advice. I heaved one over mid-wicket for a six and a loft over mid-on for four in the 8th over. The 9th over saw one more big six from me, just clearing the ropes. The 3/4th part of the bat had enough meat in it to clear the man who had just been sent from mid-off to long-off after 2 lofted shots in the previous over. The tenth and the final over witnessed a blitzkrieg from me, close to 26 runs came in that over, 24 of them coming in the last 4 balls, courtesy to the 4 sixes, 3 over midwicket and 1 over long-off. From 49 in 7 overs, we had moved on to 100 in 10 overs. The last 3 overs saw 51 runs coming, me alone hitting 6 sixes and 1 four. I was a hero to my team-mates! We won that match, though, the juniors gave a good fight. They scored close to 85 in 10 overs. It was a good match for me. The last 4 sixes I smashed seemed to make the difference, since we had won by just 15 runs. I had also almost engineered a run-out, with a direct throw to the batting stumps from mid-off. The batsman was running like an Indian three-wheeler, but he had a narrow escape. It was a decision that could not be made through a naked-eye. Hence, the batsman got the benefit of the doubt.

We played one more match. This time I got a batting promotion. From a tail-ender in the 1st match, I had become a Rahul Dravid in this match. I was sent into bat at No. 3. I did well again, this time played cautiously. 3 sixes came, one of which made us hopeless of retrieving the ball. I fell this time after going for an ambitious pull, my favourite shot. I got a top edge to the wicket keeper, but had scored some 25 odd runs by then. We batted badly in this match. We were all out for 75, not playing full 10 overs. It was a chaseable score on our ground. But our bowling and catching in this match was exceptional. The Juniors were bowled out for a little under 40 in 7 odd overs. We had clean-swept the series 2-0. I was proud of myself and my performance. After a long time I had played and had a good 2-match as well. It proved as a refresher too, especially after what I had to go through the previous evening. There is always a correlation between doing great and feeling great (unless & untill you are a Ramalinga Raju)
Started blogging for a reason which is secret plus as a pastime. But getting a lot of favourable responses to it. Thanks to all my friends for appreciating my write-ups, my cousins Shesh and Sand for uploading some of them in their websites. All this means a lot to me. Thank you once again :-)
Saw Sachin Tendulkar take the catch in the last over and the run out he effected in the penultimate over. Wonderful to see his involvement with the game even when he is not in business. The catch if missed which otherwise would have gone for a four or a couple did impact the result majorly. Oh yeah...! Who says he must contemplate retirement. He just 36 years YOUNG!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

'Hostel Day' (which could have easily become 'Hospital Day' for 'Mr. Hostelite'!)

Exactly an year back, we were all cribbing and complaining. Be it the roads or water supply, be it power or food - each day was providing an avenue for us to complain. Every step or decision of the Institute was equal to stirring the Hornet's Nest! There wasn't anything that the Institute thought of and we accepted it gracefully. It would require nothing less than a noisy and a chaotic 'Open House' with the CEO and a perseverance of the highest order to convince us that whatever they intended to do is in our best interest. It took a term to prove us right, atleast me, when my GPAs started skyrocketing like the indices did during the stock market boom! (Trust me - my indices since then have no clue about a downturn)

Now it's an year or more - things have changed drastically. From an erratic to a minimum 23 hours free flow of power & water, from Hostel food to the much awaited Ho(s)tel-like food, from an internet connection that proudly worked like a 'Non-Executive Chairman' to a '25MB YouTube video downloadable' speed - it has all undergone a sea-change. If at all a promise that has gone unfulfilled, it is the ROAD which is still in a dark tunnel with no much hopes of seeing it in daylight. But we need to compromise on that, since we live in a country where many people who have been casting their votes for decades haven't seen roads till date :-)

So with most things put in order as promised and the complaint box carrying very little issues (so did the Facebook Wall aka 'Grievance Cell' of many a hostelites) and having completed over an year in the Hostel, our plans of celebrating 'Hostel Day' materialized on 04.12.2009. We were all there - The CEO, Administration Dept., IT Dept., Faculty members, Hostelites and a few Day Scholars. Special lunch was arranged and all the bigwigs of the Institute queued up with the students, waiting for their turn to take food. It was a 'between moderate to sumptuous' meal which was relished by everyone. That was followed by a casual chit-chat between me and Parwez along with the CEO, sharing a few jovial talks, our initial days in the hostel and some of the pros & cons of being in the hostel which is miles away from civilization! Soon the rest had gathered and it was time for the 'Hostel Day' proceedings to start. The CEO, Director-Research and GM-IT were seated on stage and lit the lamp, a traditional way of starting any event at IFIM. The mood amongst the audience was upbeat as usual and add to it, the CEOs inaugural speech, which normally reflects intellect as well joviality.

The programme then began with a much awaited (to finish) prayer and soon it was time for the Holly-Glitz (Sounds similar to Bolly-Glitz? But here it means 'Hostelwaalon ka naach gaana') I don't recall much as to who did what since basically everyone did the same. But let me try my best tickling the memory chip - Yeah! There was a solo song by Bharath Shenoy, a 'Hinglish' solo by Richard (Hinglish because it was a Hindi song in an English accent), a solo dance by Paulomi... Hey hang on! Her solo dance stole the show (and of course the peace of that 'scapegoat' whose name was yelled at every other pelvic thrust of Paulomi). Basically, the whole song was all about what she doesn't need - as if she were to say "I care a zilch". Some of the lines of that song were "Mujhe dil vil nakko tera deva.... baD-baD nakko, maTT-maTT nakko..... pak-pak nakko.." (To put it in simpler words, she danced to the tunes of 'Aika Dajiba', a Marathi album song). Nithya came out with another classic number from 'Murder' (Dil ko hazaar baar roka roka roka). But standout performance of the noon was from Anindita (I hope I am right with her name) who sung "Wherever Whenever" of Shakira - ditto to Shakira's voice. TTs came up with a mini-dance to the tunes of "Say na say na...." from 'Bluffmaster' - BTW, by TT, I meant Tanaya and Tanistha.

But there was a twist in the tale, when the students rallied behind our Finance Professor Dr. Raju Indukoori. This man has got a physique and dance steps which would put even the youth like us to shame - and he did exactly that when he entertained the audience with a jig to the famous Prabhudeva-featuring-song "Mukkala, muqabla...." (Listening to that song now) Varun and Sijin managed the show with their MC-ing, some of our omipresent MCs too popped up every now and then, did enterPAINED the crowd :-) But who can forget the 'dark horse' Amit Pandey, my buddy, my bhai, my duet-partner in bathroom singing (adjacent bathroom) - his mimickry of several Professors and a few buddies of ours. He just rose to fame with his sublime act. That was followed by 'Rose distribution' as a token of welcome to the students of November 2009-11 batch - Most guys missed a chance to give a rose to their current favourite girls from the November batch. I could see a grim on a select few faces as their favourite girl was being hijacked for a moment by others!

Then it was time for the Cricket match - Faculty v/s Students. The Faculty team went into the match as underdogs, but soon started giving nightmare to the students who bowled first. Sixes and boundaries never seemed to dry up even after the power-play - It was only powerful-play! Ace-pacers like Dipayan, Tabarak, Laloo were leaking runs. They were being driven, cut, hooked, lofted, glanced. Star-packed Students' team were in the backfoot even before halfway of the Faculties' innings. Finally, they ended their innings with around 80+ score in the alloted 8 overs. It was a daunting task for the Students who had to save face in front of a full-gallery girls who were viewing it from their Hostel galleries. The innings of the Students did not begin with a blitzkreig as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals. After 2-3 wickets and with still little under 25-30 runs on the board, it was me who walked into bat, oozing with confidence. To deliver was Dr. Indukoori with me on strike on a legstump guard. He came with a nice rhythm and bowled a FULL TOSS and then BANG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He was on target and the first ball I faced hit me on MY MIDDLE STUMP!! The blow made a noise 'ChhaTTT' and I was down with terrible pain in my OBVIOUS and the abdomen. It proved to be a laughter-bit initially, but, soon did everyone realize that my condition was serious. I was not able to stand, hop, buckle, walk though I did everything of those!! I was surrounded by all, leaving little space for me to breathe. As I was on my knees, running came Dr. Indukoori, the culprit, saying "Rub IT, rub IT". I was now under the threat losing the POWER completely, forever, with no results from the much-acclaimed advice of Dr. Indukoori to RUB! ;-) (My 'Eligible Bachelor*' status message was under a potential threat) I had to discontinue batting with just a ball faced. We eventually lost the match with a huge difference. The underdogs beat us like cats and dogs :-)

We were back to the Hostel now. It was time to wrap up things and the prize distribution followed. Those who performed were given mementos. Winners of various sports events that were conducted earlier that week were also rewarded. After the Cricketing debacle I had earlier in the evening, I was surprisingly given the 'Mr. Hostelite' title. There were strong contenders like Vikas, Sijin, Sunny, Moses et al. But guess it was given to me as a consolatory prize (with due respect). Research is still on to ascertain why was it conferred on me. But I have taken it proudly. After 2 narrow escapes earlier during the match (one was the bouncer that hit me on my ear during practice session), I had something to cheer for. That's exactly what the CEO also told me while giving away the title which I accepted with a wide grin. Afterall, I had emerged out as a 'dark-horse' against a bunch of strong contenders. The 'DJ Nite' followed soon and the hostel was lit up as if we were to celebrate an early Christmas/New Year. Girls dressed exotically and boys surrounding them, foregoing no opportunity to dance with them. Some hearts might have been exchanged already, some are lost, some might be broken. How about me? Naah....! Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya...........

* - The 'Eligble Bachelor' tag has remained safe. There hasn't been any nerve disfunctioning. EveryTHING is still symmetrical ;-) (Yippeeeee!!!!)
Not able to upload videos. Most videos are above 100MB which cannot be uploaded in a Blog and rest are of 0.5-1 minute.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Marketing lessons - Salesology

Given various options in Marketing, Sales would perhaps be the last choice by any MBA graduate. Apart from other profiles of Marketing like Advertising, Product Development, Branding etc., Sales is something which can be easily measured. The efforts you have put in every case will go flying in thin air, if, at the end of the month/quarter/year you have underachieved your target. Hence, Sales is a challenging, yet dreadful career for many. On one side of the spectrum there is always a sword hanging over one's head, and on the other, there are mouth-watering incentives in cash and kind.

Having spent more than 2 years in Sales and currently specializing in Marketing stream in my PGDM course, I am sure, I own some authority to share a few tips on Sales. These are purely based on my experiences and could work depending on the situation. There is no thumb-rule in Sales but some generally accepted and followed principles are as follows.

1. Let Sales not be a one-time process
Very often we make a mistake of forgetting our customers once the Sales cycle is completed. It is a CRIME and against 'Sales ethics'. Whatever may have been your experience with the customers, never forget them. There might have been issues like delay in payment by the customer, delay in delivery of the goods by you leading to conflicts, service issues, escalation by the customer to your higher authorities - the list can only go on. But be courteous enough to remember them. A visit to their place regularly, a courtesy call or an e-mail, sending pleasantries during festivals, New Year will always keep you and your organization on 'Top of the Mind', thereby increasing your 'recall value'. The more you isolate yourself from a customer, stronger will be the competitors' rapport with them.

2. Spend time with your (prospective) customer
A vendor-customer relation is like any other relation. The more time you spend with the customer, stronger will be the bonding. You might not be entertained at your prospective customer's place, you might get an appointment for only 5 minutes but no tea might be served to you, you might not get any business from the prospect in your first few attempts. But there is nothing to get disheartened. Remember, it all started with a simple "Hi" to a girl and today she is your girl-friend. You might have asked "How about a coffee this evening?" hesitatingly to her and today she pesters you every weekend for shopping and lunch. It's the same with customers. Once the relationship is built, you are a welcome guest at their office without any appointment. Your customer will then trust you, you enjoy a high credible status with your customer.

3. Be a 'Consultant' than a 'Salesman'
Be that to a customer what doctor is to a patient. Do we ever dispute a doctor's claim? Never!! Whenever the customer is need of something for his organization, may you be the first one to be called. Let him share his dilemma with you first. Let him seek the solution to his worries from you. You give him the appropriate solution. Let consultation with other vendors be a hogwash. In short, be a consultant and not one of the many salesmen. But for this to suffice, the above two needs to be followed. Do you trust your close friend or one of the many friends whom you came across in school, society parties, social networking sites etc.? Be that 'close friend' to your customer. He will then trust you blindly!

4. Promise less and deliver more
Always promise only 80% of your ability to the customer. Certain contingencies might sometimes hamper you from delivering fully to the customer as promised. But deliver 100% of your capability. That way you have over-delivered which will create a better image about you in the minds of your customer.

5. Customer is your best friend at times of crisis
Often, the price cleared by your higher-ups and offered to the customer might not be possible to honour due to reasons like increase in the cost of raw materials, change in the statutory regulations, dynamic economic environment etc. In these cases, chances are high that you will end up in a conflict with your customer. But nothing to worry. It is not the end of the world. Just make it to your customer's office or call him up and inform him of the situation. His instant reaction would be a yell on you or a disappointment, which is natural for anyone to react so. But once he calms down, sit with him and explain him the entire episode. Point out the reasons for your inability to honour his order at a pre-ordained price. Depending on your relationship, chances are ripe that he will pay the extra buck to get the order honoured or will not mind receiving the shipment late. In worst case, he might cancel the order and re-place it on another vendor. In cay case, you need not get disappointed. You have dealt transparently and things beyond your control are (mis)fortuitous which can happen with anyone. Your higher authorities know you have put the efforts in that case. You also have the satisfaction of being honest in your dealings and approach.

6. Never start your meeting by speaking 'business' directly
You don't have to be too formal when you meet a customer. Never start speaking the issue/reason for which you have come, straightaway. Instead, settle down first. Greet him and speak highly about his organization. Congratulate him on his organization winning the best employer award or on having a beautiful campus. Speak highly of his Chairman/MD/President/CEO if they are someone like a Narayana Murthy or a Azim Premji or a Vijay Mallya. Your customer will always feel proud. As salesmen, that's what we have to do - massage our customers' ego! We do not lose anything doing that, right? However, do not make the initial talks too personal. Never make the blunder of speaking to your customer about his shirt, hairstyle, resemblance to well know personalities etc. It will put him in a spot of bother, he has never given you that space, especially when it is a first time meet!

7. Never depend on one person in any account (account means an organization)
In an organization, it is never a one-man-show when it comes to decision making. There will be multiple people coming together, though the degree of influence each one has on the final decision making authority may vary. Try to get as many 'decision influencers' as possible in confidence. Finance Head is a strict YES-YES and also the final decision-maker's PA/Secretary/close aid et al. Being in regular contact with the Purchase Dept. Head is always better since you have a high chance of being very early into a case (i.e. whenever the customer has a requirement) But remember to keep some things within you. Never disclose to the Purchase Dept. Head that you know their budget (which you might have got to know from the Finance Head) It will lead to conflicts internally and you stand at a risk of losing a vital information provider.

8. Some basic etiquette
Be formally dressed whenever you make it to a customer place. Give and receive visiting cards with both hands and strictly not one. Ensure your cell phones are on a silent mode or better if switched off if you are meeting a senior person. Speak softly when you are within your customer's campus. Comply to all requisites like a security check, parking your vehicle at the appropriate parking place, removing your footwear outside the cabin of your customer (if mentioned, happens in a few PSUs) Carry a notepad and a pen (that writes) always. Never make a mistake of asking pen from the customer. It is a very embarrassing situation. Never write anything on or behind the visiting card of your customer. I know of an incident where a customer felt offended when a sales person wrote something behind the customer's visiting card and the customer actually took it back! Pay attention to details. Listen carefully and never cut your customer short, very often, we in a hurry to convey things, barge in before the customer finishes speaking. Always wear your ID card while meeting the customer. Be polite even to the peon or a janitor at your customer's place. You never know who will give you vital information. Finally, remember, whatever you do, it does not earn a bad repute to you as well your organization. You are the face of your organization and any undesirable act by you is a bad mark on you as well as your organization. This could even lead to escalation to your higher-ups and put you in soup.

I guess this is sufficient for now. Hopefully I have covered enough points. I am sure these are not an uphill task to follow. Just need to make a conscious effort initially and then it will run in your DNA. All the best for your sales career :-)

Happy selling!!!