Beyond just a ‘Suggested Reading!’

Last week, I was running around the Great Lakes resource center ‘jobless’ – looking for a great read! A month ago, Subroto Bagchi, one of the co-founders of Mind Tree, had visited our campus at Manamai and delivered a guest lecture in an auditorium that was filled to the brim – a rarity nowadays, but the man commanded such respect! And so, it happened that at the same time, I found the book Go, Kiss the World, written by Mr. Bagchi in our Resource Center. For long that book has been on my reading list and has remained there, but now, I decided to pick it up and give it a read!

For a week, the book lay on the table and yesterday on the return journey on Cauvery Express from Mysooru (one of the most boring in the near past!), I completed reading what has been one of my “best reads” over the past one year. My acquaintance with Mind Tree was when Andy moved on from IMR Global (now CGI), to Mind Tree in its Banashankari office. Heard lots of positives from him before he moved on and then heard about how it is now from Harsha who works from its Global Village HQ on Mysore Road.

On the book now, I like the way Mr. Bagchi has put his childhood, his younger days at DCM, his days at Wipro and finally the Mind Tree days into words. Coming from a value-driven family and moving on to establish one of India’s largest VC funded IT firm is a great story to read about. There are some points of the book that I felt were worth mentioning for those of you who haven’t had a chance to read it!

– When most mid-level managers look for a job, they look for jobs in Corporate Strategy, say closer to CEO in a cabin! But nobody asks for the dirty work to interact with the masses and build leadership. No one wants to make a difference in what hurts an organization! – So True

– The first rule to manage is to Listen. – Goes well with what O’Toole says in another good read – Leadership A to Z.

– Perception is the reality in this world – If I can quote myself ‘I perceive therefore I am’

– Have the grace to accept negative public opinion

– There are no A Teams and B Teams, there are only different kinds of leaders who make the teams what they are

– No decision is without risk, take time to think through, then you take very few regrettable decisions

– Fight all battles based on principles

– Once you decide to be unhappy with something, even a small irritation becomes a great annoyance.

– When you make the choice, you also choose the consequence

One thing we as today’s leaders must never forget – Open your heart before you Open your mind, Open your mind before you open your mouth

The book goes on to explain each of these points and the difficulties faced in life and how it was overcome in a clear and a crisp manner and is a clear example of how Life teaches you to be a high performer. Mr. Bagchi winds up the book with useful lessons he learnt in life:

– Its all in the mind, as is your will, so is your act
– The power to receive is far more important than the power to give, to get first you must give
– Life is a constant negotiation
– Marginal person is important
– Passion is what passion does
– The power of resilience
– The key to happiness is not money, look beyond yourself! (Dunno… I have been trying this ;))
– Real men say sorry! and finally
– Self doubt is positive!

He also talks about networking and how important it is for the growth of an individual or an organization.

But what impressed me the most of the lessons was the slipper slope of over-achievement. Mr. Bagchi, in the book argues that over-achievement comes with a price tag, if it is not handled, things may spin out of control. I agree! – Completely. High achievers have a problem of setting standards for themselves and expect everyone to follow them – Legitimate, but unreasonable. This leads to a tendency of high achievers getting frustrated with the system pretty much sooner than the rest. May be its time for every one to realize not everything around you can be changed by you. You can do it only if you can influence others. Just take charge and get things done.

While I leave it here, I think you all, who are reading this blog, must pick a copy of the book as well. Its insightful and interesting and offers lots of lessons to learn for young leaders. Somehow I have had more people now screaming in my ear that Its all Sales that matters. The book does that as well.

The author re-iterates I think in every page – Do what you love to do! Something that takes me to what I am doing now! I want to do what I love to do. I am sure many agree with this.

I am sure that it will remain an inspiration for many to Go, Kiss the World.

Consumer Centric!!! In Heaven!

Back to the great days in Mysore, there was and there is still an organization called Mysore Grahaka Parishat with focus on consumerism. The MGP, as it is fondly called fights for the consumers and for that matter had even written against Art of Living on Churumuri, where apparently the great Sri Sri Sri’s NGO has been swallowing money in terms of service. I am usually lazy to write in about my experiences as a consumer, it has been long since I wrote either here or as a letter of experience to a local newspaper!

The very reason for this post is that, I am appalled by the services/ response from India’s premier online store, Indiaplaza.in this time around. Previously I have shopped with Indiaplaza and have had decent shopping experiences, but at a critical time, I was their consumer bearing the burnt of lies and non-delivery! So here goes my story!

– 3rd of August – I was supposed to have the book Groundswell dispatched by Indiaplaza, but I still see the status as Being Processed. I patiently and politely raise a ticket

– Immediate response, we can ship it only by the 10th of August! Wow!!!! Well I almost gave up, but still trusted the site as it had the name India. And the link on my order still says the book will be dispatched by 3rd!

– Santosh or someone was the CSR mailing me, I raised another ticket to him asking weather my book was on time as 10th was the delivery date given earlier, until then, no communication from Indiaplaza! – He seeks an extension by another day and well, yes you guessed it right, August 11th, the book still did not arrive!

– I was deeply disappointed and dashed another ticket on 12th and phat – here is the respone – Dear Amar, We will ship the book on 16th Aug,We deeply regret for the delay in shipping the order, Please accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused to you.

– Wow! on 13th I felt, I could order the book from another premium online bookstore which promised the delivery in two days and it did and well later on, I raised another ticket asking indiaplaza to put me across a lead so that I could escalate my complaint or pull back my order.

– With that if I was a CSR, I would have forwarded the issue to a lead and here in Indiaplaza, the person in charge, closes my ticket, replies back – This book is currently out of stock and has been cancelled. Wow and their site still read that the book is on stock on that day!

My question here was why the CSR made me wait over 15 days to communicate this message! Is this the consumer experience we are offered? And as I type this post, I still have not received a clue on the refund I was supposed to get on that book and their call centers seem to be eternally busy!

This is where I feel organizations like MGP have a role to play and we as consumers need to understand our rights and expect the retailers to adhere to our rights! I hope Indiaplaza will tune in to listen to the voice of their customer from now on at least.

And Thus Spoke Jeeves….

Jeeves is one of the most fascinating characters ever seen in the English literature. An authentic Wodehouse creation, Ask Jeeves, one of the books I was reading from a long long time and was able to finish recently is shrewd, straightforward and honest. Apart from treating his master with his uncanny knack of giving feedback on the face, Jeeves is known for his ability to avoid his aunts. Something that Jeeves shares in common with most of us, hates the company of his aunt :).

Now, I figured out that the name Jeeves has been used by our InCrowd (the internet populace) for all kinds of website! Kids Queries, to Web Search. In the melee, the original Jeeves seems to have been forgotten by the crowd entirely! Its sad that search engines do not recognize such works on page one! One of our visitors Mr. Ramesh Srinivasan, was also mentioning that 96% of the people who search on Google, do not go beyond the first page. If this is the case, how do you expect people to read something!

Why the heck is Chetan Bagat a bestseller!

The past few hours, I have been awake, I have finished off Chetan Bagat’s lastest supposed to be bestseller – The Two States. I am pretty much amused that I have taken over one and half years to complete half of my PG Wodehouse collections, may be of the same size or a little bigger each, whereas I am finishing the almost same sized Indian Novel in hardly a day’s quarter. As I try to analyse why Chetans novels are so famous across India, I was pretty much amused with myself as to why I am so slow in progressing along the PGW books! Anyone in London’s biblio circle would definitely pay me a price to read them. Am I progressing slowly because they are of senseless British humour? (Sorry here, as I have just read a book with half of Punjabi humour), or slow because the fonts are slightly smaller, or because its of a foreign author, or a book of the bygone eras… and so on and so forth! However for once, for none of my essays for analysing arguments nor for any B School case studies, thought I would pick this one up. Why are Chetan Bagat’s novels a mega hit in India?

Chetan’s novel has graduated from Indian teens, students to working professionals. Although it has encompassed all aspects of their lives, his books have even covered the cultural sensitivity and ethnicity in India. Mostly his books have captured the active imagination of every youngster who reads it and probably imagines him or her to be in that situation as most of the people of the age group would go through similar stories. Of all his books, The Three Mistakes of my life, was slow and bad. I admit, I fell asleep and reading it was one of my life’s several mistakes.

Many argue, his books are in Bollywood filmy style. I disagree with that. It mostly is a piece of combination of the mazes of Indian culture. His first book was entirely based in an IIT and the happenings in an IIT! Indians dream to get into any institute with the Indian Institute/School of * tag. That made the masses who dream to read the book. It was well written and to some extent covered the life of IITians as desired by a non-IITian. It also mused over the teen life crises of an average Indian and well comparable to most of our lives. In the recent times, it was a great success by an Indian author and hats off to him for getting people back to reading books and taking time off the idiot box (at that time TV was still a box).

The next book One Night at a Call Center was just average according to my views. It largely concentrated on the sector providing employment to most of the youth of nowadays the BPO’s. Decently portrayed, the dreams of individuals, their aim to achieve them, coming out of their middle class blues, love, lust all the Indian audience wanted was just perfect. But a bit over-bored (No, I am not making a spelling mistake for overboard here), for me. The book was made into a movie and was a disaster in the box office, proving that his movies are not of Bollywood ishtyle.

The third book, took a direct dig at the situation in Gujrath at that time, it was the most boring of the three, portrayed on the life of a guy who desires to be the next Anil Ambani starting a cricket gear shop. Nice idea may be an inspiration to some, but has portrayed a negative image on Gujrath due to the riots. Just a decent book, probably signaling that Bagath was moving down south, from Delhi to Gujrath and next further down.

Yesterday, I got a copy of the Two States. Well I presume as my previous paragraph hinted, Bagat had moved south and way south to Chennai! The book has direct references to the North South divide in India, but in the end, portrays in a much better fashion that we are united however divided we are across our 30 odd states (I remember there were 26 or 27 when I studied, have lost touch now). The book again starts of with a dream of everyone joining India’s most prestigious management institute, the IIMA. Then on moves along the IIM dorms, portraying the love that got North and South together. Further down, it proves that anyone can survive in Chennai, which I still doubt and even covers the protagonist of the story working for Citibank, a dream of every MBA, to work in the finance sector. No matter what, it also proves that people do MBA without plans and re-emphasises the cultural difference and thoughts across India. At the, end the couple have a happy ending and Punjab shakes hands with TamilNadu. To me its the best book of the four and may inspire more and more cross state weddings in India.

This again is not Bollywood style. This is what happens in India. The book re-defines modern careers and the aspect with which people choose their careers. Bollywood never does that or its unnoticed in most cases. The book has references to Madrasis, Black people, Dosa, Idli all over, well I think some things never change. Time for people to identify themselves as Indians. However at a time, when the whole of the country is fighting over languages, the book is most welcome, hope the hero was a Marathi and probably the story would have ended up uniting two states which have fought the most over their language!

As I head back to my other books, I mark this book as a must read for most of you as its good and for some moment may take you out of your Plasmas or LCDs. But please note, I still detest working in Chennai or Madras, not because of the people, language, culture or anything.  But because of the weather!