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When opportunity knocks (IPL Saga – Part 1 of 3)

23_Opportunity_knocks

  It was a lazy Sunday afternoon that was meant to be spent laid back on a chair reading your favorite book or catching a siesta. But all it takes is one phone call to change it into an exciting noise filled prospect. It was this blogger’s ‘boss at work’ who was calling. With much trepidation one answers only to find out that the boss has a spare ticket to watch the biggest game of the summer in India with him and his family. No points for guessing that it’s the final of the Indian Premier League season 7. Kolkata Knight Riders facing Kings Eleven Punjab in an exciting contest in Bangalore.

  The place around the stadium wore a festive look even 3 hours prior to the contest. People came out in team colors in support of the greatest spectacle of the Indian Summer. An electric atmosphere created by 40000 fans who had come to watch a good cricket contest. And it was a good contest that went to the wire. Post match, walking back to the car park, the boss revealed that the blogger was the eight guy the boss had called to watch the match with and was shocked that the other seven refused to watch an IPL final including the boss’s boss (a.k.a Boss’s wife).

  A cool breeze was blowing in, the crowd was dispersing from the stadium. The night sky was full of cracker smoke and there wasn’t a star recognizable in the haze which one could pin one’s lucky fortune on. In one of those moments you realizes that ‘When opportunity knocks on your door, it doesn’t matter if it has knocked other doors before. All that matters is whether you answer it or not’. 
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Team building lessons from Grand Parents

gen_gap

The 7-year old was deeply engrossed in drawing her version of num tum on the sheets of paper her granny had given her, oblivious to the hot weather and the sweat that was forming on her brow. Just then her granny’s cell phone was ringing loud. Granny thrust the phone into her grand-daughter’s hand and said ‘It’s your mom calling’. The girl looked at her granny and furiously replied, ‘No. I don’t want to talk to her’ and gave the phone back. Now the 7-year old girl was spending her summer holidays with her maternal grand-parents which was a night’s journey away from her home. But the mother felt so ‘daughter sick’  that she called umpteen times a day to check how her 7-year old was doing. But the little girl found this annoying and she ignored the calls most of the times and only talked to her mom when she had something interesting to say. Like the little chicks, that her grandpa brought her, did during the day? Did those chicks eat well, did they grow, where in the farm did they wander is what interested her to talk to her mom about. But this same 7-year old talked for hours to her grand parents about her drawings, her school, her friends and her play mates on long distance calls. Not that she was averse to phone but there was something that caused her to rebel her parents.

What is this special bonding the grand children have with their grand parents. Why don’t the children have this bonding with their parents?
Or why do kids generally rebel their parents and tend to do exact opposite of what their parents want?

For e.g., your parents rebelled their parents (or your grand-parents), and you rebelled your parents but liked your grand-parents
Now let’s represent this with a simple wave.
sine

It seems that every alternate generation in a family bond with each other. You could expect that your kids to bond deeply with your parents too.

I see a similarity between this and work-life. The difference being that a generation in work-life (and that too in IT) is about 5-7 years. Have you had a boss/colleague, who is 5 years more experienced than you but you rebelled/hated him/her to the core. Now what about the awe and respect you have for the benevolent veteran employee who has 15 years more experience than you. That’s why you would find a Zuckerberg works well with a Sandberg but not with a Winklevoss.

Maybe having alternate generations working together in teams is a formula for success.
What do you think?

A Bank to Thank

Bank

‘Tomato’ screamed the vegetable seller pushing his cart along on a sizzling hot day. This was in the heart of Bangalore metropolitan city and yet this scene from yonder is still a common sight. The ladies rushed to buy from this seller as this was literally home shopping of vegetables with cash on delivery (pun intended at all e-commerce stores in India that have copied the model of a vegetable/fruit seller). Now have you wondered how this vegetable seller’s business works? Its simple. He/She borrows money from a lender (on a same day repayment with high interest basis) in the morning. Buys the vegetable/fruit in bulk at the city market in the morning. Loads it onto his/her cart (rented or own) and then wheels it to sell vegetables/fruits around the town. Some customers pay them the asking price, some undercut their asking price. They sell their stuff, repay the money plus interest to the lender and take home enough money to feed their family. This is mostly the story for many of the small business that you find on the streets in India. It’s repeated every single day of their lives.

If you ask one of them what would it take for them to break this cycle, they would simply say if they had that everyday startup cash or could loan it with lesser interest or better repayment terms then their troubles would dissolve. Scheduled commercial banks don’t provide loans to these people as the people don’t have collateral/guarantee to take this loan against. Also the large banks have huge process in place and the processing fee incurred is sometimes more than the loan amount disbursed. Micro-finance institutions like SKS operate here but have a huge interest rate (like 20-25%) as these institutions themselves borrow from the state banks.

The large state banks have become exclusive organizations which take savings money from small account holders who have entrusted the bank with their life’s savings. In the quest of making more profits, these banks lend huge sum of money to huge business like industries, airlines etc. Some of these businesses have gone kaput (like Kingfisher Airlines). The Banks have to write these loans off despite the capability of the business owner to repay the loans. All because of the loopholes in the loan process that the business owner is making use of to get it termed as bad loan and conveniently escape. Thus adding the burden of bad loans to bank which increase its operating cost and pass it on to the end customer (the small savings account holder).
Also the individual account holder doesn’t have a choice to whom the bank should extend the loan to.

What if an account holder could make a choice. What if he/she could decide that the Bank should extend a small loan of Rupees 5000 to the vegetable vendor he/she transacts with everyday, maybe for a nominal interest rate (same or a little more than the savings account interest) and at the same time having earned some karma points for having helped another person in need (not in greed) in the society. Is this possible?

Yes. That’s where a social/micro credit comes in. There are some social/banking organizations (not Micro-finance institutions) that crowd-fund money from socially conscious investors and then lend small loans to small business/female entrepreneurs. Kiva in US and Rang De in India are institutions of repute that operate in this space. And the socially conscious investors get paid an interest rate similar to a savings account interest rate besides getting social good. By the way did you know that the repayment rates for these loans are as high as 98% way better than normal banks.

So the next time you want to park your dough in your savings account for a rainy day. Think again. While your dough is parked, it might help someone make their dough for their rainy day.

Choose your battles wisely

War

 

What’s got into Arvind Kejriwal and his army these days?
Doesn’t he get it that the revolution is over for the common man?

The common man has voted in a stable government, booted out the looters, started feeling safe again and went to his home and hearth to care of his responsibilities.
If Arvind is willing to stir a global revolution then the wave has passed.
Instead his army should take to streets to create local revolutions around issues bothering the common man.
That pothole on the road, that traffic snarl, that hospital without facilities, that local water mafia, that local middleman gobbling the farmer’s profits, that coal mine worker exploited by his employer.
That’s where the common man is, these days.

Not in the echelons of power, not in the Tihar’s of the world and not in the streets of Lutyens Delhi.
 
Here’s an adapted quote for the occasion
“Choose your battles wisely. After all, life isn’t measured by how many times you stood up to fight. Fight only the most, most, most important ones, let the rest go”

Are you bored with your work?

Work

Neighbor: “How’s Work?”
Me: “Usual. How’s your’s?”
Neighbor: “3 years now, time to jump ships. How long have you been with your current employer?”
Me: “6 Years'”
Neighbor: “Isn’t it too long to stick to one employer?”
Me: “That depends”
Neighbor: “???”
Me: “Every time I got bored, I changed my boss!!”

Railways, Rajinikanth and Eternity

Raj 

   I suppose that you have had an experience traveling by Indian Railways. It’s the world’s largest network of railways. Besides this there is nothing much to be proud about except that it gets you from place A to B on the promised date (if you are lucky then sometimes on the promised time). Today’s post would like to draw your attention to another aspect of the Indian Railways setup that many would have observed despite the noise at the stations. The Public address system at the Railway station which announces the arrival and departure of trains. 

     Did you notice that the announcement is at-least made in 3 different languages? Also did you notice that the announcements are pre-recorded voices (mostly a single voice, but sometimes different tones interlude each other)? Now I could imagine that with roughly 7500 stations (or destinations) and 10,000 trains plying every day to help 24 million passengers reach their destination everyday must have been a humongous task to pre-record. However the people who have built the system are clever as they have recorded common messages in all languages and stitched them together with names of destination, train numbers and arrival and departure times. For e.g. a five digit train number like 16226 needs recording of one, two and six and then with repetition we get one-six-two-two-six. With this you have a system which will work for many years to come. This public address system has a certain quality of timelessness to it.

   Now lets come to a completely unrelated topic. Rajinikanth‘s new movie ‘Kochadaiiyaan‘ (to make it simpler for you to pronounce it, lets say its a King with long mane) is finally releasing in India. This movie has been made with Motion Capture, where actors are attached to sensors and then act. The recordings are then used to animate a computer generated 2D or 3D character of the actors. Nothing new you would say, its been done since the 80’s. The movie Avatar was the tipping point of this technology.
What makes me excited is this. Just like the Indian Railways public address system, if for e.g., Rajinikanth wants to record all the possible actions or movements in Motion Capture which can then be used as a repository to create a sequel of movies, long after the actor stops acting. Wouldn’t that be great? In fact, if we have a perfect graphical model of all the actors, using motion picture we could always create new movies anytime. And when the Motion Capture technology becomes commoditized one could probably open up the repository of computer generated models to the fans who could make their own fan movies in tribute to their favorite stars.

 Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy watching Rajinikanth’s antics for generations to come?
I would love it! How about you?

RIPcart – A case of customer care gone wrong

RIPKart

You would have probably guessed whom I am talking about. Its Flipkart which is India’s largest e-commerce company. They used to be known for their impeccable world class delivery service. Now a days they don’t seem to care for their customer.

  • I try to order 5 copies of a book as New Year gifts to friends, They tell me I cant order more than 3. They think I am a retailer.
  • I try to install their app on my phone, it asks permissions to read my SMS, contacts, social media profiles, memory. Wonder what are they up to.
  • I try to reach Flipkart customer care executive and after about 16 tries and hearing a pre-recorded Flipkart jingle countless times when I finally get hold of a customer care executive who tells me that their voucher system is down. I try again a few days later but without much success. Finally I play a trick on them, I add a brand new ‘Moto E’ to my shopping cart but don’t complete the purchase. Flipkart sends me an automated mail to see if I had any problem on my payment page and if they could help somehow. Then I try the Customer Care. I get through to an executive very quickly and the first thing this person asks me is how she can help me with the ‘Moto E’ phone purchase. When i say it’s a call for e-gift voucher problem she is no longer excited and takes the complaint without even giving me the complaint number and says Flipkart will send a mail. It’s been a week since. I am thinking, did they mean snail mail?

And I look up the Internet and its full of grouse against flipkart.

Seems its Flipkart’s flippant attitude towards customers which is getting unbearable. No wonder Amazon has risen up to the occasion as flipkart has turned callous.

My advise to flipkart would be. ‘Find your mojo back ‘.  If not you are going to be R.I.Pkart soon.

Until then,
Bye Bye,
to any business from me.