Raj's Lab

Strategy and Entrepreneurship


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Is passion and desperation same?

Both seem to be a dire thirst for something. Both seem to drive people to go beyond their known boundaries. Both well up passionextra energies from inside to give that extra push.

Then where’s the difference?

Desperation is satiated when fed. Passion gets more hungry when fed.
Desperation: A man who is hungry for three days sees food – he acts out of desperation. Goes to any extent to get that piece of bread. His hunger is satiated. His desperation disappears.

 
Passion: A man is hungry for writing his first book – he acts out of passion.  He writes his first book. His hunger is whet. His passion swells.

Do you see the difference???

Its not just BIG, its HUGE!!


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Over Talented But Under Satisfied

Every one of us is good at many things. Infact with every passing generation the number of things we are good at is just 500px-Sad_panda_svgincreasing. What somebody used to study with difficulty at the graduate level, is now being easily understood and cracked at higher secondary level. But is that not how evolution should proceed?

With every one of us becoming more talented – and most often over talented – why is it that majority of us remain dissatisfied over our achievements? Why is it that most of us still seek tools for prioritization, take self-assessment tests to figure out areas of focus, read self help books and tools to remain motivated?

Why is the over talented 21st century human being is not even as happy as his 19th century pre-industrial era counterpart?

Over the last two weeks, during many of my mentoring sessions, I observed this interesting pattern amongst my mentees. They are all talented, high performers. They are all extremely successful by many standards. When they come to meet me we discuss how they can be better. The one thing that gets asked is ‘ How can i get more done in a work week? Do i need time management? Prioritization? Motivation? Or is there something else? I just don’t seem to be doing enough of the right thing…”

The dissatisfaction seems to be stemming from the fact that the effort is not coherent and coordinated in a particular direction. While a lot of actions is being done, lots of things are being achieved and that too with great efficiency, the question of satisfaction and resultant happiness keeps cropping up at regular intervals.

I am beginning to think that the solution rests in just two simple steps. First. understanding the areas that we are good at but don’t enjoy doing. Second, just dropping them.  Dropping them at the cost of efficiency, dropping them at cost of returns and results.

I leave the above as a trigger for your thoughts. Would be glad to receive your inputs on this too…


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Strategy – The first step to success

“Strategy” – its formulation, articulation, dissemination, alignment, measurement and review can add value especially to a high growth business. Since most people running small businesses are not necessarily managerial experts – they are very often given to understand that strategy is only for a big business. And questions that we come across even from high growth seeking small business owners are:

  • Why should we do a strategy exercise when we know that all we need is more customers?
  • Do you think I can with my limited resources conduct a competition analysis?
  • What will be the benefit for me to create a strategy document which many in my company will not understand?
  • Why should I take time of my senior management which is involved in execution for a strategy formulation work – am I not losing out on revenue?
  • Can I bring in a HR consultant to solve my retention problem rather than create a strategy?
  • Instead of creating a strategy, can you tell me how I can reach out to customers better?
  • And many more…

While many of the questions seem right by themselves, there is one fundamental issue. Since there is no single story / dream / vision that is shared amongst all members of the organization, there is very little buy-in! To become a medium / big organization, we need to create a bigger picture of what is in the mind of the CEO / Founder / Entrepreneur, have it colored and then imprint it in the minds of everyone in the organization.  Without an alignment towards a common goal – real progress will remain elusive.

A strategy when created builds confidence in the senior management, when communicated builds trust, when aligned brings buy-in, when measured increases seriousness and commitment, and when singularly focused on, brings achievement!


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Vedantic Wednesday: The Desire for Punya

Doing is a part of our nature. Constantly involved ourselves, in some activity or other is almost involuntary. But the central premise behind every action is the expectation of a desired result.  Whether it is studying for an exam, going to work,  writing a book, making a music album or even doing charity. Whatever be the nature of activity human beings are today unable to go through an activity or do an action without result in mind.  Infact many times you would see schools and colleges training people to be result oriented.  Through this article I am not trying to find fault with being result oriented. But if being result-oriented is the best approach – then why are most people who achieve results not happy?

When I went through the talks of sages I found a reference to a word called ‘Punya’ – I immediately thought it referred to some religious methods/practices, which can help us reach god.  But I was in for some surprise.  The ‘Paramacharya’ interprets ‘Punya’ as “Virtuous Action”, that is actions done without any desire for the fruits thereof.

It might even sound unreasonable in today’s circumstances to involve or act without any result in mind. But the perspective that emerged which could be useful for daily use  is the difference between expected results and expectations. Very often what we think of is desired results, which are in reality expectations.   Expectations are very closely related to emotions, hence mismatch between outcome and expectation cause unhappiness

Every action will have a result and in most cases it will be predictable and hence can be expected. If actions are done with this perspective in mind, unhappiness or sorrow cannot occur.  Hence the possible approach to achieve lasting happiness through action is to understand the idea of “Virtuous Action”


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Vedantic Wednesday: Irony of Life!

When you face difficulty it is natural for any rational, emotional being to feel sad and letdown. Nothing surprising! But the irony arises because if the universal law of attraction is to be believed this sad and disillusioned mind is bound to attract more of the things / situations that lead to more sadness and disillusionment.
 
If the power of the mind is to be accepted as the greatest force at hand then the only way this difficulty-faced individual can turn the tide is to be positive and happy in that situation.

It sounds terribly blasé and ironical to suggest the only remedy to sadness is to feel happy!! An almost near impossible remedy.

But the solution again comes from Vedantic wisdom – being positively focused on your goal and not recognizing the intermediate battles in the ensuing war, is the catamaran that will help us in riding the waves. In such a case wins don’t make you overjoyed and losses don’t make you overtly sad. And when one remains composed through the journey the joy of achievement becomes replaced eventually by the fully awakened experience of one’s journey. Feeling happy or sad is based on external influencers – someone ridiculing us; someone responding to us; someone ignoring us. By focusing on the goal we become inwardly conscious in our efforts – everything else is given the same treatment of an experience that is to be had – just a part of the journey.

It sounds quite tough – but then is it?


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Book Review: “Full Steam Ahead” – Powered to the hilt!!

Book : Full Steam Ahead!  Authors:  Ken Blanchard and Jesse Stoner

There is so much spoken and written about ‘vision’ for a business. It is almost as-if a war would break out (intellectually) about what the words ‘vision’ and ‘mission’ mean and which is bigger?
 
This little book titled “Full Steam Ahead” is actually a book about ‘vision’ – I never thought it would be when I looked at the title. But once I started reading it, I realized that this is another little gem that Ken Blanchard and team have given us. There is a philosophical bent to the ideas presented apart from the absolutely logical build-up of the concepts. This combination along with the slight emotional connect through story-telling that the authors have achieved, has made the book un-put-down-able! You will not be able to stop once you start, till you race to the end. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised even if this beats some of the real blockbuster movies hands-down in storyline!
 
If not anything else, the price of the book is more than worth for just the following pages: Purpose (39), Values (63), Picture of the Future (78), Vision (80), Test of a compelling vision (82) and For Vision to become Reality (120). These six pages captures in essence the message of the book. But reading just these pages is not a substitute to reading the book!
 
According to the authors, vision is made up of three components (Purpose, Values and a Picture of the Future) and putting these together and implementing it in the present is what makes the difference! I strongly recommend this little book to every person even if they are just toying with the idea of creating a meaningful life – while for every entrepreneur it should be mandatory reading!


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Lesson for all Seasons

Seasons change! Yes they have, they do and they always will. Nature doesn’t seem to have any issues with it. As seasons change, nature goes through its cycle. Look at plants, they lose their lustre in one season, glow in another and they don’t seem to worry or bother about it too much. Animals take a step further, they have their good times, move to secure locations when they are frightened and re-appear when either a need arises or they feel safer.

Incoming seasons create benefits for some and spoil the party for some. It is important for the benefactors to realize that seasons change! If they don’t, they will be in for some surprise when tides change. When stated it seems like a paranoid opinion – but look around and you will find numerous examples of the latter.

Seasons change; people benefit – bask in glory and let it ride to their heads, as though the season is here to stay.  So many businesses hailed as the trend-setter, awarded and recognised as best businesses slink into non-existence in matter of just few years.  Wins are as ephemeral as failures – they are neither  the end of your journey nor your sustainable differentiator!  Only when you realise this; would you give yourself a pat, award yourself a smile – but pick up your chisel to drive through the mountain to reach your goal!

No wonder our wise people of the past said “Don’t overdo success and don’t overdo failure – because nothing is permanent.” Hope rationality prevails!

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