Raj's Lab

Strategy and Entrepreneurship


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As We Finish 2012

Megalithic_grave_Harhoog_in_Keitum,_Sylt,_GermanyThe year 2012 will be remembered as another year that was turbulent. Since the last few years have been so, it does not make it very different. But 2012 is special because it created the largest amount of social uprising around the world. People across the globe, especially in societies such as Asia and Middle East, came out in large numbers to voice their dissent over governance misconducts and sluggishness. The last of these was right here at home. National outrage triggered by the shameful Delhi Gang Rape case wherein the victim suffered, battled all pains only to pass away. It has been a very sad ending to the year.

I was sitting at a coffee shop this afternoon and I realized that I was amongst a boisterous group of young adults having fun over coffee. Since I could not avoid listening to their conversations, I decided to eavesdrop and slip into my college days. However, these young boys were discussing vociferously the Delhi Gang Rape Case. They were very angry over what had happened. They were discussing punishment to be awarded – gunning the persons, stoning in public, hanging by the chin and other gruesome forms of capital punishment. I recollected that I had also come across resentment plastered over facebook today about the same. There were discussions even on boycotting the republic day celebrations.  All of a sudden the conversation in the next table turned to a totally different topic. Party plans for the evening! I was taken aback by the way the emotion of outrage got replaced with casual talk of fun in a matter of seconds.

How serious were these young men about what has happened?  How serious are we as adults?

While we are all making the right kind of noises about getting justice – are we actually spending enough time and effort on ensuring such incidents don’t happen? While we are blaming the lack of security, the slow pace of judiciary and police system – are we holding a mirror to our face and asking can these actually prevent a recurrence? Are we thinking respect for another human being can be got through stricter laws and better protection alone?

Don’t we need a more on ground set of action from each of us to repair the ugly tears in our social and moral fabric? Today are we as parents, teachers, elders teaching our next gen how every life on this earth is precious and demands respect. How many parents have sat their children down to talk on what it means to respect a girl and provide her the right to live her life as free as her male counterparts? How can we rest till we have a sensitized Gen-Y who know both their rights and responsibilities?

While we need a quick resolution to this case, we also need a way of ensuring that youngsters are trained to be more sensitive towards fellow human beings. While the governance structure moves towards making the right policy changes to keep a safe and secure nation, we also need to provide enough training and sensitization to all regarding the importance of treating everyone (irrespective of color, caste, gender, etc) equally. While on one hand we are looking forward to economic growth, we also need to re-look at ensuring our basic rights as human beings are respected and protected. This can come only if we collectively resolve to change ourselves at an individual level to respect ourselves first and then others. For no person with self respect and sensitivity – will knowingly fall from the mantle of being human.

Hope the New Year will start on a right note.  Along the way in our search for prosperity, let us  seek peace and happiness also!

Seasons Greetings and New Year Wishes to all!


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STOP MOTIVATING!!! START INSPIRING!!!

Over the last fifteen days  I have been having frequent and intense interactions with the group that I love spending time most – students.  I interacted, discussed and debated over these days with them on a variety of topics around entrepreneurship. What impressed me was the high degree of enthusiasm, interest and fire to achieve something beyond the ordinary. Most of them had great ideas and a large group of them had also started piloting their ideas as ventures on campus. 

When I participated in a panel discussion on the same subject the questions posed by these young minds were pointed and deep. Even during my intense two day workshop on business design the sustained level of motivation of students even towards the end of the second day surprised me. 

Why then is there so much discussion amongst the teaching and mentoring community about the need to motivate these students? What greater than this intrinsic motivation can we feed to this Gen-Y?

However it is also true that somewhere this enthusiasm in entrepreneurship is not getting translated into real action. What then is stopping this group from taking that bold step in becoming entrepreneurs? While a number of reasons such as lack of funds, experience etc.  can be readily sighted, I disagree by categorising the above as plain vanilla excuses.  Let me expound this further.

Anyone watching these youngsters will agree on one thing that this Gen-Y are not characterised by inaction.  Very often we have seen them go on to garner resources, support, funds, friends and tools that we thought were far beyond their reach. They have broken many of our accepted limits of performance and possibilities. They are innovative, motivated and result driven – however only on those things where they are convinced. When they decide the end is worth it – they have the drive to figure the means.

Today when you notice the effort in the ecosystem to expose the young minds to entrepreneurship – the energy we are expending is directed primarily at motivating and energizing them. The thrill of the journey is spoken more than the end result (achievement, contribution, wealth creation, recognition etc). Except for making feeble attempt at appealing to their emotions; we are not providing them with a strong enough case to pursue entrepreneurship.  This is where the weakness is.

In my view, the singular factor that can catalyze their jump to entrepreneurship is inspiration.  

Inspiration cannot be drawn only from the stories of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. They need to be shown Indian success stories of the likes of Narayana Murthy, Dhirubhai Ambani, Karsenbhai patel etc. But even more importantly they need to be exposed to the regional-local stories which may not yet be popular; but with whom the students would find easier to relate.

 Since these local entrepreneurs would have started and grown their enterprise amidst the same conditions and constraints – it will provide inspiration of the highest order.  When the students constantly listen to only examples from west and exceptions from India, their logical minds start weighing the possibility of success.

If one can inspire them with the thought that while it is fine for all to aspire to become Narayana Murthy, there are many business owners who have created profitable and sustainable socio-economic ecosystem – supporting multiple families, creating and sharing wealth in many planes right from their locality, who they can also become. All these examples are not for pure emulation – but to provide the needed inspiration at multiple levels. Inspiration then also needs to be sustained by constant interactions with such entrepreneurial minds. And this will be extremely powerful once again if they are local!

Once these young minds are inspired by the larger end – I am confident that they will work out the means to achieve it.

All our hopes for a stronger and younger entrepreneurial India can come ONLY if we start inspiring our already motivated Gen-Y. Do we actually have another choice?

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