January 14, 2016

How Does A Small Company Grow Into A Big One?

Every company starts small. Think of Microsoft, or think of Google or think of any other big company of today.

It's interesting to note that any small company would have and should have only one primary goal in the long-term - to grow into a big one!

Of course, in the short-term the primary goal would be to survive and not die, and in the medium-term the primary goal would be to sustain its survival and to stay alive.

How does a small company grow into a big one?

Here's a quick list of some points that would be important if a small company wants to grow into a big one, eventually:
  • Its product and service offerings should be in a market segment where demand is huge or has the potential to scale up to a huge number. It is important the revenue growth is high enough to feed into the growth cycle.
  • Its leadership team should be not only competent and motivated but also highly professional and ethical. It is important the founders do not run the company using a close-knit coterie, a closed-mind and a tight-fist.
  • Its systems and processes should get established fast and keep on evolving in line with the growth objectives and actual growth. It is important the best practices from similar businesses are adopted and ingrained into the way the organization functions.
  • Its people practices should allow a fair, open and transparent culture to get established. It is important that club of loyalists, coterie and cronies are not allowed to develop and grow in the organization.
For a small company to grow into a big one, the time factor is also important. In case the company remains small for a long time (a few years to a decade or so), there is a high chance of the company dying and going out of business.

So really speaking the future path of any small company is quite clearly laid out - grow  into a big one or go out of business as a small company itself.

The points above remain applicable even if a small company becomes a big one. Even big companies can go out of business if they forget the basic principles.

January 12, 2016

What Should Parents Be Telling Their Kids?

Parents are always concerned about the future of their kids. And they would generally make all possible efforts to see them grow into adults who can live independently, comfortably and safely.

What should parents be telling their kids? Whatever the parents tell should provide the kids a practical framework to conduct their life affairs, especially when they grow up and after the parents are dead and gone.

Bill Graham so rightly said the following:

When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; 
when health is lost, something is lost; 
when character is lost, all is lost.

The above statements look so simple but are so profound and so very powerful that they provide a practical framework to conduct life affairs.

Character means being, first and foremost, a good person. A good person would have good manners and would be fair in dealing with others.

Health means possessing both physical and mental well-being. Being healthy would allow a person to live a long and fulfilling life.

Wealth means being able to earn and accumulate enough money. Being wealthy would allow a person to be in a position to pay for living expenses as one passes through various stages of life.

So what should parents be telling their kids? Here are some points that if told (and more importantly if followed by kids) would certainly help:
  • Be a good person, first and foremost
  • Take care of health, both physical and mental
  • Study hard, learn as much as possible
  • Earn money, as much as possible
  • Learn household chores like cleaning, washing, cooking
  • Learn driving and swimming
The above list provides some important practical points that help in living a good life. They focus on the very basics of life that help kids grow into adults who can live independently, comfortably and safely!

January 11, 2016

A Bull Dog And Its Cronies

Many organizations are unfair, unprofessional and unethical in the way they conduct business. These are organizations that are so since they are typically run by a bull dog and its cronies. The "bull dog" is actually more of a bully and not just a dog. And the cronies follow suit.

The "bull dog" is used to having his way as the cronies will say "yes sir" every time it barks. The bull dog and the close-knit group of cronies move together when hunting for lunch (both in a literal and figurative sense). They also go walking together.



(Image courtesy: http://www.clipartbest.com/clipart-9cRgxnnri)

This close-knit group is formed on the basis of loyalty to the "bull dog". Anyone challenging the bull dog intellectually is seen as an outsider and is promptly shown her place in the scheme of things (which is created by the bull dog and its cronies) by one of the crony appointed to act as the henchman and carry the task.

The henchman is either a cunning man with a Cheshire cat smile (http://random-reflections-thoughts-blog.blogspot.in/2015/12/one-cunning-man-with-cheshire-cat-smile.html) or a corporate ass  (http://random-reflections-thoughts-blog.blogspot.in/2016/01/why-you-cant-handle-corporate-ass.html).

Those who are working in such organizations will always feel awkward and an outsider. The only way to join the close-knit group is to become a crony of the "bull dog". Unfortunately, such a crony is also a dog, at the end of the day.

The "bull dog"and its cronies create an organization structure with an unprofessional reporting structure. The sole purpose of such an unprofessional arrangement is perpetuate the superiority of the "bull dog" and its cronies over others.

Those who get trapped in such an organization must find a way to move out at the earliest, without loosing even a minute. Staying put in such an unprofessional organization is truly a very risky proposition, to say the least.

January 7, 2016

Why You Can't Handle A Corporate Ass?

The object of interest in this blog post is the ass found in the corporate jungle.

How does the dictionary explain an ass? Here's how it does it:

ass 1

 (ăs)
n. pl. ass·es (ăs′ĭz)
1. Any of several hoofed mammals of the genus Equus, resembling and closely related to the horses but having a smaller build and longer ears, and including the domesticated donkey.
2. A foolish or stupid person.

(courtesy: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ass)

An ass in the context of this blog post refers to "2. A foolish or stupid person.". And many a times such people through their actions and behaviors resemble the other ass "1. Any of several hoofed mammals of the genus Equus, resembling and closely related to the horses but having a smaller build and longer ears, and including the domesticated donkey."

A corporate ass is an ass but is different from a normal ass in the following ways:
  • Exemplifies toxicity
  • Lacks fairness and transparency
  • Is good friend of "One Cunning Man with a Cheshire Cat Smile" - http://random-reflections-thoughts-blog.blogspot.in/2015/12/one-cunning-man-with-cheshire-cat-smile.html
  • Writes silly, immature and childish emails
  • Is super-defensive about its turf
  • Is a stooge of the top man and a loyal member of the "yes sir" club
  • Lacks professionalism
  • Is good friends with and has a soft corner for other asses
  • Is clueless and incompetent and to hide that indulges in dirty manipulations and politics
  • Works on the sly and behind the back to harm others
  • Is insecure and tries to get things done through coercion
  • Forces others to toe its line
  • Spreads rumors, lies and falsehood
So why you can't handle a corporate ass? The reasons listed above make it so. Someone who has the above characteristics cannot be handled for sure.


(Image courtesy: http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/royalty-free-clip-art-vector-11962250)

In summary, a corporate ass is not only an ass, it is an ass with a hole also at the end of it. And there is no way you can handle such an ass!

Toxic People at Top Lead to a Toxic Workplace

The reason for a workplace to be toxic can be linked to the presence of toxic people at the top.

Toxic people are toxic for reasons that have to do with their lack of competence, discomfort outside a "yes sir" culture, lack of fairness, utter disregard to professionalism and use of manipulative tactics.

Such workplaces exhibit one or more of the following characteristics:
  • They are run (yes, run and not managed) by a coterie club of "yes sir" stooges. The stooges are a part of the club only due to their loyalty and handle areas in which they have zero competence.
  • They have people who would not copy some critical stakeholders on all relevant communication with an ulterior motive and also to clearly show who the loyalists are.
  • They are infested with another layer of toxic people who are loyalists of the stooges of the top man. Such people though at senior positions are totally unprofessional and highly manipulative. 
  • They have many more loyalists whose main motive is to justify their existence. These loyalists are those who may be someone with 22 years of experience performing the role that can easily be performed by someone with 12 years experience.
  • They have some people who have elephant-sized egos and carry a big attitude. Such people will not respond to emails, will always mark the top man or her stooges in their emails and act and behave as if others don't matter.
  • They have people who write silly, immature and childish emails. The top man and his coterie club is especially fond of writing silly, immature and childish emails more than others. The close loyalists of the stooges also are not far behind in such toxic acts.
Smaller organizations are perfect breeding ground for toxic workplaces to develop and grow. The toxicity in such organizations can be traced to the people at the top - the top person herself and her coterie club of "yer sir" stooges.

This group of people are typically the founding members and act like shopkeepers rather than professionals. And of course, they have poor listening skills since they think that what they know is all there is need to know.

Unfortunately, because of their lack of professionalism and their strange but expected comfort with their frog-in-the-well situation (even without realizing so), the toxic club at the top will slowly lead the organization to stalled growth and its eventual shutdown.

When growth in such organizations stalls or falls down, the toxic club will be clueless about how to handle that due to their lack of competence. In such situation, the number of silly, immature and childish emails will tend to increase in the name of strategy and action planning.

In addition, the coterie club of "yes sir" stooges will fear about getting exposed. And hence to hide their lack of competence would start setting unrealistic and unfair expectations from those outside the coterie club - the outsiders.

All outsiders in such organizations should expect to frequently come across unfair, non-transparent, manipulative and non-professional actions and behaviors from those in the toxic club.

And what should the outsiders do? There is really just one option - they must move on. Staying in a toxic workplace has severe adverse impact on physical and mental health and well-being.

Are you an outsider? If yes, then remember you deserve a better workplace to spend your professional energy. And if you are still contemplating what to do, move on quickly before its too late! Better late than  never.

January 4, 2016

Life Is A Series Of Botheration and Writing Them Down Helps

Life can be seen as a journey from one botheration to another. When you are a student, examinations may look like a botheration, when you are in college getting a job may look like a botheration. And so on and so forth.

At any stage in your life, you will be accosted with several botheration. In some sense, they keep life exciting and tomorrow worth looking forward to. The human mind should be driven by the thought that tomorrow will be brighter and then should strive to make it so.

It is helpful to pen down your botheration at different points in your life. This naming of the animal makes sure you know exactly what you are dealing with. It is important to note that the list of botheration will change throughout various stages of life so you must keep amending your list a well.

The list can be a very simple with the botheration written as line items. You should use the exact feeling that comes to your mind when thinking of a botheration. It is also important to capture the botheration along with why it is so. One example of such a list is given below for ready reference.
  • Hate the person you are forced to report into at work because the person is toxic, incompetent, political, unfair and non-transparent
  • Dislike specific persons at work because they are long-timers and loyalists who carry a condescending attitude, think too highly of themselves, and are full of conceit
  • Dislike a person who reports into you because she is toxic, plays double game and would tell you something and tell others something else.
  • Disrespect the leaders in the current organization because they are uninspiring, lack ethics, ignore the toxic long-timers and loyalists
  • Stuck in a toxic and bad job and not being able to move out because of not being able to find an opportunity
  • Worry about financial freedom because of not being able to earn enough to create wealth that would lead to becoming financially free
  • Worry about loosing your job because of economic recession and bad management in the current organization
  • Stuck in a career rut because of realizing that your career has reached a dead-end in some sense and you need to change its direction
  • Worry about your health because of realizing that you may not have been very careful about it in the past and you need to pay good attention to it now
  • Worry that you will never become rich and powerful because of realizing that you are stuck in a certain career choice and with a certain circle of people in your network.
The list can be as simple as above and can include short-term and long-term botheration. In addition, you can also add another column for what action is planned or being taken  by you to address that botheration. That would help immensely.

January 1, 2016

Book Review - Cash Flow Quadrant : Guide to Financial Freedom By Robert Kiyosaki

This book is a highly recommended reading in the area of personal finance. It's a great book that goes deeper into the way the world economy operates and how people can be classified in the 4 quadrants - E, S, B and I.

The four quadrants are based on how the cash flows through them and have been labelled as E, S, B and I where,
E  = employee
S  = small business or self-employed
B  = big business
I  = investor

Unfortunately and sadly, many people don't even realize this during their entire life. This book attempts to teach the wonderful concept of ESBI. A good understanding of this concept can surely lead the way to financial freedom.

Here are some excellent paragraphs from the book that also summarize the purpose and some of the key lessons for its readers.

"This CASHFLOW Quadrant book is important because it is about finding your path in life. As you know, most people are programmed early in life to “Go to school and get a job.” School is about finding a job in the E or S quadrant. It is not about finding your life’s path."

"Are you financially free? If your life has come to a financial fork in  the road, Rich Dad’s CASHFLOW Quadrant was written for you. If you want to take control of what you do today in order to change your financial destiny, this book will help you chart your course."

"This book is written for people who are ready to change quadrants, especially for individuals who are currently in the E and S categories and are contemplating moving to the B or I category. This book is for people who are ready to move beyond job security and begin to achieve financial security. It’s not an easy life path, but the prize at the end of the road, financial freedom, is worth the journey."


"The driving force, however, that wouldn’t allow me to stay on the left side of the Quadrant was what happened to my highly educated but poor dad at the peak of his career." 

"To be successful, you need to learn to overcome your fear of  being rejected and to stop worrying about what other people say and think about you. So many times I’ve met people who hold themselves back simply because of what their friends might  say if they did something different."

"One of the things I told myself over and over was, What you think of me is none of my business. What is most important is what I think about myself."

Why Steve Jobs Should Be Remembered As A Great Philosopher Rather Than Just A Great Innovator?

Steve Jobs is regarded as one of the great innovators of all times, and rightly so. He has given many wonderful and game-changing gadgets to the world. One can instantly think of names such as iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad and many more to justify him being called a great innovator.

 

It is useful to think of his contributions in the right perspective. What Steve Jobs did in technological arena is surely important. However, many things he said and epitomized when it comes to living life are much more important.

It's hard to imagine what kind of gadgets will be there in the world 100 years from now. For all you know, the iPhones and iPads  a century later may be unlike the iPhones and iPads of today. And they may be created not by Apple but by companies which are yet to get incorporated.

However, the way Steve Jobs conducted his life and the thoughts he shared on various occasions in respect of life as well as death have strong philosophical underpinnings.

One good example is his commencement address at Stanford in 2005 (http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html). These thoughts were as relevant 10 years back as they will be 100 years later and in fact beyond that and forever.

The following paragraph from that speech so beautifully captures why trust on yourself and on destiny is so much needed and so important. It clearly highlights  that you cannot plan the course of your life very precisely. The idea is to do your best and to God leave the rest.

"Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

Another paragraph as quoted below is about finding your true calling in life. If you do what you would anyway love to, then you would be happy whether you are professionally successful or not. It follows from the above paragraph also that success depends on you and several factors many of which you have no or minimal control upon. So you should focus on finding work you would enjoy till you die and do it with passion and perseverance.

And if you turn out to be successful that's like the icing on the cake. In this context one example you can think of is of Guy Spier who found that value investing like Warren Buffet is his calling in life and got into that. He may never become Warren Buffet but he will perhaps be always happy about what he does for living since he got into doing what he would have wanted to.

"You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."

Another paragraph given below is so profoundly true. It is crystal clear in terms of the meaning of life and death. It is always important to think about 100 years later (when you would, in fact, be dead) to put things in their right perspective as captured in http://random-reflections-thoughts-blog.blogspot.in/2010/12/feeling-down-think-100-years-later.html.

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

The following paragraph talks about the ephemeral nature of our existence. This is a philosophical master-piece. It shows the circle of life, and its ultimate culmination in death.

"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true."

And finally, here's the paragraph that shows the way to live your life. You should choose how to live it based on what you love to do, what you want to be and what you think is right.

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

The above are but a few philosophical nuggets from Steve Jobs that are so apt, so profound and so very useful for anyone who wants to live their life on their very own terms.

One thing they indicate towards though is quite clear - Steve Jobs should be remembered as a great philosopher rather than just a great innovator.

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