Monday, February 23, 2009

The Loaded Carriage Analogy

from Personal Growth Map by 

One of the main reasons why we don’t make the progress we can make in life is that we expect to acquire all the knowledge and skills possible in any endeavour before we make a move.

Rather than start a business, or a business venture, we want to learn everything there is to learn about the economy, finance, business, marketing, advertising, etc, etc.


Before we make any changes to what we eat, in order to improve our health, we feel the need to read up on nutrition, proper exercise, supplements, etc.

We want to know how to write the best articles possible before publishing anything that can be seen by a set of eyes other than our own. After all, we don’t want to expose our weaknesses or make any mistakes, and in order to be successful, we need to be known for being the best.

At least, that’s what we say to ourselves.

This approach is like going on a journey and trying to load everything we can possibly need or might find a use for onto our carriage before making a move. We go to great lengths to find the resources we need before we venture out, and continue to pile our belongings for fear that we might leave unprepared.

After finally deciding that we are ready enough to make a move we realize that the carriage is too heavy to pull!

We end up staying where we started, without making any progress and without making any use of the resources we amassed.

If you’ve been collecting books to read about business before getting your feet wet in a business, or trying to perfect a skill - such as writing - before putting it to practical use, then you need to bear this analogy in mind.

Having a loaded carriage isn’t a virtue. It’s what’s holding you back.

You might make much more progress with a backpack than with all the resources you will find on that burdened carriage.

Loading Up a Moving Carriage

Rather than collecting resources before making a move, you can load your carriage along the way.

This helps you determine exactly what you need (and not to burden yourself with heavy resources for hypothetical needs), you will be making progress as soon as possible (and with the little resources you might have now), it exposes you to opportunities you wouldn’t have been exposed to had you remained where you started and you would have developed momentum that allows you to make progress without much effort.

The sole need for the resources we collect is using them for the journey. Therefore, it’s important to focus on the journey and not the resources.

By loading a moving carriage, you will develop the appropriate focus and make the appropriate use of your resources!

Gartner forecasts Australian market growth in business intelligence software


The market for business intelligence (BI) platform software in Australia is forecast to reach A$174.8 million (US$152 million) in 2009, up 16.8 percent from A$149.6 million (US$130.1 million) in 2008, according to technology research and advisory firm Gartner.

Speaking ahead of the Gartner Business Intelligence and Information Management Summit in Sydney this month, Gartner analysts said BI platform purchases should be more resilient to a recession compared with some other software areas, “but a tougher economic environment, together with stronger pricing pressures, will still hamper growth during the next five years.”

According to Gartner, many organisations were still trying to get value from their BI investments, and further investments by these organisations would be constrained until they determined how to get value from the investments already made.

Gartner says that for the fourth year in a row, business intelligence (BI) applications have been ranked the top technology priority in its 2009 Executive Programs survey of more than 1,500 chief information officers (CIOs) around the world.

Speaking ahead of the Gartner Business Intelligence and Information Management Summit in Sydney this month, Gartner analysts said BI platform purchases should be more resilient to a recession compared with some other software areas, “but a tougher economic environment, together with stronger pricing pressures, will still hamper growth during the next five years.”

According to Gartner, many organisations were still trying to get value from their BI investments, and further investments by these organisations would be constrained until they determined how to get value from the investments already made.

Gartner says that for the fourth year in a row, business intelligence (BI) applications have been ranked the top technology priority in its 2009 Executive Programs survey of more than 1,500 chief information officers (CIOs) around the world.

Friday, February 13, 2009

To Survive or Thrive?

I absolutely love this quote from Brandon Uttley's post, Stop Worrying About the Economy and Start Living Your Life!

The fact is, neither you nor I have any impact whatsoever on what happens with the government. Sure, we vote, we pay taxes and all that—but when it comes to something as monumental as the very financial system itself, we are pretty powerless. And no amount of worrying about it is going to do you or anyone else any good.

My advice is to control what you can, which is all between your ears. You can tune out all the negative news and energy, all the stuff you can’t control, and focus on the stuff you can. Stop complaining and blaming the economythe governmentthe banks, etc. and do your part to make the world better—starting with your attitude and outlook.

Because it's so easy to find excuses. Yes, the recession is a big deal. But you still have control over you. If you're looking for ways you can take control, how about reading Take Your Vitamins from Harry Hoover's THINKing. He gives solid advice on how to improve your business - getting back to your customers and your employees and taking care of them: "marketing vitamins" as he cleverly terms them. So what can you do to change your business today? What can you do in your life or work to make it better? How can you better yourcommunity?

What would it look like if we decide to help out each other first instead of worrying about ourselves all the time? The same old thing isn't just going to work in this time. 

If we look to providing value to the people we come in contact - customers, business partners, etc - then maybe in a way we can take care of one another first and in turn the business will come to us. Maybe, just maybe, not only can we "survive" a bad economy but also better ourselves and our relationships with one another while doing it. Instead of just surviving, maybe we can thrive.
Copy right of the above article belongs to Rosie Reilman and her Blog: ttp://

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Story of non focus

The rise and fall of Subhiksha

from Trakin' the india business buzz by 

It is only a week since I blogged about Indian retail in for a heady mix. Now, we have the case of Subhiksha which is battling for survival. Subhiksha which was started with 1 store in 1999 has grown to more than 1000 stores by the end of 2007.

Its founder R Subramaniam is a IIT Chennai and IIM Ahmedabad alumnus. That the best combination of pedigree from India there can every be.Subhiksha has ICICI Ventures and Wipro’s Aziz Premji as its investors.Subhiksha

Everything seems to be in the right place. What could possible go wrong?

There are several things which went wrong in Subhiksha’s case but 2 points are staring at me:

  1. Expansion against consolidation : With the availability of free capital and the irrational exuberance of the markets, people tried anything and everything to just expand without actually looking back at what they have become.
  2. Lack of Focus : This to me is the biggest thing every other company in India faces. Once they see profits they quickly put on their Ambani/Tata hat and try to become a conglomerate. It is just not one company they will run but they will create offshoots, Strategic Business Units, what have you and do all kinds of stuff. In the end they forget what they really want. Satyam is the best example for my case againstconglomerization. That is the reason why I like Infosys for their extreme focus. In Subhiksha’s case though, it is not conglomerization but the lack of focus on the product mix they are offering.

I know retail is a different thing which might be confusing for anyone to focus on. But, before opening the 500the store shouldn’t they be checking whether people are buying medicines from them or going to the medical shop round the corner. Before opening the 1000th store shouldn’t they be checking whether people are buying a mobile from them or from a specialized mobile store.

On both occasions they answer is yes. I would rather go to a store which has a specialization for the thing I want to buy. I just don’t want to waste my time in a shop which offers me everything and anything only to find that they don’t offer a thing (which I want).

That to me is the bigger issue ailing Indian retail not just Subhiksha. Subhiksha happens to be a case study for the future and current retailers.

Enjoy this great presentation by Manas Ganguly

The Anatomy Of A BustPopout

View more presentations from Manas Ganguly.

bT*xJmx*PTEyMzQyODU5NDAxMzYmcHQ9MTIzNDI4NTk*ODEyMiZwPTEwMTkxJmQ9Jmc9MiZ*PQ== The rise and fall of SubhikshaPresentation dugg via

PS : I just coined a new word : conglomerization. This is a bug, the whole India Inc is suffering with. This is where I want to recommend everybody a book called Small Giants by Bo Burlingham. If you have to choose between being big and being remarkable - choose remarkable. If you look at any Indian company it is bound to have a subsidiary in a totally different vertical.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

20 emerging outsourcing destinations - Malaysia name is not there

from Trakin' the india business buzz by 

However protectionist one can turn out, outsourcing will prevail. Not because India is leading it, but because that is how the world trade has prospered over the centuries. Countries usually buy goods from places where it is cheaper. That’s what outsourcing is. Here the good is a service.

India is the outsourcing hub or the back office for the world. China and Vietnam are fast catching up. To displace India from its outsourcing lead, it does not take a China and Vietnam to do it. As per the experts it takes a whole lot of small countries to do it.

Of course, most of the emerged outsourcing destinations are in India. Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Dublin, Hyderabad, Makati City, Mumbai and Pune are the cities which have established themselves as the outsourcing destinations.

These are the emerging outsourcing destinations. These might not be Bangalore’s yet but has the ability to close down the gap in few years.

20 emerging outsourcing destinations :

  1. Cebu City, Philippines
  2. Shanghai, China
  3. Beijing, China
  4. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  5. Krakow, Poland
  6. Kolkata, India
  7. Cairo, Egypt
  8. Sao Paulo, Brazil,
  9. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  10. Shenzen, China
  11. Hanoi, Vietnam
  12. Chandigarh, India
  13. Curituba, Brazil
  14. Prague, Czech Republic
  15. Pasig City, Philippines
  16. Dalian, China
  17. Coimbatore, India
  18. Santiago, Chile
  19. Colombo, Sri Lanka
  20. Johannesburg, South Africa

Kolkata, Chandigarh and Coimbatore are India’s next Bangalore’s. But cities from China, Vietnam and Philippines are fast closing in. Surprise pack here is Vietnam. It is already dubbed as the next China. May be a little way to go, but India has some serious challenges in the outsourcing space. Not from a single country but a host of small countries. (source)

Friday, February 6, 2009

To take on line survey

This site can be used to creat a online

The Highly Engaged Referral

from Duct Tape Marketing by 

This content from: Duct Tape Marketing

The Highly Engaged Referral

Not all referrals are created equal. That’s not to downplay any referral in any way, it’s just that from a convert the referred lead to a referred customer, there is one factor that plays a major role.

That factor is the participation of the referral source.

In other words, the more engaged your referral source is in the process of making a referral, the more likely it is that the lead will become a customer. The logic is pretty simple really - when someone refers a friend to your business, you are ultimately borrowing the know, like, and trust they have built with the referred party. The more engaged they are, the more trust they lend.

So, from a practical, business tactic standpoint, you should build engagement into your referral process (you have a referral process, right? That’s another discussion.)

The more willing your referral source is to participate, the better the lead. Participation can mean picking up the phone and calling a prospect or creating a way to formally introduce your business. In the referral world a three way lunch would be the ultimate, while a name scribbled on a scrap of paper would be the unultimate, but some folks are so eager to get any kind of lead, they’ll accept the later.

I know someone is doing your business a huge favor by agreeing to make a referral of any sort, but you’ve got to believe in you heart that you are actually doing them a favor by allowing them to introduce your valuable products and services to others who will benefit. If you can wrap your head around that notion, then you will have no problems devising ways to get your referral sources more engaged.

I wonder if you would take a quick 5 question survey on referrals for my next book - thanks!

The Picture Perfect Ideal Customer

from Duct Tape Marketing by 

This content from: Duct Tape Marketing

The Picture Perfect Ideal Customer

When it comes to attracting your ideal customer you should be able create a picture in your mind as you describe them. Using images of a real life customers can prove an effective way to help everyone in your organization narrowly focus on and communicate in ways that more directly appeal to your specific ideal customer.

A detailed profile, one that includes photos and stories of real customers, should be part of your marketing action plan documents. You may never share this type of document publicly, but it can be one of the most important internal training documents you ever create.

In order to create your profile you need to understand as much about your ideal customer as possible. Remember the key phrase here – ideal. I suggest looking long and hard at the characteristics of your most profitable customers that also refer business to you – that’s the model of an ideal customer.

Once you dig deep and profile the common characteristics you should also start asking yourself some questions about these folks.

    Here are some starters.
  • What brings them joy?
  • What are they worried about?
  • What challenges do they face?
  • What do they hope to gain from us?
  • What goals are they striving to attain?
  • What experience thrills them?
  • Where do they get their information?
  • Who do they trust most?

The answers to the types of questions above are not always available, but pondering them in relationship to your ideal customer may allow you to more fully address their wants and needs in every interaction and communication.

Complete the profile, add a real photo, and hang it up in your office for all to see. Simply hanging photos of your customers around the office, may be the reminder that everyone in the office needs to connect with what your business is really about, what their work is really about, and who really pays everyone’s salary.

A Startup Never Closes

from Wil Schroter's BIGGER Blog - Go BIG Network

When it comes to a startup, the luxuries shared with established companies are few and far between. Chief among them is the luxury to close at the end of the day. Big companies have the benefits of capital, customers and receivables.  Startups, on the other hand, have jack squat.  They need to work twice as hard to make half as much, and even then they’re not working nearly enough.  

If you had any delusions going into this new venture that things were going to be easy and you were going to be on your own schedule then let me serve as your wake-up call.  A startup runs like a casino – it’s all about making money, it’s a huge gamble, and no matter what, a startup never closes!

Your new business hours: every waking moment

Working like a slave is the norm in a startup company, not the exception.  When I started my first company, Blue Diesel, I didn't see my family, celebrate Christmas, or take a weekend day off for three years.  After a while I forgot that people go home on the weekends and sick days shouldn’t be considered a vacation.  Sure, I was demented, but I wasn’t alone.    

Startups realize that in order to get ahead they need to trade their time (and their lives) for the good of the company.  You can only accomplish so much by working smart – the rest just comes down to lots and lots of hours. 

Even if you’ve go the stamina to put this kind of time in, it doesn’t necessarily mean the rest of your team does.  Make sure that everyone is well aware of what is expected of them and what they’re signing up for.

Set Clear Expectations, And Live by Them

It's always helpful to let people know what they are getting into before they get started. Inform potential employees during the interview that the demands of a startup are far and beyond anything of a regular 9–to-5 job.  Let them know that you don't think twice about working weekends or into the evening and that you expect the same of them.  You'll find that the clock-punchers won’t return your phone calls and the truly insane will show up on Monday with a case of Red Bull.  It’s a twisted form of “natural selection”.

And remember, the pace of a startup starts with you, so it's important that you set a tone by consistent example.  Don't expect your team to show up before you and leave after you.  You need to demonstrate that if sacrifices are going to be made, that you are as willing to make them as anyone. Action speaks a whole lot louder than words.

How to know you're working for a startup

Let me give you some indicators to let you know when you're truly working for a startup.  I'll give these to you Jeff Foxworthy style.  If you really don't know what day it is, you're probably working for a startup.  If you know the number for pizza delivery to your office by heart, you're probably working for a startup.  If you look forward to holidays because you'll miss traffic and get to work ten minutes sooner, you're probably working for a startup.  Welcome to your new life.

Send 5:01 home

Not everyone will be on board with this “every waking hour” schedule.  In fact, you'll inevitably hire the guy who will quickly become known as "5:01".  We call him 5:01 because when the clock strikes 5:01, his stuff is already packed up and he’s heading out the door. This is a problem because startups don't close at 5:00 - they leave when the job is done.  

When the rest of the team is working around the clock and forgoing all sleep, 5:01 is going to be about as popular as cancer. This isn't to say that 5:01 isn't a good guy who can do good work.  There's plenty of room for him - just not in a startup.

The Star that Burns Brightest Burns Fastest

There’s a real downside to this schedule and that’s burnout.  You can only run the engine at red line for so long – eventually it’s going to explode.  Knowing this, you need to give you and your team a well-deserved break from time to time.  When your performance slows down all the extra hours in the world won’t make up for it.  Don’t be afraid to take a pit stop from time to time and refresh.  Get as far away from work as possible and just unwind.

It better be worth it

Needless to say, if you are going to make a sacrifice this great, you had better feel extremely passionately about what you are doing.  In the end, when you make your dream a reality, the payoff will be worth it.  Until then, put this column down, chug another Mountain Dew, and get back to work!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How to Reinvent Your Personality


Check out "Strategic Change."  In this posting, the Psychology Today staff explain how to change your personality. I've seen people make changes like this--though within narrow confines--so you can do it. For related stories, see Psychology.alltop.

Increase the Effectiveness of Learning


In a posting called "How to Become a More Effective Learner," Kendra Van Wagner explains ten simple things you can do to increase the effectiveness of your learning. It includes ideas like teaching other people what you've learned, gaining practical experience, and stopping trying to multitask. Important lessons for anyone who wants to change the world.

The Value of Neatness

In "Order vs. Disorder: Surroundings Matter" Roger Dooley explains how disorder can affect the behavior of people. He cites a study where 13% of the people snatched an envelope with clearly visible a five-Euro note in it from a mailbox. When the mailbox was covered with graffiti, 27% snatched the envelope. Does this mean that a well-organized store would experience less shoplifting? Or that people will buy more stuff from a neat store? The value of neatness is something to think about.

Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job


Searching for a job can suck if you constrain yourself to the typical tools such as online jobs boards, trade publications, CraigsList, and networking with only your close friends. In these kinds of times, you need to use all the weapons that you can, and one that many people don’t—or at least don’t use to the fullest extent, is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has over thirty-five million members in over 140 industries. Most of them are adults, employed, and not looking to post something on your Wall or date you. Executives from all the Fortune 500 companies are on LinkedIn. Most have disclosed what they do, where they work now, and where they’ve worked in the past. Talk about a target-rich environment, and the service is free.

Here are ten tips to help use LinkedIn to find a job. If you know someone who’s looking for a job, forward them these tips along with an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Before trying these tips, make sure you’ve filled out your profile and added at least twenty connections

  1. Get the word out. Tell your network that you’re looking for a new position because a job search these days requires the “law of big numbers” There is no stigma that you’re looking right now, so the more people who know you’re looking, the more likely you’ll find a job. Recently, LinkedIn added “status updates” which you can use to let your network know about your newly emancipated status.

  2. Get LinkedIn recommendations from your colleagues. A strong recommendation from your manager highlights your strengths and shows that you were a valued employee. This is especially helpful if you were recently laid off, and there is no better time to ask for this than when your manager is feeling bad because she laid you off. If you were a manager yourself, recommendations from your employees can also highlight leadership qualities.
  3. Find out where people with your backgrounds are working. Find companies that employ people like you by doing an advanced search for people in your area who have your skills. For example, if you’re a web developer in Seattle, search profiles in your zip code using keywords with your skills (for example, JavaScript, XHTML, Ruby on Rails) to see which companies employ people like you.

  4. Find out where people at a company came from. LinkedIn “Company Profiles” show the career path of people before they began work there. This is very useful data to figure out what a company is looking for in new hires. For example, Microsoft employees worked at Hewlett-Packard and Oracle.

  5. Find out where people from a company go next. LinkedIn’s “Company Profiles” also tell you where people go after leaving the company. You can use this to track where people go after leaving your company as well as employees of other companies in your sector. (You could make the case that this feature also enables to figure out which companies to avoid, but I digress.)

  6. Check if a company is still hiring. Company pages on LinkedIn include a section called “New Hires” that lists people who have recently joined the company. If you have real chutzpah, you can ask these new hires how they got their new job. At the very least you can examine their backgrounds to surmise what made them attractive to the new employer.

  7. Get to the hiring manager. LinkedIn’s job search engine allows you to search for any kind of job you want. However, when you view the results, pay close attention to the ones that you’re no more than two degrees away from. This means that you know someone who knows the person that posted the job—it can’t get much better than that. (Power tip: two degrees is about the limit for getting to hiring managers. I never help friends of friends of friends.) Another way to find companies that you have ties to is by looking at the “Companies in Your Network” section on LinkedIn’s Job Search page.

  8. Get to the right HR person. The best case is getting to the hiring manager via someone who knows him, but if that isn’t possible you can still use LinkedIn to find someone inside the company to walk your resume to the hiring manager or HR department. When someone receives a resume from a coworker even if she doesn’t know the coworker, she almost always pays attention to it.

  9. Find out the secret job requirements. Job listings rarely spell out entirely or exactly what a hiring manager is seeking. Find a connection at the company who can get the inside scoop on what really matters for the job. You can do this by searching for the company name; the results will show you who in your network connects you to the company. If you don’t have an inside connection, look at profiles of the people who work at the company to get an idea of their backgrounds and important skills.

  10. Find startups to join. Maybe this recession is God telling you it’s time to try a startup. But great startups are hard to find. Play around with LinkedIn’s advanced search engine using “startup” or “stealth” in the keyword or company field. You can also narrow by industry (for example, startups in the Web 2.0, wireless, or biotech sectors). If large companies can’t offer “job security,” open up your search to include startups.

  11. Build your network before you need it. As a last tip, no matter how the economy or your career is doing, having a strong network is a good form of job security. Don’t wait until times are tough to nurture your network. The key to networking (or “schmozing”), however, is filled with counter-intuitiveness. First, it’s not who you know—it’s who knows of you. Second, Great schmoozers are not thinking “What can this person do for me?” To the contrary, they are thinking, “What can I do for this person?” For more on schmoozing, read “The Art of Schmoozing.”

Here are two more ways I can help you in your job search. First, for an aggregation of hundreds of newly posted jobs, check out Jobs.alltop. Second, to really stay on top of what’s the latest news about LinkedIn, go toLinkedin.alltop; this will turn you in a true LinkedIn power user. Just remember me when you’re rich and famous!

Addendum: "Using LinkedIn to Find a Job" by Kaye Monty

Hey Roger Federer ! Big boys dont cry

From sekar kapur blog

I saw Roger Federer's tears as he lost the Australian Open to Nadal. It was quite heart warming to know that behind all that professionalism lay a little boy still trying to prove himself. And once the tears came so publicly, there was no stopping them. Even Federer could not help smiling at his own emotional catharsis. And he gave an insight into the years of struggle that led him to being a world champion.

I have always envied women for their ability to shed tears easily, and not be embarrassed by them. I am too conditioned now with all the training to be able to do that. Even though I as a film maker keep trying to go beyond the viewers intellect, or through their intellect, into something far deeper, into their subconscious, their own mythology, to get them to be emotionally react to what is happening on screen. And usually a provocation so deep is expressed /sublimated in tears. But in order to do that, I must explore that myth, that hidden deeper consciousness in myself. Somewhere assuming/hoping that we have common consciousness and common mythology that I have been able to tap into.

But then I am silently exploring my own hidden tears too, aren't I ? And what is the emotional cost of keeping them hidden and only expressing them through creative work ? I wonder. I often wonder if I should express myself more openly, not worrying about containing myslelf in order to use 'hidden tears' for artistic expression. Poets and musicians have it better - their expression is quicker, a film takes soooo long.

But I guess in one way that is exactly what I am doing right now. Finding public expression to bubbling emotions and trying to make some sense of them as I express. In a way discovering myself and expressing myself in the same moment without too much analysis. Some logical sense yes, but not so much that it gets too logical, too mundane, too analytical.

Anyway back to tears. I do cry incidentally. I go to the Cinema and quitely shed tears in the darknes where no one can see me. That is what makes me go to Hindi Cinema every wekend in London or NY. I actually get an emotional catharsis. So 'Jai Ho' to all those Bollywood Melodramas !!

i was reading the NY times today and it said that while the world believed that tears were a great way to relieve deep seated stress, a large part of that depends upon your childhood. Tears are a way for children to express helplessness, and more than anything it is a way for a child to ask/plead for attention, for comfort. If in childhood the response of the parents/others to crying was immediate attention and comforting, then through their lives crying is seen as a comforting and stress relieving activity. But if not - then crying - or the learning 'not to cry' leaves emotional wounds that are expressed in other ways throughout one's life.

So please pity us boys/men that were taught that to be a man meant not to cry. That to be tough meant not to cry. For we are trained to sublimate crying into achievement and competitiveness. No wonder Roger Federer finally broke down. Or footballers routinely sob when they are defeated or they win. We need extreme activity to give ourselves an emotional catharsis.

But do you also notice how different cultures react differently ? Western cultures, where emotional expression and catharsis is much looked down upon, express themselves far less. Is that why the West were the great colonizers ?


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Creativity 101


I just came across an interview called “The Hidden Secrets of the Creative Mind” with psychologist R. Keith Sawyer, author of the book Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation. Sawyer’s research examines the secrets to the creative process, and the interview makes four great points that every small businessperson should take to heart:

  1. Give yourself permission to think up many ideas. Creative people have tons of ideas, but most of the ideas simply don’t pan out. That’s okay because even though most of your ideas will suck, they help you get to the great ones. The trick is to let your mind wander and come up with many ideas and then cull the good from the bad. Nobody has only good ideas. (Almost everybody has selective memory, though, so they might think they had only good ideas.)
  2. Keep chewing on the problem. Creativity is not about the rare giftedness of a “visionaries” and “geniuses” with their Eureka! moments. Research shows that most ideas are the result of thinking about a problem over a long period of time Creativity is about big numbers and hard work, so don’t feel frustrated if you haven’t had an epiphany yet. Certainly don’t believe that if you aren’t “gifted” (whatever that means), you’ll never come up with good ideas.
  3. Build on ideas that came before. The iPod isn’t a miracle that came out of the blue—it was built on the Sony Walkman’s concept of a shirt-pocket device coupled with early MP3 players from other companies and the online store of a company like Amazon. The concept that creativity is built on what came before has important ramifications: consume information voraciously, go outside your market niche, and don’t be too proud to steal inspiration.

  4. Put yourself in environment that will use different parts of your brain. Often this means taking a break. Sawyer refers to the three Bs—bathroom, bus, and bed—as places that stereotypically produce groundbreaking ideas. If you’re stuck on a project, try something that will get you to find new creative paths. One way to do this, for instance, is to schedule time for unstructured conversation with your peers. Personally, I get my best ideas while driving; this has led me to believe that if I bought a better car I would be more creative because I would drive more, but I digress.

If you do these things, some day an author like Sawyer may feature you in a book about creativity, and then you can claim that you’re a gifted visionary whose ideas come in flashes of brilliance during your regular ole awesomeness. Only you and I will know the truth. And if you like to read about innovation and creativity, check out Innovation.alltop.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cost cutting : Different companies different methods

from Trakin' the india business buzz by 

When it comes to cost cutting, the immediate measure any organization resort to is firing. Indian companies are not that fortunate. Part of it is culture and part of it is the Indian labor laws. Companies have to come up with innovative ways to achieve what appears to be a simple thing for our western counterparts.

Infosys for example has urged its employees to save $10 per person. It has also offered a very popularsabbatical option too. If rumors are to be believed, many employers have cut down on the cabs, coffee and even toilet paper. Satyam was rumored to be sending employees packing for fudged bills. Which by now is very ironic as they have the biggest fudged bill ever - the letter from Raju.

Few employers aren’t that innovative. Jet Airways has to face the wrath of the employees and the government when it decided to fire people. It revoked its decision and took the employees back. AirCanada

Uncertain times require uncertain and innovative measures to cut costs. Here is the latest from the cost cutting innovations of India Inc :

Mastek has offered 425 employees two options. Leave the company or get trained in a new skill for a nominal pay. The 425 employees are in excess of bench strength. Mastek thinks 80% of the employees will stay around. This is the politically correct version of the so-called non-performance.

Hindustan Unilever is resorting to the old management paradigm of performance related pay. It has increased the variable pay component and linked it directly to the performance of the employee. This to me is less cruel and more like a performance-boosting move. It saves the cost to the company as the fixed costs are moved to the variable component.

Tata Group is more direct in its cost cutting. Its top executives will receive 10-15% less salary. This move includes all the companies including Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Tata Motors, which did not meet the market expectations.

What is your favorite cost cutting story?

*Image credit.

Possibly related posts:

Cunning couples

By CHRISTINE JALLEH   from   the

YOU can easily acquire an American, Australian, British or Canadian accent with speech training or from living several years abroad and come across as someone fluent in English. But you give yourself away if you use words wrongly, especially in e-mails, faxes and reports.

In the online world of blogging or chatting, such errors are easily forgiven but they are unacceptable in the business or educational environments.

Homophones, words that sound alike but convey different meanings, form many of these confusing pairs. Used wrongly in writing, they reflect someone with a poor grasp of grammar or a confused writer.

Be mindful of these cunning couples and be confused no more!

Accept (v.) — to agree to take something.

Except (prep.) — not including.

“Boss, I accept all your free books except ‘1,000 Ways to Manage Houseflies’,” said Pee Nang to Kay El.

Advice (n.) — one’s opinion about what somebody else should do or how they should behave.

Advise (v.) — to give advice to somebody or to recommend something to somebody.

“Are you sure, Pee Nang? I’d strongly advise you to reconsider the manual. You may regret not taking my advice if you’re suddenly faced with flies,” Kay El said.

Affect (v., pronounced uh-fekt) — to have influence on something or somebody.

Effect (n., pronounced ee-fekt) — a change produced by an action or a cause.

“Yes, I’m positive, Kay El,” Pee Nang answered. “If my mother’s way of handling house flies has affected them greatly by reducing them to zero, I don’t think I need to know the effect that 999 other ways have on them.”

All ready — completely prepared.

Already (adv.) — previously or by this time.

“Ahh ... looks like your house is all ready for living,” Kay El praised. “To tell you the truth, although I’ve already read the manual twice, I’m still having problems at my home!”

Beside (prep.) — at the side of somebody or something.

Besides (prep.) — in addition.

Pee Nang laughed. “I’ll be happy to tell my mother about your housefly problem. Since she lives beside my house, she could drop by your place later. Besides, she will be excited to have you try the apple pie she baked today.”

Complement (v.) — to add new or contrasting features which show the best qualities of something or which improve it.

Compliment (v.) — express praise, admiration or approval.

“That will be wonderful!” Kay El said. “I always forget to compliment your mother on her apple pie. It will be the perfect complement to the vanilla ice cream I’m having for dessert tonight.”

Dessert (n., pronounced dee-zert) — any sweet food eaten at the end of a meal.

Desert1 (n., pronounced deh-zert) — a large area of land that has very little water and very few plants growing on it, e.g. the Sahara Desert.

Desert2 (v., pronounced dee-zert) — to go away from a place without intending ever to return.

“Ice cream for dessert?” Pee Nang exclaimed. “Your place doesn’t exactly sound like the depressing desert1 you always portray it to be. You make it seem as if the whole world has deserted2 you!”

Maybe (adv.) — perhaps.

May be — to express possibility.

Maybe I could have exaggerated my situation a bit. But seriously, I may be having a rather serious house fly problem,” Kay El explained in a doleful tone.

Breath (n., pronounced breh-th) — the air you take into and let out of your lungs.

Breathe (v., pronounced bree-th) — the act of taking air into and letting out of your lungs.

“Okay, take a deep breath,” Pee Nang assured Kay El with a smile. “I may have been too hard on you. Once my mother works her magic at your place, I’m sure you’ll breathe easier after that.”

Coincident (adj.) — happening in the same place or at the same time.

Coincidence (n.) — similar event happening at the same time by chance.

“Talking about breathing, isn’t it a coincidence that the houseflies started appearing the day after you came over with those pungent prawn crackers?” Kay El remarked. “I remember reading that the presence of house flies is coincident with the presence of dried seafood.”

Loose (adj.) — not tight.

Lose (v.) — present tense for “lost”.

“Now, now, Kay El, let’s not lose track of the discussion here,” Pee Nang said hurriedly. “We were talking about fixing your house fly problem.”

In an undertone, he muttered, “And not about a loose pack of prawn crackers disappearing in your home ...”

Later (adv.) — afterwards.

Latter (adj.) — the second of two things or people already mentioned.

“You were going to confirm the time my mother could drop by later. Now you’re going back to a visit I made in the past,” Pee Nang reminded Kay El. “Let’s not confuse the former with the latter, shall we?”

Personal (adj., pronounced as per-suh-nuhl) — private.

Personnel (n., pronounced as per-suh-nell) — staff members

“Anyway, let’s not take things personally,” Pee Nang said cheerily. “By the way, the Personnel Department is questioning me about being away from the office for three hours yesterday.”

Principal (n.) — administrator.

Principle (n.) — guiding rule for personal behaviour.

“I’m sure you were on company business. I know you to be a man ofprinciple,” Kay El said. “The head of the Personnel Department is always acting like a school principal.”

Quiet (adj., pronounced kwai-yuht) — silent.

Quite (adv. Pronounced kwait) — very or actually.

“You are quite right I am!” Pee Nang replied emphatically. “Now that we are all settled, I’ll just slip away quietly.”

Than (conj.) — used after a comparative like “faster”, “cleaner”, “healthier”, etc.

Then (adv.) — referring to a time in the past or future.

Waving goodbye, Pee Nang called out, “I’ll see you later then!”

As Kay El waved in return, he wondered if managing his house fly problem would be easier than managing his young employee.

Christine Jalleh is a communications specialist with a Master’s degree in English Language studies. She blogs about communications and business English at

Monday, February 2, 2009

Report on Obama's Use of Social Media

from How to Change the World by 

"The Social Pulpit" is a very interesting analysis of how the Barack Obama campaign used social media. The folks at Edelman compiled this report, and there are many lessons that businesses can also apply, so check it out.

HP Introduces Small Business Marketing Tools

from Duct Tape Marketing by 

This content from: Duct Tape Marketing

HP Introduces Small Business Marketing Tools

Market Splash

HP launched something called MarketSplash this week and I think it looks very promising and presents a very interesting path for the computer giant. No longer content to depend solely on computers and printers, this initiative allows them to go much deeper into the small business world by provided marketing services.

The MarketSplash program uses HP’s design capabilities brought on through the LogoWorks acquisition and adds the ability to design and print directly from MarketSplash. Business Cards, Letterheads, Rubber Stamps, Web sites and postcards all appear on the initial interface.

“MarketSplash helps small businesses create the high impact look of a big company without requiring the resources of one,” said Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice president, Imaging and Printing Group, HP. “As part of our Print 2.0 strategy, MarketSplash helps customers easily and affordably access professional design services from the web and print how, where and when they want.”

Once you select and personalize your designs you get several printing options including printing from their own printer, receiving their order via mail delivery, or picking it up at any Staples Copy and Print center in the United States.

Take the ball and go home

from Seth's Blog by 

Bullies can't be bullies when they are alone.

If you work with a bully, this is all you need to know. They need you.

A bully is someone who uses physical or psychological force to demean and demoralize someone else. A bully isn't challenging your ideas, or working with you to find a better outcome. A bully is playing a game, one that he or she enjoys and needs. You're welcome to play this game if it makes you happy, but for most people, it will make you miserable. So don't.

The way to work with a bully is not to try to please her or to question the quality of your work or to appease her or to hide from her.

The way to work with a bully is to take the ball and go home. First time, every time.

When there's no ball, there's no game. Bullies hate that. So they'll either behave so they can play with you or they'll go bully someone else.

Call her on her behavior (not who she is, but what she does). "I'm sorry, but when you talk to me like that, I'm unable to do good work. I'll be in my office if you need me." Then walk out, not in a huff, but with a measure of respect for the person (not the behavior).

This is a shocking piece of advice. It might even get you fired. But it will probably save your job and your sanity. Most bullies are deeply unhappy and you might just save their skin. If you're good at what you do, you deserve better than a bully.

What would a professional do?

from Seth's Blog by 

Every day, you do a hundred or a thousand jobs, some of which are occasionally handled by specialists. You make a sales call or give a presentation or answer the phone... you design a slide or create a simple spreadsheet. You get the idea.

When you are busy being a jack of all trades, you're competing against professionals. The recipient of your work doesn't care that you are also capable of doing other things. All she wants is the best she can get.

I'll define a professional as a specialist who does industry standard work for hire. A professional presenter, for example, could give a presentation on anything, not just the topic on which you're passionate about.

When you compete with professionals, you have a problem, because generally speaking, they're better at what they do than you are.

I think there are four valid ways the think your way out of this situation:

  1. Hire a professional.
  2. Be as good as a professional.
  3. Realize that professional-quality work is not required or available and merely come close.
  4. Do work that a professional wouldn't dare do, and use this as an advantage.

The first option requires time and money you might not have, and I'm presuming that's why you didn't do it in the first place.

The second is a smart option, particularly if you do the work often and the quality matters. Slide design and selling are two examples that come to mind here. The first step to getting good is admitting that you aren't (yet.) Invest the time and become a pro if it's important.

The third option is worth investigation, but it's what you've probably already decided without putting words to it. Is the assumption really true? Does your customer/client/employee actually believe that they haven't been shortchanged by your amateur performance? It is costing you in ways you're not measuring because you're willfully ignoring the consequences? Think of all the sub-pro experiences you've had as a customer, instances where someone was pretending to be a chef or a bartender or a computer jock but just came up short... Were you delighted?

The fourth option is really exciting. From personal YouTube videos to particularly poignant and honest presentations or direct and true sales pitches, the humility, freshness and transparency that comes with an honest performance might actually be better than what a professional could do. Harvey Milk was an amateur politician, not a pro. If you're the only person on earth who could have done what you just did, then you're a proud amateur.

You can't skate by when you refuse to mimic a professional. You must connect in a personal, lasting way that matters. That's difficult, but the professionals have no chance to compete with you.

Be an amateur on purpose, not because you have to.

What are you good at?

from Seth's Blog by 

As you consider marketing yourself for your next gig, consider the difference between process and content.

Content is domain knowledge. People you know or skills you've developed. Playing the piano or writing copy about furniture sales. A rolodex of movers in a given industry, or your ability to compute stress ratios in your head.

Domain knowledge is important, but it's (often) easily learnable.

Process, on the other hand, refers to the emotional intelligence skills you have about managing projects, visualizing success, persuading other people of your point of view, dealing with multiple priorities, etc. This stuff is insanely valuable and hard to learn. Unfortunately, it's usually overlooked by headhunters and HR folks, partly because it's hard to accredit or check off in a database.

Venture capitalists like hiring second or third time entrepreneurs because they understand process, not because they can do a spreadsheet.

As the world changes ever faster, as industries shrink and others grow, process ability is priceless. Figure out which sort of process you're world-class at and get even better at it. Then, learn the domain... that's what the internet is for.

One of the reasons that super-talented people become entrepreneurs is that they can put their process expertise to work in a world that often undervalues it.

Email Marketing Still a Great Small Business Tool

from Duct Tape Marketing by 
This content from: Duct Tape Marketing

Email Marketing Still a Great Small Business Tool

Vertical Response

Having lots of channels and lots of ways for folks to receive relevant, education based content is a must.

While social media and other web based marketing tools are getting most of today’s hype, email marketing to a list of willing recipients is still a very powerful way to market.

Staying top of mind is often half the battle and a steady drip of information via email is a simple, effective and low-cost way to get this done.

There are many great options for tools to use in your email marketing, but today I would like to tell you a little about Vertical Response and a free trial of 500 emails available to Duct Tape readers. You can get your 500 email trial here.

I’ve use Vertical Response over the past few months to send my email newsletter and I can tell you that I really like the simple and very intuitive interface. When I did have a question or two, I found a real person on the phone that got me running right away. They also have a survey tool and recently added the ability to send snail-mail post cards to your list.

They have a nice selection of email templates and monthly pricing as low as $10 per month.