Has Linkedin disrupted traditional blogging?

Imagine #Linkedin as a local food court and we all own stalls here. Our Linkedin profile is our stall and the #content we offer is the cuisine

We all sell Continental, Punjabi, Italian, Pani Puri, Momos, Biryani and Maggi

Linkedin food court gets millions of footsteps, some are foodies and some are not. Some love Maggi and a few stop at the continental joint

You offer delicious Biryani and generate decent sales through your stall on Linkedin (views, #engagement, etc)

With every engagement, you also tell your customers that listen “I have one more stall (your personal blog) just 2km from the Linkedin foodcourt, pls visit(click) it and let me know what you think”

Here is the problem, though you have a good spread of delicious menu to offer on the stall outside Linkedin foodcourt, it is a pain for people to go there

It is fun to be on Linkedin, all the glitzy blue, people hanging around and the opportunity to make network or try that new Kulfi stall

That’s the value proposition of Linkedin, stickiness factor!

Linkedin doesn’t want people to go outside

If you are not able to engage people here, forget about your blog!

Day Vs Year, what should be the unit for progress?

A day on Mercury lasts 58 Earth days

We are lucky that a day on Earth is just 24 hours, here is why

While Mercury spins a few degrees on its axis, we enjoy mornings, complete chores, watch Netflix, take afternoon naps and sip tea in the evening while the sun sets

Then there is night and the moon rises as we sleep. Next morning everything resets.

That reset is an opportunity to #change. Bad memories wane out and become distant

And we get a reason to start fresh, don’t we?

But most people don’t see a 1 day as a unit, we are taught to see 1 year as a unit

We resolve to change on 31st December and then as next year unfolds we see that nothing has changed

Not our fault, we are actually conditioned to see “year” as a milestone

Appraisals, final exams and wedding anniversaries, birthdays, health insurance policies and discount based subscriptions are all based on “year” as a unit

As a matter of fact, all great books on habit formation use “day” as a unit of progress

What do you think? What should be the unit of human progress?

Random trivia: A day on Jupiter is 10 Earth hours :O

Year 536 was the worst year to be alive on this planet

Year 536 was the worst year to be alive on this planet

Strange things happened, mostly inexplicable to the people who lived then. A mysterious fog plunged Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia into darkness, day and night—for 18 months

A dark hour set in, temperatures in summers settled at 1-degree celsius

No one understood what was happening around them, most believed it was the end of everything. Doomsday! Wrath of god!

It was the literal dark age

Diseases loomed in the darkness, crops died and famine set-in

A historian wrote that “the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during this whole year”

Perhaps 1400 years later when scientists looked back at the event and connected the dots, the fog was caused by a massive volcanic eruption in Iceland

Moral of the story?

Every story doesn’t need to have a moral. Sometimes the most real stories are shocking, they just help you deal with reality and embrace randomness

Pain?

A few years ago, I was new to running

I used to run in the premises of the gated society where I live

I never thought of going out on the road, some practice is necessary before rubber meets the road I thought

After every run there was strange pain in my calves and shins

I dismissed this pain assuming this is the necessary suffering 

No pain, no gain, we hear that everywhere don’t we?

Even after a few months of running, the pain did not recede

Eventually I developed Plantar fasciitis which is an inflammation of the fibrous tissue (plantar fascia) along the bottom of your foot that connects your heel bone to your toes

Thankfully it was a mild condition that alleviated after a few weeks

I continued my routine, mild pain had become a norm

One fine day a gentleman met me near the lift as I was heading back 

He asked why you run on this concrete? This increases the shock on your legs and knees and makes you more prone to injuries

He went on to narrate how he went through the same ordeal that I went through

And finally suggested go out on the road

That was the last day I ran on the hard concrete floor

I hit the road, and touchwood never had to go through the heavy pain again

I also improved my pace, form and distance

Moral of the story? Sometimes we take adages like “No pain, No gain” too seriously

You always don’t have to go through pain to achieve something meaningful 🙂

The Death of MBA and the rise of MBU

You must be aware of the acronym MBA but what the heck is MBU?

100 years ago when MBA was first started at Harvard, the main objective of the course was to help people to manage resources

50- 60 years back when it spread across the world, MBA course shaped the way organizations managed human resources, money, and processes

30 years back MBA became mainstream in India. All the multinationals needed all those bright managers to manage growing resources

About 10 years ago, MBA went on steroids. Thousands of B-Schools emerged out of nowhere

From 1990 to present-day Indian GDP has grown 10 fold (only)

The output of MBAs has grown 100 fold ( assuming modest figures, it is much more than that)

Currently, for every 9 out of 10 MBAs, there are no resources available to manage

For the past 10 years or so, the MBA degrees have actually become MBUs: Master of Business Understanding

Because there is nothing to administer, the best thing one could do is “Manage Self”, “understand” business and hope that one fine day they can “Manage Others”

The best part is you might not need a college for MBU, you only need a good internet connection

MBA has already been disrupted, we don’t want to accept it

Please reflect or comment

Learn to reduce the activity of your brain

Brain is a power hungry muscle. It churns out thousands of thoughts and action per day. In the back-end it is responsible for millions of things that we are not even aware of. But what fatigues it the most is overthinking, over-analyzing , projecting bad memories in an endless loop and being anxious of the future. And this is how we distract our brain: watching cat videos, listening to music, drinking alcohol in some extreme cases taking drugs and building an alternate consciousness.

However, we all try to mute the “activity” of your brain with some other “activity”. Either we tune-up our senses like hearing, seeing, feeling or we introduce chemicals in our brain that either numb the brain or fool it to develop alternate conscious for a while. Come to think of it, how all the activities mentioned above are given to you by the world, essentially other people who want to make some money. Loud music in discos, engaging videos, illegal substances, alcohol, television, etc.

Have you ever wondered what could be the best gift bestowed upon mankind to reduce the brain activity?

Sleep, yes sleep! the power of sleep has been always undermined. But, there is one more thing that has been made widely popular; meditation. However, unlike sleep, meditation remains elusive to the lesser mortals.

But there is one more free activity that reduces the unnecessary activity of the brain and that is exercise! Now we all know that exercise releases all the good hormones but we don’t exactly know why our body releases all those good hormones after a good run or cardio. I think the answer is simple, moving your body, pumping your heart and using your muscles to their fullest potential is the signal to our reptilian brain that everything is fine. That was exactly the activity that our body was meant to do.

I think our attempt should be to make our ancient brain happy. Many a times we ignore our ancient brain and just feed the intellectual and evolved brain. We feed the modern brain with images and data and music. We worship it, and when the modern brain is not fed it gives is reasons to be sad because it doesn’t have the control to release the happy hormones. So you feed it with external substances to feel happy but that cycle goes on. Focus on ancient brain, worship it! read (Triune Brain)

Absolute Vs Relative Happiness

There are two type of people, the one who want to define happiness and then there are the ones who measure it.

A. The ones who define happiness do it this way : I have a Volvo X60, my dream car and that makes me happy

B. The ones who measure relative happiness : I have a Volvo X60, most of my colleagues don’t own this car and that very fact makes me very happy

Type A seek absolute happiness, they don’t measure it. A safe and big car like Volvo X60 makes them happy

Type B always measure happiness, their level of happiness will always depend on the average happiness of others around them

Type A seek internal validation and type B seek external validation. Who is better A or B?

Who is better? All the happiness gurus would tell us to be like A and there are very few people like A. But majority of us are like B because it is easy to measure anything relatively. For instance how full I am after eating the breakfast? I am fuller than yesterday! so I am good!

But in case of happiness we try to measure intangible (happiness) with the tangible, Volvo X60 in this case. Anyway, the point us we seek relative happiness because we don’t have a good indicator to validate that we are really happy. And the beauty is the fact that the whole economy is designed around it. It lets you compare happiness through social media and ads and what not. Strange is it not?

You have an awesome money making idea? There is a 99.99% chance it will die in your head!

Have you ever thought about writing a book on an exciting topic? perhaps a time travel novella? or have you mulled over the possibility of becoming an online entrepreneur to get financial freedom? And then what happened? what happened to that idea?

We all get awesome ideas everyday. But we are not taught to nurture those ideas. For instance, a dream of becoming financially free is a simple innocent dream. The dream of not living the dream of others and being your own master. That dream manifests into ideas or possibilities to imagine a life without constraints. But all those possibilities have a life span of few minutes or hours. They die as soon as they are born; tragic. However, boosting the life-span of those ideas is completely in our control. I don’t want to sound like an innovation Guru here but with some commonsense and simple steps we could make our ideas fly, you only need one idea to give you that freedom.

I have been closely following some online businesses and self-employed people who are doing really well and here is what I gathered from them.

Step 0 : One day while sipping coffee you just have an epiphany of what you need to do in your life

Step A : Share your idea

  1. Share your ideas with your loved ones. Sharing ideas give them a tangible shape. Let others know that your idea is born.
  2. Share your idea with people whom you don’t know. Write and blog about it on social media. Let people give you all the negative and positive feedback.

Repetition doesn’t ruin the prayer!

Step B : Promote your idea

This step needs some money. You need some investment so that your idea reaches the maximum audience. Remember that any idea is result of critical and creative thinking. There are billions of people on this planet and there are millions who think just like you, the only difference is that millions of people don’t “promote” what they think.

Find forums where you can go and talk, spend on online ads build quality content around your idea.

Step C : Sell

This is where monetization happen. Once you have a minimum threshold of people who might want try what you have to offer, you can try selling your concept. The step B is like sales funnel, or a busy street you get access to people.

Step D : Up-sell and Cross Sell

This is where you scale and sell your allied products along with your core products. Apple started of with computing and today it is selling music and phones.

Step E : Promote, Promote, Promote

I am trying to make it sound easy but it is not. But look at the possibilities, many people don’t go past step 0. Every step has its own rewards. Every step needs different behaviors.

Step 0 : Needs you to be creative and have a possibility mindset. At-least you dream.

Step A : Needs you to be vulnerable and open for feedback. You have to be resilient here.

Step B: You have to be risk-taking. Good articulation and communication skills to build quality content.

Step C : Commercial skills, networking, building long term relationships with potential clients is what matters at this stage

Step D : Think big, use all the skills that you have learnt at Step 0, A, B and C

Step E : This is just repeating what you are best at.

To conclude, we are not taught to nurture and grow our ideas. Everything has a method and a path only that we have to take that first step and commit to follow it.

Why there are so many tire repair shops in my locality?

There are just too many tire repair and air shops around my locality. When I say “Too many” I mean if you walk 200 meters in any direction you will find one. These shops are typically tin sheet huts with gloomy interiors and a quintessential yellow painted tire tube tied outside indicating the service offered. You can safely extrapolate this to any other urban/semi-urban Indian locality. There are just too many tire shops; period.

These shops offer two services : air filling and tire repairing. There are two core assets, a compressor, and a semi-skilled man who has no clue where his life is headed. But kudos to the huge risk he has taken to open such business. At-least he can call himself an entrepreneur.

Anyway, sometimes I wonder what so many tire shops are doing in one tiny locality. Are they getting enough business? how many customers do they service every day? There is no way to do micro-math here. There are just too many variables.

But we certainly can do the macro math. There are around 200 million registered vehicles in India. Now let us calculate the revenue of only tire filling operation. I will conveniently discount tubeless tires here for ease of calculation.

Every filling operation charges Rs 10 on an average.

200*10 =  Rs 2000 million ie. 200 crores, assuming every vehicle owner does 20 transactions around the year that equals to Rs 40000 million.

But hold on to your horses! We are not even considering tire repair revenue. Assuming every vehicle undergoing at-least 1 puncture:

So we have Rs 300 ( average charge per puncture)* 200 million vehicles.That is Rs 60000 million

  1. Air filling operations Rs 40000 million
  2. Tube repairing service Rs 60000 million

Total = Rs 100000 Million

To convert into dollar = 100000/76 = 1.3 Billion Dollars

Area of India is 3.2 million sq km

Let us assume that 95% of area is inaccessible, there are no roads, forests, low human density, rural etc. Only 2.7% of worlds land is urbanized. source: how much of the world is covered by cities

Since India is so densely populated, we can assume 5% of India is urbanized/ semi urbanized.That leaves us with 0.16 million sq km (5% of 3.2 million sq km)

So potential revenue per square km = 1300/0.16 = $8000 dollars per sq km

I googled per capita income of India and that came out to be $ 7680  PPP for 2018. Let us assume it to be $8000 in 2020 for ease of calculation.

So how many tire repair shops should 1sq km of land support in India?

The answer is Revenue per sq km/ per capita income

= $8000/$8000 = 1 shop

Clearly there are more tire shops in my locality. Even if my estimations are 50% wrong, that gives us 2 shops per sq km, even then we might have 3 or 4 extra tire shops in a typical Indian locality.

Phew*

Why there are so many sales jobs?

Few days back I was going through the annual reports of Salesforce.com , an organization known for its cloud CRM software , wondering how this organization made it to the Forbes list for 3 years in a row. I found something interesting , I found that it is increasing its revenue like no other company in the world, 31% YoY growth! that’s maddening.Being on aggressive growth trajectory, salesforce.com was also consistent in making losses for last three years , the highlight being, sales and marketing expenditure as a portion of cost of revenue was humongous( a whopping 67% !). Needless to say Salesforce.com was a sales organization more than a cloud software solutions organization.

Come to think of the new businesses of the 21st century and they have a similar story to tell. They need a huge sales-force. Have a look at the placement data of any top tier B-schools and you will find that almost everyone is selling Insurance policies,  loans, software and online advertisement space. The obvious part is these positions are being created because there is a high attrition rate in these domains .You cant last long if you cant take the pressure , add to it unrealistic targets and abusive managers. But in addition to that reason, a subtle underlying cause is at play.

Here is how some traditional functions in typical organizations got redundant in past century (the traditional functions as mentioned in porters value chain) :

In the 19th and 20th century industrialization happened through manufacturing. There were organizations which manufactured and “also” did little marketing and selling. Towards the late 20th century there was a flip, now you had organizations which marketed and sold and “also” manufactured. This was simply because everyone had developed competence to manufacture most things needed my most people. Manufacturing was commoditized ,towards the end of 20th century manufacturing got concentrated in one place on earth called as “China” . So to differentiate and impact the bottom line and beat China’s scale of economies, manufacturing in other countries had to focus on streamlining itself by lay-offs. Automation led to further efficiency. Six Sigma programs and the Toyota way was preached like religion. Production folks started religiously following these disciplines to make the management feel that they are still worthy of doing something. Go to any automotive manufacturing facility today and you will see these approaches and progress printed on A3 sheets  put on proud display on factory floors.

Maintenance department was populated by un-ambitious mechanical engineers. No one cared to leave for better opportunities and everyone was happy doing a thankless job. Since nobody left the organization, nobody was recruited. They sometimes complained  that production department took all the credit for their hard work.

HR department drank more coffee than the maintenance department, but the CEO who had subscription to HBR magazine, thought that HR is the change agent. CFO thought otherwise. So far they had gained expertise in booking meetings at awesome locations and coordinating training programs. HR was always an operational support function. IT  department? read Outsourcing , mass recruiting, herd mentality. Likewise administrative functions (Legal , accounting, finance and procurement) also got streamlined due to advent of computers. Now fewer people could handle multiple tasks.

Bottom-line is that the core of an organization which was to manage human resources, manufacturing, and maintenance was shrinking. It became so efficient that processes were set in place and any human being of an average intelligence could handle those processes. Non-core processes were outsourced. And then there was the rise of KPOs. Anyone who could read, speak , google and fill excel sheets ended up there.

It was found that every penny invested in manufacturing and other operations resulted in diminishing returns. And organizations left the task of innovating to the ilk of Apple. Innovating was hard, Six Sigma and Toyota way was easy (at-least to follow). Fall of Motorola (the organization which gave us six sigma) was caused because it couldn’t innovate. So if you can’t innovate and manufacturing is commoditized how you create a difference? You simply did aggressive push “sales”.

Every penny invested in “sales department” made some sense. You could recruit , trim, shave and do other stuff to your sales team which comprised of highly enthusiastic and materialistic individuals with generic skill sets. There was an “Undo” button here which was not available in other domains. Capital expenditure in a manufacturing facility to optimize cost was a risk but recruitment in sales department was always low risk tactic .Nobody cared how big your sales team gets as long as they bring in sales. Rest of the organization was allergic to people, fewer the better ! nobody ever said bring in more guys to improve operations.

The law of diminishing returns didn’t quite apply here, and nobody ever thought of automating sales beyond fancy CRM softwares. You always needed people to sell your products to other people. Put a proper incentivization plan in place and you could always see some results through endless human suffering , frustration and unrealistic targets . A machine could never replicate that human suffering and greed to achieve excellence. Even the organizations on the frontiers of technology needed people to sell its products and services. Thus sales became the ultimate panacea of this world. So why so many sales jobs? because that is where most humans can still add value.