Saturday, November 28, 2015

Don't kill yourself!

You’ll get yourself killed if you operate without guards—in sports & in business.

Some of the people we knew sadly killed themselves. As a mark of respect, we choose to attribute their deaths to a cliché “in the line of duty”. The fact is, neither the person dying, nor we the ones on the sidelines, can say that we liked the part where somebody died.

Yet, the fact remains that people die in business. An even painful reality is that more casualties are in the making as you breeze through this article.

And unless you & I use guards, we the business-people, are headed towards that fate too. Possibly, even worse. May Allah guard us! Ameen.

My research to-date shows that having, & mastering, the art of the below-mentioned skills can help harness the risks associated with business:

1.     Ability to multi-task
2.     Ability to spank the bums that need the thrashing
3.     Ability to stay cash positive
4.     Ability to handle the stress of not being an MNG (Mr. Nice Guy)

Let me warn you: the stuff you are going to read now is not easy to-do if you’re the reckless kind, and totally irrelevant if you’re not a risk-taker. Feel free to abort now, & move on to better things in life than trying to lend ears to my attempt to sound like the sensible genius that I am not. J

Guard # 1: Ability to Multi-Task

Today is November 29, 2015.

A year (plus 2 days) ago, Sydney’s pitch witnessed the making of the latest casualty in cricket. The hash tag #RIP Phil Hughes summed up the horror caused on live TV.

Was Phil reckless? No.
Did he lack skills? Of course not!
Was he wearing guards? Yes, and in hindsight, no.

His guard, the best in terms of known-technology & safety requirements was adequate until Sean Abbott’s bouncer hit Phil Hughes in the freakish manner that it did. The objective is not to delve into the technical details of cricket, but to try and let you understand that if your guard isn’t good enough for the challenge you are confronted with, you are toying with death.

I can bet my last dollar on the fact that Phil Hughes must have been hit on the head, and other parts of his athletic body, numerous times but it was that particular instance where he missed the ball & the latter missed the guard he was wearing, and that 5.5 ounce of leathered-beauty became the bullet that took his life.

One of the bullets that will kill you instantly is breaking of a single commitment.

Yes, you heard it correct. One single instance of breaking a commitment shall take your business-life. Yes, you will suck the life out of your business by turning up for a meeting one minute late, or by not making the call that you had committed to make.


1.     Is anyone (personal or professional) complaining that you have been unable to do something you had committed to do?
2.     Is anyone (personal life or professional) complaining that you were unable to be somewhere on time?

If the answer to any of the above 2 is a yes, then I’d suggest you stop right away, and get this guard for your business-body. Do not face a single delivery (I’m using cricket jargon) without 1st having this guard on the body.  

80% of all business demises can be attributed to lack of use of this guard. So irrespective of how good or bad, new or experienced you are, wealthy or struggling businessman you are, make sure you have this guard.

Guard # 2: Ability to spank the bums that need the thrashing (& show care where needed)

My wise ex-boss used to say: Every problem has 2 legs.

Many of us know this too. Many of us have even heard of people screwing people. Apnay hee giratay hain nashaiman pai bijliyaan! Yet many of us fail to guard ourselves against the evils of the legs around us.

It is almost funny to hear people say: (I failed because) Allah kee marzee nahi thee.

Now, I am not trying to be blasphemous by saying people fail because of some non-Divine cause. It is a requirement of Muslim faith to attribute all success and failure to Allah alone. What I am trying to establish is that as part of an exercise of dissection of failure, (when we will try to get a hang of the Cause & Effect of the failure), you would almost always be able to assign faces to the cause of your failure.

Every problem has 2 legs, right? Then that body with 2 legs certainly has a face on the top.

Your ability to identify who’s at fault and then acting with transactional correctness to fix the fault would inshaAllah enable you to hit success. You, however, would never be able to chart a course towards success without developing this capability to ascertain whether the failure was:

1.     Due to lack of means,
2.     Due to lack of ability,
3.     Due to your own lack of administering the correct accountability

You pick one side of the stick; you automatically pick the other too. The moment you develop this capability to spank those who deserve spanking, you need to make sure you have the other ability in place too: the ability to show care where needed.

Every problem has 2 legs, right? So does every success.

Make sure you do not take success for granted. Make sure you have the humility and correctness of intent to zero in on the 2 legs that caused the success. Then make sure you either recognize them or reward them based on your assessment of the situation.

Reality Check:

1.     In the event of a failure, were you able to ascertain whose fault it was?
2.     Were you able to assess whether the cause of failure was caused by lack of means?
a.     Are you aware of how many means are needed? (Tools, resources, standard, information, authority &/or leader’s time)
b.     Are you aware of how each of these means is provided?
c.      If it was caused by lack of means, did you have the humility to assign the blame to yourself rather than the team member?
3.     If the issue was not caused by lack of means, were you able to assess whether the person failed due to lack of ability (Knowledge of How & Why)?
a.     If it was caused by lack of ability, did you have the humility to assign the blame to yourself rather than the team member?
b.     Are you aware of how to coach someone who needs information regarding “HOW” side of ability?
c.      Are you aware of how to mentor someone who needs information regarding “WHY” side of ability?
4.     If the issue was not caused by lack of means or ability, were you able to choose correctly from the choices available with regards to accountability?
a.     Are you aware of when, where & whom to train?
b.     Are you aware of when, where & whom to recognize or reward?
c.      Are you aware of when, where & whom to censure or punish?

My friend, if the answer to any of the above queries is no (or maybe/ I think so), then my advice to you would be stop again. If stopping is an issue, then at least realize that you are seriously handicapped and the above guard is needed for you to thrive as a businessperson.
Guard # 3: Ability to stay cash positive (and not just being P & L positive, on-paper)

My eldest daughter asked me what I do in office. It took me 45 days to come up with an answer. I was almost embarrassed to tell her that all I do is talk, talk and talk (aka meetings) J

Eventually I marshaled strength and told her the truth. All I do is meet people.

So I get to meet these industry experts. Almost everyone I meet thinks and believes that his or her area of specialization is the best part of the whole, wide world, and that the only thing that they should be concerned about is “their area”. So they choose to be oblivious about “other departments”, especially finance.

Another common characteristic is that they are ultra scared to lose their current jobs. So they are worried about their finances, but choose naively not to learn about finance.

I sometime try to reach into these people’s minds and try to get them to see what’s happening to them:

1.     That they are scared to lose their jobs because they don’t know how to “create cash” if, God forbid, the income stream stops
2.     They don’t know how to create cash because they have actively chosen not to learn or acquaint themselves with the science of cash
3.     That they would never get themselves to learn the science and art of making cash because of the affair they are having with their career

So this resolve to not learn the science and art of cash creation has to be broken, otherwise people cannot succeed in business. We see countless cases where people leave high paying jobs to start their businesses, only to fail, and then be back at the doors of their original company begging them to let them have their jobs back.

Those who are not in control of their cash-flow make others, who are in control, rich.

The best part is that learning how to make cash is easy, but it requires certain skills and one needs to invest time into acquiring these skills. It would start with the humility to accept that we don’t know and that we need to be under an apprenticeship of a finance expert, or a cash-creation master so that we can learn the basics & some tricks of the trade

Reality Check:
1.     Are you aware of what other departments do, and how the people in those departments go about doing their work?
2.     If you are asked to move into that department and earn your income from that department, would you be able to get that job?
3.     Are you aware of the sources, amounts & nature of your incomes? Are you maintaining a record of these incomes?
4.     Are you aware of the amounts and kinds of expenses you incur? Are you maintaining a record of these expenses?

If the answer to the above is no, then you need to put your name on the list of endangered species. You are living in a fool’s paradise, and you are your own worst enemy. Your family thinks you are their savior, but the reality is, you are only as good as the chances you have been exposed to. The moment those opportunities are taken away from you, you would find yourself distraught and unable to chart your own future course.

You are probably the lazy type who generally thinks money is not important, or are disillusioned by this mantra that if I do my daily work well, money would take care of itself.

Buddy, you need to wake up! And you need to act fast to convert the answers to questions mentioned above into a yes.

Guard # 4: Ability to handle the stress of not being an MNG (Mr. Nice Guy)

This section is for those who have graduated in the above 3 areas. If the answer to the above 3 is yes, then let’s meet up. Since all I do is talk, talk and talk, it is best we talk about this over a cup of coffee. J

In the end, I’d like to thank you for going through the above paragraphs. I hope it was of help in your quest to ascertain your readiness for business. I’d love to hear from you and take your comments/ queries. Just remember that my desire is to force people to wake up, realize the nature of the beast they are up against, and prepare themselves in advance before the unwanted happens to them.

People say doing business is risky. I couldn’t disagree more with them.  

Doing business without guards is riskier!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Light at the end of the tunnel.......

June 14, 2015

It has been 44 days since I jumped off the bandwagon. Now I work for myself and earn my bread through my own pursuits.

I would be wrong to say that it has been easy. It's been everything but easy. Nervousness seems to the fabric this entrepreneurial cloth is made up from. I'm told every business owner feels nervous like I am feeling now so I'd like to believe I am safe.

'Feeling safe' and having clarity about the end of the journey is a feature that embodies all our actions as a person in the salaried-income category. It is the over-arching tendency to feel safe that forces us to prefer a job over a business. We want to know if there is light at the end of the tunnel even before we choose to step into that tunnel. It is because of this inability to trust that the tunnel will inshaAllah open up as we move along that we don't dare to become business owners.

In business, nothing is clear. But not everything is unclear too.

There is just enough clarity for us to keep moving at our pace, and then as we step forward, the path becomes clearer progressively. But I'd doubt if there'd ever be complete visibility..............

So, in view of this, I too move on. One step at a time. Slowly, carefully, cautiously but surely, firmly and with a feeling of assurance that this tunnel would eventually open up to a beautiful estate. :)