Stay ahead by staying grounded!

This is look at various things that we need to do to achieve success in life!

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My friend Dada wrote to me an e mail where he said that he has become a regular reader of my blogs but he is not my fan! I wrote back to him saying Dada, I would rather have critics than have fans. In real life this is what is necessary to keep us grounded. This is essential because ones longevity in what one is doing depends fully on how grounded you are. I am not a big writer but I write blogs as I love to write; I realized this love a few years back. For me it has almost become a body function. My friends keep on coaxing me that I should release a book of my blogs but I don’t think I have reached that stage. I am happy that my friends like Dada and some unknown people read my blogs, and some like Dada have become regular readers. I am neither writing for fame nor do I consider myself an intellectual. I write about what comes to mind from whichever situation I may be in. Now I have set my goal to be a more frequent writer of better and better blogs (as per my thinking) so that I end up having more critics! 

Staying grounded is not as easy as it looks. There are numerous examples of sports persons, movie stars, singers who have gone through the grunt; some have managed beautifully but some have miserably failed. There have been examples of child prodigies who could or could not reach the expectations as they became adults. Classic example is of Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli. Both were childhood prodigies, very close friends, Vinod supposedly slightly better than Sachin and this was seen when they entered the Indian team. Sachin remained totally grounded, but Vinod could not manage to remain grounded. After initial burst of centuries and double centuries Vinod’s career tapered off and he had to retire in year 2000! Sachin selected his date of retirement and retired in style on his home ground Wankhede in 2013. Sachin now is a billionaire and Vinod, I heard that he struggled to pay monthly fees for his flat! I am not saying that success can be measured in terms of money you make! Sadly I can’t imagine what must be going through Vinod’s mind!

What decides the so called remaining grounded? Is it family background? Is it friends that you have during initial phase! Or is it what company you have during your initial stardom phase? Sachin came from a middle class background, in Vinod’s case he came from even below lower middle class background. Both of them naturally did not have flashy lifestyle. In both the cases, they had the same Guru in their growth phase, whose critique  during this phase must have been their Gospel! Did they have more critics or more fans? What critics do in your life is to pinpoint your failures and mistakes. Some will do it out of jealousy and some out of keenness to help you. Being grounded is to understand the difference between a well-wisher and those who are creating adulation. Harsh critic is better than a total fan. It’s how you handle criticism decides success and failure. Who does not have failure? Who does not make a mistakes? I feel that successful person is one who keeps on making new mistakes every time! You stop making mistakes when you stop doing things! You make a mistake and learn; with every mistake you can climb one step up the ladder to success. Life as we all know is learning school and those who stop the learning process are embracing the recipe of failure!

Sachin Tendulkar was getting out caught behind in slips or to wicket keeper, regularly at one phase in his career. He discussed his technique with many experts, practiced and practiced hard. By this time he was already playing cricket at highest level for about 12 years.  He decided to test the result of his hard work against the then best team, Australia. He settled down in one inning, and went on to score 240 odd runs in that inning, that too in Australia. What was so special about it! He did not play a single shot on the off side which was getting him out. Mind you he is a batsman with natural off side game. But it was simply discipline that allowed him to achieve this. Once this gave him the confidence, from next match he started playing all his strokes! Learning from mistakes, discipline, and steely determination! 

That takes us back to original discussion, Critic or Fan! I have discussed example of people starting almost at the same point of origin, going steady for initial phase. Curves started to change their slope and one finally fell apart. Focus, ability to learn from mistakes, being in company of right people decides the trajectory. There have been other factors like ability to overcome pain due to injury which Sachin had around 2007; he overcame this barrier with tremendous hard work, exercise and pain. Never during this phase, probably career threatening phase, did he flinch from his focus and finally of achieving whatever goals he must have reset himself. Mind you his initial goal, when he was a kid, was to play for India which he reached a bit too early in his life but after that he reset his goals to achieve more! Is it at this point Kambli failed to understand that he needs to raise the bar? He needed to reset his goals.

Don’t we all make such errors? Don’t we all sit on our laurels a bit too early? Honestly when I started writing this blog I was not sure which direction I was going. I was not sure what conclusion I would draw. But I am finally concluding that remaining grounded, hoping to have more critics than fans and not sitting on laurels are three most important things not necessarily in the same order. What will be your order of importance?

 

 

Low Aim is a Crime!

This is take on being satisfied with Money earned rather than going up the value chain!

India got its independence in 1947. India missed the industrialization bus by a century because British allowed only a few benefits of industrialization to percolate to India.  Before independence educated Indians were interested in working for British, whatever work they could get, mostly they got clerical jobs; those were the only real jobs available anyway! British chose the people for senior admin positions and made them brown sahebs. These proxy Britishers were more British than the Britishers themselves.

This scenario put India under the gloom of disease of getting satisfied on achieving small things and doing mundane things. This led to metastatic mentality of under achievers; those who were trying to do something different were looked down upon and discouraged from doing anything different. Some of us from our generation were able to improve on this thought process and later generation became even more active and started taking risks.

IT sector was the first sector where India did pretty well, financially. Y2K issue was the one that gave impetus to Indian IT sector; middle class started growing faster than ever and large Indian populace started having money, living in foreign countries for work and started buying their own homes in a big way. This of course combined with official opening of Indian economy in 90’s. Effect of higher salaries in IT sector was seen in other sectors like engineering, pharma, finance and so on. But this success hid one thing from general populace and even from IT sector that the “great” work that we were doing was actually mundane work done for others as a service. This model kept on working well till about a couple of years back. Then the signals started coming that the mundane work that was outsourced to India can be automated so….

Circa 2017! Large Indian IT companies are sitting on big pile of US Dollars. This indicates their past success, financially. But it appears that these large “successful” companies were run more by accountants than by entrepreneurs! So they have made big money, hundreds of thousands of millions, many of them in dollar terms. But since the scenario started changing a couple of years back, it is obvious that if you don’t move up the value chain, you are going to come down as fast as you have gone up! The fact that these companies are sitting on a big pile of dollars shows that our mentality of mundane “services” type of work has not changed. This pile of money should not have been there; it should have been invested in going up the value chain! But even today this money is being used to buy back shares! The big bosses have not thought in terms of creating own IPR’s or products in any field, IT or Engineering or Pharma! When “services” are generating money why bother.

To give an example of how things are changing, when you “talk” to say Amazon on chat about some issues, the “Ravindra” or “Asha” who is taking to you may be a “BOT”. What is a BOT? An Internet Bot, also known as web robot, WWW robot or simply bot, is a software application that runs automated tasks (scripts) over the Internet. Typically, bots perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate than would be possible for a human alone. The largest use of bots is in web spidering (web crawler), in which an automated script fetches, analyzes and files information from web servers at many times the speed of a human. More than half of all web traffic is made up of bots. (This is Wikipedia definition of BOT)

How this is typically done is very similar to self-check-out counters in big departmental stores. At these check-out stations, for a group of ten such stations there is one supervisor helping, if you need any help. So what this system does is, instead ten people manning ten checkout stations, one person is sufficient. These BOTS also do the same thing. Now do you understand how the nature of business is changing? If your business is dependent on someone else’s way of working, you are in trouble if automation comes into picture.

What is the way out? Going up the value chain; but if you are a company with 100 to 150 thousand employees with “service” level skills you have tough task on hand. Basically it’s a tough call for the senior management to change its own ways from accountant based running module to technologist based running module. Who runs highly successful companies? Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Nvidia, you just list such companies and will see that these are technology driven companies. Yes, finances are very important but if the company is run by accountants they will never take risks! But when you don’t take risks and try and don’t keep abreast with new technologies or create new technologies, you will never know what hit you! How many of us know that Google and Apple are spending big money on Car technology, and they are creating newer technology in cars which was never even thought of. Nvidia is already a big auto system vendor to VW’s, Audis and Mercs of this world. They have invented technologies which are forcing these Auto giants to use new technologies to remain competitive in business. Elon Musk of Tesla had the audacity to start making Electric Cars and even start making space vehicles using venture capital.

Of course there is silver lining to each dark cloud! The surprise is that the silver lining is coming not from private sector but Government sector. ISRO, Metro projects implementation, Solar Energy project implementations, highways all over India are sign of we Indians have started getting hang of the situation. On IT side one of the success stories of product selling is Tally ERP. Yes it has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and is unquestionably India’s “Numero Uno” product on IT side! If Tally is doable why can’t others do it? India is the largest democracy and is the only country in the world where all elections use EVM’s- electronic voting machines! Paper ballots are Passe’ in India! The EVM’s were developed by C-DAC! Aadhar card is one such initiative that has become pride of the nation! All these projects indicate that we are slowly coming out of the Chalta Hai mentality! Chalta Hai is a phrase indicating Small achievement is good enough! We should have Sachin Tendulkar’s in each field then only we as a nation can start achieving things!

So friends we started with discussion about Indian mentality of being happy with whatever little is achieved! Will our giants survive the onslaught of market changes? They have the money but do they have the wherewithal other than money? Do they have the mind set? Do they have the technological willpower to go up the value chain? Going up value chain is real hard and smart work. I hope these giants do it, but we are still discussing US H1B visa rules, which is the backbone of current business model of sending people on site to provide services! I hope our current young generation and future generation are as audacious as Elon Musk!