Birthday Specials – Prince Augustin – Freaky Fridays – Weekly Blog

I first heard of Prince Augustin in my Group HR days at the Mahindra Group 8 years ago.  Prince would be taking over as the Executive Vice President – Group Human Resources in two months’ time then. In those days, Prince was the HR Head for the Automotive Sector in Mahindra. Prince’s mother had passed away then and we had all gone to attend the funeral in Chembur. I was amazed to see the entire Mahindra auto sector leadership fraternity in attendance for the funeral. There were about 150 senior leaders present for something which was not mandatory and more of a personal gesture. I was awestruck by the way this man had a personal connect with so many people. Outside of corporate success, this is the kind of respect one aspires for in a career. That was my first memory of Prince.

Before Prince joined Group HR, we were told that Prince was one of the most difficult bosses to work with and only a few people could survive under him. There was a distinct aura about him and also a sense of fear. Allen Sequeira, the earlier head of Group HR was retiring after having crafted a spectacular journey over more than 10 years and had set very high standards with respect to various initiatives and programs. Change management , in a diversified conglomerate like Mahindra, which is a mix of old school and young professionals is a complex challenge purely due to the diversity of various stakeholders involved. The baton had been passed over to Prince and some of the critical initiatives like the GMC program ( hiring students from India’s top B schools) , the leadership development program and talent management for senior leaders needed a booster dose and were in danger of decaying. It was a difficult job at hand and all of us in Group HR were nervous about the leadership style. We were told by a few that he was extremely aggressive, and we needed to be very careful. Some people even compared his style to Hitler.

But all those fears were proved wrong in our team’s first interaction. Prince was anything but Hitler-esque. Instead of meeting only the team leader, he called the entire team. And this was not a one-off. Prince never used to believe in the age-old hierarchical school of only meeting and interacting majorly with the direct reports. His level of detailing is amazing. He started getting into the details of the last T. Some of the questions he would ask us in our meetings would make us dumbfounded as to why such a senior leader should be so involved in execution. In my experience, he was the first leader at a very senior level who actually spoke about execution of initiatives and got involved as well. The other thing about Prince was he would always be curious to learn and if he didn’t know something, he would openly admit and get his answers from the team. This is in contrast with a leadership style where certain leaders want to put up a “know-it-all” façade of an image in front of their team.

I spent only 12 months working with Prince but the learnings under him will be carried for life. The best part about Prince is he is not afraid to call a spade a spade. I have seen a lot of HR leaders become politically diplomatic and side with the popular choice or the business head’s choice when it comes to opinions and decisions. Prince is anything but this. If he strongly believed in something basis his logical deduction and opinion, he would not hesitate to call it out vocally to the senior most of leaders. I have seen him get into tough discussions and voicing out his opinion during calls with the likes of Anand Mahindra and other senior leaders. These leaders are above him in hierarchy and designation, but Prince is someone who doesn’t mince words when he feels so and he wants to convey his opinion.  I guess this is why a lot of leaders at that level love Prince for his ability to be honest , straightforward and expressive nature.

Despite this ability to speak his mind, Prince has built an amazing relationship amongst his peers, superiors and subordinates. I have seen a lot of people in the corporate world who have high networking skills but also have a diplomacy and a selfish give and take attitude. Prince invests a lot in building relationships but never changes his core personality.  With Prince, you can be frank and honest and tell your problems and he will try to close the problem himself. He doesn’t believe in postponing or delegating problems. He would ask us –“who is to be called?” Instantly, he would pick up the phone, call the respective stakeholder, talk it out and move on. As a leader, if you can solve the problems of your sub-ordinates quickly, then the respect increases multi-fold. Prince was that go-to-man for all problems during my stint with him. He also would not tolerate mediocrity at work. If a presentation was shoddy, he would call it out and ask us to come back with a better output. Only if he was completely convinced, he would go ahead. Else, he would make us go through the iterations. Working with such a leader also improves your own quality of thinking and raises the bar.  There were quite a few presentations where we were blasted and would go out dejected. But Prince would always come out of the meeting and tell us not to take this to heart and reassure us.

Prince’s career has spanned over 35 years but he has worked only in a handful of companies. He has been with the Mahindra Group since 2003. The thing about great leaders is they are able to build great teams. Prince has been able to keep his long-serving P.A/E.A Kirsten motivated enough to work under him for more than a decade. Prince’s loyal team not only includes his P.As and E.As but also his driver. Whenever he goes to any event or conference, he ensures that his driver Irfan also gets to eat something. He doesn’t need to do this but such noble acts ensure the likes of Irfan also swear by him. He also believes in instant rewards for excellent work. I remember having worked extremely hard for pulling off the Mahindra War Room Grand Finale event and the very next day, he personally handed over a 2 nights/3 days Club Mahindra voucher inclusive of flight for 2 people and a handwritten note for putting all the hard work. I wasn’t expecting anything as there was no such policy but Prince wanted to ensure that we were instantly gratified for our hard work. He did not care about looking at any budget or policy. He just wished well. People everywhere work hard, but very few people get instant appreciation and recognition. Prince was truly princely when it came to rewards and recognition.

Prince also is a gem of a person at heart, and he believes that people should prosper in their careers. Unlike many, he does not believe in holding resources close to him forever. He ensures that people who have worked under him get roles which they like. It was because of his push that I moved from HR to Sales, a drastically different career choice, but he convinced a lot of senior folks about my potential. Later, in 6 months’ time, when I thought I will quit sales, he backed me urging me to see a full year’s cycle and if required, he said he would talk to the Zonal Manager to ensure that I succeed. That was his way of giving confidence to people. I took his advice and by God’s grace, there has been no looking back. My classmate Udit, who worked as his E.A, moved to China after two years. Prince was selfless in more ways than one as he has fought for a lot of people, if he felt he was right.

After moving to Sales, I wasn’t in very regular touch with him but would try to consult him whenever things were not going ok. I invited him to my wedding. He could not make it but he sent a greeting card, a note and a cheque of a substantial amount. I wasn’t expecting this. He had nothing to do with me but still such genuinely selfless acts ensure you connect with a person at a much deeper level.

A work-o-holic who jokes that “work is life, life is work and hence they balance out” , Prince is lucky to have an understanding wife like Carol who has stood by him by a rock and allowed to him to become a HR Rockstar. He has practiced what he preaches “do the things that help you visibly differentiate yourself. Have an abundance mindset, not a scarcely competitive mindset. The world has place for everyone.” No wonder that his alma mater, SIBM Pune, conferred upon him the “Alumnus of the year” in 2011 and “ Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to HR”.

In a corporate world dominated by servility, self-centered, politically correct “yes-ministers”, Dr. Prince Augustin stands tall as a selfless, straight-speaking , fearless HR stalwart . Prince not only by name, but by heart and deeds.

Happy Birthday Prince.

May you continue to inspire people around you. Fortunate to have worked with you.

Jai Hind

A “DAY” in Moorakh-land : Freaky Fridays – Weekly Blog

Once upon a time in Moorakh-land, the world’s first marketeer ( Mungerilaal Pasha) sat under a tree trying to think of ways to create demand on certain specific days in a year. An apple fell on his head. The marketeer cut the apple into two and a God-sent letter emerged from the apple – “Hey Moorakh! The answer to your problem lies with you. Just create “days” for every occasion and the fools of this world will come running to you and spend time and money remembering the occasion”

The marketeer started spreading this message to the Marketing Brotherhood. First came HRB (Hotels and Resorts Business) Singh. He said “ Bhaijaan, how do I ensure that all the hotels, resorts are filled on one specific day of the year and people spend any amount of money just to be there on that day ?” Pasha quickly replied “ Arey Moorakh ! Just create New Year’s Eve parties and bashes. The Moorakhs will party as if the world is going to end. They will pay any amount of money to post that cool status message saying they were out on New Year’s Eve. Every God-damn hotel, resort and restaurant in this world will be full. Put up any price and the fools will pay. The industry will recover the full year’s investment on this one day. Add some masala by bringing in some DJs, some sugar candy. The sweeter the eye-candy, the more your profits.” HRB Singh went away with this advice and the entire hospitality industry lived happily ever-after.  

Next up, a lost GC ( Greeting Card ) Malhotra came to Pasha for a solution to drive greeting card sales. Pasha gave him an apple and said “This is God’s gift to you. Cut this into two and you will find your answer”. GC cut the apple and found a letter on which was written “Feb 14th is your answer Moorakh. The full day sales of greeting cards on Feb 14th will always be higher than the rest of the year combined”. GC Malhotra lived happily ever after. However, his younger brother GC Pandey was also into the greeting card business and he had a non-compete agreement with GC. He therefore could not do any sales on Feb 14th. He fell at the feet of Mungerilal Pasha. Pasha did not have an immediate answer, so he took GC Pandey to the same apple tree and asked him to meditate. An apple fell on his head and he cut it into two. A genie emerged and said “Moorakh ho tum! What if you cannot sell greeting cards on Feb 14th? We have other “Days” for you – Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Children’s Day, Fraandship Day… The fellow moorakhs of this world will continue to buy greeting cards… ” GC’s brother lived happily ever after.

Looking at the success of HRB Singh and the GC brothers, a few other marketeers came as a group and approached Mungerilaal Pasha to improve their sales. Pasha had never heard of these folks. Their names were Rosie Singh, Teddy Khan and Chocolaty Fernandes. Pasha gave them an apple each. On cutting the apples, they found a common letter which read “ Hey Murakhs… Fools are an abundance in this world… There is no end to the world’s obsession for “Days”. For you guys, the Almighty has created a week-long festival to drive sales of your products – Rose Day, Propose Day, Chocolate Day, Teddy Day, Promise Day, Hug Day, Kiss Day – all before V Day “. Rosie , Teddy  and Chocolaty lived happily ever after.

Spell-bound by this success, the mother of all marketeers – the tech-savvy e-commerce behemoths decide to do a video call with Mungerilaal Pasha.The Flipkart marketing head found his answer “Big Billion Days”. Do it every 2 months and you will get your sales” The Amazon marketing head was told – “Organize your “Days” in and around the same time as your competition. The results will follow “. Both these ecommerce companies lived happily for a while, until Mr. Ambani decided to enter this business. Once he entered this business, every Day was a Bigger Billion Day. Ambani lived happily ever after.

A few others also approached Mungerilaal Pasha. Pasha never turned down anyone as he was aware of the business opportunity presented by the silly world and its obsession with days. Books Day, Dance Day, Space Day, Pets Day,  Logical Day, Illogical Day…. the list went on and on. A few sections of the society though, could not digest this phenomenon. They by-passed Pasha and called the Almighty for help. First came the politicians with their request – “God, we want to swindle daily and not on specific Days.” Then came the auto-wallahs” Lord, we want to fleece our consumers daily. We can’t wait for certain “Days” to do our business disproportionately, unlike the greeting card companies and the restaurants”. The likes of Mallya , Modi (the diamond merchant and not the chowkidaar) and Goyal also had the same complaint. For these people, a special quota was created – “The invincible quota”. These people’s lives would be unaffected by Mother’s , Father’s , Valentine’s or Children’s Day. Every day would be business as usual. “Jab tak hai Jaan, tab tak hai kaam, lootera humra naam, sabko hai pranaam” was their mantra.

The people of “Moorakh-land” continued to live happily. More and more “Days” propped up, which brought more and more business to various stakeholders. One day, Mungerilaal Pasha passed away in his sleep. His son, Chotu Pasha was worried that there would be no more wealth accumulation in the family. So, he went to the famous apple tree and prayed fervently to God asking for a way to find new business. After a month-long wait, an apple fell on his lap. Chotu cut the apple and found a piece of paper.  On it the following words were written –

“Sunday ho ya Monday, Moorakh-land will splurge every Day…

If today’s times it is V-Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

The future will see Burger Day, T-shirt Day and Sofa Day.

Jab tak rahega samosey mey aalu,

Tab tak rahega yahaan moorakh-pan chaalu

Ja dikha-dey sabko apni yeh marketing jalwa

Kyunki aisi duniya mey zindagi na milegi dobara”

Jai Hind

Maa Tujhe Salaam: Mother’s Day Special

While I am not a big fan of having a “Day” to celebrate occasions as they are nothing but a windfall for greeting card companies and restaurants, on the occasion of Mother’s Day, I felt it was apt to write a blog to pay tribute to all mothers.

Firstly, the person who is credited with creating Mother’s Day- writer/activist Julia Ward Howe. She first suggested this idea in 1872 and held Mother’s Day meetings annually in Boston to unite women and rally for peace. Then, the inspirational West Virginia activist Anna Jarvis, who campaigned for observance of a national holiday in honor of her mother. Jarvis’ mom was a community health advocate, who had organized several Mother’s Day work clubs that addressed child rearing and public health issues. Jarvis wanted to pay tribute to her mom and all mothers. Without these three inspirational ladies, the world would not be celebrating Mother’s Day every year on the second Sunday of May.

My wife recently became a mother two months ago and I was fortunate to see her evolution from a happy-go-lucky carefree girl to a responsible mother in a short span of time. The sacrifice a mother puts in for the well-being of the child starts well before the delivery, in fact right from the moment the happiest news in the world is broken to her. The mother’s world starts to revolve around the little one in the womb and things would otherwise have been normal become a luxury (read these as eating out, parties, movies , going to the parlor etc. in today’s times). All for the greater good of seeing a happy and healthy child. Then starts the endurance process. A male like me had no idea about what labour pain feels like until I experienced it through the eyes of my wife. For me, a pin prick is good enough to shout loudly. Multiply the intensity of this by a billion and people who have not given child-birth will understand what sacrifice a mother undergoes in terms of the physical pain. But there is never a complaint as she always knows it is for the greater good of the world, “her” world, which is her child. A woman undergoes a big change when she becomes a wife, an even bigger change when she becomes a mom. Imagine this. As a recent dad, I hardly get time to write during the day. Most of my writing happens in the late evenings after the world has slept, or rather my world right now. Having taken a break , I try to do my bit by trying to burp, singing her to sleep, occasionally giving her bath, holding fort when my wife goes to the loo or has lunch. And I don’t have to breastfeed every hour. A new mom struggles to find time to squeeze in a bath. She doesn’t want to make the child wait in case she cries.   All this sacrifice despite having some amazing support from her parents.

Which brings me to pay tribute to the real stalwarts – the parents of all of us. In today’s time, parenting for us as a couple feels really tough to transition despite having both sets of parents in the same city – despite us not having to cook meals, wash dishes, clean the house etc. All our parents have made the biggest ever sacrifice by making our childhood a joyride. In those days when we were kids, I don’t think there were maids, day-care centres, cooks and washing machines. The parents of our generation have gone through all this without a complaint. There were two kinds of super-moms– some like mine who decided to quit their job to focus on their single biggest priority – their children. The second kind deserves an equal salute – moms like my mother-in-law who continued working so that they could make more money for us to enjoy the benefits and still took care of their children without batting an eye-lid. In today’s times, we give standing ovations to artistic performances and speeches we see live. If these things deserve a standing ovation, then I think our parent’s sacrifices deserve much more than just Whatsapp forwards and FB Insta “happy Mother’s Day” status messages. Till today, their single biggest priority remains their children and their well-being. Even to this date, those of us who are fortunate to have our parents alive, see the concern in their eyes when we have a small fever. They still consider us a little child even though many of us have ourselves become parents or have grown out of our college clothes. Many of us, me included, have reciprocated their love by taking them for granted. It is a sad truth of today that we will realize the true value of everything only when that thing is no longer available.

Let’s talk our motherland. While we cringe about jobs, higher taxes, intolerance ( all of which are real issues), what we forget is the financial state of our motherland. Many of us find the Budget to be boring or not of use to us. A shocking fact to many is that to spend every 100 Rs on various schemes, subsidies, the Govt borrows 19 Rs. Which means 100 Rs of expenses is only financed by 81 rs of taxes and other receipts. We are still repaying our old international loans and we continue to take more loans to fund our expenditure as a nation. 7.04 lac crore , yes you read it right, is the amount budgeted for borrowings and other liabilities by the Government of India. China, on the other hand, has become a trade surplus nation. Which is my Startup India is very important and creating jobs through entrepreneurship is a very satisfying thing as it provides more revenue to the motherland. Our parents did not have access to the kind of venture capitalist’s money or the FDIs in their era and so they sacrificed their lives so that we could fulfil their unrealized dreams. Instead, we still continue to play the safe game and work for others when in today’s age, there is no stopping a great idea when it comes to resources or funds. Even I am guilty of this but if this continues, the figures mentioned will only worsen. The likes of China and Korea realized this in the 60s and today, we have global powerhouses originating from there. Sadly, for many of us, our only concern in the budget is whether the Govt has reduced income tax slabs rate or not.

After our motherland comes the mother of all mothers – Mother nature. Our greed to inhabit , build concrete jungles and litter every God damn place in this planet has ensured that we face mother Natures’s fury through the likes of Cyclone Fani, tsunamis and earthquakes. Where there is no direct correlation between these disasters and manly greed of cutting forests, Natural does follow Netwon’s law to giving an equal and opposite reaction to our every greedy action.

So, what can we do to make all these mothers proud? Small actions when multiplied can create a significant impact. We can start with saying thank you to our moms, cooking for them, taking time off for a day and just hearing them out. To our motherland, we can do things like sponsoring a few kid’s basic education every year to help those less fortunate mothers get their children out of poverty, pay our taxes without cribbing and try to create jobs with the resources we have so that India is a debt free and a trade surplus nation. For mother nature, we can start with small things by not spitting on roads, carrying cloth bags to malls and minimizing plastic. We all have enough Google-able info around us to know what we need to do and pay tribute to all the mothers around us. This need not happen only on Mother’s day, we can do these small things daily at different scale in varied contexts.

If we do the small things right every day which make our mother proud and in turn our mother land and Mother Nature Proud, our future generations will thank us by singing in genuine praise….

Maa Tujhe Salaam

Happy Mother’s Day to all these lovely angels. Every day is special because of them – every mom is special

Jai Hind

Birthday Specials – Rahul Subramanian

I am grateful to God that I know one celebrity as a friend before he became one. My first memory of Rahul Subramanian was at IMT Ghaziabad in June 2011 where me ( in my role as Group HR Campus Connect Manager) and him ( IMT Ghaziabad campus stud alumni who had bagged a Pre-Placement Offer) spoke for about 20 minutes about why the students should join our organization. Since then, our lives have taken different turns. In those days, Rahul was the “sharaarati ladka” of our batch of campus recruits. He used to crack a lot of “sasta” jokes and play TT late until midnight. He also had an uncanny knack of “mimicking” company folks and in the process entertaining us.

Rahul spent the first two of his corporate career in Bangalore and was trying hard to get a transfer to Mumbai , his hometown. He was loved by his Bangalore bosses and initially they were reluctant to leave him. But after two years, Rahul’s wish of getting transferred got fulfilled and he landed up with a role in the Corporate Brand Council as part of the Group Strategy Office. After completing 2 years in our first roles, like every Management Trainee, we were a confused lot trying to find meaning in our lives. We had a lot of heart-to-heart conversations regarding the various corporate career options available. Rahul in those days had complete clarity that he loved marketing and wouldn’t want to do any other thing. He did not care about theories that a sales stint was essential for being a successful marketer. For him, he wanted to do a job he loved and he advised me the same thing – do what you love and it will take you places. I was amazed by his simplicity of thinking and the fact that he did not bother too much about the so-called career experts. The role offered to him was not the most glamorous role in the organization (there were far more creamy roles like Brand Manager of one of the iconic powerbrands) but Rahul never cribbed about what he didn’t have. He had got a marketing role and he would do a good job at it. Rahul’s simplicity of thoughts was one of the factors which convinced me to take a plunge from HR to Sales as I wanted to do it irrespective of what others thought. After Rahul moved to Mumbai, our paths didn’t cross much. Then one day, I met Rahul and heard him drop a bomb-shell. Rahul told me had got tired of working in the corporate world and he was moving out to pursue his dream of being a stand-up comedian.

Rahul had already started doing a few shows in a few comedy clubs in Mumbai and within a few months, I guess he had assessed that this was what he was good at and he loved doing it. Rahul’s big break came when he partnered with Kumar Varun and the duo’s show “ Random Chikibum ” deservedly won the best series award in a YouTube competition with the highest number of views. Rahul was our own Gully Boy – albeit a B school Gully Boy. Naam banta hai risk sey and Rahul had showed it to the world that if you believe in something and pursue it unwaveringly, destiny will be forced to look at you with a different lens. After the YouTube victory, there was no stopping Rahul and today, Rahul makes every Indian proud when his performances are loved by people in cities like Melbourne and L.A. Rahul has now moved to a global stage. Passion and self-belief can take you places and there is no better real-life example than Rahul.

While success seems easy on the outside, there is a lot of hard work behind the scenes which not many people can comprehend. The difference between the also-rans and the greats is that the greats keep working on the simple things day in and day out. A profession like stand-up comedy is not as easy as it looks. To stand out from the crowd, one needs to keep coming up with new scripts every alternate day and keep innovating. While critics of stand-up may argue that being cynical and sarcastic is not the way to go, what they fail to notice is that doing that and yet bringing smiles on people’s faces consistently is no mean feat. Rahul’s hilarious takes on HR, IT, Bangalore traffic and his namesake RaGa are unforgettable. Rahul’s immense respect for ethics is what makes him stand-out.

Behind every successful man is a woman and a supportive family. I think the biggest support for Rahul is his wife Sonica , who has allowed him to pursue his passion without any filters. A profession like stand-up requires huge sacrifices on the family front – you need to travel constantly, most weekends are reserved for shows away from the family and it takes exceptional maturity for a woman to accept all this as part of the game for the sake of seeing her loved one be happy. Matches are made in heaven and both these gentle souls deserve each other. Rahul has also inspired people like me to take a shot and doing the things we like instead of maintaining the status quo.

Rahul’s inspiring success story of a middle -class Tam-Brahm boy leaving  a highly paying corporate job to pursue his passion and making it big without any influence or backdoor entry has made me pick up the pen and start writing my first book. The best part about Rahul is that despite being such a big star in the stand-up world, Rahul continues to remain in touch with all of us pld friends and asks us to come for his shows, see his videos. He doesn’t need to do this now as his name commands a premium but for us, he’s always been the Rahul we knew. He hasn’t changed a bit. I was overjoyed when he accepted my request to come for my upcoming book launch. He could have easily turned down such a request citing busy schedules etc, but Rahul will always be the old Rahul – simple, humble, cheerful , cheeky and happy-go-lucky TamBram boy.

Rahul Subramanian – Happy Birthday. May you continue to fly high and achieve all your dreams. Your journey has been an inspiration and I am sure will inspire loads of people to follow their passion and strike it big. Whenever somebody asks me if I know any celebrity at a non-superficial level, my answer will be “I know Rahul. Naam toh sunah hi hoga 😊”

Jai Hind

In Memory of RCB : Freaky Fridays – Weekly Blog

Disclaimer : The below blog is not to be taken seriously.  It’s meant for pure fun.

Having run out of ideas for my weekly blog, I asked my friend Deepak for suggestions for a blog topic. Instantly his reply came “ Bhai, RCB pey ek funny blog ho jaaye” Initially, I thought it would be wrong on my part to make fun of my home team – the Royal Challengers Bangalore but after seeing King Kohli’s unwavering faith in giving Umesh Yadav the last over in every match despite him being consistently clobbered for 20 plus runs in every last over in 3 consecutive matches, I decided to take a shot at it. The cricketing world was discussing Ashwin “Mankading” Butler a few weeks ago. Sunil Gavaskar made a very interesting comment on why poor Vinoo Mankad’s name has to be attached to a case of a bowler running the non-striker out while delivering the ball. I completely agree with Sunny bhai, but after Umesh Yadav’s consistent last over disasters, I think we should have a new term coined for bowlers who get blasted in the last over – “Yadav-ed” Imagine the headlines reading – “RCB gets Yadav-ed by Dhoni”,  “ Russell Yadavs Malinga” One of my friends on Facebook Mohit Dayal had posted an amazing status message, which I think should be declared as the FB status message of the year – “ A few years later, when Kohli publishes his autobiography , we will come to know the thinking and the logic behind why he keeps giving Umesh Yadav the last over even though he consistently gets whacked”. The funny part about Umesh Yadav’s death bowling is there is not away a 10% probability that he will bowl a Yorker. Most of his deliveries are either good length balls or full tosses. Umesh had 26 runs to defend off the last over in the recent match against CSK with Dhoni on strike. While Dhoni deserves due credit for smashing 24 off runs off the first 5 balls – 2 sixes and 3 fours, Umesh Yadav deserves equal credit for bowling lolly-pop balls. With 2 runs to get off the last ball, he bowled a slightly wider slower short ball. I think it slipped out of his hand and therefore he was saved , else the ball would have landed on the usual slot. That over prompted by wife to remark “ Haar kar jeetne waale ko Baazigar kehte honge.. but jeet kar harne wale ko Umesh Yadav kehte hain”

Umesh Yadav is a very good bowler first up as he gets the ball to move. He was the second highest wicket-taker in last year’s IPL. But last year, he used to finish his quota of overs well before the slog. I guess the RCB management did not have time to look at last year’s analysis.  Also, the great Umesh had “Yadav-ed” an international T20 against Aussies in Bangalore in February as well. With 16 runs to go off 2 overs, Jasprit Bumrah had bowled a dream penultimate over conceding just two runs. With 14 runs to defend, Team India got Yadav-ed by the Aussie tailenders Jhye Richardson and Pat Cummins who were both new at the crease. The guy is a good bowler but not at the death overs.

RCB’s problems in the IPL were not only restricted to their death bowling. Most teams in the IPL this year had their share of problems, but generally they had one or two bases covered. For example, Sun Risers Hyderabad had a great opening combination and a decent bowling unit, but their middle order was non-existent. Similarly, CSK’s spinners were outstanding, but their top order misfired more often than not. RCB was the only team which screwed up every base miserably in all three departments – batting, bowling and fielding. Let’s start with fielding. In the first six matches which they lost on the trot, their catching record was an astonishing 50%. They had dropped every second catch. Their bowling leaked 12+ runs an over in the death overs. In batting, Parthiv was their top run-getter despite having stalwarts like Kohli, AB, Hetmyar, Stoinis and Moeen Ali.

The joke going around on Instagram is that the only good thing about RCB this season has been their Instagram page. Their social media marketing team has displayed greater passion than a few of the players. Their catchy theme anthem “ Yahaan Kohli hai..aur ABD… RCB rey RCB” was a big hit and drew fans into the stadium. The average ticket price for RCB matches was a whopping 2000+ but still the fans filled up every match. Their team selection was baffling. Poor Prayas Ray Burman, the youngest IPL player, got dropped after just one match, whereas the great Siraj flopped match after match but was continued. After 8 or 9 matches, the RCB management woke up and realized they had an India international player called Washington Sundar amidst them and he did well in the last three matches  Him being dropped at the expense of Pawan Negi for the initial few games was just inexplicable. I guess the management would have missed his name as names starting with W would have figured on the back page of the A4 size team list paper. In the first four matches, they had three different opening combinations. Their bad luck with injuries ensured Dale Steyn spent more time in his to-and-fro flight than on the pitch.

I think Kohli’s favorite book is “Fooled by Randomness”. This possibly explains why a random player Akashdeep Nath, whose batted more like Alok Nath, was persisted for three to four matches. I think the root cause of this would have been the franchisee auction where the think-tank would have just gone off to have Royal Challenge after having retained Kohli and AB. The others were just placeholders to make up the numbers. . I think the RCB fund managers in the IPL auction were given a wrong KRA. “ In 20 crores, ensure Kohli and ABD are retained. The balance money can be used to stack up Royal Challenge for posterity”.  The name Royal Challengers is an oxymoron for their performance as neither were they serious challengers nor did they play in a royal manner.

If SRH had openers Warner and Bairstow mopping up century partnerships, RCB gave a handsome reply with Umesh and Siraj scoring century partnerships with their bowling heroics. The lack of faith in Karnataka talent was evident in the number of Karnataka players doing well for other franchisees – KL Rahul, Shreyas Gopal, K Gowtham , Prasidh Krishna , Mayank Agarwal and Manish Pandey. Initially, I used to get frustrated with RCB’s performance but after a point, it became a comedy of errors. Kohli’s routine post match interviews blasting his players seemed more interesting than the actual match. After a point, poor Kohli had gotten tired giving post-match interviews as the losing captain and he jjust wished to have a recording of his interview played. Even Ian Bishop, the commentator started taking his case when he said he was getting bored interviewing Kohli as the losing captain.

That’s it folks. This was just a short cynical rant about RCB by a die-hard Kohli fan. I am sure Kohli and boys will be back next season to entertain us royally. I am sure every opposition captain must be using the following quote to motivate their team for an RCB

“ Darr Key aage jeet hai. Jeet key peeche RCB hai

Wahan Kohli hai aur ABD.. Koi nai, woh aakhirhai RCB”

Jai Hind

P.S : If you guys can suggest some topics to blog about, it will be great

Marketing Flyers: Freaky Fridays – Weekly Blog

A few years ago, when I was working as an Area Sales Manager, I used to get a lot of flyers/leaflets/brochures printed. We were taught that flyers were a very effective way of reaching our target audience. In a simple colorful one pager, the USPs of a product could be communicated. More flyers = more eyeballs = more brand awareness = more brand recall = more sales. We used to have a separate marketing budget for printing flyers. We used to fight with the central marketing team to increase this budget. Those were the good old days. We wouldn’t care to bother what would happen to the flyer. Until I met my mother-in-law…

My mother-in-law is a B.Sc ( Baby Sitting Champion).  One of her key skillsets as per her Linkedin Profile is putting babies to sleep. She also mentions a few certifications in her profile – cost management by effective flyer utilization. I did not understand what this meant. One day, I decided to shadow her for a full day to probe this. As soon as she received the newspaper in the morning, she started shaking it (like a baby cough syrup) to check for flyers. Three flyers fell from the newspaper. She beamed with joy on seeing them. For a second, I thought she had cracked the final question of Kaun Banega Crorepati. I was puzzled. I looked at the three flyers.

The first was an orange colored flyer with a big photo of our corporator and her achievements in the last few years. I could recognize it was our corporator as she had just visited our house recently asking to vote for her. She comes every five years just before elections to show that she’s alive. The only reason we still end up voting for her is because at least she comes once every five years. The opposition party I guess has given up hopes from winning from our constituency and therefore they don’t bother to do this. Our flat broker proudly introduces our family to her every five years. The flyer mentioned her proud achievements over the past five years – 3 crores “sanctioned” for pure drinking water. She had the audacity to write a budget sanction as her achievement. This is equivalent to me writing “prepared a PPT to increase market share in my district” as one of my professional achievements. Or “brainstormed with my team to think of ways to improve work-life balance”. While the front page had a lot of questionable and “sanctionable” achievements, the back page had a full-length picture of the national leader screaming “Ab ki baar, nan maga Sarkar”.

The second flyer had a picture of a dog in the centre. Surrounding the dog were pictures of the party founders, their children, their grandchildren. The headline screamed “Garibi Hatao…  Since 1975”. I asked my father-in-law, who had been following our constituency politics for more than 40 years, about the dog. He told me “It has been proved that the original leader of the party is not an Indian citizen. The surname Gaadi has been the common thread of this party’s leaders since independence. Only if you have this surname, can you become this party’s leader. The country votes for this surname. This time, their dog Tommy Gaadi is contesting the elections. There is a high probability of this party coming to power as most people still have trust in the Gaadi surname. The party also is known for its consistency in campaigning. Since my childhood, Garibi hatao has been their campaign theme. I am sure your kids, when they vote, will also be seeing this theme”

Before I could react, a gust of wind blew over all of us and the third flyer fell on my lap. “Shop at PigBazaar today and get cashbacks of Rs. 5000*” These words screamed in bold. The * mark made me look at the bottom of the flyer. I had to take a magnifying glass to read the disclaimer. “The cashback for 5000 is valid for 30 days from purchase. For a cashback of 5000, you need to purchase 25000 worth material. This cashback cannot be redeemed in one go. For every purchase, a maximum of 1000 cashback only can be redeemed. Thanks for being our dummy. PigBazaar management has the final say in any legal dispute arising out of this. “

I wanted to turn over and read the back-page contents of the PigBazaar flyer but my mother-in-law interrupted me. She took all the three flyers and kept it in a cup-board. I opened the cup-board and was awestruck. There were multiple shelves full of flyers. The brands ranged from Hornimoz Pizza, Himesh Dum Biryani Centre newly opened, Crow-ma electronics and Baba Kamdev’s ayurvedic products

Before I could do any further study, my baby pooped and we all rushed to the cradle. Without battling an eye-lid, both the Nan Maga Sarkar and the Garibi Hatao flyers were used to wrap the used diapers and were promptly thrown in the dust-bin. Before I could weep at the demise of these two flyers, the Chwiggy delivery boy knocked. We had just ordered samosas online for snacks. She took the PigBazaar flyer and wrapped it to suck the excess oil. My mother-in-law explained me many other uses of the marketing flyers – base paper to cut your toe-nails, to put the wet waste in the dust bin, cut-outs for her grand-daughter’s “shop-shop” game.

Having learnt my lesson, I vowed that I will never print any more marketing flyers. I will also stop others from doing this as it’s a sheer waste. I stepped out of my house to buy milk and there was a young buy distributing flyers to everyone. It was a broadband internet company’s flyers.I didn’t want to take it but the boy insisted that I take the flyer. I asked him –“young man, why do you think flyers will work?’ He replied “Sir, flyers are a very effective way of marketing. More flyers = more eyeballs = more brand awareness = more brand recall = more sales”

I looked at my mother-in-law and handed over the flyer to her smilingly.

Jai Hind

Jargons and Farragos : Freaky Fridays – Weekly blog

Jargons are the best thing to have happened in the history of mankind. A few months ago, Mukesh Ambani was quoted by the media “Data is the new oil “. Screw you man. So what? Should I buy the oil? Or should I clean up the data? There’s enough abundance of data in this world and enough shortage of oil. Just because some random person has created a random jargon which sounds impressive and intelligent, the whole world starts using this as if it’s a slogan to liberate us from independence. A layman will have no clue of this shitty jargon. Should I apply data on my head as its a replacement for coconut oil? Or are you selling data in satchets Mukesh bhai? …

The corporate folks take jargon obsessions to an all new level. Jargons are corporate Viagra for senior leaders. The greater the dose, the greater the erection levels … of intellect. Disruption, co-creation, value creation, big picture, dirty picture… Picture hi picture. In many corporates, an individual’s fate is decided by the amount of jargons used in his /her presentation. Lets look at the below corporate case study of Ramu and Shyamu.

Ramu and Shyamu do the same work independent of each other for 20 days and now are presenting their findings to the management. Ramu starts ” Sir, I analyzed various types of data, spent a lot of time with excel sheets, applied various formulas and now I present the findings. ” Rama opens a few drab excel sheets and starts showing his findings. The management is asleep. Shyamu goes next “Sir, I have extrapolated various data cuts , correlated the statistical significance using data mining techniques , applied big data principles and have come up with some strategic insights “.That’s it. Data mining, strategy, big data. The sleepy management wakes up. Shyamu follows his “I have a dream “style introduction with his opening Powerpoint slide. Instead of the excel sheet, the first slide is an animation -filled title slide. The words “data based strategic insights” rotate from the left to the right of the screen like Shaktimaan. Shyamu has complex graphs, hyperlinks and makes an “impact” presentation ending with the punchline “Data is the new oil. Let’s rule the world with our new oil”.

Shyamu is greeted with applause all around. The HR Head calls him “an upcoming thought leader of the future ” and a “hi-pot” (not sure which one of the two was high on pot) .Ramu on the other hand is branded as an “operational resource ” lacking in strategic foresight. He is sent to IIM Meh-meh-medabad for improving his strategic skills. There, he meets the founder of “Bull-shitter.com”, home to the world’s leading management gurus. He is taught the art of bull-shitting his way up the corporate ladder. He is taught the Three Golden Laws of Corporate Bull-Shitting:

1) Always include the word “strategy “in every corporate sentence

2) If you cannot, look at the following words “innovation”, “capability”, “ disruption”, “outperformance”, “ accelerator”, “explode” ,”restage”, “impact”, “levers”, “redefine”, “hands-on” ,“360 degree”, “ elevate “. Refer the McKinley dictionary of jargons for the complete list of words

3) If you still cannot apply 1 and 2 in your day-to-day corporate life, then please visit the STA (Shashi Tharoor Academy ) to hone your skills better.

Pleased with this knowledge, Ramu heads back to the corporate world. He meets his team. Usually, he would ask his team members” Hey, what’s the update on the Madanapally distributor performance?” Instead, he shows off “ Team, what’s the progress on our Madanapally strategy of disrupting the market with our three lever approach ?” His team is confused. Ramu however doesn’t stop there. He meets his HR Business Partner. The HRBRP says “Sir, I wanted to give you an update on our recruitment status”. Ramu blasts the HR “ Dude, how dare you degrade yourself? You aren’t just doing recruitment mate. You are doing “TALENT ACQUISITION” Please never use the operational word “recruitment” again”. Ramu then meets the supply chain coordinator- “ Bro, what’s the update on our supply chain strategy of improving efficiency by using a disruptive hands-on- approach?” The supply chain coordinator, who’s just a graduate and doesn’t understand anything of this, frantically calls his boss. His boss replies “Bro, chill. The guy has just come from his strategic immersion classes. He’s talking about the “delivery time improvement project status”. Ramu next visits the IT person. Usually, he would do a status check progress on the new website UX design. Instead, he kills it “Dude, where are we with respect to “re-defining our customer experience”. The IT person becomes a fan of the way Ramu has thought of “the bigger picture”. In a year’s time, Ramu is back in the list of “hi-pots”( by this time he also develops a pot-belly).

Ramu carries on in this manner for 5 years. He gets promoted every year and, in the process, exhausts all the jargons possible. People are now bored of his jargons as they have become repetitive. Fresh ideas and fresh jargons are the need of hour. He remembers the 3rd Golden Rules of Corporate Bull-Shitting and visits the Shashi Tharoor Academy. He is taught a solitary case study of how to sex-up sentences. Mr. Tharoor himself takes this class. He quotes his own real-life case study where he wanted to tweet his reactions to a journalist’s allegations of murder against him. He says” I wanted to give it back to the journalist but I also wanted people to learn the English language through me. This was my Tweet – Exasperating farrago of distortions, misrepresentations & outright lies being broadcast by an unprincipled showman masquerading as a journalst. When I did this, the whole of India googled the word farrago and the focus conveniently shifted to my excellence in jargons rather than my allegations. Farrago means a confused mixture. I hope you get the case study”. Ramu was spellbound.

Armed with this new weapon, he starts unleashing it at every possible opportunity. “Folks, a strategy if executed badly may turn into a farrago of errors” “ The candidate looks like a farrago of emotions to me. Rejected” “ The website design if not done well may lead to a farrago of errors” His name became Farrago Ramu. A few people committed suicide because of mental harassment. Finally, the senior management reached out to Shyamu, who now had completed a Ph.D in the Shashi Tharoor Academy. Shyamu had taken a sabbatical to do this and was now dangerously jargonized. Shyamu met Ramu. One conversation was enough for Ramu to get a heart attack and tender his resignation. The management quizzed Shyamu what were the golden words he had used. Shyamu replied. “ Sir, you need to fight fire with fire. I just quoted another Tharoor beauty which got him spell-bound.- I choose my words because they are the best ones for the idea i want to convey, not the most obscure or rodomontade ones! “ The management got up from their seats –“ We have heard of lemonade, promenade…what the hell is rodomontade?” Shyamu replied – sir “ Rodomontade means boastful or inflated talk or behavior.  This behavior won Shyamu  the “ Golden Peacock award for Bullshitting Excellence” from the corporate world. Everyone lived happily ever after.

When I narrated this story to my wife, she asked if this was a true story. I smilingly replied, “Bas kar pagli. Dimag ka farrago mat kar. I never believe in rodomontade. Now please pass on my lemonade 😊”

Jai Hind