Archive for September, 2009

Why Consulting is such a sought after career choice?

I’ve thought about this endlessly, perhaps will continue to do so…but applying one of the principles I read in Nissim’s, Black Swan seems to help me address this question very elegantly.

In a section where he touches upon career advice he says how the best career advice he ever received was one about picking a career that was scalable (he later on talks about how that advice was one of the worst too…but we will come to that later). One in which your continuous presence does not limit your upside potential, one in which the quality of your decisions and not you as a physical entity has prominence. Lo behold, apply consulting to that framework and the question solves itself. It is one of the easiest professions for the logically-thinking people where they can make intelligent sounding strategies and rake millions out of pretty looking presentations.

Now, please don’t think of this as a high-brow statement, I belong to the same class of individuals classified as consultants and know the importance of the work as well as the painstaking, backbreaking, mind numbing effort that goes into making those pretty-looking presentations. However, it is like one of those moments when some puzzle falls in place and you have to celebrate it by announcing it to the world and hence, here I’m,  a step closer to the blessed state of knowingly doing what I’m doing.

Late Comers…Fly Good

Two of my past experiences seem to be indicating that if you manage to arrive really late, but at the nick of time at an airline check-in counter, there are lots of sops in store. The nail-biting, nerve-wrecking experience of just about making it to the flight can lead to rewards ranging from upgrades to business class, meal vouchers at stopovers and seats with leg-stretch space that are generally reserved for people with special needs or travelling with babies.

Our recent most return flight from our hometown resulted in an unusually long queue at the entrance, and though we were 20-30 mins ahead of time and had done online check-in, by the time we reached the check-in counter our seats had been released and Kingfisher graciously upgraded us to business class – so that resulted in a luxurious trip back to Bangalore. Long live, long queues!!!

 Next…is the most hilarious of all, this is our recent trip to Thailand. Due to long queues in the visa on arrival counter, we managed to miss our connecting flight to Phuket and what is more, arrived with just 10 mins to spare for the next one. They had us jump the queue, dash to the check-in, zoom past the security and run through the corridors to be seated in the seats with leg-stretch space – oh! what a relief, it was – I fell asleep through most of the flight, anyway. But not before thanking God, for the long queues!!!

Oh and I almost forgot – I was thinking, wouldn’t it be a good idea for the airlines to offer some kind of sop for people who come a little ahead of time or on time and help them avoid last minute confusions? Do you think the regular nick-of-time time arrivers will start arriving a little ahead of the last minute, if they knew that randomly a person chosen up to a certain point of time on any given day might get an upgrade and the closer to the counter closing time they get, the lesser probablity of them getting the upgrade? Food for thought…is someone from Jet or Kingfisher marketing listening?

Tinkering and Innovation

I was reading Nissim Taleb’s, Black Swan and something that he mentioned really jumped at me. He talks about how in the history no major discovery, breakthrough or innovation ever happened based on statistics and empirical data. It happened because people tinkered with experiments, data, projects, applications. In my mind, this is a very important observation, for any industry to proliferate and grow in a region it is important to have opportunities to tinker, experiment, fail….and win. Why do I say fail? It is not so much the act of failing rather the freedom to do so that frees the person from the burden of being mediocre and following the set path. It frees people to be themselves and in the process creating a network effect on industries across the stream.

Incubation centres play such a role and let people experiement, tinker and learn. But more importantly, the process of tinkering has to be easily doable, accessible and low cost leading to high quality, highly reliable network for innovation for anyone who decided to do so. This is one of the reasons why product innovation has not taken off in such a big way in India, yet. Especially creating products that require large capital infusion to create the basic prototype before the customer can fund it by being “raving fans”.

What do you think? How important is tinkering and access to experimentation in creating product companies in a region? How important is this within a company? Can we hold Google’s 20% innovation time as a rule as opposed to an exception, within companies, now that we know this fact?

Jewellery Ad’s Golden Tail Effect

In many an articles in this blog, I have repeatedly asked (myself loudly, mostly :)) who buys stuff seeing the various obnoxious and oft-repeated ads dumped at the consumers, day in and day out. One of the reasons that jumps out is brand building, of course. But, it seems like a general marketing hoo-ha, not something that can affect us at a sub-conscious level, not something that can make permanent behavioural changes in our buying patterns, not something that can cause us to want things different from what we used to before we were subjected to the ad agency consipracy.

Well, when you look at it from the three lenses above, the jewellery industry in Kerala (India) jumps out at you. You name it there are so many of them (Bhima, Joy Alukkas, Alappatt, Josco to name a few…), the coverage on the billboards in Kerala not withstanding they are extending their reach to Chennai and Bangalore too! In the past, they might have flourished as a natural investment option for all kinds of money flowing in from Gulf countries for the families back home. But, there are other kinds of people living there, who don’t have as much money, who probably want to invest in other instruments other than Gold, but wherever you turn in Kerala, the bedecked, bejewelled faces are smiling at you – as if asking – “Do you like this?”, “Do you own this”, “Your worth is defined by how much Gold you own”, “I look good in gold, you will too” and more…phew!

At a subliminal level, the society itself begins to value gold more than the rest of the country does. People begin to see it as a mark of status, something they should own as a must-have. People begin to think that because everybody around them wants it, they must want it too and if they have money, the only right thing to do is to buy gold. It requires quite a bit of grit and determination to stay put in your resolve not to buy it, if you don’t want to, to begin with.

Anyway, kudos to the ad dollars that have shaped the psyche of an entire state and are expanding their wings further north.

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