Success does not come if you chicken out.

Have you seen a new born baby bird struggle to fly? New born calves or other young ones of animals try to stand repeatedly on their legs though they keep falling. What we need to note here is they never give up until they succeed.
Human babies also go through such stages but the same cannot be said of adults. Many of us just give up or lose hope.
Here is the story of a man who did not give up and tasted astounding success.
Colonel Sanders may not be a familiar name to all but KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken definitely is. It is well known the world over. KFC is the result of the struggle and perseverance of this man called Colonel Sanders.
Just to go back in time as to how he shaped KFC……
Sanders spent his childhood in Indiana where he had to manage the house while his mother went to work. He had to lend a helping hand to his mother after his father’s death to take care of the house and the other members of the family. Perhaps this is where he developed his skills of cooking. After trying out many jobs, he started a service station in Kentucky which had a dining area where he served his special chicken.
As business grew, he moved into a restaurant nearby and catered to more customers. Later he added a motel to his outlet. In 1935 he was described as a ‘Kentucky Colonel’ in praise of his cooking skills by the then Governor .This was the start of his ‘Original Recipe’.
Sanders Court and Café catered to travellers who passed through Corbin, Kentucky on their way to Florida. However, a new interstate caused loss of business forcing Sanders to close down and retire. He received his first social security cheque for 105 dollars. But Sanders was not planning to settle down with this. He wanted to share his recipe with other restaurants across The United States.
He travelled door to door from houses to restaurants trying to promote his recipe. No one expressed great enthusiasm. He started moving by car and cooking his recipe impromptu at several restaurants. But he did not meet with success. It is said he heard out 1009 ‘no’s’ before he heard a ‘Yes’ from Pete Harman in Utah who agreed to partner with him. They launched ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’ in 1952. The deal was said to be that for every piece of chicken sold, Sanders would receive a nickel. The restaurant would receive the ingredients in packets to avoid them from knowing his recipe.
By 1964, Sanders had 600 franchisees selling his chicken. He sold his company for $2 million at this juncture. It has changed hands since then but its flavour remains.
Success is determined by sheer hard work and perseverance as Colonel Sanders proved it to be. Age is no deterrent if you believe in yourself and in your dreams. KFC is now an international name and a favourite of many the world over. All thanks to the untiring efforts and determination of this lone man called Colonel Sanders.

Is there a problem?

This is a very simple and interesting story very commonly found for reading on the internet. But what intrigued me was that it threw light on how we sometimes approach situations in an entirely wrong perspective.
This is an incident that happened in the life of a bus driver. The dedicated man that he was, he reached the bus station on time every day and drove out his bus precisely on time without fail. This happened day after day. Commuters got in and got out at various stops on his route.
One day, a huge and well built man got on to the bus, glared at the driver and said in a booming voice, “Big Tom does not pay.”
The driver was naturally intimidated by his size and decided not to enter into an argument with him. The next day, this huge man got on to the bus, repeated his words and occupied a seat. The bus driver decided to ignore him for that day too.
But, this became a regular occurrence and the driver could not take it anymore. He decided that he was going to counter this man. So the driver signed up for body building classes. He also attended self defence sessions and learnt some forms of martial arts.
In a month’s time, he felt he was good enough to counter this giant of a man. So the next day, he was mentally prepared to challenge Big Tom. As usual, Big Tom got in to the bus, glared at him and said, “Big Tom does not pay.”
The driver mustering all his courage asked him in a loud voice, “Why not?”
The man was taken aback and surprised too. The driver was feeling elated that he had stunned this huge man.
He replied, “I have a bus pass!”
The driver was absolutely flabbergasted by his reply.
It imparts a simple lesson in life for us. On many occasions, we assume that there are problems in certain situations without lending a practical approach to it. What we assume as problems or barriers may not be so after all. Just like this driver, we tend to blow things out of proportion and get affected by it.

Chanakya’s Arthashastra – secret to corporate success.

The ancient Indians were supposed to be masters of many disciplines and their writings stand testimony to this.
One man who was known for his vast knowledge, sharp intellect and shrewd political thinking was Chanakya or Kautilya. He was a Professor of Economics at the famous Takshashila University and also specialized in Political Studies. His role as the Prime Minister of Chandragupta Maurya was above par and lauded by historians even today. He is considered as the earliest known economist and political thinker. He has 3 books to his credit which are considered as warehouses of knowledge even today – Arthashastra, Neethishastra and Chanakya Neethi. The first book is about identifying leaders and grooming them to exhibit these skills especially in governing a country.
Dr. Radhakrishnan Pillai in his book ‘Corporate Chanakya’ has presented the thoughts of Chanakya in a simple form for corporate leaders of today. I am trying to compile a few of his thoughts here.
Any successful organisation should have a strong foundation, a clear vision and a solid commitment to achieve the goals of the organisation. Kautilya considers that there are 7 pillars, as he refers to them, which determine the success of any organisation. Let us have a look at these 7 in today’s perspective.
• The King or leader: This person is the captain of the ship and guides the organisation in the right direction. Now they are known by various names in the corporate world – CEO, Director and so on. They steer the organisation towards success.
• The Minister or Manager: This is the person who manages the organisation and takes charge in the absence of the leader. This individual is always making sure the ideas are converted into action and nothing goes awry.
• The Country or the Market: No organisation can survive without a market and success depends on how well you manage your market. It keeps the cash register ringing.
• The Fortified City or the Head Office: This is where all important decisions are taken. All planning and strategy is carried out here. It is the nerve centre of every organisation.
• The Treasury or Financial Resources: It is the most important pillar as it is the one that decides the future of any organisation and needs to be well managed.
• The Army or The Team: Just as a well trained army is necessary for success in war, a well equipped team is necessary for the success of any organisation. It should be made of committed individuals who do not lose sight of the goals of the organisation. Each member is important and has a role to play.
• The Ally or Consultant: This individual plays a very important role when the organisation is in trouble. This person will be the one who will stand by you in times of trouble and extend the required support.

These seven are the foundation of the success of any organisation and will face all challenges that an organisation faces and help overcome them. It is definitely food for thought that a book complied centuries back has content which is applicable even in today’s corporate world. It speaks volumes about what a genius Chanakya was.

Success is yours if……..

We come across so many successful people in our day to day life who have made a mark in some way or the other. How often have you wondered what could probably be the secret of their success?
The occasions that we have thought so will be many.
A young man once asked the great Greek philosopher, Socrates about the secret to success.
Being the great thinker that Socrates is, he asked the young man to meet him the next morning near the river. The young man was overjoyed that the great Socrates was going to give him a reply.
The next morning, both met near the river. Socrates gestured to the young man to walk with him into the river. The young man was petrified on understanding the gesture. He wondered what Socrates was planning to do by walking into the river.
Gathering courage, he followed Socrates into the river. They kept walking until the water level reached up to their neck. Then suddenly, Socrates turned and ducked the young man’s head under the water. Taken by surprise, the young man struggled to come out of the water. But Socrates was a strong man and kept his head under water. He started gasping for breath and was turning pale. Then Socrates let him go and the young man came to the surface gasping and breathing heavily.
Now Socrates asked him, “What did you want most when under water?” The young man replied that he wanted to breathe and get some air. Socrates gave a wry smile and said, “That is the secret to success. Just like you wanted air badly when under water, if you want success badly, you will try hard to get it. This is the simple secret of success.”
Motivation to achieve success comes from an inner desire to achieve something. This strong desire to achieve is what propels us towards success. First have a purpose and then work towards achieving it. Success will definitely be yours.

The Mahabharata and management.

The Indian mythology is said to be replete with principles for which parallels can be drawn to today’s life and applied successfully.
The great Epic Mahabharata is said to be a storehouse of examples that highlight efficient management principles. This concept intrigued me a lot and my article is based on my reading of various write-ups on this particular concept- The Mahabharata and Management.
I am compiling the opinions expressed by various individuals trying to draw a parallel between instances from the Mahabharata and the management concepts. Hope it makes an interesting read
• The Pandavas while in exile decided to acquire new skills and also develop their existing ones. Arjuna set out to acquire skills in using new weapons while Yudhishtira acquired new knowledge from the rishis and became an ace in the game of dice. These skills gave them an edge in the final confrontation with the Kauravas. The lesson to be learnt here is that management skills and knowledge become redundant with passing of time. We need to acquire new skills to suit the changing times and update our existing skills too.

• Success comes with sharing of responsibility. The Kauravas had one commander –in –chief for their entire army. As each leader fell, it was passed on to another. Bhishma, Drona, Karna and the list goes on until there comes even a time when the army is leaderless. Despite having a Commander, Duryodhana had the authority to take and make decisions which led to clash of thoughts. The Pandavas had Arjuna as the Chief Commander; Dhristadumnya as commander in chief and their seven divisions were the responsibility of different commanders. This sharing of responsibility is a modern day management principle which leads to democracy in the organisation and success automatically follows.

• The Mahabharata gives us brilliant examples that reiterate team work always succeeds. Though the Kauravas had the advantage of numbers and stalwarts in the Kurukshetra war, they did not make a great team. Each one had a personal goal to achieve which turned to be their undoing. The Pandavas, on the other hand had only one main goal and everyone took part in the decision making process. Team work succeeds only when the team members have the same goal.

• Commitment is the secret to success. The Pandavas scored over the Kauravas in undying commitment. Though the stalwarts like Bhishma and Drona gave up their lives, they did not harm the Pandava army. Abhimanyu and Ghatotkacha fought losing battles but did not give up their lives before causing losses to the opponent. A team needs committed members rather than only skilled members.

• Last but not the least, Lord Krishna is an example of efficient crisis management. While the Kauravas and the Pandavas were fighting for immediate success, Krishna was looking at the larger purpose of the war. A leader should have the larger picture in mind always and drive the team to work towards it. As Krishna was not participating in the war directly, he managed to think differently and offer alternate suggestions to the Pandavas. A real leader is one who can offer effective suggestions as and when needed.

The above are just a few situations from this great epic which highlight important management principles. This epic is full of more such instances and is an interesting subject to study management principles. What is intriguing is the number of parallels we can draw to present day situations.

Put down your glass!

How many of us take our problems to bed?
The question may sound strange but it will surprise you that many answer in the affirmative.
Is it wise to carry our problems at work or personal to bed?
Here is a very simple story which could help you decide.
This is a scene in a classroom at a college that is packed with students. The Professor holds up a glass of water and asks a very strange question –“How much do you think is the weight of this glass?” The students were shouting out various answers “100 gms, 200 ml, 1 pound etc.”
The Professor continued and said, “I really don’t know how much this glass weighs. My question to you is – What will happen if I hold this glass for a few minutes?”
The students were puzzled but some managed to answer “Nothing!”
Next the professor continued to ask “What if I held it up for 1 hour?”
The students found it quite funny that he was asking such silly questions. One of them shouted out -”Your arms would ache!”
The Professor replied “Exactly.” What do you think would happen if I held it up for 1 day?”
Several answers were received – “Your arms could become numb. You could have muscular pain.” You may have to visit a hospital.”
“Excellent answers! But during all this was the weight of the glass constant?”
The students replied in the affirmative. He continued, “Then why do you say my arm would ache?”
The students had no convincing answers. The Professor asked, “What should I do to stop the ache?”
“Put the glass down” –pat came the reply.
The professor continued,”Absolutely true. Life’s problems are something like this. Having them in your head for a few minutes is fine. But if you carry them for a long time, then they begin to ache and disturb you. The longer you hold them, the effects are manifold. They begin to paralyze your thoughts. You will not be able to think clearly. So it is very important that you put down your problems from time to time.
More importantly, put them down at the end of the day. Then you are not under undue stress. You can start each day on a fresh note and handle any challenge that comes your way more effectively.”
This is such a simple yet effective way to keep ourselves stress free. Let us all try it out.
So at the end of the day, remember to put down your glass.

Project management – a necessity.

As we start a new day with every sunrise, little do we realize that we are initiating, planning and executing some action or work without even realizing so.
Do we ever understand that we are incorporating a so called project into our lives and managing it every waking hour? We are all project managers at one point or the other.
It is such an important and crucial part of management but we hardly realize its importance to achieve success. It lays the frame work to achieve our goals whether personal or organisational.
It is an something that can organize economic activities and is used in diverse industries like pharma, software, manufacturing industries and anywhere where economic activity is involved.
The project management process provides ample opportunity to set goals, define objectives and break up a large task into manageable tasks. It helps in managing resources effectively and mange change without much disruption.
Organisations that have implemented project management processes have registered improvements in finance, customer satisfaction, manufacturing processes and in the overall growth of the organisation.
What does project management involve?
• Planning where all the plans of an organisation are converted into project plans. Each project must focus on the organisation’s goals.
• The organisational structure must be so planned to create good project management teams which will ensure implementation of the project management process efficiently.
• The systems adopted in an organisatiom need to empower project management processes.
• The right kind of people with the required capability should be part of any project team. It is the most important aspect of a project’s success.
• Last but not the least, the organisation’s core values like commitment, maintaining quality, working as a team and customer satisfaction should be adhered to at all times.

Ina nutshell, project management means an ability to manage goals, budgets, manpower and time effectively and efficiently. These are most essential to accomplish a project successfully as planned.
Project management has often been not given the importance it needs to be given in organisations. But with changing times and stiff competition, it has emerged as a powerful tool to achieve goals and targets.
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The Cadillac motivates……

Motivation – motivating oneself and motivating others are entirely different tasks and requires determination coupled with skill.
It is always said that an effective leader is one who can motivate his team members. This is a very interesting story of a gentleman who motivated his employees to perform better than they believed they could.
This gentleman whom we are talking about here had a business that is entirely based on sales of goods. He had a very unique policy while appointing his employees. He chose them very carefully after satisfying himself completely about their capability.
Once they are appointed, he took them to a Cadillac dealer and insisted that they trade their car for a Cadillac. The sales man would usually be stunned as he could not afford a Cadillac. The huge cost, the high monthly payments would literally scare the employee. But the gentleman insisted that it was a precondition for employment.
What happened next was quite predictable. The salesman took the car home and probably shocked his wife out of her wits. After the initial shock wore off, he took her and the family for a ride around the neighbourhood. He waved out to his neighbours as always. They waved back as usual but everyone was admiring his new car. He parked the car in the driveway of his house and some neighbours dropped by to admire his Cadillac. With this kind of a response, somewhere the man started believing that he was worthy of owning a Cadillac and his confidence level soared. This in turn influenced his attitude towards work.
In some time, this new attitude increased his earning potential and motivated him to perform well. And it goes without saying that all the employees in this gentleman’s organisation were star performers in their own way. The payment for the Cadillac was of no great concern as their earning potential was much higher.
The employees never realized that they were being motivated to perform to the best of their ability. This is what a true leader should be capable of. Motivate others unobtrusively.

Teamed in to the times.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller.
This is team work summed up so beautifully in a sentence.
Teams and team work are becoming the order of the day. Gone are the days when individuals worked on tasks by themselves. Teams now are an integral part of every organisation and mark the path to success. It has been widely observed that team work brings in better results than individual work. Individuals having similar interests and specializations come together and form a team.
What are the advantages of team work?
• Tasks are completed faster as members help each other by sharing the job responsibility. It reduces work pressure and brings out better and efficient performance.
• It encourages a healthy competition among the members. It should be welcomed as it brings out the best in employees and leads to contribution to the organisation’s success.
• It helps in building relations among employees. This in turn leads to better rapport and churns out good performances.
• Each individual stands to gain from team work. One can always learn from another and enrich oneself. There is better motivation to work and contribute to the team’s task.
• Team work leads to better organized performance. Individuals have their work allocated to them and everyone works on definite parts of a bigger task. It leads to lesser overlapping of work.
• Employees feel more positive and confident. There is a general feeling of good will which in turn leads to outstanding performance from individuals.

Today team work is the accepted norm of working and is commonly prevalent everywhere. It is not only found in organisations but has extended to places of education too. The strength of teams and team work is being realized and adapted almost everywhere.
Working in a team calls for better understanding of people, flexibility and a feeling of oneness which helps an individual become a better human being.
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Success lies in simplicity.

What do we do when faced with problems? Some of us handle it calmly to find solutions and still others are flabbergasted by it totally. Even among those who find solutions, there are some who have a capacity to find simple solutions which goes a long way.
In one of Japan’s biggest cosmetic companies, a very strange complaint was received. On purchasing a soap bar, one of the customers received an empty carton. It was devoid of the soap bar.
It was a matter of grave concern. The top brass called an emergency meeting to find the root of the problem. It was traced to the assembly line which transported the packaged cartons to the delivery department. For some reason unknown, one carton managed to make it empty to the delivery department. The engineers were called to find a solution so that such mistakes did not happen in future. The engineers researched and worked very hard to find a lasting solution. They devised an X-Ray machine with high resolution monitors. These were manned by two personnel who had to observe every soap carton and make sure it was not empty. They worked very hard to find this solution and spent a large amount for the device.
This same problem was faced by another small organisation and the employees were asked to come up with a solution. One of them came up with an instant solution. He asked for a strong industrial electric fan and placed it near the assembly line.
When the soap cartons were passing through the assembly line, the fan was switched on. As each soap carton went past the fan, the empty ones were blown away by the breeze generated from the fan. The solution was instant, simple and did not cost the organisation much.
It tells us that while looking for solutions, look for simple, effective ones. The thinking put in by the engineers and the employee was so different. The crux lay in the fact that they viewed the problem differently. The solution lies not in the magnitude of the problem but in how you look at it.
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