The Value of Life


Ever wonder how precious life is? If you’re confused, go ask a mother. We’re always just too busy to keep wondering all the time, isn’t it?

Think about this. When you face a situation where you have no more a shelter on your head, no more an income to look to as your only income source has gone, you have not had anything for the last 2 days, one of your child seems to have fallen sick and there’s no medicine around and no doctors either, your entire family seems to be surrounded by water, flooded lands, misery, hopelessness, fear, sickness, feeling of being left alone, being left desolate and all of a sudden, you start hearing the hue and cry from a neighbourhood woman – her youngest son just couldn’t keep up anymore and is no more amongst us.

That is the moment when the only reality in life becomes survival – to get that next loaf of bread for yourself, but more importantly, for your family. Then, the only reality becomes what you will do if you won’t find anything to eat, and whether someone will be able to come to the rescue. What if no one comes? When the most likely option seems to be to sit and wait for some miracle to happen – this is the condition people in these disaster-stricken areas in Sindh, Pakistan face right now, each day, each hour of the day – how does it feel thinking about this? Not good, yes? Now, consider this: this is their reality!

Also, know that these people cannot post on websites about their condition, don’t access facebook to tell about how pathetic it feels not having eaten anything for 2 days, and can’t even tweet that the child in the neighbourhood just died because they couldn’t find food! If you are reading this post, chances are you’re better off enough that you likely do not even consider these things as luxuries anymore. This is your reality!

As we were preparing for the relief efforts few days ago and our team members were deliberating on ideas for things needed to be included in standard ration kits, we received an email from one of our coordinators from near the affected areas. He told us that some of these areas have been so badly flooded that there is practically no dry land around to cook food. As I started wondering how we should channelize our energies to come up with a solution, I kept reading on. So this coordinator offers a solution in the next paragraph, and says it’s something that has been tried-and-tested in another area last year. My heart starts pumping faster thinking what it could be and my eyes start to shine brighter. Do you want to know what that successful, tried-and-tested alternative was? He was suggesting we should distribute ‘tandoori rotis – a locally prepared bread’ with ‘pickles’ so that these people can at least stay alive. He also told us these breads are usable (note, ‘usable’ is not ‘fresh’) for 2 days, and it meant we had a lead time of 2 days to execute that plan from start to end there.

Now, as you’re reading this, sit back and ask your heart how you would feel putting down your throat this two-day old bread with pickles? Not excellent, yes? Well, the thing is that it’s an amazing blessing for them. This is their reality – staying alive, remember?

I hope after imagining this and knowing this, at least some of you would feel the same kind of weight on your heart and have moist eyes as I have writing it. My idea is not to make you feel burdened, but it is to share a reality. That’s it.

I hope this answers why relief work is also important right after such disasters. And in case, it still doesn’t answer our question, I have a more important question: are we really living? or just staying alive.

What do you do differently?


The right question to ask is not what do you do, but what do you do differently that others can’t easily replicate and consumers will keep on valuing high. Answer this well, and you’re good to go.

Sometimes the only option is to let go


Life comes with a great deal of variety: variety of people, places, things, activities, etc. etc. and sometimes it is mind boggling how attached one becomes to certain things or people that it’s very difficult to let go. In businesses as well, there are instances where founders or product innovators or brand managers have seen their company/product grow over the years and face the different winds of all the different seasons. It is these ups-and-downs that make the person so much attached to the product that he cannot imagine letting it go, even after the product lifecycle is far beyond over.

Unlike life, businesses need emotions to the extent they push overall growth and in some circumstances, the only option is to let go of the product. To sum up, for life’s major decisions, one should mostly think beyond brains and for business’ major decisions, one should always think with brains!

Changing the Game


“Entrepreneurs ignore the status quo, challenge the rules and change the game. We should know.”

That happened to come across in a full-page ad of Mishcon de Reya’s ad in Financial Times Middle East. It’s captivating, and inviting for an individual with a similar instinct to read more into the ad. It’s a Business Dispute Resolution firm, and talks about many of its products throughout their ad copy.

I would take the words “change the game” and take the concept forward with the idea. What is game changing? Game changing is about seeing the same things differently, and introducing a compelling reason for others to replicate the way he/she sees those things. It’s about innovating to find solutions to problems that most of the people have accepted as ‘part of the game’ and constantly forcing energies to deliver results that never were, and often, never thought to be possible as well.

Game changing is about spirit. It’s about belief in what you do. It’s about unwavering focus on things that are important and achievement through unique approaches. It’s when all others keep thinking how to do it, while you complete an assignment or a project.

To change the game, one has to reach a high level of self-confidence: Supreme self-confidence. This is when the inner game is exactly the same as the outer game. When the inside = outside, when you are not bothered about what others say about you or what others think about you, that’s when you qualify to change the game. So go out there, and make it happen.

Two Important Questions


These are the two most important questions you need to ask in most cases:

  1. Is this thing/situation/person/work the way you want this to be?
  2. If not, what are you doing about it?

If you keep asking yourself these two questions and keep answering them to the best of your abilities, you’ll keep improving your life and everyone will love you for it.

On valuing employees


Most successful corporations have learned their lessons about people power, and come to a common conclusion: People happen to be at the core of their business. Internal branding, therefore, has become an important facet of branding issues, where the internal customer (most often, employees) are partnered with to gear the company for success.

Some companies live on hope (Management-by-hope), which is to say that ‘if’ this happens, we will get an ‘x’ amount of growth in our company, relying on that ‘if’ to happen. These are poorly managed structures, because these are the kind of organizations that think about employees the last, if they ever do it.

Proactive management means to not only anticipate change, but create the change that will come to shape. It’s not an approach. It’s a norm. Approaches change, norms hardly do. When companies are focused on creating change, they not only empower, but also involve and engage employees in their growth, the employees then relate to the higher vision and work towards the targets with missionary zeal.

There are some companies that will most likely never change – of course, until they cease to exist; it’s better for the proactive employees there to change their companies instead.

Where’s Your Audience?


So yesterday evening in the downtown area of Karachi City, this man brought a van with huge speakers put on to it, and started protesting on the mike while passing through the busy Saddar streets. Throughout the speech, he was protesting against government and telling what the government ought to do about one particular case.

However palatable the reasoning and arguments might have been, he could not even attract ears of even flies around there. It is important to make a well-put case forward, but much more important to know where to put it. The only value that guy created was nuisance value. No value addition.

Alternatively, if he had spent the same amount of money that went in preparing that van, renting the sound system, making other logistics arrangements into preparing a fora where government officials could be approached and petitions could be filed to the relevant authorities in the government, the efforts could have borne some fruit.

The difficulty in doing the thing right is the fear that it would go past unnoticed by the majority, but really, is  that attention even worthwhile? Keep doing things the right way and the right people would notice. After all, isn’t that what you wanted in the first place?

Mark Hurd’s Lead in Oracle


Mark Hurd has joined Oracle. The market welcomed this move with a whopping increase in share price as soon as the news broke. Is it a good thing for Oracle? For HP?

At HP, his departure was somewhat strange with a host of stories from his abuse of power and sexual harassment charges to simple expense account irregularities as suggested in the company’s press release, but things were not brought out very clearly in the Press Release done by HP. It was a hotchpotch of news items which were found all over the “internet” and the “off-ternet” suggesting reasons for his departure but few were able to assign clear cut reasons for the same. HP’s position goes worse on two accounts: firstly, losing out on a competent employee means loss of company performance in the short-term and secondly, such a loss of performance would be hit by even larger fear lingering on other top C-level executives that would possibly keep them from even productive, professional involvement with female executives in many instances.

At Oracle, Hurd’s new Presidency means a host of opportunities for the company. However, Larry Ellison would still retain the top-man’s role in the company. This new setup with with Safra Catz and the role in the Board would mean a revitalization of Oracle at C-level and the possibility of entering into many new dimensions, much faster.

Clearly, things in the industry would shuffle up and there would be radical diversions in the strategy of not only these two companies, but also others. It would be interesting to note and compare HP’s growth trajectory and product and service innovation with Oracle’s in the next few months to years to see how important the “person behind the gun”, or the top executive could be in leading and managing change.

On Keeping a Productive, Happy Workforce


Organizations often undermine their credibility by not valuing the importance of a bond of trust with the employees. Many a times, fairly small misinterpretation lead to disaster for the company because employees cannot see the concern they expect from the employers in the way they are communicated, treated or kept.

For instance, issues of mundane nature such as salary adjustments, bonus treatment, tax calculations, or leave pay could lead to misunderstandings that breed the seed of a feeling of unfairness or apathy in an employee’s mind. This is the kind of situation to avoid, because at the end of the day, this leads to ill-feeling about the overall workplace, reduced productivity and negative energy all around.

How could this situation be avoided?

By making sure the following, such uncalled for events can be minimized, if not eliminated:

  • Every new employee is given a proper orientation program lasting a couple of days, where company policies and work related information is effectively communicated to them.
  • All employees are kept informed and posted on any changes in  company policies and be adequately involved, or at least given time to raise their concerns about the changes to be implemented.
  • Effective HR Information System (HRIS) in place whereby all employee-related information is readily available in the most updated fashion. In smaller companies, effective record keeping and courteous human resource staff could make up for the HRIS.
  • Bi-annual statements issued (through email/postal mail) by the HR department outlining updated leaves’ status for employees, and account of any changes in policies to be implemented in the coming six months.

More than anything else, progressive organizations need to be sure that the element of fairness and equity is never compromised at all. Once an aura of a culture of “Doing the Right Thing” sets in place, the going is going to be far more smooth.

Decide today if you want a happy, productive and competent workforce – and ACT. Otherwise, don’t do anything and be left with only “deadwood” eventually. Make your choice, because not choosing is a choice too.