My Comedy Of Errors.

For the past four months, I had not been getting OTPs sent by my bank whenever I entered into any net banking transaction with it. It was not a major issue as I would just ask the alternative method of getting the OTP via a telephone call.

I recently made a wrong password entry while trying to access my account and my old password was therefore made invalid and I had to reset my password. For resetting the password however, there is no second option of getting the OTP via a telephone call and I simply could not access my account as I could not log in.

Service personnel from the bank came over to my residence to try and help me and were baffled to see that the OTP was not coming whenever I asked for it. They therefore suggested that I change my telephone number and apply for a change in the registered number with them. They assured me that it would solve the problem and after some time I could ask to revert to the original telephone number.

I duly did this by getting a new cellphone connection about which I shall write in my next blot post.

I duly applied for change of registered telephone number in my account with the bank on last Friday. I got messages both in my phone via the messaging application and through emails acknowledging receipt of my application and eventually on Sunday even advising me that my new number has been registered while deregistering my old number.

On receipt of these messaging application messages I started to wonder why while I was getting those messages, I was not getting the OTPs and it occurred to me that perhaps I had inadvertently blocked the OTP number. I sought the help of our resident geek to try and find if I had done that and in no time he found that I had indeed blocked the number four months ago. Not only that, I had also blocked a few others including some family members’ numbers.

I had been getting hundreds of spam messages and I would ruthlessly block them from future messages and perhaps in the process had inadvertently blocked some numbers which should not have been blocked in my haste to get rid of a number of messages in the message box.

I duly unblocked the numbers that should not have been blocked and tried to access my bank account to reset my password. And bingo, I could, as I got the OTP through the messaging system without any problems.

It now remains for me to go back to the bank with a request to revert to the old telephone number but, I think that I will wait for a while before I do that to check the efficiency of the new connection. And perhaps to enable the efficient fellows who obliged me in changing the number to forget my name so that when I request them again, they will be as efficient as they were during the first request for their service.

The Relationship Of Sales, Politics And The Truth.

Although I had reached General Management positions before I retired from active business life, I spent most of it in Marketing and more specifically in Sales. I never however, sold or tried to sell Snake Oil. A salesman however is always looked upon suspiciously and terms like Snake Oil Salesman, Used Car Salesman, Wheeler Dealer etc,  are more common than just plain salesman. I am a rare salesman who even now calls his occupation as a Retired Salesman.

So, when this topic was suggested by The Old Fossil, I was intrigued as to why he would have come up with this odd combination and racked my brain to find something linking these three words. It has not been easy but, I hope that what I have come up with here finds my readers’ approval.

The best description of a Salesman’s job that I have come across is “creating a demand and catering to it”.  This can mean creating a demand for something for which demand did not exist as well as diverting demand from a competitor’s product to one’s own. I flatter myself that in both these activities, I have had a fairly successful career and though I have met failures, they have been much less in comparison to my successes.

I also strongly believe that I was successful because I did not take recourse to politics to sell which I have seen many salesmen do. I use the word politics in a broader sense than the narrower one of the field of politicians. For instance, I had an experience of losing a customer to a competitor because the Purchase Manager of the customer was bribed. I could have politicked and gone over his head but, preferred to wait out and was rewarded with my patience when the product failed on the shop floor and investigation found out the reason for the shift and I was back dealing with the same customer but with a different Purchase Manager.

Another example was doing the opposite.  Influencing production people to complain about a competitor’s product so that the purchase department is forced to buy from another source.  I never indulged in this kind of politicking either.

Such experiences repeated  many times and my advice to Sales Professionals was and is even now to avoid such traps / temptations.

Coming to Truth, I inevitably found that truth eventually wins in Marketing and hype inevitably fails in the long term. This however need not be the mantra for all Sales Professionals. Let me give an example. When I was a Sales Trainee, I had gone with a Senior Salesman to a customer to learn the ropes and despite much effort, my senior could not clinch a deal. On reporting back to the Sales Manager, after asking a number of questions he came up with a statement that I will never forget in my life. “Gentlemen, you failed because you did not give the customer facts. They don’t have to be facts but, give customers facts to be effective salesmen.”

Fortunately for me I did not take this particular piece of training to heart and that particular Sales Manager came to a bad end eventually.

My motto was always “promise less and deliver more” and this worked and I did not have to resort to telling lies or twisting truths in my career. The fact that many of the customers with whom I had established strong relationships continue to be my friends even now bears testimony to that.

This is my contribution to this week’s Friday 8 On 1 blog post topic. The other seven bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Maria. Sanjana, PadmumRaju, Shackman , Srinivas and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by Conrad The Old Fossil. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

Power.

“One who makes himself a worm cannot complain afterwards if people step on him.”
~ Immanuel Kant


“The mosquito, in fact, is more powerful than the human being. Usually when you catch an animal, you set a trap, you throw a net. But when it comes to mosquitoes, it is you who must enter into the mosquito net; it is you who must escape the mosquito. So who is more powerful? In fact, every little bug, every virus, has got its own power over you.”

~ Swami Dayananda Saraswati.

Power is always relative.  What is popularly considered as powerless say like an insect can exercise power over man like the quote above illustrates.  Today, as I write this, the Chinese Virus, invisible to the human eye has more power over mankind than anything that I have seen in my long life time.  It has kept me and millions of others like me confined to our homes and has made normal life that human beings experienced just eight months ago impossible with no respite in sight.  In fact, the so called most powerful man in the world, POTUS was powerless over the virus which illustrates my argument more than any thing else will do.

Just take a good look around the world and you will see power struggles of all kinds, intra and international as well as other kinds like intra and inter family power struggles over assets;  and businesses fighting for shares of markets and so on.  It is ubiquitous and all around us but, we do not notice is precisely for the reason that it is so ordinary and pedestrian.

My interest in Power as a subject to think about was kindled in 1984 when I attended a seminar by a Management Association in Mumbai, on the subject. After attending the seminar, I promptly bought the book The Anatomy Of Power by J B Galbraith. Wikipedia has this to say about the book.

“The Anatomy of Power is a book written by Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith, originally published in 1983 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It sought to classify three types of power: compensatory power in which submission is bought, condign power in which submission is won by making the alternative sufficiently painful, and conditioned power in which submission is gained by persuasion. In short, money, force and ideology.

It further divided power by source: power either stems from personality or leadership, property or wealth, or organisation.

The book goes on to detail a brief history of the use of power, noting the broad arc of history in moving away from condign and towards compensatory and then conditioned power, and from personality and property towards organisation. Finally, it details what Galbraith views as the main sources of power in the modern world: government, the military, religion and the press.”

Since reading the book, I have used the understanding gained in observing human and animal behaviour in day to day life and have been able to resolve many issues by simply taking appropriate action after understanding quite where the exercise of power by the person concerned or the creature, comes from and to reach what end purpose.

A Post Script;  I sleep under a mosquito net every night!

Having enjoyed those experiences, I suggested this topic for this week’s Friday post where eight of us write on the same subject so that I can share my enthusiasm for the book with my readers so that perhaps they too will find it worthwhile to read the book and enjoy similar experiences. The other seven bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Maria. Sanjana, PadmumRaju, Shackman , Srinivas and Conrad. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

 

The New Normal.

Work From Home has changed many things and fortunes and here is one aspect of it. Hyderabad is not the only city affected. Other cities with high concentration of IT establishments are equally affected. Pune, my home city is as badly affected as are Mumbai and Bengaluru.

It is not only homes that have seen loss of tenants. Businesses too have found that it is more economical to operate in a WFH system. They are giving up office space all over India as this report shows.

Here is another report about one of India’s largest IT companies that gives a clear indication of what lies ahead.

I personally know of some youngsters who have moved back with their parents in other parts of the country to work from home and save on rent. Employers too are happy with this option as WFH also gets more man-hours per employee than before.

A major change due to this one single development of WFH is the reduction in traffic in the cities most impacted like Pune for instance. Parking space is readily available as is commuting time for others. Peak hour traffic is so low that it does not look like peak hour at all.

These two factors alone should improve the quality of air in our cities and reduce fuel consumption which in turn will impact the automobile industry all over the world.

Domestic consumption is likely to stay at current levels where people have learned to do with less and this is likely to affect consumption and therefore production and therefore employment. Footfalls in Malls and Cinema Theaters are reduced and DTH is rapidly taking over entertainment which in turn affects traffic and related consumption patterns.

So, some industries will scale down while others will scale up and quite which will become clearer as we go along.

There are many other factors that will come into play as the Covid impact lessens and those will become evident as we move further into the year and 2021.

The most significant change will be in our lifestyles which will never again be what they used to be pre pandemic times.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 6 On 1 blog post topic. The other five bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, PadmumRaju, Shackman and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by me. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

The Virtues And Toxicities Of Popularity

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”

~ Shakespeare in As You Like It.
No. my intention is not to ring my own bell.
Nor to pat myself on my own back. I have a message about the topic where I am the centre of the action and so, these two pictures.

Fellow Five on One blogger and web-friend Shackman posted this on his facebook page and as he had requested I copy pasted on my page.

“I think most of you know me pretty well, it doesn’t matter when our paths may have crossed. Maybe some of you like me and some don’t, but if you’re on my Facebook, it’s because I like you. I would love to see if we can still chat more than just likes and actually write something to each other. Again, I decided to participate in an experience called “Meeting between bread.” The idea is to see who reads the post without a photo. We are so quick to dive into technology that we forgot the most important thing: good friendship. If no one is reading this message, it will be a short social experiment. But if you finish this to the end, I would love you to comment in ONE WORD about us. For example: a place, an object, a person, a moment in which you remember me. Then copy this text and post it on your page (don’t share) and I’ll go to your page to leave a word that reminds me of you. Please don’t comment if you don’t have time to copy the text. This will destroy the experiment. Let’s see who spent their time to read and respond according to the common story outside of Facebook! Thank you for participating!”

I was overwhelmed with the responses that I received, bar a few, all from my colleagues from my working life. These wonderful people have been in touch with me all these years despite my having retired twenty years ago, thanks to the internet and the social media. It brought to my notice that I have  well-wishers in my life who still have regard for me; and I am reminded of that post and the comments on it as I write this post.

I don’t think that I was or am popular. Popular is for entertainers and sportspersons. Popularity is ephemeral. What I received was pure affection and regard from mates who had worked alongside me thanks to something that was drilled into me during my younger days by mentors who taught me a simple formula to be good in my career. CCDO. Connectedness, Constancy in the connectedness, Dignity in the relationships thus established and Opportunity for growth for both in the relationship.  This is something that I passed on to the people who crossed my path as well.  That it has worked has now been amply proved and I am grateful to those mentors who showed me the way. I repeat, I was not and am not popular. These long lasting relationships are testimony to that fact.

Since this has been my personal experience, I would say that the virtues of popularity are that they are superficial, short-lived and ego boosters. The toxicities of popularity are narcissism and self destruction. I am glad that I was and am not popular. I don’t know what to call what I am and leave it to my readers to decide on a nomenclature.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog post topic. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, PadmumShackman and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by Conrad. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

Success.

As it so often happens, two messages on my WhatsApp today leads me to this blog post.

The first message that I received in a group page was this image from a very savvy old colleague who has overcome some big problems and is now perceived to be a success.  Please click on the image to get a larger resolution.

The next one was from another young friend, in his early fifties now employed in Europe in the Financial Sector, with a perceived successful career behind him with more to come in the future. After we exchanged some other information, he came up with the following:

“Been working since 6.30 am. Annual results expected by mid February, with possible layoffs to follow. Hope I get made redundant with a good severance package! Will be happy.

If it happens, would like to use the time to retrain myself to do something more enjoyable and less stressful. Unfortunately, I got a very good rating at my appraisal a few weeks ago, so unlikely.

“Will also tell you someday about how selfish and self obsessed most people in the financial services industry are. Pays well but kills the soul.

I hope that you noticed that he thinks that it is unfortunate that he got a good performance appraisal rating!  Had he been a Millennial, I would have directed him to my blog post written some months ago so that he could identify with the millennials! Since he is not, I shall wait till post results of his employers to come up with another discussion with him.

He was in Pune in December and January and I could sense that he was not very happy with what he was doing but, I did not comment on it except to joke about it calling it his mid life crisis. At that point, I had gone back in my own life and recalled that I had just finished on five year contract with an employer and had retired two years later than I had aspired to. I did not look to be retrained but was enjoying my retired life after many years of travelling and not spending enough time with the family, spending time with my late wife and friends and generally goofing off. A series of events led me back into corporate life again on three separate occasions.

I hope that some such unplanned for “events” will take place in my friend’s life as well and when he is back in India by the end of this year, I will have more interesting topics to talk with him about.

Incidentally, I have consulted some friends to figure out a graphic to describe an iceberg of failures. Once that is ready, I shall post another blog about it.