One Thing Leads To Another.

My readers will remember how touched I was reading and writing a blog post about Phone Box At The Edge Of The World

While reading that book there was a reference to some quotes from another book by a Japanese Warrior – The Book Of Five Rings by Miamoto Musashi.

I was interested enough to order for it and have just finished reading it.

It is a book that I now regret not having come to know of during my corporate life. Not that its contents do not offer anything for a retired old reprobate now but, it would have helped me achieve a few more “wins” those days.

It is essentially a treatise on how to handle adversity. While in writing it is for the Soldier and the Commander, juxtaposing it to our normal life’s situation is easy and I recommend it.

Change.

Since the onset of the Ukrainian war, prices generally have been showing upward movements and there are many shortages being reported in many markets. When some friends chat with me about these developments, I tell them that they have seen such situations before and this time too, this phase will pass.

In just such a recent discussion, a 65 year old friend who is a highly respected trader in my part of the world  spoke to me about the changes that have taken place since my time of association with him in a client, manager relationship. I have been associated with the firm that he represents for the past more than fifty years and he particularly  for forty years.

He agreed with me that he has seen other such periods of price and supply volatility and how they had tackled them but, he added that during the time that he was associated with me, there was personal involvement in the supplier / buyer relationships which in today’s commerce, has been replaced with rapid turnover of people in positions and also a system heavily dependent on laptops. On probing I found that supply chain management has now been highly mechanised and computers do most of the work that people did during my times. He derisively called this “Laptop Management” and its practitioners “Laptop Managers”.

I was amused as well as sad that the personal touch has gone from a very long relationship between his firm and the one that I was part of.

I however decided to share some humour with him and sent him the following cartoon in WhatsApp with the message that during my time, in Management Laptop usually meant this type of relationships.

Today, I hesitate to use such cartoons lest I be accused of male chauvinism! That is also a significant change that has taken place in our lives!

Communication.

A recent corporate fiasco highlights the importance of proper communication in Management. Here is an article in the BBC that explains what happened. This matter received a lot of attention in India as the new CEO is a person of Indian origin and that alone raised many eyebrows.

In my working life, I have had to dismiss employees or take other unpleasant actions and I have faced many agonising moments on deciding quite how to communicate my decision. It never was easy and I have always felt in retrospect, that I could have handled it differently.

I am glad that I don’t have to any more but, I can sympathise with others who have to.

On a lighter note, here is a cartoon that resonates with me. Apart from the humour, the language is quite impressive. Don’t you think so?

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.