Showing posts with label leadership. Show all posts
Showing posts with label leadership. Show all posts

01 April, 2022

Happy New Year

I was among those millions in India who would end up waking up groggy on the 1st of Jan. for a few years every year between 2005 – 2012 or so. The rave parties, get togethers and the whole joy and excitement of welcoming a brand New Year was palpable. From buying new clothes to a trimmed hair cut and what not, there was so much consumer spending around Christmas and New Year. With homes getting a tad bigger, households getting more liberal, party venues moved from hotels and public places to living rooms, esp. in the high rise apartments. Shouting “Happy New Year” from a balcony and wishing strangers was absolutely acceptable on that night (and the next morning!). Many years later I realised how stupid the whole thing was. Been a few years since I attained my “buddha” moment from being a budhu.

The 1st of Jan. is celebrated with fanfare globally, for it marks the dawn of a new chapter in the lives of people in many countries. For them, it’s the starting of a new Academic year for children, a new Financial year for businesses and a new year, with a change in season to embrace the goodness of nature. Lastly, it is also celebratory right after Christmas, a festival revered and celebrated by over half of the world. So, yes for them it makes a lot of sense.

Retailers worldwide run huge sale campaigns right from end-Nov – the Black Friday Sale all the way up to Cyber Monday Sale which has caught up in the past 20 years. People change their cars and bikes, deck up their houses, paint the inner and outer walls as spring & summer season beckons and shop for new clothes to suit the weather conditions. Many professional change jobs and several others retire around December. The entire construct is so different in these countries and has been that way for them. Works well too, I guess. 

However, India and Indians have embraced this trend almost meaninglessly as we try to ape the West in several ways. As long as we imbibe the good – such as environmental awareness, climate change, gender pay-gap among other things, it’s okay. But to celebrate someone else’s new year and go ga-ga about it – has become a weird trend.

For many years now, I celebrate “New Year” twice in a year – one on the 1st of April as the professional year begins. It’s also the change of academic year for my kids, so that’s a reason to cheer and motivate them to do better. A sought after time in the year for employees to look forward to a hike in Salary, expect a Bonus and perhaps, even a job change for many. The second is the New Year celebrated within our community – Ugadi – that phase of the Spring season based on the Lunar Calendar. At a personal level, it’s about offering obeisance to the Creator Lord Almighty and wearing new clothes, but nothing much beyond.

On the professional side, it’s a very important day to look forward to. The run-up begins usually 45-60 days in advance, with the making of the coveted “Annual Business Plan” (ABP), reworking on it several times and finally making the entire team buy in to your vision for the business – right from the Board and Top Management till the lowest cadre employee in the system. While the more organised Corporates and large companies go through this almost ritualistically, several mid-sized companies and SMEs usually tend to ignore the importance of “Strategic Planning”. When I say this, it’s not just about a dream number to achieve – be it any business. Rather, a methodical and practical way to build up the entire narrative – either top-down or bottom-up like a pyramid. But this is just so important, so we know what to do with the next 365 days. That’s a lot of time to achieve any business goal, honestly. 

The first day and the first few days of the new Financial Year is so important towards clear goal setting and creating measurable plans to execute them. While completing the ABP well in advance helps – one gets 365 days to achieve it, even starting off the process in early April is not bad at all. But not having a clear plan for every working day of the year is so important.

It’s better to have a clear plan, try one’s best to achieve it and still, fail to do so, rather not having a plan at all. I have seen several leaders grappling with business challenges through the year – one of it being unplanned on the way forward. 

Here’s wishing you all a healthy, wealthy prosperous FY 22-23 ahead. Cheers & Good luck. 


26 April, 2021

Moving on... #Miles2Go

The past 12 months have been the most unfortunate and unhappy for millions of people worldwide. The Covid-19 pandemic was beyond comprehension in its new form since Mar. 2020 onwards and took epic proportions over the next few months. 

As they say, there is always calm before storm and in my case, it worked exactly this way on the professional front. Just that the lockdown period was the calm and what followed was storm, quite literally. I consider myself a lot luckier than the unlucky millions because I not only had a job to feed my family – my parents, wife and both kids tested Covid-19 positive (and I was the sole negative member in the home!) in May ’20 but each of them fought bravely and bounced back in full form in less than 45 days; I managed to ensure my team – starting from 100 around June ’20 growing all the way to 175+ around Mar. ’21 remained cautious of the dreaded infection and less than 10% of my workforce & their immediate family tested positive for the virus; increased point of sales presence for Levista Coffee across Tamil Nadu and Karnataka from 26,000+ in Mar. ’20 to over 79,000+ by Mar. ’21 – completely led by my brave boys in the field; which eventually led to a whopping 42% growth in the Brand’s top line over the past Financial Year; and finally – painstakingly have built a “solid team” of sorts which would work cohesively (and I sincerely hope) in my absence as I step down from Levista Coffee as Vice President - Sales & Marketing after joining in Jan. ‘20. 



It’s not been an easy decision for me to step down, honestly. It was unprecedented that I had to move on, even though things were looking bright for the Brand. Sometimes in life, we need to do what is right, rather than continuing to do what works well – for us and for others. More than this, I restrain from saying here or elsewhere the whys and whats of my decision – life moves on.



I wanted to summarise my learning through this tumultuous period even as thousands lost lives and livelihood, and here I was – making history by the day and night with unheard of and unseen types of marketing strategy coupled with fabulous execution by my team. By the way, these accolades have been showered by well-wishers around me – which I have openly declared as not mine and solely belong to my team, though there have been some black sheep around me. 


I credit the success of the Brand with the quote “Due to Corona or Despite Corona” but for the first time, I must confess that I kept moving on all these months “despite the black sheep or due to them”. At one point, you give in - for you need to do the "right thing". No blames, Peace. 



My single biggest learning during this period is to nurture people in the team and believe in them – as the adage goes, take care of your people and they would take care of the business. The moment it was formally informed of my leaving, many people within and outside my team reached out to me and expressed their disappointment over my decision. Goes to show that though I could have been harsh on them sometimes, they have perhaps realised and seen the  benefit for them – the larger view, perhaps. Another learning has been that I have maintained a healthy space between those around me and myself. This measured space ensured that we all had the much required time and thought process to ourselves. 



The fact that I have never called or summoned anyone on weekends or after office hours – not once in the past 12 months – is a simple edifice that appreciating everyone’s time works well. Keeping the interest of the staff and their families in each act and activity of the Organisation and staying on it genuinely works in the larger interest thereby delivering positive results. 



And lastly, never to antagonise those who are closer to the people who matter and speak behind you – it probably gives them more ammunition to pull us down. I had a choice – not to antagonise people and keep moving for the sake of money and a steady career; or to do the "right thing". I chose the latter. 


Obviously. When you are brought up with the right kind of “values” from childhood, that’s what you do. Works best for all of us, isn’t it. Adios, Amigos. Moving on and moving ahead in life. 


I have miles to go, after all. 




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