Archive | January, 2013

In Gym I (don’t) believe

27 Jan

It’s that time of the year when my annual membership for the local gym(will keep the name to myself more to not embarrass myself than them :)) is up for renewal. Gym membership(however cheap or costly it may be) invokes varied emotional responses from people. People go from incredulity to fist pumping depending from what their own experience with gymming has been. The closest you can imagine this emotion is by imagining the stationary bike/treadmill you purchased last year for home use and what state it is in today(if my memory is not failing me, i have not met a person in this world who bought a stationary bike/treadmill and NOT used it for drying clothes after the first month). But like a lot of things in life, gym becomes a must have after a point, even though the motivation to join can vary from person to person. As I consider to enroll or no this year, i felt like examining the pros and cons a bit more.

I categorize people who join gyms into broadly three categories:

1) The movers & shakers: The serious kind fall into this category. These people take the staircase to the 3rd floor gym and straight head to the treadmill after the warm up. You can make them out in the gym by the sweat they work up at the end of each workout. Generally, not more than 10% of the gym members would fall in this category.

2) The networkers: This is a very varied and broad category and encompasses the Romeos(and Juliets!!) to formal networkers (I once had an LIC agent next to my EFX who took my mobile # and hounded me for a while). They take the lift to the 1st floor gym so that they can meet another “prey”.

3) The drifters: Gyms love this category because they are the least troublesome(and the most profitable). They drift in and out of gyms once in a blue moon. Their motivation to join is all good but it fizzles out pretty much in the 1st month or so and after that its pretty much profits all the way for the gyms as the drifters are rarely seen.

I am of the 3rd kind and haven’t used my gym for more than 30 days since i enrolled last year. I have my excuses to not be regular(am an outdoor person with a running mania and hate the gym atmosphere) but still end up enrolling every second year and not putting my money where my mouth is.

So here i am signing off with a pledge not to join the Gym unless i can find at least 5 people whom i know who have indeed used the stationary bike more than 60 days at home.

Come on, bring the votes on guys 🙂

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Lessons from Haile/Sachin & Lance-Race against time(yourself)

25 Jan

A lot has been said about Bekele Vs Haile/Targat Vs Haile or any of the sports legends regarding how competing against each other fueled their hunger for improvement so that they could smash world records after world records. I feel among all the runners i have read and heard about, haile stands out because he has lasted the longest. One of the reasons for his longevity could be(for want of any user data) his unwillingness to let others define his running ability. He has felled every world record in long distance running worth its salt but mostly by running against time(himself). He defined a time in which he wanted to run a race and went about his preparations accordingly. Perhaps, that’s what keeps him more at peace with himself and his surroundings than many other athletes.

Sachin Tendulkar is another athlete who has never let others define his agenda for playing. He would go and do just one thing; PLAY.

This also could have been the reason for a longer than average(above average) injury free and sustained career in their respective fields. Because when you run against yourself, you know your limits and never cross them unlike another legend athlete who recently bit dust;lance. Lance’s downfall has as much to do with his obsession to overpower others(define yourself by what others do) than it has to with wrong competitive streak. He epitomizes what’s horribly wrong with competitive sports today.

In our personal and official lives, we often let others define what we want to chase. I feel we can become more sure about what we want and how we want to do it if we let ourselves be driven by only one person in the world(self). That’s not to say that competition does not matter. It does, but not at the cost being obsessed with what others are doing and what they have achieved. Set your goals to moon(or the stars but those need to be your moons/stars not others!!). Competition mostly fuels long term discontentment and jealousy.

Be your own competitor….

Mind wins…always

24 Jan

The best time to understand the tussle between mind and body is when your alarm rings in the morning. It’s 4.50 am in the morning and your mind starts playing games with you. It’s too cold, it’s too hot, it’s raining(a lot of times imaginary), you slept late last night, you can compensate tomorrow, eat less today so that calories intake will be less. Most of the time, body creates the scenarios based on what the mind tells it to. I have had experiences when i would have heard rain drops and dropped of to sleep because the mind has actually created those, when i finally woke up 1/2 hour later it would be clear skies.

If you still get out and smash a running PB, you win. If you give in, you have given another small window for the mind to tune you tomorrow morning…. and the battle continues every day of your life..

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On leadership…

23 Jan

Leadership is like pace making in a marathon, you protect your team from the headwinds, set the pace to the common goals, let them run at that pace after a point(give them independence) and then greet them at the finishing tape.

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On motivation…

22 Jan

Motivation is nothing but the fight between a cozy bed and hard tar road. For the best of runners, the cozy bed would win at times, and they mature to eventually accept it such. The good part about motivation is that can be rehashed and re-calibrated (If you missed a run today, no problem, tomorrow is another day). That, if you ask me, is its beauty too.

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Lance and me- e…

16 Jan

Lance and me- end of a fairytale relationship

Lance, As I recall all the mountain climbs and all the flats that I cycled along with you(in my mind), I only feel sad today that there was only one thing missing in those; courage. Courage to accept. You still inspire because you made me strong with your words. I will forget you soon but will remember what could have been a fairytale friendship of inspiration and hope.

A friend you lost in one of those syringes.

Cloud(y) Trinity- The Cloud Providers

7 Jan

In the last part of this series, we examine perhaps the most affected entity in the cloud business, the service providers and their sellers.

While there are inherent challenges(and advantages depending on which side of the table you are) in the cloud business, the biggest change that the cloud is enforcing is the democratization in the service providers. By that i mean that you as an organization are no longer constrained by size when servicing clients. The service provider market is (currently) polarized between two extremes:

On one end of the spectrum we have the traditional IT players with large sales teams and set ups to service their clients. They have lived with these structures for far too long. These structures served very well during the past paradigms ( UNIX, Client server, ERP et al) but the cloud model will force a major shift there. I would even add that cloud era is the biggest (and may be the best) inflection point for these organizations to create the new structures.

At the other end of the spectrum are a set of new and niche cloud based outfits that are small but nimble and raring to challenge the traditional providers. They are what I call enterprises “for the cloud, in the cloud and by the cloud”. Cloud is breeding these new Cloudpreneurs (a term used recently by Bertil Chappuis of Mckinsey at Techonomy 2012) to challenge the traditional providers of IT services. It is not rare today to find 2-3 member team in Bangalore doing super critical Big data project for a client based in US. Cloud has given the power to these organizations to go and compete with the biggest in the world based not on how big their IT set ups are but how broad and deep their skills are. They no longer have to worry if they will be able to muster enough IT resources when a large contract comes their way. Cloud is truly freeing infrastructure (in a broad sense of the word that would include hardware, software and some services, all as-a-service) constrains for these organizations.

Let’s look at the change happening to the roles for people in both the above outfits.

The sales people in the traditional IT sales organization are a confused and (perhaps) desperate lot today. They have the same dilemma like the other IT sellers; to keep themselves relevant for the market and grow their careers but they sit in a much more difficult position, between the all-demanding client and the sales teams of the IT vendors. From both sides they are asked “What value do you bring?” This question has always been tossed to these sellers before but it has (and will take) taken gigantic proportions with the cloud models. If the client can consume IT at her will, why does she need any middlemen. Having said that, this by no means is the end of the road for these sellers. In fact if these sellers can slightly change track and align their sales skills to the cloud business models, they can create enormous values to their organizations and themselves.

At the other end, the Cloudpreneurs are keeping the sales teams nimble and putting their efforts focused on delivery and operational excellence(at least as of now). However they are trying to leverage the inside sales engines to the hilt and this will continue.

I feel some clear trends emerging from this situation:

End of the large sales teams era:  The days of throwing warm bodies into the market(this term has been mostly used in IT services organizations but i feel sales ORGs were/are doing this too) are truly over. With increasing internet based sales(and buying) of IT products, the strategy of putting more feet on street will have to be re-thought and re-looked at. I happen to bump into a friend of mine recently who mentioned that 2012 was perhaps his worst year as a seller. He is one of the dozen or so sellers who are “deployed” by the management to “ just sell” in the market. What he(and most of our breed in the sales community) fail to recognize is that the same skills that were serving him for so long are no longer required by the market. Unless he re-equips himself with new skills, he is in the danger of becoming an IT Dinosaur very soon.

Selling to a faceless audience: It is entirely possible that with the cloud based delivery models, you may not see a majority of your clients face to face, ever. That requires a very different set of skills (including soft skills, something that has got lost in today’s number chasing race).  In years to come, inside sales(more known by tele-calling) and internet selling will gain more traction and hence sales skills (and teams) will also get aligned accordingly.

Compensation for sellers: We discussed this in the previous blog too. Sales will become increasingly “value added sales”.  Though it should have been always been like that, no where will this manifest more now than in case of resellers and service providers. Since the cloud pricing model itself is so transparent(most of the providers publish their pricing cards online), it will force companies to rethink their revenue, pricing and margin structures. Closely aligned to these are the Compensation structures. The sales people should expect their compensation to get redefined based on the new revenue models which are more client-usage based than one time sales based. The more the client uses(rather than buys, e.g: licensing) your services, the more you get rewarded. This model will automatically ensure a happy client.