The article may be accessed here.


A Speaker’s Secret


They Are ‘Different’!

We all have among our circle of friends, acquaintances and relations people who are ‘different’. And, it’s no different with me. I’ve often brought them here as subjects of my posts. There are in their own ways interesting, intriguing, inspiring and instructive.

So it is this time.  About W, X, Y, and Z. Four of them in one post? All for a good reason you’ll know.

Beginning with W…

Though it is widely claimed social network is essential to ones well-being, we usually limit ourselves to a few and do not actively go out seeking others except for special reasons. Of course we’re civil to respond to anyone reaching us. I for one prefer non-intrusive channels for most part of my communication. But W…has his friends and contacts in Anakapalle (his home town in Andhra Pradesh), Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune and Vizag, including surviving class-mates from his Engineering days! Is in touch over phone (not WhatsApp forwards) with a 100 of them, 20 regularly and 80 of them once a year! And when he talks, with unmistakable warmth, it’s not hail-fellow-how-are-you-good-bye. It’s a good leisurely gupshup about recent happenings at both ends and all things of mutual interest. This is happening in the times when it is difficult to carry on a conversation for a few minutes even among friends without hitting a line that divides us sharply on politics, faith, and other affiliations. How he handles communicating with his polar opposites without acrimony is a secret I’ve yet to unlock.

His constant refrain: “I have no time; I am always busy; but I always have time to meet/talk to a friend or…”


Let’s meet X next:

He loves spending every day two to three hours, reading two Newspapers, Times of India (English) and Eenadu (Telugu) when he’s in India.  When visiting USA, it’s Wall Street Journal and a local Newspaper. As necessary to him as morning coffee for us.

How could he ever do that and enjoying while at it?

I told him I stopped reading newspapers online or in print many months ago. Because, it’s so negative and depressing. My BP has since gone down by a few healthy points. Am more at peace with life.

He disagreed. I dared him to prove me wrong.

On the following day, I get this from him:

“As discussed, I am mentioning a few items I read today in Times of India:

1. Consumer goods makers get a festive booster shot.  Double-digit growth over year-ago period. 2. Telangana records lowest Covid-19 positive cases since June. 3. Auto sales pick up pace this Dussehra despite dampeners. 4. KTR (Telangana minister) hands over 1,100 2BHK houses to beneficiaries. 5. Hearing through video-conferencing successful says Supreme Court. 6. India records 36K fresh Covid cases, lowest in over 3 months. 7. Should India raise the marriage age for girls?  There are social and economic benefits, but the same results can be achieved through education and job opportunities. 8. Oxford vax prompts immune response in old as well as young. 9. Dietary habits have a direct effect on our mental health. ”

I think this was on 28th Oct. He continued sharing what he read for the following 2-3 days before I told him he has made his point.   

He’s quite taken by Sri Gaur Gopal Das’s: “Your happiness is your choice”.

I suppose you get what you’re looking for!

Nonetheless I haven’t gone back to newspapers.


Moving on to Y…

It’s usual for companies to have mission/vision statements. Y has a “Personal Mission Statement”!

In its first line it says “Help as many people as possible to achieve their goals”.

Even his visiting card carries the caption: “Helping people achieve their goals”.

Presently he’s helping financially three young girls to pursue what they wish to study. There’s an obligation on the recipients to return the money when they are able to. He doesn’t enforce.

Under the locked-down conditions, he spends an hour in a week over phone helping a young boy to speak in English.

He’s constantly on the lookout for ways and means to act out his mission statement.


Now to Z:

Like W, his constant refrain: I have no time; I am always busy; but I always have time…to attend a learning event or read a book.

On an average he manages to attend two webinars a day!

Presently he’s reading a book “IKIGAI – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life”. Quite impressed with it, he has tweaked his lifestyle accordingly.  


CK is a retired senior corporate executive, running 78 now. Regarded as a guru by many who were associated with him in his long successful career.

His belief:

I am always happy.  God brought me to this world and He has no choice but to take care of me.

“ThoughI expect to live for 90+ years, I am prepared for the worst, ready to leave this world today.

I capitalize on what comes.

I continue to do what I love every day.

I have adequate money to live comfortably. But I love to work anytime, anywhere and earn.Yes, he’s available for hire as a consultant, a coach or a speaker!! He expects to give talks on IKIGAI soon.

I love doing Manava Seva (helping people).

He’s W, X, Y and Z personas rolled into one!!!

Different like I promised – In his own ways interesting, intriguing, inspiring and instructive?

Looking forward to my next chat with him – am sure to hear something more about IKIGAI.



Time was running out. There was no option – my wife decided she would go to the bank (public-sector) to get the Tax Deduction Statement (TDS) needed for income-tax computation. She would not let me go because of my suspected friendly leanings towards Covid.

Expectedly there were few customers in the branch. She asked for S, an officer, and when he walked up, she identified herself. The magic words ‘TXX’ spoken ‘opened the doors’!

‘Yes, M’m, come in,’ S was all deference. One would have thought she was some high officer from the HO on a sudden field-visit. ‘TXX spoke a while ago. If you’ll kindly be seated here…I’ll get it in a couple of minutes. It’s all printed and ready.’

As she sat down, a cup of hot tea was served with sugar to add!! A feat far beyond you to equal. Forget tea, I challenge you to get…

View original post 610 more words

vide PCKMC

Dont know if apocryphal or authentic. Never mind. The gentleman is quite capable of…

Here we go:


Chairman, TATA Steel was holding a weekly meeting with Tata Steel staff  in Jamshedpur. 

A worker took up a serious issue. He said the quality and hygiene of toilets for the workers was very bad. Whereas, he  pointed that the cleaniness and the hygiene of executive toilets was always very good. 

Chairman asked his top executive how much time he needs to set it right. The executive asked for a month to set it right. 

Chairman said “I would rather do it in a day. Send me a carpenter.” 

Next day, when the carpenter came. He ordered the sign boards to be swapped. 

The sign board on the workers’ toilet displayed “Executives” and the Executives’ toilet displayed “Workers”.

Chairman then instructed this sign to be changed every fortnight.

The quality of both the toilets came at par in the next three days. 


‘The Leadership is something much more than being an Executive’

Problem Identification requires critical thinking. But Problem Solution requires creative thinking_



Received thru Rajiv Chaudhry:

Once in a Physics class, the teacher asked the students, “Why do we have brakes in a car?” Varied answers were received:

“To stop”
“To reduce speed”
“To avoid collision” etc…

But the best answer was,
“To enable you to drive faster”

Give it a thought. For a moment assume you have no brakes in your car then how fast will you drive your car?

It’s because of brakes that we can dare to accelerate, dare to go fast and reach destinations we desire! At various points in life, we find our parents, teachers, mentors & friends etc. questioning our progress, direction or decision. We consider them as irritants or consider such inquiries as “brakes” to our ongoing work.

But, remember, it’s because of such questions (periodical brakes) that you have managed to reach where you are today. Without brakes, you could have…

View original post 22 more words

Actually it’s not about numbers and their unity, if u really observed, it’s about the courage of ONE buffalo move forward to attack the lion, until then the lion has no fear eventhough surrounded by many buffalo’s. That move, agression, no contact yet …at 1:42

Video is here.


A New Insight On CX

Sarah-Nicole LeFlore writes on The Key to Great CX? Balancing Delight and Ease here:

Delight has become a customer experience buzzword. A lot of people think that their customers will stick around if they dazzle them with perks and discounts. By contrast, some experts believe that you should forget about delighting your customers and that the best experience is the easiest one. Neither camp is wrong. We say “Do both!” The best customer experience is both easy and delightful…”

All too familiar, no surprises, no new insights here. But the real meat is in the ‘Comments’ section – three of them of significance are summed up here:

Michael Lowenstein talks aboutno kidding, he’s serious, giving examplesconsciouslyintroducing ‘favorable friction’ in customer experience of course with a deliberate strategy to create the value in the experience rather – exclusivity for example – than friction caused by incompetence or worse, apathy. Read the article here.

Ed Powers  avers – it’s included here more for completeness than any newness – it’s a bit more complicated than what it seems. According to the neuroscience, the brain makes goal-directed decisions among alternatives using a value computation weighing six elements: Context, Payoff’s, Costs, Delays, Probabilities and Preferences. The brain views effort as a cost which offsets the payoff, so reducing cost increases value. “Delight” increases preference, which also increases value. But depending on context, how the brain perceives the nature, speed or likelihood of the payoffs between options also affects value perception and their ultimate decision.

The most insightful comes from Chip R. Bell arguing: Delight has been defined as value-added or exceeding the customer’s expectations – that is, taking what the customer expects and adding more. That is a linear approach that risks elevating the customer’s expectations right along with the add. Upgrade me to a better room because I am a loyal guest of your hotel and what am I likely to expect my next visit? And, what happens if you need to sell that upgraded room rather than use it as a perk.

He introduces a new concept: I recommend value-unique, not value-added. As customers, we are far more attracted by different than we are by more; ingenuity more than generosity. And, there are unlimited ways to be unique and clearly a limit on how far you can push “more” before running out room or going bankrupt. My wife and I have the same brand of car and take both to the same dealership for service maintenance. The service tech always puts a logoed bottle of cold water in the cupholder of the car after an oil change or tire rotation. That is value-added and is very nice. But, they also always make certain my favorite flavored coffee K-cup is at the Keurig coffee machine the day I wait in the waiting area for service (Hazelnut is in my customer profile). And, there is sometimes a long-stemmed flower on the dash to take home to my wife when I drive awayThat is a story I am eager to tell all who will listen.

He further draws support from another experience of his: The line to get in Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway in NYC was three blocks long; the wait was two hours and in the rain. The food was okay, the seats were uncomfortable, the diner was packed. But, the magic of watching waiters perform Broadway songs was magical and worth the un-ease we endured.

My two – actually three – bits:

a. I like the concept of value-unique. But over time, even the K-cup coffee and the long-stemmed flower would be reduced to value-added. It only means it requires a constant refresh.

b. Value-unique does not stay unique for long if it is material based as observed in a. Can be replicated. However, hard to copy if the uniqueness is in the service delivery. Example: Ellen’s Stardust Diner.

c. As Ed says different strokes for different people. Me thinks it’s useful to segment the market into Basic/Utility/Essentials buying, Comfort/Brag-orthy/Indulgence (giving oneself a treat) buying and Luxury buying.  The value-unique (experience-unique) concept seems to go well with Indulgence buying – the burgeonng middle where many companies play and hence desrving closer look. So also ‘favorable friction’ mooted by Michael. Needless to add the concept is carried far beyond reason in Luxury buying. While it may be all costs with Basic buying. At times the driving forces do get mixed up across segments.

Rounding off with one more value-unique experience:

The “Le Petit Chef (Little Chef)” restaurant in France, came up with an original way to entertain guests while waiting for their order by using an overhead 3D projector on the ceiling.  The animation is on the table and your plate. There is a small chef who appears on your plate, and that’s only the beginning.

Watch one of the several clips available here:

Video is available here.


Source: The case of Little Chef was brought to notice by C V Anant Padmanabhan

Looking for adventure, they pitched their tent in the middle of nowhere.

It was getting dark. All flaps rolled down to keep unwelcome insects and intruders out.

Just when they made themselves comfortable in the bed, horror of horrors, they hear them…a swarm of mosquitoes ready for an onslaught. And how could they hear their buzz inside the tent?

Ah, that was it…a tear in the canvas on one side. Oh, Oh, in no time the enemies will breach their defenses making the night hell for themL

He looked and high and low for something to plug the tear. Couldn’t find anything handy besides the usual stuff they carried in their backpacks and, of course, an outsized map rolled up.

And that’s when his friend, not feeling so helpless, swung into action. He had a pen-knife with him. Taking the map-roll from his friend, he got down to making a…what??…another tear in the canvas! Had those creepy-crawlies already got to his head with their toxins?

Watch what he did before settling back for a comfortable night sleep, here:


For those not into Hindi: He bends the map-roll into a ‘U’ and plugs the two limbs into those two rips. Mosquitoes gleefully enter thru one rip only to exit back to the outside through the other! The map is still usable.

Strategy vs Tactic

As received from Rahul Mehta


Most Stanford students fail this challenge. Here’s what we can learn from their mistakes.

You’re a student in a Stanford class on entrepreneurship.

Your professor walks into the room, breaks the class into different teams, and gives each team five dollars in funding. Your goal is to make as much money as possible within two hours and then give a three-minute presentation to the class about what you achieved. 

If you’re a student in the class, what would you do? 

Typical answers range from using the five dollars to buy start-up materials for a makeshift car wash or lemonade stand, to buying a lottery ticket or putting the five dollars on red at the roulette table. 

But the teams that follow these typical paths tend to bring up the rear in the class. 

The teams that make the most money don’t use the five dollars at all. They realize the five dollars is a distracting, and essentially worthless, resource. 

So they ignore it. Instead, they go back to first principles and start from scratch. They reframe the problem more broadly as “What can we do to make money if we start with absolutely nothing?” One particularly successful team ended up making reservations at popular local restaurants and then selling the reservation times to those who wanted to skip the wait. These students generated an impressive few hundred dollars in just two hours. 

But the team that made the most money approached the problem differently. They realized that both the $5 funding and the 2-hour period weren’t the most valuable assets at their disposal. Rather, the most valuable resource was the three-minute presentation time they had in front of a captive Stanford class. They sold their three-minute slot to a company interested in recruiting Stanford students and walked away with $650. 

The five-dollar challenge illustrates the difference between tactics and strategy. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, they refer to different concepts. A strategy is a plan for achieving an objective. Tactics, in contrast, are the actions you undertake to implement the strategy. 

The Stanford students who bombed the $5 challenge fixated on a tactic — how to use the five dollars — and lost sight of the strategy. If we focus too closely on the tactic, we become dependent on it. “Tactics without strategy,” as Sun Tzu wrote in the Art of War, “are the noise before defeat.” 

Just because a $5 bill is sitting in front of you doesn’t mean it’s the right tool for the job. Tools, as Neil Gaiman reminds us, “can be the subtlest of traps.” When we’re blinded by tools, we stop seeing other possibilities in the peripheries. It’s only when you zoom out and determine the broader strategy that you can walk away from a flawed tactic. 

What is the $5 tactic in your own life? How can you ignore it and find the 2-hour window? Or even better, how do you find the most valuable three minutes in your arsenal? 

Once you move from the “what” to the “why” — once you frame the problem broadly in terms of what you’re trying to do instead of your favored solution — you’ll discover other possibilities lurking in plain sight.

‘- Anonymous


Very interesting!

To me, there’s another way of looking at the problem and the winning solution.

While the goal is unambiguously identified and given to you, ask what are the inputs or resources made available to achieve the same.

Well, right away, the 5-dollars funding, a key resource in any project, sticks in the face.

Secondly, time as a resource – 2 hours are available for the enterprise for putting in all its efforts. This is also not difficult to guess.

The winner does something more – something, by no means obvious. He identifies even the 3-minute slot as a potential resource and figures out an imaginative way for use by the enterprise – sells it as a product!!

It seems you’re more than half way home if you are able to identify all the resources available for deployment and their potential for contributing to the goal at hand. Not a trivial task as not all resources stand out there holding placards nor do they list the ways how you could potentially use them.

Reminds me of a similar seemingly trivial problem, in an entirely different domain, of identifying the various stake-holders, visible and invisible, to be impacted/served by an IT system (or any project, for that matter); and how could they be possibly best served.