What is Culture?

The culture at most start-ups is often misinterpreted and misunderstood.

The bean bags, immense flexibility, no dress code is not culture.

A bean bag can tell you nothing about the culture of a place.

Even open office architecture and free lunch are just standards.

They don’t define culture.

Culture is the set of shared attitudes, #values, goals, and practices that characterizes an organization.

Culture has more to do with shared values and beliefs.

If the employees don’t value collaboration and don’t completely believe that seamless collaboration leads to better team efficiencies then what is the point of having open office architecture?

Want to define culture? try to search for norms in a workplace that are linked to values.

Is it a norm to be assertive and openly express your ideas?
Is it a norm that management listens to those ideas and readily implements them?
Is it a norm that you are left to your own good judgment without being micromanaged?
Is it okay to hold a different opinion without being reprimanded?

Answers to these questions can give you some hints about the #culture

Even organizations that are heavily hierarchical, bureaucratic, having conventional chairs, cubicles, and rigid policies could be great #workplaces.

They only need to have better norms. 🙂

Dream Company? what’s that?

Did you ever aspire for a dream company?

What is a dream company? And what are the parameters?

I remember a conversation that I had with the director at my B-school.

I was the placement rep and we were having some discussions around placement season.

Somewhere in the conversation, I said “ All the good companies will go by then”.

The director retorted “ define a good company to me”.

And I was left speechless.

7 years later, I have some clarity.

Most people in their early careers long for dream companies.

And the parameters are pretty straightforward; brand, money, growth opportunities, etc

But most dream companies are dream companies because they have a good brand

And more often than not this “brand” is created through the awesome products/services that the company offers

Does that mean any company that has awesome products and services and buzz in the market should qualify as an awesome workplace or a dream company?

I don’t think so.

After all, you will be working with people that follow some processes under some leadership.

These three elements will be common everywhere.

A good/dream company might be awesome in one of the areas but not all.

And a dream is no longer a dream when it comes true 🙂

Realities might be starkly different from the dream.

Thoughts?

There no difference between people who are employed and those who are self-employed

There is no difference between people who are employed and those who are self-employed.
The common denominator here is the term “employed”.
Self-employed sounds fancy because it has a certain sense of freedom attached to it.
Employed doesn’t sound so fancy because it has a dogma of confinement attached to it.
Whether employed or self-employed you just trade your time for money.
You are in the market selling your services.
You have to manage your time and remain accountable.
Many people use self-employed and #entrepreneurship interchangeably.
But being self-employed and entrepreneurial pursuits are two different things.
Lately, there is a big buzz around the #freelancing economy.
Please don’t get carried away.
A self-employed person may not have an #entrepreneurial #mindset at all.
One may lack risk-taking attitude, business acumen, resourcefulness, and all those quintessential entrepreneurial qualities that you may be aware of.
Employment brings that certainty, feeling of community or belongingness, and the comfort that you are not vulnerable to the vagaries of the market.
I would urge you to explore the aspects of employment before you deep dive into the world of self-employment.
To conclude, self-employment is not always the answer to your repulsion towards regular #employment.

Stock Markets are just like Social Media

Stock markets and social media have their share of similarities.

A short story to drive the point.

A year ago, long before the pandemic hit us, Yes Bank was dealing with a crisis of its own.

Yes Bank’s stock had hit a new bottom. Lacs of investors (including me) bought the stock, thinking it will rise again like a phoenix.

Well, it did not. It kept on sinking.

All hell broke loose. I exited the stock.

And then it hit new lows every day. Thousands of crores of investor wealth was destroyed.

During that time 20-30% of investors in India had Yes Bank in their accounts.

I later learned that even after my exit, my dad and brother had their positions in Yes Bank.

Yes Bank was a falling knife everyone wanted to catch.

To cut the long story short, stock markets and social media work on trends.

These trends are built overnight, thanks to the internet.

You better be quick to invest in these trends.

Or by the time you invest your efforts and money into these trends, the world would have already become a different place

The information these days travels at the speed of light

It is like watching bright star millions of light-years away

Who knows whether the star still exists or has already collapsed to form a black hole

What if I tell you core value proposition of Netflix is not content

Netflix subscription seems to be such an awesome value proposition. Thousands of hours of premium content worth Rs 650 per month sounds like a killer deal right?

Wrong.

Imagine first month is free and you start paying from month two.

First two months you just reap the returns, binge-watch the shows you really want to watch. You consume your favorites. You feel great that you got an awesome deal.

But here is the real deal.

After the first two months, every month that you pay generates diminishing value to you as a viewer.

Because you don’t pay for what you really want but you pay for what is available and what Netflix suggests you.

So let us say if you consume IMDB average 9 pointers in the first two months.

In months three and four of your subscription, you might consume IMDB 8 pointers.

Every month Netflix just ads a few hours of worthy content.

In long term, Netflix wins we lose.

I believe the core #value proposition is not content, instead, the core value proposition lies in making you believe that the offering is very cheap.

Like you buy a 2L heavily discounted Coke bottle and feel like a winner!

*on a side note the above analysis is not applicable to people who share their Netflix accounts with dozen other people 🙂

#OTT

Bollywood is ripe for disruption!

Bollywood has a powerful way to distort reality and yet influence millions.

Look at how the urban rich are depicted in our movies.

They are shown in good light, prosperous, kind, self-made.

Big white mansions and luxury cars.

Look at how rural rich are shown in our movies.

Corrupt, backward, regressive thinking, and oppressive demeanor.

Big Havelis and SUVs

And everyone believes that!

Given its tiny existence, Bollywood has a disproportionate influence on us.

Bollywood can influence millions of people to believe in a distorted reality.

Bollywood is tiny, roughly $2B per year revenue.

Apple earns that kind of money in a day.

Avengers Endgame’s total collection exceeds that.

Bollywood can do wonders for India, it can make movies that can tell the world what India is all about; technological advancements, cultural revolutions, rich mythology, rich diversity, history.

And yet it is stuck in the quagmire of nepotism, dumb scripts, family businesses, patriarchy, short-sightedness, and scams.

How come no one has the vision?

Why the VCs and the brightest minds fail to see that Bollywood is ripe for disruption?

How come there are no acquisitions and mergers when it comes to Bollywood?

Apple is more about innovation and less about its employees

I feel Apple subtly underplays the role of its employees in driving innovation

let me explain
I know we all love Apple Inc for its products
When we think Apple we think innovation
But what about all those people who make innovation possible?
For many years Apple was headed by a charismatic leader
His charisma was such that it shadowed the true efforts of others
Some of you must have seen the Apple launch video yesterday
Apple launch events also expose you to its senior leadership
Leaders passionately talk about new products
While watching the video I wondered how come we never imagine and hear the stories of people who practice innovation at Apple
And when I saw, Lori Malm, director of Apple Services presenting an exciting array of offerings, I couldn’t resist but search her profile on LinkedIn
And to my surprise, Lori Malm happened to be a grape grower for 10 years before joining Apple
I visited some more profiles curious to know more about people at Apple
But why was I so curious about people at Apple?
Maybe I don’t know a lot about the culture at Apple
because it is under-marketed
unlike the #culture at #Google or Tesla for that matter
I feel Apple is a little quiet when it comes to #employee#branding
Again, I might be completely wrong here
What do you think?

The Best News Channel in the Nation

And the award for the best news channel in India goes to

*drum roll*

DD News!

20 years ago, the advent of private news channels in India mesmerized us

Overnight, urban India forgot DD News

There were two differentiating factors these new channels offered

First, the way they presented news, the production value, and of-course some rising bright reporters

Two, how they sensationalized and packaged the news

The latter was more crucial for success

News on its own is raw bland information, it lacks appeal to attract masses unless it is about cricket or politics

Instead, cover news that entertains and then opinionate to create the magic that sells

By 2008 news in India directly competed with primetime soap operas

Recall the Arushi case or Prince, the boy who was trapped in a tube well

Every news became a breaking news

These channels never covered news of significance (big projects, social issues, North East)

Well, deploying resources was an expense

Why deploy 50 reporters across India?

Instead, why not deploy 50 resources in Mumbai

Focus and build a sensational product that everyone wants to consume

It makes business sense

DD News wins, not because of its reporting standards but because it is the only “News” channel we have in India

What long drives can teach you about decision fatigue

Yesterday, I drove 450km from Goa to Pune. Long drives can teach you about decision fatigue like no other activity

The stakes are high, one wrong decision can change your life

There are numerous decision factors

Blind curves, overtaking, changing gears to match torque

Missing potholes, cows, dogs, and numerous strange objects
Stopping at petrol stations, which lane to take at toll booths, where to stop for lunch and bio breaks

And most importantly navigation, should you trust the GPS or your spouse?

Then there are mini decisions; using wiper, should I put it on? C’mon it is only drizzling!

Should I put on the AC or take the fresh air

Fuel economy matters

Rumblers and speed breakers, you miss one and you will hear your co-passengers yell at you

All this while constantly looking at the three mirrors

Constantly pushing the accelerator, brake, and clutch with your two feet

Decisions, decisions, and some more decisions

Until you feel the fatigue

Your mind numbs

And then you feel like giving up

Yesterday I may have taken more decisions than a typical CEO has taken during his day

Decision fatigue eventually leads to bad decisions

Want to outsource?

Well, that has a price tag, depending on whom you are outsourcing it to a Pilot or a Chauffer

The best cars in the world are designed in such a way that you don’t decide much

Automatic gearing, steering, traction control, adaptive cooling, the list goes on

But again there is a premium

You always have to pay a price if you want to reduce the decision burden on your shoulders

Please share your views

The Wrath of Information Disparity

Here is how stock markets really work.

If you and I are looking for an investment, the quality of #information we have may vary significantly.

Our sources may be different.

Hence, you might believe that Apple Inc is a long term investment.

I might say that Apple Inc is not a good investment.

I sell the stock.

You hold or buy more stock.

This sell and buy moves the market.

Millions of people do this and you see the rise and fall in the stock prices.

Stock markets work on information disparity.

Anyone with access to better information wins in the long term.

What if there is universal information parity?

That is, you and I and everyone else has the exact same information.

What happens then?

Everyone would want to buy but there would be no sellers.

Everyone would want to sell but there would be no buyers.

Stagnation would set in.

As a matter of fact, everything in the world works on info disparity.

We all don’t have access to the same quality of info.

The Internet has created some parity but only for info that has low value.

Quality information has a price tag.

The rich can afford better information, the poor subscribe to what is free.

Refined info is like petroleum.

Inferior info is like kerosene.

Data is the new oil and #Google is the new Shell.