I built a chair!

I built a chair yesterday, it was long overdue

Well, I was left with no choice, who else would do it for me?

Thanks to Ikea

The estimated arrival time was 13th Aug

It was under-promised, over-delivered; a new way to delight customers

I was expecting a fully assembled chair

But I received a neat rectangular cardboard box with a jig-saw puzzle in it

I opened the box and first picked the manual

And I fell in love

The didactics were so impressive, they tickled the mechanical engineer in me

Allen Keys and Allen screws and an Allen drill bit

Ok, I will spare you the details

I sat down on the floor and started to assemble

Once in a while, there was a thought, what if Ikea failed to include a screw

Wouldn’t that be a pain?

But Ikea did not let me down

It took me an hour to assemble the whole chair

It was very satisfying

I am writing this on the very chair that I assembled

Ikea sells “experience” and not furniture

And it inspired me to write this

When was the last time a product inspired you to write about it?

Please reflect or comment

Imagining salaries in India

Here is an interesting exercise to estimate #salaries in India

Let us do some easy math, ready?

Let us take TCS as a use case:

Why? By far, TCS is one of the best #IT organizations in India with a global footprint

As of March 2020, TCS had 448,464 employees, the largest employer in India!

And its net revenues stood at 131306 crores

If you do the math, revenue per employee at TCS is Rs. 29 lac

Most IT organizations have 50% as employee expenses

Hence, for every rupee that TCS generates 50 paise goes towards employee salaries

50% of 29 lac is 14.5 L. A big chunk of TCS employee pool are young engineers

The average age of TCS employee is 28 years

Does that mean a 28-year-old employee in TCS earns 14.5 L? Not really, because we don’t have an age distribution

But you have a ballpark figure now

When it comes to rural India, a small marginal farmer earns approx 1L per year (link in comments)

The moment you decide to earn an engineering degree and move to the city you have an opportunity to boost your income to 14X as compared to a farmer

Fair game? Give your comments

Note: Used publicly available TCS data


Does the Linkedin algorithm remember how your last post performed?

Does the #Linkedin algorithm remember how your last post performed?

No. *phew

I was trying to read and understand how the Linkedin algorithm works and here is what I have learned

Linkedin algorithm(algo) is like an Editor in Chief

But with a 0 memory

Every algo is a set of rules

The Linkedin algo sees you through an objective lens

That is beautiful, no biases and no prejudices

The moment you post, the algo does a quick hygiene check and makes your post visible to a selected few

After that, if you get engagement(likes and comments), it boosts your post

The process is so meritocratic

Budding writers can always experiment and start fresh, every post is a new beginning

The algo doesn’t allow expert writers to rest on their past laurels

Simple and neat

But here is the other part of the story: people, yes you!

People see, read, judge, have very long memories and are very subjective

People give signal to the algo to boost an engaging post

So whom should you care about the most? The algo or people?

In my opinion; no one

Write from your heart, be authentic, take inspiration but be original, be yourself

In my every post I just aim for one thing; trigger thoughts

Have I triggered yours? Pls reflect or comment


Being thyself vs acting

This post might offend some movie buffs

Here is a one-line review for the movie Shakuntala Devi:

In the biographical movie Shakuntala Devi, Vidya Balan plays Vidya Balan


When it comes to Bollywood, the lead actors and actresses take “be yourself” too seriously

“Being yourself” and “acting” are mutually exclusive unless it is a reality show or the movie Fan where Shahrukh Khan plays himself

C’mon, you can’t be yourself if you are acting

Only child actors are allowed to be themselves in movies, why?

Because we want them to behave like children, no?

If you look at the trend, all successful actors like to be themselves instead of getting into the character in the script

Then the plots and budget revolves around their fame and grandiosity

Anyway, this phenomenon is not too different from how we progress in our own personal lives

We “act” a certain way to please others in our early careers, sometimes we can’t afford to be ourselves to make bonds

As we climb up the ladder and become successful we just relax and can afford to unleash our true self

Successful people have to be themselves to thrive but they should spare movies 🙂


You just need to ask for help

Last week I banged my knee against the door. It hurt badly. I laid down on the bed in a fetal position and shouted curses.

It took a day for the mild pain to recede

A few days back I had an altercation with a loved one

I was upset and negative feelings ensued

My feeling brain had hit on a sharp object and it was hurt

but then it recovered

The rational brain was silently observing all this

It knew all the steps which my feeling brain would undergo to heal itself, just like it did when I hurt my knee

Our rational brain is like a parent who knows how his/her kid will react and recover in the face of pain, rejection, and failure

But the parent can do little to help, it can only assure that things will get better

The kid is like the feeling brain, it doesn’t want to believe in logic

Imagine when the kid takes control of the parent

A hijack situation

Then you need help, perhaps an external intervention

But the question is would the parent ask for help? 🙂

How should the parent communicate? what would people think? How would the neighbors react?

Then the never-ending battle continues..


Has Linkedin disrupted traditional blogging?

Imagine #Linkedin as a local food court and we all own stalls here. Our Linkedin profile is our stall and the #content we offer is the cuisine

We all sell Continental, Punjabi, Italian, Pani Puri, Momos, Biryani and Maggi

Linkedin food court gets millions of footsteps, some are foodies and some are not. Some love Maggi and a few stop at the continental joint

You offer delicious Biryani and generate decent sales through your stall on Linkedin (views, #engagement, etc)

With every engagement, you also tell your customers that listen “I have one more stall (your personal blog) just 2km from the Linkedin foodcourt, pls visit(click) it and let me know what you think”

Here is the problem, though you have a good spread of delicious menu to offer on the stall outside Linkedin foodcourt, it is a pain for people to go there

It is fun to be on Linkedin, all the glitzy blue, people hanging around and the opportunity to make network or try that new Kulfi stall

That’s the value proposition of Linkedin, stickiness factor!

Linkedin doesn’t want people to go outside

If you are not able to engage people here, forget about your blog!

Absolute Vs Relative Happiness

There are two type of people, the one who want to define happiness and then there are the ones who measure it.

A. The ones who define happiness do it this way : I have a Volvo X60, my dream car and that makes me happy

B. The ones who measure relative happiness : I have a Volvo X60, most of my colleagues don’t own this car and that very fact makes me very happy

Type A seek absolute happiness, they don’t measure it. A safe and big car like Volvo X60 makes them happy

Type B always measure happiness, their level of happiness will always depend on the average happiness of others around them

Type A seek internal validation and type B seek external validation. Who is better A or B?

Who is better? All the happiness gurus would tell us to be like A and there are very few people like A. But majority of us are like B because it is easy to measure anything relatively. For instance how full I am after eating the breakfast? I am fuller than yesterday! so I am good!

But in case of happiness we try to measure intangible (happiness) with the tangible, Volvo X60 in this case. Anyway, the point us we seek relative happiness because we don’t have a good indicator to validate that we are really happy. And the beauty is the fact that the whole economy is designed around it. It lets you compare happiness through social media and ads and what not. Strange is it not?

You have an awesome money making idea? There is a 99.99% chance it will die in your head!

Have you ever thought about writing a book on an exciting topic? perhaps a time travel novella? or have you mulled over the possibility of becoming an online entrepreneur to get financial freedom? And then what happened? what happened to that idea?

We all get awesome ideas everyday. But we are not taught to nurture those ideas. For instance, a dream of becoming financially free is a simple innocent dream. The dream of not living the dream of others and being your own master. That dream manifests into ideas or possibilities to imagine a life without constraints. But all those possibilities have a life span of few minutes or hours. They die as soon as they are born; tragic. However, boosting the life-span of those ideas is completely in our control. I don’t want to sound like an innovation Guru here but with some commonsense and simple steps we could make our ideas fly, you only need one idea to give you that freedom.

I have been closely following some online businesses and self-employed people who are doing really well and here is what I gathered from them.

Step 0 : One day while sipping coffee you just have an epiphany of what you need to do in your life

Step A : Share your idea

  1. Share your ideas with your loved ones. Sharing ideas give them a tangible shape. Let others know that your idea is born.
  2. Share your idea with people whom you don’t know. Write and blog about it on social media. Let people give you all the negative and positive feedback.

Repetition doesn’t ruin the prayer!

Step B : Promote your idea

This step needs some money. You need some investment so that your idea reaches the maximum audience. Remember that any idea is result of critical and creative thinking. There are billions of people on this planet and there are millions who think just like you, the only difference is that millions of people don’t “promote” what they think.

Find forums where you can go and talk, spend on online ads build quality content around your idea.

Step C : Sell

This is where monetization happen. Once you have a minimum threshold of people who might want try what you have to offer, you can try selling your concept. The step B is like sales funnel, or a busy street you get access to people.

Step D : Up-sell and Cross Sell

This is where you scale and sell your allied products along with your core products. Apple started of with computing and today it is selling music and phones.

Step E : Promote, Promote, Promote

I am trying to make it sound easy but it is not. But look at the possibilities, many people don’t go past step 0. Every step has its own rewards. Every step needs different behaviors.

Step 0 : Needs you to be creative and have a possibility mindset. At-least you dream.

Step A : Needs you to be vulnerable and open for feedback. You have to be resilient here.

Step B: You have to be risk-taking. Good articulation and communication skills to build quality content.

Step C : Commercial skills, networking, building long term relationships with potential clients is what matters at this stage

Step D : Think big, use all the skills that you have learnt at Step 0, A, B and C

Step E : This is just repeating what you are best at.

To conclude, we are not taught to nurture and grow our ideas. Everything has a method and a path only that we have to take that first step and commit to follow it.

Why there are so many tire repair shops in my locality?

There are just too many tire repair and air shops around my locality. When I say “Too many” I mean if you walk 200 meters in any direction you will find one. These shops are typically tin sheet huts with gloomy interiors and a quintessential yellow painted tire tube tied outside indicating the service offered. You can safely extrapolate this to any other urban/semi-urban Indian locality. There are just too many tire shops; period.

These shops offer two services : air filling and tire repairing. There are two core assets, a compressor, and a semi-skilled man who has no clue where his life is headed. But kudos to the huge risk he has taken to open such business. At-least he can call himself an entrepreneur.

Anyway, sometimes I wonder what so many tire shops are doing in one tiny locality. Are they getting enough business? how many customers do they service every day? There is no way to do micro-math here. There are just too many variables.

But we certainly can do the macro math. There are around 200 million registered vehicles in India. Now let us calculate the revenue of only tire filling operation. I will conveniently discount tubeless tires here for ease of calculation.

Every filling operation charges Rs 10 on an average.

200*10 =  Rs 2000 million ie. 200 crores, assuming every vehicle owner does 20 transactions around the year that equals to Rs 40000 million.

But hold on to your horses! We are not even considering tire repair revenue. Assuming every vehicle undergoing at-least 1 puncture:

So we have Rs 300 ( average charge per puncture)* 200 million vehicles.That is Rs 60000 million

  1. Air filling operations Rs 40000 million
  2. Tube repairing service Rs 60000 million

Total = Rs 100000 Million

To convert into dollar = 100000/76 = 1.3 Billion Dollars

Area of India is 3.2 million sq km

Let us assume that 95% of area is inaccessible, there are no roads, forests, low human density, rural etc. Only 2.7% of worlds land is urbanized. source: how much of the world is covered by cities

Since India is so densely populated, we can assume 5% of India is urbanized/ semi urbanized.That leaves us with 0.16 million sq km (5% of 3.2 million sq km)

So potential revenue per square km = 1300/0.16 = $8000 dollars per sq km

I googled per capita income of India and that came out to be $ 7680  PPP for 2018. Let us assume it to be $8000 in 2020 for ease of calculation.

So how many tire repair shops should 1sq km of land support in India?

The answer is Revenue per sq km/ per capita income

= $8000/$8000 = 1 shop

Clearly there are more tire shops in my locality. Even if my estimations are 50% wrong, that gives us 2 shops per sq km, even then we might have 3 or 4 extra tire shops in a typical Indian locality.


Why there are so many sales jobs?

Few days back I was going through the annual reports of Salesforce.com , an organization known for its cloud CRM software , wondering how this organization made it to the Forbes list for 3 years in a row. I found something interesting , I found that it is increasing its revenue like no other company in the world, 31% YoY growth! that’s maddening.Being on aggressive growth trajectory, salesforce.com was also consistent in making losses for last three years , the highlight being, sales and marketing expenditure as a portion of cost of revenue was humongous( a whopping 67% !). Needless to say Salesforce.com was a sales organization more than a cloud software solutions organization.

Come to think of the new businesses of the 21st century and they have a similar story to tell. They need a huge sales-force. Have a look at the placement data of any top tier B-schools and you will find that almost everyone is selling Insurance policies,  loans, software and online advertisement space. The obvious part is these positions are being created because there is a high attrition rate in these domains .You cant last long if you cant take the pressure , add to it unrealistic targets and abusive managers. But in addition to that reason, a subtle underlying cause is at play.

Here is how some traditional functions in typical organizations got redundant in past century (the traditional functions as mentioned in porters value chain) :

In the 19th and 20th century industrialization happened through manufacturing. There were organizations which manufactured and “also” did little marketing and selling. Towards the late 20th century there was a flip, now you had organizations which marketed and sold and “also” manufactured. This was simply because everyone had developed competence to manufacture most things needed my most people. Manufacturing was commoditized ,towards the end of 20th century manufacturing got concentrated in one place on earth called as “China” . So to differentiate and impact the bottom line and beat China’s scale of economies, manufacturing in other countries had to focus on streamlining itself by lay-offs. Automation led to further efficiency. Six Sigma programs and the Toyota way was preached like religion. Production folks started religiously following these disciplines to make the management feel that they are still worthy of doing something. Go to any automotive manufacturing facility today and you will see these approaches and progress printed on A3 sheets  put on proud display on factory floors.

Maintenance department was populated by un-ambitious mechanical engineers. No one cared to leave for better opportunities and everyone was happy doing a thankless job. Since nobody left the organization, nobody was recruited. They sometimes complained  that production department took all the credit for their hard work.

HR department drank more coffee than the maintenance department, but the CEO who had subscription to HBR magazine, thought that HR is the change agent. CFO thought otherwise. So far they had gained expertise in booking meetings at awesome locations and coordinating training programs. HR was always an operational support function. IT  department? read Outsourcing , mass recruiting, herd mentality. Likewise administrative functions (Legal , accounting, finance and procurement) also got streamlined due to advent of computers. Now fewer people could handle multiple tasks.

Bottom-line is that the core of an organization which was to manage human resources, manufacturing, and maintenance was shrinking. It became so efficient that processes were set in place and any human being of an average intelligence could handle those processes. Non-core processes were outsourced. And then there was the rise of KPOs. Anyone who could read, speak , google and fill excel sheets ended up there.

It was found that every penny invested in manufacturing and other operations resulted in diminishing returns. And organizations left the task of innovating to the ilk of Apple. Innovating was hard, Six Sigma and Toyota way was easy (at-least to follow). Fall of Motorola (the organization which gave us six sigma) was caused because it couldn’t innovate. So if you can’t innovate and manufacturing is commoditized how you create a difference? You simply did aggressive push “sales”.

Every penny invested in “sales department” made some sense. You could recruit , trim, shave and do other stuff to your sales team which comprised of highly enthusiastic and materialistic individuals with generic skill sets. There was an “Undo” button here which was not available in other domains. Capital expenditure in a manufacturing facility to optimize cost was a risk but recruitment in sales department was always low risk tactic .Nobody cared how big your sales team gets as long as they bring in sales. Rest of the organization was allergic to people, fewer the better ! nobody ever said bring in more guys to improve operations.

The law of diminishing returns didn’t quite apply here, and nobody ever thought of automating sales beyond fancy CRM softwares. You always needed people to sell your products to other people. Put a proper incentivization plan in place and you could always see some results through endless human suffering , frustration and unrealistic targets . A machine could never replicate that human suffering and greed to achieve excellence. Even the organizations on the frontiers of technology needed people to sell its products and services. Thus sales became the ultimate panacea of this world. So why so many sales jobs? because that is where most humans can still add value.