Showing posts from 2019

Of Companies and Customer Obsession

Swami Gulagulaananda said: “ Working from a customer backward makes businesses successful ” Customer service is one of the most important pillars in an organisation and can play a significant role in the success or failure of a company. Amazon, one of the largest multi national companies in the world, has put customer delight into their core by making it their goal to be Earth's most customer-centric company. To achieve that, Amazon has 14 leadership principles that form the company's core tenets and is taken very seriously when it comes to hiring. Customer obsession is their first. I'll give you an example to illustrate this point. When running my own startup, a one-man show, I used Amazon's AWS as my cloud provider. Apart from the fact that Amazon AWS was (and still is) the market leader in cloud infrastructure, it was the only service that I'd used. I'd experimented a little with Google cloud, but it hadn't quite reached the stage that I needed. One

The American Dream

Swami Gulagulaananda said: " Greater the risks, greater the rewards... " The withdrawal of American troops from Syria has been in the news for some time now. It got me wondering what the Americans were doing in the Middle East in the first place. But more importantly, it got me thinking about the ability of the US to project its power in an area hundreds of kilometres away from their homeland. What is it that makes a country stay significantly ahead of her rivals? Similarly, Israel is always ten steps ahead of her neighbours. The answer, of course, is technology. Why then is India lagging behind her rivals? Doesn't India have enough smart people? In my opinion, there are two main reasons for this. The first is the mentality of people, and the second is the ecosystem. The mentality of people is more obvious to observe. For example, software engineers in the initial stages of their career should be focussing on developing good software to excel in their field. I pic

The Ride Back Home

Swami Gulagulaananda said: " Walk the path of righteousness, walk the path alone if you must " "You really didn't have to drive me back home, you know", she said looking at me. I was squinting my eyes to look through the drops that had accumulated on my windshield. It had been raining heavily and my wiper blades seemed to be performing the perfunctory role of sweeping over the glass without doing much in the elimination of the water. "That's not a problem. It's quite late and autorickshaw drivers love the combination of rains and nights. It's rabbit season for them." As I threaded my car through the traffic, guessing half the time, my phone blared out "In 500 metres, turn right". I was wondering what I'd have done if it wasn't for my phone. "Stop the car near that yellow car over there", she pointed. I brought my car to a gradual halt in front of her house. "I had a great time. Thanks. When are we catchi

On consensus

Swami Gulagulaananda quoted: " One can wake a sleeping man, not a man pretending to sleep. " "Consensus" is an intriguing concept - It is difficult to get a group of people to agree to something. People who have tried to organise reunions or get-togethers will be familiar with the concept. It's incredibly hard to get people to agree to a date, a location, time - and eventually, some people will backoff nonetheless. Driving of consensus in a group is hard - and it becomes exponentially harder as the number of people increases. It is the same with debates where the two teams have different opinions, and each tries to convince the other. Historically, scholars in India used to travel across towns challenging various schools to understand which school of thought was the best. One of the well-known contests is between Adi Shankaracharya and Mandan Mishra, where the defeated scholar had to follow the philosophy of the victor (Shankaracharya won). What is more im

The Unchivalrous Traveller

Swami Gulagulaananda said: " Fight injustice... And not (arm)chair fights " The metro train slowly came to rest and the doors opened. Passengers alighted and others boarded. The doors slid shut. The train wasn't particularly crowded, but none of the newly boarded commuters got a seat. The train had started gaining speed. The construction worker next to me looked out of place in a train full of middle-class. He clutched his hard hat tighter as he looked around uncomfortably. Looking at him feeling slightly out of place, a rather rotund woman waddled up to him, and demanded a seat. The poor worker sheepishly proceeded to stand up. I caught his shoulder and pulled him down. "The first coach is reserved for women. Why don't you go there?" I demanded. "It's common decency to be chivalrous and give up seats to women", she replied. "It's alright" smiled the worker as he stood up. I once again held his shoulder and pulled him back to his

On Litter

Swami Gulagulaananda said: " A thorough analysis of the problem will help in better, long-lasting solutions " Bangalore is a city of contrasts. On the one hand, we have multi-billion dollar MNCs and have common litter problems on the other. Primarily, there are two sorts of waste issues in Bangalore. The first is the garbage problem and the second is litter. I find the litter issue to be easier to manage. I was travelling by bus the other day when I happened to look at the ground at a bus stop. I noticed quite a bit of litter. On looking at the individual pieces of litter, I saw a pattern emerge. The bus began to move, and I started observing litter along the way in all subsequent bus stops. It was interesting to note that most of the litter belong to the following categories: Gutka and Pan Masala (Pan Parag) wrappers Cigarette boxes and match boxes Paper cups Plastic water bottles From this, we can conclude a few things. Customers can procure most of these ite

Perception Management

Swami Gulagulaananda said: " It is not always about what you are. It is also about what others think you are... " I was introduced to the term Perception Management when I read David Baldacci's novel, The Whole Truth. Wikipedia defines Perception Management (PM) as: Actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning as well as to intelligence systems and leaders at all levels to influence official estimates, ultimately resulting in foreign behaviours and official actions favourable to the originator's objectives. In various ways, perception management combines truth projection, operations security, cover and deception, and psychological operations. [Full Article: ] I started paying closer attention to the dynamics on social media to understand what Perception Management is after the recent Indian strike on the t

On Peaceniks and War Mongers - The Pulwama Aftermath

Swami Gulagulaananda said: " Strong leadership is the key differentiator between success and failure " On February 14, 2019, a terrorist attack on a CRPF convoy resulted in the martyrdom of over 40 CRPF soldiers. Citizens of India felt a familiar punch in the gut. It is not the first time that India has experienced terror attacks on our forces, and we know the bitter truth that this will not be the last. The terrorist group, JeM, claimed responsibility for the attack. The entire nation mourned the loss of our brave-hearts. It was depressing to read about the kith and kin who were left behind - newly married and now widowed, just-born infants without a father. The stories are gut-wrenching and tear-jerking for anyone with empathy. The nation wanted payback. And, in my opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting revenge for the deaths of these soldiers. Pakistan has historically been the petri-dish where it grows and nurtures all strains of terrorists. Man

On Feedback and Perception

Swami Gulagulaananda quoted: " Those who cannot learn from history are condemned to repeat it " I have been a huge hater of auto-rickshaws for a while - Not because they are noisy and unstable, which they are (like their drivers), but because of the irritating quality of the auto-drivers - Price haggling. The drivers often refuse to go where you want, act like they are doing you a favour and continue riding along. And in the rare chance that they agree, they demand a fare over and above the meter charge - Sometimes spouting random numbers which is more than twice the actual fare. I have captured my frustration in several cartoons, two of which are added here. Here's a comical account for your reading pleasure. Clearly, citizens who are irritated by this incessant torture of the auto-drivers are going to look at ways to avoid them. Many choose to use their own vehicles while others travel by buses. I had taken an oath of sorts to never board an auto (Unless