Tuesday, December 30, 2008

As I leave 2008...

366 days gone by (well...almost)! Time for Top 10 events, Top 10 movies, Top 10 sporting events, even Top 10 turkeys...

Personally, the year has been nothing short of eventful.
- Had to curse myself for being dead right in my predictions (about things I wouldn't talk here...would take too long to read).
- Took up (and sustained) photography and birdwatching as my hobbies.
- Traveled a ton. From the US to Europe, from India's east coast to the west, from hill stations to beaches, from business to tourism to family gatherings.
- Social networking a revelation, though I am still grappling with maintaining the momentum. Catch me on Facebook, Orkut, LinkedIn, Twitter and Flickr.

Events outside my influence which left an imprint (in no particular order):
- The "stormy" evening of 11/26. The saga left me wondering about the definitions of independence, security, safety and life.
- A recession that was long in the coming. Lehmann Brothers RIP...Jobs lost in the hundreds of thousands...At least, we now get gas cheaper.
- Corporate blunders, again anticipated, from Detroit. Another anticipated one, though closer to home and heart. Satyam planning to acquire Maytas for a ridiculous amount to strengthen its infrastructure vertical. Enough said!
- A resurgent India, in sports at least. While we must be proud of MSD and his boys and Abhinav Bindra among a host of other players, 2 questions come to my mind. Firstly, is our national passion benefiting from degrading standards in other cricketing teams? Secondly, when will Michael Phelps become a source of inspiration for our sporting committees?
- Where's the good news? Chandrayaan. Truly inspiring, given the image we have of Government organizations in India. I hope we'd not forgotten this so quickly and had made this a flagship story to improve our country.
- Barrack Obama.

And, of course, jargon that went out of fashion (Palinisms anyone) and those that would be used on us indiscriminately for sometime to come (non-state actors for one).

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Simple problem - different magnitude

I have 5 apples. If I gave you 1 of them everyday, in how many days would I run out of apples?

Sounds kiddish?

Ok, another one - The Earth has 1.4 billion hectares of primary forest. Every year, we lose 6 million hectares. How long would it take to lose the entire forest area?

The first problem is simple because it is easily measurable and tangible in some sense. Most of us know what apples are and how 5 of them together look. But 200 years seems long enough. Or is it?

Think about it...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Two sides of business development

Case 1: My new mobile phone came with a free holiday offer. Since we'd never been to this place and it was off season, we took up the offer. Very soon we landed up at our destination - part of a chain of time-share holiday resorts.

The register showed few other rooms occupied; so, I asked the receptionist if he could show me around the different kinds of rooms they had. "Sorry sir - all other rooms are occupied" came the reply. All my reasoning (see the register, we are contemplating taking membership, etc.) was countered with polite defiance. Finally, hunger got the better of me and I took the keys to our room.

Case 2: On the same trip, sightseeing landed us at an erstwhile palace converted to a hotel. The staff had strict instructions from management to keep sightseers at bay. They hinted that we should have dinner at the hotel. We decided to stay back (partly because our own resort food was mediocre). After dinner, the waiter said that he would be glad to show us around the place. Half an hour later, we had seen all the rooms, learnt a great deal about the history of the place and planned our next visit there!

In case 1, the hotel staff had all to gain. Giving a free package is an excellent way to market your resort(s). You've got captive audience, possibly more willing to listen to your marketing message. And it was squandered completely. Case 2 shows the inherent culture in the place - everyone in the organization chain knows the benefits of bringing in new customers. And they know how to maintain a premium brand!

PS: In case 1, during checkout, there was the routine question - "Would you want to join our membership program?" - followed by an explanation of the benefits. I had two choices - to tell them that I wasn't even shown the rooms, blah, blah blah or to say "Sorry, not interested". I chose the latter.