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WHY SHOULD I DO BUSINESS WITH YOU?

Having worked with large internationally reputed firms most of my life, establishing credentials was never a problem. Life changed dramatically when I decided to quit my fancy job to be self employed. Suddenly the business card with the well known company logo and fancy designation was gone and with it the eagerness with which people wanted to buy services I marketed. I wanted to be a consultant to large, successful companies, similar to the ones I had worked in. The problem was that these companies wanted to associate with other large successful companies or individuals who were established ‘brands’. It took me some time to come up with a sales pitch that worked and to understand that I had to vary my pitch depending on the person I was meeting.

Reading this article by Dr. Ivan Misner brought back memories of those days 🙂

“Give Me One Good Reason I Should Do Business With You?”
What the “Shark Tank” can teach us about knowing your audience.
By Dr. Ivan Misner

A few months ago, I started watching the “Shark Tank,” and I was hooked! There are some serious business lessons that can be gleaned by viewing the show, and I saw one of them last week while watching a rerun from a previous season. (It’s sad. I’m completely hooked now and checking out past episodes.)

There was an entrepreneur on the show by the name of Raven Thomas. Raven started a food business called The Painted Pretzel (pretzels covered with chocolate and other confectionaries).

She had a pretty good business model and, according to the panelists (the “Sharks”), a product that was delicious. After a fair amount of discussion, Lori Greiner (one of the Sharks) asked, “Why should we invest in you?” I realized at that moment that this was the big question and I knew Raven’s answer could make or break the deal.

Raven replied to Lori,“The main reason is that I have two little kids and
 blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” I immediately paused the show, looked to my wife (Beth), and practically screamed “She just blew it. She totally gave a relational answer to a bunch of transactional SHARKS! They don’t care about blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, they want something closer to ‘show me the money’ than I love what I do!”

That’s when Beth said, “You have to know your audience when you are talking about your business.” Beth was spot on. Before I started up the episode again, Beth and I talked about how it was so important for Raven to speak the language that the Sharks speak – a language that focuses on opportunity, growth, ROI, and cold hard cash! Instead, Raven talked about how she felt about the business and how it related to her children – not how the Sharks would relate to the business as investors.

I unpaused the episode to watch the train wreck that was about to ensue. To my astonishment, Robert Herjavec gave Raven a “do-over” (I really like this Shark. If I ever have the chance to be a panelist on a business show, I’d like to think my style would be similar to his). Robert looked at Raven and said, “Let’s do that again,” and gave her a chance to give a better answer. She took a moment and said, “A good reason to invest in me is that I had to walk away from a $2 million deal because I did not have the capital to fill the order. . . and that door is still open.”

That answer was a show stopper and totally got the Sharks’ attention. Within a few moments, Mark Cuban (Shark and owner of the Dallas Mavericks) offered her $100,000 cash as well as distribution of the product at his stadium and movie theater chain he also owns! She of course, said yes. As a result, she now expects that sales will exceed $1.2 million dollars this year!

The lesson that can be learned here is to know your audience and gear your comments to the people you are talking to. This is an important lesson in networking and particularly in BNI. It is one of the reasons why I recommend that when you meet people you ask them questions before you start talking about yourself. The more you know about the people you’re talking to the better you’re able to craft your message to them.

The fact that Raven loved her business and thought it was a great role model for her kids is fantastic. I get that. However, that’s not what her audience wanted or needed to hear at that moment. She almost lost the biggest opportunity that she ever had because she didn’t address her audience in the way “they” needed. Luckily, when she got a “do-over” she knocked it out of the park. The problem is – we don’t always get “do-overs.”

Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI (www.BNI.com), the world’s largest business networking organization. His book, Networking Like a Pro, can be viewed at www.IvanMisner.com. Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute, an international referral training company.

The Idealist Dreamer and his Super 30

Posted by on Jun 19, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The Idealist Dreamer and his Super 30

I read a book called ‘I Have A Dream’ a few years ago . Tales of 20 idealists who while being committed to different causes believed that principles of management could and must be used to achieve a greater common good – I loved the stories. While each story was inspirational, a few of them still stand out very clearly in my mind.

One of my favourites is Bindeshwar Pathak, the man who lived with families of scavengers as a part of his Ph.D. research and later went on to start Sulabh International, a social service organization that is involved in many spheres, the most well known being environmental sanitation and waste management. Another is Vinayak Lohani, the man who opted out of the placement process post an MBA from IIM Calcutta and chose to set up ‘Parivaar’ which after a decade is possibly the largest and best quality residential program for children of the impoverished strata in West Bengal.

But my most favourite was the story of Anand Kumar and his ‘Super 30’. Possibly the most ambitious of all the stories, is the tale of this mathematician who decided to coach 30 economically backward students every year for seats in the coveted IIT’s. Anand Kumar was born in Patna and continues to live and teach there.

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One of the poorest states in the country, Bihar allegedly has 40% of its population below the poverty line. Anand attended a Hindi medium government school because his family could not afford private schooling. Later, he got admission in the prestigious Cambridge University but had to give up that dream dues to his father’s death and financial conditions. He would work on Maths during the day and help his mother sell papads in the evenings, a small enterprise that had to be started to support the family.

Anand started teaching Maths in 1992, opening his own  The Ramanujan School of Mathematics (RSM), in one small classroom. He had 500 students in 3 years. In 2000, when a poor student approached wanted IIT-JEE coaching and admitted that his family could not afford the annual fee, Anand was inspired to start something different. This idea gave birth to the ‘Super 30’, in 2002.

Every May, The Ramanujan School of Mathematics conducts a competitive examination to select 30 students for this program. While many appear for the exam, the final selection is 30 best from economically backward sections. The program offers these students tution, study material and lodging for a year, absolutely free of cost. While Anand teaches these students, his mother cooks them meals and his brother takes care of administration.

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From 2003 till 2014, 308 of the 360 students (30 a year for 12 years) have made it to various IITs. And this year, 25 have cleared the exams. One of them has been selected to pursue an international program on Environmental Sciences, as a part of a 4 year scholarship in the University of Tokyo. Abhishek Gupta, the son of a generator operator admits that his application was motivated by ‘Anand Sir’. The Super 30 actually had a 31st student this year. Sujit Kumar had failed to crack the exam last year but wanted to try again and has managed to succeed this year, reinforcing his mentor’s faith in him.

The Super 30 program has gained both popularity and recognition over the years. Discovery Channel has done a one hour documentary on this the New York Times has featured the program as has the BBC and Newsweek. Anand Kumar has been invited as a speaker by IITs, IIMs, Stanford University and more. Anand Kumar has been felicitated and awarded many times. After all the media attention, one would have expected Super 30 to be come Super 100 or maybe Super 300; with a swank campus and the works. But Anand Kumar has refused all financial aid for the Super 30, from both government and private sources and continues to fund the initiative with his earnings from RSM. I can almost see capitalists and bankers shaking their heads in amazement, wondering why someone would kick a gift horse in the mouth. But thankfully, some people still work for passion and not just for profits.

We keep looking for heroes in movies and fairy tales. But the real heroes lie amongst us.

(Sources: I Have A Dream, Wikipedia, Hindustan Times)

 

Are you a Glossophobic?

Posted by on Jun 1, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Are you a Glossophobic?

fear-of-public-speaking

While ‘Glossophobia’ would be a new word to many, its meaning would not be.

Glossophobia or speech anxiety is the fear of public speaking or of speaking in general. The word comes from the Greek ÎłÎ»áż¶ÏƒÏƒÎ± glƍssa, meaning tongue, and φόÎČÎżÏ‚ phobos, fear or dread. (Source: Wikipedia)

Surveys about human fears commonly show fear of public speaking at the top of the list. The fear of speaking in front of a group is so great that people fear it more than anything, even death, at least in surveys! This might sound odd considering no actual harm has befallen the average Joe as a result of being a poor public speaker. But the fear is very real and psychologists feel the answer to this lies in our very distant past.

In order to minimize getting hunted by large predators, early man learned to live in groups. This possibly is why early humans and other large primates evolved to be social, and why we are social even today. Not being very large or very fast or very fierce, man survived by his wits and ability to collaborate. Failure to be a part of the collaborative (and social) group, or getting kicked out, would have spelled certain death for early humans. Those early men who worked well together and helped each other probably survived and passed on traits to their progeny and this has continued to contribute towards social behavior.  And this is why anything that threatens our status in a social group, like the threat of ostracism, feels like a very great risk to us.

“Ostracism appears to occur in all social animals that have been observed in nature,” said Kip Williams, a professor of psychological sciences at Purdue who has studied ostracism.  “To my knowledge, in the animal kingdom, ostracism is not only a form of social death, it also results in death.  The animal is unable to protect itself against predators, cannot garner enough food, etc., and usually dies within a short period of time,” said Williams. (Source: Psychology Today)

We human beings are not very different. Though social ostracism in today’s world does not affect a person’s ability to get food, it still has very lasting effects on the psyche. Small children who are continuously made fun of by bigger bullies may develop extreme emotional residues that may manifest immediately or much later. Adults go through the same problems. The thought of inadequacy in front of an audience, however small, is very daunting.

As a trainer and coach, I have seen distinct nervousness in people across age and experience levels when asked to volunteer for an activity, especially when it involves leaving the seat and walking across to face the rest of the group. Every individual who comes to be coached lists this as an area of concern. The nervousness is usually very palpable through expressions and body language. In extreme cases, the person loses his voice and cannot say anything when asked to speak. Excessive perspiration, suddenly shaky feet, dry throat or a perceived lump in the throat, nausea and stomach ache are some common symptoms of Glossophobia.

Just in case you think this post is all gloomy and dismal, fear not; there is always hope at the end of the tunnel. Like every problem, physical or mental, Glossophobia too can be addressed. While there are therapies that can help, I strongly recommend self help, coaching and a lot of practice in order to get over this . The first step towards getting better, remains the same as always – accept there is a problem and go forth to conquer it. Do not run away from public speaking because that will worsen the fear. Remember, you would not have learned cycling or swimming if you did not get back to it every time you fell or went under water to come up sputtering.

Let’s save our young

Posted by on Mar 11, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Let’s save our young

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I woke up to find this cover story on the Mid-day.

Blackmail on Facebook drives Mumbai teenager to suicide – See more at: http://www.mid-day.com/articles/blackmail-on-facebook-makes-mumbai-teenager-kill-himself/16050192#sthash.wpDtbHTV.dpuf

Many would not bother about this incident because it has not  happened in their immediate environment. This is usually a reason for  lack of empathy for any victim. There are reports of suicide, rape,  molestation, murder every day in the papers and we have become immune to all this. Immune till something completely shattering comes to the forefront. And this story will go unnoticed by many because it is about a boy from a very poor home, one of the many who go missing without causing much furore.

Let us look at some statistics first, morbid but necessary.(Source: Wikipedia and various media articles)

  1. About 800,000 people commit suicide every year – global statistics (till 2010).
  2. Of these 135,000 (17%) are residents of India, a nation with 17.5% of the world’s population (till 2010).
  3. Between 1987 to 2007, the suicide rate in India increased from 7.9 to 10.3 per 100,000,with higher suicide rates in southern and eastern states of India.
  4. The male to female suicide ratio has been about 2:1.
  5. Estimates for number of suicides in India vary. E.g. one study projected 187,000 suicides in India in 2010, while official data by the Government of India claims 134,600 suicides in 2010.
  6. The World Health Organisation statistics say that one person commits suicide every 40 seconds, globally.
  7. WHO also listed India as one of the countries with the highest suicide rates at 21.1 per 100,000 people in 2012.
  8. Attempting suicide used to be a criminal offense in India till 2014.

I too have read and ignored many reports of teen and youth suicide over the years. But it is time we all sit up and take notice because being the world leader in suicide is not really a great title to bear.

Suicide is usually a result of extreme emotions, says Dr. Kanan Khatau Chikhal, a renowned psychologist and counsellor. These emotions can be of various kinds, depression being one of the better known. But if a person does not have a history of depression, the other emotions resulting in suicide would be extreme guilt, extreme shock, extreme shame, extreme grief and an overwhelming fear of getting caught and then shamed.

18 year old Abhishek Rasam was a victim of the last emotion. The police now feel that he could be the victim of a gang which lures young boys on Facebook posing as girls, and then extorts money by threatening to file an FIR against them for sending incriminating text messages and photographs. This poor boy made friends with some unknown ‘girl’ on FB in the first week of Feb, got carried away and was then threatened and then blackmailed by someone who claimed to be the girl’s brother. Being too poor to cough up the money demanded, he chose to end his life, ironically on Valentine’s Day.

Abhishek is one of the many young people who have chosen to end their lives and not fight. His name will be lost in the next few days and become just another number added to the overwhelming suicide statistic of our nation. I too will forget him. But let us look closer to home. Our kids use Facebook and various other forms of social media and instant messaging extensively. As a parent, it is imperative to keep counselling them about the pitfalls of making friends with completely unknown people and also about exchanging private information/photographs with anyone. This is a very tricky and touchy situation when you deal with teens who want to feel ‘grown up’ and are often resentful of parental intervention or sometimes even guidance which must construe as overbearing.

If children do not feel comfortable sharing with the parents, there has to be a provision made for them to confide in another responsible adult, within or outside the family. Various organizations like AASRA (http://www.aasra.info/), Connecting India (http://connectingindia.org/) and more provide help and services to prevent suicide among teens and youth. But these organizations can only help if we make their information available to our children. Ego and family pride often gets in the way, because parents feel they are the best/only people to help their children. But unfortunately, this logic does not hold good in many cases.

While the social organizations do a lot of good, the responsibility would also belong to the parents and immediate family/caregivers. It is up to us to make children feel confident enough to confide in us should they face any situation that is beyond their control. A child used to strong punitive measures within the family would be too scared to discuss these issues, be it examination stress, poor marks, trouble in school, a failed love affair and of course social media related threats.

India is poised to become the world’s youngest country by 2020. Let us preserve our young. Let us try and be their friends instead of just adults who reprimand. Let us really ‘be there’ for them and with them and not let them try and fend for themselves in the murky jungle out there, till the time they really become capable of doing so.

Moving to a different country?

Posted by on Jan 30, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Moving to a different country?

earthpackage

I believe a lot of us human beings are very resistant to change. I see kids who do not wish to go to a boarding school, young adults who have reservations about going ‘away’ to study, adults who do not feel confident enough to take up a new job in an unfamiliar country. And surprisingly, I see this as much in males as in females. While the resistance may or may not be gender driven, in girls it is largely a result of sheltered upbringing and what has been drilled into their heads by immediate family, whereas the boys/men manage to be more or less self reliant.

Add to this the overwhelming amount of advise shared generously by friends and well wishers, a lot of who may not be able to spot the new location on a map, and you have a cocktail of doubts in your head. Of course there is the other breed; we have hordes of people who go away to study and to work, but not all of them really like doing so. A very close friend of mine gave up an Ivy League scholarship because she did not like being away.

I really enjoyed reading Ikram Patel’s article ‘Moving to a different country for a new job’ on LinkedIn and thought of sharing it. I met Ikram a few years ago when he worked for Piaggio in Pune. There was a huge team working together for their participation in the Auto Expo and Ikram was one of the bright, young representatives from the client’s side. It was a surprise to read that he has moved, not just cities but also countries and managed to get himself to a place which would not really feature in the upmarket Indian’s list of ‘Top 10 global cities to work in’! Not only that, he has actually figured out the positives in his environment instead of lamenting about how different it is from back home. Way to go Ikram!

Flexibility and cross cultural sensitivity is a very sought after topic for training, specially in global organizations that move their human resources around. This article would be very helpful for all the young people who have to or want to look beyond the Indian shores for work.

Here is the link to Ikram’s article for you to peruse: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/moving-different-country-job-ikram-patel

 

Happiness is a choice

Posted by on Dec 3, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Happiness is a choice

happiness

Yesterday, a friend spoke to me about her father’s battle with cancer, the dreaded disease he succumbed to after a long fight. She told me how hard it was for the family to see an active man suffer and wither away. She made me remember the way I lost my father, suddenly, with no warning. He left for work in the morning and I in the afternoon since I worked evenings at the Taj at that time. This routine meant that we would sometimes not meet for days because he would be asleep by the time I returned late night (sometimes early morning) and I would be asleep when he left home in the mornings. By the time I rushed home after receiving an SOS call late that particular evening, he was no more. The suddenness of it was devastating. After the conversation with my colleague, I was again trying to understand which; if either; was a better way to let go of a loved one. Does it hurt more to see someone die every day or does it hurt more to lose someone suddenly, without having a chance to say and do all that we wanted to. And what of the person who dies, would he want to slowly disintegrate into an object of concern, sometimes pity and maybe even despair or just be done with it, quickly and painlessly? And even more importantly, when his entire life flashes before his eyes, do the images make him smile or sigh?

I had read an article published in The Guardian, UK in 2012, about a book titled ‘Top five regrets of the dying’. It is authored by Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care; caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book.

The top 5 regrets, as witnessed by her are
.and I quote,

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”

  1. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming.”

  1. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years.”

  1. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

Sounds crazy right? Crazy but true! Human beings spend lives chasing qualifications, money and success not realizing that none of these equate happiness. We choose to compromise on friendship, love and happiness without understanding that these get us through our toughest trials. When we look back at our lives, it will not be only to count the millions in the bank but the hundreds of hearts we have touched and smiles we have spread.

While I could not prevent the lump in my throat as I watched the stricken faces and tear drenched eyes of the attendees at Phil Hugh’s funeral earlier today, I also remembered the words of his best mate Michael Clarke who said, “Apart from when he was home on the farm with his beloved cattle, Hughesy was at his happiest playing cricket for his country with his mates.” And I wondered if this perhaps was the way that destiny’s children are meant to depart this earth, suddenly, in the middle of doing what they love, on a high, being adored by millions.
Life throws us many curved balls; we catch some and miss some. Decisions that need to be made are sometimes simple, sometimes difficult, sometimes downright scary and sometimes the kind that might make people shake their heads and wonder if you have lost your marbles, make them anyway, if that is what you need to be happy. You cannot make a bunch of other people happy if you aren’t happy yourself! While these decisions will not make you perfect, not by a long shot, they will definitely make you accountable for your own life. So go on, meet people who make you smile a little more than usual, take those holidays you don’t seem to have time for, find a career out of your passion so you wake up every day enthused about work, connect with old friends, let your heart skip a beat when you speak to someone, tell special people that you love them, be silly, keep the child in you alive, smile at strangers, laugh out loud uncaring of who is watching, gorge on dessert once in a while, play hookey and watch a movie
..just live with the courage to do things that make you happy. Death they say is the only constant in life. So LIVE, so that when you look back on your life, whether for a moment or months, you can actually smile because there are no regrets.

Happiness is a choice…..make the choice today.

 

Copyright © Taraa Vermaa Senguptaa December 2014

All Rights Reserved

 

Chrysaalis Contemplations – 2

Posted by on Aug 26, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Chrysaalis Contemplations – 2

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It was a Monday….again! I found myself with a free day when an important meeting was cancelled last minute and decided to run some errands including getting some much needed clothes and accessories for the festive season. I managed to connect with a friend who had the same agenda and we agreed to meet at a market not too far. We had finished with some items on our list of to do’s and decided to enter a local store to buy some fabric she required. While browsing fabrics, we realized that they stock Indian clothing as well as an extensive collection of fabrics and decided to look at the entire range.

Without going into details of what we bought, let me just share that we spent close to 3 hours in the store. The owners and staff; all Gujaratis, were extremely pleasant and patient and helped us every minute, never begrudging our requests of wanting to have every item of clothing brought down from the shelves and displayed. Having entered around noon, we found ourselves really hungry by 2 pm and wished we could ask the store staff to buy us some food. Knowing that most stores discourage food and drinks being carried inside, we did not think this was a feasible option, but decided to ask anyway! On hearing our request, a senior staff member shook his head somberly, stating it was against their policy. It was expected, so did not press further. He looked at our crestfallen faces, smiled and said that taking money from customers for food was against the store policy. So they would get us lunch on the house! We we very embarrassed and declined the offer, insisting on payment which he refused. So we decided that we would finish our purchases and head out for lunch shortly.

But, we spent far longer in the store than we had planned and were still there an hour post the meal discussion. The same senior staff member walked up to us, firmly stating that he had ordered lunch for us and we would not be allowed to refuse. We were made to sit and eat a pretty hearty meal at the store, with a person waiting on us. Needless to say, we did full justice to the meal and of course to our ‘impromptu’ shopping expedition where we landed up buying a lot of clothes!

My friend and I just could not imagine this kind of treatment at any local (large, popular but not fancy or branded) store in any other city. Having grown up in Calcutta, we love the city but shopping there leaves us a bit disillusioned since displeasure is writ large on the faces of sales people when they are asked to show more than 3 items to a customer. And the lunch offer is unheard of, even in much larger and fancier stores.

The store did not have to get us food on payment, let alone for free because it was not quite expected. But they did and exceeded our expectations by miles. Looking back I realize that the cost of the meal would be about .005 % of our purchase value – a mere pittance. But that tiny investment has won them 2 very loyal customers, a pretty good thing in a very competitive market. We also loved the complete dedication to service with a smile and bending over backwards for customers; things we were thought were taught only in hotel schools. It was so nice to witness all this in a store that may not be known beyond a 10 km radius. I know for sure that we will return to the store time and again and not only because their products were beautiful but because they put smiles on our faces.

“I always say shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist.” …….Tammy Faye Bakker 

 

Copyright © Taraa Vermaa Senguptaa August 2014

All Rights Reserved

 

Chrysaalis Contemplations – 1

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Chrysaalis Contemplations – 1

 

Etiquette

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sounds simple? You would be surprised at just how difficult some people find this.

 

I was grocery shopping last Monday afternoon. I work a lot of weekends and Mondays are usually the most relaxed day of the week. The supermarket I visited is located in a lovely, tree lined lane in my neighbourhood. Unfortunately, the lane is rather narrow and the cars have to enter and exit very quickly in order to avoid blocking the road. Weekends, with the small parking lot full, are a challenge, which is another very good reason for a Monday visit. 

 

While browsing through the aisles of the supermarket, I could not help but notice a very elegantly dressed woman who was doing her share of groceries. She would have been in her mid thirties and was dressed in lovely cream linen pants and a dark, casual knit top that set off her tall, slender frame really well. Her hair was knotted up in a casual chignon and she was the picture of relaxed chic. It is always nice to see people who make an effort to look good. I forgot about her after a while as I took my time checking and picking things off the shelves. 

 

I finished doing my groceries, paid and loaded my purchases into the boot of the car. I saw the lady again, with her full trolley, standing near the exit, right in the way of the exiting cars without bothering to move as she spoke on the phone. So the entire queue of cars had to wait for her to finish her conversation and move aside. This however was not the end of the story. Our exit on the road had been blocked by whoever had come to pick her up, presumably the person who had been on the other end of the telephone. He had stopped the car right in front of the gate and sat in the driver’s seat and she hoisted a number of heavy bags out of the trolley into the vehicle. This obviously took a while, resulting in a lot of honking and some raised voices from various car drivers; not only those exiting the supermarket but also the normal traffic in the lane, all of which had come to a stand still. At one point she stopped in her task and yelled out rudely to the general public that they were all blind and therefore could not see her loading bags into the car. 

 

In all of this I wondered why her spouse/friend/brother (assumption made since she finally climbed into the front seat of the car; the man was very well dressed and did not look old enough to be her father) did not bother to drive ahead just a few feet and park on the side of the road; something that would have let the vehicles continue unobstructed. I wondered why he did not have the courtesy or common sense to get off his seat and help her load the bags into the car. I also wondered why she did not make him do these instead of shouting at everyone else. Last but not least I wondered why after emptying the trolley, did she not have the sense to remove it from in front of the gate where it was a traffic stopper!

 

I was about to get out of the car to move the trolley when a bent over old man who was begging on the road side hobbled across and moved the trolley out of the way. He smiled as we drove past, probably used to such incidents every day. And I was left thinking how we fail to display basic good manners and how, quite often, fine trappings hide the the lack of substance inside. 

 

 

Copyright © Taraa Vermaa Senguptaa

13th August 2014

All Rights Reserved

 

Job Interview: Why Only 3 Questions Really Matter

Posted by on Apr 5, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Job Interview: Why Only 3 Questions Really Matter

Courtesy: LinkedIn
Article by Bernard Marr – Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Consultant in Strategy, Performance Management, Analytics, KPIs and Big Data

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Even for the most fearless amongst us, job interviews can be nerve wracking. In order to give us the best chance of success we tend to prepare for many of the difficult questions we anticipate, questions like:

Why should we hire you?
What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
What are your key strengths and weaknesses?
Of course, you can never predict how an interview will go and what questions you will get. You might get an interviewer who fires one tough question at you after the other, or one that turns the interview into a more comfortable, natural two-way conversation. Preparing, therefore is difficult. In most cases we practice the answers to a long list of possible questions. The problem is that this can leave you over-prepared and as a consequence your pre-conceived answers can come across a bit robotic.

From my experience, there are really only 3 questions you have to prepare for and you can link most of the interview questions back to these three. Preparing for these three questions also means you can answer most questions more naturally, simply by referring mentally back to your preparations for these three questions.

Basically, any interviewer wants to establish 3 key things:

Have you got the skills, expertise and experience to perform the job?
Are you enthusiastic and interested in the job and the company?
Will you fit into the team, culture and company?
However, during the job interview, the interviewer might use many different questions and angles to get to the answers. If the interviewer doesn’t get what he or she wants from one question, they might ask them in different ways. Or they might probe from different angles to test for consistency in your answers.

Here is what’s behind these 3 questions:

1. Have you got the skills, expertise and experience to perform the job?

Think about the key skills you might need for the job you have applied for and assess your own level of expertise and experience in that context. It makes sense to identify the more specific or technical skills that your potential employer might expect as well as some more generic skills such as being a good communicator, having good IT skills, being a team player, etc. Once you have prepared for this question it will help you answer many different interview questions without getting sidetracked into talking about things that are not relevant. Remember that you want to demonstrate that you are aware of the key skills, expertise and experience required to do the job and that you have what it takes to perform it. Always go back to the key skills, expertise and experience when answering scary (and sometimes silly) questions like:

Tell me about yourself?
What are your greatest strengths / weaknesses?
What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
Why do you think you are right for this job?
What do you think the main challenges will be?
Etc.

2. Are you enthusiastic and interested in the job and the company?

Any potential employer wants to know that you are interested in the company and excited about the prospect of working there. You therefore want to demonstrate that you have researched the company, understand its strategy, current performance, structure, market position and products and that you can’t wait to join them. For most, you will have done your homework before you even applied for the job, but if you haven’t then check out the ‘about us’ section on their website and search for the latest strategy documents, annual reports, key statistics as well as the company history. Show that you know them and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job and company. Here you might also want to think about your ambitions and how they fit into the company you have applied for. You can then use the insights for answering questions such as:

What do you know about our company?
What do you think our company is aiming to achieve?
What do you know about our products and services?
Why do you want to work for this company?
Why do you think this job is right for you?
What motivates you?
Etc.

3. Will you fit into the team, culture and company?

This final key question is about your personality and your style and how you as a person fit into the team and culture of the company. Companies have different cultures, which translate into different ways of behaving and working. It is important to make sure you fit in and don’t feel like a fish out of water. In fact, it is important for the company as well as for you. Again, hopefully you will have done some research prior to applying for the job. Sometimes, it can be tricky to find detailed knowledge about the company culture, in which case you simply talk about your assumptions and why you feel you fit in. One relatively new website that offers a glance inside companies is Glassdoor. The site is still in its infancy but provides a growing amount of data and information about what it is like to work for different companies. You want to map the culture of the company or the team you are planning to join and compare this to your personality traits, style and behaviors. Again, once you have done this you can use it to answer questions such as:

How would you describe your work style?
How would you describe yourself?
How would your colleagues describe you?
What makes you fit into our company?
What makes you a good team member?
If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
Etc.
Of course, any interview is a two-way process. In the same way the interviewer wants to find out that you are right for the company, you need to assess whether the company is right for you. Each of the questions can be turned around so that you can assess:

By joining this company, will I make best use of my skills and expertise and will they help me to grow them further?
Is the company excited about having me work for them and will they give me the necessary support?
Is the company culture the right fit for me so that I can flourish and be myself?
If you ask relevant questions from your point of view then this will make the interview more balanced and create a more natural conversation.

A Home in Real Estate

Posted by on Sep 8, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

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One of Mumbai’s most well known property development firms realized that their employees need to be trained and groomed adequately to be able to market the premium, multi crore homes they build. A search in the market led them to Chrysaalis and the rest as they say, is history! It was wonderful to meet management team members who were in sync with our thought processes and were happy to let us work out a full program for employee enhancement.

We have commenced on the exciting journey of grooming 60 inquisitive minds in the sales teams before venturing into other teams within the organization. Watch this space for more!

Customer Service Training

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

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There is a lot of happiness when I work with highly qualified super achievers, people who already shine in their own fields and can easily identify with theories discussed and goals set. But I must admit that I derive a little extra satisfaction when I work with ground level groups who have not really been seriously trained before. It takes them a little time to open up, but once that’s done, it’s a win-win all the way!

The huge team from a very large educational institution was no different. The term ‘Customer Service’ was quite alien to them because in their mind, they deal with just students and parents and not customers! We spent a great 2 days; them in understanding nuances of great quality service within their world and I in being amazed at how articulate they were once the initial barrier had been breached. Like in every session, I had my own learnings as a trainer.