Saturday, December 20, 2008

What Not to do on a First Date!

Now that I have your undivided attention, lets talk about "Conferences". In the corporate world a conference is the equivalent of a speed dating session. You meet a lot of people, usually the food is good and you have a good time. However, there are a few who make the most of this...just like the times in college when a few lucky jocks ruled roost. That said, now lets talk about a few do's and dont's for a conference:

  • Dress Well: And you are wondering why I say that. Well its simple. There are a lot of conferences where I have seen people simply not dress well enough. People are trying to size you up in a conference. A good suit helps establish credibility. But then, there is no point being an empty suit. Which brings me to the next point.
  • Prepare Well: Don't show up at a conference if you have no meetings fixed. Its a colossal waste of time. Every conference has a published agenda of speakers listed weeks in advance. Make calls, set up discussions and prepare for these meetings. If you are not doing this drill, you are goofing around in a conference.
  • Listen Well: In all conferences, I have been to till date, this theme is common. People want to talk and talk more. Let them do that. Listen well to people around you, and if you are a good listener, you certainly save energy and charm to talk to people who matter.
  • Converse Well: Ask yourself, "How do I end conversations with people who are not suspects?" (aka "possible prospect"). Chances are you drop them like a hot potato, chances are higher that you don't even exchange cards. What about the old adage "People connect People". Be courteous, end conversations well and drop a note later. You never know how things may change.
  • Never Sell: "Do you propose on a first date?" Hopefully you don't. You charm, you thrill and you listen to your date. You don't say "Marry me!!!". Then why do you make a jackass of yourself and pitch "long term relationships" and "commitment" in a conference meeting? Make friends, exchange cards, tell stories and talk a little business. Never Sell! There is a time and place for everything.
I have made friends with some really good people at conferences. Many of them have let to follow on conversations and a few to some business. However, the best gain out of these speed dating sessions is I have become a better story teller and a better judge of people.

Happy Dating!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Conferences: Learning from the Learned

Sorry for a long hiatus from my side. Since my last note, I made a trip to the Middle East and India. I was also quite caught up in trying to make sense of the chaos on Wall Street. As someone told me recently, "We've put Obama in the office, so I can spend my time on writing again".
Over the past few months, I attended quite a lot of conferences held by organizations like the CII and Tie. In this blog, I want to share some interesting data points I gathered during these sessions:

Indian Economy Stats:
1. Indian Healthcare market is 18BUSD. Its expected to grow to 50 BUSD by 2012.
2. 51% of the assets of the average Indian household is in gold and property. Of this 65% is in CD's, Bonds etc.
3. Leverage in the Indian economy is the lowest in Emerging markets (Mortgages as % of economy India:8%, China 14% and Korea is 23%)
4. 225 of the Fortune 500 companies have Engg centers in India.
5. Indian Land Allocation Act is Based on the 1894 acquisition act. Hence we have Nano like situations.
6. Indian faces a shortage of 1 million hospital beds and 150k hotel rooms.

US Economy Stats:
Most of these are excerpts from a talk I heard President Bill Clinton deliver.

1. In the last 10 years,of the net growth in US economy 40% was housing and rest was Debt based growth.
2. American Cancer Association predicts 1 in 8 cancer patients will die sooner due to lesser quality health care.
3. Increasing number of Americans will not get MRI's (because they wont afford the copay)
4. Over the next decade Type II diabetes will double (especially in kids)
5. In Nevada (worst hit) 1 in 75 homes faces foreclosure.
6. Last year US had 1.5mn foreclosures. This year its 2mn. If stimulus does not work it will be 2.5mn in 2009.
7. Cost of 1 foreclosure is 250k (for the economy). With 2.5mn foreclosure do the math for impact to bail out package (its quite scary!)
8. Engines of growth for the US economy will be Energy ( for next10 year) followed by Biotech for the next 10.

Some Interesting quotes:
From a European on doing business in India
"In India you will get patience if you dont have it. You will lose it if you have it"

Bill Clinton on delivering his views in public:
"The good part about being an ex-president is that you can say what ever you want. The sad part is that no one listens"

Winston Churchill on Americans:
" Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing....after they have exhausted all other possibilities"

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Be Humble not servile!!!

There is this interesting concept of humility in our society. It gets expressed in many ways. In the social context you see (Hopefully) good examples of humility. Like giving your seat to lady in the train (you don’t see it much in New York, and its also confused for courtesy), apologizing when you are wrong (surprisingly you don’t see that all too much either) or listening to another point of view (or in fact listening itself)…

Anyways, I wanted to share my view point on this topic more from a corporate environment standpoint. First things first, what we see around us most of the time is servility manifesting as humility. My spiritual guide says that “Being Humble is synonymous to being Natural”. Quite on the contrary servility is often a manifestation of the individual ego with the sole purpose of doing something for the sake of something.

Over the last 3 months, I had the fortune of meeting and having some good discussions with some industry leaders and CEO’s. Some of them lead industry leading companies and some are in the launch pad well fuelled to a great take off. Here are some incidents that revealed the very DNA of their leadership: “Charismatic personality backed by rock solid value system”

  • I was travelling with our President to meet the CEO in a industry leading hedge fund in New York. When I had called him and left a message, he took the initiative to locate my number in his EPABX and call me back! When we reached his office, he was at the door to receive us. All the while during the discussion, he gave us all his attention and valuable advice. While escorting us back, he mentioned that he was leaving for Bangalore. I said “Hotels there have become frightfully expensive”. He smiled and said “Oh this time luckily its taken care of. I am going there to inaugurate a 5 star hotel me and my partners built on the side”. This gentleman worth millions taught me that “No matter how much you make, always treat a guest like you would like yourself treated”
  • On a late Thursday afternoon, we were finishing off a meeting in a leading Wall Street firm. The President of this firm walked by. He knew that there was some discussion going on with our company. He also knows the President of our firm well. His first question “Hey, when would you be free to meet with me? It would be good to discuss. I am keen on meeting you”. When a CEO of a company to which you are trying to sell to, catches you off guard this way, there is a profound lesson to be learnt. “You are never too big for any one and every meeting is not just about buying or selling”

I would like to know what you think of this approach to genuine, natural behavior in a corporate environment? Would that make you vulnerable or shatter all the vulnerabilities around to make you a more solid corporate citizen???