Wednesday, May 14, 2014

State of Me, Life and Others today

On a surprising turn of events, yesterday I found myself relatively free. Attending a function at a relative's office can be quite... well not so entertaining. Sitting there and staring at people's faces and the funny things pandit's do can definitely give time to a person to think. Another surprising event - I was able to stop worrying about work and accounts and accept that whatever happens, I'll be able to somehow manage. 

Both surprises together gave me ample time to think and ponder about the state of my life, its direction and the state of people in this worlds or atleast here in India. While the direction and state of my life is a whole other novel, in this post lets focus on the state of atleast some people in India if not everyone.

So what do I think? Lets face it, with my generation & the incoming generation, the virtue of patience has deroded. Everyone today wants things now and immediately. What normally would take 5 years, they want it in 2. While the need to be speedy is true in some areas like starting up a company and stabilising it with regular revenues.

At the micro level or an individual level there is still need to be detail oriented and have the patience to think, analyse and execute properly so as to ensure a complete and proper execution. Any execution which is very speedy will not be thorough enough and will need a 3nd round of execution which will degrade its value and the people involved will also get bored.

Most things today are superficial in nature. For e.g. the MBA course. Its target population was present after the world wars and during and after the cold wars when people were experts in their fields with little management experience. The course is designed to teach a management overview so as to make them quick managers and enable them to pick up required skills on the job.

Today this course is obsolete. The people doing this course are not experts in any field resulting them in becoming poor managers as they manage a team of people doing work they know nothing about. One cannot manage effectively and optimally unless one knows the field in and out. Which is why every Founder of businesses surviving 5years or more are very effective in managing and performing as they spend enough time understanding the depths of their product/service and the target markets.

What people need to learn today is to have patience, and to keep at it and learn more and more. The 1st 3-5 years of a perons' career life should be spent working in and learning one field or domain. Be it coding, marketing, music, directing, acting etc. It is only after you know the field at depth that can you as a manger contribute optimally to it.

The current societal and corporate structure is optimal from the sense of office productivity and optimal profit levels, but it is a model which is unsustainable.

It will become sustainable, only when society allows individuals to have enough time to learn and become experts and develop intrinsic skills to benefit companies and the society in a larger sense. And when corporates stop demanding individuals to spend 90%-100% of their life and time at work and allow people to grow at an individual level as a person and as well as a resource.

Society will soon break down if we continue at the current speeds at the micro-level. The impatience of being better than the previous year and the previous generation is already eating up people and everybody wants things to change for constant growth. Sustainable growth is possible only through patience, planning, perseverence and hard work.

There is no solution or medicine that one can drink and learn everything. Similarly none that one can drink and become successful. Success comes to those who remain patient and persevere- trying, learning and experimenting all the time.

Whenever you do some work or task. Take a moment, think about what is required and how to get it. Think about what problems you can face and how you should counter them. On finishing, take another moment and do a thorough check of the work done ensuring there are no mistakes. (1) this allows for perfection (2) learning on what all went wrong and how to fix (3) understanding of what is being done, why and how to do it better.

We are all humans and humans tend to make mistakes more often than not. A thorough re-check will allow for proper execution and time to think on what was done, why and how to improve.

So please, work in what you are interested in and dont jump from domain to domaain. Spend a few years working in the same field and get exposed to possibilities. Practice makes perfect, it also makes experts. 

Stay and learn!

All the best!

-> SJ

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Coupons: Indian's Need For Discounts

The offline world moves online and the buyers shift to purchasing items in cyber space. Selling was more about advertising the presence of a shop and the availability of products in the area.

Online shopping is turning out to be a boon for everyone. You can now shop from home / office. No longer must you travel from place to place in serch of a shop and from shop to shop in search of prices. Searching though google gives you a long list of online websites.

Advertising has now also become easier. Banners all over the net on all types of websites spread the awareness and build the brand for the shopping websites. After Flipkart opened doors 7 yrs back, many other companies have now come up. Mostly marketplaces though as that model seems to be working in India at the moment. Indians want a sign of trust from the seller still. If a 3rd party provides a guarantee Indians are ready to buy.

One of the things Indians love is a good deal. Paying a price less than what the market value really is. What used to be local ads and discounts have now gone online by way of coupons and discounts. Coupon sites have now come up which list down the coupons and discounts offered by these online e-commerce companies.

Startups like Coupondunia, 27coupons, CouponNation,  Pennyful and Cashkaro among others dominate the coupon distribution space. Recently we wrote about Cashkaro growth. The Gurgaon-based startup had driven sales of Rs. 25 crores for its partner retailers in the past six months.

According to a study by CupoNation, close to 85% of Indians used vouchers before online shopping. “This explains why the Indian market for online coupons already accounted for more than $2 billion in 2013 and is expected to grow by further 30% by 2017,” adds Sharique. The study reveals that over 70% women use CupoNation vouchers to buy fashion, jewellery and shoes while 67% of men are using travel and electronics coupons.

The below Comscore report shows the growth in unique visitors on websites from 2010 to 2011. The visits have been growing since then.

The number of searches for coupons has been growing every year hitting a max of 82K a month in Dec 2013. The growing trend shows that more and more people are now searching and buying online. Being Indians we cant help but look for great deals. is one such company. Its a marketplace with many many products. Its has apparels for men and women, home decor, kitchen products, footwear, watches, mobiles, computer, beauty products, grocery and even cars and bikes. With such a wide range of products and providing a guarantee of delivery, Tradus is on its way to becoming one of India's topmost e-commerce websites with such a wide range of products. They also have tonnes of discounts running and all of you should search for Tradus coupons and get awesome discounts to buy at an awesome store.

-> SJ

Monday, September 30, 2013

Quote Blast

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.
                                                                                 -J.K. Rowling

-> SJ

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Convergence of TV, Telephone & Internet

I've been doing some research on phone systems over the internet for a proposal for a prospective client and I couldn't help wondering why we shouldn't switch all communication to over the internet.

Currently we have Television through cable and satellite, phones and broadband services are tansmitted through the same lines yet they currently are 2 different technologies.

But why do we NOT transmit everything together over the same lines? A coaxial cable or a copper wire has enough capacity to transmit high bandwidths (we currently use a very small amount). With FTH or Fibre To Home currently coming in, each fibre has enough capacity to transmit extremely high bandwidth to 50 homes per fibre, while a cable will have many fibres woven together. So there will easily be enough capacity to allow atleast 50-70mbps per fibre per home (this is a guesstimate. Generally speaking its a lot).

We can easily shift the phone technology onto VoIP systems thereby increasing call quality and reducing cost as we will have 1 system in place for internet instead of 2.

Come to think of it, we can shift TV, Broadband and telephone to be transmitted over IP over FTH or satellite. In which case 1 system will handle all 3. This will increase quality of service for the consumer at reduced prices. It will also increase the control over all these systems for the consumer.

How you ask?? Its very simple. Since everything is digitized, request for VoD, Games on Demand and channels shown is pushed to the consumer. He/She can log onto the account over the web, select which channels or products he/she wants and at a click of the button the same can be transmitted or blocked. Similarly with phones and call also, the control at the hands of the consumer increases. Blocking numbers, diverting calls, listening in and call costs all become available to the consumer.

Service Providers need not have the headache of creating special packages for marketing, or migrating old account to new packages. The consumer is charged on a per unit basis and he/she can then set the limits and control his/her spending and services availed.

The Service Providers reduce the headache of managing each customer's account and pass on the headache to the customer who will be more than eager to gain control of their own spending. Currently activating / de-activating any service needs a lot of headache and research for the consumer, who intern has to inform the service provider who undertakes the switching on and off requests. Automate everything and pass on the headache to the consumer I say!

This increases transparency and reduces cost for the service providers who can pass on the benefit to the consumer. With reduces prices the consumer will spend more thereby leading to increased revenues and profits for the Service Providers.

Its a Win-Win situation for all the parties involved.

p.s. If anyone is interested in building this, please contact me! :)

-> SJ

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Follow your passion and avoid blunders

Some blunders are strong enough to follow you to the ends of the Earth.

Be careful of the decisions you make right from a young age. If every you are unsure of what to do please go to a professional career counsellor and ask for help. A career counsellor will know enough about how things work and also what opportunities exist.

If you are a parent, please remember that it is your job to guide your child into the right decisions. Always guide your child into exploring all types of field so that he / she can try his / her strengths and interests and realise what they are good at. Go to a career counsellor and help your child realise what field he / she will be good at. No age is small enough to start exploring.

Don't do something which is feasible. Identify and follow your passion. Its your passion that will bring you success.

-> SJ

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Become a Creator or a Fixer NOT an Enabler

Addition to the original post: Why NOT to do an MBA

I've been promoting this post on my Facebook Timeline and Twitter Timeline with headers stating that the world is echoing with this mantra. To support my claims this post is dedicated at bringing more information from some credible sources to help you (the reader) think on the topic and take it seriously.

".........Recently, more companies have indicated that "they are moving away from an emphasis on M.B.A.s" and are instead hiring more undergraduates at lower salaries that they can then train in-house, says Camille Kelly, vice president of employer branding at Universum, a firm that advises companies on how to attract and retain the best employees. Companies, she says, "still will do M.B.A. hiring, but it won't be to the same extent they have in the past."

The article says that the pay package received by students fell about 62% at 186 schools. People find it difficult to survive in the weak economic state and go in for higher studies to boost their hire-ability, thinking it would be the formula to success and a high salary. But to what end? The job market for MBAs has become smaller and the pay has decreased.

".......A weak economic climate is only partly to blame for the M.B.A.'s plight. The changing nature of B-school programs, evolving corporate needs—as well as the perceived value of the degree—have all helped dilute the M.B.A.'s allure...."

The key statements to read from the above excerpts are: (a) "Evolving corporate needs" (b) "perceived value of the degree".

In my humble opinion, the WSJ has tried to dilute the problem by putting part of the blame on the weak economy. Its when the going gets tough that we 1st cut off the luxuries and MBAs were always a luxury as these people know how to manage and look at things in a superficial light, which will not help companies survive as their employees need to get their hands dirty to understand the business in a thorough manner.

Jay Bhatti is an investor and advisor to start ups in NYC. Ex-founder of and a Product Manager at Microsoft. He completed his MBA in 2002 from Wharton Business School. He has seen the heights of the demand for MBAs and is currently seeing the lows as well.

He says: "The sad reality is that an MBA is not as valuable today as it was 30 years ago. Stanford University published data stating that from 2005 to 2008, over 94% of graduates had jobs by graduation. However, since then, only about 75% of graduates had jobs lined up at graduation. Stanford is a top MBA program, so you can imagine it being worse at other schools. In fact, 21 schools that are ranked by US News & World Report said that for the past few years, nearly 50% of their graduates did not have jobs at graduation."

Like all MBAs he has also analysed this problem from a superficial point of view, saying that only the top 5 schools will get you an ROI. He says that the MBA course was designed in the 1950s when the top companies saw that the employees lacked management skills and wanted to hire managers to enable the employees.

Reading in between the lines, applying my own experience and mixing it up with the WSJ article, I see a deeper problem. Today most people can naturally learn the skill of management and with the recession and a weak economy companies want to hire only those candidates which can help them grow from the foundation to top. Its like any building, make a strong foundation and the building stands strong.

In my humble opinion: The demand for generalists has just disappeared as they do not help the company grow. Generalists just manage what they have. They do not innovate the product, or invent a new product- that is done by scientists or engineers (aka creators) or the true professionals. MBAs are not professionals but are managers aka enablers.

Today the companies want creators to help create new assets that can generate more revenue.

As an MBA pass out and as a person involved in a start up I see things at a level where employees of big corporations and students can not. I have always believed in the view that to learn something you need to start from the foundation and build it strong. This is what is required today also. People need to have a strong foundation to be hire-able. Foundations can only built with skillsets. MBAs do not give you the skills for building a foundation, they build on top of the foundation.

My advice to all students or employees who have not yet or are thinking of an MBA- DON'T.
Think of a MS or an MSc or an MTech. Become a Master of One field. 

Excel in One Field any field, and you shall get hired.

-> SJ

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Why NOT to do an MBA.

I finished my MBA in 2011 from a tier II institute in India - Got a mediocre job for peanuts at a 1500Cr company with 2000+ employees which is run in a non-professional manner. All my dreams of getting a HUGE package post MBA, living in style, being able to afford all sorts of gadgets per month and traveling around the world was shattered.

I adjusted to reality, reset my expectations, reset my goals and carried on with life. Today of course I'm not with the same company (trying my hand at entrepreneurship); I see many people from my institute joining and graduating, struggling to find a job after paying insane amounts of money, and I wonder what was the benefit of doing the course? You spend 2 years away from friends & family, rejecting invaluable corporate experience... but what do you get from it?

I spent 2 years of my life at a hostel, enjoying, having fun and learning a little bit only from the few exceptional teachers we had. Today, 2 yrs post that I often question myself: 

What did I learn from MBA? Did I learn anything? How has MBA shaped my life?
A person with 7-8 years experience would probably not learn anything from an MBA, which is fortunate, as I did learn something. Although nothing spectacular. I delved into the depths (to a certain extent only) of finance and learnt a lot about how the corporate world works from the PoV of money matters.

But did this help me at all? Not really, I'm a finance geek. I understand how investments work, I understand the intrinsic and extrinsic value of things. I understand how companies are valued and some of the factors which are taken into account. I understand the details of mergers & acquisitions. I did my internship in banking and I understand how banks also deal with things.

But ultimately I, a person who studied finance all his life, am now working in marketing and alongside learning product management. This is not a rare occurance. There are many such stories where people have changed functions post an MBA. So its safe to say that most of the time what you study is not what you apply.

Most of the people who apply what they learn especially when it comes to banking or finance have had to do a professional certification like CFA, CA or in Banking to convince the companies that they can be hired. 

This leads us to another question: If we do not apply what we learn why should we do an MBA? If we need another certification, why an MBA to begin with??
I keep asking myself that. The whole point of me doing an MBA was to get focused learning in finance so that I do not have to do a certificate course as a degree would be better than a certification. But, as I discovered later, a certification is more important than a degree called MBA.

Then why-oh-why should we do an MBA? I can become a banker and a finance expert by just doing a certification for 2-3Lacs, why should I spend 10Lacs+ to do an MBA which will take me nowhere??

Where is the benefit of doing an MBA? Just to become a good manager? I can learn that better in the real world by trial and error.

Many people today are still looking to do an MBA thinking it similar to a magic pill which will solve their money & job problems. Get real people! The only thing that will solve your problems is you. An MBA is mostly preferred by engineers who do not want to continue on the tech side and they are whom it is most suited for. Being technical people, they have learnt the depths of their fields and need to broaden their view and diversify into the softer aspects of corporates (management).

The last question that we need to answer is: Is MBA worth it?
Well to be exact, not really. Its better to go do an MS or a course specializing in 1 field- Finance, Economics, Computer Science, Marketing etc. it does not matter. A specialist is what companies want or need. A generalist is a overhead used only to do the dirty work passed on by others.

What I mean to say is that an in-depth knowledge in a certain field is much better than to be a jack of all trades and master of none. It helps us develop a special skill set which is what companies require. Its this skill set which helps us generate value for society.

As an MBA graduate my only advice to people currently pursuing or planning to pursue an MBA is that.. THINK BEYOND AN MBA... don't get fooled, go for a technical degree and specialise, develop a skillset and an intrinsic value rather than do an MBA.

You can learn all that an MBA can teach you on the job but an MBA can not make you into a specialist in a field.

-> SJ

Monday, April 15, 2013

Getting on with it!

Worrying about how everything will get done or whether I am capable of doing it limits my ability to respond to challenges considerably. The less I think about doing something and the faster I just get on with it, the fewer problems I cause myself. Good planning is always helpful, but time spent fretting and procrastinating is a major drain on my energy. The more willing I am to respond positively to opportunities, the more my capacity will grow.