Showing posts from February, 2012

Actual Experience Minus Expectation

There is a theory in Services Marketing that the Satisfaction of a Service customer for any kind of service is given by a formula Perception of Performance- Expectation. If Perception of actual service experience is higher than expectations, the customer is satisfied. Could be true of life as well. Karma with zero expectation would probably sound outrageous to most of us, but isn't that what the famous four lines from the Bhagvad Gita advocate?

But that (lowering of expectations) applies only to "rewards" that one expects, and not to the quality brought to the doing of the job. There are intangible gains from anything done well. A smile of gratefulness, a burp of satisfaction (from a belly you filled with your cooking), a hug from a child you told a story to, or a look of understanding (rare though it may be) from a student you have been teaching.

My favourite example of expectation and its impact is from films. Sholay was one of the best things to happen in the Hindi film…

Sharing Some Soundbytes

I was subjected to a radio interview by My FM, a radio station in Nagpur as part of their Icons program. Why they chose me is a mystery that I cannot solve, but here is a link in case you want to listen to it. It's not too long. This segment is about management skills at the workplace.

Songs That Stay With You (Me)

For some reason, these songs remain with me for a long time whenever I hear them..

Chhoti si mulaqat pyaar ban gayi....highlight is Uttam Kumar discoing.

Main chali, main chali dekho pyaar ki gali...a breezy one where Saira Banu and friends are on a bicycle picnic..

Aaj kal tere mere pyaar ke charche har zabaan is absolutely foot-tapping.

Pyar karta ja, dil kehta hai, kaanto mein bhi gul khila....I think it is from Bhoot Bangla, where Mehmood played hero.

Tumhari nazar kyun khafaa ho gayi, khata baksh do gar khata ho gayi...from Do Kaliyan, I think.

Le jaayenge, le jaayenge dilwale dulhaniya le jaayenge...from Chor Machaye Shor

Deewana hua baadal..

Dil ka bhanwar kare pukaar, pyar ka raag the Qutab Minar..

Pal bhar ke liye koi hamein pyaar kar le jhoota hi sahi...Johny Mera Naam

Piya o, piya o piya kuch bol do, are o, dil ka parda khol do...jab pyaar kisi se hota hai

Jab chhaye mera jadu, koi bach na paaye...from Loot Maar

Zindagi, ittefaq hai...from Aadmi aur Insaan

Parde mei…

'I' tem Number

The good old club song, or cabaret as it was known in earlier times, has undergone a name change. It is now an item number. While pondering over all epoch-making, world-changing, earth-shaking things that I have ever come across, I pondered over the possible reasons for this change of nomenclature.

My pet theory about it (to be debated in appropriate forums, no doubt), is that we are now past the X, Y and even the Z generation. In other words, we don't know what's happening around us any more, though we are loathe to admit it.

However, even in this sea of ignorance, there is a swathe of brilliance cutting across. Which is, that the only important thing left in the world for each one of us, is the 'I'. Therefore, the 'I'tem number, signifying to the performer of this delightful number, that it is she alone who matters. Not the lustily cheering crowds in front of whom she merrily gyrates, nor the professional dancers (Helen, for instance), whom the new breed like …

Jayanagar in Bangalore

Spent a couple of days doing admission interviews the old fashioned way, for the next batch of IMT students. But this is more about Jayanagar in Bangalore. First got introduced to Jayanagar 4th block when I was at IIMB doing MBA, because it was the nearest shopping area where we sometimes came to buy stuff. The favorite one, particularly for books and gallivanting, was MG Road and Brigade road. Gangaram's was an institution- a big bookstore, rare in those days.

But Jayanagar is a charming residential neighbourhood, and I happened to live in 9th Block during my last two years here before moving to Nagpur. 3rd block where I am staying for two days now, is also a great neighbourhood, and close to the 4th Block market. Green, quiet and well-planned. But getting out into the wilderness that is the Bangalore traffic, you tend to lose your cool and feel exasperated.

Anyway, met lots of old friends, an IMT alumna and got a chance to relive some old days, and some not-so-old days. Also ate a…

Glimpses of Batchmates-1

Some batchmates from IIMB 82-84. Character sketches then authored by various people who knew them intimately.


A cat in anything he takes up, he is still trying to figure out why with his looks and build, he still doesn't get the looks he should be getting. No wonder he sticks with Benji who operates in a sellers' market. "I am too modest to fill in the 'Man of the Batch' and 'Person of the Batch"', he said. Modesty, thy name is Arvind Rao!


On her own admission, she was a "total scatter-brain". However, going by her prolific scores, we would rather drop that word "scatter". There is probably only a little bit of role-confusion- she sometimes forgets which PGP batch, and which section, she belongs to.
“When you are a compulsive talker, why hide it from the world?”


The people of Gaul were brave by comparison! This man believed that the wate…

Guide to Management Core Subjects-Organisational Behaviour

This starts with the spelling. Behaviour, or Behavior? British or American? Take your pick. But for me, this was the pick of the subjects during my MBA. Along with Marketing. A nation built on marketing was Britain first, until they were outsmarted at their own game by the U.S.A.

Anyway, this is about O.B., as the acronym goes. There are two major components to OB, understanding the self and then learning interpersonal and organisational behaviour. How personality develops from childhood onwards, how a child is weaned away from dependence (or not, remaining a mama's boy), etc. Erik Eriksson had an interesting take on it, describing some seven stages in childhood, stages like Autonomy versus Doubt, which a child passes through. Freud and other theorists also add to the mysteries of the mind, with their take on the subconcious, including fantasy, dreams, and the like. Very interesting stuff. Pavlov and his 'dog'ged experiments also are taught to make us aware of conditioning,…

Jaggi Vasudev and Shivaratri

Watched an interesting TV program- or a part of it- conducted at Coimbatore by Jaggi Vasudev, a new age guru who usually speaks in English- and very well, too. I once saw him on a Golf course in Chennai. He organises a night-out of song, dance, music (with some big names participating) and discourse on every Shivaratri. He also runs a program called Inner Engineering at various places including the hills near Coimbatore where they have some sort of a dome called Dhyanalingam. I had once visited this when on a trip to a Coimbatore college.

After Osho, I find in him a very down to earth, pragmatic person who happens to be a guru. His logic is easy to follow, but whether to believe is a matter of choice. Another of the spiritual gurus I have been hearing off and on from (on TV) is Shivani, a 'sister' of the Bramha Kumaris group. She is cool, and takes on any difficult question from her interviewer, and answers succintly, without exasperation and with a smile. If nothing else, thes…

Thus Spake IIMB-ites

This was the result of a survey (called Catch 22 or Pakad Baees) we did at IIMB among our batch (1982-84) when we were at Bannerghatta. Earlier published in the Year-book. Interesting in many ways even today. Enjoy!


At IIM, Bangalore, we like English movies more than any other kind. Here, girls expect to live longer than guys. Girls do not smoke, drink...... The smokers exhibit no brand preference when it is a borrowed cigarette. Next to that they prefer Wills Filter (subject to availability at Uncle's). Guys go for girls who have high proficiency in English, can cook well and do not touch drinks, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes (hold it, this is for marital purposes only !). Girls apparently want intelligent Mr. Brains who will be faithful and good at washing dishes. And if they are filthy, stinking rich and tough and good - looking in the bargain, that will certainly help. Despite O.R. and Effective Communication, a large majority of the people felt II…

A Few Good Indian Managers

Managers in the West may face hypercompetition, whereas those in India face different challenges including red tape. Yet, many in the government and corporate sectors have done extremely well, and their organisations, or we at large, have benefited. Here are a few over the years.

Maruti's first Chairman, V. Krishnamurthy, set up a plant to manufacture India's first modern car with Japanese technology. Maruti 800 was a revolution of sorts, which literally launched the Indian middle class on its drive towards 10 percent growth, a far cry from the Hindu rate of growth till then of 2-3 percent (now a Christian rate of growth, ironically).

Verghese Kurien, the man who gave us milk. May sound silly in 2012, but when he started putting together what I consider India's best brand, Amul, he had to battle bureaucracy and more.

In another way, the people who gave us shiny black hair, the good people at Chik shampoo who first brought it out in small sachets costing 50 paise or 1 rupee, …

Guide to Management Core Subjects-Statistics

It's one of the most misunderstood subjects in the world. Usually because (pardon me teachers) it is taught badly. With no appreciation that it can do wonders for you, if you don't seek perfection from it (like with most things in life, I might add).

Statistics is the art or science of estimating things, and sometimes calling these predictions- they are still estimates, and can be wrong to varying degrees. But within its limitations, you can estimate a lot of things using simple statistics. For instance, people visiting a store on a given day, or time of the day, can be observed, mapped, and used to determine how many staff would be needed, for example, at what times.

Or, you can look at purchase patterns and send out promotional offers to customers most likely to buy. Online marketers seem to have cottoned on to this, coz I am flooded with pop up ads for air tickets, if I have just browsed for a particular sector on yatra, without buying the ticket.

The trouble is, teaching st…

It's All Greek to Me- A Contrarian View of the Crisis

The crisis gripping Greece- it sounds like a lot of Greek (or Latin, if you prefer that). I mean, look at a lot of other countries where people don't have anything to eat. Sub-saharan Africa (where is that?), or rural Australia (yes, it exists), or a lot of places around the world. But the easier comparison would be with the U.S. What's a piffling few billion Euros of deficit in the budget (which Greece has)? The U.S. has been running a trillion dollar budget deficit for a few years now. Does it look concerned? No, the party is on. Just in case you were not aware, the U.S. also runs a huge trade deficit (that is exports minus imports) of 558 billion dollars or so, at last count. Has that fazed them? No. Then, why this Kolaveri (pardon me, angst) ji?

The solution? Increase spending. Consumer spending, government spending, bailouts, any spending. Party hard. If you drink local brew, upgrade to Single Malts or Hennessey VSOP. If you wear local brands, start looking at Prada. Dump…

Guide to Management Core Subjects- Accounting

Accounting is for accountants, right? So why are managers being taught this dull subject (I am voicing the opinion of a few million MBA students here). A subject can be dull or not, depending on who teaches it and how, but that is not the point of this discussion.

Even in personal life, we need to keep track of where the money is going to come from, and where it is likely to be spent. Credit card is not = money, by the way. Cash flows, in other words. Dad could be writing a cheque, or my inherited millions may be enough, but it has to come from somewhere. Likewise, businesses need their cash flows, which some say, is the only REAL part of accounting.

We also have balance sheets and profit and loss accounting. To some extent these are malleable, but over a period, like with Enron or Satyam, the truth is likely to step out of the tailored three piece suit. Baahar sherwani, andar pareshaani, to quote an old Hyderabadi saying. Anyway, the balance sheet depicts assets and liabilities, some o…

Murakami's Kafka on the Shore

'Kafka on the Shore' is a remarkable book. It is also one of the few books of Murakami that has a closure- of sorts. Many of his stories do not have a definite end of the type we are used to, in movies and books. It is a little longish, and so I had put off reading it until now.

There are a lot of ways one can interpret the story though. This multi-layered story-telling prowess is one sign of the genius that Murakami is. At one level, it is the tale of a 15 year old runaway boy who goes through a few experiences and grows up. These experiences are not the mundane variety, and involve some gut-wrenching discoveries about himself, his parents, his sister, and a few friends he makes. Finally, he learns to make choices, helped by some well-wishers.

At another level, it is about wars- there are a lot of stinging comments about war (and countries asking their people to wage them) in general, made in passing. They are thought-provoking.

Love and longing, even when there is no hope of …

Guide to Management Core Subjects

We all wonder at times about the subjects taught to us. I wondered a lot in high school and before that too. We want to know what these are useful for, or whether they are useful at all. Here is an attempt to simplify some commonly taught subjects in an MBA program.

Operations Research

OR is usually an unpopular subject, like its quantitative cousins. Why is it taught then? Because it gives us an idea of how to use resources optimally, or in a way that maximises returns. Simply put, if I have x amount of money, and I can choose to buy from among 5 goods, how many of each should I buy to maximise my happiness (in my case, usually the answer is None, I am not much of a shopper, except for a few rare goods). But businesses are always making these decisions. For an HR manager, the question may be "How many people of what quality should I be hiring" so that the company optimises its cost and output.

These days, unlike the olden days, computers do the calculations, but the managers …

Unique Service Experience

I had a unique service experience yesterday- an adventure (not an 'ad' venture) of sorts. I was to go to Nagpur from Hyderabad. But something happened to the plane, and it was not flying. No problems, bad moods can happen to anyone.

So, the airline was kind enough to put me and a few others like me (not in appearance, but choice of destination, airline and flight) on a plane from Hyderabad to Mumbai and then on to Nagpur. To boot, we had complimentary use of the lounge at Hyderabad, with some excellent biryani to keep us satiated while we waited- this line's almost poetic.

The journey went off well, and though I was a few hours late, I did not mind it too much, as no important engagement was missed, and the check-in girl at Hyderabad was quite polite and apologetic. An effective service recovery? Yes, I would say so. Since I am (or was) in the business of teaching Services Marketing, I am interested in my own and others' experience of various services. So I can include t…

Cancer and Our Response to it

I have now met three people in close circles who have recovered or are doing so from various forms of it, post chemo and radiation. I am amazed at their attitude- every one of them. I am sure it is not easy to be resilient, or cheerful, in the face of what was once thought of as a death warrant.

But the fact of it is that if not cancer, it would be something else. Biologically, we are constructed to deconstruct at some point in life, after our biological function (procreation or the extension of our species) is complete. We may have other aims in life, creative or spiritual for example, and usually we get ample opportunities to pursue these as well. Some of us become poets, writers, scientists who make discoveries, teachers and so on.

Coming back to cancer, its treatment in early stages at least, is now advanced enough to give you a few more years in relative peace, compared to a few years ago. Though the causes remain elusive, it is estimated that at least some are pyschological. So i…

Reincarnation of Peter Proud and Throne of Blood- Movies Review

I first saw The Reincarnation of Peter Proud in the late 70s. I saw it once again this week. I think it is one of the best whodunits of all time, with some reincarnation to spice it up. It is gripping, well made, and has a professor as its protagonist (this happens rarely, I only remember Raaj Kumar in Bulundi as another). This guy goes back to his earlier inhabited town (in a previous life), and what happens thereafter is really interesting. Recommend that you see it to find out. Michael Sarrazin and Jennifer O'neill star competently, along with Margot Kidder who has a significant role.

'Throne of Blood' is a Kurosawa adaptation of Macbeth, as far as I can make out. It is well-crafted, and for the most part, very engaging. The main parts are played well by the equivalents of Macbeth and Mrs. Macbeth. Kurosawa's style is masterly, and the story is the hero of his films, which usually are made with an unhurried pace, but keep you engrossed as the story unfolds. His favor…

V for Vendetta- Movie with a Difference

Saw this brilliant movie (no other word can describe it) called 'V for Vendetta' yesterday. I am impressed by several things in the film, and will try to recount some. Never heard of the director, but the guy deserves kudos.

First, the hero wears a mask throughout the entire film, and not once do we see his face. This may be a first for any film, at least I can't think of any other similar film (and I have seen a lot of them!). Second, it has a rather rare plot, of a totalitarian government in a democracy (here, Britain or the UK) gone wonky. A head of government gone crazy, muzzles the media and all else, including the police, and makes all of them an instrument of terror. One guy stands up, the guy with the mask who calls himself V. He finds love too, but that is not his concern. His country is.

His act of Vendetta is partly inspired by "The Count of Monte Cristo", which he keeps watching on video, and also uses knives and swords skilfully, like some of the earl…

Parenting Blues

Just attended a panel discussion as a panel member titled 'Duvidha'- about confusion faced by parents of 9th class students about careers and life, and parenting. Rather scary, but had a few good panelists for company, including an IAF pilot, a Doctor, a theatre personality, so not so scary in the end. It was organised by One Foundation, an NGO in Nagpur.

Very interesting. Coincidentally, am reading a book written by Bill Cosby, the star of the Cosby Show, a very popular TV show of the 80s in the U.S., which talks about similar issues about the Black community in the U.S. The book, titled 'Come On, People', is meant to make parents aware of their responsibility in child-rearing if they decide to have children. He talks about the bad effects of gangsta rap, black English and other bad role models in media for black kids.

Bill Cosby was a very successful TV artist, and through light comedy, touched on a lot of important issues like parental control, kids' behaviour pa…

Mumbai Madness

Tried some exotic food and some non-exotic one too, this time in Mumbai. The occasions were varied. Exotic Flavours, a restaurant in Mulund, with some friends, offered a variety of sizzlers. The service was on a slow boil as it was a Sunday evening, but we managed to eat. Sizzlers with exotic veggies is their speciality, and it was pretty good. Another evening, with some KIAMS alumni, we met at Urban Tadka in R City Mall, Ghatkopar. Nice food, tandoori aloo, makke ki roti and Sarson da saag, but the live band baaja (dhol actually) was unnecessary, as there is enough noise in the maximum city anyways.

The local trains were less packed than usual, as it was a weekend, and also because there were some DC to AC conversions going on on Western Railway.

We were at some admission interviews for the coming year at IMT, and I also ran into friends at the centre, St. Xavier's. But the highlight for me was a trip to Khadi Bhandar in the Kala Ghoda area, where there are some really good khadi …

Overcoming Fear

Overcoming Fear

Everyone is scared. You are not the only one.

The millionaire is scared of losing his millions. The job-holder of losing his job. The businessman of making losses.

The salesman, of not meeting his targets. The H.R. guy of recruiting the wrong people. The production manager, of his machines failing. The speaker, of not connecting with his audience. The fisherman of not catching fish.

The husband of his wife. The wife, of her in-laws. Both, of their kids’ demands, or their behavior, or their future.

So how do you overcome fear?

There are, in my view, three primary ways to do it.

1. Distract Yourself. Watch movies, browse the net, read books, or gossip.
2. Get analytical, analyse each fear and work out a specific antidote for each.
3. Decide not to fear anything. Tough, but effective.

I owe some gratitude to all the people I have read from, for the above, but the interpretation is my own.

Life's Learnings

In brief, these are some of my learnings from life.

Learnings From Life

Not everyone will like you. But some will, very much. You can still like as many people as you wish. It’s your choice.

The world existed before you. It will continue, after you (barring the 2012 prophecy). The conclusion is obvious.

We do have a role to play, but it has some limits-natural, circumstantial or capability-related.

Everyone has unique strengths, but may not recognize them. If they do, and work on them, they succeed.

Try everything. Unless you do, you’ll never know.

Believe in yourself as a person, regardless of exam ranks, position, salary, possessions. These can change (see the movie Waqt if you don’t believe me).

Don’t believe everything (+ve or -ve) everyone says, unless you have thought about it, and have some evidence to support it. After that, you decide what to do about it.

Be ethical, unless there is a very good reason.

Laughter- The Best Medicine?

I am confused. Is laughter the best therapy? Or is it music? I have tried both, and both seem to work (for me). The answer is, as usual, ‘it depends’.

Natural laughter (not the laughter club variety) is probably a good therapy for any situation. But how do you get yourself into a situation where you get to laugh a lot?

You need to make friends who are ‘laughter-prone’ (note the similarity with disaster-prone; but the similarity ends there). That is, who like to laugh. Not the maniacal Gabbar or Kaancha (Agneepath) laughter, but the full-throated one of happiness. Lol!

Reading PG Wodehouse, Bill Bryson etc. is a good option if you are currently not surrounded by friends for some reason. Or watch a film like Padosan, Gol Maal, Chupke Chupke, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Hera Pheri. Saw a movie called 'Horrible Bosses' recently that had (not surprisingly) a lot of ROFL moments.

Mae West Quotes

While researching a quote attributed to Mae West, a Hollywood actress known for provocative and witty stuff, I came across a whole lot of them, all from the same lady. Don't know if she was blonde, but if she was, the traditional theory about blondes will need a major revision.

Here goes-

A dame that knows the ropes isn't likely to get tied up.
Mae West

A hard man is good to find.
Mae West

A man has one hundred dollars and you leave him with two dollars, that's subtraction.
Mae West

A man in the house is worth two in the street.
Mae West

A woman in love can't be reasonable - or she probably wouldn't be in love.
Mae West

All discarded lovers should be given a second chance, but with somebody else.
Mae West

An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.
Mae West

Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.
Mae West

Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.
Mae West

Cultivate your curves - they may be dangerous but they won't be avoided.
Mae West

Don't kee…

Agneepath- Review

It is difficult to believe- the script, I mean, if you bring logic into it. That an entire village is moronic enough not to figure out there is a motive behind framing the honest school-teacher. Anyway, if you keep logic aside for a moment, it's a reasonably taut film, mostly due to the larger than life, Gabbar Singh-like character created for Sanjay Dutt.

The characters are very well-etched, strong and believable. Om Puri, Priyanka, Sachin Khedekar (I think)and the lovely young kid sister of Hrithik, add to the storyline with good performances. Even Priyanka's mom and the dai who helps deliver the kid (she happens to be a relative of mine, incidentally) do well in their short roles.

Unbiased from not having watched the Bachchan version, I think it qualifies as a good movie of its type. Whether you like the type (revenge, a la Deewar, with Rishi Kapoor playing one of the dons), is what you need to figure out. Hrithik looks passionate, somewhat like Ranbir Kapoor in Rockstar, but…

Historic Artefacts

Sometimes, we make history without realising what we do. Sometimes, we become history. Change is easy to spot when a significant amount of time has elapsed.

To prove some of the above, I present two pics. There are at least three people common to these two pics, including me. But even I find it hard to figure out who they are. See if you can spot the similarities. I seriously doubt it.