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Leadership Lesson

It’s time to share happiness: welcome the new!

It is that time of the year when we at PeopleFriday are thankful for the beautiful way 2020 has turned out, for, so much learning has happened for people in general, despite all the drama. 

We look forward to 2021 as great year ahead, with all the hope, enthusiasm and gusto. Life is good! And we keep becoming a better version of ourselves each day. 

Wish you and your family a Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year 2021.

To many more hours and years of learning and becoming a better version of yourself.
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Leadership Lesson

Here’s your gift for the Holiday Season!

FIRST 30 DAYS: Fright or Flight– 10X Leader Series; available on Kindle Unlimited (India)

The first 30 days of taking on a new role as a manager will be the most defining thirty days for that job and lay the foundation for your success on that job and possibly the next.

This Fight or Flight – 10X Leader Series is designed to help you get started quickly in your new role and become successful. This book is intended to help a new manager. And then some of you may want to use this as a guide every time you move into a new role as a manager into a new team, department or new organisation.

The bonus resources section at the end allows you access to online resources that are specifically available for readers of this book. This section consists of up-to-date resources across the internet. It will make you familiar with the many management tools available for you.

Happy Holidays!

Here’s the  Amazon Link for free download under kindle –https://www.amazon.in/dp/B08R7CDRRC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_ait6FbZAFBS12

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Leadership Lesson

“Why do you want to do what you want to do?

“Why do you want to do what you want to do?

In my interactions with clients, they come with an absolutely ‘clear ask’ on the requirement and want us to fulfil that ‘immediately’.

It is most comfortable for me to give them what they asked. However, I almost always pose this question.

“Why do you want to do what you want to do? Not that we cannot do that x thing that you ask for, but would love to understand the why of it is the right thing to do.”

7 in 10 times, during the process of discussion, their ‘clear ask’ has now changed a few times, and the new request is more practical and commonsensical. Sometimes that ‘urgent need’ itself is nullified, and I have possibly lost that ‘immediate business’ of what they were initially planning to give us.

I do this because I put myself into the shoes of my customer’s business. And gives me a vicarious experience of ‘being a core part of their business’ during those conversations.

That is the value I seem to bring to the table. It has often, at times, saved millions.
But more importantly, asking the right questions, seemed to be the right thing to do.

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Leadership Lesson

Why Making Mistakes is Important in Life

I have written about Of learning, failure and my perspective. I had also spoken about it on Prodcast on Leadership Lessons – Learning to Fail and Preparing for a Fail .

There was so much interest that I have tried summarising the same with 9 reasons on why making mistakes is okay, and 6 ways on how to recover from a mistake.

  1. Mistakes are an unavoidable part of life and are vital to a person’s growth.
  2. Everyone makes mistakes.
  3. Mistakes make up most part of our lives. And it is because of the mistakes one learns. A child makes mistakes a thousand times and falls as many times before her first step.

Reasons why making mistakes is okay

  1. Mistakes give you valuable life lessons.
  2. They say mistakes are life’s way of teaching you. Behind each mistake is an important lesson to be learned.
  3. You are only human, and humans are not made to be perfect. It is what makes each of us unique.
  4. Mistakes help you grow. The first time that you will smell success is after the last time you learnt from your earlier mistake. Mistakes they say is a steppingstone to success.
  5. Mistakes push you to do better, be better. They help you become a better version of yourself.
  6. Mistakes help you know yourself more. It allows you to figure out who you are as a person.
  7. Mistakes do not define you. In fact, errors do not stand for anybody.
  8. You will never find anyone who has never made a mistake in their life. If someone said they did, that not telling the truth.
  9. When you make a mistake, you know one more way in which it should not be done

How to recover from a mistake

  1. Accept it – Accepting that you have made a mistake is the first step towards correcting it. What you do not accept, you cannot correct. Accept that mistake. Learn from it.
  2. Know what you did wrong. Understanding your mistake helps you make amends and rectify the situation.
  3. Remember the lesson
  4. Mistakes are normal. Fret not! Everybody makes mistakes.
  5. Accepting the mistake is the first step towards correcting them in the future.
  6. Do not be afraid of making mistakes. It should not prevent you from taking risks or doing anything worthwhile.

“Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow.” – Mary Tylor Moore

Here is a Spotify Prodcast on the subject

Spotify Prodcast on Failures

83 -second Video on Making Mistakes

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Leadership Lesson

Timeless Time Management Hacks

Time Management has become more crucial than ever before. With Work from Home options, employees and managers alike are more stressed and more time strapped than ever before. How can you master this – here are the Time management hacks.

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Leadership Lesson

Writing meaningful performance appraisals

Writing performance feedback is one of the most demanding tasks for many, but then with these simple tips, you can make it enjoyable for yourself and the employee.

Writing meaningful and effective performance appraisals
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Leadership Lesson

What does ’being fair’ really mean?

What does being ’fair’ really mean?

How can you ever be fair to both sides? It will always be an eternal argument.

Here I’ll share two life stories, 25 years apart and how fairness can be achieved.

When we were young, my sibling and I used to fight for the larger piece of the cake. We accused the other of not being fair and taking the bigger slice for themselves. This happened each time.

Most parents would know that a straightforward rule fixes this forever. One child gets to cut the cake, and the other child gets to choose the piece. As you would guess, the cake gets cut with laser precision each time, and the problem solved forever.

One child gets to cut the cake, and the other child gets to choose the piece.

Twenty-five years later, in one of the large American tech organisations that I worked with, our contract negotiations (C&N) team drew up a services agreement for our client. Once, one of our large Japanese customers – was handed over a voluminous 30-page services contract to sign.

The client requested for an editable word document and returned it for signing in 48 hours. My C&N team was shocked and angry at the ‘massively edited’, ‘totally one-sided’ version of the contract. In a subsequent meeting, their CFO said they just did ’find and replace’ of the and interchanged the two organisations names. They wished to highlight how one-sided company’s contracts were. They asked us to re-draft an agreement that was ’fair to both’.

My company learnt a lesson, but for me, it was a complete revelation on what can be fair in business and still a guiding principle as an entrepreneur.

Being ’fair and honest’ to both sides is not a difficult thing to do if the ’intent’ is to be fair and have win-win thinking. The problem arises only, and only when that ’thought of fairness’ is corrupted. Even a trace of corruption, the big idea of being fair goes out of the window.

What are your experiences?

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Leadership Lesson

Leadership Lesson on Apple Prodcasts

Now on Apple Prodcasts. Please subscribe and share your feedback


https://podcasts.apple.com/in/podcast/leadership-lessons/id1520396721

Leadership Lessons
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A new baby – Prodcast Channel on Anchor

I seem to be loving this medium and talking to you on leadership lessons from life. What is your feedback on this? I would like to hear from you.

Please hear, subscribe and give me your feedback.

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Leadership Lesson

Of learning, failure and my perspective.

I was recently engaged in a heated debate on ‘learning’ and ‘failure’, and how failing in public is the mark of weakness in professional and social situations. For one’s own good, it was argued that it is best avoided to even talk about failures in public. A logical extension is that one avoids asking questions in order not to demonstrate ignorance. Since they do not ask questions. My argument was. Hence they learn lesser – and so the case goes.

Personally, I learn all the time from all types of people. I can not comment for others, but the more I learn, the more I know that I do not know much. I am never too old to learn or too young to ask questions.

Yes, we live in a society where asking questions means either ignorance or arrogance—but seldom associated with learning as a process.

We live in culture where failure is mocked upon. Failure is discouraged and hence people stop trying. One may not hold ‘failure as a badge of honour’ as the Silicon Valley adage goes, but not failing and hence not learning and that is a bigger dishonour.

As a life -long learner, who tries, who fails regularly and learn from those failures, I have no shame in saying if I am learning, I must be doing good. I make mistakes all the time, and I accept the mistakes and learn and try and become better.

I own my mistakes, and no one is responsible for my failures. No one else. Yes, it may be fashionable for larger than life leaders for whom projecting infallibility is a virtue. They do not accept a mistake and claim that never made a mistake, and they are the best and even blame everyone else but themselves for all the failures. Good for them. Their life choices. That is not me.

And I am happy I am not them. I fail, and therefore, I learn. And that makes me me.

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Leadership Lesson

How can you have fun running, on that corporate treadmill?

*Watch this 40 second and your life will never be the same again. *

I always quote in my talks on how most people have a corporate career that seems like running in a treadmill. You start running, and you cannot stop. You keep running, often faster, sometimes slowing down, yet you realize that you remain in the same place after all the running.

For an entrepreneur, life is, however, a different experience. It is like running outdoors in the open. You can choose any path, unchallenged and uncharted trails. You can go the beaten path, yet no two runs are the same. You observe new things and get distracted, slow down smell the flower. However, then, it is not routine, and it is not for everyone. The journey can be bumpy, traffic or an oncoming truck might kill you, much as you may enjoy. The best part is when you run, you move forward, move around, and have fun.

But then, how do you work in the comforts of the corporate life and yet not fall into the routine?

However, then how do you work in the comforts of the corporate life and yet not fall into the routine? For that, you need to be creative, crazy. You need to love what you do or learn to do the routine the way you like to do. How do you do that they ask? I usually struggle to give a straight answer. However, then I stumbled on this video, and this guy summarises how you can and must have fun when things are boring.

Watch this 40 second and your life will never be the same again.

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The Upside of Situational Leadership That Everyone Is Talking About

Leadership differs from management in a very fundamental way. Management doesn’t have to involve inspiring or motivating others. Situational leadership is a specific style of leadership, where your leadership style is dependent on the situation. You could be leading b either delegating, supporting, coaching o directing depending on the team and complexity of the task.  Which essentially makes you practice one or more of the 4 popular leadership styles. The image here is self-explanatory.

Situational Leadership
Situational Leadership

What You Can Do About Situational Leadership Starting in the Next 11 Minutes

Leadership programs are appropriate for supervisors, managers, entrepreneurs and company executives. A leadership development program can help the company leaders in receiving new capabilities. This is a good 10-minute video on Hershey Blanchard situational leadership that you must watch

Now that you’ve understood, it’s vital that you take one of the critical projects that you are heading and see what amongst these leadership team would require at this point in the current situation.

The Number One Question You Must Ask for Situational Leadership

Leadership is more than only a word, it’s the action of leading. It can also cause a company’s demise. Situational leadership or the one size doesn’t fit all method is all about adapting your style to the particular circumstance.

“Knowing all that I know about this team and this project, what is the leadership that is required to help the project move to the next level, project right now?

Leaders help ordinary folks achieve extraordinary outcomes. They should be sent to various countries and allowed to learn that way. Superior leaders identify great talent, give them direction, then escape the manner.

The Hidden Truth About Situational Leadership

Leaders will need to function as a catalyst for change. Thus, a situational leader should have the needed aptitude in order to adjust their actions in order that they may fit with the present situation as a way to assist and meet the requirements of the faculty. Today, the leader with one principal leadership style can’t survive.

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3 Steps towards Building an Amoeba Organization*

Is your organization structured like an Amoeba?

Successful businesses can continually alter its organizational structure to meet the changing demands of the environment in which they are operating. Each of that change helps them propel forward to achieving the goals the organization has set for itself. And finally, it is not bound the rigid boundaries that are prevalent in the industry or in other industries. Let us take each of these with an example

Business is no Biology, Why then are we talking of Amoeba, here?

An amoeba (/əˈmiːbə/) is a type of organism which

  • can alter its shape, primarily by extending and retracting pseudopods.
  • propels forward (and feeds) by using and extending a pseudopod and let’s go its rear portion
  • do not form a single taxonomic group and are found among the protozoa, fungi, algae, and animals.

A successful business means these 3 things

1. Altering the structure:

Altering the structure of an organization is usually a daunting task. It requires a leader to think out of the box and often begets undesirable resistance from HR and other units that look for status quo for ease of administration. Even in the many cases where an organization undergoes reengineering and restructuring, it often is a laborious exercise and involves months of planning and years of execution. It is anything but simple. But then creative leaders know can get this done.

In one exceptionally large organization that I was working, it was boom time and the business team was quite successful in meeting and exceeding targets. We had an extremely capable sales team and marketing team. The technical team was terrific. The Unit was on a super-fast growth. Yet, burnouts and the low compensation started to take its toll. The Business Unit leader was fully aware of the consequence and had many meetings with HR in vain. So, in this case, he hired a ‘marketing manager’ and the job role was clearly defined as an ‘excitement specialist.’ The measurement was about creating excitement in the team and help the unit be a fun place. The new-hire, an ex-advertising professional from a reputed Advertising Agency exactly knew what to do to build that excitement in the team. She was successful and the need for that position had been done away within 12-18 months when intended results of retentions and motivation were achieved.

There were other times, what was needed was ‘just a process to be set in place,’ or entire unit was to be focussed on ‘competitive win back.’ The organization structure changed countless times, where the required people were brought in or moved out and/or roles changed dynamically. Such changes could not have been reflected under the rigid structure, but with a creative leader, we were able to achieve none the less. The organization not only survived one of the worst dot com busts but propelled forward to be a leader in the industry as competition floundered. And that brings us to the second point.

2. Propel Forward:

To propel forward is a simple term but then defining the forward is the key. The forward could mean winning competition even at a short-term loss or it might earn profit maximization. It might mean the need for PR or need for better sales closers. There can be a couple of areas where one needs to move forward, and it only means adequate resources are deployed in those areas for that duration to make them successful. Any less, the effort would go waste. Any more, we might not be doing it efficiently. Propel forward for an organisation unit may be different from the standard industry practices.

The key to propelling forward is to let go of the past that is holding us back. We could have had an organization that was great and successful in the past but continuing the same activity and being tied to the past will slow the unit down. The key to propelling forward is to let go of the tenets that gave success in the past and unbound and unleash itself.

3. Unbound and hence Unleashed:

The core tenet is being unbound and unchained by the dogmas that exist in the organization and unit. Any change like this is seen as maverick and would lead to eyebrows being raised and questions being asked. The only way to address such criticism is to continue to deliver on outcomes. The team would need to be fully aware that they are being taken into full confidence and it needs to work on ‘a mission mode.’ Goals are pursued as a mission, and the team sees itself as a task force and a crack team. Call it permanent beta, disruptive innovators – any name that you wish. The idea is to take the team along and make sure they are unbound and unleashed all the time to deliver their best.

Go ahead try it! Build your own Amoeba Organization*.

If you like such articles – You can follow some great resources on

 This above article first appeared in the Times of India on April 03, 2019

Rajesh Soundararajan is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Futureshift Consulting, a boutique consulting outfit that helps organizations chart their business, marketing and technology strategies that generate demand, drive predictable revenue and achieve impactful outcomes.

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*I am not talking here about Amoeba Management, which is a system designed by Kazuo Inamori, the creator and current honorary chairman of Kyocera. Amoeba Management is different from building an Amoeba Organization that I am talking of and is primarily composed of personnel in a company, with a clearly defined purpose of making a profit for itself.

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Six Things to Remember While Writing Feedback

Over the two decades in the many leadership roles, giving/writing feedback was one of the most arduous of all jobs — across dozens of roles, organizations, countries, and cultures. If you are a manager or a team leader — you are solely responsible for the feedback you are giving your team, both on content and method.

So, what is the secret of giving/ writing feedback?
Feedback giving/ writing is both an art and a science. It is an extremely critical component of team building and as much as it is for developing one’s own career. I have condensed the feedback process into six points that can work in any situation. Good feedback will help your team be high on energy and ideas, become awesome in execution and develop a great attitude.

The secret sauce, ironically, is not about the receiver of the feedback. It is about asking yourself (feedback giver) these six vital questions.

  1. Am I being specific?
    It is extremely critical to be as specific as you can be. It is easy to get carried away with analogies and incidents related to the point being discussed. Such meandering, however well-intentioned it may be, often leads to dilution of the message. It may even lead to a defensive mindset being triggered for the receiver. State facts and give examples in support of the feedback being given. Nothing more, nothing less.
  2. Am I showing the way to grow and develop this person?
    Your job as a reviewer is to develop and grow people. Pointing to shortcomings does not help in any case. In fact, it would work counter-productive as the receiver pulls up the defences and closes their mind to any suggestions.
  3. Can this person really do something about this?
    Think before if this person can do something about this or if you can help to change this behaviour? If the answer is no, that specific feedback is best left unsaid. Yes, think about it. What is the purpose of feedback on which the person cannot act?
  4. Will this add value to this person?
    Focus your feedback on its value for the receiver. If your feedback will not add value to the receiver in the current state, resist from even saying it. Often, it is for us to offer some advice because it is dear to us and (however well-intentioned) do not think of the value it would add to the other person.
  5. Does this represent facts?
    Write feedback promptly when the incident is fresh in your mind. Do not let other unrelated incidents influence your feedback. Good managers maintain a small notepad, to jot down incidents when they occur. This small notepad is worth terabytes of data that may be residing in our memory. Maintaining and referring that small notepad, will always bring us back to the facts at hand.
  6. Finally, let silence do the heavy lifting.
    Silence is an extremely powerful tool. Any good negotiator would tell you that people tend to underestimate the power of silence when it comes to sales and social dynamics in general. “Saying nothing is way more powerful than spoken words” they would vouch. Silence during feedback not only defines alpha roles but also build the readiness to assimilate, process and draw on an action plan in the receiver’s mind. You must recognise the five signs that indicate silence is needed
  • Interrupting by talking over someone else
  • Formulating your response while someone is talking
  • Using a break in the conversation to create a distraction to change topics
  • Talking in circles
  • Monopolizing airtime

With these six simple steps, you will see your self a lot more effective and sought after by your team and people Try it out!

This article first appeared on the Times of India Blogs on March 22, 2019.

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Rajesh Soundararajan is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Futureshift Consulting, a boutique consulting outfit that helps organizations chart their business, marketing and technology strategies that generate demand, drive predictable revenue and achieve impactful outcomes.

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6 things that I learnt from a devastating accident

I share here about my experiences from a devastating accident in which I almost lost three fingers, and what I have learned from this miracle ordeal.

Three years ago, it was late Sunday evening of January, when I met with a freak yet devastating accident. As I was working on a 12,000 RPM rotary metal cutting tool, a momentary lapse of attention and I severed my three fingers on the right hand.

This jolted my family and threw life out of gear. With three small beautiful children and a family that is dependent, an entrepreneurial journey and a whole life ahead, a useless right hand, was the last thing one would want on.

By the time I was wheeled into A&E, the situation was grave, and more than one hospital in the area refused admission as they did not have the doctor on call over that weekend. It was a weekend night and Bangalore roads were choked with heavy traffic.

The Two-Wheeler Ride To Eternity:

And clutching the tree dismembered fingers of my right hand tightly with the left. here I was with riding pillion on a two-wheeler, and my wife the ‘ambulance’ driver. The blood loss was significant as the body gushed out blood to the fingers. Here sitting in the pillion, the one thing on my mind was to keep myself awake, come what may and not become unconscious and fall off. I hugged my feet to the sides of the scooter, much like how you would on a horse and kept talking to my wife, lest i fall asleep. The
notorious city’s traffic was not helping and a good 30-40 minutes later, and what seemed like an eternity, we reach a hospital that would admit us.

What happened during that ride was nothing short of awakening and rebirth.

What happened during that ride was nothing short of awakening and rebirth. My mind was filled with both doubt and acceptance, on what-if, and how I will live with just a thumb and little finer for the rest of my life. A billion thoughts crisscrossed my mind. Would this be the end of me? Will I be accepted in this world? How will I have an opportunity to pursue my hobbies and passions for which I came back to India? How will I do as an entrepreneur? Would this end of my professional life forever?

The Surgery And The Recovery

It was an intense 4-5-hour surgery under general anaesthesia, and I remained drugged, for hours after that. I still remember the light banter in the Operation Theatre with the surgeon. He informed that he would need me to sign the consent form, as he said, “….we can save one finger, be ready to lose two of them, but definitely we will try to save the second one”. This was before the General Anaesthesia and I replied, “Doc, without those three fingers I cannot sign. How about you are fixing them and then I can have the form signed in no-time.” After a good guffaw, they got the consent form signed by my wife, who was there through out the phase not sleeping a wink.  

Cut forward to 6 weeks later – As we went for the removal of cast and stitches, my doctor was awed and euphoric – for, this recovery was beyond all his expectation. He mentioned I was ‘one big lucky man‘; While I was relieved, I knew deep within, that the hundreds of prayers and positive energy from many well-wishers and the doctor’s dedication would not go waste.

And all that was backed by rock-solid backbone by wife and children, strong support of family, prayers, blessings and encouragement of many many friends. Over the next few months – life had ‘raced back’ to normalcy – in 6-8 weeks, much earlier than the then expected 6-12 months.

I was welcomed from the hospital with a cake, and the little ones were more excited to see me, than to have a piece of that cake.

I was welcomed from the hospital with a cake, and the little ones were more excited to see me, than to have a piece of that cake.
I was welcomed from the hospital with a cake, and the little ones were more excited to see me, than to have a piece of that cake.

I have learned a lot in those few months and unlearned many more. It indeed was a rebirth. With many cobwebs in the mind removed, and the mind knows what is important in life. In retrospect, this was the best exerience in my life, yet. Couldn’t have been luckier to have this experience.

Here’s a summary of the five most important things that I’ve learned:

1.  Love And Respect:

Throughout the adventurous journey, the one thing I realised was the importance of having the love and respect of family, whom you could always depend on. My parents-in-law were all the time and my parents flew in from Dubai almost immediately on hearing this. With that confidence of the support of my family and friends, I would sail through this life. I was also fortunate to have support in form of many hundreds of telephone calls, WhatsApp enquiries from all corners of the world. Many of them dropped by for a visit. Words of encouragement, flower bouquets courier packages with holy water, ashes and prasadams (similar to holy water, in form of solid or liquid) from holy places were pouring in.

2.  Acceptance:

Within minutes of the accident, and immediately after the shock, I had mentally prepared to accept whatever cards, life throws at me. If it means, living with just thumb and the little finger, I was ready for a life the way it is dished out to me.

3.  Gratitude:

Gratitude was the most important of all the learnings. Through the process of long recuperation, I was filled with immense gratitude for all the amazing things that life had to offer. I was grateful for all that so many people have done for me. Through the countless solitary moments, I thanked thousands of people, yes thousands of people. I could vividly remember the faces of the many persons that I had encountered in life since childhood. And, I would believe that act alone was the single biggest contributor to my miracle recovery, a record of sorts.

Let alone not losing any of the fingers as the doctor had said, the recovery was much lesser than six-twelve months, I was ready and kicking and six weeks. In fact, just a day after the bandages removed and even without physiotherapy I went ahead and did what I love to do – an 800 km Road trip, more than half-which I was at the wheel.

I could vividly remember the faces of the many persons that I had encountered in life since childhood.

4.  Law Of Attraction:

If there is one important thing other than gratitude, mentioned earlier it is the law of attraction. Much I was accepting each day for what it was, I was not willing to let go of the optimist in me and the fighter in me. Each day, I would visualise miraculous healing and see the senior surgeon tell us that he was amazed at the speed of recovery.

5.  Amazing Adaptability Of Human Body:

Through my journey, I was able to be aware and observe amazing aspects of the internal workings of the human body. The experience of ‘electric shocks’ from nerve endings as they try to heal, regrow and reconnect to the nervous system, the incredible way in which my left hand took over seamlessly much like a doubles partner; to compensate for my every weakness. The reflexes had dramatically improved, to say the least. Never in my entire life, I would have experienced such a level of alertness and strong reflexes .

6.  Mindfulness, Dramatic Increase In IQ Tests

Here, I’m going to speak about something incredible that happened and is beyond imagination. This was more of an unintended consequence, serendipity if you may, for what you are about to hear is not something even I foresaw in my wildest dreams.

I am a regular player of online brain games like Lumosity. After that break of about 6 to 8 weeks, scores consistently surged way higher than any of previous high scores. Not believing this magical twist, I went and took 20 -30 different brain tests. The scores were consistently 30-70% higher than my earlier high scores. On further research, I learnt that sudden use of left-hand for the considerable amount of time helped activate the other half of the brain.

Today, I am so grateful to people around me, my life, and the universe. When I play badminton, play with children, pick up those weights in the gym, or do that 10,000 km road trip – and all of them are still a bit of effort, none-the-less – not a day passes without feeling how lucky life has been.

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Ask Me Anything: 10 Answers Before You Turn Entrepreneur

  • Where Will Entrepreneur Be 1 Year From Now?
  • The 10 Most Understated Facts About Entrepreneurship
  • Entrepreneurship Explained in Fewer than 140 Characters
  • 10 Undeniable Reasons 2019 is the Year of Entrepreneurship

In my article in 2016, I had written “Turn Entrepreneur in 2016 (8 Reasons)”. 2 years later, I revisit those reasons and see if it is still valid and see what has changed?

1.   Entrepreneurs Are The New Black – $100bn In VC Investments

Despite all the uncertainties in the global markets, entrepreneurship continues to be much sought after even in 2019. And it is not without a reason.   Globally, the U.S Venture Capitalist Investments are on the steady rise from 2009(US$ 20+ billion) to over $100 billion by the end- 2018.  Investments into India alone have tripled from just over US$ $4b in 2015 has grown to a massive 12.65 billion in 2018, a record of sorts.

However, on further analysis, you will note that late stage start-ups with a proven record of success took the lion’s share of funding raised, even as the industry welcomed new ‘unicorns. What this means is that if you get to have success at every stage of your start-up, money is not a big issue for scaling.

https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Screen-Shot-2018-10-09-at-9.52.23-AM.png
Source: https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Screen-Shot-2018-10-09-at-9.52.23-AM.png?resize=768,694

2. The Age Of Garage Entrepreneur Is Dead

Entrepreneurs are no longer just folks starting out of a garage.  You will find that the new age entrepreneurs are well educated, are either freshers or those with experience of working in the industry, have a few skill, capabilities, and competencies up their sleeve. And they are aware of that too. You will find that they come with a passion of Garage Entrepreneurs and have ring-fenced that passion with a lot more practicality in combining strengths. They will usually partner with like-minded co-founders who fill the gap their own skill gaps required for business. This age of entrepreneurs has their feet firmly on the ground in understanding the real problem that they are trying to solve. Yet are dreamers with their own idols like Elon Musk or Sachin Bansal or a Jack Ma.

3. Lifelong Employment Is A Myth Busted, Forever.

I said this in 2016, and this holds truer in 2019 than before. The age of lifelong employment is dead – and buried. With the security of lifelong employment and associated pensions gone, more people are looking to get into the driver’s seat and take control of their destiny. They may not be quitting their day-jobs to start off but are cranking their start-ups with the luxury of income from the day jobs funding their passion in part or in full. If you are contemplating, don’t spend the rest of your life contemplating, no do you need to take that leap by quitting the day job when you will face revenue pressures to even sustain yourself. You can well do both, by spending a few more hours on weekdays and dedicate weekends to get the start-up off ground. Once you are confident of taking of jettisoning the mother-ship you can.

I said this in 2016, and this holds truer in 2019 than before. The age of lifelong employment is dead – and buried. With the security of lifelong employment and associated pensions gone, more people are looking to get into the driver’s seat and take control of their destiny. They may not be quitting their day-jobs yet, but are cranking their start-ups with the comfort of regular income from the day job, that funds their passion in part or in full. If you are contemplating, don’t spend the rest of your life contemplating. Nor should you that day job, when you now that will face income pressures to sustain yourself.

A blended approach could be that you can do both, by spending a few more hours on weekdays and dedicate weekends to get the start-up off ground. Once you are confident of taking off, jettison that mother-ship and raise your sails to the headwind.

4. Unemployment And Underemployment Continue To Be Triggers For New Ideas Take Shape

Student unemployment combined with gross unemployment and underemployment seems to be the first ‘triggers,’ though not necessarily the reason for success of many entrepreneurs. The education industry is churning out graduates and postgraduates at alarming rates and the number of big corporations that can absorb such talent is far too less. Education has become expensive, with student loans mounting, yet with no assurance of campus placement, entrepreneurship seems to be the only recourse if you have that fire in the belly.

Since supply far outstrips demand, it is logical that more students are seeking out entrepreneurial experiences with self-funding from friends and family to start with – many with aspirations to build the next Facebook, Uber, or Tesla. The others go through basic education simply to better equip themselves or in anticipation of one day taking that big leap from a cushy corporate job on to an entrepreneurial journey.

5. Disruptive Innovation Seldom Happens In Large Companies.

A lot more disruption and innovation happen today than ever before. And yet, most such disruptions have started with the new entrepreneurs and not the big corporates.

The very fact that the big companies went on to acquire the smaller players at high valuations goes on to prove the value created by new entrepreneurs. When was the last time a Google disrupted the industry? YouTube was an acquisition. Facebook acquired WhatsApp, Instagram, and Oculus. Microsoft did that with Skype and LinkedIn.

The pace of disruptive innovation has been accelerating since 2005. The new biggies are barely teenagers, the 100-year legends are far and few. New disruptors are disrupting previous disruptors.

6. Failure Is The New Badge Of Honour

The Silicon Valley’s adage on entrepreneurial spirit, ‘Failure is a Badge of Honour,’ is no more restricted to the Valley. In the past, Asian economies like India, China and Indonesia that constitute over half of the world’s population rewarded formal employment and had a social stigma attached to failure.

This new decade had changed all that. Today, you have the wealth created by entrepreneurs from India and China. It is more like this generation of Asians are getting back vigorously and challenging the tenets.

Even as the likes of Jack Ma (Alibaba), Sachin Bansal, Binny Bansal (Flipkart), Aggarwal (Ola) have either diluted their stake to move into philanthropy or the next big thing, there is a new generation like Rashmi Daga (Fresh Menu), Ritesh Agarwal (Oyo), Nandan Reddy and Rahul Jasimini (Swiggy), Deepinder Goyal (Zomato) that have filled in those spaces with fairly big shoes. The spirit of failure does not seem to perturb them, and they are reinventing, realigning from their mistakes along the way.

7. Freemiums Break The Jinx Of Entry Barriers

Starting a business is hard and one needs to be systematic and efficient. Hiring external resources cost money. On the other hand, buying software which you may not use or may find limited use at exorbitant prices is a big deterrent to productivity. A lot has changed in the last few years. I have compiled some of the world’s best software and tools that makes it easier for any entrepreneur–  Analytics (Google Analytics) , Collaboration (Slack, Trello) , Communication (Skype) Design Tools (Canva) , Document Storage (Dropbox/ One Drive/ Google Drive) , Email Marketing (MailChimp) , Invoices And Billing (Zoho), Social Media Schedulers (Buffer, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck), Spreadsheets (Google Sheets), Survey Tool (Survey Monkey) , Word Processing (Grammarly, Google Docs).

Thus, all components of your business that requires software tools are available for free to start off and then ‘pay as you grow.’ This is a great boost for entrepreneurs and start-ups who can use world-class tools with zero spending.

8. New Marketing Models Shackle Traditional Stongholds

Acquiring new customers and ‘spreading the message’ is no more limited to expensive newspaper advertisements and television spots. The online marketing channels are all about creating inbound leads and low-cost outbound reach, to targeted audience at extremely optimised and affordable costs. Imagine reaching out to your new prospects at budgets as low as low as $10 (Marketing on Google Facebook, Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn) for advertising each day.

The new marketing models with digital marketing and content creation techniques using some of the tools mentioned above, have spawned the imagination and amplified the marketing capability of every entrepreneur.

You can now, target, reach out and engage your audience for the right demographics and geo-focus. This translates for you into a theoretically unlimited market size with hyper-local targeting. Since markets have democratised and entry barriers for distribution busted, you have infinite opportunities as a new player that offer value to your audience.

9. You Don’t Even Need That Permission To Start

This is the best part. The world has changed and has changed forever in the last decade. Governments across the world are waking up to the new reality of changing demographics and have opened ‘Start Up’ and Incubation Centres in every part of the world to encourage and give a boost to the new entrepreneurs. The painfully expensive permissions from the Government and regulators are long outdated for most new set-ups.

Social structures have changed, sources of funding have changed and most of them are an advantage for the new entrepreneur

10. There Is No Better Time To Start

The Internet has flattened the world for 2 decades now. That the advances in mobile telecommunication, increased bandwidths and broadband penetration have led to a convergence of idea centres a decade ago. Together, they have unleashed a potential that is available today for you- in all its magnificence – for you to start. If you must start, there is no better time to start than now. A journey of a thousand miles – starts with the first step, they say.

The question today then is not: “Can we build this?” but rather, “Should we build this?”

 _______

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*****

Please do share your thoughts and feedback and I will be glad to learn from you.

**The author is an entrepreneur with two decades of senior leadership experience in India and Asia-Pacific and now runs Futureshift, a boutique consulting outfit that helps businesses chart their digital marketing strategy with the @ZMOTly framework to achieve impactful outcomes. He is available at rajesh@futureshift.com.sg **

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