Friday, January 22, 2010

Life - Teachings from the game of cricket

1. For a big score, you have to have patience in shot selection, leave the good balls and wait for the bad balls to score. In life you have to have patience and take decisions while waiting for the right opportunity.
2. When playing do not get over awed by the reputation of the bowler, but judge based on the quality of each delivery. It's your technical skill and experience which helps you survive the good balls. In life it means that you can meet adverse situations by your knowledge, skills, patience and hard work.
3. When your team is in problem, you need to have loads of patience and staying power to take your team out of problems.
4. Life is a test match and not a T-20. You need technical skills, endurance and tenacity to survive and thrive.
5. When you lack confidence, it reflects in your game and so does in your life.
6. Respect the opposition, but do not get overwhelmed by them and find smart ways of winning.
7. A short lapse of concentration can cost a great innings. Similarly a rush of blood decision can cost your career.
8. The success in cricket depends on the contribution of all the team members and support staff. Similarly in life to be successful, you have to build a winning team comprising your professional team members and support groups including family members, friends and professional associates.
9. Don't be satisfied with your tall score in the previous innings. Always be hungry for more. 10. Often you end a great innings due to a rash or lazy shot due to boredom. In life you may take a drastic decision of changing your job and moving away from a potentially great career due to a short and boring phase. Be careful to avoid such a costly decision.

India - Management Learnings from the Roadside Vendors

I always have a great sense of appreciation for the roadside vendors in India particularly with respect to their management style. I strongly believe that a keen student of management can learn many a tricks from these vendors. The first is managing the business environment and the external challenges. They handle the local authorities, the police, and the local mafia as also the economic challenges of the complex hafta payments. Second is the perfect management of credit sales and good collection system without any legal documentation and back office credit administration. And most of them do not have a formal financing system financing their working capital requirements and yet manage their cash flows. The local panwalla is a perfect example where along with the art of making pan, the panwalla also efficiently enters the credit transaction in his small note book. Third is the salesmanship and the ability to maintain high level of customer relationship. Think of the vendor who sells you books and magazines on traffic lights. Even though he may be hardly literate, he is able to convince you to buy the latest bestsellers. Be it the panwalla or the roadside dhabawalla, they have a steady set of loyal customers and they also understand the customer preferences quite well. The panwalla is famous for knowing the intricate requirement of its regular customers, where your favorite pan or your brand of cigarette is dispensed to you on your arrival without you even specifying your requirement. Fourth is the flexibility in pricing. Look at the vegetable vendor or the fruit vendor, who effectively manages a zero inventory at the day end through a sophisticated flexible pricing model determined largely based on customer loyalty and the day end flexible pricing without the announced happy hour pricing of the sophisticated organized sector retailers. Fifth is the ability to compete with strong competitors with established shops and stronger financial muscle power. This happens largely on account of the first four factors and the tenacity of the vendors and the will to succeed.
It is perhaps a subject for intensive research which will bring in many interesting answers of the success of the spirit of Indian enterprise at the bottom of the pyramid. The true spirit of "pucca business in kuchha".

Investment Philosophy-Learnings from the Financial Crisis of 2008

1. At least 15 % of your net worth should be liquid, i.e. cash or bank deposits or low risk treasury bonds. This gives you opportunity to take advantage of market distortions and interesting deals when cash is king.
2. Sell in good news and buy in bad news.
3. Don't leverage for investments in financial instruments.
4. Total leverage should not be more than 0.25:1 leaving out the occupied residential property.
5. Avoid long dated bonds as you carry high degree of liquidity as also market risk.
6. In real estate investment, focus on income generating assets only.
7. Follow the policy of asset allocation: how much money you should be putting in risk assets like real estate and equity.
8. Check the stability of your cash flow. Predict the range of high, average and low by using probability factors.
9.Set aside six months' of household expenses including mortgage payments in a separate bank account outside the minimum 15 % of liquid assets.
10. In equity,once you achieve the profit target, sell at least 50% of the holding.
11. Always have at least 25 % to 50 % of your equity holding giving you a good dividend yield.
12. Constantly watch for the sectors going out of favour and ensure exit before re-ratings.

The Power of Frugality

I have a seen a lot of life having spent over 28 years in the corporate sector. I have spent my career in building up organization, organizational transformation, meeting profit objectives and create wealth for the organization and the employees, I have learnt that while this approach is required for the functioning of the economic wheel, a true manager also should also pursue the policy of minimalism both for the corporate benefit as also for seeking personal happiness. We have had a great tradition of minimalism in the Indian life style in the past, the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi being the true brand ambassador for it. Mahatma demonstrated the power of simplicity and minimalism over the mighty British Empire. Most of the political leaders of the yester years also demonstrated the same. It is unfortunate that most of our political leaders, except a few who lead a austere and honest life style, most of them bask under the glory of the looted wealth from the coffers of the government and the public, with no reluctance to display the same. Unlike today, we as a nation clearly united in many difficult situations. I still remember the call for skipping a meal once a week to combat food shortage, which was practiced with a lot of zeal. We perhaps require the same degree of zeal today to combat the food shortages and increase in global food prices as also benefit the large masses of poor.

We have to build in frugality and non consumerism as a way of life. I think it fits in with two of the major developments in the recent past which has rocked the world, i.e. the global financial crisis which as also the environmental issues and global warming. Frugality in food habit is also a healthy life style particularly for the rich, wealthy but unhealthy. If the haves of the country decide to skip one meal in a week and donate the same to the poor and the have nots, we would move a step towards removing hunger and make a further step for inclusive growth. The minimalism can also be extended for water consumption. This requires implementation of effective methods also market pricing of water. The effective methods include drip irrigation in commercial agriculture and horticulture as also redesigning of taps and flushes for more economical water consumption. Even the ability to recycle water used for bathing and washing for usage in toilet flushes can reduce water consumption by 30 to 40 %. I have seen the island country of Male having effectively used this method for quite some time. A similar frugality can be brought in transportation. Providing walking friendly pavements as also cycle tracks to ensure safety of pedestrians and cyclists will not only save substantial foreign exchange in import of crude as also reduce vehicular pollution, it will build a healthy nation. How about frugality in power consumption. Usage of compact fluorescent bulbs in place of the traditional incandescent light bulbs will generate substantial power savings. Resetting the default air conditioning temperature at 25degree centrigrade instead of the standard 22 degree centrigrade will also effect further savings. The government can further encourage building of eco friendly houses and buildings as also usage of solar power for domestic and commercial usage.

With small changes in our life style we will save substantial amount of money, be more eco friendly as also stay healthier without sacrificing our life style. Countries like Holland demonstrate that development does not mean disturbance of ecology and doing away with healthy habits.