June 29, 2015 | By: Vidyanath Aarvi

The Five Drivers

     Once, I was talking to my colleague, in the context of that conversation he told me, "Vidyanath, good engineers are dime a dozen, but engineers with a good business understanding are very rare. If you want to move up in leadership roles, if you want to have an edge over others then sharpen your Business Acumen". That was the first time I heard the term "Business Acumen" and I had no idea what it meant. That evening out of curiosity, I landed on the all-knowing Google. I typed "what is business acumen" and this is what I learnt, "Business acumen is keen, fundamental, street-smart insight into how your business operates and makes money".

     I kept digging for some more and that is when I stumbled up on this book "What the CEO wants you to know" by Dr. Ram Charan. The beauty of this book is the simplicity. The author takes out all the complexity, the clutter and mystery out of the business and boils it down to five essential key drivers using which anybody can assess the overall condition of business, no matter how complex it is, or what type of business it is.

I would love to introduce you to those 5 key business drivers.

1. Cash: Harold Geneen said "The only unforgivable sin in business is to run out of cash". Cash is king, Cash is the oxygen supply of a company. Any business no matter what it is, needs cash to survive and drive. Cash flows in, when your customers pay for your goods and services. Cash flows out when you payout for all the expenses that you incur. You always want to make sure that the cash coming in is greater than that of cash going out.

     Now, you might ask me "Well, that is just common sense". let me tell you, Common sense is very Uncommon.

2. Profit Margin: Most of you already know what profit is? But let me briefly reiterate. Profit is simply what you make by selling your goods and services and what you incur in terms of cost to produce and sell those goods and services. If you are trying to improve your profit margin on a certain product or a good, you either want to increase the price or you want to cut down on the cost. If you want to improve your profit margin on your company, then you have to improve your sales and decrease your expenses. The key phrase to remember regarding profit is "Buy low, Sell high".

3. Assets: Assets include the machines, the people, the cash, the building, materials, everything and anything that you use to produce goods and services. The question that you need to ask regarding assets is "How fast and how hard can you make your assets work to make more money"? some of the examples to better utilize your assets is improving employee productivity, decreasing cycle time, reducing material scrap, improving machine run rate, utilizing the space available more effectively, etc.

4. Growth: In a world that grows every single day, no growth means lying behind. Every person, every company, every national economy must grow. But growth for its own sake is no good. Growth needs to be accompanied by sustainability and profitability. You need to grow in such a way that you can sustain it and it needs to bring in more cash and improve your profit margin.

5. Customers: the last and perhaps the most important key driver is the Customers. Alex McDougall once said, "In business, to get what you want, you have to give your customers what they want". So the important question here is "What exactly is your customer buying from you"? When a family goes out for eating, are the paying for the food? or they really paying for the fun family outing? Customers buy automobiles not just for transportation but also to make a status and prestige statement. People buy clothes for personal statement. What exactly is customer buying from you? What exactly, what really is their want or need? You need to be able to put your finger on it and deliver that every time and to every one of your customers. If you'll take care of your customers, they'll take care of you.

     In summary, I told about the five most important business drivers. Do you want to be a business savvy entrepreneur? Do you want to be a better leader? Do you want to move up the career ladder? If your answer is YES to any one of these questions, you need to master these basic building blocks of business and mind your own business.
December 17, 2014 | By: Vidyanath Aarvi

Perception- People only see what they are prepared to see !

                One of the most important skills that one should have to become successful in any profession "people skills-How to deal with people", a person may be a good artist, at the same time he/she may not be the most successful artist in the society. The best architect who has got all the brilliant ideas in the world may not emerge as the successful architect in the city. In any profession a skill which is very critical is people skill.

"Is it so difficult to deal with people?"

                I personally feel it is not that easy for lot of people because people think differently. I and you think differently in different ways. We see the same thing, and we may have two different perceptions. All those opinions what we form about anything are based on the perceptions we create in our mind.

"Why people have different perceptions?"

                For e.g., a married couple have been living together for the past 20 years and now wife says, "even after living with me for 20 years, still you can't understand me?" its a common statement in most of the houses. This happens because two different people always think in different ways, their perceptions are different, their thoughts are different, and the ways their thoughts are being generated are completely different.

"Why people think different?"

                For e.g., the color one may like, the place one may want to go and the food one may eat and others may not, because their thoughts are formed and brought out thru their brain. The point is, right from the birth of a person, his/her brain has been storing all the information. The brain uses that information to create perceptions on every situation. The kind of data stored in my brain and your brain will be completely different and it leads to the thoughts formed or the perceptions created or the paradigms will be different.

                Suppose a person is continuously being exposed to completely negative thoughts, for e.g. you cannot do this; I won't get a job; you will be failure in your life; etc. And there is another gentleman who is exposed to encouragement, for e.g. you have the capacity to do it; you will be successful; etc. As these two people come with two different kinds of mindsets, these two people will be responding in two different ways in any situation.

                The thing is how we can change the programming that has been done in brain. For the last few decades you must have been living on this earth and collecting all the suggestions or have been reading a lot of things, that are stored in your brain. Based on these inputs the brain forms the output. You cannot change it over night, but you can change it by using scientific methodologies like thought process re-engineering. in simple way you can do it by changing the inputs like what you read, what you see, what you listen and whom you listen to, what kind of people you associate with.

                That's why it is generally being said that "You tell me the kind of books you read, the kind of music you listen to, and the kind of associations you have, I can tell you who you are."
November 30, 2014 | By: Vidyanath Aarvi

Outer Beauty & Inner Beauty

          I want to throw some light on how society has conditioned us in believing beauty is all about physical appearance. I want to stress on the fact, how inner beauty is far more important than outer beauty and share some ways of how you can enhance your own inner beauty.

      As an example, I recall a story I read some time back. There was a notorious gangster living in a society. Obviously people thought he had a bad influence on the kids and they were fed up with the violence. So they set up a meeting and put a plan in place to drive him out of the community. One morning the gangster was going on his casual walk. Somebody came and stopped and said "Good Morning! What happened? Your face looks so dull". The gangster continued to move ahead thinking "Why do I look dull today?" now the second man joined him and he said "Oh! What happened, you look so sick and tired? You also seem to have lost some weight, you look very weak. Haven't you seen the doctor yet?" now the gangster is already feeling tired and his body temperature has slightly gone up. In his 1 mile walk, ten more people joined him and said the same things. And by the time he gets home, he has high temperature fever and he feels really sick. These people didn't stop at that. Every 30 mins, without fail visit him and tell all the things to him. Believe it or not, in the short period of 5 days, the gangster died.

         Now, all that it is a simple story that may or may not have happened. But this has a very strong psychological lesson in it. It clearly depicts the power of a message that is repeatedly bombarded on us. Regardless of the message that is true or not, it has the same effect. Now, let's draw some parallels about the society has done to us in the context of beauty. Over decades, the society thru television commercials, magazine ads, thru celebrities, models, they portray the image of beauty to us. An image that says "beauty means falling under a certain height and weight, beauty means having a six pack body, beauty means following latest fashions and trends" and it goes on. Especially woman, they are under enormous pressure to look young and beautiful. It makes me wonder just like the plan that the community put together against the gangster, is the plan that the society has put together to keep a woman worrying about her hair and makeup. In that way they don't strive to achieve bigger and better things in life.
While the external beauty goes with age, inner beauty grows with age. To grow old and die one day is the law of nature. There is not one single product or procedure to stop that. For my question "Why fight a battle, if we cannot win?"
Say if you are investing in something, what do you think? You think about return on investment right? If I put this much of time and money, what am I getting back in return? If I ask you "I have a great project, invest Rs.10000 in it today, and 5 yrs later, I'll come back and give you Rs.100, would you invest in it?" We should be smart enough not to invest something that is not going to appreciate in value with time.

     We all think the same way, then why this foolishness? Why make investments in external beauty that we all know for sure will fade away with time, and not in inner beauty that is going to increase with time. 
Now what are the some of the ways that we can enhance our inner beauty?  I want to share four important points
  1. Try to understand yourself, constantly develop qualities like compassion, kindness, generosity, patience, honesty and other noble qualities.
  2. Surround yourself with amazing people who inspire you and let you own inner beauty shine thru.
  3. Read excellent books that enrich and expand you thinking.
  4. Avoid negative thought and focus on the positive things.
        I am sure there are lots of things that you can do. But, if you can focus and daily practice and working on these four things, I am sure you are well on your way to let your inner beauty blossom.
       To summarize, remember outer beauty goes with age while inner beauty grows with age. I urge you to be smart in the investment that you make from today onwards and don't fall for the spooky tricks that the society and the media plays on you.

"For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others. For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness. For beautiful figure, share you food with the hungry and for poise, always walk with the knowledge that you are never alone."- Audrey Hepburn