July 30, 2013

The Work-Life Juggle: Which Ball can You Afford to Drop?

From Source of Insight:
In his 30 second speech on work-life balance, Brian Dyson (CEO of Coca Cola) gives us a powerful metaphor for thinking about what bounces back, and what does not:

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the Air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.

But the other four Balls - Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.”

Aside from the rubber ball metaphor, the take away he gives us is … work efficiently during office hours and leave on time.  Give the required time to your family, friends, and have a proper rest.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

Dealing with Customer Complaints

Dave Kerpen of Likeable Local has a great article in Inc.

1.  If you take it, you own it.No matter the seniority, the person at your company who takes a complaint is fully responsible for following it through to a resolution. Don't pass the buck. Make sure it gets fully resolved.

2. Act quickly.
Here is your chance for the company to shine. Look at the complaint as a gift, a moment to show off the brand--that is, the part of it that makes people satisfied, not the part that messes up sometimes.

3. Validate.
Let customers know--in the immortal words of Bill Clinton--that you feel their pain. Let them know that you empathize with what they are going through. Say, "I understand how upset you must feel." Who can argue with that? This will work for you even when you've done nothing wrong. You are not necessarily agreeing with the customer or apologizing, when you say it. You're just walking in his shoes.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

July 18, 2013

The Power of "Next" in Dealing with Highs & Lows

Smart CEO has an
article by Adam Leipzig where he describes how Disney and Dreamworks executive Jeffrey Katzenberg handles his team's successes and failures. The Monday after the big box office opening of the movie "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids":
We were all full of laughter, high-fiving each other and passing around compliments when Jeffrey strode in. He took his customary seat at the head of the long table and looked around the room. “Congratulations,” he said, simply. Then, with barely a pause he said, “Next.”Next? That wasn’t what we wanted to hear. We wanted to hear praise for the next hour! But no, it was back to business. I thought I understood the meaning of “Next” that morning: we shouldn’t focus on our success or we’ll become complacent and self-congratulatory. But there was a deeper meaning, and I didn’t learn it until months later. We assembled for another Monday morning meeting, this time after we had opened a movie called An Innocent Man....But the movie didn’t attract enough audience, and over the weekend we knew it would be a financial failure. By Monday morning, we were glum and depressed. Jeffrey entered right on time, as usual, at eight o’clock, and settled into his place. The room went still. He surveyed our stolid faces. “Next,” he said, then turned to his notes for the morning’s agenda. We breathed a sigh of relief, because we’d expected to get chewed out. But we weren’t. No one had done anything wrong with the movie – the creative team had made it well, the marketing campaign sold its message, and the distribution group had booked the right theatres. The audience simply wasn’t interested and, in a risky business like show business, that comes with the territory. What did we do in the face of defeat? We simply moved on.
Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

July 06, 2013

Leadership Lessons from Dhoni Bhai

In an article for Economic Times, K Sudarshan of executive search firm of EMA Partners International draws out some lessons from the "Mr.Cool" of Cricket, Indian Captain M.S.Dhoni.
4. Managing success: Dhoni dealt with his early success with a lot of maturity with his feet firmly on the ground, which eventually led to his elevation. It requires a great degree of level headedness and humility to handle fame and money at an early age. In a corporate context, early success need not lead to brash behaviour towards colleagues and customers. We have seen that, at times, young managers who see success early lose their balance and face early career burnouts.
5. Managing pressure: Ability to stay calm and keep his cool with a seemingly uncluttered mind is Dhoni's greatest gift as a leader. This soothes the nerves of the rest of the team and ensures that they stay focused and continue to believe in themselves. Dhoni is a lesson for all leaders in terms of their ability to manage extremely stressful work environments. Managing periods of high stress without losing your composure is the key to long-term success and good health.

6. Focus: Dhoni has immense ability to insulate himself from the surrounding environment and continue to focus on the job. The current Champions Trophy campaign is a case in point in the wake of the IPL controversy. In a corporate context, it is vital for managers to stay positive and focus on the task at hand and avoid distractions and negative energies in play at the workplace...

8. Managing failure:
After the heady success of the World Cup 2011, it was just downhill for Dhoni and his team. After a string of embarrassing losses, it required great character and attitude to bounce back. He did this in style and answered all his critics with the sheer weight of his performance once again. At the workplace, failure has to be dealt with the same fashion as success and one has to continue to be focused on the job at hand.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

July 05, 2013

"Never promote an employee for performance; promote only if there is potential"

Lovely column by Devdutt Pattanaik in Economic Times with examples from Mythology - Ram and Bharat (humans) vs Vali and Sugriv (monkeys) vs Ravan and Kuber (Demons) - in answer to a question from CEO on succession planning. (Emphasis mine.)
A yajaman is proactive in decision-making and responsible for its consequences. Did your CMO do what he was told to do or was he taking independent decisions and responsibility? Did your CFO just do his job, but go out of his way to take decision and take responsibility, not just for success but also failure? Most critically, did you see any one of them groom people to take their respective job. If they don't help people grow, if they don't think beyond their domains, if they are unable to think future and take risks, they are probably not good to be leaders.

To be a yajaman, one has to take people along. Who amongst the two tries to take people along? This does not mean consensus all the time. Sometimes it requires force, a little pushing and pulling. Who can handle the consequence of losing the other? Who can find a replacement quickly enough? Who is capable of retaining the other?

You need to list all the things that you feel you did to be a good CEO and map if these qualities exist in some measure in either of the candidates. You need to check if either of them empathizes with the organization and understands the market and can handle change that even you cannot anticipate today. The CEO position cannot be a reward for a job well done. You never promote for performance; you always promote only if there is potential.

  Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.