Sunday 28th May 2017

  • You need sales skills, even if you are not a salesperson!

    Very few parents say they want their kids to grow up to be a salesperson. Many MBA students say that sales is something they never want to do in their careers. And yet, sales is the most fundamental skill! Scott Edinger, the founder of Edinger Consulting Group and the author of The Hidden Leader, says that the resistance to sales stems from an "antiquated idea that selling is pushing people to buy something they don't want, don't need, or can't afford." But that notion is outdated. "Selling is moving somebody else to action," he says. And that is part and parcel of professional life. "If you look at things you do over the course of your day, from internal meetings with colleagues to client calls, almost all of your interactions involve some form of selling." Here's how to get better at it.

  • The internet and its path of industry disruption!

    What the internet has done is disrupt sectors where delivery of the product or service can be done online, either entirely or made more efficient through online channels. The sectors most disrupted include media, retail and now banking. Media was the easiest to disrupt as consumption of news, sports and entertainment online simply meant moving from newspapers and television to mobile phones and tablets. Because the gatekeepers of the internet (tech companies like Google & Facebook) kept content free (for rapid growth), and took away most of the advertising dollars, media companies are still struggling to find viable business models in this new world. Retail is getting disrupted in most developed markets as we speak. While the delivery of product is in the physical world, discovery was made more efficient online. Online continues to eat brick and mortar's lunch, but will reach a steady state, as 'touch and feel' and destination shopping (imagine Ikea) will remain important brick-and-mortar strengths and cannot be replicated online. Banking has a regulation moat, which will keep it going for some time. However, 'Fintech' promises not just lower costs (because of lower overheads), but also better service because of better use of data. As Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan says, "Silicon Valley is coming!"

  • There's a good reason why informal is the normal in India

    More than 90% of the workforce in India works as informal labour. That's a staggering figure. Despite its overwhelming contribution to the economy (50%) and employment, it is generally seen as parasitic with no contribution to tax income of the government and also because it is unregulated. These include the construction workers you see toiling on that new building coming up. It includes that street vendor making gulab jamuns and samosas in the evenings, and the auto-rickshaw driver who takes you home from work. While none of them pay tax to the government, they serve a need for customers like you and me. They also earn an income despite their low skills and education. We need these jobs, to keep our demographic dividend/timebomb employed and out of trouble. Informal has always been the normal in India and will remain so for decades to come.

  • We aren't built to live in the moment

    So apparently we aren't built to live in the moment! According to this NYTimes piece, what best distinguishes our human species is an ability that scientists are just beginning to appreciate: We contemplate the future. Our singular foresight created civilization and sustains society. It usually lifts our spirits, but it's also the source of most depression and anxiety. Behaviorists thought of animal learning as the ingraining of habit by repetition. Psychoanalysts believed that treating patients was a matter of unearthing and confronting the past. Even when cognitive psychology emerged, it focused on the past and present - on memory and perception. But it is increasingly clear that the mind is mainly drawn to the future, not driven by the past. Behavior, memory and perception can't be understood without appreciating the central role of prospection. We learn not by storing static records but by continually retouching memories and imagining future possibilities. More here

  • Drone safety - A Chinese approach and what Amazon is doing about it!

    Here's why drones are fascinating! They really are the "internet of flying things" (Chris Andersen). It's important to think less about the hardware and more about apps. The drone is primarily an empty vessel to fill with work to be done: taking photographs and video, scanning, moving objects, enabling communication, and collecting data. As drone applications increase, so does the need to ensure safety. An airport in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou announced Saturday that it uses new technology to control civilian drones and improve flight safety. The "electric fence" technology will cut signal connection between a drone and its remote controller when the unmanned aircraft is closer than 10 kilometers to the airport. The drone will not receive further flying signals and will return to its departure site the way it came. Meanwhile, Amazon has created a new research and development team near Paris, where about a dozen software engineers and developers will build a system aimed at ensuring flying delivery vehicles don't collide with buildings, trees, other drones and -- most unpredictable of all -- birds. Or, to use aviation industry jargon, "non-collaborative flying objects." More here

  • Khadi by Raymond – India’s First Branded Khadi Label

    From khadi being the ‘fabric of passion’ to being ushered as the ‘fabric of fashion’. That, in short, is the story of ‘Khadi by Raymond’, the country’s first branded khadi label which was launched with a fashion show held in a Mumbai hotel.

  • India's moment in the sun!

    Solar Power in India touched a new high last week with a historic low tariff of Rs 2.44 per kwH (for the Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan). This is important for various reasons. The tariff is lower than that of coal (which averages around Rs 3.20 per kwH). The viability of such a low rate (it was Rs 15 per unit just 4 years ago) depends on various factors - the plummeting cost of solar panels, lower financing costs and the government's policy support to increase use of solar in our energy mix. Intense competition between various Indian and international players was the primary reason for the low bid. While several issues remain - like the high cost of support infrastructure such as inverters, cables, batteries, as well as lack of adequate high voltage transmission lines and handling of intermittencies (solar is available only when the sun is up and storage is still expensive), with adequate demand, the eco-system will develop and solar's future looks bright!

  • Bill Gates has some advice for recent grads

    If you need help deciding a career, Bill Gates has some advice for you. "AI, energy, and biosciences are promising fields where you can make a huge impact. It's what I would do if starting out today.", he says. Also, for college grads and recent graduates, he has a book recommendation - "the most inspiring book I have read - The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker". Some reviewers have criticized the book as reductive, and say it glosses over whole swaths of human history. All the same, the book is Gates's way of telling young people that things can get better for humanity - a foundational belief of his philanthropic work - and encouraging them to work toward that improvement. More here

  • Saudi women are a captive market for Uber and Careem

    Barred from driving in a country with non-existent public transport, Saudi women are a profitable prospect for ride-hailing companies. Careem, a firm valued at $1bn that is based in Dubai and operates across the Middle East, north Africa and South Asia, set up shop in 2013. Uber followed in 2014. Both see the Saudi market as one of the most lucrative in the region. Around four-fifths of their respective customers are women. More here

  • A Few Unicorns Are No Substitute for a Competitive, Innovative Economy

    The world's unicorns, VC-backed startups worth more than $1 billion, have been getting a lot of press. At the moment, Google News lists about 16 million results for Uber and 7 million results for Snapchat. By contrast, there are fewer than 3.5 million stories about Walmart, 2.6 million about General Motors, and fewer than 700,000 focused on Exxon. Unicorns are to business journalists what Kim Kardashian is to Instagram users. As of November 2016, the market value of the world's 179 unicorns was estimated to be $646 billion. U.S.-based unicorns accounted for 56% of the total, with a combined market value of $353 billion. While that's a big number, it's less than 2% of the market value of the companies that make up the S&P 500 ($19.9 trillion). By this barometer, the unicorns are mostly irrelevant. More here

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