Sunday, June 23, 2013

Many years back Samsung used to make pathetic cell phones, often considered B grade stuff. Once it so happened that Samsung's Chairman gifted 2000 phones to his employees/friends and all turned to have some deep technical faults! Miffed and angry chairman Lee collected all cell phones, piled them on a pavement outside Samsung's office and set them on fire! Even the left over parts were completely destroyed by moving bulldozers over them!

And then turning to his employees he said that he had completely destroyed the past and is now committed to creating a whole new range of innovative cell phones

It was a defining moment in the history of Samsung and it has not looked back ever since...

Sometimes, we need to destroy our mediocre past to create a BRIGHT NEW FUTURE!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lateral Thinking !

In a certain tooth-paste manufacturing company, the senior executives had once assembled and were brainstorming on different ways by which they could increase the sales of their tooth-paste tubes.

Many expensive suggestions like 'hiring a celebrity to promote the brand' or 'offering cash and other incentives to retail sellers' came up. For many hours the meeting went on without reaching any viable conclusion.

Somewhere within the meeting, a junior, not-so-important employee came up with a unique idea. His idea was powerful enough to increase sales without investing heavily. He suggested that the 'mouth of the tooth-paste tube be widened to double its current size'. He justified that whenever the consumer would squeeze the tube, more tooth-paste would flow out from the tube, which would exhaust it faster and compel the user for a quicker re-purchase. Thus, the product would start moving faster !

Initially, some senior scoffed at the idea thinking it was too immature, but later they realized that it was actually a brilliant suggestion ! The company went ahead and executed it,...and lo, its sales did increase substantially !

Traditionally, when we think of ways to increase market share, we focus on cliche ways like advertising, promotion, incentives, but sometimes a seemingly trivial, 'out of the box' suggestion can produce rave results !

What an idea !

Monday, March 22, 2010

Think out of the box !

This incident relates back to the Wills (Cricket) World Cup of 1996.
Both Pepsi and Coke were struggling hard to increase their market share in the Indian sub-continent.

The ICC approached them with an offer that one of them would get a chance to be the 'Official Drinks Partner' of the World Cup.

Both Coke and Pepsi started bidding hard to acquire the title of the 'Official Drinks Partner'. The bidding initially started with low amounts but slowly reached alarmingly high levels. Coke and Pepsi were aggressively bidding to oust each other and get the title of the 'Official Drinks Partner'

However, during a certain point of the bidding, Pepsi suddenly backed out and coke got the contract after paying a hefty amount.

The coke team was jubilant and started advertising themselves as the "Official drinks partner"

Pepsi, on the other hand, came up with a revolutionary advertising campaign. Whatever money they had saved by backing out of the auction, they pumped in behind promoting their new slogan "Pepsi - Nothing official about it ! Aha !!'

In the advertisement Pepsi showed "office" as something very boring, habitual and routine. Whatever was "official" was very cliche. On the other hand, not being official meant being very cool and trendy !

Pepsi's jingle went very well with the urban youngsters.

By making clever use of a differentiated approach, Pepsi took clear advantage of a lost contract !

Sometimes, thinking out of the box really helps !

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Think Big to Grow Big !

When legendary billionaire Dhirubhai Ambani first came to Mumbai, he just had Rs. 50,000 with him. However, he had big dreams to make it to the top echelons of the corporate world. Within 40 years he managed to achieve a market cap of 65,000 crore Rupees !

There is a very interesting story from his early days in Mumbai...

During his evening walks, he would often go to the Taj hotel for a cup of coffee. In those days, a cup of coffee in the Taj would cost 65 bucks...a luxury which only the rich and famous could afford. Whilst Dhirubhai's peers and colleagues preferred drinking coffee at the roadside stalls for 5 bucks and save money Dhirubhai often sat in the Taj gallery to enjoy the expensive coffee at a premium price.

"You are crazy," one of Dhirubhai's friends once told him. "Why waste 65 bucks behind a cup of coffee in the Taj when you can easily get it for less than 5 bucks on the road ?"

To this, Dhirubhai replied, "I am paying 5 bucks for the coffee and another 60 bucks because the Taj gives me an opportunity to connect with the city's most influential people ! Its not about the coffee; its about acquainting myself and developing relationships with the people who really count !"

This was how Dhirubhai always thought !
Whilst his colleagues and peers preferred to save money by compromising, Dhirubhai always spent money behind everything that would help him grow Big !

He always believed that business can often be achieved by knowing the right people in the right place. And it always helped having friends in positions that really count !

Like Robert Kiyosaki once said, "Poor people work, Rich people network !"

Saturday, July 12, 2008


In his bestselling work ‘The Art Of War’, author Sun Tzu describes the story of a Chinese Military General. In a particular battle when the General realized that the enemy’s army was stronger than his…he advised all his boats (in which they had arrived) to be burnt up. And then turning towards his soldiers, he said , “The boats in which we arrived was our only hope of going back. Now I have burnt them…so there is no possible way of going back home. The only option we have is to win this war and capture the enemy’s fleet to go back. However, we are hugely outnumbered and so we will have to put up our best fight….”

To cut a long story short….
Realizing that they ‘HAD TO DEFEAT’ the enemy, the Chinese military fought with such agility and courage that the alien enemy was completely crushed !

On any other day, they would have put up an average performance. But having realized that this was a ‘must do’ situation they fought with extraordinary zeal and bravery.

By ‘burning the escape boats’, the general ensured that his small group of men was able to defeat a big army.

In general life, we have a tendency to create a ‘back up’ for everything. We convince ourselves that we will resort to a back up only if need arises. Their original plan is GAME A and we are using GAME B only as a back up. But if you observe carefully, more often than not we all end up playing GAME B.

‘The cushion of a back-up leads to lethargy and laziness”

If you observe human history, you will find that some civilizations flourished and ruled whist others just dragged themselves in poverty. Observe closely and you will realize that all civilizations that flourished with affluence did so after a post war period. Whenever war destroyed their resources, they bounced back with double strength.
Technically it sounds awkward…
War is supposed to destroy you…not bless you with abundance.
But the truth is exactly the opposite, ‘destruction leads to success’
Let me illustrate…

After the First World War, Germany and Italy were completely crushed. The Allied nations imposed the destructive ‘Treaty of Versailles’ to ensure that Germany and Italy never became powerful again. But they were completely mistaken. In just ten years both Germany and Italy achieved the highest level of military and technological development ! Germany became so powerful that it conquered half of Europe ! The world was shocked to see the growth they achieved !
After the Second World War, 8 countries of the world were completely destroyed. But in less than a decade these 8 countries rose up to become the most powerful in the world ! (UK, USA, Germany, France, Italy, USSR, Japan, Spain)
From the very bottom to the top of the world in just 10 years !
And other countries remained ‘staus quo’.

Japan, which suffered the ‘highest destruction’ became the world’s greatest technological and economic superpower !

Often, there seems to be some direct relationship at work. ‘Greater the destruction, higher the success !’

During the same time, the Jewish community was virtually annihilated by Nazi. Six million Jews were killed. But the remaining Jews achieved such marvelous success that till a few years back the Jews had won 40 % of the Nobel Prizes. Just a very small community…forming just 0.22 percent of the World population and still winning 40 % Nobel Prizes till a few years after the World War (the current figure is 25%)
Today, Jews are the richest people in the World and have the highest share in the success of USA.

Even in India if you observe, the communities which were totally bankrupt at one point of time have achieved the highest success today. The Marwaris (from the deserts of Marwar), The Sindhis (who had to leave Pakistan without any assets) and the Gujaratis/Kutchis (who came to Mumbai without any money or support) are the richest communities in India today.

Take a list of India’s 500 Richest people…you will find 150 Marwaris, 150 Gujaratis, and 50 Sindhi-Punjabis.

Years ago the Parsis were cornered in Iran by invaders and had to leave Persia. They came to India without any money or assets. But within a few years they achieved unbelievable success. At a point of time, 4 of the 8 richest families in India were Parsis (The Tatas, The Godrejs, The Wadias and Shaporji Pallonji Builders).
Just a very small population, not even 60,000 Parsis in India and yet 4 amidst the top 8.

This is the significance of being cornered….
When Man is cornered….his survival instinct takes over and in the process of combatting challenges is able to actualize his deepest potentials.

This is precisely the people who demand reservations and allocations do not understand. By creating ‘safety cushion’s they are hampering the financial and overall growth of their community.

When a certain American President was young, he used to loiter with his friends in the fields of Texas. Once whilst walking with a friend, he came across a tall brick wall. The young lads decided to climb the wall and go the other side. But the boys were too small and the wall too big. After a few attempts, the young President gave up. He was walking back when his friend suddenly removed the young president’s hat and tossed it on the other side of the wall. The young President was shocked and screamed at his friend. But the friend replied back, “It is now confirmed that somehow you will go to the other side of the wall. Now your HAT is at stake and so I am sure you will go there for it.”
And, to cut a long story short, the president somehow managed to climb the wall and get back his hat.
Years later, he wrote in his Autobiography that his young friend taught him an important lesson on Success :
'When something is at stake in the future, we are powerfully propelled to action in the present. So to be powerfully propelled to action in the present, put something at stake in the future !'

Saturday, May 17, 2008


An e-mail service provider like MSN or Yahoo has a big WELCOME message on its home page asking you to register for its e-mail services. The welcome link displays all the benefits of creating an account on their site and makes every possible attempt to ensure that you join their services. Basically they seduce you to create an email account.
Google tried a completely opposite strategy with GMAIL. When GMAIL was launched, it allowed a few initial users to create accounts and then put up a big notice on its website which ran something like this:
Potential customers who were willing to create an account found it difficult to register as there was no link available on the home page. The google message created a sense of yearning amongst people. It projected itself something like this :
‘GMAIL is an exclusive domain……it is a privilege to be a part of it….sorry….we don't need you….if you want to join the amazing facilities that we offer……..then you go and beg your friend to send you an invite….if he agrees….only then can you come in..!’
This whole game made ‘entry to gmail’ a very prestigious thing which you could only get if your friends considered you special. And each friend had limited number of invites making the access all the more difficult…..
GOOGLE was showing attitude....because it knew….'people lose interest in something that is easily available….but they crave to get something most difficult/challenging to achieve’
Within a few days the whole concept of GMAIL acquired a CULT status…..friends inviting friends inviting friends and so on….
Across schools, college campuses, coffee table conversations, office desks etc. people were talking about ‘GMAIL INVITES’. Those who got entry thought that had struck gold and started inviting other friends…. (Aah..the joy of inviting somebody...makes you feel as if you are the host and the party belongs to you !)
I call it the ‘FORBIDDEN FRUIT ATTRACTION’ concept…..remember Adam and Eve were attracted to the APPLE in the GARDEN OF EDEN just because they were specifically denied the right to eat it !
Of the hundreds of fruits in the garden of Eden, the one that was forbidden stirred the highest desire…even though they were aware that a punishment was in store if it was consumed !
Initially enrollments were slow but combined with the other services that GMAIL offers, enrollments multiplied massively over a period of time. Within weeks of its launch, MSN and Yahoo were seriously threatened by GMAIL's meteoric rise.
Traditionally marketing students are taught to attract customers by being nice and co-operative....but google played a totally opposite strategy that produced rave results…!
What a powerful idea !