Power to Shape the Future

Believe it or not you and I and everyone else has the power to shape the future. Not everyone is an inventor, a creator, the CEO of a leading tech firm, or the designer of the next big thing, but collectively we have the strength in numbers. We are consumers and with our purchasing power we can shape the future the way we want it to be. One person alone cannot shape the future, but collectively we can, by choosing what we buy, by voicing our opinions, by making sure our voices are heard.

Every time you purchase a product or service you are telling business what you want and what you do not want. Ultimately businesses will only create and maintain products and services that lead to a profit and to be fair that is the purpose of a business – to make profit. You might not have direct influence on how a business operates but you do have power to make businesses succumb to your will. Businesses need to make profit, profit comes from sales, sales come from consumers, you are a consumer, therefore businesses need you.

I’m not going to tell you what you should purchase and from whom, neither will I suggest how we should shape the future. That is not my job, at least that is not my job in this post. All I want to do is give you a chance to examine what you are purchasing, where the product or service is coming from, whether you agree or disagree with the product making process, whether or not the company’s operations, where the product is being made and by whom the product is being made and the product itself is in alignment with your own values and beliefs.

Every time you pay for a product or service, you are creating a demand for it. An increase in demand will inevitably lead to either an increase in price or an increase in supply. Ask yourself whether you would want the increase of this product in the market. Is the increase in supply good for the economy, the general public, your government and yourself.

There is certain class of consumers known as fanboys/fangirls who would purchase anything that a company makes just because they are loyal to that particular brand name without considering the possibility of other products or services at their disposal. I’m not telling or asking you to change this behaviour. All I am suggesting is to ask yourself this question:”Would it not be better to stay loyal to yourself, to your values, to your beliefs, to your vision of the future then to stay loyal to an identity that you have formed as the user of product X or the user of services Y”.

Does it really server anyone if you remain loyal to a brand and not the technology, the quality or the essence of that product or service? And if so who does it really serve?

Are there industries that you are part of simply by being a consumer creating demand by purchasing a product or services, but those industries do not conform with your own values? Are there products that you consume on a regular basis that cause more harm than good to you and others around you.

I urge you to examine the consequence of the act of purchasing.

Remember you have the power,…we have the power to shape our future. This idea is not a break through idea, it is a simple idea that we are all a part of on daily basis, but more often than not we tend to forget about it because we are living inside of it instead of looking into it.

 

What Should you write about?

Recently I was asked for some advice. This person said that they were always interested in writing, but never could really figure out what to write about. After following some of my blog posts, they asked me for some insight into how to decide what to write about, how to plan their writing, how often write, how to determine who the target audience is? etc…

First and foremost, I was flattered that someone asked me for advice on writing. I also felt some pressure to give appropriate answers to their questions. However, when it finally dawned upon, I realized that the real answer was very simple.

The question as to what you should write about is like the question “How Should I live my life?” The answer really isn’t that complicated. You just do. You just live. That is as simple as it gets and as complicated an answer as it gets, there is nothing more to it. Likewise, if you want to write, you should just write, there is nothing more to it.

You may ask, but don’t I need to know what to write about? Don’t I need to plan? Don’t I need to learn the different styles of writing? Don’t I need to be interesting? Don’t I need to know who I am writing for? Who is my target audience? What is my purpose for writing whatever it is that I am writing?

No… Don’t think about all that – Just write. In due time, you will discover the things that you are passionate about, in due time you will realize what your style of writing is, who your target audience is, who you want to write for, what message you want to send across the screen, or the glossy pages of a magazine, or whatever medium you choose.

The best way to learn anything is to start doing it.

How do you learn to ride a bike? How to you learn to swim. How do you learn to play a guitar? How do you learn to drive a car? Never mind that, how do you think you learnt to walk? Too often we ponder upon the result of our actions for too long and never actually see any result because we never really try to do that thing.

The biggest price that you pay for an action is the price of not taking it.

The Failed Salesman

Two weeks ago I was at a mall rushing to the store that I wanted to go to in the last 7 minutes before the mall shuts down. While zooming past those stalls that are laid like little lego bricks between the two parallel rows of stores that usually sell smaller priced accessories like cell phone cases, purses, no name brand sun glasses etc…I heard a call from one of those vendors. I don’t remember what the man said, but it caught my attention.

He begun his above average, metering towards impressive sales act which I am sure he had rehearsed many times before, but one that hardly seemed like a script. It seemed more like a natural or a well crafted script that seemed to be a pretty good recipe of passion for the product and an understanding of a fairly good enough technique of persuasion.

He was selling a portable wireless speaker small enough to fit in one’s pocket and one that used bluetooth to pair with a device like a phone or an IPod to stream live music.

wireless speaker

He demonstrated the features and sound quality in the next 2 to 3 minutes. He then said, “since it’s closing time, I’m going to give you a great deal. This usually sells for $80, but I’m going to make this a final sale for tonight and because I really want you to have this great product, I’m going to make it $40 just for you!”

big-sale

That’s fine, right? We have all heard something like this at some point in our lives. In my mind I started searching for ways in which I could use this product. I told him “Okay, I’ll buy it”

He started to pack the speaker that he was holding in his hand. I stopped and asked him if there were any other colors. I could see a yellow one and a black one behind the glass of his merchandise cart. He said “Yes” and then moved on to show me different colors, but I happened to like the color of the one that he used to do the little demonstration for me. He started packing it again. I asked him to give me a new pack, I then asked him about the “store’s” return policy, which turned out to be “No Refunds – Exchange only”, which is still fair, right?

But I thought, if that is the case, I want to make sure the speaker is working properly. That is when things started going downhill. He’s attitude changed from a person who was passionate about the product(or passionate about selling that product) to an attitude of someone who was being overly defensive.

He said, “Oh I cannot open the box for you. It is company policy”. My obvious argument was, “What if the speaker is defective”, to which he replied “But I can’t open it for you”.

When he saw that I had started to put my wallet back into my pocket, he said, “Okay, I’ll open it on for you”. But being a reasonably smart shopper I persuaded him to turn it on.

He hesitantly hooked up the speaker to the power source and a red light appeared on the speaker.

“See, it’s working”, he said with an expression on his face which I could only describe as “relieved”.

At this point, I had already gone from “hmmm…Interesting ..” to “hmm… something’s fishy”.

fishy

I then asked him to play some music on that speaker. He refused!

“It is working! You see this red light. It means it is working”

“It’s a speaker, not a lamp. How can I tell if the speaker is working properly without listening to the sound it produces”

He did not budge, and insisted that I buy the product, and started to scan the item. I stopped him, and said, “In that case, I don’t want to buy this” and I started walking away while thinking I probably need to check this brand online to see what kind of reviews it has and if there were any other alternatives.

From behind me, I heard the man say, “Wow… what a waste of time!”

What did you say?
What did you say?

I turned around and said, “What did you say?”

What happened next can only be described as a knock-out combo move of words in angry ninja style.

Ninja_fighting_poses_by_lordeeas

I told him what he did was wrong. I tried to explain to him, this what he did there was not good salesmanship. I could have easily gone home and come back the next day and bought that very product from him. But do you think I did that? No!

That person seemed like this guy:

Business Handshake

And when the sale didn’t go through, turned into this guy:

polls_angry_man_3315_176592_answer_1_xlarge

Which just led me to conclude that he was this guy all along:

used-car-salesman

 

A truly remarkable salesman is not necessarily one who closes the most deals – that viewpoint can only get you to a B+, or maybe an A if they’re lucky, but never A+. I suggest you try this: If you are planning on buying a product or service that requires you to have a long term relationship with the person selling that product or service, test them. Ask the hard questions, get close to a deal, then back off, and tell them you need some time to think about it. Watch their reaction, because there is nothing worse for a salesperson then when the customer walks away just before closing the deal. Doing this will test their patience and their commitment towards you.

I'm back

I have had clients get so close to a deal and then walk away only to return after weeks or even months to start the project with a bang! The most memorable case was one in which the hiring manager of a company phoned me asking for another meeting to finally start a project that they were planning for a very long time. The strange thing was, I had forgotten all about this project. The client had come back to me after a year and a half! They were just not ready to take on the project when we had our first discussion. That client is still with my company and has even brought in numerous others!

 

The 80/20 Rule

Today, I revisited the 80/20 rule. The first time I came across the concept of 80/20 was around 2 to 3 years ago. I was exiting a library when I noticed amongst a pile of other books, a blue book with 80/20 written on its cover with big white fonts. For some very odd reason it really caught my attention. I had not heard about the concept before. I could not take the book because it was still in the process of getting checked in, so I took a picture of it on my phone. Some days later I went and got the book. I skimmed through and it I was amazed at the simplicity of this rule. I don't know why it's there but it's there and I like simple things that work, even if it is an approximation.

At the time when I was first introduced to this principle I did notice things in my own business and in my life in general and I thought, "Oh this is pretty cool". I even remember talking about it with a few friends and business associates. After some time I forgot about it.

Today I downloaded The Philosopher's Notes Volume 1, which by the way is amazing I think. It is basically Cliff Notes or Coles Notes for the top 100 personal growth books. This in itself is 80/20 at it's best. I skimmed through a few books and all the big ideas are condensed into 6 pages, which is amazing! The first book or note I read was on The 80/20 principle.

The principle states, quite simply, that 20% of efforts lead to 80% of results. This is everywhere. Let me give you a few examples. According to the 80/20 principle, 80% of your income in business comes from 20% of your clients, 80% of your time gets spent on 20% of your tasks or the 20% of the people that you know. 20% of your products or services yields 80% of the profit. At the same time 80% of your cost also come from 20% of the total number of expenses, 80% of your time spent on debugging is spent on 20% of bugs, 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of the criminals, 20% of roads get 80% of the traffic and I could basically go on and on about this.

So what does this all imply? Assuming the 80/20 principle holds, to make more profit, be more effective and efficient and to be generally more happy in life, you should focus your energy on the top 20% of everything that yields 80% of the good stuff. Focus on the top 20% of your products, 20% of your clients, do the top 20% of the things that make you happy, spend more time with the top 20% of the people that give you more joy and happiness. Also you may want to fire the 20% of your clients that give you the 80% of the headaches, reduce or stop production on the 20% of the products and services that results in 80% of the waste, and etc…

Of course I'm not suggesting a mechanical trimming of the 20% of things and people that give you 80% of the trouble and solely focusing on the 20% that gives you the good stuff. I wish life was really that simple. You do need to study and make decisions on a case by case basis, but this 80/20 is a fast way to have a short cut analysis of business and life in general.

Take out your notebook(I mean the one with a screen and keyboard) and jot down 80/20s in your personal, business or work life.

Ever Tried Googling Yourself?

Have you ever tried Googling yourself? Were you surprised? Was it a good surprise? Was it the worst thing you did all day when you first googled yourself? Or are you one of those who google themself all the time? Or is your name not even on google?

For me, showing up on google is 80% of my marketing whether it is for business reasons or personal. Today when I googled myself, I found that there were other Kapil Busaras who were sharing the first page on Google. I am the face of my company. Most of the time my business depends on my name. My clients have found their way to me to GIVE me business from googling me.

Why have I put so much emphasis on my name up until now? Because the world we live in is very dynamic and is ever changing. I started off as a software developer, then as  Performance Test Engineering, later I became a free lance  web develper, and when that was going well, I founded Okinara Consulting Services. Although when the company was formed it's core business was focused on web development, the name that was chosen did not indicate that it was strictly a web development company. I knew I wanted to expand into other areas. Today Okinara does so much more than web development, we design Logos, flyers, brochures, create strategic solutions to social media marketing, and we will soon be launching a new product.

Tomorrow I may wish to start another business or get into a different industry. If it is a brand new company, people may not know about it, however people who know me as Kapil Bulsara, will know me even if it is a new company, and building on my previous successes I can relatively easily transition into a new field of work or business.

Some of you may not have the luxury of owning a domain name that is your personal name because it might already be taken, and even if you do have that domain name, you may be plagued by having to share the Google spotlight with other people who have the same name as you, which I am currently facing.

For that reason it is important to expose yourself more with the use of social media sites. Everyone has a Facebook account, and If you don't, stop everything at once, including reading this article and create an account NOW!. Once you have a Facebook account, what you should do is create a facebook username which gives you a public facebook page, but don't worry your personal stuff like your wall and photos because it will not be visible to the public, unless you chose to. For e.g. this is mine: http://www.facebook.com/kapil.bulsara. It is not very professional you might think. It does not have to be. Everyone knows you have a life outside of work.

Another think you need to do is get a linkedin account. If you don't already know, LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site. Here is my page http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/kapil-bulsara/31/4a8/821.

You also need to get a twitter account. Here is my twitter page http://twitter.com/kapilbulsara. The common thing I hear about twitter is that they don't like that it is all open to public. Well you don't need to post personal details on twitter. I use twitter to share some semi-personal stuff and also tweet about my business or just general information that will be useful for the average citizen of the Internet.

All this creates exposure and awareness of who you are. If you haven't noticed this is not new, this is the norm now. You absolutely MUST have an online presence. Traditional networking still exists and can't really be replaced, but you cannot neglect social networking. A lot of your success depends on who you know!

 

Project Management Tools – PHProjekt Vs SugarCRM Vs Dolibarr

Has anyone ever a difficult time organizing their meetings, leads, prospect clients, current customer issues, projects and TODOs. I know I have. I am pretty organized, but still I want and need a centralized system from where I can track everything, something that quickly gives me an overall picture. Currently I use text documents, spread sheets, gmail, google calendar and my memory to accomplish this.

I have thought about getting  a CRM system or a Project Management Software to help me with my getting more organized and efficient. Just yesterday I seriously started doing a lot of research and testing things out. I was looking for a LAMP based web application that handles project management and CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Although I’m a proud owner of by business, I’m still pretty much regarded as a freelancer as opposed to an entrepreneur. I need something simple that gets the work done.

I narrowed it down to these 3:

  1. SugarCRM
  2. Dolibarr
  3. PHProjekt

Now I’m really confused as to which one I should use.

These are some of the things that I need.

  • Ability to have customer accounts related to projects
  • Add and schedule different tasks inside a project
  • Time tracking for each task and summary of time spent on each project
  • ability to calculate ROI (not a must but good to have)
  • Keep customer related info such as project history, internal notes as to what kind of sales strategy is working with this customer, project proposals, services they are currently using from me etc…
  • Keep track of work that I outsource
  • Controllable access to let contractors check and update their tasks, and have clients update and check project issues and progress

Any help in deciding what I should be using is very much welcomed. Please leave a comment or contact me from my contact page. Thanks

Intuition and Instinct are the New Tools of the Excessive Information Age

It has been quite some time since we’ve been living in the information age. We have already quite matured in the web 2.0 and online social network age. I’m sure you’ve heard so many times that we are just bombarded with information from everywhere. I call it the “excessive information age”. All of us are now more than ever so easily influenced by everything and everyone around us from all sorts of social media, and at the same time we are getting confused by all this noise.

It is almost inevitable that we will have to evolve. We are pushing limits of our social and logical cognition. If you really think about it, the situation almost requires quick judgement and adaptation. Stability almost seems nowhere to be seen, and for thousands of years in our evolution, stability is the one thing that we have experienced and adapted to. Our environment(by this I mean our day-to-day activities, by which I mean interaction online and interaction with computers in general) is changing at such a rapid pace that our minds are getting pushed to this quick form of adaptation. Cultures all around the world seem to be blending too. So what we learned while growing up might not necessarily be very useful when interacting when we start encountering people from different races and cultures around the globe. But we are learning and evolving now more or less a single unit.

What does all this mean. Well if you go to the theory of evolution and natural selection, this is what I think is bound to happen. Success in this time and age depends on quick, rapid yet correct action. You can either make it or break it in a few actions, sometimes in a matter of weeks, and crazily sometimes even in a matter of days.

What is needed in this age is not a 1000 hours of research to make a decision, as some people do when chosing a product, a service, a house, or a job. What is required in this age of excessive information is intuition and instinct to make a correct judgement and to be able to do it quick AND TAKE ACTION, at the same time being aware of  the risk of burning out too quickly. We are seeing instant successes – it no longer takes decades to reach a level that most people dream about, it takes a few years and sometimes just a few months, or in some extreme cases just a day, or well… just a single video of less than 5 minutes on this thing called ‘YouTube'(I’m sure you’ve heard of it)

I don’t see all of this as luck. I see all of this as evolution. People who might seem like they don’t have the slightest clue about what they are doing are becoming instant success. It is my belief (and please don’t sue me for this) that these people are instinctively driven to behave in a certain way, or to act a certain way.These individuals who posses this instincts to act in a quick and correct way will become successful, and to some ‘intelligent’ hard working people this may seem very scarey, because you no longer need to get a degree, or a Phd to get ahead in life(actually who am I kidding, that never was the case anyway).

What am I saying here? I’m saying, natural selection will take place because conditions have changed and the rules that applied in the past for success (and ultimately survival) don’t apply now. With these changes in the conditions in our ‘environment’ natural selection will pick out the new winners, who are instinctively driven by and towards quick correct actions.

 

Business Bottom Line – Getting out of a Financial Crisis

What is that one thing that will have the largest impact in your business. That one thing that will have the largest impact on your profit and that one thing that will get you out of a financial crisis?

Why am I so concerned about profits and money making. Well that is THE reason why businesses exists – to make profit. Sure, ideologically businesses are there to provide services, products and serve its customers. But how many businesses do you see in existence that provide all kinds of great products and service and make their customers happy and do not make any profit? The real answer is NONE!

If you are thinking that there some companies who provide great products and services but aren’t making profits, then its either a temporary situation that the business is in, or if they maintain this trend, they will soon go out of business. If however, it is neither of the cases then that business is,..well…out of business already.

Profit is the juice, the fuel, the gas, the food, the energy, the chi, the life force that keeps businesses operating. The book definition of profit is Income minus expenses, and to maintain a positive profit(i.e. NOT loss), which is also something that we are actually interested in, you need to have income more than expenses.

So what is that one thing that has the largest impact on profits? The answer is SALES, SALES, SALES and more SALES.

Let’s face it, you can reduce your expenses as much as possible, streamline the crap out of your business, but if you are falling short on SELLING, then you are in trouble. The only way to get your business out of a financial crisis, is to sell yourself out of one – and that is the bottom line!




Learning from Success

I haven’t really found it a very useful strategy to learn from your failures. Every time I realize that I have made a mistake or that I have really failed at something and decide that this is the particular lesson I have learned from it, I really don’t really seem to learn a lot or that it really doesn’t help me a lot. I have only learned how not to fail again, but haven’t really learned how to succeed in that particular situation. I mean, really think about it. Do you really want to know all the ways of how not to fail, or would you rather learn a few techniques that help you succeed and master it?

For the past one year I have been reading, listening and watching a lot of self help, or self development material. My understanding of peak performance, about different tools and strategies to achieve your goals, how to set your goals and how to determine what I really want in life has expanded to an extent to which I can safely say I can write a book now from what I have learned and from my own way of thinking. And for some reason there always seems to be something lacking. It helps me a little, but then sometimes(not always) I fall in to the same rut; into the same old habits.

Just two days ago I was thinking about all my successes in the past. Actually I have done that a lot of the times in the past. I think about all my successful moments in life and keep wandering, what was it really that made the difference. It has been many months, and for some situations I can even say it has been years since I started inquiring about what it really was that made the difference. There have been times when success seemed so easy to attain. Two days ago I made some very key distinctions that resulted in my quick and easy success.

  1. I knew exactly what I wanted and believed without a doubt that I could achieve it. Failure not only was not an option, it just didn’t exist in my mine; I could not even imagine what failure in those instances would be like.
  2. I just did it! I did not plan, or think, or ponder, or come up with a strategy.
  3. It was fun, enjoyable and exciting. No matter how difficult it would have seemed from a third person view point, I did not see it as work. It was so much just natural.
  4. I was focused on the end result, and every step I took was in the direction of what I wanted, and every step that took me away from it was quickly eliminated.
  5. I did not look at temporary set backs as failure. I took it as, since this doesn’t work, the set of possible guesses was getting smaller and I was getting closer to success.
  6. Once I believed I had succeeded, I tested it! And started using what I learned from it.

According to me, these are my key 6 steps that I have used unconsciously to succeed. What is or was your success strategy? I’m sure everyone has their own strategy; their own algorithm of success. Scrap out the old belief that you have to fail many times to succeed. Before I knew this idiotic concept of learning by failure, I was actually successful in a lot of things that I did. When I started learning from failure, I was actually failing more and succeeding less. You know what they say, “I was born smart, education made me stupid”.

#CIRA 2010

I attended the annual CIRA(Canadian Internet Registration Authority) annual general meeting. There were two brilliant keynote speakers Terry O’Reilly – radio host of CBC’s O’Reilly and The Age of Persuasion, Mitch Joel – Social Media expert and author of Six Pixels of Separation. There was a panel of “Architects of the Internet”, which had some of the most brilliant and pioneers in the field and they discussed the origins and the future of the Internet.

Paul Vixie – Internet Systems Consortium(ISC). He is the primary author of BINDv8, has been contributing to Internet protocols and UNIX systems since the 1980s. He has developed tools like, sends, rtty, cron etc…

John Demco – Webnames.ca. John is basically the God Father of “.ca”. He helped create the .CA domain in 1987 and was its initial registrar, and chairing the CA Domain Committee until 2000. He has also been responsible for chairing and managing a number of academic and research networks.

Chris O’Neil – Google Canada. Chris leads Google’s operations in Canada as Country Director for Google Canada. He is focused on building Google’s brand and driving innovation to help fuel growth for Canadian Business.

Byron Holland – President and CEO of CIRA.