5 Chargers to Boost Your Content Management Strategy

5 Chargers to Boost Your Content Management Strategy

I conducted a small quiz on my social media accounts of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to know which class of media, people trust more to know about their preferred product or services: Online/Social media or Mainstream media. According to my estimate, after all the sharing, re-sharing, tags and getting it shared by friends etc. for a week, this quiz got around 2000 views (Twitter and LinkedIn shares the statistics of  post views. For Facebook, an estimate has been made taking comments, votes and Likes resulting in possible reach to my friends in my network and friend’s friends in their network, into consideration).

Total responses minus ‘Likes’, ‘Share’, ‘Favorite’, ‘Retweets’ from all the platforms stood at 34, which is 1.7% of the total views. While 28 persons voted directly on the quiz, 6 chose to privately respond on Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn Messenger and Twitter Direct Message, because they didn’t find the options they wanted to choose in the quiz I had posted. I shall share the inference of quiz in terms of effectiveness of class of media in some other blog; here I will talk about ratio of views to response.

There were few things missing in that post, which led to not a good response by my target audience. There are few more things which play a key role in audience engagement through content. Let’s dive straightaway in to some of them:

  • Authority: Though I used to work in the field of e-commerce and inbound marketing till few years back, but I went off the grid for good three years. During this period, on Facebook and Twitter, I was mostly sharing my political views, thoughts emanating out of my personal life experiences and some useful informations published by some business magazines. On LinkedIn, there were hardly any interactions during this period except sending few invites to stay socially alive.

It means my authority to ask or give an opinion from or to my network on this type of content has been eroded due to inconsistency in communication about me. It looked like a one off event than a regular meaningful one. People prefer to pay attention to hear from someone who has an authority on the intended subject.

  • Consistency in communication about self: Whether someone writing under his name or pseudonym, a consistency in communication about self is very much important. Topics chosen to write about acts as communication about self, if someone is trying to reach out to his audience through written words. If someone chooses to reach his audience through spoken words, then other things like voice modulation, postures and gestures, appearance, facial expressions etc. will also matter. It will lead people to know where to go to seek the answer of their questions. Repetition lays out the print of your brand road map on your target audiences mind.
  • Freshness of Content: Question which I asked has been asked many a times before by many organizations whether they are involved in Marcom or product or services marketing. Social media platforms also keep asking questions on the similar lines to get the user feedback and make their offering more engaging to their users.

There was no freshness in my content. If someone ‘has been there and done that’, then what is there for him to chip in and give his valuable time. One may not have new idea to write about all the time, but an old idea can be written about in new style, in a fresh format to engage the target audience. I could’ve done it better, might have added something more, innovative and engaging, but I didn’t do and that’s why, the response was according to my effort. It is a long drawn process but worth acting upon.    

  • Adding Value: You have to add value to someone’s life to seek value for your life from them. It is all about doing to good to others; good karma always comes back to bless you. All three previous points clearly suggests that this quiz was not adding any value to my network. It was acting more like asking for a favor, which some of them did and responded to my quiz. Numbers which I got as favor is no less significant.
  • Not everything gets registered in people’s mind: Most important of all, though previous points are also equally useful and important, but this one needs special attention: not everything gets registered in the people’s mind which reach him trough the five senses. Estimates of neuroscience experts give various numbers about what is getting deposited in the first layer of retina and what reaches to visual cortex of the brain, but all estimates clearly suggests that our brain receives very impoverished representation of the world.

Continuous flow of humongous amount of data and mental manipulation based on past experiences, education and knowledge distorts the clear representation of intended idea in its true meaning. So, everything written in previous four points becomes even more important. One needs to continuously and consistently communicate about self to create a voice of authority and keep creating fresh, useful and engaging content which adds value in the life of target audience.

 

I love talking about people, their brand, their idea, their product and their services. If you want me to write about you, please feel free to reach me at mukul.bharatiya@gmail.com. You can also drop your message at my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/StorytellerMukul. Connecting with you at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mukul-bhartiya-184799b/ is all my pleasure.

                             


Personal Branding Why

Personal Branding: Why?

This story is bit old though totally relevant to everyone. It was early 2008 and I had joined the food retail business at middle management level of a leading business house of the country, having their interest in cement, chemicals, apparel, commodities, mutual fund and many things more. Though I was part of Category Management team, but as a part of my induction program, I had to go through training at couple of stores for three days. It was early days of the business, that’s why, probably some of the things from the “must have” list were not in place.

In the evening of one of those three days, I was standing in one corner of one of the store assigned for the training. Suddenly I heard someone shouting at one of our Customer Service Associate. I rushed there to understand and solve the problem, because, after all, despite being the new employee, I was a senior level person having authority over many such stores. As I reached there, harried and insulted CSA hid behind me and explained the situation. I tried to calm down the customer by assuring him prompt action on his complaints. This particular situation was definitely the result of poor or no communication between store and category team. Though customer’s anger was justified, but poor CSA had no control over this situation. Customer was unplacable and I had a serious task in my hand. I had to show my team down there that I can not only handle the situation but act like a leader and solve their problem. In order to calm the customer down, I said, “Sir, I understand that our team somewhere has failed us, but this is a big company, a big brand promoted by a very big business name, not only in this country but in world as well. I request you have trust in that name, if not in us.” Hearing this, he promptly said, “Yes, I trust that name and that’s why I keep coming to the store despite not finding the services up to the mark and yes, I don’t trust the people like you who jump from one organization to another for few lakh rupees. For people like you, it’s the next car, next vacation, next big thing matters but not the loyalty and trust.”

His diatribe against professionals like us was totally uncalled for, but I somehow managed to calm him down. At that point of time, one point struck me very hard and that point was we all, the employees of the organization, were working really very hard make this business take shape, succeed, make shopping experience of our customers pleasant, but for any failure like above mentioned, it is only the people on the ground and like us are getting blamed and not the top boss. First strike of this point was disheartening, but second strike was enlightening. The man, the business owner, had an unassailable name built over years and through generations. They have stood for certain values, come what may, over all these periods and throughout many generations. And that’s what has made his audience trust his name so inexplicably.

A brand is just not a name, or a picture or a sign; it is a communication of certain values and certain benefits, which helps the people in solving their day to day or long term problem and helps them grow for betterment. And if this communication is for the person, then when established, helps in tiding over many troubled phases. ‘Nano’ car project failed, but no one questions the strength of ‘Tata’ brand, several of spaceships could not take off, but no one questions the innovative skills of Elon Musk. You may find many such cases, where the brand of business owner helps the actual business to tide over troubled times.  That’s why building a personal brand is very necessary in these days of ever changing life and business scenario, where nothing else is permanent. We all are now forced to be in startup mode all the time, mostly by technological upheaval taking place all the time. Casually we are creating our personal brand when we write our resume, create our LinkedIn profile, post updates on Facebook or Tweet, but are we making a serious effort to do it properly is a big question. A casual effort will always yield casual result. This leads us to know that why some personal brands are much more powerful than rest of the lot.

Personal brand is very important arsenal to win over the competition and will gain more prominence in coming days because period of long employment has long gone. No organization will have the time to assess all the skills of its employees, nor it will have the business interest. Technology will keep forcing them to innovate and as the innovation will continue, demand for new skills will keep emerging, forcing the earlier one out of the system.       


Negotiating Salary


This article is written by Mr. Abhay Kumar, Head-Operations & Business Development, Team Recruiters, A Delhi Based HR Consultancy company.

You may also like to read Dos and Donts of Getting Hired for the Best Job

Negotiating the “Right Cost” for the right resource is as crucial to the employer as is the “Right Salary” for the prospective employee. Employers tend to prefer those candidates who already earn a good income. While these candidates cost more to employ, their higher incoming salaries are assumed to reflect greater competence, initiative and achievement. Hence, salary negotiation is crucial for a win – win situation for both employer / employee. 


Zero down on an expectation

Never underestimate the importance of negotiating salary in an interview. It's in your interest to pursue income increases at every legitimate opportunity.

It starts before going for the interview. A crucial part of your research is the salary range for the position you are applying for, given your background and experience. Have a salary range in mind and be prepared to discuss these figures once salary negotiation has come up.

Know your bottom line

Be clear on what is your minimum salary expectation. Decide before you go in for the interview, what salary you want to earn, what you need to live on, and what you will be willing to settle for.

Never discuss salary till it is raised by the prospective employer

If you do, you could price yourself out of a job before the employer is convinced they need you. If pressed by the interviewers, tell them you're flexible and would be happy to discuss salary when you learn more about the job.

Market yourself

It’s about selling your skills and ability at the best possible rate. Emphasize why you suit the requirement. Document your skills and accomplishments, and be prepared to talk about them.

When questioned about desired salary

Avoid a specific salary and put forward a pay range instead or discuss in terms of an expected growth in percentage terms on your current drawings.

Don't forget the value of benefits and perks when negotiating a salary

Sometimes the salary offered may seem low, low enough for you to turn down the job. But the benefits and perks can add up to your basic salary. Some benefits are fixed, but others are negotiable such as stock options, bonuses, employee discounts, training, holiday time and sick leave. Quantify your current benefits for a better understanding of what is being offered.

Make the salary discussion a friendly experience

Be amicable when discussing salary. You should make the employer feel that you are on the same side and working together to find a package that would satisfy everyone's needs.

Don't say yes to an offer right away

Be enthusiastic and appreciative when you get the job offer, but ask for at least 24 hours to respond. This gives you time to get over your initial joy at being selected. If you feel the salary is insufficient, express your concern to the employer when asking for time to consider the offer. You'll find out right away whether the salary quoted is fixed or is flexible.

Declining an offer

If you decide not to accept the offer, make sure you leave on the best of terms. Treat every offer seriously and graciously. You can never tell who you may be doing business with in the future so don't burn any bridges. Decline the offer giving concrete reasons for doing so.


Creativity is the key to a successful Life



We are more than seven and a half billion people on this planet earth who use hundreds of different electronic devices daily. These actions result in creation of infinite permutation and combination of actions, reactions, results and probability of results. How can an individual brain with definite space cope with all of it???

By forming patterns, deciding priorities and repetition…….

The above mentioned three actions create blocks in the mind to process information in a systematic manner and make life easy, but it happens only when life is easy!! As there is an infinite possibility of unexpected challenges and outcomes; pattern and blocks most of the time creates road blocks rather than working as anything else.

This brings us to “creative thinking” …….the right brain thinking…..out of the box thinking…..but not many people know what it is and how to make it work for themselves in order to find solutions to unexpected challenges…..

Gaurav Bahl; the name brings a huge smile to my face. He can write poetry, he can sing, he can make you laugh at the drop of a hat……..No no….He is not an actor, poet or singer….. He is a Creative Leader and Founder of Quirkee, a Gurgaon based Integrated Marcom Agency, who has worked with most of the top advertising agencies of the country. Percept, Leo Burnett, Mullen Lowe Worldwide, Hammer Communications, K Factor and Bounce Design to name a few showcase the skills of the man for more than 14 years. While we were chasing our corporate dreams, he left his well paying job, took a sabbatical to detox his system and then re-joined with a very small advertising agency after sorting out his priorities in life. The money which he was making from this job was not good enough to cover even his travel expenses. But, he sorted out and went on to do what he enjoyed doing. A very strong communicator and a patient listener, who has handled team and situations and has delivered best of results because of just one thing…..He is supremely creative….he gets into the mind of his clients to know what they want and deliver exactly the same.

That’s why I chose to talk about creativity with him. Let’s read what he has to say:

Review Board: What role creative communication plays in building a brand?

Gaurav Bahl: You have asked me what role creative communication plays in building a brand. Answer to your question rests in the fact that if you look around and see at today’s brand communication scenario, every person is flooded with too much of ‘Look at me’ objects everywhere. He goes on road and finds hoardings and banners at every nook and corner, he opens the newspaper and finds advertisement on probably every page, he opens a website or his social media account and finds advertisements flowing down from every corner. A person is having too much of it…. Literally.

Review Board: To substantiate your fact, I was reading a report claiming to be based on MIT Research; we humans are creating 2.5 Quintilian bytes of data every day on internet itself. So, completely agree with what you are saying….

Gaurav Bahl: True…..now just imagine how tough it has become for Brand Managers to cut the clutter and make a way for their communication. Here comes the Creative Communication in picture to play its crucial role.

For me, simplicity of the idea and its communication is of paramount importance. That’s what most of the iconic brands have been doing and that’s what has made their communication stick with their target audience. The more you make your audience stretch the limits of their brain, the more they will avoid your brand communication.

Most of the brand communication fails because they try to tell a lot in 30 seconds. Please understand that this time period is too short to tell your entire story. So, one should tell exactly what is needed to be told effectively during that time span. The approach of ‘make them understand’ or ‘confuse them’ strategy rarely works. The main objective of any brand communication is to sell a product or service. Someone who is paying for that product or service may get fooled once but not always. Moreover, in the case of confusion, he may choose not to buy as well.

If you remember the Vodafone advertisement of a small boy being followed by a cute pug……what message it had???? “Wherever you go….our network follows”. What is expected from a telecom operator???...... Network……and it was saying just that…..and in cutest way!!!

If you see a failed or bad brand communication, please understand that other than the creative lead, everyone else has contributed in it and creative lead has failed to take his/her idea forward. Everyone thinks he/she is creative and takes pride in creating something and wants it to be appreciated. A hoarding, a banner, a poster or a TV ad or a radio jingle all works....... I am not saying it is completely wrong to have a creative streak. Sometimes a creative lead gets different perspective at the discussion table itself. But, all of them would agree to this one point……….All of the ideas one puts forward on the discussion table can’t go in one single communication…..and if it is made to go, then it will only create confusion.

Review Board: Creativity is one of the key pillars of success. How can one become and remain creative in communication in daily personal and professional life?

Gaurav Bahl: We have already discussed that every person in this world is flooded with too much of information in the form of news, advertisements, inputs for his own work requirements at personal and professional front and many things more. All these information further become the basis of many information and ideas in their mind, which keeps looking for an outlet. Everyone wants to talk and take his ideas to the top, but that doesn’t happen all the time with everyone. Something which happens very rarely is called either ‘luck’ in most prevalent term or ‘fluke’ in crude term.

To take any idea to the top one has to remain patient and committed towards it. Now, how will this happen if someone is always willing to talk and let everything out.

So, what works for me and I think it should work for others as well; be observant of what others are doing or talking about, be patient with other’s ideas, be receptive to other’s opinion and master the art of listening. All of it will give you lots of clues, experiences and answers to your problems and challenges. All of it will automatically help you in prioritizing your work and improve your focus on the solution of problems or challenges you would be looking for.

Apart from that, though I am not much into it, following extra-curricular activities like outdoor sports, or music or travelling etc. can help your mind to relax and avoid overdose of information processing. I listen to music, watch movies and play; some people find cooking therapeutic…..and of course, Yoga is an all time favorite of many……..Your brain consumes more energy than any other part of your body and as your body’s energy saps, mind starts slowing down, it starts jumping to conclusions because it wants to work less and it starts priming. So, it is very important to look after your brain….

Fundamentals of creativity can be summed up under the following points:
-Observe people and situations around you.
-Listen to what people around you say
-Be patient; don’t jump to conclusion and become an answering machine
-Be receptive to other’s ideas and opinions and respect them.
-Prioritize your work
-Focus on what you are looking for
-Relax your mind; do something which can help you to enjoy life and take your focus away from finding solutions and being creative all the time.

Review Board: What are the other factors one should keep in mind while creating his/her own personal brand?

Gaurav Bahl: Your personal brand can’t be built in air. There has to be some substance in it. So, for a person who has some experience in his industry, his achievements, his educational qualifications, his soft skills, his accreditations, his credentials in the eyes of his business associates like colleagues, peers, seniors, suppliers etc. will form the founding stones of his personal brand. There has to be some meat in the plate to eat, otherwise your guests will remain hungry.

Now if you bring the answers of previous two questions and merge it, then you will have the complete picture. Put all your substance together which I just mentioned. Listen to people around you, observe what they are doing, be patient and respectful to their opinion, focus on their need and then create simple and neat communication for them. You will have to see that communication has to be consistent without being overbearing. Building brand is not a one time effort, so you will have to be consistent with your communication and at the same time you will have to see the product remains same, what is being promised.

The formula is applicable to newcomers as well….in fact for everyone.

Review Board: Thanks a lot Gaurav for taking your precious time out and talking to us.

Gaurav Bahl: Pleasure is all mine.


How to Apply for a job and Prepare of the interview


This article is written by Mr. Abhay Kumar, Head-Operations and Business Development, Team Recruiters, A Delhi based HR Consultancy company. This article first appeared on www.teammentors.in.
 
Interview-Applying and Preparation
INTERVIEW - APPLYING & PREPARATION

A call for an Interview from an organisation can mean that you are the right candidate or certain aspects reflected in your profile suit the current requirement of the organisation. In fact, it is estimated that 80% - 90% of the candidate’s profiles are rejected at the application stage. This happens for the simple reason that the Candidates don’t screen the Jobs they are applying for. It is imperative and more so at Middle or Senior Management positions to study the Position Advertised or forwarded through a Consultant thoroughly. The Job Description, Experience parameters, Location, Qualification & skill sets required or desirous by the organisation for the position are studied and matched by one’s own profile.

Applying:

  • Screen the position Advertised or forwarded by a Consultant.
  • Gather all relevant information related to the Position – Designation, Reporting Structure, Job Profile, Experience, Qualification, Salary fitment range, Location, Joining Time etc.
  • Study the Company website, the Product & Services, clients, performance and any other relevant information related to the organisation.
  • Evaluate all information available. Apply only if the position fits your profile, Career prospects and you are serious about the change.
  • DON’T APPLY: If you are not contemplating a change, the position doesn’t fit into your scheme of things or just applying for the sake of testing the market.

Corporates have interviewers who are Human Resource professionals along with the Technical professional, both of whom are trained and experienced interviewers, so expect the interview to be very structured to obtain the maximum from you. In smaller firms you are more likely to be interviewed by a Partner who may not be a trained interviewer. It can be a good idea to try to steer the conversation towards the topics you have particular strengths in, highlighting your good points.

Depending on the kind of Interviewer, the process can be categorized into broadly 4 segments.

  • Where you are asked questions around your CV, both generally and technically.
  • Where you will be asked to give examples of how you meet their criteria e.g., of teamwork, negotiating, leadership skills etc.
  • Where you might be asked some bizarre or random questions to see if you can think on the spot and how creative/logical you are.
  • Where your views will be challenged or ridiculed and you might be goaded into an argument. If this happens to you do not lose your cool, it is to test how you react under extreme pressure and to see if you can hold your own.

Preparation:

  • KNOW YOUR CV. Read and reread your CV.
  • One should be ready to talk and justify whatever one has mentioned on the CV, like, the job changes, choice of organisation etc.
  • Have a structured CV. Prioritise & focus on things you want to talk about, areas you want to highlight, your USP’s. Present your CV in the format which focuses on your areas of strength so that you initiate discussions on your thrust area.
  • Anticipate and prepare a set of questions likely to be asked. Prepare answers and REHEARSE.
  • Go through the Company website thoroughly. Read Vacancy details, skill sets required, Product & Services etc.
  • Be decently dressed, arrive on time, have a positive Body language & carry a set of your papers and any other document as specified by the Company.
  • Be HONEST & ready to sell one-self. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarifications or any other relevant information related to the company, position or job. Thank him / her for his / her time at the end.
Some sample Questions:
  • Tell us about yourself?
  • Why did you choose your degree and what have you gained from it? What has been your most important achievement in life so far? Why?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why have you applied for this job / what do you have to offer us?
  • What are the current issues in this sector of work?
  • What experience do you have of working in a team and what role did you play in that team?
  • Describe a project you have successfully completed. How would your friends describe you?
  • Describe a situation you have found difficult. How did you overcome it?
  • Any questions would you like to ask us?


What ails Agriculture Market


According to Department of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, Private Final expenditure of India on Food and non-alcoholic drinks was Rs, 18,21,510 Crore in 2014-15. If we factor in the population growth and rate of inflation, we get the estimated expenditure in 2017-18. If we add to this Rs.18,000 Crore spent on alcoholic drinks, tobacco and narcotics, which finds its origin in Agri sector, then this expenditure will be close to Rs. 20 Lakh Crore. So, it is safe to say that the total Indian market size of agricultural produce is around Rs. 20 Lakh Crore. If we add the size of agriculture input, then it will be even bigger. 


A market of this size is bound to have complexities and that too in a country as diverse and complex as India, where a large section of the population is dependent on it for employment. There are many questions regarding agriculture in India and each one can have different perspective. We also had many questions for Mr. Amit Mishra, Founder- Director of Agrius India Private Limited and Founder of Ambrocia Seeds Producer Company Limited. Mr. Mishra is an Agriculture Graduate from Jawahar Lal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Jabalpur and PGDM-Marketing from VAMNICOM. Prior to taking up the challenging route of entrepreneurship, he has worked with GCMMF, Perfetti Van Melle, Pepsico India-Tropicana, Commodity Futures Exchange MCX and News Distribution Company Thomson Reuters. So let’s start: 


Review Board: You are an Agriculture graduate and a M.B.A and have worked with some of India’s top companies as well as a Commodity Exchange and news Distribution Company. You started your entrepreneurial journey two years back and are pretty well settled. What difference do you find in the business process of both the sectors? What can Agricultural Input Marketing learn from FMCG Food marketing of the big players?


Amit Mishra: In my opinion, the first difference is in the product itself. If we look at the flow of taking a product to the market, it looks like         Product > Targeted consumer> Marketing & Communication> Distribution network 


….the agricultural items are distributor or channel driven product while FMCG are consumer driven products. Consumer demands the brand or the kind of product he/she wants if it is FMCG product but distributor normally takes the demand in the case of agriculture product.


Review Board: Is it so? Tell us more? 


Amit Mishra: Yes, the education level of users and involved technical details of the agricultural product make it more of a channel driven product. It is very difficult for most of the farmers to understand the product detail, so, they depend on the advice of distributors. Whereas consumers are well aware of the FMCG products they want to buy. Marketing communication of FMCG products have been done so since the very beginning. 


For FMCG products, people are the primary as well as ultimate consumers as against agriculture inputs whose primary consumers are trees and plants. FMCG products, whether food or non-food, are procured on only two premises: need and aspiration. A product has either to fulfill its consumer’s need or provide aspirational value. There is not much innovation and experimentation in these products, because they are directly consumed and there are many checks and balances which need to be adhered to. Innovations are mostly focused to help make the product natural and safe for human consumption. 


As against that, Agricultural input procurement goes through four stages…  


First types of buyers are innovators; they are always on the lookout for new technology, new variety of seeds etc. to boost their produce. They enthusiastically support and participate in any kind of technological advancements. Around 0.5% of farmers in India will fall into the category. Second types of buyers are early adopters. These buyers are at the footsteps of innovators and adopt any new technology or variety immediately after confirmation of its success. They normally adopts a new technology within 1 to 3 years. They constitute roughly 4-5% of total farmers in India. Third types of buyers are late adopters. These buyers are good 3-5 years behind the innovators and early adopters. So, to them the technology is no more a new technology as it is already there for long. They constitute 50 to 55% of total farming population of India. Fourth and the last type of buyers are laggards. These buyers look for anything which has been around for long or may be there for a good 5-10 years. Surprisingly a good 40-45% of farming population of our country falls into this category. So, you can very well imagine how difficult it is for a company producing agricultural input to directly reach out to the end consumers, i.e., buyers or design a common marketing communication for them. That’s the reason why they target distribution channels and work closely with their channel partners to not only sell their products but disseminate product information. 


Though marketing efforts may be same for both the categories, but marketing communication channels and their target groups are different. Dissemination of information of agricultural input is like medicine. You don’t start consuming a medicine just because you have seen its advertisement; you get it prescribed by a Doctor. Similarly, on the basis soil type, crop etc., Agrochemicals are suggested by Distributors, backed by information provided by Agricultural Scientists as well as by the government. If anything goes wrong, then all the effort of the last six months will go waste and so will the expected income. This however is not the case with FMCG products. You see an advertisement of a chocolate; you go and buy it from a nearby store. Since there are checks and balances in place for making the product safe for human consumption, you may not like the chocolate or find it not as you assumed it to be after seeing the advertisement. But in the case of an Agricultural Input, a farmer runs a lot of risk on his investment and his future income depends on it too. That’s why he prefers to be sure before buying it and the retailer or distributor from whom he buys, works as an expert, guide and an assurance. 


One more factor that plays an important role in his buying decision is “personal acquaintance”. Since a number of farmers fall in the category of laggards and late adopters, personal acquaintance with the retailer or distributor works as a guarantee for them.


So, all of this boils down to two things: 1) Level of education; and 2) Personal touch


….. And these two things have been mastered by FMCG companies and the Agriculture Input companies can learn from them. Though it is very difficult and time consuming, but a step a day can move mountains.


What we have started doing with our business despite the fact that our resources are limited is that we have started educating our end consumers about different aspects of farming along with the products we are selling. It is addressing both the above mentioned challenges of agricultural input business. However, we know that this is a tedious task and requires lots of resources and effort. But we as a team believe that if we focus on education and training, then the late adopters can become early adopters and laggards can become late adopters thereby increasing our sales and boosting our productivity with our research work. We are planning to adopt a village pretty soon to experiment with our idea and make farmers of that village educated and aware about every aspect of farming and its business. In my opinion if business houses along with entrepreneurs like us backed by government take up this challenge, then a decade is enough to change everything, especially in a time when smartphone penetration is very high, data price is at its cheapest in the world and both of them put together is rapidly changing the human behavior. 


Review Board: So far, we have talked about Agriculture Input category vis-à-vis FMCG products. Could you please expand this discussion to include Final Produce Segment like rice, pulses, wheat as well?


Amit Mishra: Final Produce segment also carries a different behavior pattern from FMCG products. Other than Atta (Grinded wheat) and grinded spices known as C(Chili) T(Turmeric) C (Coriander), mix grinded spices known as ATC spices, other produces have not seen much success as far as branding is concerned. I have travelled extensively in urban as well as rural areas and have seen the change in pattern of packed Atta consumption. Demand of packed Atta is growing in rural areas as well; even in normal packing. But same is not reflected in pulses or rice, because packing material only adds price and not the value. Basmati rice is considered a luxury and is not consumed daily. People are consuming more of Pusa Basmati rice rather than original basmati rice. Organic foods are also in the luxury product segment, because health benefits, as promised depends on other aspects of lifestyle like complete food habit, nutrition intake, exercise routine etc. So, paying double the price than what is to be paid for normal agriculture produce is something Indian customers have not been able to make peace with.


Brand helps you to command premium, but how much and for what? You will have to show value…And in the case of commodities, it is purely transactional value. If you are changing the shape and form of the produce, then branding seems possible as you can see in the case of packed Atta or grinded mix spices and consumers are willing to pay little bit extra……. But if you are packing the whole produce, then there is no value addition.. 


So, the message is loud and clear; as the life of Indians are rapidly moving towards urban centers and rural life is following the urban life, agriculture produce marketing needs to change; it needs to change the shape of produce. If we go for processing and bringing in innovation in that, then not only will it increase the life and value of the product, but will give more money in the pocket of the farmers.


Review Board: I always felt that the biggest challenge Indian agriculture sector is facing is integration of produce and products with the market. While consumers are paying but farmers are not getting the right price. What should be done to address this problem? 


Amit Mishra: This is a very difficult question and the answer is very unpleasant for many. On the effort part, there are many steps which have been taken by the government. Many farmer-producer companies were formed in places like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka etc., Rytu Bazaars were opened to facilitate farmers to sell their produce directly to the consumers and their are thousands of cooperative marketing societies……Despite all of this, problems are still there and their has been no change in the last seventy years. Some of it has done well, but overall if we look at the collective magnitude of challenges, they remain the same as they were after independence. Now why it has remained same…….because individual interest has always taken precedence over collective interest. If you look at the structure of these cooperative marketing societies or farmer producer companies………….you will find that these are normally led by big farmers or local politicians, who serve their interest first and member’s interest later or may be never!! 


It seems to me that the government doesn’t look interested in addressing this issue because wherever there is a poor person, there is politics involved. If things becomes better, then what will you change? If despite so many programmes, projects and billions of dollars spent on agriculture, why post harvest losses are still huge? Why are farmers still battling for loan waiver, better seeds and better price? Along with asking for these issues to be addressed, farmers also need to ask questions to politicians that if these issues have been vital in every budget and election, then why there is no improvement? Why, even after seventy years of independence, farmers are committing suicide? Self sufficiency in crucial items like pulses and edible oils are still missing by a huge margin????


There are many such questions….. Am I disillusioned??? May be yes….may be no……but the way opportunities are getting wasted for personal and political gains, problems will take such a huge proportion that solutions will be impossible!! 


But you have asked me for solutions….. And they are: 1) Educating farmers and innovation in food processing needs to be very urgently done. What is dragging farmers behind is their knowledge of different aspects of farming which includes food processing and marketing. 2)While there are rapid advances in technology supporting farming, but its real users are somewhat still disconnected with that. We as entrepreneurs will have to take lead and make farmers understand the use of technology and its integration in every aspect of farming business. 3) Hold the policy makers and politicians, who have spent the nation’s wealth in the name farmers and agriculture, accountable. They must answer us about the money spent and give us the productivity report. 4) Forget personal interest for some time and work for collective interest. 5) Along with seeking money, seek answers regularly from policy makers and policy implementers.  


These are the main solutions to problems in agriculture sector in India. On paper, there is nothing which has not been tried……but there is no account of what has been achieved vis-à-vis money spent on it. 


Review Board: Can technology help in solving the problem of integration of agricultural produce to its market? And what role entrepreneurs, private business houses and farmers themselves can play in it?


Amit Mishra: This question is connected to your previous question, so, a large part of it is already covered. Technology as required to assist the agriculture production and agriculture produce marketing is already available……And innovator entrepreneurs are playing their role…..But the size of complexity and the challenges are so huge and efforts required are of such gigantic magnitude that solo efforts of entrepreneurs will be lost. Government will have to stop thinking of it as a milch cow and work towards solving all the challenges once and for all. Otherwise solutions will be there, but in bits and pieces, as provided by entrepreneurs at a local level. 


Review Board: True. Neither have we done our bit nor have asked the right questions to our policy makers and policy implementers. Thanks a lot for taking your precious time out and talking to us….


Why You Must Go For Personal Branding

Technically, ‘brand’ is a name, image, sign or symbol of any product or services, but actually it is a story of promise and commitment about quality, relevance and value told by its owner to its user. And as application of this theory is good for product or services, it is good for person as well. In the country like India, where the act of ablution and sacrifice are given paramount importance in human behavior, talking about oneself is considered highly inappropriate. Instead, people prefer others to talk about them and that also….always good.

But time has changed….and has changed drastically and exponentially. We are more than 1.3 billion people in this country, who are fighting for their share in the available limited resource. Our education system, our capability evaluation system and our intent to find the right fitment between requirement and capability demands serious attention. That’s why change in certain aspect of human behavior is also needed. Unless and until we get up, raise our hands and shout out that we have the capability to do certain kind of job, someone else with limited or no knowledge of the job on the offer will get up and claim it, doing complete injustice not only to us but the job also.

Dotcom Ascendancy …..

Though the period of late nineties to year 2000 is called the period of first dotcom bubble, because valuation of companies working in digital space were skyrocketing, but I call it the period of dotcom ascendancy. Internet changed everything after that; they way live, the way think, they way we eat, the way travel, the way we shop, the way we talk…and even the way we choose our life partners……just everything.

Skynet might have missed its target of taking over the planet and raging the war against humans by many decades and might not wage the actual war at all, but it has won the humans already without shedding a single drop of blood.

Avalanche of choices and standing at information super highway!!!

Internet has made these limited resources available through multiple channels at the doorstep of who can afford it and it has also made many things very affordable which was earlier available to exclusive group of people. It has put everyone on the superhighway of abundance of choices. Our way of seeking everything has changed…..so has changed the tool of seeking anything. Everything has come on internet now….

It is crowded place: Everyone was writing; now they have started talking….

We are uploading quintillion bytes of text, millions of photos and videos every day and millions of query every hour on internet. Earlier we used to write; now we are talking to our machine. ‘Cortana’ of Microsoft, ‘Siri’ of Apple with ‘Echo’ of ‘Amazon’ is giving tough competition to market leader ‘Google’, which is in the market with ‘Google Assistant’ along with its famous search.

But is our mind capable enough of handling all of it???

But, is our mind capable enough to process this much of information overload and multiplicity of choices? Our mind responds according to different hormonal secretions, many illusions and many fallacies created over a period of time through family and social environment, education and experience. Though it is capable of moving the mountains, but it is never willing to do so…..It doesn’t want to address any complicated scenario unless forced to.

Are our clients listening???

Then next question comes; are our buyers listening what we are saying, be it about product, services or the person? May be not….may be yes….even if they are listening, they are not understanding it…..for many reasons…..

Reasons….

We already talked about the amount of information being uploaded on the internet in the form of text, images, audio and video. It is just too much for the human mind…..moreover there are too many like one…….because the system we have built puts everyone and everything about everyone into manageable number of categories and then generalizes everyone falling into one particular category.

Storytelling is an art, which very few people know. While writing resume, creating profile on social media networks, uploading photos on Instagram or Facebook and uploading videos on YouTube and Facebook, people do tell their story, but in very scattered manner, making it look like a puzzle which no one is interested in solving.

So…..

Creating a firm but fluid story is important; with all the beautiful imageries, sound and videos. It has to be compact…..it has to be unique…it has to stand out, so that it sticks well with the target audience and that also on continuous and sustainable basis.

Finding out the the right audience and listening to what they are talking about and what they are looking for is equally important…..Otherwise even the best of story, best of beauty will hold no meaning.

Then comes the storytelling……… the introduction, the drama, the connect, the relevance, the pause, the ending…..everything has to be perfect…. ……..

And if is not perfect, then correction and re-telling needs to be done with utmost agility.

It is beneficial

Your life journey adds lots of monetary premium to your profile. If you fits in to someone’s focusing illusion and halo effect then it will create optimism and distinction bias towards you and change utility theory about you positively…… Or in other words, you will become their prime focus, they will create an optimistic bias towards you in their mind and will start seeing your more meaningful utility as compared to others.

But….professionals needs to be hired

It takes good amount of effort; everyone can’t do it of their own. They will be required to hire professionals, because it needs lots of effort in creating a story, finding the right kind of audience, listening to what they are talking, telling them the story, keeping the story engaging which remains connected to their mind and heart, recreating and re-telling the story if mood, taste, time, micro and macro environment changes.

It is always better hire a professional jockey if you are putting your horse to participate in a derby.


RESUME WRITING TIPS


One of the most important factors for landing a job is your Resume. It is often the first impression that a potential employer has of you. In fact, it is estimated that 80% - 90% of the candidate’s profiles are rejected at the application stage. Therefore your resume must capture the employer’s attention. You should have a very structured CV, prioritise & focus on things you want to talk about, areas you want to highlight, your USP’s.

Present your CV in the format which focuses on your areas of strength so that you initiate discussions on your thrust area. These details will enable you to prioritize your work experience and achievements in order to make your resume crisp while providing relevant information to the potential employer. Keep it brief and concise. Highlight any goals which you achieved ahead of time or any special cost-cutting measures spearheaded by your department.

Starting on your Resume

  • Make a list of your experience along with the responsibilities handled and achievements if any.
  • Identify your areas of strength. This may vary from individual to individual. Some might focus on organisations in their profile, some on achievements, others on education and somebody else on the profile handled.
  • List out the training, projects, special skills or any other information.
  • Collect all other relevant data like educational background, address etc.

Identifying the Focus

  • Prioritize & focus on things you want to talk about, areas you want to highlight, your USP’s.
  • The format which focuses on your areas of strength can help you initiate discussions on your thrust areas. This can help you start an Interview feeling really positive and confident.

The Format

For Senior & Middle Management Professional


Summary / Synopsis

  1. Prepare a synopsis / summary of your experience in bullets.
  2. Mention couple of your professional achievements in the summary.
  3. Try to sum up your profile handled overall.
  4. Clarify locational expertise, if any.
  5. Highlight any value addition in skills or qualification etc.

Professional Experience

  1. Mention the current organisation first and continue in reverse order.
  2. Mention the current designation, period, location of posting and reporting hierarchy.
  3. Highlight the current job responsibilities and additional responsibility if any separately. Do not mix the main responsibility with the additional.
  4. Jot down all relevant achievements in the current profile. Be specific. 
  5. Continue the same pattern for all other professional experience.

Educational Qualifications

  1. Mention the last qualification, university, with the year of passing and marks obtained.
  2. Go maximum till the !0th standard level.
  3. Mention separately any outstanding educational excellence.
  4. Mention separately any additional qualification.

Personal Details

  1. Mention your Fathers Name & permanent address.
  2. Date of Birth & Marriage status.
  3. Contact details with mail ID.
  4. Professional Reference if specifically asked for (Otherwise be ready with 2 Professional References at the time of Interview.)

For Fresher

  • Have an objective / aim at the start.
  • Pay special attention to the Format. If your strength is your educational qualification have it first or have your Summer Training or your Part time assignment first if that is your USP. Focus clearly on your strength.
  • Present your Training Assignment in such a way that it stands out and gives the Interviewer scope to question you.
  • Write relevant points in your CV.
  • Be thorough in what you write.
  • Mention your strength if any and be ready to defend it.
  • Be precise in Personal details. Some Do’s
  • Answer your phone professionally and be ready to jot down any relevant information.
  • Check your resume for proper grammar & correct spelling.
  • Connect your skills to your job history
  • Include industry keywords in your CV.
  • Keep references ready but provide only if asked for.

Some Don’t

  • Do not use long-winded sentences and old-fashioned language.
  • Eliminate unnecessary resume details.
  • Do not fabricate.


How to Train Human Mind for Best Result

Human Brain is perhaps the most complex machinery in this universe and no one till now has been able to comprehend all its wonders!!

Nobel award winner Daniel Kahneman, renowned Professor of Psychology and Emeritus Professor, calls our conscious braina machine for jumping conclusion” while the unconscious braina lazy controller”.

Now, in a training session, the trainer is continually aligning the conscious and the unconscious brain of the audience. This requires being adept at communicating, anticipating and processing thoughts real time. The complexity doubles multifold when you are doing so to a bunch of trillion thoughts running in the mind of all the learners gathered in a single room. And well, if a person is successful in bringing it in line for this bunch of people, then you can only put her on a pedestal!!

Anu Binny comes with more than 15+ years of experience in Research, Training, and Transformation Projects and has extensive experience working with global clients in Asia and Middle East. She is known as ‘Change Agent’ as she lives determinedly to bring ideas into realization and building people.

She has completed her Post Graduation in Engineering (Mumbai) and additionally attended Certifications programs from IIM and others in Strategic Management, Instructional Design, OD Analyst, Psychometric Testing, HR Analytics and Metrics etc. She has travelled across countries and handled multi cultural, multi audience Training projects with resounding success. She has also worked as a Consultant for an international Knowledge Management Project for the Capital Market Authority of Saudi Arabia which was widely appreciated by her client. As the Head of Training, she has been instrumental in helping and setting up training centers in all the organizations she has worked.

An inspiring speaker, she believes that every individual carries a seed of greatness within and so no training is complete without an attitude change. All her leadership programs inspire participants to unlock themselves and are highly action oriented. She has also mentored many aspirants who are today successful trainers in the international arena.

She is an ardent researcher and has been invited to speak at various conferences. In her precious free time she is either blogging, cooking or going out for a movie or concert with family & friends.

We talked about different aspects of Training and Development with her. Our objective was to find answers for existing and future trainers, employees and working women….

Review Board: The most complex machine in this universe is the human brain. And to train a human brain, one needs to understand it first. How do you set the pace of your training program so that participants allow you the access to their brain?

Anu Binny: 
Every training is unique in its own ways. The situations that a trainer comes across may vary. The first and the most important element in any successful training is the pre-prep of the trainer and her ability to adapt the delivery to ensure learning in the participants. I feel accountable for the knowledge and also the transfer of learning. I prepare for Knowledge correctness and conviction. Before I enter my training room, I ensure that I fall in love with the topic in hand and believe that it makes a difference to my participants. If I don’t believe in what I am training, I know the participants are not going to believe in it either. So I get back to basics again and research more till it gets me up and stirred.

To adapt the training delivery you must know the receiver i.e. your audience, their names, their experience etc. It stands in good stead during my short chats and to personally connect to them. Moreover, if they ask me a question during the session, knowing their context helps me to respond with the better fit answer or solution. I often send out a questionnaire prior to session so that I know their learning style. Do I change the curriculum, NO but yes I change my approach to the delivery to one that will facilitate learning. Trying to get all of them interested is not easy but there are some tried and tested methods.

In case there are more activists I keep a list of role play, activities (aligned to my training objectives) so that I can make use of the de brief session and pace up the learning if required. For the reflectors I keep a few interesting facts and figures ready. A few videos, case studies are a must to get the theorist to scratch his brains and few practical sessions from the pragmatics.

For any training program, the trainer’s passion and the acceptance of the delegates are the key success factors. I believe the trainer’s passion about the subject, her understanding of the audience and her ability to address the ‘What is in it for me” for the delegates is what helps her in steering the pace of a training program.

Review Board: Our socio-economic environment, education and experience train our minds the most. While learning new things which are necessary to carry out the work, we also need to unlearn a few things which we have learnt. How do you help your participants unlearn what is not needed or required?

Anu Binny
: Life is all about change and hence unlearning is a very important skill. It’s not that the old knowledge is obsolete. I usually set an empathetic chord with them because I understand that they owe their professional existence to that knowledge and may get a bit emotional and threatened with a feeling that they are getting obsolete. It’s in fact an opportunity for the trainer to boost their esteem and help them discover their potential.

Recently when I was working on a Lift and shift model I faced a similar challenge. But we designed and delivered the whole training in such a way that they were ready to jump onto the bandwagon and saw it as an opportunity to prove themselves. It is a win-win for all and was widely appreciated by the participants. The customers saw the output and it was a resounding success.

Understanding the challenges, breaking those barriers or resistance and bringing in a positive perspective of the participant is the key to successful session.

Review Board: Counselling, mentoring or a personal coach, all guide and give direction to a professional’s life and it can’t be achieved without touching the person’s life. Share your experience how and in what way you touched the life of participants of your training programs?

Anu Binny
: I guess I have this knack of understanding the potential of a person. The domain and functional knowledge can be learnt and even tested with set benchmarks. But to be an influential leader there is a need to understand your intrinsic qualities.

I have had the opportunity to work with different kinds if audience and so am able to understand the reason behind a behaviour pattern. I try to map it to facts and evidences during my interaction. Every individual is born with the right intrinsic qualities to sustain and be successful in his life. All that is required for him or her is to discover it. I am surprised when people come back and tell me that they have never been appreciated or they had never known that they had a particular competency.

We as trainers just show people the mirror and help them see their beauty. I feel satisfied when my training makes the participant feel empowered. He leaves the training room a much better and competent person. I have helped people build their career, helped them understand their weakness and identify their potentials and sometimes even helped them heal their inner self. An influential learning and development leader is one who inspires and builds his team to move towards excellence.

I have most of time worked for listed organizations but have got the opportunity of setting up their training team just like one of a start-up. It has given me an opportunity to work with young people who have really helped me to build an entire training centre. In the process they have become assets themselves and are today doing extremely well for themselves. So it’s not only in the classroom, but every person of your team needs to be one up. Building people and empowering them to play their roles and contribute significantly is a lifestyle for me.

Review Board: The likes of Bill Gates and Satya Nadella strongly feel that Artificial Intelligence is going to change the nature of workforce and work environment and to cope with and stay relevant, re-skilling of manpower for the new environment is very much necessary. What advice would you like to give out to people about re-skilling; why it is necessary, what will it achieve for them and how should they approach it? You hold your job for the contribution you bring to the organization.

Anu Binny
: We are all aware that traditional skills are becoming less relevant with each passing day as newer process or technology gets evolved. Artificial Intelligence is going to change the nature of workforce and work environment soon but then so did the advent of computer a couple of years back.

Re-skilling is required in this “survival of the fittest” game. Organizational researchers argue that the shelf-life of a learned skill in today’s world is around five years. The most in-demand skills today are also very different. Career progression and a secure job lies in one’s ability to adapt and learn in sync with the demands of the job market.

My advice, look for internal job postings and enrol for an internal re-skilling program. In case the company you are working is not coming up with offers suitable to your competencies, start looking outside. Please don't continue in job where you are not contributing. It will hit your self-esteem and the off side comments will make you feel humiliated, unworthy and dependent on your senior’s favour. I tell you that it is not a comfortable space to be in. Trust me it can break your self-confidence beyond repair. It might be wiser to invest in re-skilling through an external training. Do your research and ensure that the skill you choose has more stability and longevity among the multiple options available. Don’t feel demeaned in case you are not fitting in, remember Talent is contextual. Truly speaking today, job security lies in your ability to learn a new skill on a regular basis throughout your career. Invest in yourself it will help you live beyond just breathing.

Review Board: The training industry still faces the challenge where the decision makers themselves are the biggest hurdle or bottleneck. To convince them of their and their organizations needs for training or re-skilling is an uphill task. Your take on your experiences with decision makers in your career.

Anu Binny: Yes, sometimes it is difficult to change the mind-set of a decision maker who is too traditional, not open-minded and rigid in his approach. But looking from another perspective is to look at this way. They are running the businesses one must go back and think - why are they not convinced? What am I missing here? If you believe that it’s a must to have, then you need to go with the numbers, statistics and a benefit statement. Present it to them.

You can brainstorm it with a couple of people before approaching them. Their inputs will be valuable in putting across your points in the way they understand. Take the help of a senior member who believes in it and can help you get the management buy in. In case it still doesn't work out then, DON’T delete it. Instead create a backup, save it. Boy you are going to use it someday for sure! Trust me your time and chance will come. It has always happened with me!!

My advice....never give up without trying!! I remember in one of the organization I worked, I knew that there was a need to digitize learning and work on the training content to build a robust training centre. For the digital learning, I did my thorough research found a cost effective solution. To back up, I was ready with a comparative statement too. I used a trial version and created a small knowledge byte. My MD liked it and he Okayed it immediately. It was a great success. The word spread and today it is the default animation software used by many departments in the organization.

But a few months later, under a new leadership the goals changed and digital learning took a back seat. It hurts at a personal level to realize the efforts did not get to the finishing line but you have to take that with a pinch of salt. Also in case the management is not convinced and you know it is a need, you can set it as a small internal miles stone and make it happen. I did it for the content development. I was ready with a new set of training materials for all my trainings. I was able to pace up the scope of my training delivery, number of trainings for each trainer and improving their productivity double fold.

The hard work may go unnoticed but not the quality it brings to your work. Also celebrate it with your teams, be happy you are building assets for the company. It gives a tremendous amount of job satisfaction when you realize the training centre is moving fast paced toward excellence. Things really go really adversely only if you have a poor Boss. But you still have a choice. I guess in matters of management you can chose to change but in matters of principles stand like a rock.

Review Board: What specific skill of yours has helped you achieve the position you have in your profession? Any specific advice you would like to share with aspiring Trainer.

Anu Binny
: I have a collection of personal letters written by participants describing the impact the session has made on them. Most of them define it as a life changing moment!! My ability to connect to the audience is definitely my USP. I am an avid reader and I love reading biographies as I believe that to be a Learning and development specialist you should have a desire to make a positive difference to peoples life. A biography gives a sneak preview to a real journey of struggle, victory and helps you understand human psychology better.

From the delivery perspective I am very detail oriented and quick learner. I am able to process complex concept, logically break and explain it in simple words. This probably comes from my pursuit of continuous learning. I believe a trainer should be passionate and display a calm demeanour. It is an unmistakable trait that leaves an impression on her participants. Training is the best way to touch lives and bring meaning to your own.

Review Board: Dr. Indra Nooyi, Chairperson of PepsiCo, when asked, “What’s your opinion about whether woman can have it all?” had said “I don't think women can have it all. I just don't think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all."  Quite a few people agreed to the response but surprisingly there were quite a few who disagreed. What is your personal take on the same?

Anu Binny
: Love and compassion are very relative concepts and not scientific principles. They do not have perfect definitions. Every individual perceives it and defines it differently. I gave up a career in research to be able to give time to my kids. Is it a sacrifice or my duty? Opinions may vary.

I did my full time Master’s degree from Sardar Patel College of Engineering because that had become a mandate for teaching in college. I would take lectures in Vivekananda Engineering College where I held a job which is located at Chembur and after finishing my whole day of work, travel all the way to Andheri to attend my lectures. And of course I would be late to reach home.

How did I manage? I had found a great support system. I had a very good baby sitter who was always there for kids. Do my kids ever complain – No! But I am sure I must have missed out on many special occasions in their lives. Do I gloat in guilt? No. Instead, I try and recreate special occasions, celebrations, cook a special dish, go on a short drive etc. I know I chose what was best for the family. Life is a roller coaster ride, let’s not complicate it, give your best and enjoy the ride. All is required is a good ecosystem of love and care to pass on the timeless truth of life and hope to the next generation!!

Review Board: You are a mother to teenage kids; an age which challenges a parent in all possible ways, from multiple sources of distraction to new found confidence and individuality. How has the experience helped you in man managing your professionals or vice-a-versa?

Anu Binny
: They say a mother is born...the day a child is born. I am blessed with a daughter and a son. The first time you hold a baby in your hands, you realise the fragility of life and that the child has not come down with a user manual. You are on your own, but you pick up real fast. As you wade through months, you are able to exactly interpret the different messages the baby communicates through just one single loud wail. With every single wail, you become adept in looking around for clues and reaching out to keep the baby calm. Is that finding solutions to unstructured problems? Possibly yes!! My time spent with my kids has taught me to be sensitive to them. One can easily use words to make or break them!!

Being a mother to two teenagers has exposed me to the possibility of two exactly opposite perspectives for the same situation. Each sees a different world. They are adorable in their own way. They know the exact lines to say that will melt your heart or the cutest smile to display before you fall into the trap of saying a "YES". Initially you end up pulling your hair but soon one starts to get a feel of it and you start enjoying it.

Now they are grown up - teenagers. They are made up of the same number of bones but distinctly different in their need and expectation. This is the age where they are trying to find their own identity, steal a limelight and trying to carve out a new identity in this swarming world. They exhibit sporadic spurts of aspiration, confidence, a streak of independence, childishness, maturity, confidence all at the same time. Life is a roller coaster ride of emotions. They are emotionally on a high, full of energy & life at one time and within seconds fall into despair, anger, frustrations and leave us with no chance to enter into their little world with the announcement of the final verdict' You won’t understand".

Handling my kids has given me a deep insight to human behaviour and has made me realise that each individual is unique. Interaction with them at different slices of their life have helped me understand human needs and behaviour. This experience is very unique and helps in building up a response pattern to an audience across different age categories.

In fact it has helped me immensely in managing people and has taught me to think on my feet!!


Retail Trends in India by 2020


Different estimates put Indian retail market size between USD 600 -800 Billion and it is projected to grow more than USD 1200 Billion in next three years. There are many things like investment in technology pertaining to this sector, warehousing, tax simplification, 4G mobile network, consumer awareness and confidence, growth in consumption at bottom of the pyramid and increase in education level boosting the retail sector in India. Year 2018 has been very important for Indian retail sector. Walt-Mart gave humongous valuation to homegrown unicorn FlipKart, Amazon bought more. and made strategic investment in Big Bazar, not only that, if Industry rumors are to be believed, it is in talk with Spencers for buyout. Kedaara Investment and Partners Capital acquired Vishal Megamart from TPG, Alibaba showed confidence in BigBasket and Softbank sided with Grofers with big money.

Retailers seems to be convinced that there is nothing called online of offline retail anymore, ultimate battle is for share or control over consumer’s expenditure. Consumers are out there with their money and if you don’t reach out to them, someone else will. Time is over for supplier or retailer driven market; now customers are spoiled with choices. All of it will make big changes in Indian retail sector very soon. I am seeing following trends in coming two years:

1)Bots will replace humans in the job of Category Management: Category Management and persons manning it are backbone of the retail business. They own the business; rest plays the supporting role. But modern organized retail in India has come a long way from 2005-06, supposedly when it made a big entry in the country. After that it has seen many ups and down, but one thing it has ensured is humongous amount of unstructured and ever flowing data of human buying pattern. Now with lots of hard work, research and investment going into retail analytics, a powerful bot probably might have started replacing Category Managers in one corner of offices of Wal-Mart (Read FlipKart), Amazon in Bangalore or Reliance Retail, Big Bazar in Mumbai.

2)Supply Chain will gain more prominence: Role of supply chain in brick and mortar retail was limited to getting the product either from warehouse or wholesale market or distributor’s point to retail point and taking back. In the changed scenario, where estimated e-commerce retail sales in India in 2018 as per India Brand Equity Foundation is $ 32.8 Billion led by FlipKart and Amazon, role of supply chain personnel is rapidly changing and it is doing the multiple role of salesman, delivery boy, pick up boy and cashier. According to Indian Brand Equity Foundation, Indian e-commerce market size is slated to grow to USD 200 Billion by 2026. With manifold increase in delivery points, delivery timings and load, work of supply chain will be more demanding, challenging and prominent and it can’t be automated in chaotic country like India.

3)Hyper local will be new frontier: Though Grofers had to pull out of it, but there is no other option available to retailers other going hyper local. So far, items which had margins to afford the supply chain cost are getting sold more through online retail, but the next frontier to win for e-commerce players are grocery retail, which is of low to very low return. It will be very difficult for retailers to work in inventory led model in grocery retail and expand to Tier-II and III cities. Armed with incentives for service providers and consumers both like what taxi aggregators like Uber and Ola or restaurant aggregators like Zomato and Swiggy, retailers will have to fight for customer attention and retention.

4)Massive Investment in technological Infrastructure: To cater the huge and well spread market and humongous amount of bills, technological infrastructure will be key of survival, which will require massive investment in technology build up, many more server farms across country huge demand of electricity. Without this arsenal, everything will fail miserably.

5)Private Label will uproot Brand’s hegemony in retail shelf: Big brands monopolized the consumer market. They actually forced the retailers to behave they wanted them to behave. But things are already changing and will change a big time in coming couple of years. Online and Offline retail are now run behemoths like Wal-Mart, Amazon, Reliance, Big Bazar and Alibaba, who have deep pockets to create the block or blocks of loyal customers and use it to fight the might of big FMCG companies. Success story of hitherto unknown mobile brands like Redmi, Realme, One Plus etc. using online retail platforms FlipKart and Amazon in Indian market, which has the negative impression about Chinese products, shows that Indian customers prefer feature, quality and value at an affordable price than the big brands. In fact, everyone working in retail field would be witnessing this pattern in different categories.

6)Getting into consumer’s pocket will become more important than getting the business model right: Shopping isn’t offline, online modern organized retail, pop-n-mom store, network marketing etc. anymore. Nothing is working in isolation and nor it will work in future. In fact, none of it worked ever in isolation in the past as well. Though each one of it might have created value for the founders, but none of it guaranteed long-term profitable venture. Each of the business models, alongside the in-model competition is vying for the same consumer expenditure. For example, a customer who has planned to buy a TV can buy it from various brands available in many retail outlets of her city or the online marketplace like FlipKart, Amazon or the company’s online portal; she is deluged with the choice. Now for everyone, money coming out from the customer’s pocket is very crucial to survive and grow. That’s why we are seeing acquisitions of brick and mortar retail companies by online retailers and vice-a-versa.

7)Small Players will have to fight for their survival: Battle ground is already drawn and warriors have taken their side. Individuals with limited capacity will have to take side in the battle, otherwise they will be crushed, because money riding with big players is too huge to be ignored.

Please leave your valuable opinion in the comment section. You can also reach me at mukul.bhartiya@reviewboard.in.


10 steps to enrich your WhatsApp group and make it more meaningful


I think most of us in this networked world are part of one WhatsApp group or another and I bet all of us crib most of the time being the part of those groups.


Few years’ back I had written an article on LinkedIn titled “7 To-Do List for Creating Meaningful WhatsApp group”. Idea to write that article originated from my disenchantment with a WhatsApp group of my old colleagues from one organization we worked.


You can find that article here:7 To Do list for creating Meaningful WhatsApp Group
 


As a quick recap, I am listing out the points which I had mentioned in the article:


1)Don’t create a group when your objective is not clear

2)Don’t assume; ask

3)Group must have some degree of homogeneity

4)Don’t create a group which you can’t control and lead

5)Consider the limitation of the platform while creating the group

6)Do lots of research to be admin of the group and earn respect

7)Have the ability to break the monotony and generate interest


Now, along with above mentioned points, I have few more to add which I learnt from more groups I have been part of after that either created by me or someone else.


1)What is there for me: No one will do anything without the sight of tangible or intangible outcome and benefit. No result will come without a preceding corresponding action and when there is an action, it is bound to bring out the result; positive or negative and that’s the rule. If you have added someone in the group and asking him/her for something, even to read what you have written, you must show and prove that he/she has something to gain from it. No one works for free. Even charity is done for supposed better afterlife, whether it exists or not can be debated. So, if your group members have nothing to gain from your group, then either they will sit dull or they will exit.


2)Don’t involve monetary transactions if you haven’t built a team of evangelists of your cause: If any of your message/post ideates about monetary transaction, then the first point will come very strongly in force. People will start asking multiple questions to justify the value of money they are being asked to spend. Many more dimensions will come to complicate the matter even more. So, don’t bring out any proposal which involves money without being sure of loyalty and devotion of group members.


3)Agree to MVP: If you are looking for 100% participation in your proposal, then you are looking at and lurking around impossible, which will not happen. So, agree with Minimum Value Proposition of your proposal and Minimum Viable Participation to make your proposal successful.


I will keep repurposing these points as the time progresses to make it more meaningful to the readers. In the meantime, you can interact with me for personal branding services and inbound marketing at mukul.bhartiya@reviewboard.in .


Ecommerce Delivery Boys Would Not Remain Delivery Boys Anymore


Few days back I was pleasantly surprised to see someone with blue knapsack on his back and “Ecom Express” written on it, riding the bike on the dusty roads of my village in Madhubani district of Bihar, near to Nepal border and around 200 Kilometers away from state capital Patna.

I know for the fact that e-commerce is rapidly reaching out to every nook and corner of the country, but I was considering it still an urban and semi-urban phenomenon but thankfully my unfounded perception got corrected.

Courier business is still a semi-skilled low paying hard labor job, which involves carrying huge knapsacks filled with merchandise and riding bikes, earlier it was riding bicycle. It needs to change now and change for good before it becomes one of biggest bottleneck for the growth of e-commerce in India. Despite all the hype around AI, assortment, merchandise mix and marketing, e-commerce’s success boils down on completion of the transaction which means delivery of merchandise to end consumer, collection of payment and repatriation of collected amount to company’s account. If this last part is not good, note worthy, pleasant and successful then entire operation done before it is a big failure. Different estimates put India’s e-commerce retail sales in the bracket of USD 30-35 Billion in 2017 and expect it to grow to USD 200 Billion by 2016.

So, one can imagine how much pressure will be the team which has to make the final closure of the deal. So, the person who brings your merchandise to your home is no more a delivery boy of erstwhile courier era. Now he is a salesman, a cashier an accountant and the storekeeper; not only he brings your order to you, but collects the cash and maintains the account of collected cash as well. And completion of transaction and satisfaction of consumer out of completed transaction depends on him only.

Two years back, I had purchased a mobile phone from a leading e-commerce site which was to be delivered at Madhubani district. Delivery boy asked me to give him tip of Rs.100/- because I had made a purchase of Rs.15,000/- and I should be feeling happy about it. Moreover I had to literally make several calls to him to deliver the mobile phone which I was excited to hold in my hands. His insistence for the tip annoyed me and I had decided then to report the incidence to the retailer. Somehow I forgot to write to the retailer but I didn’t purchase anything from them for almost a year. We all must have seen few incidences of wrong/damaged product or sometime brick/stone/soap reaching to customers. So, goodwill of any e-commerce company depends on their tail of the value chain, the “delivery boys”, as they are popularly known.

So, the companies should:

1)Treat them as salesman, not the delivery boy
2)Train them as salesman, cashier, accountant and marketer
3)Use them for up selling with digital devices in their hand ( He is the person who can drop a hint about matching product or any product complementing the purchase or what the community is buying to the buyer and his recommendation will carry more value than the online recommendation).

Rest everything can be automated. AI can do the merchandising, Natural Language Generators can write tag lines and blogs, programmed drones can take pictures which can be directly collected from them, so on and so forth.

Now, time has come to see the role of delivery boys in different light, in shinier and brighter light. They are most crucial part of value chain of an e-commerce company and they will remain so for long because now customers have become very demanding and will not accept any inefficiency in any of the operation.


How to handle the situation of conflict and extreme provocation


I am penning down my opinion purely from Personal Brand Management perspective; nothing more, nothing less. I am writing this caveat in the beginning itself because what I going to write has serious political and emotional angle, which whether I like or not, will come up in the reader’s mind beforehand reading the whole article.

Two incidents which played out in neighboring states of West Bengal and Bihar last fortnight shook the entire nation. In NRS Hospital, Kolkata, an eighty five year old person died due to some medical complicacy. His relatives brought in two truckloads of more people and brutally assaulted the doctors and hospital staff, putting few of them in ICU, battling for their lives. Doctors protested and demanded security along with bringing culprits to face law of the land. Chief Minister of West Bengal, Ms. Mamata Banerjee descended on the spot, blamed doctors for playing politics and threatened them instead for grave consequences, if they don’t withdraw their protest. How far it is true I don’t know, but some reports suggested that senior officials at ministry were about to resolve the conflict, but sudden outburst of Ms. Mamata Banerjee changed it all. It led to widespread and nationwide protest by doctors; common citizens and media all across also joined it. Situation became grave because in response of Chief Minister’s threat, doctors of West Bengal started resigning from their job. While emergency services were not hampered but other medical services were badly impacted.

Sudden outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome at Muzaffarpur, Bihar and resultant death of more than 140 children led widespread criticism of Chief Minister of Bihar, Mr. Nitish Kumar along with Health Minister of India and Bihar state. Mr. Nitish Kumar was getting hammered from all side for lack of expertise and facilities at Muzaffarpur to handle this situation. But rather than rushing to Muzaffarpur immediately, he allowed the situation to come in control and anger to subside and when he visited, he promised to make Shri Kirshna Medical College and Hospital, Muzaffarpur 1500 bed hospital bed along with 150 beds ICU. There was extreme provocation from all side for him to respond but he kept silent. He talked in the last but talked only what was needed.

Both the examples throw few interesting points on how to handle the “situation of conflict and extreme provocation”.

  • Assess the situation before responding.
  • While responding, don’t allow your biases and heuristics take over your brain and don’t allow your heart to get better off you.
  • If you don’t have immediate solution and someone else has, then allow that someone else to take the lead and find the solution.
  • Allow the situation to settle down. When things are blowing up, you may not know when it is going to end and if you respond when things are blowing up, your response may stir counter response.
  • Choice of words is very much important. Engage someone more capable to write your words.
  • Deliver the final solution and walk away. If you stay there for long, people will have the availability of pain fresh in their mind and more than your solution, they will focus on the pain.

Personal brand management can yield you immense benefits if you are in public life but you need to in awareness stage all the time. You will have to continuously work on it and communicate it to all the stakeholders. If you are finding it tough to handle yourself, then engage someone to handle it but do it diligently.


Growth Strategy

Growth strategy of any business organization should keep following points in special consideration; budget for customer acquisition, cost per customer acquisition, merchandize value per customer, margin per customer, natural churn (a segment of fleeting customer who will never be yours. They keep experimenting and pricing is their key nudge to buy any product or services) and cost of customer retention. If the cost of successive customer acquisition is lower than retention of a loyal customer, then going all out aggressively for customer acquisition makes more sense ignoring the complaints of existing customers for sometime than staying conservative to build the business. By doing so, you will still have more customer despite natural churn and exit of few disgruntled customers than your conservative growth strategy.


If you remain focused on providing value to each and every customer (Though this should be your ultimate goal) before moving ahead, then you will be stuck at very small scale; low sales and low margin making your interest in the business dwindle. If you leave your target customer unattended, then someone else will come and make them their customer. It will make customer acquisition more difficult.


If your customer’s gross merchandise value is very high and they are very sensitive towards being served with full attention, then aggressive growth strategy will kill your business. For obvious reason, a customer spending big amount of money on buying a segment of merchandize on the regular basis will be high net worth Individual with the circle of similar customer base. If you lose attention on any of them, then you will lose business of many of them.


Five Rules to Sell Yourself as a Consultant


It is very easy to present yourself as a consultant but very difficult to sell yourself as a consultant. Every individual has a thinking brain which acts according to situation, time, resources, past experiences, educational qualifications, biases and heuristics. Those actions may or may not yield planned positive outcome all the time.


Whenever the outcome is not as planned, then thinking brains sit down to find the answer, which they call brainstorming. And when they fail to find the answer and demand of the expertise is for long period of time, they opt for a new employee, but when the demand is for the short term, then they opt for the services of a consultant. As mentioned in the first line itself, presenting yourself as consultant is very easy but selling yourself as consultant is very difficult. I have broken down the answer of this challenge in five parts:


-If organization perceives the problem as complex, so make it complex for them: If you make the problem easy to understand, then why would someone hire you. Let the problem remain complex for them either resources wise, time wise or knowledge wise.


-Don’t go for discovery journey: C-Suite people don’t enjoy being questioned. They assume that person coming to him/her has already done the research and ready with the answer. This may seem against the established sales norm, which demands us to know the customer’s need, but these customers don’t fit into that category and more so when it is about their business.


-Only you are the right person: Consultancy proposals are sold to C Suite people who are already well informed but have paucity of time to address the challenge. So, discussing numbers with them won’t cut the haze. Present your credentials, talk about the insights and offer the solution.


-C –Suite professionals have complex ‘Status Quo Bias’ – While a C-suite professionals hate status quo bias among his employees, but they like to maintain status quo for themselves. So, it is very important to know as maximum as possible about the person you are going to meet.


-Use loss aversion bias in your favor- Though everyone hates to lose money, but in an organization, a lower level employee will be more bothered about doing his/her part of job than its financial implications. Only C-suite professionals hold control over financial matters and they need to be convinced that any delay in applying the solution will cost the business dearly.


Challenges a Manager Face in Personal Branding

Eureka moment of personal branding struck me around twelve years ago standing in one of the stores of my employer at that time. A customer was aggressively rebuking one of the Customer Support Associate for something which he had no role to play. It was my second day in the organization. I tried to intervene but only thing happened was direction of his ire got diverted towards me.


Organization is an established Indian MNC with diverse business interest spread across the world, but the business operation which I was part of, had started the operations around six-seven months back. I can vouch for the fact that everyone I met during those two days and had been meeting earlier also were doing the maximum best to create the best consumer experience. But since this operation was expanding at break neck speed, many a thing which needed attention was not getting attended on priority. 


The customer probably had a grudge towards new generation of professionals who are career oriented and keep striving for financial growth. His views were preposterous but since he was the customer, I listened to his verbal aggression patiently, appreciated him for taking time out to register his protest, immediately informed the concerned Category Manager and assured him to address his challenge. Initially I disliked his words about the professionals like me but when I pondered over the event and his outpouring against us and not towards the business owner, I realized that the business owner has reputation consistently build by him and his previous generations over more than hundred years which we don’t have and that’s why this customer and many others like him are ready to put their faith in business owner and not in us. After that I started taking my personal brand a bit seriously. Though certain exigency took my time off from my endeavour towards building a solid personal brand but I kept talking about it with other professionals since then. I also started helping them in crafting their personal brand strategy. Since then I have talked to more than a thousand people and have realized that only leaders can think about creating his or her personal brand, not the managers. Managers live their personal and professional life with many self imposed mental constraints. Some of the prominent mental constraints I have come across are as follows: 


- Managers dislike questions- You are a leader when take your people along, lead from the front and relegate yourself in the background at the time of claiming the reward. Once I came across an incident where new CEO of a reputed organization gave continuous lecture to employees about integrity and scope of the meaning of integrity according to him. He forfeited the incentives of all the middle management and lower level employees to the extent of seventy five percent in the name of poor financial condition of the organization, but rewarded himself with the hundred and twenty percent incentive. This news of course got leaked in the organization led to disgruntled murmurs but since it was the time of financial crisis due to US subprime crisis and many were losing jobs across the industry and in the said organization also, so no one talked and eventually this act got buried down in no time.


They doesn’t entertain their critical evaluation from their people to make themselves more likeable and approachable. This is something which is missing in the managers. They assume that they have been hired by the management to guide his team to targeted result and that’s why they must have all the answers ready to not to let any question arise. Though they like to call it being pro-active, but they create the question beforehand for their answers.


-Managers hate criticism: - Criticism, even the honest one hurts the emotion of managers. Since they are know-all people, they don’t accept the fact that they can go wrong. They have strong confirmation bias, where they often lead their decisions to. Recently I posed a question on social media to a senior professional about something related to his area of expertise. I agree to the fact that though question was related to his area of expertise but it required to think thoroughly before giving the answer. Since that professional falls into second level of my network, I got the feedback that he was afraid to answer my question in the fear of going wrong and inviting either a counter question or a rebuttal. This is just one of the many examples. 


-Managers don’t create a feedback mechanism unless and until it is forced upon them: Due to above two reasons, managers don’t create feedback mechanism unless and until it is forced upon them. Even in the case of forced feedback mechanism, organizational culture doesn’t entertain criticism of senior professionals in the name of discipline. This leads to strengthening of behavioural status quo bias among managers.


 -Managers like controlled environment where only they can talk:- Though managers pretend to encourage discussion and opinion sharing but they don’t appreciate it in reality. They like the controlled environment where only they get the chance and authority to speak. 


In 2017, a Google employee James Damore wrote an anti-diversity memo at an internal platform, which was considered misogynistic. Somehow it got leaked in the media and employee was fired. Sundar Pichai, CEO of the company, came out with a statement in media that he don’t misogynistic opinions and comments in the organization and that’s why that employee was fired from the organization. My point is; the organization like Google, which has invested billions of dollars in neuroscience research and has infinite permutations of human behavioural data, could have countered the arguments with facts and research, instead he was fired unceremoniously. Had he been countered by the organization with research data and facts, it could have settled the debate of difference between man and woman in tech industry probably once and for all.  


Steve Balmer groomed Satya Nadella for the position of CEO of Microsoft. If you read the book “Hit Refresh” written by Satya Nadella, you will find him very critical of the organizational culture he inherited from Steve. Not only he brought in three sixty degree shift in organizational culture but reversed the business decisions of Steve. You listen to Steve Balmer and you will find nothing but praise for Satya Nadella and pride in his achievements.


-Managers don’t appreciate something which doesn’t fit into their scheme of things: For a manager, everything is a resource which he has to use to achieve his objective. If something is not serving a manager’s purpose, it won’t be appreciated even if it is highly valuable to someone else or had been highly valuable to the same manager in the past.


I was talking to my ex-boss sometime back. He told me about the organization where he worked and helped to build robust sales figure for seven years. Two successive government decisions of demonetisation and implementation of GST brought in huge shock in the market. These decisions impacted also impacted his business and initially he was cold shouldered and ultimately had to leave the organization. I asked him whether he was disappointed the way he was treated. He said that initially he was of course disappointed but accepted the fact that he is just a resource which has to return the value of salary being paid to him.  


If anyone wants to stick to above points as their core guiding principle of professional life, then they can be successful managers but not the business leader and definitely not fit for creating personal brand, because people will follow their business success not him.


Success Stories of Make in India Campaign Bishanpur Natural Foods Pvt Ltd


By a rough estimate, India produces paddy, wheat and whole pulses together worth Rs.5, 34, 020 Crore, calculated at MSP for paddy and wheat and bulk price of pulses in whole form. If we take the data of public consumer expenditure for the year 2014-15 made available by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation in public domain and extrapolate the impact of inflation every successive year, India’s private final expenditure on food and non-alcoholic drinks may stand around Rs.18.9 Lakh Crore. It gives a glimpse of scope of business opportunity it provides.


Mr. Nitin Kumar, Company Secretary by qualification and investment and start up expert by profession has worn many hats; but when this time when he told me about his new venture Bishanpur Natural Foods Pvt. Ltd., I would be lying if I say I was not surprised. Since beginning of his professional career, he has been through and through finance professional helping his clients to make money in stock and/or real estate market or investing in general merchandise, education or health start ups. But this time, he not only invested but has been successfully running the business of speciality flours, fox nuts and flax seed. After talking to him I could understand his passion of bringing healthy food which our previous generations used to eat and has disappeared from our plates with changing time. But why was I surprised; because sales of food items demand combined of physical and mental hustle than the just mental one required in financial or real estate market. But as Ann Landers had said “Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them”, he chose the hard work way and entered into this business. He is CEO of Bishanpur Natual Foods Pvt. Ltd. 


I asked him straight three questions to understand why is he in this business, what he has to offer, how it will benefit his consumers and where does he see his business in short and medium term. 


Mukul Bhartiya: You are finance professional by education and experience. What led you to venture into food processing, distribution and marketing business and that also, niche products like Chana Sattu, Makhana and Flax Seed?


Nitin Kumar: When I tell you the reason behind it, you will also empathise. Though I am from Bihar but I have lived better part of my life in Delhi and Gurgaon. Who better than person like me can understand the importance of healthy food and healthy life. For us, even pure air to breathe has become a scarce thing. You might have seen the images of hazardous foam emanating from River Yamuna during Chhath this year and let me tell you that this not something new as phenomena. This has been the scene for so many years and it is also open secret that most of vegetables coming to National Capital Territory market are grown in the river base of Yamuna. 


All the trappings of modern lifestyle has taken one thing from us; our time for ourselves. We are always in the rush to reach one place or another, barely taking time to breathe. In order to reach somewhere, we have moved as far away from the nature as possible. And look what it has done to us; it has not only taken us away from nature but has taken away our physical and mental health. 


Having lived a life with these trappings around, we have realized that answer of healthy life is to slow down, look back and find what we lost in the rush of reaching somewhere. Retracing healthy footprints are always good. Our older generations lived life closer to nature. There were no mechanized machines to grind the food; so, most of the nutrients were retained in the food for our consumption. We are making a genuine effort to dig deep, research and find out the natural food for you. We are reclaiming our past with pride, we are reclaiming our health back and we reclaiming our life and the battle start with food.


At Bishanpur Natural Foods Pvt. Ltd, we follow every process to retain the natural nutrients every food has to offer by cold press milling technique. Words become command, command becomes commitment and commitment sets the direction; and our commitment is to take our food habit closer to nature.


Mukul Bhartiya: Please tell our readers about your products and how they benefit from it?


Nitin Kumar: We are in constant search of food which are healthy, wholesome and queen of plates of older and previous generations. I am keen on that. Our first product is Chana Sattu


Though there is no specific mention about the origin of word ‘Sattu’, but looking at the nutritional values it provides, it must have come from Sanskrit word ‘Satvik’, which means ‘pure’, ‘complete’, ‘ontological’. No other cereal or pulses is as complete and wholesome as ‘Chana’ or ‘Hoarse Gram’, because it has right amount of Protein, Dietary Fiber, good Carbohydrates, low glycemic index and absolutely no unhealthy unsaturated fat. While almost all the cereals and pulses provide between 150-350 calorie per 100 gram with cereals providing extra carbohydrate and pulses providing extra protein, ‘Chana’ provides energy exceeding 400 calorie. These nutrients build your muscles, make your bone strong, help in preventing constipation and keep your stomach healthy, regulate fluids and blood pressure of the body, fights diabetes and give you the energy to stay active whole day. There are numerous benefits of Chana Sattu.


Some of them are as follows:

  • You can drink and eat it both.

  • It is high on calorie with good amount of whole carbohydrate, dietary fiber and protein.

  • It is gluten free.

  • Carbohydrate in Sattu is soluble and ingestible carbohydrate, which is very much required for energy. It is a fallacy that low carbohydrate diet is good. If you don’t get the energy, then how will you survive? Your food should have 45-50% whole carbohydrate to keep you alive and active. 

  • It keeps your stomach healthy by preventing constipation. You may be aware that constipation is the cause of many bowel related ailments including gastrointestinal diseases, which has the capacity hurting other part of bodies as well. -It reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. 

  • Zero saturated fat in Sattu makes it an ideal food and drink.

  • Protein in Sattu makes your bones hold the muscles and keep your liver healthy. It makes you look healthy and young. 

Our second product is Makhana or Fox nut. ‘Makhana’ is amalgamation of two Sanskrit words: ‘Makha’ and ‘Anna’. ‘Makha’ in Sanskrit has two meanings ‘sacrificial oblation’ and ‘active/moving/to go/move’ and ‘Anna’ means ‘food’. So, one meaning of ‘Makhana’ is a food which is offered for sacrificial oblation or which is offered to god. Another meaning of ‘Makhana’ is the food which keeps you ‘active’ and on the move, which means it keeps you energetic. Makhana is rich source of protein, calcium, dietary fiber, good carbohydrate and absolutely zero saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. With total 350 calorie per 100 Gm, it is good for your bones, muscles and gut and helps you fight diabetes and blood pressure.


Darbhanga, Madhubani and other parts of erstwhile Mithila Kingdom or present day Bihar produces ‘Makhana’ the most and has been consuming the most as well; now whole world has realized its importance.  


You can eat Makhana raw or after roasting or frying. You can also make different varieties of sweets and pudding from Makhana. 


Benefits of Makhana are many; few of them are as follows:


  • Dietary fiber keeps your stomach free from constipation, helps to prevent coronary heart disease and reduces hypertension and chances of stroke.

  • Protein helps your bones to hold muscles, makes your body fit, strong, healthy and young.

  • It improves the health of your liver.

  • Calcium makes your bones strong.

  • It is fat free, full of whole carbohydrate, protein and dietary fiber, which makes it a super healthy food without the fear of adding fat in the body.

  • Whole carbohydrate gives you energy to be active, fit and fine. 

  • Right amount of sodium and potassium in Makhana helps to keep the blood pressure under control and keeps cellular function of your body up and running. 


Our third but not the last product is Flaxseed. Flaxseed is another super food, which should be part of our daily diet. It is very high on protein, carbohydrate, dietary fiber, calcium, Bitamin B-6, Iron and Magnesium. 


 ‘Chana Besan’ is the latest addition in our product portfolio.


Mukul Bhartiya: Tell us about your plans to take your products and idea behind them to wider consumer base? Please also tell us where do you see your business after five years?


Nitin Kumar: See, ours is the social enterprise. Though we can increase the production capacity by rapid mechanization, but our focus is not just providing healthy food options to our consumers but providing as many employment opportunities as possible in rural areas. When you increase the number of human hands at work then it is quite obvious that speed of work gets slowed down. 


In the first year itself, we have established our distribution network in many districts of Bihar and parts of National Capital Territory. In next five years, we will cover entire Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. We are aiming the turnover of Rs.50 Crore in next five years. 


If you want to take the distributorship of Bishanpur Natural Foods Pvt. Ltd., you can reach out to concerned persons at enquiry@villfood.in and + 91 7011 326 404, +91 8700 209 659.


Personal Branding During the Time of Covid19 Crisis


This ongoing crisis of Covid19 is already taking many jobs beyond the possibility; part of it due to the crisis and part of it due to the unknown fear of financial and economic uncertainty. A business leader or an HR-Head is also a human being and will succumb to his/her memories and heuristics. So, some very talented candidates will also lose the job during this period, as it happened during 2008 US Subprime crisis.


But this time is not the time to sit and curse this challenge but this is the time to focus on your personal brand. As some talented people may lose job during this pandemic covid19 due to the fear of uncertainty, they will be picked up again much sooner than they can expect when economy picks up steam once again. They are just needed to stay focused on building their personal brand and communicating it to the target audience.


Many neuroscience researches says that human brain receives more than 11 million bit data but can process not more than 50 bit per second and that's why, many decisions are made even before blinking the eye. Robert Cialdiani, the bestselling author of “Influence” and “Pre-suation” has rightly said that we "pay" attention of something which is important to us because we trade it off with attention on something else which we don’t find important.


The first process of brand decision involves forming the representations of choice alternatives- that is, brand identification. This entails processing of incoming information, so that different options for choice are identified. At the same time, your customer needs to integrate the information on internal states (candidate requirement to fill the position) with external states (job description and requirements).


Humans are predominantly visual creatures and most of the information we receive is visual. Even if receive the information through other senses, we try to visualize the image of the product. Milosavljevic, Koch and Rangel in their research paper in 2011 had indicated that consumers can identify two different food brands and make their mind about which they prefer in as little as 313 milliseconds or roughly one third of a second. I am not saying that you are a food brand, but what’s wrong in becoming so desirable. Just think over it.


Recent studies in neuroscience indicate the four fundamentals of attention: 1) saliency filters or bottom up features 2) Top-down control 3) competitive visual selection; and 4) Working memory. First one is saliency filters or bottom up features, which means what you have in you to offer. Bottom up or saliency filters automatically select most important information from all the available information. So, if your elevator pitch, salient features of your personal brand is not fitting in with the memory and heuristics of your recruiter, then you will definitely not be picked up despite all your talent when they are in rush. Your cognitive load can’t hold too much of information at one time and so of your recruiter’s. Economy will start picking up the steam sooner than later. Human mind can’t stay in pain for too long; it will fight back to gain control over the situation. And when it will start picking up the steam, your recruiters will be in hurry to fill the position and then your bottom up information should be ready for them to pick you up among the crowd.


How can you do that:

1) Make of list of what you stand for

2) Make a list of your destinations

3) Connect the dots of what you stand for and what where are your destinations

4) Take help of your colleagues who can critically advise you

5) If possible, talk to your boss from either current or previous organizations and discus what you have prepared

6) Create a back story and start communicating it along with your check list on the regular basis with your target audience using social media, messaging apps, direct call and one to one meetings.

7) Another option will be to take help of manpower consultants and have been doing the work of profile creation and personal branding, because they have been working in the thick and thin of recruitment work.


One time final request; don’t waste your time on cursing the pandemic; it is what it is. When it will retreat, it will leave behind a fertile land, on which you can grow the tree of your successful life.


Supply Chain Challenges of Essential Food Items during COVID19 in India

COVID19 has reset the world order and new world order is booting. Since the new world order is booting, old world order is stuck in the throat of everyone; from the governments to businesses to common people.


Though I, like everyone know that every aspect of human life, businesses and governance is affected by this pandemic, I was curious to know how exactly it is impacting supply of essential items in India, which remain opened throughout this lockdown as it should have been. I talked to couple of my friends who have been leading the team selling essentials for their organizations and I am presenting their challenges as they are. They had some “Time to Survive (inventory in hand to cover the sudden eventuality)” but “Time to Recover (get into smooth operation mode with every function of supply chain working properly and optimally)” is still a long shot, despite some of the challenges I think might have been solved.


Here are the challenges they are facing in supplying staples and other essential items:


1)Logistics and Load factor: For smaller organizations or areas where order loads are small, Full Container Load (FCL) are not possible, transporters normally club the orders and deliver at destinations. Though Less than Container Load (LCL) is comparatively costly and less safe, Hundredweight freight method solves the purpose. During this period, as many small businesses remained closed, for small orders, LCL remained an impossible task and so, transporters increased the freight charges to cover the cost and incentive.


2)Credit: Credit helps in creating more liquidity, surplus fund, more customer engagement and increased risk taking appetite. But in this extremely challenging time, everyone’s risk appetite has decreased and wants to protect his/her fund liquidity. This has resulted in disappearance of credit from the market.


3)Stocks: Even for essentials, arranging stock has become challenge due to many factors and it has led to prices of many items increasing a lot. So, prices have become unrealistic as of now and whoever has the stock, charges more for it.


4)Timing Restrictions: Since timing restrictions are there in APMC market yard in metros like Mumbai, picking up and loading the stock itself takes time and in turn, supply is getting crippled. Problem gets even more complicated due to different timing restrictions for retail counters in different areas.


5)Labour challenges: Due to lockdown, there is huge shortfall in supply of labourers. To meet the demand of market, traders are trying to achieve the same throughput from workforce available, which is an impossible feat and can’t sustain for long. For migrant labourers, day and night work is resulting into heavy fatigue which can’t be repaired by money and they just want to leave for their hometown. This problem will only increase once interstate movement of labourers starts freely. A leading online grocer had to cancel around 20000 orders between Rs.30-35 Crore. There is no dearth of orders but there is scarcity of manpower to service those orders.


6)Lack of clarity about government notifications and nature of products at ground zero: Administrative staff i.e police and local administration at ground zero don’t have complete knowledge of food supply chain and so everyone is reading the same rule differently. Since no one wants to get caught at wrong foot during this pandemic, this challenge makes matter more complicated.


You are invited to add more challenges which are hampering the smooth operation of supply chain of essential items and what should be done in future if similar challenges arise? Automation, credibility based inter-trader credit system, AI based robotics, auto-driven transportation vehicles, delivery using drones are part of solution or they will complicate the employment problem of the country?


You will find following blogs on Covid19 useful:

1) Sanjiva Jha Founder CEO BroadArk Technologies on Reigniting the economy

2) Sanjiva Jha Founder CEO BroadArk Technologies on Covid19 Impact



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