In 2009 I had signed up for a workshop for entrepreneurs by Prof Y L R Moorthi of IIM Bangalore for two reasons. One, to pitchfork my training to the next level and learn from the iconic professor famed for his domain expertise and narrative excellence!
It was a sell out workshop ! 82 entrepreneurs (struggling, successful and failed) all waiting to lap up the “structured gyan” as the Prof. put it ! Concepts backed by anecdotal evidence, lively narration, consistently provoking the audience with quizzes and teasers backed by phenomenal memory!
I could relate to the catchy line he’d written on the blackboard as a welcome note because it resonated with what my father had said years ago- “When a start up fails, it is the start up that fails and not you !”
Early on a partcipant asked, ‘does luck play a role in business ?”. He said ‘oh yes, luck favours those who take chances !” He amplified it with the example of Bill Gross,a hugely successful investor and considered the Warren Buffet of bond markets. When asked about his regimen, he replied, ‘three hours of yoga and thirteen hours of staring at the screen !” After so much of staring, the screen will tell you some stories which others call luck.
The message was clear for entrepreneurs – “Read as much as you can,talk to entrepreneurs,observe what’s happening outside your domain so you can apply some ideas in your business, attend programs like this but be prepared to work your butt off !There’s no easy way out !” And quoted from Malcolm Galdwell’s Outliers – You need to put in 10,000 hours of hard work in your domain to become a super star !
Prof YLRM admitted that some, like the Marwaris are genetically endowed with the art of making money. Like the Lalbhai group, which is a tenth generation business house. “It would take extraordinary talent to screw up !”
He marvelled at their killer instinct and cited the example of “Maine Pyar kiya”, a Hindi movie produced by the Barjatyas. It had everything for the aam admi-14 songs, two weddings and a funeral !” A cap with “FRIEND” written boldly was sported by the hero and heroine and it became a rage with teenagers.Yet another Marwari businessman cashed in by merchandising the FRIEND caps and within four years raked in Rs 130 crores !
Talking about the importance of ‘know your customer’, he spoke about Abbe Dubois, a French Missionary who landed up in South India in the 18th century and found it very difficult to talk to locals as they were very clannish and refused to give any information. And then, “I changed my dress, changed my language, then changed my food. Soon,they started telling me secrets they wouldn’t tell their
His next case was about Chokhi Dani, the iconic heritage restaurant near Jaipur which has raised customer service into an art form by employing school drop-outs from rural Rajasthan. When the owner was asked, “How do you get a 10th Grade fail to give exemplary service, he replied, “I ask my boys to replicate the way their mother would serve them at home.”
He sprinkled his talk with an abundant list of resources, most of which are relevant even today. Here’s a partial list:
Marketing Managemnet: A South Asian perspective : Kotler,Koshy and Jha
For God,Country and Coca Cola by Mark Pendergrast
The Mind of the Strategist by Kenichi Ohame
The Borderless World both by Kenichi Ohame
Idli, Orchid and Willpower Vittal, Venkatesh Kamat
Outliers Malcolm Gladwell
Platform Leadership by Annabelle Gawer and Michael A Cusumano
Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies by Abbé J A Dubois
We are like that only Rama Bijapurkar – segmentation
Positioning / Focus – Al Ries and Jack Trout
Inside Intel Tim Jackson
Only the paranoid survive by Andy Grove
The Softwar – Mathew Symonds
The difference between God and Larry Ellison
Successful Sales Promotion Pran Choudhury
Sramana Mitra – blog
My addition : Founders at work
Rules for Revolutionaries – Guy Kawasaki
Making Breakthrough innovation happen Porus Munshi
Innovation Management DVR Seshadri and Shlomo Maital.