Tuesday, October 30, 2012

From the Steel City - When NIT Rourkela rocked IIT KGP!

If those moments and that night of winning the Fashion Show at IIT KGP can be recalled and relived forever, the next day was nothing less exciting. It too is etched in my memories for years to come. It’s been 8+ years and I can still recall every moment of those 2 days at IIT KGP when NIT Rourkela was roaring all across the Spring Fest.

The night before was unbelievable. From the underdogs or shameless losers so to say to the flavour of the evening and NIT Rourkela Flag bearer, The Rechargers had lived some of the best moments of their college lives. However, the next day brought something out of the extraordinary.

The day started with a Quiz Competition, which, for the nature of the event, went unnoticed. Not until, NIT Rourkela won the event and the winning team was seen being congratulated and announced loudly and favourably at the Informal stall. With a huge uproar, the whole gang from NIT Rourkela, which was near the Informal stall, started to shout and roar. Another feather in the cap!

As the day went by, many of our college students participated in some informal and formal events and won some of them, much to the cheer of the 300 strong crowd from our college. There were a few teams which participated in the Group Dance Competition too; however, we couldn’t make our mark there. That moment it seemed, the day was about to be over for the NIT Rourkela teams.

However, what happened during the mid-day was something magical. With the start of the Eastern Band Competition, we had hoped to win one more event at IIT KGP and end on a high!

We were all scattered around and suddenly a phone call came, pushing us all to TOAT for the Eastern Band Competition. I reached TOAT to see a handful of our college guys there and suddenly there was everyone calling their friends to TOAT to get as much support for our team. As we were pitied against the local and crowd favourites – IIT KGP Team, we badly needed support for our team and fast.
Within next 15 minutes, what we saw was something extraordinary. TOAT was all filled with NIT Rourkela students and we easily outnumbered the local crowd. I am sure; this would have easily pumped our team to give a performance to remember for a long time.

As our team was called to perform, TOAT now swarmed with NIT Rourkela crowd, echoed with shouts of NIT Rourkela ka Tempo High hai...ooi re mai re mai re mai re Alisha baba ho and the likes. What a proud moment it was. A feeling hard to write and describe! As they say, you need to be in the middle to feel the rush and see what makes it so outstanding! Those Mexican waves, those claps, those dances – all a sight to behold!

And what a performance it was – as our very own singers sang – Har Ghadi badal rahi hai from Kal ho na ho & Dil ne Tumko Chun Liya hai from Jhankar Beats, pure magic and ethereal! The Band members – the drummer, the guitarists, the keyboard player, everyone made a perfect sync – a perfect Jugalbandi! And the way the whole NIT gang supported the team and their performance was noteworthy. By the team, the second song was being sung; I could see the whole crowd humming with our singer and band. There was no discrimination on colleges and teams. Music gelled them all and everyone flowed with the magic that happened there. Everyone was spellbound! Never ever anyone would have expected what happened that afternoon in IIT KGP. What a proud moment for us to have received such a warm appreciation for our team at a foreign turf.

Needless to say, with this mind blowing performance, our college was awarded the best prize and we ended the Spring Fest 2004 at IIT KGP at a High Note! I was just a part of the audience which witnessed the rocking performance, was very much part of it, while it happened, and I just can’t forget those moments – can recall each moment with elan. At times, I wonder, what happens to the members of our Euphony Band which performed on stage that afternoon when the recall those moments of glory, when I feel so proud to have witnessed history being created. I am sure, like many of us, they would be really proud too! J

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Indian Politics needs disruptive influence of Kejriwal

Though, I am not 100% convinced with Mr Kejriwal’s political outfit, however, what I am convinced is that Indian politics surely needs his ways of disruptive politics. He and his coterie have in them to move the Indian political scene up-side down. His idea of bringing out the corruption in Indian politics to the common people is right. He has been right in unmasking the collusive politics and undermining the politico-business nexus. The intent is clearly right.

However, what I strongly believe is wrong with his brand of politics is the ways of doing what he intends to do. I believe, upfront, he is going wrong in leaving his exposes mid way. He exposed the corrupt practices of some politicians and then left them for others to take care. Look at what happened to Mr Vadra and DLF expose – nothing has come out so far and Haryana Government has given him a clean chit. Mr Kejriwal himself accepted yesterday that Mr Vadra will come clean in the Rajasthan Government reports too. I am sure the similar fates are expected for Mr Gadkari and our new External Affairs Minister (Mr Khurshid).

This precisely is the problem. If he intends to expose the corrupt politicians and the corrupt links between the political and business class, then he has to come up with the ways of taking them to a logical conclusion. He needs to make sure that all of his and his party’s efforts are not wasted. If he leaves others (media, opposition parties, etc) to complete the job, then he is fairly wrong here. If you start something, I believe, you need to finish it. He has to remember, Public memory is very short and more so in case of we Indians. This could easily be forgotten.

He at times seems to get caught in his own web of rhetoric. If he has to earn credibility, he needs to take the right steps and that too in right measure. Calling Delhi Chief Minister Ms Dikshit names will not surely take him far. This can prove to be counter-productive. He has to understand that Ms Dikshit has earned her credibility over the years with some good work for the city. If he is pitied against her, the work has to be done slowly and surely.

He can’t get too optimistic with Indian Politics, rather he has to be cautiously optimistic. Indian collusive politics can kill him and his party very easily. The system, for all its flaws, has a strong capability to fight back and discredit anyone. No Magasaysay Award can win back Mr Kejriwal any of his long and hard earned credibility, once he loses it.

India today is a tripartite society – The Haves and The Have-Nots & in between them a raging middle class. The problem right now for IAC and Mr Kejriwal is that all his current support lies within this middle class, which is supporting him in big numbers for now, and on the internet, social media and the likes. It is this middle class, which is also least bothered to vote and will eventually generate less seats for his party. [Even I am to be blamed for this. Being out of India for long, even I haven’t voted and God knows if I will be able to vote in 2014.] The Haves also don’t bother themselves much with Mr Kejriwal and his brand of politics. All the more, because he might expose some of their political connections too and hamper their Net-worth. The poor have-nots are something that Mr Kejriwal has to target. Even though, it will be a difficult task, as he will have to visit places, which normally no one visits. To generate enough credibility amongst these people, he will have to make sure the existing political pressures on them are lifted properly. This is where the political money game is also played luxuriously during the elections. Mr Kejriwal and his team will have to figure out this puzzle too.

Mr Kejriwal has to remain in the game for long and always think of the bigger picture and the longer game. He will have to take small baby steps to create an impact. India is a young country full of impatience. Even though, he has to take some definitive steps, each at a time, he has to understand that the results are needed. He also has to understand that Indian people accept that there is corruption in the country and in Indian politics. Hence, the focus should be how to address that rather than just exposing that.

He has to define a process where this can be addressed. Is Jan Lokpal the only possible way to address this? If yes, then, define the process of getting this done. Similarly, he will have to define how he will bring about the complete autonomy of Public Institutions like CVC, CBI, EC and bring them out of the clutches of corrupt Indian polity. This is something he has talked about for some time now. The time is ripe to lay down the specifics.

As a politician, Mr Kejriwal, needs to articulate his course and vision clearly. They have to announce decisive steps on things that matter the most – economic reforms, counter-terrorism, foreign policy, defence, energy, and many more. He and his team need to think through properly and come out with action plan. This is the best time, there is a momentum in their favour, and however, they need to act fast and incisively, else, this could easily be a chance gone than a chance grabbed.

Good Luck!!

From the Steel City: NIT ka Tempo high hai...

Having landed at IIT KGP early in the morning, we registered ourselves and got our team registered for the Fashion Show Event. After having got ourselves a place to stay in one of the many hostels at IIT KGP, we went around the campus, just simply enjoying the beautiful scenery and greenery of the IIT campus. We got ourselves something to eat and agreed to meet up at 5 in the evening to participate one more time J

The whole day went enjoying the festival and the events. The business quiz, the sports quiz, the Ad-Mad and the vocals both solo and group enjoyable. The informal stall, hosting various fun events like 1 minute gigs, informal dance shows, jokes, etc were a key attraction. They made the whole fest very interesting and gave people to move away from the tension and anxiety of real competition inside.

It struck 5 in the evening and we all started getting calls from everywhere to gather for the practice session. And as it turned out, half the gang eventually didn’t turn out and we spent the whole day enjoying and roaming here and there.

Late in the evening started with the celebrity night. A 1 hour performance by Neeraj Sridhar and then a rocking 2 hour performance by KK actually made our day. But not before KK sung and along with them the audience sung “Tadap tadap ke...” and made everyone shiver in “Dilli ki sardi...” in Kharagpur. The fantabulous performance enamoured everyone and all ended the day with a happy and singing heart.
We got up next day, little realising that we have a formal practice at the venue on the stage at 12 noon. And yet again, there was a rush to gather the gang at the venue. After numerous phone calls, running helter-skelter for the team, we could finally get the team to come to the Tagore Open Air Theatre (TOAT), which was the actual venue for the main event and our practice as well.

TOAT was the venue to give your performance, a huge open theatre with a big stage on one side with a large T for the so called models J to walk on the ramp. All this surrounded with a seating capacity running into thousands from all the sides.

The team gathered and came to know that ours was the first team for the practice session. Meanwhile, seeing the competition gave us some inferiority complex. All the models (both male and female) were actual models, as we see in the magazines and adsJ. And some of them a notch better too. All around 6 feet height and nicely built with good shapes. And compare this with our team, where the 20 member team had 20 different heights and shapesJ No personal offences, however, the quality of the physical attributes on show in the competition did give us a complex and a scare. I remember, some team members coming to me and saying, “hum to gaye...no chance in front of these guys”. Being a senior member, I had no way but to console them and say...don’t worry, let’s give our best shot J

We gave our trials on stage, finished everything including our final formation and waited to see some of the other teams as well. And what we saw made us more anxious to say the least. Even though, we were confident on one hand that our concept and clothes will pull us through, we were in a state of high inferiority complex at the ramp walk of the competition teams. Their near perfect walk and movement was sure to take a thunder out of our concept and ruin our chances of rocking the competition. And a team member, a junior came and said to me “Gandhi, aaj to gaye...” And yet again, I had nothing else to say, except, “Don’t worry, all will be fine...”J

The anxiety from the practice session, allowed us to sit together and rehearse once again and see what best we can do. And finally we decided to gather around 7 PM near our change room to get ready for the show. We were about to disperse, that a team of fellow NIT Rourkela guys (senior batch) came to me and said...”abe rehne do tum log...tum kahan jeetoge in sab se...See the quality of models they have...leave it...” and continued laughing.

I will not shy away from accepting that we felt more anxious and inferior at these comments. However, what really took the shine away from all the so called beliefs of oneness and one college and support was the fact that these comments came from one of our own. Those thoughts really made that evening very sad for us and the whole team went into a sort of a hiding. Just praying that all goes fine and we could come out with flying colours, if not winning the event.

It was already 7 PM and we all had got together and went into our change rooms to get ready for a final assault, even though, the happenings of past few hours had taken a mental toll on us. The show started, ours was the 6th out of the 8 teams on stage. That gave us some extra time to get ready and do the necessary juggling and make up.

With hearts pounding, we stepped on to the stage...1 and 2 and 3 and I moved towards the center. I was in a group of 3, including 1 girl and as I moved towards the middle of the stage with lights gleaming on me, I was completely taken over by feeling of representing our college in front of a crowd running into thousands and that too at IIT KGP. All the thoughts of the day gone by were gone and taken over by the feeling of pride while I walked across the stage. As I turned right towards the edge of the T ramp, I could hear someone say...”Oye Gandhi aa gaya...” and those feelings are difficult to put in words. It is the moment well remembered, even after more than 8 yearsJ. We finally went into our final formation to a thunderous applause and closed our show with the echoes of “ooi re mai re mai re mai re...alisha baba ho” reverberating TOAT.

We quickly changed and came inside the TOAT to witness the last group on stage. I was surrounded by the whole group with our banner with Rechargers written over it on my shoulder and back. As we were anxiously watching the last group walk down the ramp, a few college mates turned up and congratulated us on the good show and the great concept. Some came to highlight that the final formation was the key and should take us far. While, some mentioned about our attire and took it as our jackpot. They mentioned, we should surely be amongst the top 3. This surely enthused us and was a pleasant change from the day gone by.

A while after the final group had presented, the anchor for the event came with the results. We could see all the teams eagerly awaiting the results with some praying and some just sitting with their heads down to cover up their anxiety.

Just before the anchor was to announce to results, he called up a top model from Kolkata on stage to congratulate the teams and give away the prizes. And he started off, with our heartbeats getting heavy. He announced the winner for the third position as Bengal College of Arts, Kolkata and that team came to the stage. He continued further, that the winner for the second prize is our very own team from IIT KGP. The whole IIT KGP Team rushed to the stage. This announcement made us realise that we stand no chance that even such good teams couldn’t get the ultimate prize. However, as the anchor announced the first prize goes to NIT Rourkela, I don’t have enough words to explain, what happened next. What exactly went though me and my mind and my heart is inexplicable. With a flying banner of Rechargers, I just went running to the stage and along with me the same junior friend of mine who in the afternoon mentioned to me... “Gandhi...aaj to gaye...” Suddenly there was a fight on the stairs to the stage, as to who will get their first J The whole gang was there and that feeling of being on stage as winners of something where we were written off by everyone, is something out of this world. In fact we didn’t give a chance to ourselves too, until we really performed well and everyone liked what we showcased. And finally we shouted hearts out with – “NIT ka Tempo High Hai...ooi re..mai re...mai re...mai re...alisha baba ho”!

Monday, October 22, 2012

From the Steel City - Rechargers decide to go regional!

Well, we all know (at least the engineering fraternity knows J) our fascination with IITs in India. Not to demean them and their stature, they are world class!! However, we in India have a special fascination for IITs. You can see people spending years to crack the IIT entrance (though that trend has faded over the last few years and for good for sure). That frenzy around IITs continues even after having joined other reputable institutes. And this craze for IITs, among students of other colleges, at least to get a chance to perform in numerous technical and cultural events there during those 4 years, Or just to get a chance to visit those august institutes, is nothing new. And I believe a bit justified too.

With the quality of students, teachers, infrastructure and of course the funding and the level of competition in IITs, make them a special category and brand. One of the toughest entrance exams in the world adds to the allure, for sure. All this, surely makes everything IITian, enigmatic and classic, at least from outside.

This explains the attraction for technical and cultural events held at IIT KGP at our college too. And add to it the idea of participating on a scale and magnitude that an IIT can provide. Students from all the Top National, Regional and Local colleges will participate for some of the top prizes on offer. With this in mind, a gang of few students went in the 2003 Cultural & Technical Festivals at IIT KGP. Once they were back to NIT Rourkela, they were completely awestruck at the quality of events, participation and organization there. This created a lot of craze for the next year’s events there.

With the confidence of having won the Fashion Show event at our own cultural festival during my second year in 2003, my team – Rechargers was all gearing up to participate at IIT KGP in January 2004, in my third year at college. It seemed, the charm of IIT KGP had caught everyone at our college, as many teams wanted to participate in the Fashion Show at IIT KGP that year. However, as per regulations, only 1 team per college was allowed, a complete opposite of what we were used to seeing at NIT Rourkela, where all the teams would be from college itself. Well, that itself called for the quality of competition at IIT KGP.

Having won the event last year at our college, we were given a preference over others and a chance to participate and represent NIT Rourkela at Spring Fest 2004 at IIT KGP. Thus started the long, hard working journey to arranging the whole gang once again and getting them to come daily for practice and mutually agree to the sequence and presentation and of course the attire. Mind you ours was never a fancy dress competition, even though, our models were not a bit of the usual models we are familiar with J

The toughest part was to get everyone to come for practice daily. People will scream at each other to be serious and come daily, however, this was proving very difficult. With, varied tastes and likings of each individual, people had to attend to each one of them. Some had to go for sports, or some to visit their girl friends (if there were any J) and there were some who would just follow girls to their hostels or homes or may be just to the college entrance market just looking at them. With so many regular duties keeping them busy, it was difficult for everyone to spare 1 hour daily for practice, even though, each one wanted to participate at IIT KGP and win the competition J

With just a vision to participate and crown NIT Rourkela as winners, the team landed at IIT KGP a day before the actual Fashion Show Competition. And mind you the vision to win, surely fitted with the confidence and belief in ourselves that we can win. And this confidence was a result of our having won the competition at our own college (even though the completion was quite unreal, in the sense that all competing teams were internal) and of course our dresses that we show cased. The dresses were liked and appreciated by one and all and that duly gave us the confidence that we can win. And of course our final formation gave us the little edge too.

The dresses, as the name of the group goes by – Rechargers, were our tribute to the environment. What we showcased was the use of little forgotten items like newspapers, CDs, aluminium foil, etc to create our clothes. At first, we were a bit apprehensive to say the least, about our attire, having been a witness to the fancy dress competitions so far. However, we wanted to try and give our best shot. And it did work so well for us. Even our competitors liked our concept, our dresses and our final formation. I am happy to accept that our concept and dresses won us the competition at our own college. And we decided to take the same concept and dresses to IIT KGP too.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

From the Steel City - Spring Fests were fun!!

January 2003, some students from my college (I was still in NIT Rourkela then) went to IIT KGP for Spring Fest (their Annual Cultural Festival and supposedly the largest college cultural festival in Eastern India). They spent 4 days at IIT KGP and I believe they were there on the behest of their friends at IIT KGP. And they came back enamoured and wowed to the core with the quality of events, competition, arrangements and of course the celebrity nights.

More so, when they would compare this with the cultural festival back at college, their frenzy is bound to go overboard. At home, when they see a Fashion Show, Dance Competition, etc with only internal teams and they too adorned with the attire rented from some “Naatak” company and then compare this with the quality of at show at IIT KGP, they are sure to feel sad at their own college.

Well, the quality of themes and attire at the Fashion Show at NIT Rourkela till then was really no less than a “Naatak” in itself. It was more of a Fancy Dress competition than a Fashion Show. What else would you call a team with olden day Kings and Queens turning up for the Fashion Show? I still remember, during the 2002 Fashion Show I was witness to such a team J In fact, they were a step ahead of the rest, they made it a blend of a Fancy Dress Competition with their attire and spoke on stage like in a stage show (Naatak) and called is a Fashion Show. I still don’t understand how come the judges allowed them to get through the preliminary round and present their blended show in the main round during the festival.

Each year, you would see some daredevil guy showcasing some fire show, blowing fire from his mouth, using petrol of course J There would be a team which would showcase Freedom fighters from Indian Freedom Struggle. And a team turning up in sports attire showcasing different sports. Though, none of this was a fashion show, but it was too much fun! We can easily see almost full college turning up for the preliminary as well as the main rounds in our very own AV Hall. It was a full on rocking time, with whistles from all the corners. And needless to say, people would always wait and watch out for girls in each team, even though, there was nothing much to write home about J Fashion Show along with the Dance Competition and to some extent the celebrity night (much on this later) were easily the top draws.

The Dance Competition preliminary round would easily take 2 days to finish as teams would take the Olympics motto – The most important thing is not to win but to take part; very seriously. One can easily see teams being overnight and participating in the hostel galleries, college SAC area and wherever they could get ample space to spray their hands and legs and an electricity connection to connect their CD Player (Yes, we studied in the days of CD Players). The idea of Dance Competition in the Cultural Festival was do easily sold that one can see at least 50 teams participating in the preliminary rounds. You can see some solo performances, some group ones & some real good ones to give even Hrithik Roshan or Mithunda (Mithun Chakraborty) a run for their money.

And what celebrity nights we used to have till 2003 Cultural Festival at our college. In the name of celebrity nights, we would host some special singers and may be dancers within the precincts of our college and call it a celebrity night. It was a special event and would mark the end of the festival with these special moments J I still remember the one in the 2003 event, it was supposed to start at 7 in the evening and it started raining. As it was supposed to happen in open air in the Library Quadrangle (Yes, it was called so), we couldn't start the closure event. People started thinking, without this special closure event, how can we close the fest and hence, we will get another day off the next day J And by God’s grace (I am with the students, for the students and I am a student), the rumour spread that tomorrow is a holiday as this even can’t be held now and will be held tomorrow evening. As it is, we have paid heavily for this special orchestra evening and would surely want it to happen, if not today, then tomorrow. And again, by God’s grace, as rumours are a wildfire in hostels, by 7 PM, it was known to everyone J

However, the Rain Gods smiled, but this time on the college authorities and the organizing committee, it stopped raining by 7.30 PM and it was announced that the event would start sharp at 8 PM. And what and orchestra event it was, Kishore Kumar Classics, Lata Jee Classics crooned away to their glory J However, it was a college crowd, which once together, finds magic in even the obvious things J So needless to say, we danced, shouted our throats out and enjoyed to the hilt. And finally as expected and customary, announced the closure of the fest with the shouts of – ooi re, mai re, mai re, mai re, Alisha baba ho!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

IAC buckle up and move fast...

Indian masses have a very short vision and very short memory. We forget things at the drop of hat. The importance of things and issues change and varies very fast. In the garb of being flexible we waver easily. Even I am accused of the same. Our culture and ways of life has to be blamed on this . We have always been told to accept things and agree to them eventually. With this in mind, we need to understand the importance of the Anna Hazare movement and then India Against Corruption (IAC).

What happened to the Anti-Corruption movement and demand for Jan Lokpal and where it stands today in the so called civil society is a testimony to exactly what I mentioned above. The Anti-Corruption movement with Anna Hazare at the helm started with much fan fare and tom-tom last year. Common people in thousands and lacs turned up, took leaves from office and work and joined Anna and his anti-graft crusaders at Ramlila grounds in August last year. You speak to anyone; he or she seemed to be much swayed by this Gandhian who took to fast unto death to get his demands for Jan Lokpal listened / agreed to. I was there in Delhi at that time in August last year and it seemed, all the roads in Delhi led to the famed Ramlila grounds.

However, what happened to the movement after that? To me, it did lose steam and became a fight of a handful of gentle souls. We the common people of India couldn’t take leaves from work every now and then to support these fast campaigns. With political arm twisting, it seemed a never ending story for sure. It was very clear that the political behemoths where such laws are prepared and approved will never allow such a strong Jan Lokpal Bill to be passed. And IAC was eventually left with no choice but to roam around in these political circles.

And slowly but surely we all started forgetting the movement and began to accept all that had happened, as a flash in the pan.

Today, with IAC having decided to move towards forming a political party and participate in the Indian Democracy, the pangs of corruption started making noise once again. Over the last few weeks, IAC has come out in open and announced acts of corruption in the main government party as well as in the main opposition party.

To me, it seems IAC is more concerned with making noises only about corruption which are bound to forget very soon. Everyone knows there is corruption and we all meekly accept it too. What is needed is not just anti-corruption movement, but a movement with clear policies and their implementation for the benefit of the common man.

If IAC can come with a clear ways to address key issues lying in front of the country and their ways to implement them, I am sure, people of India will appreciate it and accept IAC’s plank of a political alternative.

IAC’s stand on corruption and their way (Jan Lokpal) to address it is well known. What is needed is their stand on other key matters like growth, foreign money (FDI), foreign policy, terrorism, internal security, especially the matter of region-hood or state-hood, etc. Key among them would surely be how growth happens and is distributed equitably. I am sure, if there is enough equitable growth, demands for state-hood will die down with time too.

Mr Kejriwal and company if you are serious in offering the Indian populace with an alternative during the next elections, you need to buck up and buck up fast and come out with clear stand and policies and their implementation and of course your party’s vision for the nation.

Mr Kejriwal, you need to be aware of the 2 very important facts – Indian masses will soon forget your valour in unravelling the corruption with damad-ji and adhyaksh-ji, if you continue treading the same path. And if you are not serious and careful of your future as a citizen, activist and politician in Indian democracy, you might get lost in the labyrinth called Indian Politics.

All the Best!!

Nathan decides to move on...but...

Nathan continued his struggles in this ruthless world. He was able to impress his prospects with the solution and its capabilities, however, that wasn’t turning into success. He maintained his calm, even though, being very young and new to sales, first success mattered most. Nathan spent a lot of time introspecting and thinking what to do, how to move ahead and get his first closure. All that he wanted was a deal, no matter what size it is. It has been almost 1 year and he wasn’t able to get anything. It was becoming difficult for him to see an eye with his bosses. He knew, sooner or later, he might be sounded an alarm to perform or perish.

He would travel and spend time outside office, so that he is not in the eyes of his superiors.  He started exploring his options outside the company and started speaking to his friends and network to get him a new role. Maybe he wasn’t made for sales. Maybe he needed a break to reconsider his options. He spent 1 week thinking on these lines and then decided to give himself 3 months. He decided to give his best shot during the next 3 months and then reconsider his choices.

During the next few weeks, he spent more time with his prospects. He learnt more about the sales process and read on how to move ahead with an opportunity. He would discuss this with his colleagues and friends to get ideas.

And as they say – There is always light at the end of the tunnel, Nathan got a life when he was called in by ABC and told that he wanted him to take over a portfolio of business being handled by Victor who is leaving the organization. Victor was the Regional Head of Services for the company, handling 3 customers with some projects at each of them.

Nathan took time to decide as this new role was a bit different than his current role. Though, he was still to sell, however, prime responsibility was to focus on managing the existing customers and making sure that they don’t leave the company with the change in guard for them. And all these projects being Services Projects made them a lot different than the way to approach Products, which was Nathan’s core focus till now.

Taking his time, Nathan discussed this role with ABC at length and finally agreed. He thought, he has already given himself 3 months and it would be good to take a dig at Services too and later on decide what works well for him.

Nathan’s challenge in the new role was to be able to manage the customers and the team alike. The teams were hired specifically for these projects and customers and any instability and luring from Victor might prove detrimental to the organization. Victor would surely try and poach these customers with him to his new employee too. This could destabilise the whole services business for the company.

He got Victor to introduce him to the customers as a part of his hand-over responsibilities and tried to meet as many team members as well, to give them the comfort of being there. In parallel, he started meeting all the customers along with Jammy, who was advised to assist him by ABC.

Jammy and Nathan met up with all the customers in person and gave them the comfort that it will be Business As Usual for them they will make sure that their teams work as is and the deliverables are met. They also took Shanks along with them to be able to leverage upon his experience as a competent sales professional. All 3 of them made sure that the customers are taken care of well. Meetings, Lunches, Dinners and Partying followed for next 2 weeks, covering all the customer personnel and attending and listening to all their concerns.

In parallel, Nathan and Jammy met up with all the team members and updated them on Nathan replacing Victor and Nathan taking care of all their concerns. They spent time with them, took them out for lunch and dinner parties, so that they get easy and gel up within the team and with Nathan too.

This in a way left Victor a bit angry at Nathan and it seemed it hit his ego that a young guy comes over and meet all this customers behind his back and doesn’t even bother to tell him so. He had all the help he needed and was doing it well too. He called up Nathan and dared him to meet any of the customers again without him, till the time he is with the organization. He challenged that within 1 month of his exit, he will take all the customers and projects to his new organization. As he would join a bigger organization, he will have the resources and might to entice the customers easily and his existing relationship would work in his favour.

Nathan took up the challenge and made sure that over next 2 months he visited each customer at least once every week. He would visit them just to say hello or to discuss the progress of the current project or to check for newer opportunities. Once every 2-3 weeks, he invited them for lunch or dinner to give them additional comfort. After 2 months, he got ABC to meet up with all the customers to make them believe in us, with words from the senior management. He also made sure he was in regular touch with his team members, he would visit them regularly and check if there is anything he could do.

All this really worked for him and over the next 3 months, not only he managed to save all the existing projects and customers that he was handed over, at the end of 3 months, he was able to get a new project from an existing customer. This was the biggest win for him and paved the way for his growth in the organization. This made senior management to believe in him and appreciate his efforts. He was awarded with the outstanding sales man for the quarter. This made Nathan very happy and he believed in himself and his capabilities as a sales guy and decided to continue further in his current employment.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Balancing Act

After a few months of handling the project as an Account Manager, Nathan started thinking, is handling project all about making sure that all promises made are delivered and on time or is it just about handling the customer? Every now and then, he was with the customer, quelling all his concerns on our capabilities to deliver or explaining them about how we handle their requirements. All in all, assuaging customer’s concerns and calming them. If he was not with them, he was having discussions with the implementation team.
Sooner than later, he realised, as an Account Manager, his responsibilities were more towards the customer, even though he was still the employee of his organization and not the customer. He surely realised customer was the King and he was one of his subjects J

On one hand, his delivery team was after him for not being assertive enough to say No to the customer and his every growing list of requirements. And on the other hand, customer was chasing him to meet all their agreed expectations and that too on time.

The delivery team at times would chastise him with taunts too. They would simply question his capabilities to handle the customer. Their ratings of Nathan would squarely depend on him able to say “No” to the customer. They would simply say, you just go and say Yes to everything and now we don’t have anything to deliver that. They would not agree that to get this project, they too accepted some of the difficult requirements from the customer.

The customer would just chase him saying that you have already accepted the requirements and its all listed in the proposal. So, you need to deliver them. And only then the payments would be made. Very well knowing that payments are all linked to the delivery milestones, which if no met, would automatically delay the payments.

Poor Nathan was struggling between the customer and the delivery team, little realising that there was another angle to this fight. It was a love triangle or may be a hate triangle where he was struck to make himself a living. He continued struggling to meet the expectations of all the stakeholders, also trying to establish himself in the organization and showcasing his capabilities. And suddenly he got call from ABC, asking him an update on the project and the monies to be collected from the customer.

He gave ABC an exact update on the status and told him clearly that because of this fight on the requirements, the delivery will be late, and hence the payments. To this, ABC asked Nathan – “What do I answer Mr CEO. He won’t listen to these delays. Yours and my salary will be delayed. Imagine how it will be like to see your salary delayed”.

Nathan explained the problems, but to no avail. What he got in reply was – “Its your responsibility and hence, you have to get the payments”. Nathan was completely shaken at the angle of payments to this ensuing fight.

With each passing day with them, Nathan was going crazy at finding a solution to his challenges. He had to somehow placate the concerns of each party and establish himself in the organization.
After a much thought, he decided to arrange a discussion between the delivery team and the customer so that some common ground can be found and eventually the delivery can be made and he can get the payment. He spoke to them and struggled to get the two fighting teams to get to agree to a common schedule to discuss the status and key issues.

Even though, he had arranged this, Nathan knew, nothing was going to resolve in just one discussion. We would need at least 2-3 more to come to an agreement for everyone.
Finally, after 4 rounds of discussions and many rounds of emails, they discussed each and everything and agreed to a final list of requirements to which both the parties confirmed their concurrence.

Nathan was happy that some of his ideas worked. After, each common discussion, he spent long hours discussing everything with the delivery team and then next day presented the same to the customer. He would then take back the customer’s feedback to the delivery team. This way, he was able to get each party ready with the action points for the next round of discussion.

This gave Nathan a lot of confidence in himself and his capabilities. And he learnt, his work was all about setting and meeting the expectations, more with the customer and then with his internal teams.

He accepted that there would always be a tussle like this, as Sales Team would promise moon to the customer to be able to sell. And at the end, the organization may not be able to meet the deliverables in the agreed timelines. He may not want to lie; however, he is left with no choice but to act in a particular manner as everyone else does too. It is a competitive world and he has to meet his targets too. If he doesn't sell, he can’t justify his existence in the company. He also realized that Sales team is the engine of the company. It brings in revenues and growth for the organization and provides momentum and keeps the morale high for the entire organization.

Meanwhile, Nathan continued with his core responsibility to sell. He continued arranging meetings and product demos, however, nothing moved to a stage of getting a new deal.

On one hand, he continued to get going as an Account Manager; on the other, he struggled to move ahead as a Sales Manager. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Your Right Hand should not know what your Left Hand is doing

Nathan has slowly but surely gotten into the groove of business development. He started learning the nuances. Over the next few months, he learnt and practised the art of cold calling, arranging meetings, preparing engaging & interesting presentations. With the progress, ABC was much impressed and asked him to think of how we can get going further.

Nathan came up with the idea of email campaigns and went to ABC to discuss more on that. ABC advised Nathan on the idea and asked him to prepare a sample email message. Over the next few days, Nathan worked on the email message and after a few iterations with Patrick, finally showcase the best 2 to ABC. ABC approved one and gave Nathan a go ahead along with the Marketing team to start the email campaign and track the responses and effectiveness of it.

Next 2 weeks went in the campaign and generating responses and finally speaking / emailing them to meet them in person. With this campaign, Nathan was able to get enough responses and meetings for ABC to allow him to travel and call it a success.

However, ABC did tell him that actual success will depend on how much we are able to covert this initial traction into deals and dollar values. He told that a sales guy, we have to focus only on numbers and somehow strive to achieve them. Patrick also advised that Sales guy is as good as a deal. Once a deal is closed, you just have a few days to take a sigh of relief. You have to move onto the next one and the just closed one is forgotten in a whiff.

More Nathan started getting responses and moving ahead in the sales cycle, more he was looked upon to make a closure and get a deal. More he was being analysed and asked for updates on a regular basis. On one hand, he was working hard to get going in this hateful and thankless sales world, moving ahead as well, however, on the other hand, he was getting stuck as things started to hit a wall after a while.

After initial 2-3 discussions with each of the prospects, there was not much to show for. There was nothing much happening and Nathan started learning the hard and harsh ways of sales. He realised, this is where the extra effort and smartness is required, to take the final step and close it.

He spent some with ABC and Patrick to discuss how best he should move ahead and try for a closure. There was nothing much important that came out and Nathan was a bit dejected. Meanwhile, ABC suggested arranging a meeting with the senior management and him. This would help set the context at the senior level and give them the relationship comfort. He advised, this might push our case further.

Over the next few weeks, ABC and Nathan met up with the senior management at the key prospects, however, nothing much came out. The status quo remained. This made Nathan all the more dejected.
Some time had passed since those meetings, that one day ABC called Nathan as told him that there is a product implementation for my product to start in next 2 weeks at an existing customer.  And as this is the same country you are looking after, it would be good if you start concentrating on this project as the Account Manager, while the implementation team works on the project. Meanwhile, you can continue working on the sales as well in parallel.

After a bit of thought, Nathan accepted being the Account Manager for this new project. He thought, it would be good to get an exposure on Account Management and in parallel he will continue his focus on his core role of sales.

Over the next few months, Nathan took complete control of the project, driving the implementation team at the customer location and the backend team as well to deliver the project on time. He started interacting with the customer on the project and got involved completely. Though, he took a bit of time to understand the nuances of the project, however, once he did, he was in complete control. This gave ABC much satisfaction and raised Nathan confidence.

As the requirements gathering phase was over, Nathan returned to Exactechpur to be called in by ABC to give him an update. ABC liked what he heard and Congratulate Nathan for the good work done so far.
Nathan came back to his seat and after a while met with an unexpected visitor to his desk. Mr CEO, with whom Nathan had never interacted, was at his place. At first, Nathan couldn’t believe his eyes, was it the same CEO, whose thoughts were, people like Nathan don’t have any stature to talk to me...I can’t talk to him and hence would never talk to him.

As much as Nathan was surprised, he was equally confused to see Mr CEO wanting to talk to him. He thought, what he had done to see him there, as he would talk to employees, only to chastise them.
Mr CEO started with taking updates on implementation project Nathan was handling. As Nathan gave him updates, he could see Mr CEO’s eyes rolling up and down on him, looking for something. Meanwhile, a thought still evaded Nathan’s mind – whatever I say, you will still question everything, so its better, I stop and you talk J

As if God had listed to Nathan J The moment he told Mr CEO that the project will move towards SIT & UAT in 2 months, Mr CEO started. You should get some UAT scripts from the users. You should befriend them and try and get some of those scripts. Try them on your system and get the problems fixed. This way, we can deliver the project smoothly and on time. And we can get our payments on time.

Quickly Mr CEO’s tone changed. He asked Nathan if all the previous milestone payments done by the customer. What is the total amount invoiced and what is pending? He said, you should try and get all the money before everything. You should always be chasing them for money, so that finally they give you something. And then came best part – I am paying you with this money only. So for your salary, you should get the project money.

Nathan was completely bewildered at these thoughts. With much courage, he asked Mr CEO – Boss, how can we get the payments without milestone deliveries?

This question put Mr CEO into another mode all together. He got shouting – don’t be a fool Nathan. You will always have to push our implementation team to deliver and our customer to make the payments. Always get the payments beforehand and sit easy. And then came the dialogue of the century for Nathan, as Mr CEO said – “Remember, your Right Hand should not know what your Left Hand is doing”.

He repeated the dialogue again, this time, showing this with the movement of his hands. Nathan remained silent and amazed at the thoughts. And Mr CEO went away with Nathan completely lost at his new learning J

Monday, October 8, 2012

Nathan fights off in the corporate world

Nathan is back from his first sales meeting. Shanty chases him for updates; as if, there is a sale in the first meeting itself and he can quickly and easily claim it J Nathan replied saying ABC is asking for an update too (he tried his luck, though ABC haven’t asked anything by then), he will share everything ASAP. Shanty had nothing to say, except okay sure. Nathan smiled at himself and thought for a while, is he also getting succumbed to the fancies of ASAP? J Then he thought, whatever, it worked J and he took it easy.

Nathan sent the updates and seeing the promise of further meetings and some demo requests, ABC was impressed and offered a cup of coffee to Nathan. Nathan obliged and followed ABC downstairs to a coffee house. Nathan was so happy with just the both of them and Patrick joining for a hot cuppa. No sign of Shanty just elated him so much.

The discussion over coffee went off well. With both ABC and Patrick asking some details at each of the prospects Nathan visited. Nathan was so happy to give them details that he went on and on and told them everything, even the poor reactions from the prospects. They both advised Nathan of how to tackle them in future and what else he could have done.

After the discussion, Nathan felt so much at ease and was so happy to be working with both ABC and Patrick. He suddenly started liking this work and the place. The same place, which for the past few months had become so unfriendly, suddenly looked so nice and enjoyable.

Nathan’s moments of happiness were short lived as they reached office. Shanty was waiting in the wings demanding explanation on why wasn’t he informed about his meeting with ABC. It seemed to Nathan as if, he was his bonded labourer and he had to say and do what his master would say. For a moment, Nathan thought, he had had enough of this. He thought of requesting ABC for a change of reporting manager. He couldn’t bear the dealings of Shanty anymore and just couldn’t manage his antics. After pondering over this for a while, he decided against it, thinking, it is just working out for him and ABC seemed happy at his progress. It would be good if he does something more and then requests. That way, he would give no chance for ABC to reject his request.

It turned out to be good for Nathan, as over the next few weeks, he could arrange a few more meetings with key prospects and prepare well for the next presentations / demos for the previous ones. His product knowledge over the weeks, had improved a lot too and it was put to test with Shanty once fine day, asking for a product presentation to him.

This presentation went off really well and Nathan could answer most of the questions put forth by Shanty. Meanwhile, ABC came in between to check what was going on, and requested Shanty for updates, right in front of Nathan. This time, Shanty has no choice but to say the truth and answer in the affirmative for Nathan. ABC patted on Nathan’s back and went off.

Nathan continued the hard work and travelled frequently for meetings. On one hand, this gave immense satisfaction to Nathan and also to ABC that his selection is proving to be right. However, this seemed to make Shanty a bit insecure. It seemed that the thought of a junior taking the limelight from him, made him uneasy. He started keeping a very strong and strict vigil on Nathan’s work and travels. He questioned each and every small bit that Nathan felt being micro-managed and not being given the freedom to work.

The way ABC and Patrick used to discuss things with Nathan was completely opposite of the way Shanty was working with Nathan. ABC was very easy and gave him the ease and confidence of working and deal closure. While, Shanty would demean him at every step and question as if he was lying or doing something wrong. This continued for some time.

One weekend, Shanty was away travelling and called Nathan to come to office and showcase the solution over the web to him. Nathan requested to work from home, as he had everything on his office laptop and he could very well manage from home. Shanty refused and even got one more guy to accompany Nathan to office to make sure he visits office over the weekend. This really irked him. During the demo to Shanty, Nathan had to stop a few times, due to some problem with the system. Shanty said “You seem to have a problem, every time. It seems, you are not interested to work. Its better, you give everything to me, I will handle it.”

That was it, this time; Nathan had had enough of Shanty and his ways of working. He decided, he will finish things off well today and next day, speak to ABC and get his reporting manager changed.

Next day, as soon as ABC was in, Nathan went to see him. He spoke to ABC at length and discussed his challenge and problems. And finally managed to get ABC become his reporting manager. He came out of ABC’s room and felt so relieved. He suddenly felt victorious.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Nathan gets his first sales meeting...

Soon Nathan was learning the ways of life as a BDM. He was yearning to live it all by himself. Meanwhile, his working equation with Shanty was going bad day by day. It went bad to worse, when once day ABC called him along with Shanty and asked Shanty about Nathan’s performance so far. And Shanty started as if the volcano was about to burst. It continued for a few minutes and came to Nathan to answer all the allegations of not working enough. 

Poor Nathan had nothing to say to claim back upon. Poor guy hadn’t noted down anything about his work thinking the managers save your skin, if you work hard and keep them in loop. However, he didn’t know, he was in a completely different environment, where, animal eats animal was the mantra. Shanty had whitewashed so well that whatever Nathan said, was falling on deaf ears. He had no choice but to meekly accept this, knowing the fact that at that moment, he needed a job more than anything else. 

Nathan did work hard and eventually started speaking to ABC more and discussing with him more. He was given a portfolio of products to sell and a market closer home. Though a new market for Nathan, however, the prospect of working and opening a new market for those products egged him to accept the challenge.

He started diligently preparing a database of his targets and relevant stakeholders there. He would cold call them all, one by one and continued doing so for a week, when eventually, he understood the nuances of cold calling and fine tuned his script to a level that made so much sense that he felt elated at the final result. However, as they say, proof of the pudding is in the eating – he wanted to test his latest script and was longing for success. He finally succeeded and was able to get 3 appointments out of the 10 targets. 

He was so happy that he quickly went to ABC and informed him of the meetings arranged next week. He wanted to travel and requested for the same. Immediately, his travel was approved and ABC guided him through the travel process in the company. 

Meanwhile, Shanty sounded a bit jealous of Nathan’s ability to cold call and get through meetings. He tried stalling his travel, asking Nathan to postpone the meetings, as he would to accompany him for the meetings and he couldn’t travel on the said dates. Nathan knew nothing of the sort, he told that after such long trials, after calling for weeks, he had got those meetings arranged, it would be difficult to postpone them and arrange them again. He explained this to ABC and ABC finally agreed to allow Nathan to travel alone. He advised Nathan to take Shaun from our local office there along with him. He called up Shaun to apprise him of the same. 

Nathan spent the next few days with ABC and Patrick preparing presentations for the meetings next week. He would spend hours together with Patirck fine tuning them and finally agreed for a deck which he would use for all the presentations with colour combination changed to respective prospects’ corporate colours. This would give them a personal and known feeling during the presentation. Patrick and ABC seemed impressed and happy at Nathan’s hard work.

Nathan was so busy and excited for his first sales meeting and presentation that he didn’t have time to get anxious and think otherwise. With lot of positivity and hope, he set out for his new destination.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Tricks of the trade

Nathan would go with Jack for lunch and come back within 1 hour. However, over the next few weeks, he noticed, other than them and a few others, most of other colleagues would go down, bring breakfast and lunch to desk and eat there itself. This included the senior managers as well. This was very weird to him. He couldn’t understand what forced these people do go out for lunch, even then when they have a designated 1 hour for lunch. So much so he disliked this, he was slowly becoming used to this office culture.

A few weeks have gone by; Nathan was being trained on banking domain and the banking solutions from his company. He liked the work and the way his colleagues and office seniors would discuss sales process and dealings. However, as he had nothing much except to read about the solution and APAC markets, he would read newspapers online, blogs of interest and other emails as well.
One day, after coming to office, as usual, Nathan was reading online news papers. Shanty, sitting behind him, got up and commented with a satire – These days, you have started reading too much of news papers. It seems you are quite free. Nathan took it easy, thinking its just a one off comment. Let it be and went off for lunch.

Nathan was then summoned by ABC into this office. ABC started, “So your jet lag is over or not? Have you been able to come to terms with Exactechpur?” Nathan just nodded saying, Yes, everything is fine. ABC continued, “So what is your biggest fear with sales? Now that you have spent some time here, you should know”. Nathan replied “Nothing really big, just that I don’t booze and don’t want to too. It seems, you kind of have to booze to succeed in sales”. There was a broad smile on ABC’s face, as soon as he hears this. It seemed, he expected this and knew how to address this.

ABC said – it’s easy. First of all, alcohol is not a required always. Yes, it makes things easy, as people spend some good time over booze and eases them. This helps in making a good rapport and a sale. However, having said this, it’s not mandatory. Instead, you can try learning about alcohol, varieties of booze, places of their production and things like that. This way you can still engage your customers and possibly recommend a few. If you still think you need to drink then drink wine. Its a classy drink, most people enjoy it and it’s not that hard as others. Look at me, I also drink just wine. Nathan thought for a moment, as if, from your face, I can make out you drink just wine J And then he thought, you are saying this now, however, if it comes to a situation, where I don’t drink alcohol, even though, it may be required, you will blame me for everything.

One another day, ABC asked Nathan to prepare a presentation and present it to him and Patrick, after lunch. Nathan prepared a good presentation and went inside the discussion room to present. Both ABC and Patrick looked at him like eagles looking for the right moment to catch their prey. And as luck would have it, Nathan’s moment with the eagles had come J Patrick started off questioning the veracity of the data used by Nathan and their source. Meanwhile, Nathan was answering Patrick, ABC started off with questioning Nathan’s choice of the market to sell. And this continued for the next half an hour. Finally, ABC signed off saying, “Nathan, you should come prepared next time and always believe and say Yes when a customer asks if you can do this. We may not have it, but we can surely get it done. You have only 1 chance to prove yourself and your solution, so grab it with both hands and create a wow factor. Only then, he will engage with you further.”