A client once approached me for building an app. His budget was just sufficient. His idea was unique and had good potential.
I honestly told him that all you have is an idea, its great, but all you have is just an idea; You have not done any research and you are bound to fail if you execute this without research. I told him to do a market research first, ask some potential customers etc. He was happy to conduct a research and I helped him a bit in it too as pro-bono.
6 months later he came back with a market research and was ready to build it. Based on his additional scope from the market research, there was a bit too much work and it would have taken a bit longer. I told him clearly to find the extra budget and time, but he was really impatient. He just assumed the budget would be fixed regardless of the extended features. And so he approached another dev team to build it.
12 months later he came back to me again to take over the app as he was frustrated with the other team as they released a very poor quality app. The team was cheap but also novice. They promised everything in the start, but had cut corners everywhere. After analyzing the code, I said we cannot take it up as the code base was really bad and besides the whole architecture itself was wrong. He was not surprised as he expected this. He decided to somehow continue more development hoping to salvage and get some more users onboard.
Another 6 months later, he lost all his enthusiasm and money to build his startup! He tried to approach some investors, but since the app wasn’t great, the deals didn’t really work out.
Perhaps, he will never build an app again..!
What were the mistakes/things to learn ?
1. Being Impatient. Good things need careful attention to detail and time. Never rush things just because you’re personally impatient.
2. Not trusting your partners: Choosing the right technology and right team to build your startup is very important, its not always about money but mostly about trust in the long run. Most companies these days accept project and never continue on updates.
3. Have some faith in yourself. Do not give up so easily. There are ups and downs in any project. Keep building !
Recently my niece introduced me to some ASMR videos on Youtube and I was like whaattt! She showed me a very strange video of a person eating edible soap. But.. Its not the video that’s important, its actually the sound. I did a bit of a research and found a lot about ASMR and I have got strangely addicted to it. Of late, I’ve downloaded some sleep apps which have ASMR sounds of rain or pebbles. ASMR can have a tremendous impact on you, Not just the relaxation but it can trigger a lot of memories
Turns out that I have a long history with ASMR and sounds. Here it goes:
First Experience : So it happens that I now remember my first experience with ASMR. (memory trigger working)
If I remember correctly yet faintly, I should have been probably about 3-5y old when my mum would make me fall asleep on her lap with her stroll over my face and once I’d slept she would have put me down. I remember very faintly that she would then be continuously whispering.. Oh boy, not to me, but she was actually chit-chatting with my aunts or relatives. That whisper was my first ASMR experience that I now remember. If I woke up, my mum would pat me and make me sleep again and she would gently stroke my scalp.
My Second significant ASMR experience which I remember was in my school days. Myself sitting in class where our teacher was on sick leave and the class monitor would ask us to put our heads down on the desk. Just so that no one would chit-chat or make noise. While our heads were down, I put my ear flat on the surface of the wooden desk and quite surprisingly I was hearing some sounds. Sound which felt like a furnace burning far away. Actually it was the fan which was attached to the ceiling rod which was then touching to the floor rods overall there was this faint vibration on wooden bench in a very soft and gentle way. I then tried to tap my nail on the desk to see how it sounded. It was fun and I enjoyed it. It was ASMR. I showed this to the guy beside me and he also started soft knocks with his nail at one and I would reply back on the other. I was pure ASMR and fun.
I continued doing the same on walls; I would place my ears on the wall and tap the wall gently with a stick. And then comes the shock of my life – I used my nails to scratch the wall out of curiosity but little did I know that came out, the most annoying sound/vibrations which shook me. Wait a minute, I’ve heard that sort of a sound before. The sound of a chalk on the blackboard by our teacher. Its really unpleasant. Turns out that this sound was also ASMR but with a negative or unpleasant experience.
These were the days when there weren’t any digital tools. Now comes the Television. I used to put my ears on the speakers flat and turn the volumes at different levels to understand what’s coming out. It was fun too. I remember I was once on stage giving a speech. The way the speakers are placed is totally opposite of you and you don’t even realize if what you’re speaking can be heard on the other side. I was given a mic and I kept testing the mic just because I couldn’t hear it back! Similar thing happened when I was at a quiz contest. The host kept asking and it was difficult to hear, because the system was made mostly for the audience and the stage people always have difficult time adapting to it. I was a novice back then about all this. Experimenting has taught me a lot now.
So, bring out the walk-man and the tape recorder age! I did record a lot of my own voice and heard it again and again. It was soft and gentle ASMR. The sound of my tongue, lips, moisture in the mouth, air in/out of my lungs were my favorite. I still do it sometime on my phone’s voice recorder. Silly yet nerdy fun.
I was about 10y old and our family went to the beach for the first time. My mum showed me a seashell and asked me to listen to it. It was pure bliss. The ASMR created was unique. She’d say you could hear the entire ocean inside it and its true. If you’ve got a large seashell, do try it out. Do close your eyes for maximum effectiveness.
Well, the scientist inside me never stopped experimenting, the seashell broke and I tried it with a glass, large empty pipe or anything deeply hollow and the results were replicated.
Doesn’t end here.. and so I got married ( It gets interesting now.. ) and then comes all sorts of “other” sounds with the “other” gender. Starting with the immediate notice of the increased “pitch” of my wife. I remember my school physics teacher explaining “pitch” or “shrillness of a sound” in the sound chapter by giving an example that boys and girls have different voices. Girls had have high pitched voice or the shrillness is high.. Little did I know or think about today.
Until now I’d hear my mom’s or sister’s voice which was a bit less pitched for the fact she was a bit elder, but my wife’s voice was exactly what my physics teacher had described.(Probably he got married that year ). My wife’s shrillness for me was like another level of shrillness – Not in a bad way, but its something I’d never experienced before. Perhaps I’ve heard such a pitch with my other female friends but oh boy, marriage was shrillness prolonged. ( I hope my wife isn’t reading this.., but I guess I’ll just apologize in advance for her having a “shrilled” voice haha.. ).
One of the most interesting ASMR sounds which intrigued me was sound inside one’s belly. The way food or water travels inside your stomach or has all these chemical reactions to process the food has as a soft ASMR too..Its kind of a bubbly sound; Very hard to explain in words. Try hearing if you get a chance!
And if you are expecting a child, You must definitely listen to your child swimming inside. Its pure fun. Try talking to them! Did you know that at about 18-20 weeks your child could start hearing you and about 26 weeks it could also react. You could start ASMR with your child while its still inside. Most mothers do it..
Besides, If you’ve not eaten for some long hours and you’re really hungry, your stomach cramps up, that’s the negative ASMR of the stomach becoming angry! Its so loud sometimes that even a person next to you can hear it.
So you thought it was the last? Haha, no.. A couple of years ago, a grown up man like me – I bought a stethoscope ( real one ) for my daughter to play. I’d be honest here, It was more for me than her; I played with it more. I heard her heart beat so fast. I’d put the end on her neck and ask her to speak as part of my experiments. Overall I really enjoyed listening through it until it broke. I’m planning to get another one soon. Really a great ASMR.
In conclusion, sounds are really important. Scientists have built a room called the “anechoic chamber” where there is 99.99% sound absorption. Which means you could probably have trouble listening to your own voice. They claim that a person would start having headache if they stay 30 mins in that room and then start getting more severe as time passes. Woah – That’s something new. And we thought we all wanted some peace. Read more about it here.
Turns out, we need sounds around us to motivate us. Sounds that are pleasant and comforting. Last year, I went to a forest which had a placard “Stop talking among yourselves, listen to the insects, birds, water droplets, the wind, your footsteps.. listen to your soul”.
Did you know that the most popular app in 2008 was called “iFart” – All it did was to play different fart sounds. It was #1 on the App store during Christmas in 2008. By 2009 it was top 20 app of all time. Funny ASMR ! Btw, I still do have a fart app on my phone which is incredibly funny. I also had a mosquito repellent sound app which never worked, but it did make some high frequency sounds which were surprisingly strange enough for me to try it.
Today there are various other apps for Hypnosis and Calming. They help people go into a state of trance and bring you back. They heal you. A good session of those sounds can refresh and recharge your mental battery.
Imagine someone passes by and you turn around to catch a glimpse. Imagine someone is speaking at a distant corner and you’re just curious, ( curious but not eavesdropping ). Imagine someone is speaking in a public seminar and you’re wanting to listen to them more and more. All these catch your attention. Ever wondered why? Its their personality. Its neither looks, speech, delivery, nor their perfume. Its the overall persona that a person carries around.
How do you define a personality ? In my simple way of defining personality : Its just the energy that someone carries around and emits to others. Personality is like a perfume which a person wears and everyone around gets curious about.
So how do you build a great personality ? Anyone can build a good personality with some simple changes in their lifestyle and understanding what it takes to have a great personality.
A few simple tricks to build a great personality :
Attitude – A person of great personality has an attitude which is super positive. Wikipedia says “attitude is a psychological construct, a mental and emotional entity that inheres in, or characterizes a person. They are complex and are an acquired state through experiences.”. A great definition. Attitude is a person’s overall behavior towards himself and others. A person with positive vibes always tends to have a great personality. Some people are born with it, some develop it by careful experiences and observation.
Pleasant / Friendly – If you’re friendly, you’ll have good friends. If you’re cheerful and smiling face, you’ll be pleasant to the other person. Good looks don’t matter, your smile does. Your happiness does. Tip 1: When your phone rings, smile for a second before rushing to pick up. This smile will be “visible” in your voice and transfer to the caller.
Tip 2: Smile often, smile for no reason, smile because you “choose” to be happy. Smile because there are enough sad things in the world and fight it with a smile. Did you know smile is contagious. Have you ever seen a grumpy man not bursting into a smile in front of a toddler ? I bet you find me a person who would not smile back at a toddler and I’ll edit my blog.
Tip 3: Be friendly not because you need to make friends and feel important or not lonely. Be genuinely friendly and helpful. Some people make friends in a fraction of a second, some take longer, some are just filled with anxiety. Be more friendly in life and you’ll notice that people are noticing you. You’ll be building a friendly personality.
Confidence – Great personalities are highly confident. People look at their role models and think : How do I talk with such confidence? How do I make such bold decision with such confident? I can’t do it.
Wait a sec, PAUSE. Why the negativity ? This is exactly the reason of low confidence. You’re telling yourself that you cannot do it. Just change your way to look at it and play with the words. Lets take a baby step and change turn the words “I can’t do it” to “Can’t I do it?”. That’s it, you’ve made your first bold confident statement. You’re challenging yourself. You’ve started being confident ( 0.0001% at-least ? ). So remember, confidence is just a mind game. Be bold, be extrovert. Be confident.
Lets be honest. Not everyone is confident. But the reason you’re not confident is because something is new or you’ve never tried before. You’re in doubt if you’ll be successful at it or what is everyone going to think about you. NOPE! Burn this thought right now. Confident people don’t think what others will think. Lions don’t care about the opinion of the sheep. If they did, they wouldn’t be lions! If you want to be confident, never ever take a step back just because “What will people around me think or say”. Confident people know the answer. They are one step ahead. They plan their move by Answering the question with possible ways of what people will say or think and they would counter that.
Next time my dear reader, BE BOLD, BE CONFIDENT. Word of caution : Don’t be over confident ; There is a thin line between being confident and over confident.
Courteous / Respectful – Most people who have great personalities have great respect towards anyone around them. If you’re impolite or you talk in an aggressive or offensive manner, you are not a positive personality. Be courteous from heart. We’re all taught that we must hold the door if someone’s behind you. We’re taught to not burp in public. We’re taught not to gobble food in front of guests. But what most parents miss out is to teach their children how to be respectful/courteous towards people who are less privileged or low in stature than yourself. I remember when Dhirubhai Ambani died, there were 5000 people in front of his old house. Most of them were factory workers. Not because their boss died and it was a duty. But because their boss earned respect by giving respect. If you ever want to see respect, count the number of people who come to a person’s funeral by their will. Of course this is a hypothetical statement, its not at all a measuring tool, It would be a bit too late if you try this on yourself and moreover, you’ll not get the answer 🙂
Honest / Loyal / Trustworthy – A person with great personality is honest and loyal not to others around, but also to himself. A great personality is one who would boldly admin they are wrong when they are. Trust cannot be purchased, its not for sale. It can only be earned. And its a two way thing. Some people are known to have great personality if they can be trusted or they are loyal. This is a rare thing now a days and next time be that loyal friend, boss, employee, father, mother, sister, brother or anyone whom people can trust – You’ll find a different pleasure altogether.
ya ya, I know its so hard to trust people in this world, but you have to try.
My personal experience has been bad when I trust people. It doesn’t turn out the way. For example, As a employer, I did trust many employees of mine, but they didn’t trust me back. At one point, I was on the verge of giving up hope on general employee behaviors, I said to myself, what’s the point in entrusting people when they are never your own, but immediately I thought again and said, Why do I change my nature and personality for someone who doesn’t reciprocate. I remembered the famous couplet of Raheem in Hindi which goes like :
“Jo raheem uttam prakruti, ka kari sakat kusang chandan vish vyapat nahi, lapte rahat bhujang”
Meaning : Rahim says bad company can not spoil someone with excellent character. As, snakes are always there on sandalwood tree, but the sandalwood never gets poisonous nor angry.
So be like that sandalwood’s personality 🙂
Helpful / Cooperative – Plain and simple. “Only good looks and unmindful chatter makes jack a non helpful person”. People with great personalities are always helpful.They help selflessly.
Do write in comments how you’d behave to the following scenarios:
Scenario 1 : Lets say you’re young, do you give your seat to a lady in a bus if the journey? Obviously yes! But what if its a 4 hour journey ? ( Time tests you here )
Scenario 2 : You’re on your first job interview. You see a dog bad hit by a car in front of you. Would you help the dog or just pass by? Now replace the dog with your own pet. Wow, difficult, ain’t it ? Now replace the pet with your friend. Wow, people do have priorities when it comes to being helpful.
Scenario 3: You find $1 on the road. You give it to the needy or next homeless guy you see. Now replace the $1 with $100. You’d still give it away. Now replace the $100 with a gold coin. I got you thinking now!
Well, I’m not to judge and I’m not saying that there is only one correct answer to above. What I’m trying to say is how helpful/friendly are you in “general” terms. If you’re generally helpful, people will surely notice and reciprocate when you need help. You never know when you’re going to need help, It could be in the next hour or next minute or next decade. ( That’s why in politics, no one is a friend or enemy for lifetime 🙂 )
Non Judgemental / Understanding / Tolerant
If you’re judging someone, you have a cheap mentality. Plain and simple. And most people judge others without even knowing the facts or scenario behind it. People assume and have prejudice about something or the other. A person with great personality is non judgemental. They are neutral no matter what. They don’t take sides and jump to conclusions. If fact they are least interested in being a judge. I fail to understand that how 99.99 of humans are judgemental. Perhaps its in our nature to constantly keep judging everything around us. We judge the colour of people’s skin. We judge their weight, we judge their caste, creed and the most important, people judge based on gender! ( Mankind’s oldest judge-mentality ). In fact, mankind has come so far, that every person is judging themselves.
For a silly example, my wife keeps asking me if a dress is good for the occasion or not and before I can reply, she makes a judgement that it would not be a good fit. Its like asking and replying at the same time “How are you? Fine!”
Being non judgemental is a rare feat. If you come across this type of person, they are rare to find. This quality is so rare that you’d see or come across such people may be just once or twice a year. And if you do have someone in your relatives a person with this quality. They should be your role model. Learn from them and respect them.
Similarly, a person with great understanding and tolerance will always shine among the crowd. Don’t we have that one friend who is always non judgemental no matter how many silly things you do ?
Character – Building a great personality is all about your character. For example: Recently many people whom we thought have a great personality end up in #MeToo controversy. A person with great character always maintains a line which is never to be crossed. Their minds are stable and thoughts are clear and pure. So how can you build a good character? Simple, don’t cross the lines of awkwardness for the person around you. It could be your friend, father, mother. Be humble( Next point ) and build a rapport ( character ).
Compassion / Humble / Kind – A kind person always feels the way others feel. A humble person is down to earth and modest. A compassionate one takes action to make the wrong right. Can you find examples out of your life where you’ve been Kind, Humble and Compassionate towards “everyone” around you. Haha, caught you with “everyone” keyword. You may be kind/humble/compassionate with your friends, family, relatives, colleagues. But what about people or things you don’t know? For example, are you compassionate towards your country and land or street dogs or birds in summer ? I leave it up to you to reflect upon it.
Some people are BORN with compassion and some people adapt to have it. A kind and humble person is always welcomed in the society as a champion. People look up to them.
A kind person is kind not because they want attention or they want to build a great personality. They are kind because they know what it feels like to be unkind. SO if you really want to build this quality in yourself, you need to change yourself. You cannot learn this unless you practice it by your heart and soul. You need to become a different person altogether.
Grateful – Most people are suffering from anxiety or depression or stress or any kind mental challenge boils down to one reason. They don’t think enough.
People ask me whom should we thank, God? I say yes, if you are a believer. And if you’re not, then Thank the nature. Thank the surroundings. Appreciate the things around you. I’m assuming that most people reading my blog are the privileged ones. They have food in their fridge and ceiling over their head. Be thankful to whomsoever or whatsoever circumstances that let you into this situation.
There was a sage who said I always thank God for whatever it comes. Once I was sick and in a lot of pain and I thank God for the sickness. I asked how come? He said, because I was sick, I remembered God more often, so may be that was God’s way of making me closer to him. I was surprised, not really about his deep connection with God, but at the way he was grateful to any situation that came upon him. He left an impact on me which I’ll never forget. Be thankful to everything that comes. I remember a saying “Any difficulty that does not kill you, makes you stronger”.
Happiness is like a dream, Sadness is like a bubble. Always be thankful that both never last forever. Life is like a pendulum, one side is happiness, and the other side is sadness. Be thankful that its how it is. At the peak of happiness, it goes towards sadness and at the peak of sadness, its surely going to take you towards happiness.
The only constant here is how you treat what comes. With gratitude.
Great personality is soothing to the eye. Contagious to some extent ! People thrive to be like whom they see or admire, but give up the thought very soon. ( Perhaps its the laziness or it could be underestimating yourself).
Everyone can world to build a great personality. People with good personality are genuinely liked by the masses and they carry a “perfume ( read energy or persona )” only to inspire others. Hey – After reading all this, have I inspired you a bit ?
My sincerest advice: Take the light from that “personality candle” and shine well; Oh shine so bright you must, that fill them with glittery eyes, so that one day, you can yourself be that “personality candle” who lights another and let this tradition continue through the generations to comes, Lets together take pride in building a better race.
Gone are the days for the outdated, inaccurate and the rigid !
That’s what a statement like “I cannot pull up my productivity levels while working from home” is.
Fact Check : You can be at home and still remain as productive as ever; Perhaps even more!
So, what is the secret sauce that goes for a successful, highly productive ‘work-from-home’ day?
Here are some tips or suggestions :
Fix a corner in your home – Don’t work just anywhere. The pillows will seem inviting, but stay immune to the charms of the bed! Sit in an upright posture and don’t recline or bend too much – unless, of course, you are planning for medical leaves on grounds of back-pains and headaches. #NotComfortable
Get started with a fresh mind and body – A tired mind and drowsy eyes are never good ingredients for any meaningful work. Don’t just get out of bed and sit down with your laptop, still in your night dresses and with a toothbrush in hand. Have your morning cuppa, have a quick shower, and get going with a fresh and positive feel.
Keep societal responsibilities at an arm’s length – There’s a difference between working from home and being on leave – the sooner you realise that, the better. Unless you are actively looking to waste the day, calling over friends and/or your special one and having heart-to-heart conversations with them is an absolute no-no. In fact, don’t shout out from the top of the roof that you are working from home. Friends and relatives and acquaintances will drop in by the dozen – and that will ruin your ‘work day’.
Keep your manager in the loop, always – Make sure your manager understands, realizes and appreciates the fact that you’re working. Keep communicating constantly. Submit updates, talk about task roadmaps and maintain a seamless conversation channel. Don’t compare notes on the latest football scores or nail enamel shades, however!
Tips for communicating with managers while working from home
– Use chats for “small” communication – Use Slack or Google Hangouts for “better” voice/video communication, even if it’s for 2-3 mins. – Don’t be over-reliant on chat conversations. Use more intuitive visual tools like videos, screenshots and graphics to avoid chances of communication gaps.
Bonus tip: Are you a coder? Don’t give in to the temptation of creating a code that will send an automated ‘Hi’ message to your manager at regular intervals!
The phone is your friend – You might be away from the office, but your office need not be away from you ever. If you are facing any problems or have a doubt, pick up your handset and place a call immediately. If you procrastinate on this, your time is lost, your tasks remain unfinished, and your manager won’t be a happy chappie!
Keep family time separate from work time – When KJo had said “it’s all about loving your parents”, he was almost certainly not talking about people working from home. Yes, keeping time out for parents and siblings, and spouse, and kids is important – but don’t siphon that time out of your working hours. Explain to them properly that professional times and personal times should never overlap. Get them to respect your “work time”.
Fun Tip : Keep an indicator or flag to let your family members know you’re working and/or are on client calls. They will help you and let you concentrate if they know clearly that you’re working.
Statutory Warning: If you are male and married and your wife is calling, answer a couple of times. You do not want to go to bed with an empty stomach!
Set a schedule for breaks for lunch and snacks – Fix regular mealtimes for your ‘work-from-home’ days, and stick to the times. If your lunch and snack times are unpredictable, that causes additional distraction.
Example: Your mom might tell you to bring sugar, or your wife might ask you to join her for tea. You might feel that those extra 10 minutes won’t make a difference – at the end of the day, they do. If everyone at home knows your schedule, they will never disturb you.
The ‘we-are-both-at-home’ dilemma → If both you and your husband/wife are working from home, try to sync your schedules to match one another’s – for work, meals, and snacks (nah, no naps in between!). If the routines don’t match, don’t wait for one another. It might look odd, but it’s all for the greater good. Make it up by turning on the charm over the weekend!
Kick unhealthy eating habits – Don’t drown too many cups of tea or coffee while working. Control the urge to order food online from Swiggy or Zomato. Eating anything in excess without control will be bad for your health. You need to be at the pink of your health – and gorging on junk food regularly is certainly not the best way to attain that target!
Don’t be over flexible – Working from home implies flexible working hours, but don’t stretch this too much. Do not fall for the considerable attractions of an afternoon nap, and avoid calling up a buddy who is also working from home. Otherwise, you might end up wasting several hours, and have to work overtime to compensate for that (who wants that?!). Fix your working hours.
Your tired eyes need REST, not NETFLIX – The moment you are done for the day, don’t just jump on to Netflix or Prime Video or Zee5 to catch up on your favourite shows. In fact, don’t binge on Prime/Netflix at odd hours. Limit your watching time, and give your eyes the rest they deserve. Waiting for a day or three for the next episode is, in any case, more fun!
Be honest to yourself – Be a disciplined person. Do not just ‘show’ that you are working, but deliver actual productivity. Give your best and you will be sorted!
Lastly, if you are, for some reason, feeling down and demotivated, download the HelloMind app and enjoy cool hypnotherapy sessions. You’ll be back on your feet – literally and metaphorically – in a matter of minutes! Note: this post is not sponsored by HelloMind, I just happened to use it daily!
My Good Friends, Wake up now and realize that banks are EVIL. Period.
The biggest EVIL which humanity is facing now is the banking system. Throughout the world.
Define Bank : The biggest white collar organized corruption system in the world.
I remember Shylock from the Merchant of Venice who wanted to stand by the bond, unless in this era, the Shylock keeps winning.
Something to ponder upon : With the maturity of digital age, credit/debit card transactions carry a charge ranging from 0.5% to 2.5%. Every time you spend something, the bank is earning. Just because governments have failed to provide a sophisticated payment processing there will be a time when each of these 2.5% cut will result in a money/economy shift from consumer or people to the bank.
Lets say : If you have a $100 currency note, use it 10000 times, the worth is still the same. ( Unless physical damage of the note which is negligible ). If you use digitally transaction of $100 for about 10000 transactions, the $100 value diminishes over those 10000 transaction each time filling the pockets of the bank.
Think deep: This is similar to radioactivity. The radiation emits particles and the element loses its actual mass. Similarly, the actual money will be gone in a few hundreds of years which will result in slavery, barter system, war and misery.
There is much to learn from the current Venezuela whose crisis is caused by nothing but banks lending and waiting to default. People don’t have food. They are eating from garbage. This is a failure of humanity and we are all part in it. We have allowed this EVIL to take share in our lives. We have becomes their slaves already.
How many of you are able to live in this era without a bank? Very few.
Government force everything via banking system for transparency but never take initiative in building a system which can oppose the current banking system. The governments which oppose are toppled and replaced with new leaders who are in line with major banks.
Common people know it well, but at a micro level they just ignore it thinking 0.5% transaction is OK since the banks give us the extra features and service. But trust me, its not OK. A fixed fee for the service is preferred rather than a percentage. Bank don’t own your share. The moment you agree upon that % share, you make the bank a partner of your wealth.
Slavery, Barter, Wars and Misery are just a few hundred years away if this continues. Everything is connected, in some way. Think about your future generation if not for yourselves. What we do today, shapes our tomorrow.
Now you know why I feel banks are so EVIL. I welcome comments and arguments.
Life is full of magical times, but do you wait for that special ‘Kodak Moment‘ any more? When you turn on the television, do you expect the ‘Blackberry Boys‘ strutting their stuff in a commercial? While catching the latest movies or TV show on Netflix or Amazon Prime, do you come across a slogan that proclaims ‘Be Kind, Please Rewind‘? Have you seen the words ‘The Document Company‘ anywhere lately?
The answer to all of these questions would be a resounding ‘no‘ – for the companies behind these once-popular slogans have either given up their market-leadership positions, declared bankruptcy, shut up shop – or are still present, but in a considerably weakened position. According a report, a measly ~12% of the companies from 1955 Fortune 500 list managed to make it to the same list in 2014 (only 61 companies were present in both the lists). One of the very few constants in the domain of business is ‘creative destruction’ – with old players struggling to keep up as new technologies arrive and markets change, and new companies taking up their positions.
The ability and willingness to innovate play big roles in determining whether a company or a brand – no matter how strong it might be at a given point in time – will be able to survive in the long-run. The basic business models and way of operations in practically every industry keep evolving – and there are many instance of big companies not being able to keep up with the changes, and consequently, going out of business. ‘Innovate or die’ has become the watchword for businesses across the globe. Many famous companies from earlier decades have failed to integrate that elusive ‘innovation culture’ in their working, and have ceased to be relevant at present. Interestingly, the importance of ‘innovation‘ is not limited to IT companies only – and several governmental and social projects have also failed, simply because the brains behind them were not proactive enough. Here are some classic case studies of companies that had ‘ignored innovation’, chosen ‘not to do anything’, and suffered as a result:
Mistakes-on-demand from Blockbuster – The two main factors for sustained success in any field of business are: a) identifying future trends, and b) grabbing present opportunities. Blockbuster LLC – once the undisputed leader in the video rental industry – failed spectacularly in both. The company had 9000+ stores across the world, and well over 84000 people on its payroll in 2004 – with hardly any competition in sight. What’s more, it had the chance to acquire Netflix (the company which is most often referred to as the principal cause of Blockbuster’s demise) in 2007, with CEO Reed Hastings practically imploring Blockbuster to take over his company. A mix of complacency, myopic vision and internal board squabbles led to Blockbuster doing nothing at the time. As internet became more and more mainstream, and Netflix started offering online video-streaming options (no more ‘late fees’, no burgeoning costs on physical stores/retail locations) – Blockbuster was unable to cope up, lost customers, and collapsed in a big way. The growth of Netflix ushered in disruptive innovation, and Blockbuster was caught like a deer in headlights.
Note: John Antioco was the CEO of Blockbuster at the time it passed over the opportunity to acquire Netflix.
Flight nosedives for Pan Am – With not enough proactiveness and more than little nudges from unforeseen external factors – Pan American Airlines was forced to shut down operations in 1991. The company had its proverbial time under the sun for 64 years (having been started in 1927) – and at its peak, was easily the biggest player in the commercial aviation sector globally. To be fair, Pan Am was innovative enough (upto a certain point) – having overseen the flight of powerful jumbo jets and computerized reservations. However, the terrorist bombing of Flight 103 (in Scotland) resulted in considerable negative publicity for the company – which had already started to bleed as a result of the early-70s oil crisis, dwindling passenger demands, and serious overcapacity problems. The invasion of Kuwait in 1990 was probably the final death knell in the flight path of Pan Am (as oil prices rose sharply). Once the biggest name in the business, Pan American Airlines simply could not adapt to the changes in its operating environment.
Note: Apart from Pan Am, two other major airline companies – Midway Airlines and Eastern Airlines – also shut up shop in 1991.
Picture-not-perfect for Eastman Kodak – One of the classic cases of how years of inaction can kill off a perfectly good business. Founded in September 1888, Kodak went from strength to strength right through the previous century – as the popularity of its cameras and films spiked. Remarkably, the company had the chance to move into digital photography as well – with an employee (Steve Sasson) having created the world’s first digital camera way back in 1975. Instead of jumping on the opportunity, those up top at Kodak totally ignored it – due to their failure to understand that digital photography was the future, and a reluctance to ‘cannibalise’ the sales of their existing lineup of cameras. To further complicate matters, Fuji started to undercut Kodak with its lower-price films – while Polaroid started taking away the market with ‘instant photos’. Kodak tried its bit to stay in the game with the Advantix Preview camera system (>$500 million was spent), but the results were disastrous. Remarkably, the company simply chose to stay in denial for many years – as film cameras grew obsolete, and digital imaging became mainstream. The struggles continued, and Kodak was left with no options other than to file for bankruptcy in 2012.
Note: Photography is not just about films and cameras – and that’s the biggest thing that Kodak could not understand. If the company had managed to position itself as a player in the ‘visual storytelling’ business, it might well have been still flourishing. As it were, the digital age just passed Kodak by.
(Dis)Connecting People: The fall of Nokia – Last year’s Nokia smartphones have done reasonably well – but the company is nowhere near replicating its halcyon days in the late-90s and the early-’00s. At the time, no one made better mobile phone hardware than Nokia – and the Finnish company had almost no competition to be worried about. What’s more, the company had been surprisingly agile right through its history – having moved in and out of several lines of business, identifying telecom as the focal point, and even bringing out the first smartphones in the world (the Symbian Series 60 handsets) in 2002. In fact, the Nokia Communicator was launched as early as 1996. However, the company dithered while deciding whether to join the Windows Phone platform – and more importantly, it continued to believe that hardware was the most important element in a mobile device – while software wasn’t something worth too much thinking. This short-sightedness is precisely what that led Nokia to the brink – with newer players like Apple and Android showcasing the value of mobile applications, and how a handset can do much more that only send/receive calls and text messages. In essence, Nokia was not quite in favour of doing the necessary transition – and was sadly mistaken in its belief of being able to catch up with smartphone vendors later. Microsoft acquired Nokia in September 2013 (a ‘monumental mistake’), and sold the mobile assets in 2016. The belated attempts to use the Android platform cannot mask over the heavy price that Nokia had to pay for not innovating – properly and in time.
Note: The squeeze from the high-end smartphone models and the low-end developing markets (with brands like Huawei and HTC joining the fold) well and truly stifled Nokia.
Yahoo! The fall of the mighty – For a company that survived the big dot com bust in 2000 and had ~10X increase in sales in the 2001-2008 period, the fall was – let’s just say – unforeseen. The tale of Yahoo! Is one of a series of missed opportunities, and a futile determination to stick to being a web portal – at a time when its principal rivals were turning to search, or becoming social media giants (or, for that matter, better news aggregators). Unbelievable as it might seem now, Yahoo! messed up chances to acquire Google (Terry Semel, the CEO at the time refused to agree with the $3 billion price) in 2002, and Facebook (the deal would have gone through if the offer had been even $0.1 billion higher) – while a great takeover offer from Microsoft was also scorned at (the bid of $44.6 billion was deemed as too low). The inputs from a string of CEOs ill-equipped to save the sinking ship did not help matters – and Marissa Mayer’s ill-advised (and outrageously overvalued) acquisition of Tumblr was yet another gross mistake. At one point of time, Yahoo! released 24 different company descriptions in 24 years – clearly indicating a lack of focus. A failure to make it big as a search engine (a deal was struck with Bing in 2009), poor performance as a social media site, and the general drop in popularity of web portals ensured that Yahoo! had little chances of a comeback.
Note: With Flickr, Yahoo also had the opening to make a Instagram-like photo sharing portal (well before Instagram!). That opportunity was glossed over too.
Taking A Break…
Even half a decade back, a ‘family lunch’ meant just that – everyone stepping out together to a nice restaurant. With the growth of food tech in general, and food delivery apps in particular – it has become easier than ever for the average Joe to order food without leaving his comfy couch. Restaurants, irrespective of their size, have also realized that they need to be a member of these services (Swiggy, Foodpanda, Zomato, etc.) to remain profitable. By April 2016, the number of active users of the Swiggy app had crossed the 1 million mark.
Unused innovations at Xerox – If you do not innovate, you die. If you do innovate but then take no tangible action on your innovations, you die too. Xerox – the once-immensely popular print and document processing service provider – is one of the best examples of the latter. Its ‘914 photocopier’ was a roaring success, there were no dearth of resources, and ‘scientific excellence’ was something that the company became renowned for. Established in 1970, Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) threw up a series of top-notch innovations – right from graphical user interfaces and laser printing, to PC prototypes, LANs and mouse – over the next three decades. Sadly though, Xerox never grasped the fact that it could move out of the ‘office photocopier’ business, and become a name to reckon with in the overall computing industry. The company just sat on its valuable innovations, and gave them away to competitors (Microsoft, HP and Apple were some of the companies that benefited from Xerox’s technologies). In 2000, the share price of Xerox had dropped to below $4 – and many short-term debts and other problems had piled up. Another tragic tale of lost opportunities.
Note: According to recent reports, Xerox will be taken over by Fujifilm. The deal will be worth $6.1 billion.
Blackberry fell off a cliff – The rise and fall of Blackberry (Research-in-Motion) has a lot in common with that of Nokia. Once considered the ‘ultimate smartphone’, Blackberry simply got too comfortable with its heady success – and failed to look out for the technological disruptions heading towards the mobile platform. Company co-founder Michael Lazaridis once famously said ‘I don’t get this’, while pointing at an all-touchscreen handset – a quote indicative of the tunnel vision that the company suffered from. Indeed, the management could never think of a smartphone as anything more than a mobile phone with a QWERTY keypad, decent network connectivity, options for push email (a USP of Blackberry phones) and robust security features. The world had, however, moved on – and by the later years of last decade, both Apple and Google had started to churn out handsets that qualified as ‘all-round smart devices’. The biggest point of difference was the third-party app support – with the Blackberry App World remaining a pathetic distant cousin of the App Store and the Play Store. Odd product choices damaged the situation further – with the weird Blackberry Passport having few takers. The first Blackberry touch-based smartphone (running on Blackberry 10) came out six years after the launch of the first-generation iPhone. Blackberry Messenger (BBM) was, on the other hand, replaced by WhatsApp by most users. Innovation and implementation have to be fast – and Blackberry missed out in a big way. From being the undisputed market leader, the brand is presently flirting with irrelevancy (0.0482% market share last year).
Note: In late-2016, Blackberry handed over its hardware-making licenses to TCL. To be fair, last year’s TCL Blackberry KeyOne did fairly well in terms of sales.
Enron ran out of energy – A mixture of innovation shortcomings and unethical financial practices spelt doom for Enron (founded in 1985) – which had once been listed as one of the top 6 energy companies in the world. By 2000, Enron was in the list of top Fortune 500 companies (peaking at number 7) – and was widely viewed as the most ‘innovative’ company in the United States. Soon after though, things started to go pear-shaped for the company – firstly with the broadband telecom networks that caused big losses, and then with the rapidly falling market capitalization figures following the recession at the turn of the century. Instead of coming up with solid plans to tide over the problems and make a smooth transition, all that Enron did at the time was hide/overstate its actual earnings – all under the watch of the then-CEO Jeffrey Skilling. It later came to light that the company had been inflating its income since 1997 (by close to $600 million). From a high of $90.56 in 2000, Enron’s share price tumbled to $0.26 in December 2001. The company had the base and the resources to tackle the problems and stay innovative – but chose to go with underhand practices. The infamous ‘Enron Scandal’ was the final nail in the company’s coffin.
Note: Arthur Andersen, the firm that had famously tried to destroy Enron’s audit documents to cover up losses, made a comeback in 2014, with ‘Andersen Tax’.
Posts stop for USPS – The United States Postal Service presents yet another case of ‘business inertia’. It has been in existence since 1775 – and has witnessed huge volumes of posts and document transfers in the previous century. Over the years, USPS has been innovative enough – taking the American postal system to higher efficiency and convenience. However, it has not been able to keep up with the current age of digital, paperless communications and smarter service providers – as rivals like UPS and DHL have have grown and consolidated their positions. USPS, meanwhile, have hardly done anything to retain its competitiveness – and the unfavourable government regulations have not helped either. Postal services as a whole are falling behind – USPS, with its outdated services, are, expectedly, suffering. Faxes, emails, text messages have all combined to bring down the dependence of people on snail mails drastically.
Note: In a bid to cut down on costs, many locations of the USPS have been closed down in recent years.
Fading of Borders – Bookstores are good. And there was a time, when there were none better than the Borders Group – which started out from Ann Arbor (Michigan) in 1971. Throughout the US, there were superstores – and the company went for international expansion, with stores in Canada, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Sometime in the 90s though, the popularity of the Borders bookstores started falling – and ironically, the ‘size advantage’ that it had was what that turned against them. In other words, the huge bookstores – established on prime real estate locations at hefty charges – were no longer viable, simply because there were not enough sales. The need of the hour was prompt innovation – which, in this case, meant moving on to online sales of books (just like principal rival Barnes & Noble did). Borders did not consider the fact that the ‘traditional way of buying books’ was fast going out of fashion – and curiously, invested more on expanding their physical stores. No heed was paid to the opportunity of creating an ebook reader like Nook or Kindle either. The idea of moving to CD/DVD sales just as the world was warming up to digital music did not make much sense – while outsourcing book-selling rights to Amazon did not benefit the company. The widespread economic recession in 2008-09 was a big blow, and a couple of years later, the company was liquidated (with almost 11000 employees laid off).
Note: When Borders belatedly turned its attentions to ebooks, Cruz and Kobo were some of the devices it created ebooks for. The attempt was half-baked, the readers were not popular, and the Border ebooks failed.
Time for another break…
Unwillingness to innovate – or a failure to innovate ‘correctly’ – is a problem that bugs the public sector as well. There are many instances of governmental bodies planning perfectly good projects – which flop due to inadequate or improper innovations (i.e., poor execution). There are two broad reasons behind the failure of government-initiated innovations:
Fear of failure – While the margins for error in the private sector are also decreasing, entrepreneurs still feel that they can take the occasional risks to take their companies forward. In the public sector though, a single mistake can lead to huge losses and probable firing. Staying ‘safe’, and well away from (potentially rewarding) risks is viewed as the better option.
Detached from reality – The greater the bureaucracy in a government, the more is the chance of senior-level decision-makers being detached of the actual situations at the grassroot levels. As such, they can greenlight innovative drives that might have worked well in an ‘ideal’ economy – but fall flat due to the many existing bottlenecks. Unless the person/group of people have updated, real-world knowledge, innovations – however well-intentioned – will fail.
Tower Records come tumbling down – Another flourishing company that was brought to its knees by the typical ‘big company syndrome’. From Elton John to Colin Hanks (who made the ‘All Things Must Pass’ documentary as a tribute to Tower Records) – celebrities and general public alike were big fans of these physical music stores. The collections and variety were impressive – and music could also be ordered through the stores. Founded by Russ Solomon, Tower breezed through the 80s and the 90s with high sales and very impressive revenues. However, no one from the company realized in time that Tower Records was becoming too big for its own good – with its aggressive expansion plans. As internet grew and digital music became the go-to option for more and more people, the large retail stores grew non-viable. In addition, the competition with big players like Walmart and Best Buy (who started giving out hefty discounts on music records) hastened the end for Tower Records. A combination of digital platforms like iTunes and Napster, along with indiscriminate expansions, killed off what was – at one time – a market leader in the music industry. Tower Records filed for bankruptcy in 2004 and 2006.
Note: Illegal music downloads are causing heavy damages to the music stores. For Tower Records, an inability and an accompanying unwillingness to adapt to the changing environment, made the difference.
General Motors stutters – From being top of the class to going bankrupt (in 2009) – the 101-year old journey of General Motors (‘old GM’) makes for an interesting read. By 1954, the company had a whopping 54% share in vehicle market of North America (in 2009, that figure had dropped to <20%). The need to innovate and improve was completely bypassed by GM – with the changing customer needs & preferences, and the latest automotive technologies being reduced to footnotes. Over time, the vehicles that GM turned out came to be viewed as outdated and uncompetitive (the time to make them was also inordinately high). Upstart competitors started to eat away at the market – and the financial policies taken by the company (particularly since 2006) were mostly poor. Moreover, the infrastructure involved huge amounts of fixed costs (unlike many of its rivals) – and as demands slackened, the company still had to bear heavy expenses. The acquisition of Fiat was poorly handled. However, the standout ‘failure to innovate’ factor for GM would be the killing of the EV1 electric car. There is a lot of buzz over autonomous cars at present – and GM could have had a huge headstart if it had persisted with the EV1.
Note: ‘New GM’ came into being in 2009. It bought many of the assets (and the ‘General Motors’ brand name) from the now-defunct ‘old GM’.
Food For Thought…
Innovation is something that encompasses nearly every facet of our lives. It would be a folly to consider its scope limited to businesses. For instance, the importance of social innovation is steadily increasing – with equity, fairness, social inclusion and collective well-being being some of its key elements. Just like a company suffers if it is not proactive enough, a society stagnates if ‘social innovations’ are ignored.
The Buck Does Not Stop Here
There are many other instances of well-known brands getting caught up in a time-wrap, failing to innovate as per circumstances, and facing failure. From Napster, Abercrombie & Fitch and Polaroid (which, incidentally, was one of the ‘Kodak-killers’), to Radio Shack, Toys-R-Us, MySpace and Pets.com – there is no dearth of businesses that were flourishing – only to be overtaken by competitors later. Remember the Motorola RAZR? It was a breakthrough device at its time – but its popularity was short-lived.
The Lessons Learnt
So, why do companies stay away from the required innovations, even when they have the brains and the means to move with the changing times? The reasons can be multiple – right from a reluctance to make the necessary additional investments, an over-reliance on strategies/products that were successful earlier, and not being prepared for sweeping market changes (more often than not, caused by technological advances). There are cases of companies that are doing well getting into a comfort zone…a veritable ‘innovation blind spot’ – and failing to pay heed to warning signs.
The biggest mistake that all of the companies listed here (and many others) made was to try and find the ‘one best way’ to do business – a way that will stand the test of time. However, there is no such holy grail of operating. Unless a brand transitions itself over time and adopts innovations (i.e., embraces an ‘innovation culture’) – the act of not doing anything can prove to be very costly.
It has been proven time and time again that status quo does not work in the business field. Innovate or perish – after all, that’s the name of the game!
It might be pretty unbelievable but most of the startups investing in mobile app development are not able to set foot in the market from the very outset. Though the number of mobile apps are growing at an increasing rate, but the revenue from each are falling gradually.
According to Gartner (An American Information Technology research and Advisory company) statistics reveal that:
“In 2009, worldwide mobile app downloads amounted to approximately 2.52 billion and are expected to reach 268.69 billion in 2017.”
Hence with such a vast user base and thousands of devices being in circulation, there are innumerable app developers who wish to create the next best mobile app in the market but are unable to do so. Most of the new apps that are developed gain no or very little attraction and the mobile app startups fail miserably.
It is important to understand the following factors which cause this to happen so that an app developer can keep it in mind before developing his next successful app.
1.Wrong business model:
According to Gartner, “Less Than 0.01 Percent of Consumer Mobile Apps Will Be Considered a Financial Success by Their Developers Through 2018.” This is a depressing data in the world where people are using apps as pulleys to lift themselves and their business up. Neither focusing too much on technology is good nor on marketing. There must be a clear line of separation between the technology organization and the product organization. The right pricing must also be determined to keep the product competitive.
2.Premature marketing strategy:
In case of any business, marketing plays a vital role in taking the business to great heights. Failing to own a strong and well-knit marketing strategy will automatically prevent the product or service to fail no matter how good it is. App developers often concentrate more in developing and executing the app overlooking the marketing process which in turn makes the app a failure. Often neglecting the market competition leads to slow adaptability with the market reality. Therefore people with the right skill-set and the right vision must be given the task to get the app enough promotion.
3.Research of already existing apps:
The owner must make sure of gathering as much information as possible about the competing/similar apps already available in the app market, and analyze their differences. Slowness in app launching or launching it too early without standard publicizing may also prove fatal. It is the owner’s responsibility to launch an app that is different from other existing apps in its own way which will mark its uniqueness. He must also pay attention to the fact that how much better his app is serving its users than the other apps. Along with an exclusive name an app must also be useful to its users to sustain in the market for a longer period. Name can be anything, but it should just be catchy enough for people to remember it.
4.Poor app design:
Statistics reveal that around 8 percent of all app submissions on various operating systems fail or are rejected only because they have a bad design. Bad designing basically means that the app is not user friendly. This results in the app not being able to create an impact as expected and the app gets discarded immediately and fails miserably. A successful and well-designed app must have a proper user interface, high resolution, perfect placing of buttons and must offer a good user experience.
5.Undefined target audience:
Any app is built for a specific audience of users. The better it’s specified, the fewer are the chances to make a half-baked product. Thus the developer must see the needs, the goals of the app, the problems it will solve – and thus the most needed features will be defined and implemented. A startup owner has to think of mobile customers in the first place.
6.Consistency of the app:
If an app does not perform equally well on various devices, operating systems or networks, users become frustrated and often the mobile app fails. An app developer should update and test his app from time to time and ensure that the app works on all spectrum smoothly. This will also ensure maximum performance and user satisfaction.
7.Too many co-founders :
Some times too many co-founders add a lot of confusion with too many suggestions and ideas which not only delays the process but also results in the app’s failure. Again on the other hand a single co-founder lacking leadership qualities, can act as a silent killer too. Thus it is better to have not more than two co-founders who must have mutual understanding as well as free will on each others’ ideas. And in case of a single co-founder he must possess all the qualities of a good leader who is capable of guiding his team to win success.
8.Expecting too much:
It is very obvious as well as positive to have expectations. But expectations shall never be great. Especially in case of Gaming apps the app owners must not have too much of expectations. It is necessary for the owner to keep in mind that people will not play a game lifelong, they will gradually get bored of it at one point. Whereas Games launched for any series or movie promotion are nothing other than gimmick. Such apps tend to fade away in the competitive market in no time. Hence it is better not to invest in such short term ventures.
The App market is changing at a constant pace. As per customer requirements the app trend too keeps changing. That is why the developer must be quick and resolute to make a decision that will push the startup higher, react and adapt efficiently and quickly, be ready for changes in the plan. If apps are not tested frequently, not marketed rapidly and and not continuously delivered it will not be able to reach the desired success.These changes may not be that radical; but it’s never bad to be prepared. A good app developer shall not prolong the next release and instead focus on frequent updates and bug fixes making the app reliable and favorable.
10.Flawed customer support:
To figure out the reasons behind the failure of an app, it is important to pay attention to the user’s comments. The feedback that a developer gets from its app users explains it all. Genuine users are particular to leave comments which can help a developer realize what is truly wrong with the app and how it can be saved from drowning. User’s point of view can also help revive a drowning app and make it a favorite among the users if only the comments and feedback received are taken into proper consideration.
11.Security (Too Much or Too Less):
Even in case of a highly attractive app if there are too many layers that the user has to pass through to access his/her data then chances of that app to survive automatically diminishes and probably soon it gets replaced by another one. Whereas if on the other hand there are no security protocols followed, then the users may not be able to trust the app and the data feed in the app at all. As in case of Banking apps there are usually a number of security checkpoints which generally irritates the user. Hence it is important for the app makers to strike a balance in the security systems, instead of hyping it up or completely neglecting it.
12.Not every idea is that great, and not every failed idea means failure:
The development and execution of an app is vital and forms the app’s basis come what may. Ideas which are inferior and fails an app to create an effect on the users are the ones that the developer should instantly be done away with. As the developer will only end up wasting both time and money on developing a useless app. The startup owner must be sure to gather as much information as possible about the competing/similar products, and analyze their differences. Slowness in app launching or launching it too early without standard publicizing may prove fatal. The idea needs to be closely scrutinized and checked for actual potential before one starts working on it.
These are twelve reasons why a mobile app startup may fail in the app market. Following only these notions does not guarantee success – there are many other factors that may tip the scales against you. And the percentage of failed startups is high. As for instance sometimes it is sheer luck which changes the destiny of a single app. A lot of it is affected by unfortunate timing. If an app is launched on a Monday morning, during a period when there is a money crunch prevailing in the country’s economy or in case of a gaming app if it is launched during the exam seasons in such cases the app does not meet the expected target. In such situations it is found no matter how nicely the app is done it never picks up, it just gets lost in between the millions of other apps.
But this is business, and moving on, keeping these things in mind, will increase your chances for success in the mobile market. Ignorance of even a single issue can be the reason for the failure of a startup business and mobile strategy.
What are your personal experiences? Do put them in the comments below – I would love to hear them !