The practical say, “do your research before you move…”, while the adventurous say, “just do it…”. I like to think that I am adventurous. Truth be told, its more to do with laziness than adventurism (is that a word?) that I didn’t do any research before I moved to the MidWest sometime last year. Had I known how bone-chillingly cold it gets here in winter, I would have rather moved to Texas. How are you meant to survive in -18 C (2 F according to the enlightened measurement scales in this country)? And not just survive, but remove the ice from your car every morning???
Its not too different from the temperatures in many parts of Canada. In fact Vancouver feels positively warm! And on top of that Canada is pretty – MidWest is not!
Which really begs the question – why are more people in the MidWest not moving to Texas???
1. Texas is warm in winter.
2. Texas has no state income tax.
3. I repeat, Texas has no state income tax.
4. Texas has pretty cities like Austin and San Antonio.
5. Texas economy is fairly decent and it has jobs too!!!
6. Cost of living is similar to the MidWest.
7. Two hub airports, Dallas and Houston.
I am sure there are more reasons, but I would really love to know why there isn’t a larger mass of people moving to the Republic of Texas!
While you think about this and send me answers, I am off to do my laundry in this absolutely, god-awfully frigid weather…
Its the 30th day that I have been working 15 hours non-stop (well with the exception of two weekends ago), and frankly I am a bit tired. So instead of cranking out the power point, I have just collapsed on my bed and am aimlessly surfing. Somewhere in the midst of it, I stumbled upon this blog once again, and well, it was time for another post!
Some of the physical challenges of a being a consultant have been well documented often times – travel, long hours, deadlines etc. But this is isn’t the biggest challenge, this isn’t what makes you age faster, it’s the emotional and mental challenges that do. Consulting is like a never ending rollercoaster ride, from amazing days to horrible ones. There are days when you will feel on top of the world and there are days when you will wish you could run away (as I once did). For a day to be amazing all of the following need to happen
1. You need to have achieved your goals for the day
2. You need to be on top of your deadlines
3. Your team lead/engagement manager/project partner needs to be happy with your work
4. And most importantly, the client needs to be happy
Any one of these can go wrong to turn your day from a good one to a bad one. Really everyday is evaluated separately.
One thing I have gotten better at over time is dealing with emotions. Remaining calm (even if you have a hurried look on the outside) is very very important. Equally important is to put things in perspective – to think about the bigger reason for you being there, the value that you will add to your clients and most importantly to realize that at the end of the day, this is your job, not your life. It enables you to live, but it is not your reason to live. It is important, but only to a point. If it gets really too stressful, you must walk away, your family is more important.
This is one of the things though, that make consulting an exciting place to be. It is another element that makes life unpredictable – you have no idea what tomorrow might bring – just hope!
If you had a good day today, smile!
If you haven’t go to bed and remember the sun will rise again and tomorrow will be a new day!
So the iPhone 4G (not to be confused with 4G network) was released on Monday. It was something I was eagerly looking forward to, with the idea of finding a suitable replacement for my two year old iPhone 3G. I was expecting this release to be a major step over the previous editions for a few reasons:
1. Make the iPhone 3G users upgrade.
3. Having established themselves in the smart phone business (in fact having reinvented the smart phone category), define new possibilities of what maybe achieved with a cellphone. Raising the bar even higher.
So has it achieved it all that?
To be honest, I am a little underwhelmed…..
First the good points (from my perspective).
1. Multi-tasking – Thank you, Mr. Jobs. This was much needed. For me personally, I would love being able to keep the Google chat application open while I am browsing on Safari. I would also not like my browser not loading if I get a call while I am surfing. Not having multi-tasking is one of the biggest pain points for me at the moment and this will go a long way to alleviate that.
2. Camera – I do not use the camera on my iPhone 3G a lot. For one, its crap. And secondly, photography is a hobby, so I usually carry around my Canon Digital Rebel XTi wherever I go. However, there are places where a DSLR isn’t the best choice of equipment. Going out on a Saturday night for example – a good quality phone camera can be quite handy in such instances. The upgrade to a 5 megapixel camera will hopefully make it more useful.
3. HD Video – This is a useful feature. My 3G doesn’t have any form of video. So certainly a step-up.
4. Gyroscope – Personally, it won’t benefit me in anyway, but, I suppose it opens up a lot of interesting possibilities for Apps developers.
So, while there are a few good feature upgrades, there are a few things that I am not too impressed about. Basically, all the updates by Apple, while useful, just bring the iPhone up to par with competitors such as the Droid and the HTC models. I don’t see anything ground-breaking by Apple this time around. Perhaps my expectations were too high (I am a big Apple fan btw), or perhaps Apple expects the main improvements would come from the Apps developers – I am not so sure.
Will I be upgrading? Umm….not very certain. Let’s see!
Apple completely changed the game when it came out with the first iPhone. However, perhaps others are catching up. In light of the other offerings in the market, while I still think that the iPhone is a great phone to have, in my humble opinion, it is no longer THE phone to have.
So do you still check this blog from time to time? Waste of effort I tell you. Even I had forgotten it ever existed. I don’t think I’ve checked this site for months now. Of course I am not to blame. That would be sooooo un-consultant-like!
So for those with an unsatiable curiosity about my affairs, well, I have moved – again. Having spent eight months in the Emerging Economy and having learnt a lot about it’s culture – both the good and bad and having endured many experiences ranging from the hilarious to the downright dangerous – it was time for the bedouin to move on.
So, the bedouin has moved to the New World (f**k I need the money after having lived like a pauper for eight months) and is back in CON-SLUT-ing!
Man I missed this – the most retarded and weirdest of all professions where the ability to bull shit with confidence reigns paramount. War stories from the field coming up soon. Watch this space!
PS – In the couple of months that I have been here my airpoints and hotel points accounts have roared back in to life again and I am close to being God once again!
Sorry, sorry, sorry for the hibernation. Well, it is after all winter and this sloth needed its sleep. Anyway, now that I am back up and running, it is only essential that I write something.
And I promise you that will happen. A “normal” post will follow shortly. But before that I am just curious to know how well people understand the pseudonyms that I use in this blog. What for instance do I refer to when I use the following?
1. Emerging Economy
2. Best Business School (BBS)
3. New World
4. Old World
5. That Country to the East
6. Big Bully
7. Party State
Really keen to see whether people can actually guess what these mean. Some of the above may (or may not) be obvious.
With a consumer base of 300 million and growing, it is not a stretch to say that the Emerging Economy will be a major economic super power in the coming decades. 300 million affluent consumers with disposable income is a larger market than The Superpower. This is incentive enough for most major manufacturers and service providers to try to establish a presence here and reap the benefits of a massive and largely untapped market.
Hold that thought!
Growth in the EE only started accelerating in the 90s when economic reforms took place, thanks largely to the same person who is at the helm today (then in charge of the country’s purse). While the changes have been dramatic and far reaching, some of the draconian laws still remain. One protectionist law from the socialist era, however, is now doing the country more good than it has ever done before.
There is a law that in essence states, that car manufactures from overseas have to pay a tax of 150% on the base price of the vehicle. This tax is obviously passed on to the consumer, and as a result, the cost of foreign cars here would be more than double that elsewhere. Sounds protectionist? Definitely. Uncompetitive? Perhaps. Silly? Actually, no! Not, if you read the second part of the law – which states that the tax is waived if the cars are assembled and manufactured in the EE.
You see, the EE has already lost the “manufacturing-centre-of-the-world” to the Big Bully to the North East. So while, it can’t become a manufacturing centre for the world, it can ensure some jobs through manufacturing for the domestic market. And who with even half a brain is going to ignore 300mn consumers?
As a result of this law, most major car manufacturers from the Old World, the New World and that country that chases the Sun have setup manufacturing plants in the EE for the domestic market and are now competing with the local brands on an equal footing.
While this has obviously benefitted the everyday car manufacturers, the real jackpot has been hit by the luxury car makers. Luxury car makers set a mammoth price tag (relative to other countries) thanks to the tax law. But thanks to the EE’s large affluent class they were always able to sell a decent number of vehicles. Now, while they are assembling the cars at the EE at a much lower cost and not paying the tax, guess how much the prices of luxury cars have dropped? Zilch!!!
That’s right, the prices are still where they were. But thanks to the upwardly mobile population and a desire for the nouveau riche too flaunt their gains, the luxury car makers are prospering more and more.
We usually frown at protectionist policies, but here’s one law that finally seems to be working.
Happy 2010, ladies and gentlemen. I am back after a not so restful vacation at the Party State of the Emerging Economy. It’s back to work now, which is always a bit sad. Now, a lot of people start off a new year by making resolutions. I used to, as well, at one stage. Not anymore. Simply because today’s resolution may have absolutely no relevance tomorrow.
However, having said that, there are a few things I hope for in 2010. They are:
1. A sense of direction and purpose in my life.
2. Try to get out of debt (includes student loans, mortgages and the omnipresent credit card debts).
3. Apply for b-school (definitely need to get that one right this year).
4. Blog a lot more frequently.
5. Go to the gym regularly.
6. Travel, travel and lots of travel (nothing makes me happier than sitting at an airport and waiting for my flight and seeing new places. Yes it’s true, inspite of having been a consultant, I still love flying).
What are some of the things that you hope for?
Have a great 2010.
Apologies ladies and gentlemen for my unexplained absence. I have been battling various illnesses over the past week…well more the perception of illness rather than actual illness. Don’t ask what or why, it’s one of those stretches of insanity where you are convinced something is wrong even if it isn’t. And it wasn’t. What I ended up with was one very anxious week with many many visits to the doctors and a complete understanding of private healthcare in the Emerging Economy (let’s assume government healthcare does not exist).
Anyway, I am on leave from my employers for the next two weeks while I take the time off to check out the party places in the EE over the festive season. The people of the EE have got it completely right in one aspect. They have dedicated a state – yes a whole state with its large coastline- to just partying! That’s where I intend to be. I will travel to the financial capital first, where I shall rendezvous with the family (who have been kind enough to visit me at the EE) and then shall travel to partyland!
For the readers from EE, please do recommend things not to be missed in Party State, apart from boozing and chilling on the beach.
Wish you all a Merry Xmas and Happy New Year if I don’t blog before then.
The situation described by Considering Consulting in this blog reminded me of a very similar situation faced by a close friend recently. So this friend F (who shall remain unnamed), applied to Toilette Consluting in the not too distant past. F is in the process of acquiring an advanced degree from one of the top 5 universities in the New World with grades and extra-curricular activities that are the envy of any potential consulting applicant (including the proverbial “helping poor kids in sub-Saharan Africa”). Given her impressive CV, she was granted an interview. As with most consulting companies, interviews consist of case studies, group activities and the personal/fit interviews.
Given her intellect and analytical abilities, she breezed through the case studies. Her charm and poise carried her through the first couple of rounds of personality interviews. She, then, got the call for the final partner interview. Although it differs between firms, if you make it to the partner interview, you have more chance of getting an offer than not. As mentioned in one of my previous blogs, partner interview is more of a seal of approval from the person paying your salary than a test of ability. In fact, I even congratulated F and assured her that a final partner interview would ultimately result in an offer.
Only, it didn’t! The partner deemed her overqualified to receive a business analyst offer. In fact, the partner mentioned to her that while she was analytically and intellectually amongst the best they had interviewed this year, the nature of her academic work seemed to suggest that she would be unhappy in a consulting type of role.
Now, I am not suggesting that the partner was completely wrong. In fact she might be a hundred percent correct. F also told me later that she is happier immersed in the world of academia than corporate life. Yet, is it fair to make such a decision on one question, that probably lasted all of thirty seconds? When the person is intellectually and analytically perfect, along with grace and poise, is it not worthy of an offer in consulting? Do they not deserve the right to judge whether it is fit for them or not after they have been given a chance? 30 – 40% of any batch recruited from campuses do not make it past the second year in the firm they were hired. This means that in spite of all the fit questions, interviewers, including partners, make mistakes. Why then not allow capable people the benefit of doubt?
I close this post by making an observation – Rajat Gupta, the former Managing Director of McKinsey from early ’90s to 2003, was initially rejected by McKinsey after his campus interview at HBS until his professors intervened on his behalf.
Every country, every region, every culture in the world is different and to be able to survive and thrive in a globalized economy one has to be able to adapt to and learn the best aspects of these differences in a nimble manner.
I think the above line sums up my learnings from the Emerging Economy so far. Leading a team in the EE has proven to be very different to leading one in my former habitat. What struck me as very odd was a lack of punctuality, a lack of general professionalism towards colleagues and work, an unwillingness to question authority and general chaos. Surely, that can’t be all there is to it. You do not become one of the world’s fastest growing economies by having attributes like the ones mentioned above. What then, is the truth? Is there something I did not see at first? Does something lie beneath?
‘The truth’ is something that I am still discovering. What I have learnt is that yes there is chaos, and a lot of it, but beneath the chaos, the system somehow just works. Let me explain with a typical general example:
Deadline for Project ABC is say 10th of December and the estimated effort altogether is 400 hours over 2 months. If you were to check the status of the progress of the project on the 1st of December, you would be shocked to see that the project is not even 20% complete. When questioned, the team members will give you an ‘it will get done, why on earth are you worried’ kind of look. There is absolutely no sense of urgency whatsoever. Schedule a meeting and I can guarantee, 20% of the team members will not turn up with no explanation given and the rest will be late.
Fast forward to December 8th – the situation now is completely different. The entire team is present, usually closed up in a meeting room with expressions on their faces that you could easily mistake it for a war strategy planning room. The work will continue nonstop until the last minute and 59th second before the deadline. And guess what, by 0 hours and 0 seconds, it will be complete. How? It is something that needs to be seen to be understood. What if unexpected events or challenges turn up? They do, and the methods, innovations and ‘work arounds’ used by the team members to resolve them can only be described in one word – brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!!!
Despite all the chaos, despite the lackadaisical attitude, everything just works. And the quality of the final result is at par with any I have seen anywhere in the world. The innovation used to complete 400 hours worth of work in 48 – unparalleled. The entropy extends far beyond the workplace to every aspect of life in the Emerging Economy – roads are completely broken, road discipline is not followed, yet the traffic flows; police is corrupt, yet crimes are largely contained; facilities and staff at educational institutions are woefully inadequate, yet the Emerging Economy produces the most number of engineers in the world each year; there is no infrastructure, yet the world’s largest (and smallest) corporations are setting up shop here; the cost of labour has increased manifold since outsourcing began, yet the companies haven’t left; the government is pathetic and spineless, yet the country strives forward; there are people living on a dollar a day, yet they have a smile on their faces.
This country fascinates and intrigues me everyday. I have never seen anything like it before. It can be frustrating, annoying, painful, stuffy, chaotic yet it is beautiful and mystical. I would never recommend the Emerging Economy’s style of work anywhere else in the world – it just wouldn’t work. Yet, when I see it here it is amazing. This is what makes the Emerging Economy truly unique.
It is the differences, not just the similarities, that we see in each other that make life beautiful. It is important for us to accept, learn and understand these differences in order to create harmony.