Archive for the ‘Training and Mentoring’ Category.

Ten Rules that help get the Job Done


A lot of people respect and admire the work of a good consultant/manager. At the same time, however, it is very hard to find people who would appreciate the methods half as much as they appreciate their results.

This short write-up will try and explain how (in my finite and prone to error opinion) being nice (with an exploitative, opportunistic audience), or being forgiving (with someone who will go right back to sleep once you turn around) is not always a prime priority when you set out to get the job done – however big or small the context may be. The objective is to help management professionals realize how a bit of tweaking within our daily stance for work can lead to massive changes w.r.t productivity and results.

The following applies to both a 5 year sprint at a tech company as well as your next visit to the grocers for celery.

What to do (and more importantly, what NOT to do) is summarized in the following points:

1. Prioritize.
Know what you are setting out to do, make it your number ONE priority (not the second, third or fourth). If you want a ‘work-life balance’, you wont make it to the top.

2. Plan.
Plan BEFORE you jump into the water. Not when you’re halfway out of breath. ‘it’ll work out’ is for losers. Proactive>reactive>ignorant. Sun Tzu – AOW says – The winning general first seeks victory, then seeks battle. You normally get stuck at things ‘you didn’t foresee’ first off. Think of all possibilities, and your reaction to each of them. Do it all the time.

3. Act.
If you intend to sit on your hands, stay home. In the words of Alladins genie, “thats the problem with doing the right thing, you have to do it all by yourself.” Don’t expect people to deliver. Be prepared to get your hands dirty, and lead from the front. If you’re not in a situation you can control on your own, you have bitten off more than you can chew. Supportive people are an added luxury, not a necessity. You will have to work with the best (who will question/attempt to supersede your authority every step of the way) and the worst (who will pretty much fail at every other task). Be ready to handle both, by example.

4. Delegate
If you think you can do it all on your own, you probably can, but that will slow you down. No amount of expertise will give you a 25th hour in the day. So delegate. effectively. Give more work (and rewards) to someone who delivers. Take work off someone who doesn’t. Continue to do that until one turns into the other, just like free market mechanics. Do not compromize on quality. Set clear expectations, and do not tolerate sustained failure to meet them.

5. Be Just – Not Nice

This is the part most people fail at, as managers. Leading is not about being a nice guy (or a jerk for that matter). its about being able to do both, as and when needed. Be just. reward the guy that deserves it, to an extent that it inspires others to follow. Conversely, kick when you need to, and kick hard enough for trash to stay out of your team.


Whatever you do, don’t..

6. Bluff (esp. when you KNOW you’re wrong).

Go by logic. Just because you’re in-charge doesn’t mean you cant be wrong. If someone has shown you a better way, take it, and acknowledge their guidance. Unless you want them to supersede you in the long run.

7. Be distracted.

When at work, use your head. Not your ..heart. Mind on the money. Nowhere else. If somethings distracting you, that means its a priority over work.

8. Do unto others that you do not wish in return.

The categorical imperative. Yes, it works professionally. E.g. Don’t fire a guy for incompetence if you don’t want to get fired for incompetence yourself.
Normally what people do in response to this logic, is that they stop firing incompetent people. What you’re SUPPOSED to do, is stop being incompetent, so you can fire as many incompetent people as is necessary. Don’t breed the same weaknesses within you that you despise within others.

9. be a people pleaser

You set out to get the job done, remember. Prioritize. Most of us make a mess of priorities when it comes to interacting with/convincing others. If you wont give your subordinate a piece of your mind when he messes up the first time, he will mess up again, and probably lose his job if you’re not there to cover up again. Similarly, taking unnecessary shit from your boss once will only help ease it on again, harder next time. So, do whats needed, say whats needed, in a politically accurate way.

10. Stand in line

You won’t ever get ahead when you’re standing in line like everyone else. Respect yourself and find a legitimate alternative. If you feel there is a better way around, take it. Show others that its better. Nothing speaks for itself better than success. Do not doubt your ability as an individual and do not stand in need of appreciation / approval from people. The only person you need to convince w.r.t. your skill, is yourself. How far you get in life is directly dependent on how much you respect the person you see in the mirror every day.

Hope this helps. Questions and comments welcome!


The Entrepreneurship test

kid selling stuffPeace everyone.

With more and more young, educated people joining the rat race every day, startups are the order of the day. despite over 16-20 years of schooling and professional education, its sad to note that not even one institution of the world trains people on how to start their own work. We are all taught how to be compliant, acceptable pieces of machinery that help the rich get richer each day.

Some basics of how/when/where to start a company are given below, it is hoped that it will benefit the reader in planning out  what is practically possible and what’s not. Its also a test, in terms of state of mind. Most of us don’t have the right reasons to start something commercial, which is why it blows up in our faces more often than not. So lets start with ten basic yes/no questions that all of us should ask ourselves before doing something on our own.


The TEN ‘yesses’ needed to enter entrepreneurship mode

1. Do you actually want to start something that will be completely dependent on you and no one else, for the rest of your life?

2. Aside from academics, do you have the practical experience of running something commercially viable in your business vertical? – simple version – Can you make it work all by yourself?

3. Are you financially capable of surviving the gestation period of your business (6 to 12 months)? Simple version – can you go without making a dime for a year?

4. Are you good at making your own decisions and seeing them through, regardless of the outcome, positive or negative?

5. Are you satisfied with what you are currently making with your current employment/commercial scenario?

6.In case you intend to borrow investments, have you ever taken a loan from someone that is 10 times greater (or more) than your monthly income potential, and paid it back within the agreed term?

7. are you good with numbers?

8. are you good with words? can you read /write /communicate perfectly well in at least one major tongue in your region?

9. are you aware of the legal/commercial rules and regulations applicable on your region of operation?

10. Can you make your start-up your number one priority (over family, friends and loved ones, sleep, food, entertainment etc) for the next one year?


In case any of the above is a ‘no’, or even ‘maybe’, wait until its a confirmed yes. Might take a while, but its better that way. An explanation of the questions is given below (for people who might not be sure regarding the answers).


1. Commitment - Your company/start-up is like a child, it cannot survive without you. once it is on its feet, its like a beautiful woman that no one other than you will be sincere with. Because its yours, not theirs. you know the rest :) So, don’t get into it if you cant commit to it for life.

2.  Expertise and Experience- If you don’t know how its done, stop fooling yourself that it will work. Even if it does, those that make it work will take it over, sooner or later. To retain authority, you need to be the best at what your’e doing. also, you need zero dependencies on people, from start to finish. You need to know how to do EVERYTHING yourself, so if in case someone leaves you down the road, your hands are not tied. This is why it is always recommended to work at least 5 to 10 years in the same business vertical before starting on your own.

As an example: the most successful businessmen in this world are jews and memons (a cast in karachi). Memons have a basic principle that they always have their children start their own businesses at age 20 or less, AFTER having them work at the root level (teller, clerk, accountant, shopkeeper etc) for at least 5 years in a business that DOES NOT belong to their parents directly. Similarly, you wont see Bill gates JR. in microsoft, or Jobs JR in apple etc. An Entrepreneur is self made, merit based. A son running his father’s business is a safe, employee mindset.

3.  Financials - perhaps the biggest mistake all start-ups make, they assume they’ll start making money instantly. If its not financially well timed, even the best business model will flop. Nothing works without money, not even your relationship with your parents :) . If you need money every month to ‘pay the bills’, you cant start something on your own, until you’ve hedged up at least an years worth of running finance.

4. Perseverance/leadership -  entrepreneurship is not for gullible people. You need to be obstinate, convincing and influencing, an individual that walks their path through even if they have to do it alone. If you’re not, don’t try to take up this responsibility. People can only follow a leader if he can follow his own set direction himself. People that switch plans mid-way, or go around in circles/are impulsive – they are better off finding someone they can follow. examples, Martin Luther King/Abraham Lincoln are leaders, Britney Spears/Michael Jackson are not (and never will be, despite being more popular among people).

5. Commercial viability - second biggest mistake – people make start-ups because they believe ‘they’re not getting paid enough’. By making a start-up you’re actually putting yourself in a  more severe position. When employed, you just had to convince one person to pay you more (your boss) – which did not happen. Now you’ll be at the mercy of 8 billion people, good luck :) . You can only make money in this world if you know how to get what you want in life, and it starts with negotiating a good employment deal. Anyone that can’t do that will never be able to do better as an entrepreneur. Also, you always make more for less effort in an employment. So if the objective is to make a lot of money and have a good time without working too hard, stay employed :)

6. Investments -  Third biggest issue (if you make it this far). Preferably, do it all yourself. if not, know who to involve and who not to. There’s no such thing as a ‘sleeping partner’, they only sleep until you go profitable, then they will grow brains and try to tell you what to do. Scale down your business, try to make a profit on a small amount first. once you have a cash cycle done/proof of concept completed, magnify the scale (ideally using the money you make from the business/your own investment). As an example, i’ve started 3 companies before my current one, and I’ve had to leave all of them after making them profitable owing to the fact that i had ‘sleeping partners’ financing me. Its only your business if its your own money, else its everybody’s business, in which you’re ‘somewhat employed’.

Its also advised that you have some experience of paying back on time , before starting a company. An example would be paying for an asset bought on instalments (you should be comfortable tightening your belt to pay back money you’ve borrowed in the past). If you’re not , you’ll just keep borrowing more and will never be out of debt.

A guy that makes 1000 PKR and saves 50 after running a rickshaw all day is richer than a guy that makes 1 Mill PKR and spends 2 million, and owes 3 million in debt already. Money doesn’t disappear into thin air, neither does it grow on trees. if you take money, you will have to pay it back, sooner or later. If you don’t, you’ll lose something equivalent. The financial institutions/people around you with money are not stupid, and they did not get rich by giving out money to random people and never asking back for it :)

7. Numbers -  the only absolute truth in our world is numbers. If you’re not good with numbers – join a math class somewhere. Don’t start a business (unless you want people to fleece you everyday). Musicians/celebrities are never good with numbers. which is why they are always under debt. which is why MJ lost everything, even after death. Not even one of his songs (or even one of his jackets) is his own property, every hair on his head was property of record labels. despite grossing more money than Berkshire Hathaway makes in an year, he never made it to even the fortune top 100 all his life. MJ as an individual= financial wreck.

8.Words -  Communication is needed, esp. written. verbal doesn’t count as much as written, but you need to be a man/woman of your word. Unless you can put things in writing (and abide by them), you can’t run a business. You also should be able to explain things to people, make them see reason in your words (not artificially, actually). Go by logic, not assertions. Sweet talk is a positive, provided its used in a positive context. People like being praised. But they are not stupid, they can see through empty words. They just don’t show it until they find an alternative.

9. Legal/rules/reg

Know how to start a business in a legal/morally accurate way.  Dont screw over your employers in the process. If you do, your employees will do the same later :) . Know the exact legal implications of your business and do everything legit. All the legit businessmen of the world are still the top 10 richest people, which is a clear indication of the fact that white money has more volume than black. I don’t know about other verticals, but having worked in software for 13 years now, I can tell you that you can make more money as a the CEO of a legit software company, than you can as the President of Pakistan :)

10. Priorities - Perhaps not a business killer, but screwed up priorities can hamper the growth of a business. The reason why everyone is not Steve jobs is that Steve destroyed a marriage and his health making Apple what it is today. Most of us lose impetus when the money starts coming in, and we start focusing on ‘where to spend the money’ rather than taking the business further. We start buying expensive things like property, gadgets, sports cars, doing world travel trips, dating expensive women, booze, parties etc. That’s not what we set out to do. If it is, we could’ve done much better doing it in someone else’s company. Screwing over your own creation just to have a good time is not justified.

Why entrepreneurship

The core reason (which we often lose sight of) why every one feels like doing something on their own is to prove that they can do it BETTER than its being done. Focus on that. If you’re starting a company just to become what you set out to prove wrong (exploitation of workforce wages, wrong processes, favouritism, owners taking massive cuts out of gross etc),  its better not to do it altogether. The world already has its fair share of screwed up companies that are screwing working, capable people like you to make the rich richer. It does not need more firms like that.

I’d like to close this with the mission statement from Engro Corp. – which is ‘To improve the quality of life of people around us’. +- pros and cons, Engro does what it can to make that happen. The world would be a much better place with more companies like that. Our gift of knowledge can be used to help make people’s lives better, esp. people like the kid in the photo (he’s an entrepreneur too, one exploited by the self interest of others). Lets do what we can to get him the quality of life he deserves.

Comments/questions welcome.


What will you accomplish today?

Peace everyone.

A topic that I’ve always wanted to write on, never really found the time for it. Writing after 2 years almost, havent had the time to do it. All my words are usually paid for these days, too much work on the professional side.

Our life cycle - best mapped by a neverending staircase of wants.

Anyways, here goes. As the topic suggests, this article is about a fact that we seldom realize, until its too late. Its about how the world around us shapes our actions, rather than it happening the other way around. Objective is to help readers understand how to prevent loss of priorities in life.

I’ll try n explain with simple examples of my life, and hope that readers can relate to them. But before I do that, a quick litmus test. How many of you actually remember the last thing you were about to do before you started reading this article? Now that I have mentioned it, it will jog your memory a little. But if i hadn’t, this article has taken you away from something you were ‘about to do’.

This happens a lot everyday. And it happens so frequently, amongst everyday misdirection around us, that we tend to forget what our priorities are, and over a period of time, we tend to forget our initial objectives in life, grab new ones, n the cycle continues from one goal to another. There are very few people out there that actually stick to a goal and get it done, most just keep cycling from one thing to another, and before they realize it, they run out of time.

To understand how to stick to priorities, its also important to remember things. So, lets ask ourselves the question. Do we remember the very first moment of our consciousness in this world? We don’t. simpler question – what’s the most remote thing you remember about your childhood? If I talk about myself, I remember something from when i was barely 2 or 3 years old. we used to live in 2 flats, right next to my maternal grandparents. every morning I’d skip into my aunts kitchen, to have her feed me a spoon of sugar (ammi wouldn’t let me have sugar, jojo would).

So, first objective in life was sugar. then i can also remember wanting to reach the bathroom light switch myself, i was too short to do it. the endless jumping, seemed like forever when i finally got to turn it on by myself. another one was to break the crap outta my elder brothers dinky cars, with a small weight from the kitchen. that was fun too. and a couple of picturesque mags from my dads Road n track collection. couldnt even read, but it felt like I was a very learned person holding those mags in my hand all day.


So essentially, a kid is like a dog running after cars. once it catches up, it runs after the next one. doesn’t know what to do with a car it catches up with. Some of us never break out of that mindset. One thing is for sure though. everyone wants 4 things. Sustenance (food, drink etc), growth (physical, mental or skill), a sense of control,  and want of recognition/appreciation.

And we run after these  values like crazy in life, without even thinking about why we do it. we eat, work, run, love, sleep in a cyclic existence, fulfilling impulsive wants as and when they surface. later in life (provided that we have time to think about it) we sit and wonder where we ended up, and where we wanted to head in life.

Some people want to be scientists, others want to do art. Some want to do business, make money, others wanna live simple lives. Some just want to party around, others want to settle down. I guess what’s most important in a finite existence is to know exactly where to invest these limited resources. Over a period of time, one should learn to realize the difference between what they actually need, and what is just ‘induced impulsive behavior’.

Thirsty? get some coke. 5/10 readers or more would want to get some if its in the fridge right now. but the question is, do you really need  it? You don’t. you just ‘think’ you need it. You’re doing just fine without it. It makes you thirstier btw.  you can still get it if you want. but do note the point. you dont ‘need’ coke. you need water. you’want’ coke.

So, the most common mistake people make is that we forego needs for impulsive wants. Prioritizing wants over all else, we screw up a lot of things everyday. try not to do that. A litmus test for differentiating between needs and wants – needs stay the same, wants fade/change/evolve every time they are fulfilled.

Needs vs. wants

So, as a living being we should focus on providing ourselves with necessities first(like healthy food,water, residence, good clothing, hygiene, exercise, even a healthy sex life), and focus on that ‘expensive eatout’ or that ‘awesome movie’ later. Both are a means of taking your resources (time + money) away from you, and get you absolutely nothing in return. except maybe a fat belly over time.

So, priorities need to be set through cost V benefit analysis (standard economics) – not on the basis of hot chick creatives you see here n there. e.g. just because a chick looks hot wearing a sana safinas lawn print, that doesn’t mean you would look good after buying cloth that is 20 times overpriced. this is how you would look after you reconcile finances at the end of the month – O_O

And this happens every day, month, year. until we are left with nothing but gray hair and a constant backache. Seriously, most of the things we want are too expensive. to get those expensive things , we do ‘safe’ job careers, that give us money to spend on random things. because we know we will get this money again next month, we squander it every month. in exchange for our health, priorities and time. just money.

Solution – dont buy things that do not improve your income potential, or your physical/mental capabilities. invest in yourself, not mcdonalds, or chikni chameli for that matter.

another thing that a vast majority wastes opportunity cost on – is relationships (myself included). A relationship is the most important priority in every middle class/lower middle class person’s life. The problem statement contains the answer – prioritizing a relationship over your income potential will never let you progress beyond an ordinary individual. Be objective. Why do you need a relationship? For support and consolation, so that you can be true to your purpose in life, and share values with someone.

If all your’e doing is facilitating things that you’re least interested in, its not a relationship, its slavery. High rent residences, parlors, insta cook meals, eatouts, expensive fashion items and whatnot. that’s not what you set out to do. The objective of your creation is not to serve a woman (or a man for that matter). its to progress, to evolve, to be a productive part of an ecosystem. its not to be a facilitator for someone else’s wants, and destroy your priorities in the process. Which is why its imperative that people share values and priorities in relationships.

an example is that of my parents – the one good thing about their union was that they wanted their children to move to the next level, so they prioritized their children’s education over all else. It was a priority they shared, so it went through pretty easily. Other lesser topics, they differ on, and are still stuck with sorting them out, 34 years down the road.

Life is all about priorities. If you don’t remember where you come from, you will never know where to go. Set yourself priorities while you’re still young. Change priorities, but change them for the better, don’t change them circumstantially. People who progress in life are the ones who stick to their stances, and shape the world around them the way they see fit. Those who ‘go with the flow’ usually end up in places they don’t want to be.

So starting tomorrow, look yourself in the mirror every morning, and set an agenda on what you want to accomplish that day. Stick true to that stance, for a day for starters. see what you can accomplish. even 1 task out of 10 would be nice. build on that. stretch it to a week, a month, an year, 5 years. it will help you progress – and it will also help your bank statement.

Ill give you a very small example of myself. I’ve been working for 12 years now, and i think i wasted the first 6 years of my professional life ‘working very hard’ on things people told me to do.  It doesn’t get you anywhere, esp. if its not in line with your priorities. cash can only get you food on the table. which you’ll eat n egest every day. Net gain= zero.

Do what you’re good at, do your own thing. master it, be the best at it the way you think it should be done, it will give you self confidence. Don’t be hesitant about putting your income potential at the mercy of your brain cells (that’s how its supposed to be). Things will work out – better than they do now. All you need to do is stick to your priorities, and put effort in the direction you feel is best. Summing it up – try and do something within your finite lifespan that can benefit generations after you. That’s the only way to fulfil one’s purpose. We know such people, centuries after their deaths today. The ones we don’t know or remember, are the ones like us.

I’d like to end this by quoting something that’s my mission statement from Sun Tzu’s'Art of War’, goes like this..

‘A winning general first seeks victory, then seeks battle’.

Plan things out. Change it if necessary, but stay true to your objectives in life. Don’t forego an objective if its too hard, revisit the plan. The best way to get to point B from point A, is to keep walking in one, straight line. a merry go round approach never works.

Feel free to share experiences that relate to the context. Questions welcome.