Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Lunch with a Guru

In the last two posts we examined ratios you need for appraising your business; the Pareto principle and efficiency ratio. This week, we’ll be taking a short break from ratios to examine an important relationship every entrepreneur must have to succeed in business. Thereafter we would return to our business ratios.


The world’s most expensive lunch is served once a year. Some years it’s a table for two, other years it’s for more; but one of the customers is a constant. His name is Warren Buffett, the second richest man in the USA. “No wonder”, you’d say until you find out that he doesn’t even pay for the meal; that honour falls on the other customer(s). Then you’ll begin wondering why on God’s green earth someone will shell out so much ($3.5million in 2013) to eat with a money-bag who won’t pick the tab.

I assure you that they don’t pay that much to have their pick of a buffet; it’s the brains of Buffett himself they are out to pick. His vast investment experience, particularly in picking winning stocks, is their sole aim and the delicacies are merely icing on the cake. They recognize that to sit, for an hour, with one so astute is worth decades of personal study and equivalent to years of hands-on experience. (It must be noted that Mr. Buffett auctions the lunch to the highest bidder and gives the proceeds to charity).

That brings us to this focus of my post….. How much are you willing to part with for mentoring? What will you give to stand on the shoulders of those who've gone ahead? How far would you go to get sound judgment? Think about it!

To start with, who is a mentor? A mentor is not an adviser, although we seek their advice; neither is a mentor a friend, although we love to have them on speed dial. A mentor doesn't micro-manage you, hold you by the hand when times are hard or give you the occasional pat on the head when you do it right. What a mentor does is to point you in the right direction. Period.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Better is the inescapable bridge to Best



       This morning, I had a 7 o’ clock meeting with a friend at my bus stop. I got there at 6.57 a.m. but he was nowhere to be found. I pulled out my earphones and slid them into my ears as I patiently waited for him. But, there was a ringing noise coming from elsewhere and disturbing the Coldplay song I was enjoying. I looked around and saw a driver shouting his bus-route to attract passengers. I shook my head. At 7.23 am, he left with ONLY TWO passengers in his 10-seater bus.

As I waited, I noticed an elderly woman sweeping the roadside; she had covered quite a stretch. I saw that she’s one of the sweepers employed by the Environmental Sanitation office. Bent over like the letter ‘n’, she was using the local broom with a short handle to do her work. I shook my head again.

I left the bus stop after my meeting and went to the cable TV office. They had sent a broadcast to several subscribers to come this morning and exchange their decoders for the new upgraded versions. I met a handful of people sitting outside the office and I joined them. A lady next to me advised the janitor to find a way of ensuring a first-come first-served basis but he dismissed her. Five minutes later, some boisterous clients arrived and headed straight for the office to swap their decoders. Some early arrivers protested, insults were traded, fists clenched and punches freely thrown. After four and a half hours, I finally got my new decoder. I shook my head one more time.

In this part of the world, we have a misconception that until an activity incorporates some form of chaos, drama, or stress it is not worthwhile. In other climes, they strive for greater efficiency in everything, but we search for more activity and end up bogged down with more motion and less movement. Will it kill the driver to place a signboard of his route on the bus? Will it annihilate the sweeper to get a long handle for her broom? Or will it exterminate the janitor to get a pen and paper for clients to write their names as they arrived?