Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Pursuit of Happiness!

We all are busy with making ourselves BETTER. Passing exams BETTER than the one who sits next to your desk, earning BETTER than your neighbor, getting a BETTER salary than your friend, trying to spend a BETTER life than what your ex is spending, finding a BETTER girl/boy than you had previously. Yes, we all are very busy with making our lives better. When we were born, our parents wanted us to spend a better life than they spent/ or were spending. From our birth to this moment we all were going after something better. Something better which we thought is we are reaching every passing day, but it never happened. Actually what happened was, when we didn't have something we shoot at something more than that and when we reach that more than thing, we tend to shoot another by standing in that better place. So we all were in a rat race which we can never ever finish or win. Yes, I am referring to you also. While you were reading this blog, let me say what you felt. "I am going to write a better blog than this". If you were a foe of me, you must definitely be saying to your own self, "Yes I am going to be a better person than this bugger." May you be my friend,my foe or my fiance or one of my past, I am asking you to stop running and ask yourself!

" Am I really going to end wanting myself to be BETTER?? What is the end of this??"

STOP running! Wait for a minute and have a discussion with me.My coffee table is ready!Come sit.Join with me. Can I ask you a question?

" Are you that BETTER person whom you wanted to be good few years back? So are you satisfied of your self?"

Your obvious answer would be, "YES ofcourse I am a BETTER person now.Far more better than whom I supposed to be" But wait I can hear your conscience shouting. "NO NO! Still you are not that better person. You have some more to achieve! What about your degree? What about completing the PgDip in SLIM? What about CIMA exams? What about your MBA final dissertation??" See you are still not the better person. You have a lot more to do and a long way to go.

It is ofcourse good to dream of a better person. According to the "Law of Attraction", what you dream is what you become. So dream bigger, you will become bigger or at least big. But the unfortunate is while you were so very busy with becoming a better person, you were completely ignoring the the happiness of your life. "Are you really happy?" Or I would ask, Were you ever happy? If the answer is YES! For how long? 1 second? 2 second? 1 minute? 1 hour? Tell me that you were more!!

Yes, while we all were very busy with going for our so called targets, we all knew that there is no happiness inside us. We all are victims of a rat race which the former generations offered us. They raced like rats and they poisoned us with the same poison of the conspiracy of a BETTER person or a BETTER world.

Stop running and think for a moment. What is happiness?? Is it getting the degree? Or taking the doctorate or passing all the exams of your professional qualifications before your fellow people do? You and me both know that when we go for one target, we make some other targets and keep us going forward in the rat race. That's the harsh truth!

Let me define what life's happiness is! Life's happiness is not having reasons to be happy or reasons not to be happy ( or in other words sad) Am I confusing you? Let me explain it to you further.

Let's say you are happy in this moment. Now you are happy because you were sad a moment before. Or if you are sad now, it's because you are happy before. Happiness and Sadness are 2 different concepts which are relative. So it's always about the perception of you towards the things in life which makes you happy or sad.Let's say you failed an exam! Now you are sad. Because previously, before the exam results come, you weren't a failure. But now you are a failure. But before the exam results come, if you never EXPECTED results to be good, you will still be happy because you accept your failure as it is. OK! Now let's say you have passed the exams. But you were EXPECTING big grades. So are you happy now? Still you are NOT! Because you expected to pass the exams with flying colors since you didn't get those you are upset. But wait. But if you were expecting to fail the exams, but you have passed it very marginally, you must definitely be happy. Aren't you?

By the above example I put you forward the most importance concept of this discussion which is EXPECTATIONS! If I say it's all about life's expectations which defines whether we are happy or not, you will be surprised. Let me take a Marketing Theory and explain you the Pursuit of Happiness in a different way of how it was defined by Will Smith in the movie Pursuit of Happiness.

In Marketing, there is a very primitive, but one of most influential theories of my life called the E2 cross. Let me explain you the Marketing theory before going for my definition of Pursuit of Happiness.

As you can see in the above illustration, from the right side of the intersect point, the customers are delighted because

Customer's Experience >> Customer's Expectations

From the left side of the intersection, the customers are unsatisfied because,

Customer Experience << Customer Expectations

At the intersection the customers are satisfied since,

Customer Experience == Customer Expectations

So it is the sellers/businessman's duty to make sure that they are offering a product or a service which their customers are delighted. Or atleast satisfied. The beauty of Marketing is that the marketers can play with the actual and perceived experience of a good or a service. Let a particular good's actual experience be lesser than the actual expectations.The customer is dissatisfied. But if the marketers, the magicians of customers can increase the perceived experience of the good than the actual experience, then the customers will be delighted. The beauty here is without actually modifying the attributes of the good or service, the marketer drives a customers from unsatisfaction to the delight by his wits.

So after some hardcore theories, let me again focus on the main purpose of this article which is to define the perfect pursuit of happiness. This E2 cross can be applied perfectly to our real life situations to define the margins of happiness and sadness.

Let me take you as an example. Let's say there is this friend of you, who is always very polite and gentle, whom is always the first person you want to see when you enter to the office. Everyday he/she greets you  in the morning. So oneday you go to the office and meet that person, and here you go! You serve him/her with a smile expecting he/she to do the routine greeting. But today, that person didn't even look at you, didn't greet you and simply didn't even bother of your existence. And you are obviously very upset. From the morning till the evening of that day you were bothering, thinking, lamenting about what happened in the morning. During the whole day you were sad.

So what went wrong?Were you sad just because of that person didn't bother you or said Good Morning to you? Ask your self? You will obviously say YES! But what I am saying is you were upset because you EXPECTED that person to greet you in the morning. So,

Your Expectations >> What you experienced

which at last made you ended up with sadness. You can never blame that person for making you sad. It is you who defined what he/she should do which is completely uncontrollable from your hands. So basically you were sad not because of that person't act, but because you had high expectations of you towards him.

Let's say you have this enemy of you who really wants to slap you off in the morning. So you meet that person, and here you go, he doesn't even look at you or say Good Morning. He not at all bothered you. So now you are happy. In this case

Your Expectations << Your Experience 
( Because its always better not to being slapped than not greeted right? )

See! Even in this case, the person you met did the same thing of the previous example. They both didn't greet you in the morning. But in the 1st case you were sad whilst in the second case you were happy.
So yes, it's all about a matter of perception or how you look at the things in life which makes you :) OR  :(

Never ever give someone else to define who you are, whether when and where you are happy or sad. Your life's happiness is in your hand and you should be the person who decide whether you are happy or sad on a particular day. So lighten up. Rethink of your life. Rethink of what you were doing all these time!

We expect OUR past to come again to our lives, we expect people to be always honest with us, we expect people to be gentle and mild to us, we expect people to treat us equally, we expect people to give us recognition which they never want to give. So let the happened be happened. Let the people to do whatever they want to do. It's all about the level of expectations which defines your happiness which is the ultimate goal of everyone living in this world. Always try to have low level of expectation in life. So when you get something, even a small, you will be happy.

So connecting the dots of the article, we started talking about the conspiracy theory of having a BETTER life which we can't do in our lives because a BETTER life is something which we can't ever stop finding. Inside the word BETTER lies the concept of EXPECTATION which defines whether we are happy or sad in a particular moment. The lesser we EXPECT the happIER we are! That is how E2 cross can make you all time smiling person.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Myth of Engineering into Marketing!

It was the latter part of 2013, which I happened to write a Marketing Plan with the collaboration of a leading car agent of Sri Lanka. It is an European brand which is standing not only in Sri Lanka for a long time, but also in the global market as a stylish prestigious brand. For the fair reporting purposes, I am not mentioning the name of the car brand, but if you are a car enthusiastic, I am sure i will hear you say, 'Oh! he is talking about this brand'

The story started with me sending an email to the car agent ( Yes, to the common mail)  asking for an interview to gather some information about the organizational culture, the structure, the current prices of each car models and to be honest to peek inside them to get an understanding about what is really happening inside that company. Because I do believe and I always believed that the better justice can be done to that brand in Sri Lanka.

" This Lion which roared and rocked Sri Lankan market those good old days is now suffocating!!"

That was the question which was haunting in my mind. My inner voice always shouted, "Why? Why? If its an awesome brand THEN, why can't it NOW?"

Days passed, after around one week I received this call from the secretary of the CEO of that company, asking me to come for a meeting with him. Yes, not-surprisingly I knew this is going to be ground breaking because I am going to meet a CEO! The cockles of my heart started drumming off, while the expectations of me getting a MP and ending up with another Gold medal was going up. Yes, you are right! I was putting down 2 birds with one shot. This is going to be submitted to SLIM as my final marketing plan as well as this is going to be the biggest and most complex marketing plan I've ever done.

I still remember it was this sunny morning I went to the head office of that car agent. The very 1st thing which I sighted was this old lady who was sitting in the front desk. I was shocked!!! I asked myself  "OMG! is this the person who is going to greet for the enthusiastic car lovers who are coming looking for most stylish, prestigious European brand??" NO, I am not gender biased, I respect the elders, but still SHE is definitely not the person to say 'hi' to the people who enter into that showroom. So that was my 1st impression about it which was not that good but not worst also. Actually with time while I was waiting till the CEO comes, I noticed that I am very wrong of being judgmental of her. She was the longest standing worker of that company who was serving them for more than 25 years. She became this mega friend of mine and we talked and talked a lot.Indirectly I was fulfilling the purpose of my visit since she talked a lot and I knew how to keep the talkers talking!

After sometime the CEO came and I was asked to come to his office. We started the conversation and  believe me, he was such a very good person. I learned a lot about the brand as well as I was very privileged to talk to the CEO of that company because i knew that i am taking the information from the springs of the big river. Every thing was very perfect until this lady came into the play.I didn't go there empty handed. I was halfway through my marketing plan and i was having many inputs from the research i have done before meeting them. So Mr. CEO asked that lady to come and listen to me. I thought " Oh! yes i have an audience to show off now. So this is going to be awesomER". But unfortunately after me spitting out the 1st sentence of the show off after her arrival she lighted up.

SHE:" Wait wait! By the way what was your name?"
I: "I am Malith, Malith Sureweere", I said proudly, though there is no reason to be.
SHE: "Your University?"
I: " I am from Uni of Kelaniya"
SHE: "Ah! Is that so? Is that an Arts degree or something?? So yes ### (CEO's name), we can't do this in this way. #### (CEO's name) we don't know about these local uni people. So we have to sign a memorandum of understanding before we proceed"

I was silent for about 5 seconds unable to wonder whether what happened to me. I saw even the CEO's face was changed a little. He being a foreign graduated person reflected his deepest apologies from his face for what going such a terrible to innocent me! ( I think)

What really pissed me was not that she asked to sign a document of nondisclosure. They have all the rights under the skies to do that because obviously, the local universities in Sri Lanka had already killed their good impressions and yes unfortunately I was a part of that system. What pissed me was that she asked whether I am an Arts person. I still remember the durr looks which she gave me when I said that i am from University of Kelaniya. Yes, we do have a huge Arts faculty. But does that mean all the people from Kelaniya are Arts people. Yes! Our Arts faculty is a treasure for us and we do respect them.I am a science undergraduate and a member of the best Industrial Management department in Sri Lankan university system. The reason for this big headed nature was later found that she was a SO CALLED Civil Engineer who was supposed to be mixing cement and laying tar on dirty roads but appointed as the top place of Sales and Marketing sinfully.

This sudden appearance of the supposed-to-be-cement-mixing lady marked the end of my interesting conversation with the CEO. She took me to her office and gave me her business card which was completely irrelevant for her to do because I was not at all interested of getting know of her, but yes I accepted it and card read,

#########################( Name) and B.Eng (Civil) bla bla bla

I was shocked to see an engineer being the head of Marketing and Sales. I asked myself " What's the wrong with these people??" Proving my doubt of she doing her duty as a marketer I continued my conversation with her.

She being the head of that Sales position has no what so ever idea about the Emotional and Functional values of that car brand which is 90% built on emotional values.

She doesn't have any understanding about the history of the car and the emotional bond between the users with that car brand. OK! She being a so called Engineer is expected to have a good understanding about the car's functionality. But NO! She was nil on that also.

If I happened to ask the question. " Do you know the definition of Marketing?" I am sure she will stammer more than me, I am born-stammering-person.

She was just a number cruncher. What she believes that when she spends Rs.1 today morning she should earn  Rs. 2 at the end of the very day, which is pathetic when it comes to Marketing.Yes, it works for accountants but not here. Marketing is a philosophy and its the central function of business which drives the business towards the dream of top class manager which they made concrete inside their corporate vision and mission. But no I wasn't having any intention to tutor marketing to that civil engineer whom is supposed to be on construction sites with "wadu basses".

My purpose of going there was not to make her aware of the ignorance.My purpose was to take some good inputs and write a good marketing plan which at least can be understood by the CEO who was a real passionate person about the brand which he is handling. So i singed the document and worked with that particular company.After around 3 months of sleepless nights i came up with an all new re-positioning and marketing plan for that brand in SL. And yes making my hopes came true i got a Merit Pass for that subject in SLIM PGDip thanks to them.

What I wanted to share with my readers is not my story of getting a Merit Pass for a subject. But the underlying story of Engineers forgetting what they are really supposed to do and peeking into others' washrooms. This trend of so called Engineers coming to Management functions and messing up in their jobs due to the non-alignment of integrity is something very common these days. The main reason for this is obvious. Yes engineers don't have enough jobs out there. Though they boast of them becoming engineers, the pathetic scenario is nowadays they tend to diversify into other areas which they are not-capable of functioning mainly due to the lack of philosophical thinking due to their traditional mathematical minds. For them everything is a mathematical calculation or an algorithm or a regression analysis which is complete non-sense if they are to function is a position like Sales and Marketing. It is quite stupid for the senior managers to hire engineers without going for a real marketer or a sales person who had gone through the hardcore practicing of Sales and Marketing backed by the piles of theories from social sciences to economics to behavioral sciences and psychology.

 Let me give you 5 reasons why an engineer should not be seated and talking about Philips Kotler's theories.

1. The Engineering Primitive Mentality of 1+1=2

In Marketing 1+1 doesn't equal to 2. It is more than 2 in case the marketer is expecting wisdom from what he/she does. On the other hand it should be less than 2 if the marketer is focusing on long term brand building than short term profit increase which is not reliable.

2. The Too Serious and Structured Mindset

The people who comes from doing long sums while they are undergraduates, can't suddenly become philosophers or risk takers just because they sit in a cozy management position which gives them a good car and fuel allowance. So this structured, too rational mindset is definitely not going to work with a philosophy like Sales and Marketing.

3. Money Mindedness of Men wearing Yellow Hats

Nowadays since too many are coming out from universities boasting them to be engineers, they are ready to work at any cost with cheaper salaries which drives engineers to do whatever it takes to increase the number of notes in their pockets. If given with good money, they are ready even to clean the show floor rooms. So the top managers should make sure they are not offering chairs to any tom and dick who come up saying that they are engineers and they can basically do any dirty work of the corporate.

4. Too Much of Logical Thinking

These people who comes from engineering backgrounds tend to do everything too rationally which drives them away from taking risks and being innovative. Especially when working with a function like marketing it is a must to think out of the box and be innovative if you want to remain the leader. So better to hire an ear ring wearing good marketer who doesn't look decent, than hiring a cunning yellow hats wearing-decent-looking person who is counting his fingers till the salary day comes.

5. The Born-In Wrong with the Men Wearing Yellow Hats

This is something which I thoroughly believe in. For a person to become a good marketer he/she has to make sure that he/she is having a very clear mindset to think big and creative. In most of the cases the engineers who graduate from the universities are counting their fingers (hands and in case  legs) to get married to the girl whom they caught hardly by spending after years and years of trying. Since they are not good at THAT subject ( you know what i am talking about) like marketers, they are always scared of losing their fiances which makes them collect money as soon as possible and marry and settle down. This builds too much pressure in them which in turn make them to leave the office sharp at 5, or take as much as holidays, spend the spare time wasting time on planning their wedding or selecting their engagement ring. But as the real marketers are not bothered of losing their fiances since they are very good at the keeping their fiances satisfied, they tend to be more focused on what they are doing, in this case when working in the office. Their duties of work are not considered as responsibilities, but as part of their passion. So always BETTER NOT TO HIRE someone who is keened to grab some money from your company just because he has to buy the engagement ring.

So may the relevant people understand why the Lion is in front of the lion's den while the rabbits are playing inside it..!!!! Yes, I do accept the fact that there are many talented engineers in Sri Lanka who do a great job for the betterment of out country. But the irony is there is a handful of them.

PS: This article was written with no intention of harassing a party or parties of the society but for the awareness and educational purposes only.