Sunday, November 1, 2015

Review of Milan Expo 2015 and the great UAE Pavilion

The Expo 2015 happened from 1 May 2015 to 30 October 2015 at Milan, Italy. In view of the

Entrance of Expo 2015 Milan
upcoming Expo 2020 at Dubai, the UAE residents were curious to know what exactly an Expo is and hence I also visited the Expo at Milan. I could go only on 20 October 2015 and my visit was for 3 days. This was the worst possible time to visit since there was huge rush since the show was to end on 31 October 2015.

What exactly was Expo 2015?

The theme of the Expo 2015 was “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”
Various countries from around the world set up their own pavilions depicting the architecture of the
Bird's eye view of Expo 2015
respective country. Inside each pavilion there were lot of exhibits, movies, robots etc. which present this theme. It is a huge area spread across 1.5 km radius. The central walk way is more than 1 km just to walk. Huge pavilions are made on both sides of this walk way.

The best time to visit

The last two months of the Expo was extremely crowded and obviously the first couple of months were the best to visit. During the last month, the queue in front of most of the pavilions including that of UAE was 3 to 4 hours long.

Review of UAE Pavilion at Expo 2015
Board about UAE Pavillion at Expo 2015

The UAE Pavilion was huge by all means comparing to most of the other stalls. China pavilion was obviously bigger. People had to wait more than 4 hours to get into the UAE pavilion, which means that the word had already spread that this is a great pavilion. In unattractive pavilions of certain other countries, the queue was very short. It seems that the visitors did their homework in selecting the attractive pavilions through a web search based on feedback form earlier visitors. Also reviews might have appeared in local media.
Once entering the pavilion, you’ll realize that the wait was worth. There were magnificent displays in small glass boxes which also incorporate high technology to showcase local culture, food etc. They were attractive by the technology and by the exhibits. I felt proud when the European visitors exclaimed seeing those exhibits.
UAE Pavillion at Expo 2015
Then there was this magnificent movie which was really worth all the queue. It was depicting the transition from the past to the present and reinforcing the importance of keeping the values of the past. It was like a story and every one of the visitors enjoyed it. It was on a 180 degree screen and there were two screens one behind the other. The first part was in the first screen.  In the movie, a helicopter uplifts a palm tree to relocate to another place. The lifting happens in the first screen and then all the visitors move to the second screen by which time the helicopter reaches the second screen and the second part happens in the second screen. It was a great movie indeed by the theme and the technology.
Overall the pavilion was comparable to all other major international pavilions.
Inside UAE Pavillion at Expo 2015

What we can expect at Expo 2020?

Just comparing the area of the Expo 2015, the area allocated to Expo 2020 seems to be more than double. This obviously means that the Expo 2020 is going to be much bigger than Expo 2015. Expo 2015 was having huge attractions for a visitor, and I just can’t wait to see the Expo 2020.

Enjoyments for a visitor

There were many attractive pavilions and UAE was definitely one of the most prominent as could be simply seen by the length of the queue outside UAE pavilion which was 3 to 4 hours when I visited. The visitors, especially Europeans already had a fair idea of the good pavilions and they were
Robots Inside South Korean Pavillion at Expo 2015
heading to those. In most of those great pavilions there were many attractions in terms of technology and presentation which was really enjoyed by the visitors. And in most of them there are food stalls of the respective country which was a delight to the visitors.
There were lot of stage shows during the day and night which were really enjoyable. Also there were light shows of various types in the night.

The benefits for the Economy observed in Milan

The economy has got a huge boost in Milan as was very visible. Few observations:
a.      All hotels were full and obtaining bookings were difficult or very costly during last two months of Expo. Most of those rooms were purchased in bulk by tour operators and booking portals
b.      The local tour operators were fully booked much in advance for local and regional tours.
c.      Most of the buildings including monuments were refurbished and cleaned to receive visitors
Another display at UAE Pavillion at Expo 2015
d.      The public attractions had huge number of visitors. Everyone who comes to visit the Expo also visit local and regional attractions (I also did, wherever I could manage a ticket)

What I felt best at Milan Expo 2015

Each visitor may have had different experiences, but I was impressed by the following:
a.      Able to accommodate huge number of visitors. In spite of the huge crowd, it was not cramped.
b.      There were enough of eateries and customers could be served fast
c.      The food, water etc. were not very expensive compared to the outside rates
d.      There were many impressive pavilions which was really worth the visit.
e.      Free WiFi everywhere inside Expo arena
f.       Crowd management in various areas including at the security gate was great.
Robots at play at South Korean Pavillion at Expo 2015

What I felt could be improved at Milan Expo 2015

a.      People were waiting from 3 to 7 hours in front of the pavilions. This could be avoided by giving slots while booking daily tickets.
b.      Waiting in queue for this long was horrible. It would have been comfortable if there were some seating arrangements. Also some sort of entertainments and snacks would have made the wait more comfortable.
c.      The bus was passing through the outer circle and was not very popular among the visitors. In my case, I had to walk 10 minutes to catch a bus, instead I preferred to walk inside. The bus was fine if we were already familiar with the entire area after couple of visits. But for a new visitor, it was not so.
d.      The application on iPhone was not great and the printed map was more useful.
e.      There were some pavilions which were just small shops exhibiting items from their countries. These were not in line with the overall theme of Expo. These stalls were of not good value to the visitors.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

All employees are one of these 3 categories. Which one are you?

Whether you are a Manager or a business owner, you might be struggling to evaluate your employees and it is of course essential for the growth of your company. I try to use a simple categorization method for decisions especially like increment, promotions, terminations etc.
This categorization is mainly based on their attitude and not skills. I personally believe that attitude is more important than skills because attitude cannot be taught whereas skills can be taught.Even if you are an employee at a very low level, you can evaluate yourself to find out where do you stand.

So here are the three categories with explanations:

Sl. No Type Description Comments
Category 1 6 in 8 employee He achieves 6 hours (or less) of work results in 8 duty hours. This employee tries just to complete 8 work hours and in the process will achieve only equivalent of 6 hours of work, or less. This employee does not have the right attitude nor any ambition. The job is a pain for him and he hates this job or probably any jobs Company may not want him at all
Category 2 8 in 8 employee He achieves 8 hours of work results in 8 duty hours. This employee is reasonably sincere and tries to do everything assigned to him to finish in 8 hours. So he will achieve work equivalent to 8 hours in 8 duty hours. He is a comfortable type of person who just wants to justify the salary. However he does not have a serious ambitions and are not looking for great opportunities. He may even shy away from bigger responsibilities. This guy likes the job (does not love the job) mainly as a means of lively hood Companies will retain them just paying the minimum salary
Category 3 10 in 8 employee He achieves 10 hours (or more) of work results in 8 duty hours. These guys are super productive and ambitious. They try to achieve more than 10 hours of work results in 8 duty hours. For them the achievements give more pleasure than the time spent on it. A company will like to keep them and company cannot ignore them at all. Hence they will be highly eligible for promotions, increments etc in a timely manner. This guy loves the job and enjoy what they are doing. Companies love such employees and will not ignore for promotions & perks
The category 3 of employee is invaluable to the company and the company will try to keep these employees. Giving them timely promotions and benefits will be beneficial for the company. Category 2 of employees are valuable, but is not a big loss to the company even if they leave. Category 1 employees are not desirable and the company will be happy if they leave.
A category 3 employee may become category 2 if he is demoralized. Even if he is demoralized he will not like to become category 1, but may leave the job.
Never try to improve the attitude of Category 1 people, since you'll be simply wasting your time.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Be restless until rested

You have to be restless until you achieve your dreams. This does not mean that you have to take rest after achieving few dreams. Be restless to create new dreams as well.

Are you not in the right job? Be restless until you find out your dream job

Are you not in good shape? Be restless until you achieve the best shape in the world

Bedridden with chronic illness? Be restless in mind about the things to complete as soon as you get out of bed.

Want to have $1 Million? Be restless until you get it

Want to have a world class business? Be restless in mind and actions until you achieve it.

Think you have achieved all you wanted? Be restless to pass on the knowledge to as many as possible.

Diagnosed with a life threatening disease? Be restless to defeat it keeping your life goals in mind.

Fired from your job because you are restless? Be restless to pursue your own dreams

Feel uncomfortable about your restlessness? Read a book.

Feeling restless while reading a book? Go for a drive,  go out with family, spend time with children..

All great people of the world were restless.

Have a great restless life!!!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Start a Grocery store, think like a supermarket; You'll become one

I have used analogy of a grocery store and a supermarket since it is easy for every one to understand. If you are an entrepreneur who wants to start a grocery store, you would definitely want to become a supermarket one day. But your attitude and each action matters.

So whatever you start, you have to think big. I will explain with examples.

Start a grocery store,think & act like a supermarket; You'll become one

By Grocery store, I visualize a village grocery store having one owner and utmost one or two more assistants who will help customers and also may serve as deliverymen. The owner and the assistant share all duties as per the requirements of the moment.(I repeat ..of the moment). There are no designations and no instructions as to who does what. Everyone does everything.

The owner is the sales man (indoor & outdoor), accountant, cashier, quality controller (!), supplier management officer (!!), customer relationship officer (!), stock management officer (!) , marketing manager and so on. We have seen many grocery stores which work to our satisfaction as a customer. So there is nothing wrong as long as the customer is happy. But it depends on you as the owner what you want to achieve.

Will he able to duplicate the same grocery store multiple times? Will he be able to start a super market and run successfully even if he has all the financial means? The answer to both is NO.

He might be able to open one or two more Grocery stores within reachable distance from one another, but he will never be able to start one in the next village.

Start a supermarket but act like a Grocery store; You'll become a very big grocery store

If you suddenly inherit lot of money, you might be able to start a supermarket directly without having to go through the struggles of a grocery store.

But it is tempting to supervise each and every activity of the supermarket and give directions to each and every individual. Of course since you have enough money, you have appointed experts in each of their fields as your employees. But if you are thinking like a grocery store, you would want to know everything that goes on and want to know each action of every employee.
So slowly each employee gets demoralized. More over each employee, especially key decision makers will be hesitant to take decisions, because that may not be the course of action the owner wants. Very soon you'll become a grocery store of enormous size.

The owner should define guidelines and then should get out of the way of daily micro management

How to think like a supermarket when starting a grocery store?

  • First of all, give a great name to the grocery store similar to that of a supermarket. It will make you keep thinking like a supermarket
  • Of course you should know what is a supermarket and should have a rough idea how it works.
  • You should notice that there are different people for carrying out each functions of the supermarket
  • You should notice that the owner does not involve in day to day activities at all
  • You should notice that in spite of huge number of customers, all the required items are available in all the racks at all times. So some one is managing the stocks efficiently
  • It is worth noticing that there are special promotions and marketing campaigns going on at different times which is by some other experts inside.
Even though you understand all of the above, your first reaction is that they are a big supermarket, but I am a small grocery store.
As you have never worked inside a supermarket you do not know most of these intricacies. You only know that you want to become a supermarket one day. If you have a strong desire, it is simple. Find out someone who has experience inside a supermarket. It can be many people who got individual experience in different fields of a supermarket. To start with you can easily find out one sales man to start with.He knows more than you.
Then start implementing systems slowly in your grocery store also, so that you can easily duplicate and start more and bigger stores, eventually becoming a supermarket.

So whether you start a grocery store or a supermarket, think like a chain of supermarkets.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Realize your individual life and collective life

All of us have two roles in our lives. The first one is our individual life and second one is our collective life.

The individual life is what I am, what I want to be, what my life goals are, what is the purpose of my life, what are the values I stand for etc., irrespective of my circumstances whatsoever, irrespective of the preferences and opinions of our loved ones, and whoever associated with us etc. These are not basically about the tangible things that we would like to possess.

The collective life is all about my circumstances, loved ones, friends, family, pets, my house etc.

It is easy to define these two things clearly once we are able to realize and segregate these two. Especially you will be able  to define your individual life very vividly. You may write down your definition of your individual life, but without paying any attention to your collective life.

eg. When you write down what is the purpose of my life, don't define the answer as giving a good life to my kids. That's vague and it directly combines with your collective life.

Irrespective of where your collective life goes, you should have your individual life always in mind so that you can keep focused on achieving your individual life even when your collective life keeps on changing. Your collective life keeps on changing such as your family preferences, your friends, your location etc.
When you are in confusion and stuck for decisions, you may think about your individual life and then you will be able to take better decisions.

And most importantly in my opinion don't compromise individual life in favour of collective life. Especially because collective life keeps on changing sometimes in your favour and sometimes against.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Are you looking at the Clock frequently? You are probably in a wrong job and career

A job that you do on a daily basis, 5 days a week, week after week should never be a chore. As an employee if you are looking at the clock randomly to close the day, you are in a wrong job and most probably in a wrong career path.
If you are doing the work that you enjoy, you will be worried about lack of time rather than plenty of time.
You shouldn't be just filling the time in your job. People who just want to spend 8 hours per day in an office are just filling the time.They are not valuable for their company and they are not fulfilling their life.
An employee is given a job function and he/she should fill the position and exceed the position which makes him valuable to himself and to the company.
When the subject is concerned regarding an entrepreneur, he follows his passion and he is supposed to indulge in his work and is not generally trying to fill his time. He will be actively indulged in his activities.
An employee who consistently exceed his job profile and he thinks that his company cannot contain him, he becomes an entrepreneur.
So review yourself whether you are trying to fill your time or trying to fill/exceed the position assigned to you.
So Identify your passion and go ahead

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Best 5 Mistakes as an Entrepreneur

I would like to call them my Best 5 mistakes instead of top 5. Even though I am listing out my best 5 mistakes, don't be ever afraid of making mistakes. So all the best for making your best 5 mistakes. Come out with your best 5 mistakes.

However don't expect to learn everything from your own mistakes. One life time may not be enough to learn everything from your own mistakes. So learn from others' mistakes as well. Just from this point of view I am listing out the top 5 mistakes I made. There might be other writers who will point out their top 5 mistakes and readers can learn from them as well. 

I have made hundreds of mistakes in my 5 years of Entrepreneurship and I do not regret any one of them since all of them were great learning experience. There are still people telling me that the biggest mistake I made was starting my own business. You also will face same allegation, but we have to realize that  starting a business is not a mistake at all. But leaving the dream halfway is the biggest mistake which you will regret for ever.

It is worthwhile to mention that it is good to have a mentor for your journey who can guide you properly so that you can master in intelligent mistakes. I am glad I did.

So here are my Best 5 mistakes, not in any particular order since I do not know which one is the best one.

1. Too many partners especially with equal power
I had couple of failed businesses in which we had at times upto 7 partners, all of them with equal decision making power.  I am unable to shortlist criteria for selecting partners, but definitely all the partners should share same vision and should match the wavelength. The partners have to complement each other in their capabilities and knowledge. Integrity and character are more important than education and capabilities. The roles, responsibilities and goals of each partner should be well defined to the minutest terms. 

2. Depend too much on a partner or employee
You may have high expectations on a partner or an employee. However as soon as you start realizing that his performance is poor, you have to seek alternatives. From the beginning you should have goals defined for every partner and employee and if he fails to achieve, don't waste time expecting that he will improve. It is very difficult to changes attitude of a matured adult and more importantly you don't have time.

3. Be Frugal
Even if you have sufficient capital, be frugal. Allocate and lock funds for future expansions. It will give you good insight for tougher times. Also being frugal will give more creative ideas.In my first business, I thought we had enough money and spent a lot of money in offices and marketing etc. and we became bankrupt sooner than expected.

4. Money Management & Cash flow monitoring
Since you are the business owner and possibly the authorized signatory, don't expect that you are the best person to manage the money and cash flow. There are people who has education and experience for the same. Even if you are highly qualified in accounting have some one else do that since they'll have a better perspective.In our case the cash management was monitored by financially unqualified partners.

5. Focus, Focus, Focus, Focus.....
Focus for One inch width in one mile depth, not one mile focus in one inch depth. This is extremely important especially in initial stages. Focus on your core values and strength and focus only on those capabilities. You should know where you are going. You should have a clear mental picture of what your company will look like in 2 years,5 years, 10 years. Have a mental picture with as much details as possible.

So go out. Make the best of your mistakes.

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