Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Leadership Primer: General Colin Powell (Chairman (Retd), Joint Chiefs of Staff, US Army)

This must be one the greatest presentations on leadership I have read. 18 lessons, one slide each. The power of brevity & insight illustrated. Access the presentation by clicking on the link below.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Review: Faujnet & XISF

Two websites I have come across lately which attempt to bring together the armed forces community on one platform are Faujnet ( and XISF - which is an acronym for eX Indian Security Forces ( Having had the opportunity to interact with the founders of both I consider these ventures admirable. Register with them to reap the rewards (both are still very new but are seriously committed to constantly upgrading and improving. As is true for all such ventures, value addition will emerge and multiply based on the membership numbers and interactivity. So you will need to be patient with them for a start). They have similar models:

  1. A web based interface which has elements of interest to members in it. In this case career transition advice, job posts, articles, networking, forums, etc. (let me not do injustice by clubbing all the other utilities with an 'etc', the sites actually have a lot more to offer and it will be well worth your time to explore each in detail).
  2. Creation of a large membership base.
  3. A revenue model revolving around the above elements.

Critical aspects required for them are:

  1. The utilities / resources being provided to members need to be relevant, effective, scalable and engaging on the long term. As an illustration, an officer seeking transition advice must find it on the site and this should help him in his endeavour for a second career (relevant & effective). This and similar transitional advice must reach all officers who need it. Tailor-made and customized advice could be available, however, resources should aim at providing solutions to the maximum majority possible (scalable). The officer who sought and received transition advice should have a reason to continue to be engaged over the long term with the site (engaging). This could imply continuously innovating with new resources / solutions on the site, tweaking existing utilities to keep them relevant & interesting, creating second, third and so on levels of engagement. Thus, if the officer was seeking information on which transition course he should choose and received this information, the site should further tell him how he should evaluate multiple job options at the time of his placement. At the third level, he could be provided with information on how he needs to set his medium and long term career goals and the steps he needs to accomplish them. Thus at every stage of his career he gets the solution / answers he needs and identifies the site as a source for this information referring back to it on frequent occasion. This level of engagement however is infrequent. The sites should further aim at creating frequent levels of engagement (daily, weekly, etc.).
  2. Visibility and branding to propagate the sites to as many relevant users as possible and further ensure they register with the site.
  3. High quality content (including user generated) and resources. A user coming across low quality content or a resource which was supposed to work but doesn't could put him off completely and he might never return to the site (I have seen content on both the sites with numerous grammatical & spelling errors and well as some which was outright bad). The Indian Armed forces community has a very strong element of networking and communication inherent in it. A happy user will tell 10 others about the site. The opposite is true as well. Creation of self appointed brand ambassadors is important to create a successful brand.

XISF seems to have adopted the Barista model where it evaluates each step independently, refines and goes ahead with it. Whereas Faujnet seems to have adopted the Starbucks model (also adopted by Cafe Coffee Day) where it goes all out in expansion / visibility and refines / consolidates along the way.

There are pros and cons of both approaches. As with Barista, they have a far lesser number of stores but loyalists admire the ambience and personal touch of their outlets. Whereas in Cafe Coffe Day, their large numbers ensure huge footfall (consequently revenue as well) and branding / visibility, but people sometimes complain of an outlet being like an assembly line.

The bottom-line of any such venture is its ability to attract and retain users over the medium to long term. A site can be monetized and thus be successful only if it is able to achieve that aim.

My best wishes to both!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

You Have Received an Offer from a Company: Taking Things Ahead

You have received one or more job offers. What next?

  1. Evaluate the profile(s): This includes several factors. These factors have been listed in an earlier post (click on the link to open): Factors to be Considered While Taking up a Job/Profile.
  2. Check the CTC being offered (read my post on the difference between CTC & 'take-home'). Insist on a break-up of the same giving details of its constituents. Negotiate on it - never accept the first offer. There is always scope for improvement. Besides salary, check other perks you will get like a transport allowance, mobile phone allowance, etc. (as components of your CTC and not as profile related facility). The amount will vary depending on the profile. Check if you can change the break-up of the proposed CTC to save taxes.
  3. Check the designation you are being given and negotiate on it, if required.
  4. Read the offer letter carefully to understand the implication of each point in it. Try to read between the lines.
  5. Take into consideration the distance of your home to the office and the time and cost implications it has.
  6. Check the joining date expected of you and see if you are comfortable with it.
  7. Check whether the company works 5 days a week or 6.
  8. Inquire if the company has a formal 'employee rewards and recognition' program. Good professionally run companies have one.
  9. Inquire about the dress code.
  10. Request for a copy of the internal rules and regulations of the company including its leave policy, medical policy and other details.

Decide on the one which seems the best after considering each profile against the points mentioned in the post above.

  1. On acceptance of the offer letter and on joining, the company must give you an appointment letter which confirms the appointment as well as mentions other important points in detail.
  2. Ensure you fill up the Providend Fund Form which is a mandatory requirement (only for individuals earning basic pay Rs. 6,500 and below. PF is not mandatory for individuals earning earning basic pay above that amount). The employer has to match your contribution presently fixed at 12% of your basic salary (this point must as it is be mentioned in your offer letter/CTC break-up).