Incompetence Rewarded

I could barely get out of bed this morning.
Consider this:
  • The finance guys who screwed the world economy up the backside made off (Madoff?) with piles of taxpayer money
  • The CEOs who didn't time the recession or even have a plan on handling it got paid large salaries
  • The cricketers who were paid the largest sums of money are hacking away like fucking rank amateurs.
  • The guys (sorry, gals) who have the largest number of criminal elements in their candidate list are getting close to becoming the next PM
  • The guy who shot up innocents on live TV is pleading not guilty and being protected with taxpayer money.
  • The movies that made the most money this past year were Ghajini (easily AAAAmir Khan's worst movie in the last few years) and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi
  • One of the top TV series is Radha ki fuckin betiyaan kuch bloody kar dikhayengi
What the fuck?
What in blazes is going on?
Something is fucked up with this world.

I usually blog about things that tick me off, and usually that happens when I see mediocrity being tolerated. But this is past that.
This is incompetence being rewarded.
Pathetic performance being celebrated
Malicious behavior being praised
And its so pervasive that it depressed me to the extent that I could barely get out of bed this morning.

Something is totally fucked up with this world.

The Top Ten Most Overrated Public Figures

10. Narayan Murthy: If I hear one more story about the integrity or simplicity or inherent genius of this omnipresent figurehead, I swear I'm going to throw up all over myself, and also over the news media that can't seem to get enough of blowing this guy.
9. Barkha Dutt: This is a woman I'm totally lost about. Why she's consider a great reporter and touted as one of India's best is beyond me. She seems ordinary in every way. She's good some of the time, bad some of the time. Sometimes she's just plain atrocious (as in when she was covering the attack on the Taj at Bombay). But she's never great. So why all the fuss?
8. Sanjay Leela Bhansali: An atrocious filmmaker who people in his own industry call a master to his face, but I suspect the snicker behind his back. And as if the pseudo artistic sensibilities he vomited onto unsuspecting humanity in his previous attempts at film making were not enough, he went and made Sawariya.
7. Arundhati Roy: As if this one wasn't overrated enough as an author, now she's masquerading as an intellectual and getting overrated at that too.
6. Chetan Bhagat: Overrated in an understatement for this guy and the people following him on this list. Have you read his pathetic books? He's hit on a great model to sell some volumes, but so did Mills and Boon.
5. Lalu: So the railways turned around. Great job. But I seriously doubt that Lalu had anything to do with it other than a curious mixture of serendipity and idle tampering. I wonder if all the people flocking to hear him lecture on management at the various unsuspecting business schools would appoint him manager/CEO of their business.
4. P. Shitambaram: I seriously doubt that he is the learned scholar that his thick spectacles and the media make him out to be. Most enlightening policies came either from Manmonia or from (surprise) VP Singh. This dude just shows up in a lungi and claims brilliance. Bah. Humbug.
3. Karan Johar: SLB is overrated by the critics, and K-Jo is overrated by the public. All his films have made kaboodles of money, and have contributed to the painful longevity of our next member on this list, but all his films are uniformly uninteresting.
2. Shah Rukh Khan: As a businessman and marketing pro this dude is THE shit. And what he has achieved on his own is no mean feat. But when he acts, I always get the feeling that he's playing the same guy in every movie. This dude can't act.
1. Sunil Gavaskar: Sure he was run hungry, and sure he averaged over 50 in tests over his career, but he was so unfailingly defensive and focused on averting defeat that even attempting a run at victory seems alien to his soul. All time great? Whatever. And I'm sick and tired of listening to stories about his defiance in the Windies. His 1971 or whatever series was not against the pace quartet that made the Windies the feared team that they were. So there. And not to mention his stellar performance in the world cup that we won in spite - and not because of - his plodding presence

I'm Back, and Lets cut some costs

Almost everybody that reads this blog, and their uncle and their dog have told me that my last few posts were tepid sermons. And that they would rather have me return to my obscenity spouting bitter ranting ways than spew insipid advice.
Now even though all those people total to a meager number of 2 (the reader has a dog for his uncle), it is advice I will take. When I can.
If you read my last post - I was away for starting up my business. That's done. We're off the ground. So I'll be back posting semi regularly.

All right. Back to mindless ranting.

So the economy has been in the toilet for a while.
Companies are cutting jobs all over the place.
And as you waste your time at work carousing through this blog, your manager is probably closeted in a conference room with other weasels and ferrets trying to figure out how they can cut costs. They're going to go through the silly ideas of removing the coffee from the break room and the small sandwiches from the meetings before they get down to the real business of getting rid of the structural problems that cause higher costs.

So how should anybody reduce their costs?
The cost to run your business is made up of some very basic areas. I simplify, but it boils down to:
Material: Money for material that your product is made up of (plastic, steel, bullshit, whatever)
Labor: Money for people that shape your plastic, steel, bullshit, whatever into something customers will swallow
Sales & Marketing: Money for people that will shove the shaped plastic, steel, bullshit, whatever into the customers throats
Research: Money to figure our what shape of plastic, steel, bullshit, whatever is easiest for the customer to swallow next year
G&A: The money for those clueless ego masturbating monkeys otherwise known as managers

So here's how you really reduce cost, instead of dancing around the coffee machine hoping for a reduction in paper cups.
Material: Reduce your material cost as a percentage of your revenue. Renegotiating with suppliers should be done, but not counted in the saving.
Labor: Cut it to 10% lower than the levels that your next quarters forecast requires. Don't pussyfoot around this. Pay cuts and forced vacations is the same as pussyfooting. . If your company does this, then it's being a pussy. And if your manager tells you they're doing it to save jobs or to be nice to employees, they're not just being pussies, they're liars as well.
Research: Do you even know how your research and development funds are spent? Really? Look again. It's not about cutting the spend. It's about making sure you're spending it in the right places. It's probably not a bad move to ask a new guy to take it over - or at least start managing the R&D finance portion (if your company is organized that way)
S&M: This is the touchiest. You gotta figure out which spend works and which doesn't. No point throwing parties for customers and their wives. That's not going to buy you anything. But creative pricing, packaging, etc - go for it.
Management: Knock out every overpaid management flunky you got. Every last one of them. Your management staff should be cut to the same % that the labor was cut if not more. And every CEO if a company that can not beat the market in a bad economy is a bad CEO. I've had enough of these management bullshit artists that blame the economy when things are bad, and take the credit when the going is good. Can't beat the market over a two year period? Fire the fucker.

Now I know that none of the readers of this blog are in position to make the decisions I'm recommending. But if you've got balls go tell your manager what he needs to do.

Or stop reading this blog.

Out of Commission

Sorry about the unannounced departure and the two month hiatus.
Thanks for all the mail (hate or otherwise)

Me and a few friends launched a new business in the BLR area in the tech space in late January. Things picked up around early Feb (not revenue wise, but in terms of the work needed to get the groundwork set up and get the ball rolling). While this is an exciting time for me personally, it is also a time I get home devoid of any energy. Consequently, I haven't been able to find the time or the faux-rage needed to summon bile up the oesophagus and into my virtual pen, and so I've kept away from the blog site for a while.

Unfortunately - for me - I wont be able to put in quality time toward this effort for another month or so.

Till then, fare thee well.
And wish me luck you insatiable hatemongers

Recessionary Tactics

So business is terrible and cash is scarce.
Over the past few years companies were growing by leaps and bounds, hiring anybody that could fog up a mirror, and projecting growth out to infinity. Many managers and leaders took credit for heights achieved by their organizations, when the real driver was just a rising tide. Now when the companies are taking a beating, magically the cause is not their leadership but a tanking economy. But hey, that's what most managers will do. Take credit and assign blame.
So lets assume that you are one of the small group of managers who are not in the general category of manipulative weasels. What do you do in these tough times?
Fuck if I know.
But I can tell you what not to do.

  1. Do not delay decision making: Take a hard stand and go for it. Need to cut headcount? Need to cut spending? Don't pussyfoot your way around the bush for weeks on end while your company bleeds cash, and your employees are distracted by rumors of impending doom. Do it already. In the same vein, if you need to spend some money on your infrastructure, go for it. Don't delay the decision because of the economy. Even though you report your earnings to those evil analysts on wall street every quarter, you should hopefully have realized by now that you are in business for more than 3 months. IF anything delaying spending is worse than delaying spending cuts. Especially in these times. Grow a set of balls, make a decision, and then execute.
  2. Do not get bogged down: Even if you're making unpleasant decisions, stay firm and stay upbeat. Nobody likes a sullen manager, and this is not the end of the damn world. And don't walk around like this whole thing is your fault. You're not that important. Smile. You have a job to do, and if you're doing it well, you deserve to smile. (Unless you're one of those investment banker types that was dealing in mortgage backed securities or convertible debenture structured provident gastronomy thingies or whatever)
  3. Do not forget the uptick: It will come. Don't bet on when it will come. The pundits forecasting the turning point are all more wrong than the idiot on acid who writes the daily horoscope column. You do not know when it will come, but it will. And when it does, it will blow your socks off. The economic cycles feel like a roller coaster ride in reverse. The downturn feels like the slow dragging ride up the hill. The uptick will feel like the hair raising rush of speed you get on the way down. Prepare for it. Keep your employees (the ones that remain - hopefully the better ones) motivated, trained and ready to kick ass.
  4. Do not forget the downturn: This is the one you wont listen to. The uptick will come, and 3 months into it, you will relapse into excessive partying, unnecessary travel, inefficient hiring, bloated raises and irrational effervescence. You will forget how you managed your expenses in the bad times. You will forget how you made your operating assets work that little bit harder. This is hubris. Just try to remember that the bad times will be back, and retribution will be had.
  5. Do not get sell your stock: Of course, I'm assuming that you own stock in your company. And I'm assuming that your company is healthy enough to last the downturn. But selling your stock now, if you haven't already sold it a year ago is the worst thing you can do. Hang on to it for a year or so.

Goonda turned Gandhi

So Sanjay Dutt is going to be a politician.
A guy convicted in the Bombay riots case is actually going to run for office.

And I saw him quote on TV that he was there to "teach people Gandhigiri"...

And that he wanted to get "Jaadu ki Jhappis" from people.


You know what bothers me?
Not that another guy with a criminal record is running for office. Every other politician is or has been a criminal. In fact probably more than 2 out of 3.
So no. That does not bother me anymore.
What bothers me is that soon, everybody will forget that not only was Such-A-Butt-head so dumb that he bought guns from a guy known to be linked with criminals, but he also tried to dispose of a metal gun by throwing it in a fire. And his face will be in the news being lauded by the press or some "common man types" for being so down to earth and so on. Just like people like Laloo and Modi are lauded for their achievements in one sphere (railways, infra development), while somehow the media and these common man types are able to ensure that any acknowledgment of their misdeeds don't jump across that wall they have built around their own conscience.
Fodder scam? What was that?
Godhra? Where?
Mumbai Terror Attacks? Did that happen? I'm already forgetting it.
And I think that cock-eyed sonovabitch Reieitheieish The-Shmuck is going to play another one of his "loser than pretends to be cool but is somehow loveable in a whomesome way even though he cracks silly jokes and double entendres" role. I hope he gets shot in the movie.

And here's the other thing that's bothering me nowadays:
Have any of you seen that annoying little twerp with a cup of tea looks at the camera with wannabe revolutionary eyes and asks us to wake up from our self induced stupor - ostensibly just so that we can vote, but really just so we can run out to the neighborhood FabMall and buy his fucking tea leaves?
I would like to meet with this guy and tell him how the reason people are all staying away from the voting booths is much more serious that a mere sleeping disorder. It's because we have this huge numbness in our souls that prevents us from caring about anything but ourselves. And not even ourselves in the long term enlightened way, but more in the short term, how can I get ahead of this annoying Santro in the next lane so I can be the first at the next red light kind of way.
The people of this country, by and large, don't care about this country.
They don't even care about themselves.
So nice try with the "buy my tea leaves because I'm trying to raise the collective consciousness spiel", but all they're going to do - even if they do drink your lousy fucking tea and show up at the voters booth, is vote the goonda turned gandhi into power.

And then what are we going to do?

Fucking pathetic.

Satyam. (And God! what a King sized dick!)

Satyam means truth.
Funny No?

4th largest IT services company has been put in a precarious position by it's own founder Mr Ramalinga Raju. Ramalinga can be broken down into Rama (a god) and Linga (loosely, dick). Raju is a moniker that means King in the Andhra region, or so I'm told. So Ramalinga Raju can be translated into "God! A king sized DICK!!"
Funny No?

If you're a Satyam employee, it's probably not so funny. My heart goes out to those poor souls
The company's entire balance sheet is a lie. It's operating profits are a lie, which probably means it's P&L is a lie too. Nobody knows how much cash is really on hand, and how many days the company can run on without grinding to a halt.
53000 employees and countless shareholders have been cheated over the last several years to the tune of at least 1.6 Billion USD according to Dick's own confession (click here for text of the letter to SEBI)

And what does the SEBI chairman do after he gets the letter. Says he is horrified (wow!), and that he is in touch with the government (yay!), and says he is in discussions to figure out what steps the ministry and SEBI can take under the law. While you're in discussions, Mr Bhave, precious time is being lost, in which Dick and his scrotal cohorts (meaning brothers and sisters) are probably cleaning up evidence, destroying emails, and setting fire to proof of collusion and evildoing.

But anyway. Screw that. Back to the employees. Poor Poor Souls.
If you're a Satyam employee, all I can tell you is, I believe your company will come out of this. Not unscathed, mind you, but I believe it will come out of it. Focus on what is in your circle of influence. Never mind the bungling idiots and thieves who got you into this situation in the first place. They will get their comeuppance.
Oh, and I had read various news articles of Satyam employees wanting to buy their own stock to show solidarity with Dick. I hope you're not one of those.

And to the rest (non-Satyam) of the not so regular readership of this blog, I have something to share with you as well.
Clearly I just got done taking off on Dick and his scrotal cohorts, and there will be many more learned but less scathing commentaries on the Truth and it's mismanagement all over the web.
But here's what I want you to think about while you're guffawing about the follies committed by the aforementioned:
It is common to quickly make fun of leaders once their feet have been found to be somewhat clay-like. It is also common to declare the bastards to be the cause of their own misfortune, and that of their followers.
But it is probably necessary, before we unleash the fury of our scorn on those fallen from grace, to see how much of their earlier heights were reached on the gentle warm gusts blown by none other than ourselves.
Many rats have been racing in the corporate track in pursuit of higher profits and even faster growth rates. And we have, over the last few years, cheered them on.
While we clapped and celebrated every one of these growth stories and rejoiced over "India rising", we didn't deem it necessary to look hard at the means of their results or honestly question their claims.
We placed them on the pedestals they occupy. They didn't get on them without our help.

So while it's all fine and dandy to whip them for letting us down, we must remind ourselves to be more careful about whom we thrust greatness upon in the future.

PS: some articles on Raju/Satyam from 2007 and 2008
E&Y entrepreneur of the year
Economic Times Interview with Raju - check out the flowing praise (Jun 2007)
Raju, his sons and Maytas (again ET, Jun 2007)
Golden Peacock Award for Corporate Governance (Sep 2008) - Not even 4 months ago! "This honor demonstrates the value Satyam places on corporate governance, and on the importance of serving the interests of our investor, clients, associates, and of society", said Jayaraman - head of Corp Governance for Satyam.