September 8, 2008

Felix Dennis on talent..

Anybody wishing to become rich cannot do so without talent. Either their own, or far more likely, on the back of the talent of others. Talent is indispensable, although it is *always* replaceable.

If the talent is trying to make itself irreplaceable – like say, only one person knows how something works and they do not like documenting it or training others. It shows insecurity of the person who does not want to lose the job, which is bad for the organization as well as for the person.

Bad for the organization because, if the person either wants to quit or cannot turn up for work, a crucial piece of work cannot be completed.

Bad for the person because, though the person might think he/she is crucial for something work and cannot be fired, they are making themselves tied up to the work and hence cannot be promoted to better opportunities.

A talent should learn and grow. And then to teach others and make them grow. And keep repeating the process. If there is not much you can learn to grow, then quit and join some place where you can.

Just remember the simple rules concerning talent: identify it, hire it, nurture it, reward it, protect it. And, when the time comes, fire it.
Youth is a factor. By the time talent is in its mid-to-late forties or early fifties, it will have become very, very expensive. Young talent can be found and underpaid for a short while, providing the work is challenging enough. Then it will be paid at the market rate. Finally, it will reach a stage where it is being paid based on past reputation alone. That is when you must part company with it.

Some companies find even more innovative ways to tap the energy of youth. If you can find younger talent (like, just out of high school) who cannot afford college education and spend money to train them in essential theory and practical work requirements (like it is done in vocational schools), you have a lot more time to extract labor out of the youth. Of course, such a talent will initially be paid slightly less (since the company has to spend money to train them), but they would be happy anyway, because they would not have got the opportunity to earn even this much, had they followed their own paths. It is a win-win situation, at least in the short term. Longer term, the talent needs to keep acquiring relevant skills and if required, some certifications, to improve their careers.

The French impressionist Degas once said: “Everybody has talent at twenty-five. The difficult thing is to have it at fifty”. True enough. Most talent does not survive undiminished through its middle forties, although there are some stunning exceptions to this rule of thumb.

Actually talent does not diminish as much as Felix/Degas portrays. Experience counts. But in the IT field, fresher talent is relatively a lot cheaper and one does not need to retain many costly, experienced people. Just a few would suffice to guide fresher, cheaper talent which has better stamina, an urge to learn new stuff, working like crazy to move up in career.

Most older talent prefer to stay in the comfortable zone, to lead a contented life. To keep earning the same salary with small raises every now and then (mostly the salary is just adjusted for inflation – it is not actually a raise). These kind of people are more likely to be less innovative.

As organizations grow very large and at some point stabilizes the employee count at some level, there is a high possibility that most of their employees get into this mode. My guess is that the average age of IBM employees > average age of Microsoft employees > average age of Google employees.

Not all talent enters the comfort zone as it ages, but most do.

Talent is usually conscious of its own value. But the currency of that value is not necessarily a million-dollar salary. The opportunity to prove themselves, and sometimes the chance to run the show on a day-to-day basis, will often do the trick just as well.

Yes, until a point. After which the talent either..

* falls into the comfort mode (very bad) or
* jumps ship for a better salary (and of course with better opportunities to prove themselves and to run the show) (very good) or
* dares to build a ship on its own. (crazy !!)

Just in case you do not already know: I am crazy. 🙂

Ship building commences on Oct 1, 2008.

(The quotes are from Felix Dennis’ book How to Get Rich: One of the World’s Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets)


Producer Anand Chakravarthy & Vennila kabbadikuzhu

August 28, 2008

Was checking out my WordPress Stats at home, today morning.
Some one had searched for producer anand chakravarthy and landed in my blog.

I knew (about a month back, from my still-in-contact college-buddy S.Ramkumar), that Anand Chakravarthy was into movies. I have mentioned about Anand in my blog “Me and My Memory – 1” about various Anands, as the hockey player Anand from my college. Surprise that he has become search worthy already !!

My blog comes second in the search results. The first result is from The Hindu, regarding the movie Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu he is producing under the banner Imagine Creations. From the article..

Producer Anand Chakravarthy of Imagine Creations gave up his IT job in the United States to come back home to pursue his dream — film production.

Wow, courageous move !!

Read the article here : http://www.hindu.com/2008/04/10/stories/2008041058090200.htm

Vennila kabbadikuzhu

Vennila kabbadikuzhu

Anand, If you are reading this – I will be getting in touch with you soon. You are in my target list of customers, for the software company I am going to launch on Oct 1.

Building a product to assist in Production Management (for Film/TV industries, like Gorilla or DAYVID) catering to the Indian market initially, is one of the possibilities I am looking into. If you are willing to be my first customer, I can provide you a great discount.

Let us talk after Oct 1.

“I am convinced that fear of failing in the eyes of the world is the single biggest impediment to amassing wealth”, says Felix Dennis, in his book “How to Get Rich: One of the World’s Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets“. Anand Chakravarthy seems to have overcome that fear.

I am sure I would not have got the support of my family, if I were to venture into something like this, at this point. Quiting my software job, to start a software company gets easy approval. But to venture into movies, I cannot even think about that option. Not sure how Anand handled it tough !

Live your dream, Anand !! Not everyone can do it.

And, best wishes to you !!

“How to Get Rich” and the First-Borns

August 25, 2008

A few days back, I happened to read a discussion in Hacker News on a book “How to Get Rich”, authored by Felix Dennis, who is one of the richest self made man in the UK. He is the owner of Dennis Publishing whose publications include “The Week” and “Maxim”. Starting out from nothing, he went on to build one of the biggest fortunes worth at least $400 millions by conservative estimates.

I usually never buy such books which tout to make its readers rich, and instead spend it on learning a new technology. But, based on whatever I read in Hacker News (by users, who are more like me) and searching for more stuff on the internet, I decided to try it out. So, when my wife and I went to Landmark (Chennai, India) for purchasing gifts to be given away on my son’s second birthday, I used the opportunity.

The book does not seem to be very popular here, yet. Was not available in the best sellers. I sought help and the salesman helped me find my copy from a remote corner of the store. Happy that I did not have to wait to get my hands on this book.

The better part of Sunday evening went into this book. Will share my experience from the reading, in the days to come.

From whatever I have read until now, I would say that I did not find stuff, that was different from what I believe already. But it is nice to know that one of the richest man has very much similar thoughts, when it comes to running businesses.

In the preface, Felix Dennis’ answer to “Honestly speaking, what kind of people get to become rich ?” among other information includes..

“There is a confidence that radiates from first-born sons and daughters. Not in all the cases I’ve observed, but in too many for it to be a coincidence. A similar confidence is to be observed, more often than not, in people who are rich, no matter whether they were born with it, inherited it or acquired it through their own efforts.”

I believed this for a long time, apart from the other point that the first-borns are better at handling money. They usually save better, instead of spending it off on luxuries. They tend to be more concerned about their studies and mostly end up with better grades and settle in better jobs, relatively speaking. Again, I have known more than a few examples for this to be coincidence.

Probably this has got something to do with getting to know the financials in running the family, while shielding such problems or how they got solved, from younger siblings.

Felix continues..

“Whatever qualities the rich may have, they can be acquired by anyone with the tenacity to become rich. The key, I think, is confidence. Confidence and an unshakeable belief it can be done and that you are the one to do it.”

Yes, I know. I am “the one” who is going to do it. Come on Felix, tell me something I don’t know already 😉 !!

I am not sure if Wachowski Brothers’ “The One” is a first-born. But I agree that Felix’s “the one” and Neo have at least one thing in common, “the confidence that it can be done and that you are the one to do it”. That belief is undoubtedly essential.

More experiences from reading the book, will follow. In case you want to check out the reviews, here is a quick link : How to Get Rich: One of the World’s Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets