Monthly Archives: February 2017

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2 bosses, 2 gurus [ 1996 – 2004]

Category : Uncategorized

One way I find myself to be extremely fortunate.  I had eight years of employee-career and in this period, I got two bosses and both were extra-ordinary.  I would have continued as an employee but Providence had other plans and I retired as an employee at a ripe old age of 29 years. This is detailed in my book Wordsmith Book of Business.

Both of them were not mere bosses but were “guru” for me. I use the word “guru” in the Eastern sense but with an etymological clarification. The Sanskrit word “guru” means “heavy” and both of my bosses were very heavy with professional, life and human experience. I also learnt few things from them that decisively helped me run my life as a freelancer’s freelancer for last 11 years.

Mr. A.S Menon, [ year of contact – 1996 – 2002, Cochin International Telecom/Internet Gateway and Submarine Cable Station, VSNL /Tata Communications ]

Mr. Menon was my first boss. He was already a veteran and founding members of India’s foray in satellite communication infrastructure in 1970s. I was a “johhine engineer” when I became his sub-ordinate in Cochin International Telecom Gateway Project. When I joined, VSNL was India’s international and internet service monopoly and Internet as a commercial service was more than a year old in India (launched on 15th August 1995 by VSNL)

It will need a mini professional autobiography to mention all the lessons I learnt.  I shall mention only one lesson. He told me that all communication must be answered and there should not be any file left on the table before you leave office. I asked, “Sir, I do not know what to write as  reply in many cases, what shall I do ?”

He replied and I now realize that the instruction should be bound in gold : ” In that case, you reply that you currently do not know but you shall get information and will reply once you have all the necessary information. But you must keep your promise” 

When I was working to build Wordsmith Communication , this lesson proved to be the greatest blessing. My most-important clients (the first ten) appreciated my honesty and many remained with us for last eleven years because we have made it a point to remain honest and quick in telling them what we know and what we are doing.

Mr. Menon is a true guru because he practiced what he preached and with a conviction which is rare and hence so immensely valuable.

Mr. A.K Sikdar  [ Year of Contact 2003 –  end 2004, VSNL / Tata Communications Calcutta Centre )

I worked under Mr. Sikdar for little more than a year. He was a already a towering figure in Telecom Affairs in Calcutta and East of India. Soft-spoken, mild and humble, he was a master of persuasion. At that time, I was not acutely aware of the importance in building human relationship with clients. One of the reasons was being predominantly working in monopoly. But Mr. Sikdar taught me, again,not by power-point or by accented English or by some second hand MBA-speak, but through practice. I used to see how calmly and in a masterly manner he used to deal with irate customers and very delicate situations. He knew most of the customers in-person and was genuinely interested in the growth of their business. You cannot fake truth. Truth is truth and people feel whether one is simply posing or there is genuine emotion behind the action or speech.

Another remarkable and very rare ability was his “concentrated listening.”. He could disarm you simply by listening. You cannot have this listening ability simply by practice. You must be genuinely interested in people. Your soul must be the listener. People – all people – customers, employees, vendors, vendor’s people – all constitute the whole called Business. Business is simply not some monies and services changing hands.

Again, while I started building Wordsmith, I tried to listen with my soul. I used to tell my clients – “I am the Call Centre and the CEO.. You need not restrain yourself. It is my duty to listen to you and since I believe this to be my foremost duty, I am your Call Centre.”

Our clients liked the humour and the truism in the assertion.

Mr. Sikdar is a true guru because he practiced what he radiated and many of the fortunate souls caught the invaluable radiation that immunizes one from the lethal ego trip of not listening to one’s customer under the pretext of other “priority” and “important” works.

What work can be more urgent and priority in business than listening to one’s customer ?

 


Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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Wordcon 2017 – International Freelancer Summit

Category : Uncategorized

Wordcon 2017, 2nd International Freelancer’s Conference was concluded last week on 9th February, 2017 (Thursday).  Our sincere thanks all delegates, speakers, panelists, media, partners, sponsors, volunteers to make Wordcon 2017 a grand success.

Wordcon aspires to build a collaborative platform of freelancers from various specialties, this very event is a fruit of collaboration of many freelancers, institutions, associations, businesses and individuals.

Wordcon’s genetic root lies in the art, science and commerce of having a totality of work and life. Wordcon speakers will be telling stories which they know best – their own journey and what they learnt and what they think we should unlearn and learn.

Wordcon 2015 premiered on 28th November 2015 in Kolkata in the form of its first Conference attended by local freelancers, entrepreneurs and professionals with three freelancers joining via webinar from Australia, Germany and the UK. Wordcon spirit was carried to New York and Bangladesh in March 2016, in the UK in July 2016. In last two years, we gathered an insight – a hunger of the post-industrial age perhaps, of having a balance of living life and earning our livelihood.

Wordcon 2017 Conference has been the culmination of Wordcon’s yearlong activities and campaigns in Kolkata / India, Bangladesh, Scotland and England, New York, Seattle in connecting Indian Freelancers with the global community and to share best practices.

Wordcon 2017’s theme was Freelancing – The post-industrial generation Career Opportunity.

Freelancing has been as old as war. In bygone ages, most of the people fought for one’s monarch, nation-state, religion, freelancers (lance means sword in old English) were fiercely independent and free-spirited. The English word “freelancer” first appeared in Sir Walter Scott’s novel in the late nineteenth century.

Functionally, many major functions of the society were conducted and are now being conducted by freelancers: doctors, lawyers, health care professionals, CA, musicians, authors, designers, translators, beauticians, content writers, journalists, photographers, performing artists, priests, SEO, social media analyst, ethical hackers, freelance consultants of all shades and the list goes on. Anyone who does not have a fixed employer and sells his/her skill directly to the marketplace can be technically considered a freelancer.

Wordcon2017’s core objective was to bring authentic, useful, fresh and inspiring stories of various freelancers or those who share the spirit of freelancing from our contemporary ecosystem.

Wordcon’s commitment to freelancers of India and abroad to build a global collaborative platform finds an echo of our own vision. For this, we have carried campaigns in Bangladesh, Africa, UK and US – Coast to Coast.

The event started with the chanting of Vedic mantras “Shiboham” by Sri Raja Bhattacharya and then the Inaugural session continued with the welcome address by Sri Pritam Bhattacharyya, Chairman – Wordcon, Chief Wordsmith – Wordsmith Communication, Sri Sushobhan Mukherjee, Chairman – Infocon Global, CEO- Prime Infoserv LLP, Sri Radhakrishnan, President – TiE, Kolkata, Dr. Parthasarathi Bhattacharya, Pulmonologist, Founder – Institute of Pulmocare and Research, Dr. Ashutosh Bhattacharjee, Chief Trend Analyst and Consultant – Vedic Life Trends, Chief Guest Sri Samarpan Maharaj, Belur Math and a formal Inauguration by lamp lighting., Swami Samarpanananda delivered the address on the theme of How to decrease the divide between Life and Livelihood. He clarified on the difference between life, livelihood and philosophy of life.

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The plenary sessions covered all diversified domains like PR, Sports, Media (Print, Radio, Television) , Academia, Translation, Sports, Literature, Writing, Filmmaking and off course music.

Speakers and Panelists like Ms. Rita Bhimani (Ritam Communications), Mr.Jamshed Nasiri (Formal Player and Football Coach), Mr.Jimmy Tangree (Friend’s FM), Snehasish Sur(Doordarshan), Professor Rajdeep Chowdhury (JIS College), Dr.  Buroshiv Dasgupta (Ex Director, NSHM), Dr. Dilip Shah (Professor of Bhawanipur Education Society), Mr.Sailen Sengupta (Wordsmith University), Mr. Avelo Roy (Kolkata Ventures), Mr. Rhitobrata Bhattacharyya (Media Specialist), Mr. Joydeep Ganguly (Business Strategist and Practitioner for International Business), Mr.Binod Ghosal(Bengali Fiction Writer),             Mr. Deepak Kumar Khaitan (Practicing Company Secretary), Mr.Arif Ahmed (South Asian Management Technologies Foundation), Mr.Nirupam Sen (BSI), Dr. Sudip Sinha (NLP Master Practitioner), Mr. Kaushik Bhattacharya (Business Management Consultant), Ms. Malabika Chatterjee (Mono Translation Bureau), Mr. Pinaki Talukder (Anubadak Lingo Services), Mr. Subhasis Chatterjee (Connect India, Mozilla, Indus Universe), Mr. Subhas Mohanty (PRSI)Dr. Arnab Gupta of Saroj Gupta Cancer Care Centre focused on the theme of freelancing from the various fields and future directions and how we can apply the learning from one domain to another.

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The event had witnessed the launching of Journals – Infoquest – 2nd Edition– a journal of Infoquest security, Freespace – Freelancer’s Journal.

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Wordcon 2017 was full of musicals as usual. The inaugural started with “Shiboham” by Mr.Raja Chattacharya , Post lunch was by Mr.Parijat Biswas with his own composition (lyric, music and performance) and Finally there was orchestra by Kolkata Youth Ensemble. The evening conclusive session was blend of indian, Bengali and international themes both in instrumental and vocal such as Bhoopali Raga, Titanic theme, Amra Sabai Raja collage, Mozart meets Ray, Mozart Symphony 40,  Aj mon cheyechhe,  Jibone ki Pabona, Mere Sapno ki Rani and Journey based on Mishra Jog Raga. We had a 21 musician fusion orchestra, conducted by renowned musician Amitava Ghosh.

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Wordcon will continue conducting small – local and hyper-local events with freelancers, followed by cultural, musical and literary showcasing.

The spirit of “Wordcon” is briefed through the small assemble of limericks:

তুখোড় গলা গানের? মন মজেছে ড্যান্সে?
ছকে বাঁধা চাকরী জীবন ভীষণরকম পানসে?

সিংহ হৃদয়? সাহস তূণে?
গড়বে জীবন স্বপ্ন বুনে?

ভরসা রেখো “ওয়ার্ডকনে” এবং ফ্রিল্যান্সে |

কর্পোরেটে ক্লান্ত জীবন, অন্যরকম গল্প লেখে,
দশটা-পাঁচটা বাঁধন ছেড়ে একলা নিজেই বাঁচতে শেখে,

এমন অনেক টুকরো জুড়ে,
ওয়ার্ডকনের হৃদয়পুরে,

ফ্রিল্যান্সমুখী বঙ্গবাসী, সন্মেলনে সল্টলেকে |

ফ্রিলান্স মানে স্বাধীনচেতা, ইচ্ছে ডানায় গঙ্গাফড়িং,

শঙ্খচিলের উজান গাঙে, জাপটে ধরা সোনার হরিণ ।

সঙ্গে থেক বন্ধুজনে,

আস্থা থাকুক ওয়ার্ডকনে,

ভবিষ্যতের যাত্রাপথে, ফ্রিল্যান্সের রাস্তা ধরি ।

Last but not the least, Wordcon and Infocon both feel that there is an increasing conflict in our life and livelihood and we are missing quality leisure and healthy social mixing. As a demonstration of this value, we have been organizing   musical event called “Hammer and Violin” every winter, a picnic for entrepreneurs called EPIC, planning for a yearly sports event so that we have a total and harmonious growth.

With your help and support and with the grace of the Supreme Lord of the Cosmic Government, we hope that we shall continue our collaborative journey with Kolkata.

 


Source: sushobhanm.wordpress.com


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“Me Too” Syndrome – RCA for Business Collapse

Category : Uncategorized

Customer: “Do you do ERP?”

Vendor : “Yes Sir, we have in house developed ERP both client server based and Web Based, but we have tie-ups with SAP, Microsoft dynamics and if budget is a constraint we can give you Tally as well”

Customer: “Wow, you have a platter of ERP solutions, how many people you have in your team?

Vendor : “Sir, we have 40 people with us having offices across India, US and UK, we do website development also sir”

Customer: “Web Development?”

Vendor : “Yes sir, we do portals, SEO, video, animations, virtual reality, 3D visualization…”

Customer: “Doing so many things? How do you manage?”

Vendor : “That’s the innovation sir, our project management and time management are the keys to the success. Not only that Sir, we have teams to handle your IT integration, security solutions, embedded systems etc.”

Customer: “But what is your value additions? Why people will give you order? What is your strength?”

Vendor : “Emm…Sir…Sir…we are doing it for years for so many customer, X given us, Y given us…Z…”

Customer: “But why? Why someone will give you?”

Vendor : Yes…ya..means…we work on quality, commitments, timelines ….’

Customer: “But those are very qualitative statements, no quantification…everyone else also do it, what is your differentiate factors?

Vendor : “ Sir we can help you with lowest possible price and best in quality”

Customer: “OK, will come back to you

Vendor : “Sir, should I send you a mail with our profile and offer?”

Customer: “No, not now, we will ask for it when needed”

These are imaginary discussions between a potential buyer and seller in a business conference. But the factualism is not imaginary. Rather this is the reality of market where all companies do almost everything with a mode “we also provide that service which other company” so that not a single opportunity gets slipped out from hand. This in effect does not create any value/credibility other than one more vendor in the crowd and in effect pricing becomes the only deciding factor. All vendors with same platter attack the one potential buyer and fight between themselves only on price and finally even when someone gets it, it becomes a nightmare during delivery due to excessive low price and everyone (including customer) starts bleeding. This is some kind of cannibalism which not only kills the eco system, but also facilitates death of lot of vendors/service providers. In effect the vendor company will not get desired growth, rise and wealth and rather they will start fighting for survival.

Moreover, most of the companies do so many things, they cannot build competency. They try to fetch an order somehow and then try to get it done by “Jugad” methodology of outsourcing. As a result, the people further downstream gets peanuts and off course quality, delivery timeline are bound to be pathetic. This way the chicken-egg story continues and business does not grow.

Beware of “Me Too” syndrome. It is curable if you under a true doctor and plan to migrate yourself towards the growth.

How? Think it yourself in a peaceful mind!

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Source: sushobhanm.wordpress.com


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Communication – complicated nonsense

Category : Uncategorized

Business Communication without a purpose and practice is complicated nonsense, nothing else. It is sad but it is true. I have met at least 2000+  businesses in various meet, conferences, conclaves, exhibitions, trade shows and all the visiting cards combined will make a make-shift pillow. I am not mentioning the multi-paged and multi-folding brochures which will make a thick mattress.

I am not against pillow or mattresses but I feel sad for businesses, entrepreneurs, start-ups who have lost common sense. I am harsh but please consider the lines below and if they do not resonate at all with you, do not read further :

  • I find that my business is not growing. Although I am telling many great and glorious things to prospect to impress them, my life is not becoming impressive.
  • I am not making the amount of money I think I should make, considering my efforts. 
  • I am doing the same thing over and over again. 
  • I always find that I cannot afford to recruit the talent I wish.
  • My business is not delivering the lifestyle I want. I see that my friends who are employees are having a better life 
  • I tell myself that in business one must be patient but I do not think only patience is enough
  • I feel bored and at times want to leave the business

The root cause of all this can be finally detected to be one and one thing only : communication. 

Communication has  4 fundamental components  – Whom, Who, How, Why

Whom : Is this person / organization qualified for my communication ?

( Selling Combs to a completely bald man) 

Who : Who is communicating from my business

( The least experienced man sends mail-merge / Bcc mails to decision makers. Mecahnical  and Robotic call to prospects at 10 am in Monday ) 

How: Language, Time, Time of Delivery, Mode of Delivery, Duration, status / position / mood / situation of the recipient at the time of communication

( The person becomes sad and angry while looking at the  violation and abuse of the grammar and spelling of his mother-tongue and feels like strangling the writer. Sometimes, he finds the communication in a foreign language and Google Translate confuses more)

Why : What is your purpose to communicate and his / her purpose to attend to your communication ?

(A mini novel is written, with enclosure of 3 multi-coloured brochures with 15 graphs and charts in total with 12 links sprinkled in. It will take at least 3 readings and 30 mins to find out exactly what is relevant and interesting for the recipient. How many decision makers have so much time to find out what a gem you are )


Your message is not failing you. You have done almost everything possible to have your message failing to deliver.

You are completely convinced that silence has no power to communicate. The great silence you hear from your prospects is the greatest communication : We are not interested. Have us interested and then come back. We have listened to someone who delivered an interesting message. 

Then you start thinking. If I have not delivered an interesting message, let me give them a bribe – let me lower my price. So, you now present your bribe of a lower price. They have not asked for a bribe but you have advanced. Now, more people will advance the bribe to make themselves interesting. We all know that corruption is infectious. 

Your business is now trapped in a low-profit, low-quality, vulnerable and stagnant one.

You have self-certified yourself to be a low-cost, easily intimidated, nervous business.

Where did it all start ? Think again.

It all started because you could not make interesting communication. Since your communication was not interesting, you started getting noticed by those who are not interesting themselves. The question is not of size of your prospect but whether they are interesting. Finally, you are stuck with low end customers.

These customers told their friends (“birds of same feather flock together”) and your referral circle remains stuck in a circle.

You know, you do not go anywhere else how much or how fast you run in a circle.


 

 

 


Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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[Book Review] Of Hawks and Sparrows – a collection by Satabdi Saha

Category : Uncategorized

Wordsmith’s Statutory Disclaimer on Review : Wordsmith Review process is open, simple and  unconventional. Chief Editor reads the book and expresses his  first hand reaction and background thoughts as clearly as possible. This is in stark contrast to the mainstream review which starts with a ponderous solemnity, then a complicated attempt to express the reviewer’s inner microphone and other mechanics and then a English public school headmaster’s ruling.

I have read only the stories. I did not read the poetry section because of a reason. Hence the review remains applicable for the story section only. I hold the fanatic opinion that poetry ( “a state of the soul”) cannot be written in any language other than one’s own native language. The writing can be very high quality, very powerful but it is not poetry in a sense I understand poetry. I refuse to enter into any debate on this with the “argumentative Indian.”

The first thing that came to my mind while I read the first story is to imagine how these stories will read in translation in another language. Since locales are in Bengal, Bengali translation would have made them very intimate and would have  added a layer of delicious complexity, especially for a Bengali reader. This can be considered a project itself by Wordsmith Communication – our bread and butter machine that translates in 250 languages of the world with a team of 3000+ freelancers.

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The author, Ms. Saha is an artist – both with words and also with colour as clear from the cover art of the book.  Her language is also very lucid and shows  very clearly of her long years of engagement with the English language and that of some of her characters. Her treatment on some of the essential themes of existence is very delicate yet clear and powerfully expressive. She is a master of the art of narration.

Her stories explore, structurally something very interesting, at least what seemed to me. It is like this : a quintessential Bengali story, theme, character being narrated to a dear friend who does not understand Bengali. Many of us might have that experience while talking about a Bengali classic story to a friend whose first language may be German. This is very interesting for me.

Of all the stories, the story that left strongest mark on me is The Mansion. (p.27) This is a story of Nilima meeting her old friend and husband after a long time in her old bungalow in semi-rural Bengal. The setting was taking a turn to a ghost story but then the pitch changes. The whole theme now becomes very strange, sinister and the epilogue is very very unusual. The story must be read to have a feel of it. Even in English, the story’s essential Bengali smell and light – of the কালবৈশাথী shines through.

As a reader, I have also found that the author has no rigid stance on feminism. She considers both man and woman as essentially human and with follies and innate goodness.  Because of this quality, the stories will radiate the literary joy when the ideological debates will be over or will be considered inconsequential by the later ages. This is not some imagination. Shelley gave a shrewd advice to all authors in a simple way : most of the social evils and rascal-dom will cease sooner or later – may be after few decades more or less but artistic beauty will not arise automatically. The highest works of Art does not follow the “automatic generation” theory.

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Her stories also mask her scholarship and craft with the language. Simplicity is not being a simpleton.  The greatest master a craft  knows how to hide the hard work that has gone behind to have the effortlessness. Her prose is very intimate within the bounds of English but as soon as it became very very intimate, I regretted again as why am I not reading this in Bengali.

I hope either the author or some translator will translate some of the stories in Bengali, the native language of most of her characters.

Of Hawks and Sparrows by Satabdi Saha

Patridge Publications, 2014,


Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com