Goals & Opportunities

What is an opportunity? Opportunity is a chance or a potential in a situation or a circumstance to fullfill your goals.

Rarely will an opportunity arrive right in front of you, announce itself unambiguously and and wait patiently till you make your mind on your next move. Thus, many times we fail to convert this chance into certainty and achieve goal fulfillment.

Here I list the factors that determines one’s ability to accomplish an opportunity :

  1. Goal Clarity
  2. Opportunity Context & Identification
  3. Credibility
  4. Emotional Fortitude

Goal Clarity

Opportunity identification starts with clarity of your own goals and understanding of ecosystem in which you are seeking opportunities.

Define your goals. It may seem obvious, but many individuals and organizations don’t have goal clarity. Like it is said, “When you don’t know where to go, then any road will take you there.”

Lack of goal clarity implies lack of focus and clarity of arenas where you may discover opportunities. As a result, you may end up making efforts looking for opportunities in wrong place altogether.

Once the goals are defined and arenas where opportunities may lurk identified, the next important thing is to understand the ecosystem of the arenas where opportunities are sought.

Opportunity Context & Identification

What defines the opportunity context? The parts that define the context will vary depending on the goal and the arenas that you choose. For Instance –  For someone targetting business development opportunities with a prospect or a client, the ecosystem will be defined by what business they are in, what are their goals, their internal capabilities & constraints, their business environment and competition.

This will help you build the contextual intelligence that will make opportunity identification a relatively easy task.

The contextual intelligence is the knowledge base using which

  1. Opportunities can be created
  2. Opportunities wrapped in ambiguities and uncertainties can be identified
  3. Problem, challenge or a constraint in the arena can be converted into opportunities

Credibility

Often we are unaware of or under appreciate the value of credibility in life. The credibility of individuals and organizations play a significant role in our ability to close an opportunity.

Lack of credibility implies, that despite opportunity identification or creation, we may get no chance or stand little chance to close the opportunity. And this precisely is the reason that corporations across the world spend billions of dollars in advertisement. The purpose is not only to make you aware of the products and services that they offer, but also to build their credibility in your mind.

And there is no short cut to building credibility. A blitzkrieg of advertisement campaign may help build a short term favourable image that may provide you a few opportunities, but sustainable credibility can be built only through products, services, support and commitment that meets the needs.

Emotional Fortitude

Emotional Fortitude is more of a individualistic attribute. And in case of organizations, it is demonstrated by the leadership team, that reflects in organizations hunger and attitude to win and deal with losses.

When an individual or an organization pursuits an opportunity, they may not win every time despite the investment and energy that they may invest in an opportunity. They will face challenges, both internal and external. Failure will lead to scrutiny and internal challenge to their position. Perhaps, that’s the reason, why leaders in many organization decide not to define a strategy. Strategy demands making choices. Making choices is sticking your neck out to the risks bundled with choices. And that demands emotional fortitude!

Opportunities are milestones that lead to goal fullfillment. Only the individual or a organization that has built up credibility through years of keeping commitments, has strong emotional fortitude to aggressively pursue opportunity and deal with failure, stands a fair chance to achieve their goals!

INVICTUS

I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul!

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Global Warming vs Global Consumption

I wonder whether we can achieve any reduction in global warming without reducing global consumption. Since the dawn of industrial age, the economic models have promoted ever increase in consumption. In last two decades, Asia has also joined this consumption err I mean feeding bandwagon. These days consumption statistics are tracked monthly. Even 0.1% change in consumption pattern results in gloom or glee on face on investors. In fact, the miracle economies of Asia are mostly export oriented. They thrive on the ever increasing consumption by US and Europe. On my previous trip to China, I read a very interesting article on the current global recession. The article squarely laid down the blame for the global recession on USA. The theme of the article was that USA has reduced consumption resulting in global recession and proposed USA to increase consumption back to pre-recession days to ward off the recession. After reading the article, I could not help think the way press in this part of the world blinds itself or is asked by their big bosses to feed crap to the public? Export oriented economies view USA as a pig with infinite capacity to consume good produced in Asian factories. Somehow they have adjusted their mindset in believing it to be their right to produce goods in high volume to be shipped  to USA and receive loads of greenbacks in return. Can there be a revolutionary idea, a new economic model that can find a alternative to mindless consumption as way to progress and prosperity? Can we ever be progressive and prosperous with much lesser consumption? Isn’t it all about price theory? Coming up with a new disruptive model is itself a very remote possibility, even remote is the possibility of pushing it through in the world. With this kind of consumption mindset, how much control can be asserted over factors that increase global warming? Would all the “Green” initiatives actually reduce global warming? What I understand is that these new energy efficient initiatives will merely reduce the waste and pollution that propels climate change. This reduction will at best slow down the rate of deterioration in climate but will not eliminate the factors behind global warming. Even this energy efficient initiative is also God knows how many negotiations as well as how many years away. This first wave of change to switch to clean energy will obviously be in the so called “first world nations”, the principal contributors of pollution. I suppose they have better resources and skills to develop energy efficient or clean energy technologies and their applications. Despite the ever increasing havoc that climate change is going to cause in the world, the greed would still rule. It is foolish to expect the “first world” to be humane enough to collaborate with the developing nations and provide access to energy efficient technologies at reasonable rates. This crisis would again be a God sent opportunity for “first world” to enact laws and policies that directly or indirectly force the developing countries to buy those energy efficient technologies from them. But then with this Global recession, the center of the world seems to be shifting again. After running huge deficits, will the “first world” government have willingness and resources to allocate to climate change related initiatives? Will increasingly prosperous Asia, despite being per capita lower contributor to pollution, join the race to develop clean technologies? Would the world finally realize that they need to reduce present day mindset of mindless consumption? Only time will answer these questions. Till then…. let go back to tracking the consumption stats and speculate.

Global Warming

“Green”, “Climate Change”, “Global Warming” etc are the buzz words today in media. This issue of deteriorating climate conditions is being attributed to the ever increasing human activity.

But the interesting thing is the way this issue is being perceived by different groups.

1. There are masses who are aware of this issue, but feel helpless for what they can or cannot do about it. To them, as individual they are too small a unit to bring about a change. So they give their respectful two minutes of attention to this issue being covered in media, utilize this new topic for gossip and then move on. There is not much data to support my notion, but I feel most of the people in this category belong to the so called “third world” countries and maybe the lower income group in the “first world” countires. For the people from “Third world” countries, With little infrastructure to support them, they bear direct and brutal consequence of climate change variations such as flood, or drought.

2. There are people who are blissfully unaware of “climate change”. I believe that the people in this group are either too poor or too rich. Poor are too busy in their daily struggle for survival to even think about any such thing. For them, the biggest issue is what would impact their livelihood at present. For the rich, Ah!! life is a party and let the good times flow… These well off people definitely make their small but as a sum, significant contribution to the global warming. They like to consume goods as if there is no tomorrow. No prize for guessing that these people belong to the so called “First world” countries.

3. There are people for whom “climate change” is a present day fad, the in thing. They would change their consumptive lifestyle only to the point where it makes a fashionable statement.

4. I am sure there are a spirited few, who desire and act to make their own small but significant contribution to address this issue. Whether it is by means of creating awareness, or changing their own lifestyle or reducing consumption, they do their bit. Kudos to these people.

5. Then there are “greed” organizations. They would do everything symbolic to shown that they are “greed” oh sorry, I mean “green”. They would change there corporate logo, website theme and color, advertisement etc to represent green. To them, green is not about reducing carbon footprint in their product(s) or altering operations to reduce harmfull impact on climate, green is about latest wave in market that shall be surfed to increase their revenues.

6. And then there are “green” organizations. These organizations go beyond lip service. They define vision and perform subsequent action to positively contribute to the cause of reducing global warming. These organizations define roadmap to roll out product or services that would serve the market and at the same time be gentle to the climate. Then there are able organizations who have refined their day to day operations to reduce impact on climate. Hats off to these organizations.

But all said and done, response to global warming requires efficient utilization of resources, whether it is fossil fuels, or any other natural resource. But essentially humans and the ecosystem in which they live is not programmed for efficiency. In the current ecosystem, cost of efficiently utilizing the resources somehow is less than the cost of the effort it takes to ensure efficient utilization. Only when the cost of wasting resources goes high enough would the change arrive. Till then, it is free for all in this jungle.

Lessons from Global Recession

I wonder whether there are people in world who have been left untouched by the recent global recession. But then I remeber a statement from Dr. Nouriel Roubini, “Only the people who have nothing to loose will not loose anything in current economic downturn”.

Yes indeed, there are millions of people out there, who are not so lucky like you and me and actually have nothing to loose. Sometimes I wonder, how we underestimate the kindness of God on us.

I am no way an expert in investments but I guess what matters more for the layman is common sense.

Now coming back to lessons that I learnt in the current recession (I hope I would be sane enough to utilize them during next recession) –

1. Market Cycles – A boom has to be followed by burst because valuation cannot always go in north direction. Perodically when valuations become too steep, the demand supply relationship will break leading to correction in valuations. This correction will again lead to demand in the market, thus resuming the economic cycle.

From 3000 points in May 2003, SENSEX crossed 21K in Jan 2008, an unprecedented boom. But due to economic recesson SENSEX slided down to touched 7700 in mid-day trade in Oct 2008.

Similarly in housing market in India, valuations increased by 300% in approx 4 years duration in various cities but recently due to economic recession, prices  have slided down by approx 30% in various cities.

It is hard to time the market, but one needs to be courageous enough to take his own call whether valuations have hit low enough that money can be invested again. Investors who are able to overcome fear will have rich rewards to be reaped when the next boom comes.

Similarly when the valutations run too high in boom period, the greed needs to be brought under control and investor shall exit the market.

To make this possible, I think an investor shall have individual growth targets such as “If my equity holding appreciates by 100% and market is moving into high valuations zone, I would exit.” I know it is not really that simple. This really requires courage and ability to over come greed because when the so called analysts/experts  are projecting sky high targets for valuations, it is not easy to overcome temptation and melt away in such senseless excitement. For instance – When ensex was at 21K, some analyst declared that in next 12 months Sensex will hit 35K or 40K but in reality in next 12 months Sensex was down in dumps at 8K.

The best thing to do is to systematically and perodically sell the equity holdings and turn paper money into real one.

2. Gold and Cash – When you acted smart enough and jumped out of the equity bandwagon at right time, what to do with the little bounty that you have made by selling equity.

During economic down cycles, investors rush to Gold because when other asset class worth investing are down, Gold holds up. Gold being a traditional  hedge against inflation and currency devaluation, is the safest bet to hold.

But then do not forget, it is during the darket hour, when the fear is at peak and valuations at their cheapest that the time is right to enter the market again. It is easier said than done but what goes down will go up once again.

Again the best strategy is to perodically sell chunks of Gold (in case you are holding) or use cash to buy equity.  If you are not sure which equity to buy, buying an ETF that tracks the index is also not a bad option.

The funny thing is even during boom time I made negligible investment in stocks. I utilized all my investible money to pre-pay my home loan and saved 10% interest that I was going to pay the bank over 20 lakh INR loan over 20 years.  Not a bad investment I believe.

Shenzhen Business Trip

Back in Shenzhen again. Company I am working with has a development center here. As and when we are not able to close the issues due to both engineering teams being in different locations and  difference in infrastructure, we guys fly to Shenzhen.
And it does work out, we do make progress. Language barrier is there but the guys here are receptive. Any suggestion or comment is given due thought. And as far as I am concerned, company has also been thoughtfull and kind. They have arranged my stay in a hotel in Shekhou district. The hotel is in a expat driven location. There are many restaurants offering cusinies such as chinese, Italian, Indian etc.
People here have turned out to be pleasant surprise. They have been very kind and considerate. So far I did not have had much time to explore Shenzhen. Whatever I have seen of this city is while travelling between hotel and office. Now that the weekend is coming, I would try to explore the city. One place I really want to go is Dafen Oil painting village. I have heard so much about this place. The good quality paintings are offered at reasonable rate. Guys in office told that the place is far off. So let’s see if I can find my way there.

Hello world!!

Finally I have created a blog of mine!! About myself, my name is Tarun Bajaj. I am a common urban Indian who is blessed with a beautifull family, an exciting profession and a few humble thoughts. People blog for various reasons. I am blogging to capture details of my life, and kaleidoscope of thoughts, experience, emotions, perceptions and convictions.

In future, this blog will assist to reflect back in past. Life flows like a river, often bringing us to new, some expected and some unexpected twists and turns. I look forward to capture beautifull details of twists and turns that I experience. Time to enjoy Sunday and Chinese New Year here in Singapore.