Justus D. Eapen
Business demands innovation, of being on the leading edge of any field. Intellect, intelligence or graduate degrees will never be substitutes for common sense, people sense and street smarts. This article is about business and its components and the role street smarts plays in business life- the ability to make active, positive use of your perspicacity, instincts and perceptions. Street smarts is simply applied people sense, the basis of any business association. Essentially, it involves assessing people and using that knowledge to get what you want. Its a talent you can learn...
A common phenomenon these days is that soon after a Psychologist or eminent scholar publishes a finding in the form of a law or principle, others jump onto the bandwagon with corollaries and riders. Take the adage first printed by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in 1955, which was so widely accepted that it became a law. Parkinson’s Law states, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” He derived the dictum from his extensive experience in the Machiavellian manipulations carried out by the British Civil Service. Those who have seen the superb TV serials Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister will agree that the British Civil Service, like most Civil Services round the globe, is guilty as implied by Parkinson. Parkinson noted that bureaucracies expanded over time, at a rate of 5-7% per year "irrespective of any variation in the amount of work (if any) to be done." The number of employees at the British Colonial Office increased even while its overseas empire declined!
By sweetened virtue I start out, dashing as the cavalier Knight:
The butterflies cut from the paper from the womb of a Beautiful girl’s diary:
And I read her out under the sun, as I wait for the bank robbers To drive by:
This night is pillaged by lucky horses, while I have never Been by Sarah’s grave,
Or my grandfather’s grave, but I know that my one good grandmother
Is buried atop the hill underneath the welded cross at the northern
End of the summit of the Springerville Cemetery:
Sharon, she is buried just above her little house, across the churches
And the swings that I have articulated back and forth on the Other side of her;
And you never even saw or knew her body’s warmth, Sharon:
Sharon: but your body is still sparking like a wish culled from A cloudy day:
And I wonder what is was that made you choose the man you love;
And if I had just one wish rubbed from the gilded belly of a genie,
Then Sharon, that wish would be for you love,
But I still have to go back to work on Monday.
“We're never so vulnerable than when we trust someone - but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy” Anon
Within the past decades, the design of organizations and how they operate have changed in the face of new international regulations. In some cases, employees have resisted these organizational innovations and often have developed self-protectionist attitudes largely due to what observers call “downward communication flows in organizational hierarchies.” As many organizational scholars have stated, imperfect and non-recursive communication can cause organizational conflict, reducing group effectiveness. Trust in organizations is crucial in promoting group performance.
There is an old saying that “Opportunity knocks on your door just once. Seize it with both hands, else you will flounder forever.”
Louis L’amour, the well known ‘Western Novel’ author also said something similar. With all respect, I would like to differ. Opportunity is what you make of life. It will be there, just behind the arras. Slide back the drapes, locate it and grasp it deferentially with both hands. Uh-Oh! As always, there is a catch to it, lurking thereabouts.
“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” Stephen King
Some thirty years back, a certain youth came first in a nationally conducted examination. While lauding him for his success, most said behind his back, “That was expected. His father was equally talented in his time. The boy was born with an encyclopedia in his brain.” Though it was not a disparaging comment by any means, it did the lad great injustice. What the world did not know was that there was method in his success. At the tender age of five, this boy would come first or a close second to another boy who was one full year older. This lad used to struggle with his books, till his parents decided, against faculty advice, to make him repeat one year. From then on, he never looked back. Yet, he followed a strict regimen. Up at six, bathed and fed by half past six, he would study for an hour till the school bus arrived at half past seven, with School Assembly at eight.
In the olden days, the only sources of home electronic entertainment were the Radio and the Gramophone. We used to have a weekly half-hour radio program that dealt with in-house mundane problems mailed to the host of that program by faceless people unable to reach a solution, asking for advice. My friend's widowed mother would make it a point to listen to that weekly program without fail. I still remember one question: How does one get rid of the yellow stains left on clothes by a commonly used spice, Turmeric, without physically damaging the stained garment? Those days, people used to bash the dirt out of all wash with heavy batons, like exorcists excising demons. Actually, there were two questions in one−Getting rid of that stain and not damaging clothing. The host confessed that he had no single solution and requested public assistance, to be mailed on a postcard (costing less than one US cent). Next week, the host began his program with that very question. Thanking his audience profusely for responding, he stated that he had been buried under the deluge of postcards mailed to him and finally, divulged the most commonly utilized solution sent in by thousands of listeners from all over the country.
An economist must be “mathematician, historian, statesman, philosopher, in some degree……as aloof and incorruptible as an artist, yet sometimes as near the earth as a politician.”
John Maynard Keynes
What is Price?
This seems a rather inane question, as we have grown up in a world where everything that we required for subsistence was bought for a price. However, micro and macroeconomists have spent a lifetime trying to nail down a suitable answer for this simple question. Out of the millions of answers on the net, The Business Dictionary defines Price as ‘Market value, or agreed exchange value that will purchase a definite quantity, weight, or other measure of a good or service.’ Knowthis.com takes it further: “In general terms price is a component of an exchange or transaction that takes place between two parties and refers to what must be given up by one party (i.e., buyer) in order to obtain something offered by another party (i.e., seller).” This view provides a somewhat limited explanation of what price means to participants in the transaction. In fact, price means different things to different participants in an exchange:
Word of Mouth Marketing sounds like a misnomer, because the connotation of volume generated by the term ‘Marketing’ is missing. While there does seem to be a connection between the two terms, I like to think of Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) as a behind-the-scenes unpaid form of promotion where one happy customer tells another about how content he is with a specific product or service and that it is I who provided him that bit of happiness. There is no obvious marketing and the advertising is self- generated, emanating from the goodwill created by my product or service. The ensuing cascade is like a pyramid sale, multiplying manifold as it goes down the corridor of communication between friends, acquaintances, neighbors or relatives.
A diagram will make it more obvious:
. Persuasion has been defined in the Encyclopedia Britannica as: “The process by which a person’s attitudes or behavior are, without duress, influenced by communications from other people.” This definition could be reworded to the personalized or active context, “the Process by which You, communicating with another Person, can influence, without duress, his attitudes or behavior.” As is evident, there are two entities in persuasion, ‘You’ and ‘the Other Person’, and in the gulf between the two, there is the process, which encompasses communication, influence, attitude, behavior and absence of duress. In effect, you, using your skills of communication, influence someone else to do what you want him to do. As Jeffrey Gitomer, in his Foreword in Dave Lakhani’s book: Persuasion, The Art of Getting What You Want, says, “Persuasion is an outcome.”