The Mindless Game

Strategy is the word we freely use. Strategy as I have seen in my work situations always allude to personal strategy. Because the company as a whole does not have any strategy of its own.  Individual strategy most of the times than not always turns into mind games. While strategy ideally aims for a collective and positive goal, mind games always have selfish motives behind them.

I get terribly frustrated  when the possible deals are lost because of seniors’ indecision. CEO’s constant refusal to take positions has now become infamous in the organisation. VP will take decisions when his self-interest is served. If it is a deal that involves my effort, VP would do everything possible to mis-guide the cartel and CEO, so that pricing, terms etc will be made very stiff.  


The Colour Extracting company had approached us sometime back for some material. While we had the facilities to do this product, we have never produced it commercially. So the pricing was worked out based on theoretical assumptions.

The purchasing manager of the Colour-extracting company is a good-looking and attractive female. I had met with her once in their office. There was a big gap between their price bid and our quote. I was convinced that our pricing is high because the finance manager must have used his imagination to work it out on a higher side  and the diffident operations managers also would have given their safest figures to the finance manager. If we do a trial production, we could get proper cost observations to work out a realistic price. I didn’t think that CEO would order the factory to do a trial production and to re-evaluate the realistic input-output ratio. 

I thought it was up to me to do something that will trigger events toward this end. I entered the Director’s cabin unannounced. He uncovered his face by keeping the newspaper he was reading on the desk and said “yes?”. I gave brief background and mentioned to him “This customer has a long-term potential. We should take a strategic view and do a small trial even though we may incur costs. Then only we will know what is the achievable costing for this product”. He asked “have you discussed it with CEO?”. I said “yes..but…” I wondered for a second what to say. Without waiting for my answer any further, he said “ok. let me see”


After two days, I learnt that the trial production was being organised in the factory. CEO did not mention about it to me directly. “Strategy” worked!


Trial production threw up a surprise to me. We got the same yield that we had calculated in the original costing. How to bridge the price expectations? By this time, I had committed myself so much to this particular business opportunity. I did something which in normal circumstances I would have never done. I proposed to the Purchasing Manager of the colour-extracting company to visit our office and meet with the CEO for final price discussion. While my suggestion sounded very casual and business like, there was a silent intention behind it.  CEO would start ogling at the Purchasing Manager and may try to agree to do the business at a realistic price somewhere close to the customer’s bid.  If I was to deal with this alone, then the profit expectation of 25-30% would remain intact and I would not be allowed to budge at all. The boss behaved exactly as expected – full of show-off, flirty talks, indecent humour, etc. In one stroke, he offered a counter-bid (closer to the customer’s bid) which was accepted immediately. The woman became weary at the end of the meeting. When I saw her off in the gate, she muttered “your boss is very weird”.


The contract was received in the subsequent week.


My personal strategy did work. But  there was an unintended  implication too. The purchasing lady gave me a phone call on a saturday. “I am sorry but I have to tell you this. Your boss keeps stalking through smses. My business card did contain my mobile number in it. I did reply him rudely on a couple of occasions, but he is not stopping….I am really sorry that I am talking to you about this…I know you cant do anything in this case….” I uttered some inrrelevant but kind words. My heart knew I sounded fake.

Morning Star

The mornings have become colder than the normal this winter.

The wife feels a mild stress in the winter nights, thinking that she may not hear the mobile alarm ringing at 5.30 in the morning. Poor thing, she has to pack lunch for both Kids and has to make the younger kid take bath and dress up. The kids have to leave for school at 7.30am.

What happens is – invariably she gets up 30 minutes later than the alarm time which she sets up. Her argument is that once the alarm rings, she will be awake but would still like to continue to sleep in a semi-sleep and semi-awake state for a while before jump out of bed.

The elder kid is very duty conscious, so as soon as her mother calls her name affectionately, she gets up with no signs of grogginess due to abrupt awakening. Within no time, she is ready in her school uniform. The younger kid needs to be in sleep-inertia for about 10-15 minutes – just like the mother – before she enters the bathroom for brushing the teeth.

I suffer from Insomnia these days. Unusually, I remain awake till wee hours. Most of the nights either I sit in front of TV or read books or watch movies on my computer. Even after I go to bed, I don’t start sleeping immediately. Because of this, I tend to sleep extra in the morning forcing my wife to be on her own in her morning chores. The wife goes to the road-end to leave the kids in their respective school buses. On her way, she would pick-up milk packets. She would wake me up with coffee in her hands.

The day morosely starts with a bed-coffee. Morning coffee used to energize me before. Not any more. Coffee drinking has just become a habit. I do not completely enjoy the Coffee drinking experience.

The wife then will bring the newspapers to the bed. I shall look at the pages on the newspaper and will not read them. Just a quick browsing of headlines and I am done with it. The wife will try to have a small talk but my mind will not register anything.

By this time, I would have checked my emails on the mobile phone several times. Most of the days, there would be no mails in the morning time. Immediately, the mind will get into the worrying mode – why X customer did not reply to my offer yet? Why no more purchase enquiries from Canadian customer? Etc…This worry series will lead me to thinking about characters of my company…..will CEO just use me as a pawn to justify his failures? Will VP be laughing behind me on seeing my obstacles to good business? ….all unnecessary thinking…worrying….craving for intended outcomes….seeking only successful outcomes….

Is there any strength in seeking only successful outcomes? The strength lies in how we face the various outcomes – intended / unintended, positive / negative – with equal attitude. If one has seen only success all along, then he might not have any opportunity to get himself trained on how to face defeats and setbacks gracefully. The gracelessness leads men to be desperate without caring for fair means. The strength lies only in Grace with which we face life and its events.

Gracefulness is acquired from living with joy in the present and not losing oneself in thoughts constantly – in those thoughts which either make us feel guilty about the past or worry about the un-arrived future.

Mindfulness is a wonderful term used in Buddhism. I really like this word for its apt description of the state in which we all should live always. Consistent mindfulness practice leads us to the state of grace.

If I was mindful (and resultantly graceful ) – I would have slept at the same time as my loved ones. I would have woken up joyfully by the time my lovely kids walk out of home to go to school. I would have completely enjoyed the taste of coffee prepared my beloved wife (after brushing my teeth!).


I was afflicted with morning sullenness that day also. The expected Purchase order from Spain did not arrive on email the previous night. I was stressed out as to how I would explain this to CEO – who has been pressurizing me for more than a week now. Another new customer – the colour extracting company – did not grant me the meeting which I wanted that day. I was to leave for the meeting directly from home in the morning. The customer SMSed me at about 8am that he cannot see me. Ufff…I need to go to office only in the morning….this fact tired me instantly…..Wife asked “why do u always keep your face so stiff whenever you leave for office?” I did not reply her as I left home for office.

I entered the office not in a cheery disposition. The ants who saw me entering did not wish me. They pretended to be busy while noticing me entering the chamber. After keeping the lunch bag, I noticed that….a fax document lying on my clean desk….It was the PO which I expected to receive on email. It has come on fax. My heaviness flew out in seconds and I was feeling light……I took the fax document and came out…two ants wished me in Chorus – Congratulations sir!

Day Four

Two things influenced me today – a factory and a mobile phone. One stimulated me positively and the other negatively. Let me start with the negative (So that I end on a positive note).

The Mobile phone issue continued today too. I went and asked the accountant-cum-finance manager-cum-administration manager, of our division if the CEO has discussed any thing about my mobile phone. The guy sincerely must have spoken to the CEO. Hesitantly, he came back to tell that the company can reimburse only up to Rs 5000 for a mobile phone. Welcome to the world of measured magnanimity! May be, it is a wise thought not to allocate big budget for an ordinary instrument of daily use. But I should not venture out  any where near colleges and educational institutions and compare my phone with the ones those of students loitering there.

Visited a flexible packaging factory with a colleague. It is a large factory…having well integrated facilities – art work designing, cylinder making, cylinder proof making, PET printing, pasting with metallised polyester or any other material, Poly extrusion, Pouching, Zip-pouching…..In one of the halls I saw more than 12 units of multi-colour PET printing machines working and churning out various types of PET Films of various well-known brands. It was majestic.The rhythmic sounds produced by various pouch forming machines working at the same time was mellifluous.

I guess the positive spirit may have nullified the negative mood. I was feeling neutral on my return from the factory visit. So neutral that, not doing any further official work did not bother me…No I did do one official work…that of attending to a call from the CEO over intercom, asking for some superfluous information and followed by vague instructions. I am not able to elaborate what he did tell me…because I do not remember it now.

Day One

The Prologue

Kalyana Raman is in his mid-forties. He is ambitious but is idealistic. So his career path becomes turbulent at times. He has changed many jobs. While a recruiter will feel shaky on seeing his CV, but on closer scrutiny it will be noticed that with every job change Kalyanam (his short name) has grown and learnt so much. He finds it a struggle to attend interviews of established companies, because his CV does not show glamorous management degrees and consists only of experiences in SMEs. Interestingly, he had a few stints abroad. That explains his healthy pay packet. He has moved again recently. A medium sized food company, essentially export driven (which is why he is there!), but badly managed.

Now, over to him…….

Day One

I was feeling tense in the morning when I left home for the new office. The anxiety was inexplicable. Logically, there is no reason to be tensed. Was it because I do not know what to expect from the organization that I would be working with? I have changed jobs many times before but never have I felt the nerves like today.

Mala (Kalyanam’s wife) was mentioning that in all the previous job shifts I had walked into a new organization through a known person (already working there). Looking back, that’s not true. I can recollect 4 occasions when I joined a company without knowing anybody. In all those occasions, I think my apprehension may have been covered up by the excitement factor. The excitement arises because there are expectations. In this particular shift, I have no excitement. I have no particular expectation.

As the day progressed, I shifted my frame of mind from being a participant to that of an observer. This brightened me up a bit.

I have a big cabin now, with 4 different visitor chairs, long desk with a lot of space. The junior colleagues enter only after taking the permission. It gives me good amount of privacy which I guess should relax me, as I have never had such perks before.

They have a canteen in the office where all the employees take lunch. Now Mala need not pack lunch for me daily. This will save her a lot of time in the morning hours.

My work station is not fully ready yet, as I am waiting for the laptop and mobile phone.

I had a short meeting with CEO and Vice president Operations in the afternoon. Factory and operations’ heads seem to be more in command within this company. Many key overseas clients are being liaisoned by a person who is based in the factory. This I found very strange initially, but on closer scrutiny, it is not that I have not seen this before. In most of the processing companies the factory heads calls the shots, not the sales / marketing guys. The only difference here is that the production guys themselves interact with the customers directly.

All is well…. I shall survive and prosper here, God willing.