Mohammed Yusuf – Noble price speech

Some time back I wrote a blog about ‘Muhammed Yuguf and Microcredit’ where I gave my perspective on the excellent work he has done. This December 10th he received the Noble peace price for his revolutionary micro-credit implementation in Bangladesh. I got a chance to read his inspirational noble price speech, which is really wonderful. The total speech was very good and I personally liked the following points:

On poverty:

“World’s income distribution gives a very telling story. Ninety four percent of the world income goes to 40 percent of the population while sixty percent of people live on only 6 per cent of world income. Half of the world population lives on two dollars a day. Over one billion people live on less than a dollar a day. This is no formula for peace. Poverty is the absence of all human rights. The frustrations, hostility and anger generated by abject poverty cannot sustain peace in any society. For building stable peace we must find ways to provide opportunities for people to live decent lives.”

On Grameen bank:

“I wanted to do something immediate to help people around me, even if it was just one human being, to get through another day with a little more ease. That brought me face to face with poor people’s struggle to find the tiniest amounts of money to support their efforts to eke out a living. I was shocked to discover a woman in the village, borrowing less than a dollar from the money-lender, on the condition that he would have the exclusive right to buy all she produces at the price he decides. This, to me, was a way of recruiting slave labor.It is 30 years now since we began. We keep looking at the children of our borrowers to see what has been the impact of our work on their lives. The women who are our borrowers always gave topmost priority to the children. One of the Sixteen Decisions developed and followed by them was to send children to school. Grameen Bank encouraged them, and before long all the children were going to school. Many of these children made it to the top of their class. We wanted to celebrate that, so we introduced scholarships for talented students. Grameen Bank now gives 30,000 scholarships every year.”

On open market and free trade:

“I am in favor of strengthening the freedom of the market. At the same time, I am very unhappy about the conceptual restrictions imposed on the players in the market. This originates from the assumption that entrepreneurs are one-dimensional human beings, who are dedicated to one mission in their business lives 3/4 to maximize profit. This interpretation of capitalism insulates the entrepreneurs from all political, emotional, social, spiritual, environmental dimensions of their lives. This was done perhaps as a reasonable simplification, but it stripped away the very essentials of human life.”

On Entrepreneurship:

“By defining “entrepreneur” in a broader way we can change the character of capitalism radically, and solve many of the unresolved social and economic problems within the scope of the free market. Let us suppose an entrepreneur, instead of having a single source of motivation (such as, maximizing profit), now has two sources of motivation, which are mutually exclusive, but equally compelling 3/4 a) maximization of profit and b) doing good to people and the world.”

BOOK REVIEW: The high performance Entrepreneur

Author: Subroto Bagchi

Price: 395 INR

For years I have been a sincere reader of Mr. Subroto Bagchi’s writings starting with his ‘Making of Mindtree’ write-ups. I have read his articles in Business world (Arbor Mentis), Times of India (Times of Mind) and attended ‘Ping-me’ sessions organized by Mindtree. I can very well say his writings are excellent almost everyone would have read his famous speech ‘Go kiss the world’. For quiet some time I was not able to see much of his writings in the media and really concerned about it. But Mr. Bagchi came up with a ‘bonus’ by writing this book ‘The high performance Entrepreneur’ where he shared his learnings which he got from building Mindtree. This book is truly awesome and gave loads of insights into Entrepreneurship.

To start with, Mr.Bagchi coined the ‘high performance entrepreneur’ in this book and talks about how ‘high performance’ entrepreneurship is different from mere self employment of small scale. High performance ‘rain making’ entrepreneurs (people like Murthy, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Azim Premji) created huge amount of wealth which literally changed individuals, societies and countries. The ‘wealth generation’ is totally different from working for a ‘high paying’ job and Mr. Bagchi tells how totally different those two are. Through various examples he tried to explain fundamental traits of an Entrepreneur. In countries like India promoting Entrepreneurship is very vital because 40% of the working population will come from India in the year 2020 and generating employment to these people is very important.

Following that Mr. Bagchi explains various aspects of Entrepreneurship and added his learnings from building Mindtree. He keeps re-iterating statements like ‘If you don’t like making money don’t start a company’, ‘Postponing gratification and feeling comfortable is one of the important factor in Entrepreneurship’, ‘VCs are like matrimony, do your due-diligence before approaching them’ which really opens up reader’s eyes in perusing Entrepreneurship. He has given examples of Café-coffee-day, Air-Deccan, and Biocon and how founders of these organizations got their ‘dhimag ki bathi’ glowing.

Then he talks about building the DNA, Mission statement, vision, annual objectives and value system of the organization. He also re-iterates how personal characteristics of the ‘seed’ team are so important in creating and following the ‘shared vision’ of the organization. After forming the mission statement, the next important thing is to build a ‘differentiation’ for the organization. Mr. Bagchi also mentioned ‘six horses of differentiation’ namely domain, tools, methodology, quality, innovation and branding.

Especially I liked the chapter on ‘Quality’. Generally the software people (who work for CMM level-x organizations) think quality is an ‘overhead’ to the organization where engineers spend lot of time following processes. Mr. Bagchi slams this mentality by saying ‘Only Michal Angelo doesn’t need process. But even if he wants to create 50,000 copies of his own paintings, he requires processes’. He has given many examples based on his experience with Japanese people (who are pioneers in this area) which are really interesting to read. He also touched about choosing investors, building transparent relationship with them, need for choosing an investor who understands the business and also given some basics of finance.

Finally he touches upon the ‘brand building’ topic and given multiple ways to build the brand. The ‘building brand using organization workplace’ concept where is really interesting. He has given multiple examples how they have done this successfully in Mind tree. I won’t be fair on my part to give out complete details. I would suggest the reader to buy the book and read.

People who read by blogs regularly would have observed I personally admire Mindtree and ITTIAM from a long time. These two stand for a high end services and product examples, started by senior folks from Wipro and TI. I call them as ‘second generation’ companies and it is extremely important to learn from experience of these folks. Now that Mindtree’s IPO is on the cards (read my blog ‘Mindtree going public’) Mr. Bagchi has done an excellent job of sharing their experience with aspiring Entrepreneurs by writing this book.