Sunday, May 31, 2009

Rules of Life

Monday, May 25, 2009

Real Life Slumdog Millionaire-a true inspiration

His story is an inspiration for millions. A self-made entrepreneur, his mission
is to help the poor through job creation. E Sarathbabu hit the headlines after
he rejected several high profile job offers from various MNCs after he passed
out of IIM, Ahmadabad[Rank1 in Indian Management institutes] two years ago.

He instead started a catering business of his own, inspired by his mother who
once sold idlis on the pavements of Chennai, worked as an ayah(domestic helper) in an Anganvadi(free food center by indian govt for poor kids)to educate him and his siblings. As a child, he also sold idlis in the slum where he lived. "We talk about India shining and India growing, but we should ensure that people do not die of hunger. We can be a developed country but we should not leave the poor people behind. I am worried for them because I know what hunger is and I still remember the days I was hungry," says Sarathbabu.

In August 2006, Sarathbabu's entrepreneurial dream came true with Foodking. The "foodking" still lives in the same hut in Madipakkam in Chennai. Today, Foodking has six units and 200 employees, and the turnover of the company is Rs.32 lakh a month. But it has not been a bed of roses for Sarathbabu. After struggling and making losses in the first year, he managed a turnaround in 2007.

How has his experience as a 'Foodking' been in the last two years? In his own words-
A tough beginning as I am a first generation entrepreneur, the first year was very challenging. I had a loan of Rs 20 lakh by the end of first year. I had no experience in handling people in business, and it was difficult to identify the right people.Though I made losses in the first year, not even once did I regret my decision of not accepting the offers from MNCs and starting an enterprise of my own. I looked at my losses as a learning experience. I was confident that I would be
successful one day.
Sleeping on the railway platform
My first unit was at IIM, Ahmadabad. When we started our second unit in October 2006, I thought now I would start making money. But I made losses of around Rs 2000 a day. A first generation entrepreneur cannot afford such a loss. But I worked really hard, working till 3 a.m. in the morning. What reduced my losses were the birthday party offers.

I started the third unit again in Ahmadabad but it also made losses. All my units were cafeteria and I understood then that the small cafeterias do not work; I needed huge volumes to work. My friends who were extremely supportive in the first year when things were difficult for me. I had taken loans from my IIM-A friends. They were earning very well.
In December 2006, an IIM Ahmadabad alumni event took place in Mumbai and I decided to go there mainly to get a contract. I was hopeful of getting it. I also knew that if I got the huge contract, I would come out of all the losses I had been incurring.
I booked my train ticket from Ahmadabad to Mumbai for Rs 300 and I had Rs 200 in my hand. As the meet went on till late at night, I could reach the station only at midnight. I missed the train. I decided to sit on the platform till the morning and travel by the next train in the morning. I didn't have the money to check into a hotel. I didn't want to disturb any of my friends so late at night.

It was an unforgettable night as I was even shoved off by policemen from the platform. It was quite insulting and embarrassing. After two hours, people started moving in, I also went in.
A man who sat next to me on the platform gave me a newspaper so that I could sleep. I spread the newspaper and slept on the platform! I sleep well. I got my ticket refund in the morning and went back to Ahmadabad. And, luck did not favour me, I didn't get the contract.

In March 2007, I got an offer to start a unit at BITS, Pilani (Sarathbabu was an alumnus of BITS,Pilani). That was the first medium break for me. For the first time, I started making profits there though the other units continued to make losses. The reason for our success at BITS, Pilani was the volume; there were more students and there was a need for a unit like ours while in Ahmadabad, they have at least a hundred options.

If I made Rs 5000 a day at Ahmadabad in two shifts, here I made Rs 15,000 a day. BITS, Pilani unit gave me the confidence to move on. Unless you make money, you can't be confident in business.

What changed my fortune
When all my friends who worked for various MNCs made good money every month and I made losses with my venture. But I kept telling myself, I am moving in the right direction to reach my ambition and vision. My dream was to provide employment and I was doing just that. I continued to work till 3a.m. but I never felt tired.

Through BITS, Pilani, I got the BITS, Goa contract and that was the biggest break for me. It was not a cafeteria like the earlier ones but the dining hall that we got. We had to feed 1300 students. We started our operations in July 2007. At Rs 50, for 1300 students, our sale was Rs65,000 per day. We soon started making a profit of Rs 10 to 15,000 a day. Around 60 to 70 people work there. I gave the charge of the Ahmadabad operations to one of my managers and moved to Goa.
I was still in debt by Rs 15-20 lakhs but I knew BITS, Goa would keep my dream alive. Within six months of starting our operations in Goa, I repaid all my debt.
I was called to give a speech at the SRM Deemed University. After the speech, I asked the Chancellor, can you give me an opportunity to serve in your campus?? He said, "If not you, to whom will I give such an opportunity?" It's a food court but a big one, similar to the one at BITS,Pilani. There are around 17,000 students there.

Other than the six units, I have approached a few more universities and corporate houses too. In the first year, I had made a loss of Rs 25 lakh. Right now, we have a turnover of Rs 32 lakh every month, which works out to 3.5 crore (Rs 35 million) a year.

I have hired about 200 people. Indirectly, we touch the lives of around 1000 people. By this year end, we will have 500 people working for us. Only 10% of my workers are educated, the rest are uneducated. I want to make a change in their lives. If they have any problem, I will take care of it. We support the marriages and education of poor families. We are paying more to the employees as the company is doing well. Now that the foundation is strong, I plan to have ten units and a turnover of Rs 20 crore (Rs 200 million) turnover by next year.

His advice: Never give up!

In the last two years, I have given more than 120 lectures in various institutions in India.When I got the first opportunity to speak, I thought God had given me an opportunity to encourage or inspire entrepreneurs. When youngsters tell me they are inspired, I feel good.
When you just dish out the theory, nobody believes you. But when you do it, they believe you.What I tell them is based on my own experiences.
When I thought of starting a company, I felt India needed 100 people like Narayana Murthy and Ambani. If 100 such people support 2 lakh people each, imagine how many Indians get supported.
Entrepreneurship is needed to uplift the poor. It is not easy to be an entrepreneur,
especially a first generation entrepreneur.
There will be lots of challenges in the beginning but you should learn to look for the light at the end of the tunnel.
Never give up even if there are hurdles. There are many who give up within a week.

You need determination and a tough mind to cross the initial hurdles.

If you are starting without much money, you should not have any overhead expenses.
He still lives in the same hut
As I am in the food business, I know how much the price of every food item has gone up. Many people will languish in poverty because of inflation. Had my mother been working as an Anganvadi ayah today and earning Rs 1500, she would not have been able to feed us and educate us. On the one side, we talk about India shining and India growing, but we should ensure that people do not die of hunger. We can be a developed country but we should not leave the poor people behind. I am worried for them because I know what hunger is and I still remember the days I was hungry. That is why I feel it is our responsibility to take care of them.

I wanted to buy a car and a house for my mother. I bought a car first, not a house. I still live in the same house, the same hut. I can build a house right now but I want my business to grow a little more. I feel good in the hut; that?s where I get my energy, that's where I lived 25 years of my life. I want to remind myself that the money and fame should not take me away from what I want to achieve.

But within six months, I will build a good house for my mother. Her only advice to me is,don't waste money.
Till I was in the 10th, there was no electricity in my house. I had to sit near the kerosene lamp and concentrate hard. That's how I learnt to concentrate.
The two year journey has been very enriching. It seems like a 20-year journey for me. I was living every moment of the two years, from sleeping on the Mumbai railway station platform to this level.
Food king as on today May 26 2009 has an annual turnover of 20+ crores and still going Strong.
Thats the power of dreams.Nothing is impossible if we could believe and work consistently towards it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

How to improve our self image with positive affirmations

We are,what we think we are.We are the creators of our own self.If that is the case, why do many of us often use terms like "Fool","Idiot" "Stupid" etc to ourselves.When we say such things are we aware that our subconcious mind is recording it? "Any idea, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought. " says Napoleon Hill.So by saying such things often we slowly start to believe them as FACT.

It is the same case if somebody else is drummimg these words into your mind ever so often.Keep away from them because we dont want those words to become our reality.Eventough in reality we know these words are lies, repeating this lie often is enough for us to start to believe it. This is particularly true when a lot of emotion is put into it as is generally the case when we say negative things to ourselves.

The negative self-talk is usually accompanied by feelings of anger, frustration, humiliation, resentment, etc. and often leads to depression. These emotions allow the self-talk to penetrate the sub-conscious mind.
Repeating these sentiments over and over again tricks our mind to believe all those lies and making them into reality.Our mind is the fertile land which can grow whatever we sow into our reality.If we sow good seeds of fruit bearing trees we are rewarded by fruits.But if we allow weeds to grow they grow thorny trees.By this negative self-talk we are planting seeds of weeds all over our fertile land.And finally when harvest time arrives we again see we have nothing but thorns and repeat the vicious negative cycle.

Problem with us is, over the time we get comfortable with our thorns.We conveince ourselves that we are only capable of such a reward.We get comfortable with our poverty,stupidness etc.We never stop to think.We do not realize the worth of our mind.This is the pity.When we have the abundance hidden in us we compromise with our measly lives.We live and die thinking others got lucky in life.They were blessed with smartness while we were not.NO..It is not true.We should not do such a big harm to ourselves.

How can we choose nothingness when we are blessed with abundance? We cannot be our own enemy.So what is to be done? CHANGE OF THOUGHTS. But we dread change.Eventough we want a properous life we do not try to put in the effort required to shift to positive thoughts.Well, it is up to us to decide.If we want our lives to be happy and prosperous we need to make that effort.WE NEED TO STOP NEGATIVE TALKS ABOUT US and USE POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS ON A DAILY BASIS.

Using positive affirmations regularly will commence the gradual process of the re-conditioning your sub-conscious mind.Weeding our garden will not be easy.We need lots of patience and persistance to do that.To gaurd against negative thoughts regularly needs a lots of focus and attention and a strong resolve to be positive.Once achieved it will shower us with so much abundance we could have never even dreamt about.
Saying positive affirmations such as: “I am rich…I have a healthy body…I am very successful” may seem crazy to someone who doesn’t understand mind dynamics. But even if your present circumstances do not support your positive affirmations, repeating positive affirmations forms an important role in conditioning your sub-conscious to produce the results you desire in your life.

Its not going to be easy- Saying "Iam Rich" when there is next to nothing in our bank account may not seem rational.But we should FAKE TILL ME MAKE it in our minds.Our mind has to believe our positive lies.
Claude Bristol, author of “The Magic of Believing” said,
“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”
Napoleon Hill in his ever famous classic "Think and Grow Rich" stresses this fact and dedicates one full chapter [4] for conditioning our brain to achieve what we want to be.He stresses that when we say those positive affirmations we should put all your earnest emotions to those words. Mere words of affirmations will not work. Just as anger and frustration go with negative affirmations to make it true, we need to add faith and a burning desire when we use positive affirmations when we try to change.Words mixed with emotions sure reach our subconcious mind real quickly and they start painting a fresh smart picture of us.Our fruit trees will grow soon and we will taste abundance soon.As long as we believe in it..

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Titan- John D.Rockefeller's biography

I first started reading the book Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.[the biography of John D.Rockefeller,the founder of standard oil and the world's first billionaire] looking for an answer as how few could become very very wealthy- what makes them deserve this uncomparable success.Just out of curiosity.I found all my answers there.The certain qualities emphasized by him can be used in any given era.We can easily compare his success to the Titans of today like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.The author's thorough and objective study makes it very informative and extremely useful.
Titan by Ron Chernow is a must read for all of us intrested in improving ourselves.It is no ordinary biography.It lays out in detail how Rockfeller grew from very humble beginnings to unphanthomable heights of success in later life.It tells us even how he organized himself,how he motivated himself and what type of work ethics he followed.It is all about standing on your own two feet and making the most of what you have without anybody's help. All he had was a strong work ethic, a desire to learn and a sharp mind.That was his only investment.He achieved such a huge success all by himself.I complain so many times as to my background,my parents circumstances etc that had stopped me from reaching my big dreams.I used to say, if only my parents were rich enough i could have gone for some good universities and continued my studies.I used to complain of my financial position attributing to my circumstances.I used to complain about my knowledge level attributing to lack of time and so on..NEVER WILL I EVER DO THAT AGAIN.
Mind is were all the riches are made,It is where we decide whether we will be successful or not.Whether we will get what we want.This book showcases his strong will and decision to succeed.His rise and risk taking.His dedication to his dreams and finally his desire to serve the community.The intresting thing here is this book talks about his greatness in philanthropy and his ruthlessness in competition with the same tone.Making it all the more controversial.
No other book inspired me this much.I felt a sudden shot of tremendous energy.Felt like i could reach for all my dreams and make them into reality.I felt very powerful.If he could do it so can i. I have read many a biographies, but this one sank deeply into my mind leaving a very bright light of hope.

You may also like to read Lee Kuan Yew- Father of Singapore and Arnold Schwarzenegger- Mr.Infinite capabilities

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hope- Short poem

Days of fun and
Days of woe,
all that makes our everyday.
times of test and
times of strength
all that makes our life as such.

when times are such
and going gets tough
hard u push and still r stuck
and the path is oh so rough
nothing helps but ur hope.

Days of gloom just do not last
pain will soon be lost in past.
keep that glowing hope upright
all thats bent will soon be straight.

Living up through stromy days
needs a heart with stronger pace
when pain and sorrow doom ur way
rays of hope will shine ur face
Sit there tight and let it pass
See even desert grows the grass
There's a time for everything
snowy nights and bright sunshine!

when health and wealth and
everything is lost
still u can make ur life to blast
Stick to ur hope and fight it back
until u lose hope,nothing is lost!
Hope and pray for goodtimes soon
and u search for ways to hone.
Hope is the dream of a waking man
Stick to your hope,am sure you can!