The Muscle to Hustle

The longer you stay at a job the weaker your muscle to hustle gets. This makes you less and less suitable for leading a startup.

As you get comfortable in a job or go up the corporate ladder, most of what you do it write emails. You set up processes to control and monitor the day to day so that you have time work on the plans tomorrow. You rarely:

  • Meet customers, especially the unhappy ones
  • Try to promote yourself or your product
  • Face criticism, skepticism publicly
  • Cold call and talk to strangers
  • Get beaten, get up and go at it again (muscle)

You also don’t realize how much effort and time it will take establish new products or services.

Most long time employees, looking to start a company need to be honest about their ability to hustle. They have to realise that they will not be able to make the same amount of money they will with the amount of effort they put in their jobs, especially if you have been at the same job for a while.

Most employees, me included, do not appreciate enough the monetary reward/effort ratio and moan about our jobs more than we should.

A 3 year plan

I had a great chat with a friend and mentor in Seattle this weekend and she reminded me of the power of creating a three year plan. Here is what it accomplished for her:

  • Focusing on the 3 year vision or the “Why” of her plan really helped provide focus to her actions at work
  • She ended up accomplishing everything she set out to do. This was no small feat. She got a masters, got a documentary made and became a director of product development in these 3 years.

I’ve never created such a plan. This is because I have been getting reasonable success at what I’ve wanted to do and things have been going well at work and home. However things can be better at the factory. This said, I now desire to write a plan for 2013-2016 and track progress on it.

As I work on this, I think it might be better to create a list of 40 things I want to do before 40, inspired by the 30 things before 30 blog. But it is still important for me to elicit “Why”. What is the vision behind the to do list?

And.. I think it might help to break down the plan into 3-4 key areas of focus. For example:

  • Job (Professional career plan for the next 3 years)
  • Business (our manufacturing business)
  • Personal (wife, kids, health, vacations)
  • Upskilling (what to learn)

And then try to break it down by year and quarter so it looks something like this:

Time Job Business Personal Upskilling
2013 Oct-Dec
2014 Jan-Mar
2015 Jan-Mar
2016 Jan-Mar

More as I think more about this..



An unfair world

It takes some living to realize how the world is unfair until you assert yourself. And.. asserting yourself is hard and does not come naturally to most. It does not come easily to me but comes very easily to my wife. I’m grateful for that. It balances things out. It prevents people from running over you and your ambitions just ’cause they can.

Always, the easier position for someone to take is to be “slightly” unfair to you rather than taking a stance against the majority to be fair to you and your interests.

For others to stand up for you, you need them to be able to empathise with you. Or, care for you. Why will they do that? They will do that only if they like you or if they know that you will fight back.

So.. assert yourself. Build this muscle. It helps a lot in life and in product management and in leadership.

Dealing with reduced overtime for an extended period of time

Production in our second factory has started to become consistent. We can now manufacture about 700 meters/day in 8 hours. A few months ago, we were making about 780 meters in 11.5 hours of work.

meters hours meters/hour
May-July 780 11.5 67.83
August 700 8 87.50
Percent Improvement 29.01%

In the month of August, we did not need any overtime. So.. while the workers were about 30% more productive, they did not get any benefit infact, they lost all their overtime pay. So.. what should we do as a factory owner? It seems easy to say that we should give them some discretionary pay. Here are the drawbacks of this approach:

  • Workers believe that they deserve the money irrespective of the work they do
  • Workers believe that overtime pay is their right and they are guaranteed to some of it every month

If we dont award the workers for their work then we are not rewarding good behaviour and this leads to following issues:

  • Workers feel that we dont care.
  • Workers may go slow
  • Workers may decide to leave since they are making less money than before
  • Workers may threaten to strike and then we’ll have to pay.. just to keep things going

So I’m not sure.. we are leaning towards paying them 25% of their overtime pay as a reward for consistent performance and hope that it helps them deal with the downturn. And, so that we dont have to deal with stoppages, etc. You could say that we are doing this out of fear. I dont know what to say about that.. some of it is based on fear. Maybe we just dont know what’s the right thing to do in this case.

Just so you know.. this is not the peak season for our business and we are additionally dealing with a sluggish economy.. hopefully things will pick up soon.


I feel good

Its been a while since I’ve felt this good.

I’m firing on all cylinders and accomplishing a lot both at my job and at my dad’s manufacturing business. New products, that I’ve developed seem to be taking hold and I know enough about them to fix issues that arise during production. Further, I was able to find a good vendor for VKE to help us bring our new analog meters to life. This vendor seems accomplished and should be able to allow us to differentiate significantly from the competition.

So yeah.. I feel good.