10 Characteristics of Companies that Succeed

What differentiates companies that succeed over a long run from those that don’t? As the rate of change and disruption continues to accelerate, companies need a strong foundation of fundamentals that enable long term success and growth.

In this respect, I recently read Leandro Herrero’s post on characteristics of companies that succeed in long run. 10 characteristics are outlined in the sketch note below.

Also Read:

In 100 Words: Agility and Embracing Uncertainty

We are comfortable with what is predictable. This impacts our choices because we want to maximize the chances of success.

Then, once in a while, we are thrown into situations where we have no control. It compels us to carve a way out and create a map as we go. We learn the most here.

The key to success in VUCA world is to embrace the uncertain without waiting to be thrown into it. That which is predictable merely keeps us in the game but when we embrace (and succeed at) the new and the uncertain, we elevate our performance.

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Also Read: Parables in 100 Words

How To Get Better? Focus on ‘Touch Time’

In manufacturing, “touch-time” is when the raw material actually touches the machinery and moves one level up in the production cycle. In a factory, more capacity to produce does not yield results if “touch-time” is low. In lean methodology, it is also referred to as “processing time”.

As a professional, you have required skills and knowledge that increases your capacity to deliver. But that is of no use if your “professional touch-time” is less i.e. time when your unique abilities and talents are at work to produce meaningful results. In a typical work day, how often do we get sucked into activities that adds no or little value but just ends up filling the time?

If you are a programmer, what percentage of your time is spent in actually writing/improving code and building awesomeness into your software? If you are a sales professional, how much of productive time do you spend on reporting/MIS versus actually talking to a prospect and making a sale? If you are a CEO, how much of your time goes into driving strategy versus implementing tactics? If you are a writer, how many hours per day goes into actual writing?

When you are in “touch” with your work, you become better. You concentrate. You start spotting opportunities to improve. You optimize it. Nuances of your work start showing up. You build a serious expertise and get creative. You start adding “real value” to the customers.

The only way to improve quality of our work is to do the real work – not just preparing for it, but doing it.

Critical questions then are: When did you last measure how you spend your productive time in the day? What is your professional touch-time?

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In 100 Words: The Art of Seeing Possibilities

Benjamin Zander’s book “The Art of Possibility” starts with this story:

A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business.

One sends back a telegram saying, SITUATION HOPELESS. STOP. NO ONE WEARS SHOES.


How often does fear win over our hopes and dreams? We constantly keep thinking about our frustrations but not about the potential that we still have in us. Don’t let your failures so far interfere with what is still possible for you to do.

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Also Read: Other 100 Word Parables

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Bonus: See Benjamin Zander in action in this Pop!Tech 2008 Video where he shows what it means to live in a world of possibilities.

In 100 Words: Generosity and Growing Others

Photograph by Tanmay Vora


The best way to grow is to help others grow. In process of elevating others, you have to elevate yourself. However, you have to adopt a posture of generosity and abundance.

In school, I heard a story of a farmer who was known for producing best crops and sharing his best seeds with other farmers in the vicinity.

When asked why, he said, “It is a selfish act. Winds collect pollens and carry it to adjacent fields.  If my neighbors use the best crop, the quality of my crop would also go up.”

What seeds are you sharing with others?

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Friday Reflection: The ‘Real’ Powers!

This morning when I was praying, God again appeared. HE gently put His hand on my head and said –

My Son,

Most people live with an illusion that real power is in wealth. In degrees. In material.

They spend most of their lives looking for power “somewhere out there”.

I have “gifted” each human being with great powers that lie “within” them.

The power to think. Imagine. Visualize.

To choose your battles.

To choose between mediocrity and greatness.

The power to understand, listen and relate with other human beings.

To see the best in them.

The power to read. To grasp. To learn.

The power to walk. Talk. Choose your words.

The power to change your perspectives. Shape your attitude.

To focus. To concentrate. To direct your energies.

The power to smile. The power to love others.

You can create whatever you decide to.

Ability to decide – that is your supreme strength.

So, look within. Not outside.

That is where your real powers are.

I have gifted you – will you care to unwrap these gifts?

Also read: An earlier conversation with God – “The Focus is on YOU”.

Photo by Tanmay Vora: Core of a flower at Esplanade Park, Helsinki, Finland

Explicit versus Tacit – Content versus Process

Difficult situations like slowdown force organizations/managers to do cost-benefit analysis. Salary you are paid is a cost and what you do in the organization for that cost generates value.

Value has two components – tangible and intangible.

Tangible value (easier to visualize) is explicit knowledge of subject (e.g. knowledge of .NET programming or software testing), revenue, efficiencies, numbers etc. This is important.

Intangible value (which is also hard to visualize) is tacit knowledge, knowledge on processes, knowledge on how to deal with typical situations/clients, attitude, different ways of doing things, workarounds etc. This is hard to visualize and measure. But impact of this value is huge.

So from organization/manager’s standpoint – it is important to see value as a sum-total of tangible and intangible value that someone brings on board while rewarding or hiring.

In this regards, I loved what Seth Godin has written in his post “What are you good at?”. He writes about explicit versus tacit knowledge. Crux is that explicit knowledge on subject can be easily learnt. Tacit knowledge only comes with experience within and outside the organizations. There are no shortcuts to acquire tacit knowledge.

Seth Godin writes:

As you consider marketing yourself for your next gig, consider the difference between process and content.

Content is domain knowledge. People you know or skills you’ve developed. Playing the piano or writing copy about furniture sales. A rolodex of movers in a given industry, or your ability to compute stress ratios in your head.
Domain knowledge is important, but it’s (often) easily learnable.

Process, on the other hand, refers to the emotional intelligence skills you have about managing projects, visualizing success, persuading other people of your point of view, dealing with multiple priorities, etc. This stuff is insanely valuable and hard to learn. Unfortunately, it’s usually overlooked by headhunters and HR folks, partly because it’s hard to accredit or check off in a database.

Knowing difference between explicit and tacit aspects of one’s knowledge is very crucial from an individual standpoint.

I can easily relate contents of this post with Tom Peter’s saying “Hard is soft. Soft is Hard.” More elaboration on this in the next post.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Great Quote – Comfort Zone and Complacency

This wonderful quote comes straight from Guerrilla Consulting Blog – where Mike McLaughlin refers to this quote by Harry Beckwith

“…comfort nudges us dangerously close to complacency, and nothing good comes from that. It kills businesses, dulls lives, and encourages nothing better than ordinary. Our greatest blessings come from people who refused to be complacent, whether it was Beethoven or the Beatles.”

Too much of comfort is not a good sign – and managers/leaders needs to constantly introspect, ask difficult questions to self and be on the edge. I have seen many people in my career span who are averse to trying something new – because it requires them to move out of their comfort zone.

I was reading an article (not sure where!) on Intrapreneurship and I loved the term coined by author – “From Comfort Zone to Courage Zone”. Journey from comfort to courage may turn out to be adventurous and even uncomfortable initially – but it is worth giving a try! Because that is where all the growth lies.

Update 07/26: Great and timely quotes on Confidence Building in today’s Times Of India daily in Sacred Space. Here they go –

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started. – Marcus Garvey

Hindsights from Guy Kawasaki

I simply love the way Guy Kawasaki writes. I have linked to his articles on this blog earlier and every time I read him, I end my reading with some realization, some learning and something more to ruminate upon.

Today, I stumbled upon a great piece he wrote way back in 2006 called “Hindsights” on his blog. While I strongly recommend reading this piece at his blog, here are a few excerpts for those who are running short of time 🙂

“Pursue joy, not happiness. Take my word for it, happiness is temporary and fleeting. Joy, by contrast, is unpredictable. It comes from pursuing interests and passions that do not obviously result in happiness.” –

“My father was a senator in Hawaii. His dream was to be a lawyer, but he only had a high school education. He wanted me to be a lawyer. For him, I went to law school. For me, I quit after two weeks. I view this a terrific validation of my inherent intelligence. And when I quit, neither of my parents were angry. They loved me all just the same.”

“One of the biggest mistakes you can make in life is to accept the known and resist the unknown. You should, in fact, do exactly the opposite: challenge the known and embrace the unknown.”

“You’re learning in a structured, dedicated environment right now. On your parents’ nickel. But don’t confuse school and learning. You can go to school and not learn a thing. You can also learn a tremendous amount without school.”

“Learn to like yourself or change yourself until you can like yourself.”

“Winning is also a means to play again. The unexamined life may not be worth living, but the unlived life is not worth examining.”

“By and large, the older you get, the more you’re going to realize that your parents were right. More and more-until finally, you become your parents. I know you’re all saying, “Yeah, right.” Mark my words.”

Some great hindsights represented with equal profoundness – Isn’t it?