Category Archives: General

Theft and Terrorism, Name Any Evil and China will be a Patron

Technology theft, predatory economics and military aggression – this is what China is all about. Add to it the red thief’s blatant support for terrorism and for terror patron Pakistan – as long as its own territory stays clear of terrorism, China will be Pakistan’s big buddy.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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“An Existential Threat to Former Acquirer”

Some stories do not end with the selling of a startup to a tech giant for a fortune.

For those with an innovative spirit and pulse on the market, it is rekindling of the process all over again – as in floating another startup with a product portfolio that challenges the acquirer.

The Forbes report linked to above brings up one such example.

Interestingly, the new Israeli startup already has a valuation higher than that of the one that Cisco bought!

Businesses keep buzzing because of the endless stream of innovations. Creativity is unstoppable fuelled by a thinking mind.

“An existential threat to former acquirer…” – as the Forbes report points out.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Pre-SKO Work is One-Time Activity, Post-SKO Scrutiny Year Long! I

What’s in a Name – SKO, GSM or GSX, It’s Still a Kickoff!

Even as the first month of 2019 has slipped into history, with the second midway through, companies with a calendar fiscal year will have left behind their annual Sales Kickoffs (SKO) and started looking ahead with confidence and competence to close deals.

That’s a fair expectation given that millions in multiples are spent by companies to prepare their frontline personnel for market aggression and success through enablement training at sales kickoffs. From a personnel point of view, SKOs are a fun way to assimilate fresh ideas and pursuit tactics, be they negotiation skills or competitive intelligence or solution trends/roadmaps and deploy them effectively for new customer acquisition.

Genesys SKO Twitter tag

Back to Old Ways – Price May Reign and Selling on Value May Take Backseat

As I interface directly with sales teams at Genesys on the bids I manage, I can sense some fresh post-SKO excitement among them with a keenness to translate the kickoff vision into reality. The strong messaging that resonated throughout the event in Dallas carries potential win themes.

Often, though, once the fun and games are over it is back to old ways – hitting the field and seeking to win on price with value selling taking the backseat. It may not simply mean that all SKO learning is tossed out of the window, just that inflexibility on price may not be prudent as market dynamics differ from region to region.

Where it gets tacky is when price as a deal clincher becomes the norm rather than an exception. In an environment where we have been winning deals with pricing that is much higher than competitors, it is proof that customers are willing to pay more for a superior solution with proven strengths against competition. They are not stray instances, so that momentum must not be lost.

While pre-SKO work is mandatory, post-SKO scrutiny will have to go beyond routine surveys and be year-long even if it is not easy to enforce. Quarterly reporting and business reviews will keep the leadership across how we are tracking in terms of execution of the defined strategy and closure.

Sales Enablement and Winning Proposals

It is not just sales personnel who attend the SKOs, support teams are a part of them – lending an operational hand, chipping in with event-associated work and, significantly, bringing home win themes and strategies they can implement through proposals and presentations.

To that extent, Genesys SKOs have been enabling me to sharpen my proposals with accent on business initiatives, solution differentiation and alignment with the objectives of prospects. At the risk of sounding smug, I must say that I have started putting my 2019 SKO learning to practice as I have the habit of creating custom content that is kept current in alignment with corporate initiatives.

Attending SKOs, Blogging Since 2005!

I have been attending SKOs since 2005 (the year I joined Cisco, the year I started blogging!), with the General Sales Meeting (GSM) in San Francisco being my first. It drew 15,000 Cisco people from around the world, a figure that will perhaps stand at around 20k now. The event appears to have now taken a new nomenclature – Global Sales Experience (GSX) with even an online experiment.

Whatever the name, whatever the medium, there is no dilution in purpose, with every company (Genesys included) holding SKOs sacrosanct – that of giving attendees a big-picture view of business/market evolutions, celebrate successes from the previous year while presenting priorities for the next and getting Sales aligned with corporate objectives and big bets.

Thin Attendance and iPod Prizes to Draw Sales Teams

Cisco had such a big portfolio of solution offerings that a wide range of knowledge-sharing sessions had to be packed into the kickoff. Attendance at many of them was so thin that attractive lucky-draw prizes were thrown in as a bait. Incidentally, I won one as well.

Genesys fared better with good turnouts at the breakouts. Even so, I will be sceptical about whether mere attendance was adequate for the teams to have a fair grip on what was being communicated.

The Changing Face and Power of Social Selling

They were days when social selling was almost non-existent and any blogging and Tweeting only meant the airing of personal viewpoints far removed from the positioning of business value proposition. LinkedIn, too, was generally limited to serving the function of a professional platform (and what a terrific success it was, with no competitor for LinkedIn!) with not much business navigation and selling.

Now, though, networking has taken on a social selling dimension, where profiles get transformed into professional brands for advanced prospecting and sales navigation, enabling users to engage with potential customers online, boost pipelines and hit quotas.

Social selling is a boon when handled well and a bane when missteps occur. It is a great leveller when every employee, irrespective of the position they hold, can contribute to the success of the company they represent.

An active social media presence became imperative for businesses with the fake news venom and competitive misinformation from rivals coming into play, as I had argued in another post here, Maximum Visibility, Minimum Credibility.

Promotional posts and professional prospecting are the two sides of social selling, with both serving businesses well.

Clinton and Cirque de Soleil

The side-track aside, before I quit Cisco in 2010, I attended a few more kickoffs, including the one in Las Vegas when former President Bill Clinton was a keynote speaker. Lance Armstrong was a keynote speaker as well – same time, different halls! Not a cycling fan, so chose to attend the Clinton keynote.

In retrospect, I cannot help thinking that while Clinton had then left behind the Monica Lewinsky taint, Armstrong subsequently slid from unparalleled professional glory into personal ignominy with damning dope exposures.

Cisco kickoffs were very grand, high-spending events (a 50-billion-dollar company can afford to) spread over a week though the company is to a large extent frugal. In Las Vegas, the proposal group I belonged to even took us to the spectacular Cirque de Soleil show as a team. We were in the second row, with Clinton just in front!

They were also hyped up events with a unidimensional pitch, with sales being the heart Cisco. Of course, they are with Genesys as well even if I am tempted to trigger that enduring, never-ending debate on who is paramount – innovators or sellers. Businesses will fall in their tracks if they get into the trap of egotistic equations.

Trailblazing innovations need good salesmanship for market leadership and recognition. Selling is no easy cruise even with the best of products, particularly amid an intense competitive environment. It can be a stormy ride with Sales needing all the multipronged support they can muster for a smooth closure.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Bye Bye A380!

The decision by Airbus to stop making A380 makes business sense for them as they can shift their focus to newer and smaller aircraft such as A350.

For one thing, it was a Super Jumbo that made it mandatory for airports to reconfigure their landing gates to accommodate the A380s. Not many airports were ready for it and, therefore, the potential for new business was less.

I had travelled by A380 many times, including soon after Singapore Airlines launched it for travels to Sydney.

The last couple of months have seen me travel by both A380 and A350, both giving me pleasant flights – to Zurich and San Francisco.

The Premium Economy in A350 to SFO and back did not make me miss Business Class.

With A350, passengers may not miss A380 much!

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Why Does Any Threat to Modi Bug The Straits Times?

Newspaper, part of the Modi Sycophantic Brigade in Singapore??

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s entry has brought about wide smiles and excitement among both politicians and journalists used to seeing the likes of eyesores Uma Bharti and Mayawati, those in Singapore not excluded. Particularly those who are a part of the Modi Sycophants brigade!

If a gleeful BJP leader found her “pretty”, an Indian-origin journalist in Singapore is in a “lather” (an expression he used for his counterparts in his native territory) over the “slender” leader from the Nehru family. I do not wish to contest whether Priyanka is slender though her good looks can easily win over aesthetes!

The opinionated piece does have holes but where there can be no two opinions is in its pro-Modi prejudices.

Indians Overseas, Modi’s Biggest Blind Supporters

This is no surprise as Modi’s biggest supporters are Indians living overseas united by their faith and Hindutva ideology. They include those who had renounced Indian citizenships to own passports from other countries, not excluding some holding governmental or party positions/affiliations in countries such as the U.S.

Local loyalties and nationalism are not valued in those countries where individual freedom trumps all else, unlike in India where Modi’s party expects minorities to follow the majoritarian script and acknowledge that they have Hindu origins.

Priyanka Media collageThat aside, I do not believe Priyanka’s formal induction into politics will make a winning difference to the Congress party headed by her brother, Rahul Gandhi. Her husband, Robert Vadra, is and will remain a liability for the party.

Religion-Centric Thrall

Modi has his followers in a religion-centric thrall and that will be enough to give him another term. He has failed across all frontiers of governance that was far from clean, destroying all tenets of democracy and promoting violence centred around majoritarianism.

If he still enjoys the most support among all politicians that only goes to show how he has changed India from a secular country to one of deep divisions, with the intelligentsia forming his biggest fan base. If the country must rely on the less educated and economically backward classes for redemption from the theocratic mess it has slipped into that itself is the worst of Modi’s failings.

Women, Not Modi’s Biggest Supporters

Rahul and PriyankaI do not think Modi’s support rests on a phalanx of women voters, as The Straits Times writer argues. A man who lives away from his aged mother and wife, a man who represents a party whose leaders have celebrated rapists cannot be someone enjoying the support of women.

Priyanka with Rahul

Moreover, women lost their individuality in Modi’s five years in power that saw Hindutva culture police groups trample down on their rights.

In this context, I fail to see why the opposition will have to rely on Priyanka to bring in votes from women.

PVN and His Tacit Support for Masjid Demolition

Also, late PM Narasimha Rao did not pay a massive price for not paying court to Rajiv Gandhi’s widow, Sonia. First, what a crude and amateurish way to put forth a point of view!

Next, I hold Rao as one of India’s finest prime ministers, but he is also seen as one who did not do enough to prevent the demolition of Babri Masjid. Worse, he is said to have locked himself in a room and remained inaccessible when it was being pulled down. Tacit support? Maybe. That is a more credible reason for why he fell out of favour with Sonia Gandhi.

Indira, Rajiv Assassinations

Back to Priyanka who the writer paints as someone who has not been able to exorcise the ghosts of the assassinations of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

They are tragedies not easy to overcome for anyone from the family. To the writer’s credit, he does not fail to mention that Priyanka, in an act that I think is a demonstration of forgiveness, chose to meet a woman involved in her father’s assassination.

That happened as early as in 2008 (11years ago) when Priyanka took a personal, courageous decision to visit the Vellore jail to meet Nalini, serving a life sentence there.

I don’t understand what that has to do with Buddhism as the commentary links her visit with. Just to give it a Singapore twist?

She was in Vellore to visit the then newly built Sri Lakshmi Narayani Golden Temple.

Here is what Priyanka said about the meeting: “It was my way of coming to peace with the violence and loss I have experienced. I refuse to allow anger, hatred and violence to overpower my life.” Rahul had also concurred with her then, saying, “we don’t carry anger and hate.”

Silly Stance – “Indians Under 40 Have No Memories of Indira”

The writer also thinks that Priyanka bears no resemblance to her grandmother Indira Gandhi and this is contrary to popular perceptions in India. Where it gets ridiculous is with the assertion that even if she had that resemblance that would not have an impact on electoral outcomes as “two-thirds of Indians are below age 40 and have no real memories of Indira.”

indira_gandhi and Lee

By this logic, Indians are so pea-brained that they do not have the capacity to remember leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru as they did not live in their era. They are those who live only in the current and cannot recall people from different eras by their contributions to the country!

Indira Gandhi with Lee Kuan Yew

The commentary is aligned with the aspirations of Modi who wants Indians to remember the likes of assassin Godse and forget Gandhi, Nehru, Indira and every leader other than the current BJP Prime Minister.

Why does The Straits Times want Priyanka to focus on the two family constituencies (referring to Amethi and Rae Bareli) rather than spreading herself too thin? She does not need such unsolicited advice, and that too from a foreign newspaper!

It does not amuse me that The Straits Times allows its journalists to betray their political prejudices and wild opinions. As long as it does not relate to Singapore politics, that is!

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Journalistic Privileges Being Weaponised: Bezos

The Fourth Estate has Long Ceased to be a Pillar of Democracy, it is a Political Tool now!

It is a shame that “weaponising” and abusing journalistic privileges have become the norm globally, taking away whatever sanctity remained with the profession.

But then Jeff Bezos also owns a newspaper that is blatant in its anti-Trump tirade, just as CNN, The New York Times and most publications are.

If indeed he had shared nude pictures of himself with his girlfriend that is symptomatic of the social media / texting malaise that is all pervasive. A man of his stature and age ought not to have been caught in that juvenile swirl!

Shameful journalistic tactics for extortion and political mileage, nonetheless!

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Trump’s Address: A Blend of Confidence and Aggression!

From the Need for the Wall and China’s Patent Thefts to the Vibrant Economy of the U.S., he Minced No Words in Making his Position Clear

My visits to the U.S. have consistently made me think that immigration checks there can be made simpler and consistent without compromising on passenger safety or the nation’s security.

I will keep that for another post and focus on U.S. President Donald Trump’s State-of-the-Union address that I watched live on TV this morning. He demonstrated a blend of confidence and aggression, mincing no words in making his position on critical issues clear. I was particularly impressed with his stand on these five issues:

  1. The Wall Factor: When the Wall goes up, Illegal Crossing Will Come Down
  • Trump cited the examples of San Diego where illegal crossings had come down to near-zero after a wall was built, and of El Paso, where crime rates fell from the highest to the lowest after a barrier went up.
  • Walls work, walls save lives. Compromise and make America safe. I will get the Wall done.
  1. A new trade deal with China, with real structural changes, is needed to end theft of our intellectual property, reduce our trade deficit and protect American jobs
  • Most of the lawmakers in the House stood up in acknowledgement, except a few who included a Chinese-looking representative
  • With the introduction of some tariffs recently “our Treasury is receiving billions of dollars a month from a country that never gave us a dime.”
  1. America was born free and will stay free. It will never be a socialist country
  2. We have more women in the workforce now than ever before. Women are big beneficiaries of new jobs created last year.
  • All women lawmakers rose up in unison to applaud the announcement in what is possibly a politically correct gesture.
  • This included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who, sitting behind Trump, appeared to be an eyesore, to me.
  1. The country is vibrant, the economy is thriving. The only thing that can stop it are wars, ridiculous, partisan investigations.


Spontaneity in Address: There was spontaneity in his address as well, when while watching the unanimity in the standing ovation to his pitch on women, Trump said in a lighter vein: “You were not supposed to do that, thank you very much.”

In his 82-minute address, he brought up many other issues, with a clear sense of focus and authority. The full transcript is available here.

To Trump, it was time for bipartisan actions as the “economic resurgence we see must continue.”

Silly Fact-Checking: But, soon after he completed his address, the partisan media (CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, etc.) went into overdrive dissecting his claims in the name of fact-checking and coming up with unconvincing explanations. Interestingly, they found most of his claims true but to bring discredit to him weaved some context to it.

For the bipartisan reader, they will only be commentaries rooted in political prejudice and not fact-checking in a strict sense.

Trump’s statement right upfront can best sum up the message, delivered with a sense of balance: “Victory is not about which party wins, it is about making the nation win.”

G Joslin Vethakumar

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