Introduction Imagine this situation. You have five plus years of experience in many aspects of accounts and financial management, in a leading cement organization belonging to a conglomerate. You are keen to shift to the Chennai headquarters of another competitor. You have been called for an interview.
Now comes the most important thinking on your part. Here is when you have to put on your thinking cap. Who are your likely competitors? You have applied in response to their advertisement. Here are the chances. a) At least one more could be from the cement industry b) You are yet to pass the ICWA Final examination, but your competitor(s) might have done so c) At least one could come from the engineering industry and d) they might have had far better roles in this five years of experience, which is decidedly the "other-things-being-equal" common denominator.
So, when you start imagining such possibilities (yes possibilities, for nothing, is sure), your chances of success will revolve around how articulate you are in presenting every single opportunity that you swing some cost-cutting exercise in the company's favor, or contributed to the increased cash flow by
negotiating better terms with the suppliers and so on. If you had any role in any sort of process related cost cutting, do have complete details with all details stored in a file. This is exactly what is meant by the ability to excel in "other-things-being-equal" situations. The world is never going to be static. There will be changes. There will be imperatives for you to acquire fresh knowledge at all times. You must run to stay where you are.
The need to excel in "other-things-being-equal" situations is more acute than ever before. It is very relevant for those who are employed in different professions and entrepreneurs in different fields. It is also hugely relevant for those who are professionals in arts like music, dance, etc. The crux of the steps are a) identifying current challenges b) creating niches as a way of life c) Making deep inroads into competitors through creative strategies d) Be or become best in class and create only "and" and not "either or" possibilities and e) Continuously aim for excellence.
Identifying current challenges This is the first thing to always do. This could relate to any situation. Let us take a practical example. A person wants to reach Chennai Central in the fastest fashion from Velacheri. The news channels carry news that a road roko by a political party. How does one reach there quickly and without fuss? One might start early, but the political party might create any problem anywhere, particularly on the crucial Mount Road. The best is to take the shared auto up to Guindy station, get into a metro train and travel in the air-conditioned coach and reach the destination in style. In this alternative, there has been a minimum risk and the challenge has been crossed effortlessly.
Current challenges will vary with every situation. Whether it is a fairly rich upper-middle-class home or even the rich class the need to save money and pump into long-term investment vehicles is a real and urgent challenge. There is no choice here. The other current challenges will be upbringing of children with the right values, avoiding daily fights with life partners, managing difficult bosses at work and so on.
The list of such challenges might be very long. Yes, every child has competitors. This is their and your challenge too, as a parent. This is an "other-thing-being-equal" situation. Yet, if you live through the best values and teach your children the same, you would have met a big challenge and conquered it so successfully. They will never ever get even faint thinking to cut corners in life. Or to be corrupt.
With every single situation, like the interview situation described above, the nature of the challenges will keep on varying from time to time. The harsh reality is that the challenges are real.
Another big challenge. Pollution. It affects the very rich and you. And it affects the very poor too. Take the drinking water. The Rs.25,000 one-time investment for an RO and UV plant at home is absolutely essential. Then comes the recurring expense of Rs.5,000 to change the membrane or whatever every year. Translates into something like Rs.11 per day. This is far better than spending thousands for doctors. And then air pollution? The best is to follow natural remedies to increase resistance power to any form of infection. Going for walks is compulsory. Or some sort of physical exercise. The list goes on and on.
For a retailer in the mid-category with a "touch-and-feel" environment, fighting the competition from the likes of Big Bazaar would mean additional investment in air-conditioning and the ability of the sales girls to quickly cater to the needs of the customer. Even a small bit of anger exhibited can put off someone hundred customers. This is vital. So, the current challenges will vary from situation to situation. They are always real.
Creating niches as a way of life Not so far away from the bustling Central bus-stand in Salem, is a superb organic restaurant. It thrives on the word-of-mouth publicity. It is a big hit with slightly upper-middle-class people and the rich. The rates are somewhat high, but the range of dishes is simply superb. Its environment is deliberately created to assure you a typical, relaxed environment. The young staff (mostly students who work part-time) are always taught to be kind to customers.
This is one big example of a niche. Every human being has to figure out these possibilities. We do have the need to create niches wherever we go. At work, the ability to do multi-tasking and take on challenges with the different sets of roles assigned to a person will be a big challenge. A real chance of creating a niche.
The ability of Kamal Hassan to stand out in various superb performances has been often praised at the international level. He still has a niche. Rajnikanth has a big niche. The late actor Smitha Patil had a superb niche. In Tamil, the late Shoba was a typical example.
At the national level, the director Mani Ratnam is well known for really superb films. They will have a mix of modernity and tradition. The emotions will be natural and will blend with the present day youth. These are all examples of a clear niche. Mani Ratnam is a big draw in the cities. The educated youth always flock to the multiplexes to watch his movies. Even his recent "Chekka Shivanda Vanam" that had a huge amount of violence was a hit in Chennai, only because of his appeal to the youth.
The need to create niches in life is very real.
Making deep inroads through creative strategies By being a versatile actor who can take on different roles, the rather young Tamil actor Vijay Sethupathi, an upcoming actor, is slowly eating into the market share of his competitors. The producers flock to him as his rates are somewhat reasonable and he is also disciplined.
The Hindu Business line is another typical example. This business newspaper from The Hindu group is priced at Rs.8/- per day. It still has a good market share, because its spread of content is so good and is very useful for anyone interested in serious research. Its ability to cover a huge canvas of business news is reportedly responsible for its Number two position. The likes of Financial Express from the Indian Express group have been left far behind.
At work, the ability to organize is always a vital variable. Bosses always want quick data. Even much more than what they require. Your ability to store such data in various files with password protection and adequate backup, and the ability to retrieve the files and data whenever required, will obviously win you many hearts. The list goes on and on. Creativity is always something that is innate in us. It is there in each one of us. How we use it in different situations is a big variable for success. You need to figure out the variables for success. Your ability to figure out the vital variables will always lead you to success.
Be or become best in class and create only "and" possibilitiesThose who visit Chennai always flock to a superb outfit called Krishna Sweets to buy the best quality sweets. They also go to another outfit called the Grand Sweets. These are typical examples of "and" realities. The ability of these two players to be consistent at all times in their quality and delivery variables is the key to their success.
The Hindu newspaper in Chennai is equivalent to someone's filter coffee. The customer may buy Times of India. However, The Hindu is an "and" variable only. It goes on and on. Those who switch to competitors come back to The Hindu.
Those who listen to serious Carnatic Music listen first to the legendary M.S. Subbalakshmi. Those she is no more, her ability to be always best in class is something so unique. The Apple iPhone is the first choice of the upper middle class. So is the laptop. The first choice. The "and" variable is a game so superbly done. Each of us has the ability to become "and" players at different stages of life and not just 'either or'. Well, even if you are 72, and have relatives caring for you is something that speaks for itself. The list is endless.
Continuously aim for excellence This is another important thing. The more we understand what needs to be done in a particular situation, it becomes much easier for us to be consistent and aim for excellence in what whatever we do, on a continuous basis.
The ability of Ravichandran Ashwin to create magic with his competence to spin the ball with so many variations in a very continuous basis has enabled him to aim for excellence at all times. The younger lot of entrepreneurs who run several small businesses are typical examples of this missionary zeal. For example, the ability of Shobha Builders, a superb name in real estate to be so consistent with its quality has enabled it to find good markets for all its products. TVS is now a big name in the same market in Chennai, as the quality is simply superb.
Examples abound in every walk of life. It is for us to understand such experiences that we see all around and then learn from them.
Conclusion The aforesaid discussion is indicative and not exhaustive. We always face "other-things-being-equal" situations in life. The entire world is changing. We need to understand what we need to do to stay where we are.
We have no choice, either.