Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Final 100 Days : Day 1

I love 100 days. They focus my mind. I am somehow used to this number 100 - they are sufficiently long to appeal to my long term nature, but not very long to forget about what I need to do. I have done this before - and the 100 days go a long way driving my transformation. And, transform I must, I keep finding my inadequacies, and must change to make my life more meaningful.

So, a fresh start yet again. This 100 days will take me to the 3rd of August. By then, I shall be almost out of English training project and work on whatever I do next. At this time, I am very keen to spending a year in the university, fine tuning my marketing knowledge and skills. Provided I can find the money, of course. Besides, I am trying to evangelize at least one business in India. And, trying to find myself some employment which keeps me going indeed.

Within these 100 days, I also have to finish my dissertation for my MA. I haven't done much, but I know I would love to do the work. Sort numerous things out related to my stay in England, small stuff but ones I ignored for months and can not keep that way any longer. I possibly have to move my house, to wherever I go to for Uni. This looks busy already.

Besides, I have to travel. I can see Poland, Dubai, Philippines, India, Bangladesh - all on the agenda. I wish to leave the project with whatever I promised, a good spread. I shall surely give it one final shot.

I have lived with this English training project for such a long time now, it will be hard to give it up. But I must give it up. Bottom of my heart, I know that this isn't going to work in the current format. Yes, I am a problem too - the very fact that I am too proud to complain and too trusting - but then there are other problems outside my control. One almost expects me to be a gladiator to fight my corner in the business, but I have too many fights to fight at the same time and thought I could do with one less.

I tried. I had this idea how an English training business can work in India. And, in the Philippines. These countries speak English, indeed - or so we think. They are divided countries. The people we meet speak English, sure, what else would you expect of a person who got invited in the embassy reception? But then they are not the whole country. They are not even the majority - they are still a tiny tiny minority. English serves as the gatekeeper of privilege in these countries. You get invited if you speak English, not if you don't.

My idea was to break this gate. Democratize the access to English. Turn this - from a language of privilege - to a language of possibility. I chose this particular English training method because this is one of the smartest methods I have seen around. This embedded technology, which I loved. I could see how this could be delivered low cost. I loved the fact that this is a bi-lingual method, though could never explore that in full potential till date.

Oh yes, I was told that 'Indian' learners can not take this training because they are particularly lazy and they need to be taught. By a teacher, of course. She did not know how patronizing I find that stance. That is exactly the stance of privilege that I so despise. Lazy? I think the aspiring Indian middle classes are one of the most hardworking people we can find anywhere in the world. But they are respectful - they won't break the gate if you try to protect it - and that's the problem. What we needed to do is to sit down with them and say - look Pal you can do it much better than anyone and you are going to do it yourself - and start the transformation.

Though, I was obviously wrong about the business model. Every business is what its investor wants to make of it. I came with a huge baggage, as I worked on this concept many months before I got paid to do it, and I came with this huge goal in mind. But, then, I knew this is the only way to do it. I saw the transformation computer training companies brought about in India when they took computer training to the villages and made it universal. I was sold about it, wanted to build a similar model. I did know that it will take efforts and investment, and I was so excited that I did not notice that the investors are saying that they are in it for money. If I was taking them as VCs, I would not have taken them. But then, this was their business and I was brought in to run this business.

Instead of complaining, though, I tried everything else. I tried cross-subsidization through premium rate corporate training. I tried haggling the supply terms with equally obstinate and unrealistic partners. I tried pushing people to make fairly unreasonable sacrifices. Time has not come yet to chronicle my mistakes, but there was one big one - I was too forgiving at times. I know now. If you have a dream, you need to protect it; be nasty if you need to be. I was never nasty. I was snipped at, continuously, the usual corporate way. But I mostly ignored it and allowed that to happen, accepting the criticism when it was correct. It does not work that way in India, I forgot. Besides, most of the criticism was plain crap, and I should have called it long back. The other big mistake was that I was too forgiving, made too many adjustments. That did not help either. Yes, I got it now - one of the key reasons I failed to achieve what I wanted to do was that I did not do enough to protect it.

But, then, I must go now. Because even if I strive to correct my side of the deal, I have understood that this project is never going to work because of its stakeholders. They are in it for money. I see nothing wrong in that. Just that you don't get into a business you don't know about just for money. Money is a rather obvious goal, and one must have a clear idea what else made them interested in the business. And, frankly, I have been asking this question for many many months, and never got a better answer.

So, anyway, this is Day 1 of my journey. In the next 100 days, I transform myself and the business I run and make this ready for handing over. The motto for these days is clear for me - never leave for tomorrow what you can do today. This was a big problem for me indeed. I was stuck in a waiting mode, primarily infused by the British government's requirement of five years of waiting time before I get my Indefinite Leave to Remain. But then I know that I am wasting my time and I can not do it any longer. So, there I start again - in a new 100 day journey!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am very much disappointed about your 100 Days project. At April 7th u took the 3 months countdown project & before a month you are talking about another 100 days plan? Are you sure that what you do you want?

Supriyo Chaudhuri said...

Thanks for this comment and for keeping track. You are right - I started something on 3rd April. Certain events in the intervening time forced me to change my plans. The first was a certain positive development in the course of our business which gives me the hope that I can actually leave it in good shape given a certain amount of time. I have had detailed conversation with my employers to tell them that my decision to leave is non-negotiable and that end date is 31st August. If there was any uncertainty about this on the 3rd of April, this now stands resolved. Also, I changed my mind and decided to stay in England longer, and currently not planning to go back around September time as I was initially thinking. The plans to go to the university has firmed up since, and I may actually take a bigger risk and attempt a complete career change if I do this. In summary, I am feeling free and therefore a new plan was indeed in order.

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