Easter is a fun British holiday. A little like Christmas but a little too close to Christmas in that it always sneaks up on you. So when I agreed to speak on this panel the day after Easter Monday I didn’t factor being full of chocolate eggs and jet lagged from the clocks going back.
My specialist subject as ever was India. As I prep for my time on Mastermind I took the opportunity to talk about it at Global South event which reading the internet I don’t think actually includes India. Oh well.
Some businesses you start are not so much of a good idea but a nagging obsession that you can’t get rid off.
As a result of several nagging obsessions I decided to create an online clothing brand, selling actual products. Remarkably Kalari Kites took a grand total of 12 hours to launch. This is how I did it…
Seeds for an idea
In a book I read about 10 years ago, the 4 hour Working Week, Tim Ferriss describes two concepts that I haven’t been able to shake off. The first is having a self operational business. When you create technology that is available every hour of every day, having a project that is self sufficient is revolutionary. The other concept is testing your ideas quickly. In Tim’s case faking a t-shirt range and publishing it on ebay to see if there is a customer base.
Goal One : Create a business that runs itself
Which means I can undertake tasks that might be quicker for me to complete but would outsource all operational and ongoing work. I decided I would create a website that show cased my products but sends the orders to a partner that shipped the product. In addition I would have to find a manufacturer to produce my products and a designer to create the brand.
“Ban everyone from speaking hindi in the office”, was the sweeping advice I was given by a fellow Brit upon moving to Delhi. We were both leading large Gurgoan based teams for London headquartered companies and were discussing how hard it was to order a sugar free tea…
As a developer you might learn a few programming languages before specialising in one at work. As a British programmer you might find yourself swapping the union jack for a white flag while you diligently take the u out of colour in your css, but spare a thought for our co-workers in South Asia or Ukraine or Indonesia or anywhere you have outsourced you latest coding project. Who’s English are we using to code in anyway ?
One of the most exciting things about working at Fifty is meeting up with our international diaspora once a quarter. Our most recent meet-up was in Prague, the next is in Barcelona. Reykjavik is the one after. Obviously we are choosing fun, not sucky cities. Its easy, as that is where our team have chosen to live. Ok not Reykjavik, that really is picked for fun.
Functional away days can be incredible, none more so than the ones I have experienced at London 2012. We have learnt to sing, dragon boat race and walked over the Millennium Dome looking like super heroes in blue jump suits. They stick in my memory more than the Games themselves. Sadly one had Boris Johnson banging on about being the murder capital of the world, so even the best organisation can get it wrong.
Yet, Boris was not as jaw dropping or sucky as the off-site that I attended in Goa.
Here is a summary of what I learnt on how to royally screw up.
Subdiffusion: “Tell nobody what is happening”
No one was formally told about this away day. Unless you count office gossip. The one formal email explaining the travel arrangements was sent the night before by the office manager. None of the leadership team explained the plan or issued an agenda. This was a great way to create a sucky start to the experience and let rumours fly. It was only when I saw people from the office at Nizamudean train station did I actually think I might make it to Goa.
Tad obsessed after watching the first episode of the the recent BBC documentary on lions. I didn’t know that lions could count or that they roamed most of the earth some 32 thousand years ago.
I think of Big Cats as fundamental to India. However I was painfully made aware that this is not longer the case. Once on a trip to Jim Corbett’s park I didn’t see a single tiger not even a paw print. Elephant rides desecrated swaths of the so called jungle which was more like a home counties forest found on the edge of a nice cricket field hosting picnickers with their Pimms. Not a vibrant colourful place full of creatures.
The decline of the big cat in the wild makes me sad.
Wild big cats should be preserved and their are countless great campaigns to help. Virgin Airlines are currently showing a documentary on their flights that explores the forest of Burma. The idea is to create a corridor between isolated South Asian tiger communities. In effect creating a highway allowing these amazing creatures to mingle, date and maybe create beautiful cubs.
I have to do my bit. If you have a birthday coming up don’t be surprised if your gift is a Tiger. Adopt a Tiger from the WWF.