Cool Buddies

How to have your own IT Startup at 22 and screw it up by 28 – A definitive guide [by Ratheesh]

Posted in Humour, Job by Ratheesh & Sharada on August 16, 2009

Prologue

Let me be clear about this; you have to be either out of your mind, or being forced to read this article. Even though the author of this article has in-depth knowledge in the field of creating startups, he would rather sell it to you as a book instead of publishing it free on the internet. So don’t count your mangoes before they are pickled. (That’s not an appropriate phrase to use, but it is a tribute to some of you who impress me with your exquisite English).

Confused and Dazed

So you are 22 eh? Just out of college, if you are in Bangalore i.e. And If your mom and dad did not well-plan your conception programme, then you are probably 22 in your college records but 21 in personal life. Anyways, for the safe progress of this guide let us assume you are just 22 and out of college, and did pass out through legitimate means (I can help you otherwise too). Meanwhile, we are also assuming that you have enough money to start a startup. That would be about 15 bucks… oops sorry, that is what it takes to buy a masala dosa, and I am deviating here.

So since you have the money and all that, lets see what you lack. You lack guidance, confidence, direction and an awful lot of other sophisticated items that I can enlighten you with. Well.. that is exactly why you are reading this. Let us understand the most important term first. What is a startup?

A startup is a company that you ‘start’ and the only way it can pretend to go is ‘up’. Thats it! There it is, I just blurted it out. I can see you heaving a sigh of relief; you did think it would have some complex ‘IT’ definition didn’t you (for which you would run to a senior in college or google). Lucky you! that was an easy lesson. So the next question would be why you want to start one when most of them seem to be going ‘down’?

Well… once you start a startup, you are sure to get name and fame at the age of 22. And ofcourse, lots of money, a ridiculously expensive car, a girlfriend who wont stay away from your pockets (for the money you pervert), and a mom who walks into your office amused at the respect she receives from the security guy and secretaries only to find you sitting at your desk checking ’email’ in your costly suit.

May I continue, If I have painted a good picture? Let’s come back to that 15 bucks you had. Let me speak the truth my friend, that much money won’t do. You need some ‘funding’ to get this process ‘kicked-off’. At this point, take out a piece of paper and write down the names of the richest people you know (include your dad, he must have something too). Now, figure out their phone numbers and contact them one by one and tell them how deeply you feel about reviving Indian economy, especially the poor of India, and you want to start a company that benefits them and you need money pooled in for this. You can come back to me after exercise.

Ah. You are back! If atleast half of them did not slam their phones down you can stop reading this article right now.

You didn’t, so you probably hate me now for playing that little trick. You just learnt a valuable lesson. ‘ness’ is the only common part in goodness and business and ‘ness’ has no meaning. Anyways, sorry about that, you need to do this again, and we can jump to the next stage; its called ‘Funding’.

Begging

I see that face of yours. Is this all you grew up for? to beg for money to start a business. To keep aside all shame and ask for money by providing pretty pictures of things to come (which might eventually not). No, there is another way out … Stealing, but you might want to stay away from that route.

So let me teach you some more keywords now for this stage. You need to first ‘conceptualize’ a product that you are going to make. It need not mean anything now, it need not mean anything anytime. Pick up something from thin air and name it something. Also remember that you always add that this product is a ‘game-changer’ or a ‘trend-setter’. By the way, if you are reading this around 2009 do call it ‘web-based’. Do you use google to search? YOu do? Good, then you know all about internet. Go ahead.

Now that you are set with the words and tools to use, you may run to ‘Venture Capitalists’ for your funding. Time for some clarity. Who are ‘Venture Capitalists’? These are folks who are from ‘capitalist’ nations of the world and are inherently ad’venturous’ by nature. So now you are clear about that too. Good job there.

‘VC’s as they are called lovingly are actually very nice people. They usually have greying hair, clean shaven faces (since they are in capitalist countries), wear a white kurta and pajama (yes, even if Non Asian), walk a dog to the gate and invite you with a smile that puts our bearded-female-sounding-white-robe-wearing-man to shame. Remember to put on your anti-glare glasses to look nerdy and wear a jeans that shows a little hair on your legs (only if you are male) and low socks. That should set a good impression of you with the VC. And remember, carrying a laptop is a must.

Present your case with a mixed look on your face. You have to attain the right blend of confidence and confusion. Think about the confidence on that president’s face when he said ‘childrens’ and mix it with the confused look you saw on the host’s face when a certain black guy said he is definitely not turning white. You get the picture, that is the look you maintain throughout. The VC will see the ‘potential’ in you to take the idea to ‘completion’ as well as the ‘openness’ to be ‘flexible’ incase you need to ‘diversify’ midway. I am sorry about a lot of keywords in there, but please figure it all out yourself this time.

If things went well, and you were not lewd to the VC’s wife or flirty with his daughter, then you will come out of that building smiling and go to the nearest pub and have a vodka. Well… you are 22, not 17, I can’t stop you. Get back to me to learn ‘Conceptualization’ in detail when you are done with beer (Yes, thats all we drink at 22)

Conceptualization

We heard this one didn’t we? Yes, that was before you ‘sold’ the idea. Now since you were just plain lying about stuff, can we do some actual work please? You need to really put some thought into what you plan to make or sell or both. And since neither the VC’s wife, nor his daughter is falling for your charms, you better work on this quick before he visits.

Also, it is time to call up a few of your friends and invite them to create a startup. I bet a few of them will surely be interested in hanging around in one of their houses and making software. Weed out the ones who will surely pick up that offer from one of the big companies. You don’t need them, you need the adventurous types. The ones who have potential to become ‘entrepreneurs’. We need to go slightly off topic here. What is this ‘entrepreneur’. Its like the other word you heard as a kid called ‘rendezvous’; this one too does not sound as its written. In fact if you need to be an ‘entrepreneur’ you must pronounce it as remotely away from how-it-is-written as you can. For now, practice this. ‘On’ ‘Thra’ ‘Pra’ ‘Noor’. Say that about 50 times while we take a break.

Since you got your bunch of guys, now sit and make a list of software you can make. Broadly you can make ‘Products’ or ‘Solutions’. If you choose to make ‘products’ you will be working on the latest technology and making stuff that makes lives of customers easier and you get money for it. If you choose to provide ‘solutions’ you will be working on the latest technology and making stuff that makes the lives of customers easier and you get money for it. Did those two just sound the same? Anyways, lets leave me alone and see what YOU can come up with

a) Search Engine – No, X did that
b) Email – No, Y did that
c) Finance – No, X and Y merged and did that
d) Websites and Content Management – No, we all did that in college
e) Software to let a user enter data and show it in a report – Wow, we can do that!

There must be atleast one friend who muttered something like ‘but we did that in college too’. Throw him out immediately as he is not going to ‘grow’ into a good ‘entrepreneur’ (say that again, I am keeping a watch on you).

So thats your choice. ‘Software to let a user enter data and show it in a report’. Do you wanna call it that or any plans to name it? I think you should call it something snazzy, snappy, today-ey etc. But remember this truth, your product and company name MUST have ‘info’ in it and also ‘tech’. This basically sends out a signal to your potential in-laws that you started an IT company. Very few people will even converse with you if the case is otherwise. At this point let me make an educated guess. The initials of you and your friends form the word SANS. Gotcha, I think you must call it

“TechSANSInfo”

You might want to should that loud again

“TechSANSInfo, we own TechSANSInfo!”

Good you got that out of your system. Now since you conceptualized and exactly know what you want to do with the VC’s money, we can move to the next topic.

Technology/Framework/Scalability

This is one of the toughest part and I am not kidding when I tell you that the technology in this world changes faster than you change your underwear every three days. Its a ‘web-enabled’ ‘fast-moving’ world out there. So what you choose to build your product with is really important in the ‘long-run’. Choosing the technology itself wont help. Most of the time conversations between you and a colleague or client are disturbed when you do not have a ‘framework’ that you use. Not using a ‘framework’ sends out the signal that you are doing college coding. So whether you use it or not, learn names of some frameworks out there. Next time someone asks you, don’t say ‘Java’ tell ‘J2EE’. Similarly, do not say ‘Microsoft Technologies’, say ‘.NET’. You will see the difference. What you do is up to you by the way.

Coming to scalability. It is a simple decision. ‘Scalability’ is the speed at which you can ‘scale’ over hurdles when a certain technology you used backfires. So when you use .NET and got stuck on a platform, how fast can you throw that entire thing away and use some java for linux users. If you did that pretty fast, then ‘.NET’ is called ‘scalable’. Simple isn’t it? Like everything else in software.

Infrastructure

Rome was not built in a day (again a tribute to someone I know out there), so you need some place to start with, a building, a floor, a conference room, a room, a cubicle … alright, a computer will do for now. Put that computer at a friends place, or like we heard about some of the largest software companies, start at a friend’s garage (this might be tough in Bangalore as most friend’s dads would have rented out the garage as a single-room to some IT guy). Anyways, rent out some place where you can keep this computer, and pile up the ‘Framework’ on it. (Notice that I didn’t say stupid things like install JDK, JRE and all, smart eh?)

Now get yourself some ergonomic chairs because you are going to sit long enough. And a coffee maker since you are going to write code for all night long. Since you have money for only one computer, for your friends who are chatting, buy a carrom board or chess (if they qualify to play that). All you need to do now is learn some Java!!

Now you tell me this! I was under the impression that you are taught stuff like this at college. I can understand that, the friend of yours who is now striking the queen on the carrom board needs a lot of training to strike some deals when he becomes the Marketing Director, but you my friend have betrayed me. But it is too late now; you already got your hands ‘dirty’. So might as well wash them. Time for some quick training.

1. You – Get trained by SUN and become certified and become the CTO
2. Your balding 23 year old friend – You are ideal to be the CFO
3. That handsome hunk , he can be the Marketing Director
4. That one who follows orders – he can be the CEO.

Do not ask me how that was a quick-training. Thats the best I can do at this point. Figure out the abbreviations for yourself. All I can say is that the ‘C’ stands for ‘Cheap’. We are done with Infrastructure (and with the loss of a chapter, training too). So let’s move on.

Prototyping

Its been a long night installing all that stuff and getting ready with your skills. But trust me, its not over. You need to start work on the ‘prototype’ of your product. Remember, if someone told you ‘it’s just a prototype’, they are bullshitting. There is no ‘just a prototype’. As a startup, you always sell the ‘prototype’ as your final product to the customer. Now, don’t get all idealistic on me about startups. We know why you are reading this article, you want to screw up the startup in a few years from now. So you BETTER be creating a ‘prototype’ that can be sold.

What is a prototype? According to my very reliable friends (google) and sources (wikipedia) from the internet, it is a sample; a subset of what can be done with the final product. The cost of making a prototype can be more than mass production of the final products. But ofcourse, they are talking about solar and hybrid cars which real engineers make. So we need to unlearn that. In software, a ‘prototype’ is a program that you write with ONE table in the database, ONE form to enter data, ONE procedure to call and do EVERYTHING and ONE report to show it back. That is a prototype. And the time and cost to do this must be atmost 0.1% of the cost you plan to sell the final product at (which is this prototype itself).

Prototyping must involve endless lines of code written in atleast two or three ‘frameworks’ merged together and ‘tightly bound’. By tightly bound I mean you must NEVER use parameters and other atrocities that bring shame on prototyping. You must also include hundreds of lines of comments and these commented sections must be code that you tried and rejected. Leaving such code in entitles you to the awe-factor from the customer (and future developers who join your company) when they admire how-you-arrived-at-your-solution. Also, this leaves an indelible mark in the code about you as a startup starter.

Marketing/Sales

Alright, its time to start showing people the amazing things your software can do. After all, ‘Software to let a user enter data and show it in a report’ is something brand new in the industry and anybody cannot live without it. Show the world that they ‘need’ TechSANSInfo! Also, do not forget to patent the product as we don’t want cheap wannabe companies ripping off your ‘original’.

Contrary to what some of the gurus out there will tell you, Marketing is a very simple activity. First of all, call up some of your current and past girlfriends (I used plural because I know you well). Tell her to call her friends and ask them to call their friends. Trust me, women are extremely good at this kind of stuff. Within a day, word about your software will surely reach atleast a thousand people.

Meanwhile me (and you) cannot keep typing TechSANSInfo in simple fonts like this. You need a good logo and font for your company name. Now there are two options; pay a good amount to a graphic designer OR one of you could get ‘inspired’ from a known company and come up with a similar logo and font. Remember, you are a startup, at any point in time when you are questioned, just say ‘aww, please don’t hurt us, we are just a startup’. Also, remember, you can keep saying that for as long as you choose.

Again, if you are reading this in 2009, you already know the importance of the internet. What you immediately need is a website. So come up with a website quickly and buy a domain name. http://www.techsansinfo.com would be the ideal name for your company. Remember to put flash on your website so that all those idiot internet users who choose not to have flash cannot access your site (It’s good to keep them away right). Also you must always buy (or download) photographs of a lot of happy people from the internet and put it up on your website. A visitor should feel that these are your employees and interacting with them. To keep the ‘multi-cultural’ spirit, do keep the photos mixed. One Indian man (unshaven upper lip), one American lady, one African-American man in suit and who looks higher up the ladder, one Chinese on the computer wearing glasses.

Do put up demos and ‘whitepapers’ on your website to add some authenticity. And ofcourse finally some contact information, you and your friends can put in your mobile numbers here; but please do remember to charge them for ‘life-time’ so that incoming calls are not hindered.

Business!

At this point, I have to assume you heeded my advice and were successful in luring some unsuspecting customers to your website (or your girlfriend) and sold them your product. Good luck! (and pat myself on my back, how am I so good at this!).

Now is the time to ‘deliver’. And just to do that, some of the oldest experts in the information technology team came up with a brilliant idea. It’s called the ‘Delivery Team’. And you need one. Why can’t you guys do it, you ask me? Well.. you guys are ‘visionaries’. You do not get into such tasks and waste your time. You must now concentrate on the business and ‘strategic’ customers (strategic is the polite word used when the customers are more intelligent than you and they know they are being ripped off).

A ‘Delivery Team’ consists of a manager who does all the excel and word document work, a technical lead to do all the talking and fighting and an intern who will pick up your prototype and make it slightly more presentable to the customer. This team will ‘deploy’ your product as a ‘solution’ to all the customer’s woes and will be there with the customer till they ‘go live’.

Ask the manager to download one of those free excel macros to ‘estimate’ the effort required to build the product. You can find it all over the internet. Google for the following words (without quotes) “time required to build software product” and you should find one of them. Use it to conjure up some numbers and send it to the customer. Your manager will have to do some convincing over the phone to get them to agree. If they are ‘strategic’ customers, you might have to get on the phone too (Ah, the things you have to do!). If the customer is not convinced, then I am afraid you are going to have to spend money on a product called ‘Macrosoft Prazect’. Customers do not argue when you show stuff on that. It is easy to learn and just like the Sudoku game; you just have to type in some numbers here and there and they should match and stay ‘green’.

I will not guide you through the low key jobs like the actual work your ‘Delivery Team’ will have to do over the next few months or years to build the product for the customer. Let us safely assume that they do their job well and end up delivering the project and you get your money in your bank. Let us move on to the really big stuff now; wait there is one more task before the big stuff.

Support

You have a brilliant product idea, you have the visionaries, you have the best technical team, the best delivery team, the best quality team (uh! do you?), now why do you need support? Your products are landmark items and are bug free, why do you need to bother to support you ask?

Look, every company needs support because talking to a customer who has already paid you is tougher than talking to them before or during the building of the software they need. And to do that, you need a team with mental strength, tolerance, patience, politeness and a love for night-life (after all your customers are not in this country because in this country people know you). Time to build your support team.

Pay a visit to the nearest college in your locality. Walk over to the cigarette shop near the gate (there is always one near colleges). Pretend to buy a cigarette and smoke. Whilst doing that, keep an eye on the youngsters who are walking around. If this is a girl’s college, then you should surely see some guys walking around. Look out for the ones who are wearing low rise jeans (where you can see one inch of the butt line), crumpled shirts, funny hairdo, just a little beard on the chin, maybe an ear ring, a stoned look in their eye. These are exceptional candidates for your team. Contact them and pick them up. These are the guys whom you can talk to for hours non stop and at the end of it they will respond with ‘Yeah, right .. dude’. That’s the quality we are looking for.

Now, let us move on to the bigger and better stuff.

Growth

Learning-by-rote time! Repeat these after me. “We are a growing company”. “We are growing”. “We are growing fast”. “We are ramping up”. As a visionary, you need to pull in your employees once in a while into a meeting room (I am sorry, but did we discuss meeting rooms ever?) and tell such stuff. And by the way, you need to keep growing too. So every year, as a ritual, keep recruiting new people into roles they don’t want to be in. Also, just to keep the balance, once in a while come up with really legitimate and valid reasons and fire them too, for e.g call them into your room and say, “Hey, we don’t like your face, we are letting you go”. They will surely appreciate your deep analysis. By the way, learn to say “letting you go” instead of “you are fired”.

But just adding people to your company will not do, you need to sit with your ‘core’ teams (usually you plus a group of self proclaimed experts) and discuss the organization structure and the kind of people you are going to add each year. Please do note that you always need to add more managers, business analysts, marketing staff, CEOs, CFOs, CTOs and CZOs to your company. Make the structure like an inverted pyramid where 300 people market your product, 200 sit and write functional requirement, 100 of them manage the project across the globe, 50 of the lead it and prepare the technical design, 5 of them sit and actually develop it and 1 of them supports it (part time). There, that’s the success-mantra of a good product company for you.

Remember, as you ‘grow’ you need more space to put all these people. But do not move to newer buildings until the HR inboxes are flooded with emails from female employees regarding the growing habit of male employees sitting on their chair-arm and working. That is a sure sign that there is no space left to sit and work. Although, if you are the adventurous types, you can wait till an email arrives where certain employees express their happiness of working here since they get to sit on each others lap. But it is entirely upto you on how far you want to go.

Keep this cycle going. As a startup, you are supposed to be showing atleast a 30% increase in employees every year. Also, only by doing the above, you can screw all this up in six years.

Awards & Recognition

At this point, let me take you to your childhood. You were a complete brat (like I said, I know you well) and you started yelling, wailing and made sure your parents looked like complete idiots when they took you to the exhibition. Your mom took out that nice bar of chocolate from her bag and gave it to you. The business gurus (not me) call this process ‘awarding’. Emulate this in your company to keep the yelling and wailing to a minimum. Also, be ‘proactive’ and give out some awards before hand. For e.g X might have got married. He/she might quit, so give him/her a ‘Got Married Award’. Y had a kid. He/she might quit, so giver him/her a ‘Had A Kid Award’. Discuss with your HR (those people who have pasted their upper lip onto their noses to stay smiling) all the possibilities of giving out awards.

Now you might think Awards and Recognition are the same; you are wrong! Check this out. You walk into the pantry and pick up a cup and press the button on that mystic machine. Nothing comes out. You look at the guy standing there and ask him ‘Why is this not fixed yet? Can you get me a cup of coffee’. He walks away and comes back with coffee for you. Your solution manager walks in at that time calling you for a meeting with your best technical lead. You ask ‘Oh ya, that brilliant guy, where is he?’. The solution manager points to the guy who got you coffee. Get the picture? Recognition is when you ‘recognize’ people. Again, sit with HR once in two months and prepare a chart with your employees’ photo and names on it. And recognize them later.

Corporate Social Responsibility

You have probably heard this one. Long for CSR. It is a recently researched marketing tool used by large companies (and ofcourse ‘growing’ startups) to keep up a good image in the IT industry. To proclaim that your company has CSR, all you need to do is ask someone in Admin to pay for the security’s lunch everyday or give some money to a frequently visiting bum or even put out some biscuits for the stray dogs. That entitles you to mention that you are socially responsible. See, that was easy.

Suicidal Symptoms

Okay, so now you are in the fourth or fifth year. Good! By the way, I am glad to see you made it till here and I feel proud. It has been an amazing journey for me. I would like to thank my parents … Oops sorry, that is the Oscars and I am deviating again.

At this point you have everything you asked for when you were walking out of that college and we met. Name, fame, girls, identity, a prototype product (yes, even now its a prototype), money, awards etc. What you need now is to somehow end all this, because you already got what you need. You want to take all the money and get out of this to start a new business. But you cannot end a company just like that right? You will be answerable to too many people. So here is the way out.

Stay consistent with ‘growing’ mantra. Infact increase employment to 40%. Also, increase lay offs to 30% (always lay off people you just recruited first, as that should start making you unpopular in the industry by the media). Start agreeing to do projects even if customers sound like the characters from the movie “Dumb and Dumber”. Agree to their wierd whims and fancies and always (as a rule) agree on impossible delivery dates. That should make you unpopular among customers (even the dumb ones), developers and delivery managers.

One rotten apple can screw up all of them. But imagine you had a bag of 50 apples and 30 of them are rotten. Or imagine that we are talking about 30 rotten fish now instead of apples. Do just that. Increase your manager-count to atleast 70%. Do this by recruiting more managers or making managers out of developers and technical architects. The rot should increase slowly but steadily within the organization because pretty soon, there is no one doing any actual work. Everyone will be ‘managing’ someone else. So when was the last time we heard a success-story attributed to managers. Hmm…let me think…yes you think too…hmmm…okay… NEVER!

Another exercise that you should always conduct on a half-yearly basis is called Org-Re-Structuring. It is very simple to do. Take two pack of cards, on one pack, write the name of all your employees on each card. On the other pack, write designations on each card. Now, you and your wife (or girlfriend, or boyfriend or whatever) sit with one pack each and lift up cards one by one. Note down the employee-name and designation combinations and send out an email letting them know their new positions. This is an absolute fun activity for you and your partner (partner is a safe word to use in 2009) and keeps the employees on their toes and maybe make some of them quit before you lay them off.

And incase you missed the point up until now. Never work on the actual product you set out to make. Keep piling up trash in your ‘sell-able’ software repository over the years and that itself can add to your companies demise.

The Demise of a ‘dream’ called TechSANSInfo

Ah! you are 28 now. And we are doing good. Things are moving just like you planned if not better. If you have initiated the suicide-mode described above, then you are on your last lap. You have made billions of dollars and ensured there existed a company that people will not know about when it failed. In other words, you cannot even be a successful failure. The media won’t report it, the business community will not talk about it. It is another feather in your cap (which had no feathers to start with, so its the first and only one).

At this point it is a waiting game. Either all of your people will quit themselves (including your HR, Admin, Housekeeping and Security). Or you can conduct a mass lay off. Or you may file for bankruptcy and let the government take over. Or you may go to office on a public holiday and set fire to the building and then file for bankruptcy. Or you may just sell the company to the next rich guy you met at the bar. Even better, just bet it on the next card game. The options are plenty, and I shall gladly leave it to you.

Epilogue

All characters, situations, thoughts, philosophies, ideas, words, emotions, situations (did I repeat) depicted in the above article are very real and if anyone was offended, it was intentional. And yes, no animals were harmed in the making of this article.

A distant dream [by Ratheesh]

Posted in Job, Sarcasm by Ratheesh & Sharada on January 7, 2009

“Dad, Can I go to the excursion next week?” Shreya asked while Akhil was still sitting in his bed with his laptop. He was staring at the screen with a blank look on his face. His face showed signs of exhaustion after the previous night’s marathon web meeting he attended with his peers. “Dad?” Shreya queried. “Yes, go, go, I am fine” Akhil responded finally. Many thoughts ran through Akhil’s mind while Shreya, his daughter ran away from the room.

Akhil is a senior manager with another not-so-heard-of software company based in Bangalore. And today, was not just another day for him. He had to start the process of choosing the employees he had to lay off as a result of the companies decision to do some cost cutting. And he had just three days to do that.

An urgent meeting was held the previous night presided by the company’s CEO and many others from the board. Akhil and others did not get to say too much, they were just the audience and future pawns. They were being dragged into a cruel game. A kind of game whose tagline reads ‘Either kill, or die’. Although the exact words were never used, it was clear to Akhil that if he did not choose to send off a few employees and participated in the game, he would be on the receiving end of it.

The company, like many others always claimed of success and popularity all the while. The products being made were mediocre, and Akhil always knew that, but in those situations too, he had to play the game of presenting a pretty picture to the employees. So as always, there were claims of huge customer satisfaction, major deals, so on and so forth. But now this. ‘If we are so well off why should we stoop so low to send a handful of employees away … and without dignity’, he thought.

“This is India Damn-it. We are an emotional lot. They can’t do this to my employees, they will be heart-broken” Akhil told his wife Sneha. “Why don’t you do something about it? You are a manager and all” She responded with the naivity of the school teacher that she was. Akhil had thought about it. What could he do about it? He was clearly asked not to discuss this with any employees. Infact one of the persons on the list was his peer who was not invited to yesterday’s meeting. He was to quickly come up with a list of names merely based on what projects they were working on. It was not based on talent, potential, any of that.

Some of the employees were below par, and Akhil knew that. ‘But still? How can you ask someone to just go away one day. After all the effort they had put in for this company. Agreed, they are just other human beings, living careless lives, marrying, having kids, watching movies, taking loans, and getting paid for their work. But were they not human beings? Wouldn’t this be traumatic?’ Akhil thought. ‘How would they react? What about their wife and kids, or their parents? You are hurting a lot of people’ Akhil could not stop worrying.

But did Akhil have a choice? He was just doing his job. And he needed his job. His status. His car. His posh home. Also he was beyond an age where he can attend interviews and wait in queues for jobs. ‘I shall probably send off some freshers’ he thought. ‘But what about their confidence, they would be shattered. Shit! my company sucks. It literally sucks the living blood out of human beings’

As Akhil entered his room, he could feel a deathly silence around the office. News must have spread. There were friend circles that cut across managers and other employees. ‘Someone must have leaked the news’ he thought. Akhil was always the diplomatic one. He never mixed friendship with work. And now he hated himself for that. Somehow, he felt people would think he is an asshole now. The ones who were humane and friendly would get away with lesser curses.

As Akhil stared at the list of employees he had chosen, many thoughts crossed his mind. He had chosen 5 veterans and 3 freshers. He had worked with all of them. All of these folks will be called to a meeting and just asked to pack their bags and leave. They will not be given a chance to say anything. Adding to the insult, they will be escorted by security personnel, lest they do any verbal or physical damage. They will not be allowed to have a cubicle chat with anyone before leaving. ‘How shameful’ he thought.

‘No, I cannot let this happen. I cannot let some power-and-money hungry, morally deprived people sitting in comfortable chairs insult my people’ Akhil thought. He sat up and typed a mail and sent it across. Later during the day he spent his day smiling at all his colleagues and went home.

The mail he sent to the V.P and Director read:
“After working for this company for five fruitful years, I have decided to let myself go. During all these years, I always thought I was doing the right thing. But as the company has decided to go on an all out low in morals, I decide to bail out and live like a human being. You might not immediately understand my harsh decision, but you will, if you turn around and smile at your colleague and appreciate him/her for the simple human being that they are”

Akhil lives, only in my imaginary, ideal world. How much I wish there were managers like Akhil, who would make me really proud to be a human being.

— Ratheesh Pisharody

New One-liner

Posted in Humour, Job by Ratheesh & Sharada on July 28, 2007

Today we just created a new one-liner.

“Going on-site for work is like prostitution; you may not like what you are doing, but you still do it for the money”

Cowards !! – Part 2

Posted in Humour, Job, Sarcasm by Ratheesh & Sharada on April 20, 2006

[read this first]

Well.. we got news today that “Dishonesty is the best policy” will not be published by the other business group too. The reason was it did not comply to the company’s policies. Ha ha ha. There seems to be a policy somewhere that reads “There will be ongoing crime within the company, but talking/writing about it is against the company policies”. Great. The funny part is we haven’t mentioned the company name anywhere. So both these guys who rejected are so damn guilty of about their place of work. Anyway we are still here for now, among a bunch of criminals.

Art of Bullshitting [by Ratheesh]

Posted in Humour, Job, Sarcasm by Ratheesh & Sharada on April 7, 2006

We all know what the familiar, long haired, bearded, soft spoken, modern day guru conducts. Yes! Art of Living; nicknamed AOL by the ever growing ‘shishyas’. Bangalore being the center of IT-activity (I heard its Hyderabad now, but I guess I am a little slow), we should be soon starting a new kind of mission. And that one should be nicknamed AOB which stands for Art of Bullshitting.

Why AOB for the IT field? Good question. You have probably never been in the IT sector my friend. Try inquiring with your son or daughter or a buddy. He/she probably goes through hours and hours of bullshitting sessions while at work. Its absolutely amazing to sit in awe and respect when the ones higher to you in hierarchy go about bullshitting when they get a chance to speak.

Just a few hours ago we attended one of these. And the bullshitter (as we will call him/her from now on) started off with words from another world. Words which you probably read while you learnt them by-heart in school or later while reading a GRE book (you are lucky if you never read one!). While the bullshit flowed at us like cats n dogs all I could think of was write about it. When I thought further, I realised there is scope of a career change here.

Why not start an ‘Ashram’ of our own. We could call it ‘Art of Bullshitting’. Obviously with a big gate over which would be written. ‘Bow your head and bullshit while you walk in’. I could sit in there on a pedestal with long hair and beard (Sharada could of course sit beside me using a fan on me probably he he 🙂 ). And yes, the ashram will surely be inagurated by the best bullshitters from the IT sector. We could also pull in one of those business celebrities (ya, those regular folks who bullshit on business channels on TV).

If you come to think of it, bullshitting is not a new art. It is not something which is always done wearing a well pressed formal trousers/shirt (with a clown tie as bonus). A large amount of bullshit was always thrown at us over the decades by politicians who came post independence. So I guess this is just version two of bullshit, 🙂

Now lets try to break down the characteristics of a good bullshitter (might help us in future when we set exams at the ashram)

1. A good bullshitter talks on demand. Almost like a robot. Click the button and he/she starts talking. What is being talked about is unimportant. But yes, if its an IT bullshitter it will have something to do with software, delivery, model, policy, revene, some shit..

2. A good bullshitter stops to listen to you (unlike your dad), but once you stop, continues from where he/she left off and you will sit there wondering what happened to what you just told.

3. A good bullshitter always ensures he/she produces information that they obtained recently; whether that information is important in the current context or not is secondary. For e.g, a good bullshitter always mentions that the IT company X aquired Y just even when someone is being buried at a funeral.

4. A good indian bullshitter almost always ensures he/she uses a foriegn accent. Now, the fact that the foreign accent used by him/her is foreign to even foreigners is globally known truth.

5. A good bullshitter is easily recongnizable in the crowd simply because they are very typical. They would always pick up the ‘Business Today’ when waiting in a public place. When speaking to you they constantly look at the watch and pretend to be a very busy person.

Well, those were some primary characteristics. Ofcourse, there are more. Also, bullshitting is not really limited to the people in the upper echelons of power in various industries; these days it is trickling down to you and me too. Its around us. Have a look around you, the developer bullshits when asked why his code does not work. The celebrities on TV bullshit all the time in their interviews. There is an hour of bullshit thrown at you after every cricket match that india plays. And who can ignore the bullshit in the fashion world. Recently a model walked the ramp after her ‘wardrobe malfunction’ (trying to save herself from the numerous cameras in vain). The fashion designer said ‘Oooh, she was so poised, so elegant, she recovered well’. Ya ya. And in the same show I heard some more bullshit; this time it was one fashion designer commenting on another’s creation. ‘There was an underlying tragedy in her creations. A poetry’. Well, all I can say is if there is nothing ‘underlying’, then its a ‘tragedy’ baby.

So here we go, back to our big bullshitting world. Bye for now.

Cowards !!

Posted in Humour, Job, Sarcasm by Ratheesh & Sharada on March 13, 2006

Today we just achieved what we wanted. We just got a call from one of our colleagues in office who heads the Internal newsletter dept. We had sent them our latest creation “Dishonesty is the best policy” (Found as a post here).

We always knew none of them had the guts to publish it. We have sent it to another business group in our company. Lets see what happens. Truth is bitter dude. Better be ready to face it.

Article: Dishonesty is the best policy [by Ratheesh]

Posted in Humour, Job, Sarcasm by Ratheesh & Sharada on March 13, 2006

Squeezing myself out of the local BMTC bus was in itself a great achievement. I had spent the last ten minutes planning the escape route in my head. I was seated in the last row and had to make it alive through atleast 30 people before I could reach the door. Should I say ‘Excuse Me’ to each co-passenger; or should I stick with ‘Swalpa Jaaga bidtheera swami’ lest I make myself sound too important with my English (which usually resulted in angry stares), I wondered.

Anyways, I was out; I had done it. Now walking towards office my thoughts went back to the incident which occurred while I sat in the Bus. This shabbily dressed guy got into the bus at K.H.Road. And I noticed he stood a few feet away from where I sat. Soon enough the conductor came to that area to issue tickets and I could hear this guy say ‘Pass’. The conductor wanted to see it. The next thing I heard is the conductor shouting at him for trying to cheat him with a pass that belonged to someone else. And the guy was standing there listening to that but with no fear or remorse on his face. He says ‘En saar, drama maadtheera? Ticket thagobeka, thagotheeni’ (Don’t create a scene, I shall take a ticket if you want me to)

The conductor issued a ticket and walked away shaking his head. Now if the audacity of that person to cheat and be so proud of it did not shock me, what happened next, did. As soon as the conductor was out of range, some of the usual I-SPEAK-LOUDLY-IN-BUS types started discussing it. One chap indicates it’s not a big deal. Another one says the conductor was in fact making a huge thing out of it. Another person points out that conductors themselves are cheats… so on. ‘What is happening here? Is there public support for crime now?’ I thought.

I had reached my reception by then; and had wished a ‘silent’ good morning to some of my colleagues with the usual straight-lip, raised-eyebrow, facial expression. That’s when it struck me; I was mute witness to a whole lot of crimes everyday, committed by my colleagues, shamelessly.

Just yesterday as I was walking past a cubicle I heard one of them yelling out pretty loudly. ‘Did you submit the IT proofs too? I just did. I put in a letter saying I pay rent to my dad. That way I can get exemption on rent.’ The other one was laughing; another buddy of mine in the next cubicle got up and started asking details on how to do it. I could just walk away wondering what was happening to our people.

A week before that someone I knew very well at office comes to me and inquires where I collect my travel bills from. On my question of ‘What travel bills?’, he says ‘Your fake travel bills?’ I was taken aback and politely changed topic. Apparently this chap pays a few thousand bucks to get fake travel bills so that he can claim the LTA.

I had gone past the reception now. While I fished in my bag for my access card, I was still trying to recollect all the other kinds of crimes I was witnessing in my daily life. Everyone was into it. They were proudly cheating the company, the country, themselves in the process. Some of them were committing large crimes like showing wrong income while filing their IT, and some of them were involved in petty crimes like not putting the soft drinks coupon before shamelessly taking it out of the cooler.

As I dug up my brain I found more and more instances of well educated young and old men and women like us taking the path of dishonesty. Recently I met up with a colleague who worked in night shifts. His work times were supposedly 7pm to 3am. I happened to ask ‘Don’t you have a choice? Why don’t you opt for a morning shift?’ His reply was ‘Boss its just called night shift. I come in at 7.30, work a little beyond 12 because they pay allowance only if you work after 12, then I just go home at 12.30 or so. I bill for 8 hours a day but’. He smiled and walked away. ‘Wow’ I thought. ‘Hope his manager who gives bhashans on customer satisfaction hears that’.

Firmly seated at my cubicle now, I was comparing the crimes in my office to what I saw in the bus. And suddenly the incident in the bus felt so minor. There he was, some guy, probably not very educated, maybe unemployed trying to avoid a 5 rupee ticket. And here they were, a bunch of highly educated people, who earned in thousands (and lakhs) committing crimes everyday with ease and pride; and yes, with a lot of colleague-support. Being dishonest was starting to become a trend now.

That’s when my desk phone rang. It was my manager. As soon as I picked it up and kept it to my ears, he started talking ‘Good morning Ratheesh, Did you send me that estimate I asked you to send me yesterday’. ‘Yes, I sent it to you yesterday evening just before I left’. ‘I don’t find it in my Inbox, you sure’ he replied. ‘I sent it to you just after the call. Must be some issue with the email server or something’ I replied. ‘Ok, just send it again’ he hung up. I smiled back shamelessly at the smiling Gandhiji Wallpaper on my desktop as I decided to send him that email…’again’.

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