Mercuri Mail

The India Journal of Mercuri International Jan - Mar 2016

The Power of Sales Resilience

Acres of Diamonds - Russel Herman Conwell
Must Read
Ranjay Gulati, Harvard Business Press
TED Style Talks - Carmine Gallo


Acres of Diamonds - Russel Herman Conwell

Your diamonds are not in
far distant mountains or
in yonder seas; they are
in your own backyard,
if you but dig for them
– Russel Conwell

There once lived not far from the River Indus an ancient Persian by the name of Ali Hafed, who owned a very large farm, orchards, grain fields, and gardens; money at interest, and was a wealthy and contented man. He was contented because he was wealthy and wealthy because he was contented.

One day there visited Ali Hafed an ancient Buddhist priest. He sat down by the fire and told the old farmer how diamonds were formed in the earth’s crust.. “A diamond is a congealed drop of sunlight”. He told Ali Hafed that if he had one diamond the size of his thumb he could purchase the county, and if he had a mine of diamonds he could place his children upon thrones through the influence of their great wealth.

Ali Hafed heard all about diamonds, how much they were worth, and went to his bed that night a poor man. He had not lost anything, but he was poor because he was discontented, and discontented because he feared he was poor. He said, “I want a mine of diamonds,” and he lay awake all night.

Early in the morning he sought out the priest, and said to him: “Will you tell me where I can find diamonds?”

“Oh yes, there are plenty of them. All you have to do is to go and find them, and then you have them.”

Said Ali Hafed, “I will go.” So he sold his farm, left his family in charge of a neighbor, and went in search of diamonds. He came around into Palestine, then wandered on into Europe, and at last when his money was all spent and he was in rags and poverty, he stood on the shore of that bay at Barcelona, in Spain, when a great tidal wave came rolling in between the pillars of Hercules, and the poor, afflicted, suffering, dying man could not resist the awful temptation to cast himself into that incoming tide, and he sank beneath its foaming crest, never to rise in this life again.

The man who purchased Ali Hafed's farm one day led his camel into the garden to drink, and as that camel put its nose into the shallow water of that garden brook, he noticed a curious flash of light from the white sands of the stream. He pulled out a black stone having an eye of light reflecting all the hues of the rainbow. He took the pebble into the house and put it on the mantel that covers the central fires, and forgot all about it.

A few days later the same old priest came in to visit Ali Hafed's successor, and the moment he opened that drawing room door he saw that flash of light on the mantel, and he rushed up to it, and shouted: “Here is a diamond! Has Ali Hafed returned?'' “Oh no, Ali Hafed has not returned, and that is not a diamond. That is nothing but a stone we found right out here in our own garden.'' “But,'' said the priest, “I tell you I know a diamond when I see it. I know positively that is a diamond."

Then together they rushed out into that old garden and stirred up the white sands with their fingers, and lo! There came up other more beautiful and valuable gems than the first. Thus was discovered the diamond mine of Golconda, the most magnificent diamond mine in all the history of mankind.

Old Arab stories always have a moral. Had Ali Hafed remained at home and dug in his own cellar, or underneath his own wheat fields, or in his own garden, instead of wretchedness, starvation, and death by suicide in a strange land, he would have had acres of diamonds.

“Every man has the opportunity to make more of himself than he does in his own environment, with his own skill, with his own energy, and with his own friends”. This is the essence of Russel Conwell’s preaching. The next time you think ‘Grass is always green on the other side’.. Think again

The complete version of Russel Conwell’s vintage work ‘Acres of Diamonds’ is here.

Must Read

Ranjay Gulati, Harvard Business Press

Resilience is the ability to always stay one step ahead of your Customers. Resilience is an imperative, to win in an era of globalization, commoditization and thinning profit margins. Resilience is your secret sauce to succeed through times good and bad. Yes, it has worked for Cisco Systems, La Farge, Starbucks, Best Buy and Jones Lang LaSalle. Read this book to know how. And, in the process you are sure to gain some insights on how you can build Resilience in your Organization.

In an engrossing read, of just over 200 pages, Harvard Professor Ranjay Gulati provides some valuable insights to those seeking to transform their organizations towards being Customer Centric. Drawing from extensive research, Gulati provides a framework and examples of how world class organizations like the ones named above have managed to navigate the long road from internal-focused management practices to customer-centric ones.

Gulati’s model works through five levers, or five C’s as one can call them, which when pursued diligently over 3 to 5 years kind of time, can make the transformation happen. Here are Gulati’s five levers to build organizational Resilience: Coordination, Cooperation, Clout, Capabilities, and Connections. When implemented together they serve to embed Customer Centricity.

Organizations are diverse. No one size fits all formula can be evolved to embed Resilience. Every Organization must find its own way to manage the cultural resistance that will come its way in a transformation journey. This is where the Ranjay Gulati’s examples come in handy. The task for the reader is to consider the path these Organizations have walked upon, and reflect upon how these five levers can work to advantage in one’s own context:

Coordination:Break down hierarchies and silos that prevent or prolong interactions among your people, thereby enabling swift responses to Customer needs.

Cooperation:Foster a culture that aligns all employees around the shared goals of customer solutions.

Clout:Give more authority to employees who come into direct contact with your Customers. Empowered people will feel more ownership in the organization and be more motivated to make your Customers happy.

Capability:Develop employees' skills at tackling changing customer needs.

Connection:Foster external relationships and partnerships that can help you create better cost structures, advance your capabilities and do more than you can do alone. Building relationships means developing a more collaborative mindset and cooperating more with your partners. Determine which activities you want to keep in-house, Gulati writes. Once you are aware of your core competencies, then you can decide which non-core activities you can outsource.

Gulati illustrates how resilient organizations use these levers to cut through internal barriers that impede action, build bridges between warring divisions, and transform former competitors into collaborators.

This book is for leaders who are fully committed to evolve and execute upon a Customer Centric Business Strategy, by being actively engaged in the strenuous long haul to align structure, processes, procedures, and cultural elements to enhance business vitality and resilience. If you are committed to make such lasting change happen in your Organization, this book will be your companion in that journey.


Talk like TED

After analyzing 500 of the best TED talks, interviewing speakers whose TED presentations have been viewed nearly 20 million times, and pouring over research by leading neuroscientists, it is clear that the human brain is wired to love the TED style. People simply can’t get enough of TED talks because they are truly addictive.

Raise your game to the TED-style. Here are 9 common elements to all TED talks and each of these are scientifically proven to increase the likelihood that your pitch or presentation will be successful, whether you’re pitching to one person or speaking to thousands.

Unleash the master within:
Passion leads to mastery and mastery forms the foundation of an extraordinary presentation. You stand a much greater chance of persuading and inspiring your listeners if you express an inspired, enthusiastic, passionate, and meaningful connection to your topic.

Tell three stories:
Stories stimulate and engage the human brain, helping the speaker connect with the audience and making it much more likely that the audience will agree with the speaker’s point of view. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s original TED talk was going to be “full of facts and figures, and nothing personal.” Instead she told three stories and ignited a movement. Stories connect us. Tell more of them.

Practice relentlessly:
Harvard brain researcher Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor had this “stroke of insight” that has been viewed 15 million times on Dr. Jill rehearsed her presentation 200 times before she delivered it live. Practice relentlessly and internalize your content so that you can deliver the presentation as comfortably as having a conversation with a close friend.

Teach your audience something new:
An unusual, or unexpected element in a presentation jolts the audience out of their preconceived notions, and quickly gives them a new way of looking at the world. Robert Ballard is an explorer who discovered Titanic in 1985. He said, “Your mission in any presentation is to inform, educate, and inspire. You can only inspire when you give people a new way of looking at the world in which they live.”

Deliver jaw-dropping moments:
Scientists call it an ‘emotionally competent stimulus’— is anything in a presentation that elicits a strong emotional response such as joy, fear, shock, or surprise. It grabs the listener’s attention and is remembered long after the presentation is over. Bill Gates radically transformed his public-speaking skills, learning to incorporate a jaw-dropping moment into many of his presentations.

Use humor without telling a joke:
Humor lowers defenses, making your audience more receptive to your message. It also makes you seem more likable. People are more willing to do business with or support someone they like. You don’t need to tell a joke to get a laugh. Educator Sir Ken Robinson educated and amused his audience in the most popular TED talk of all time: How Schools Kill Creativity. “If you’re at a dinner party and you say you work in education—actually, you’re not often at dinner parties, frankly, if you work in education…” Robinson makes very strong, provocative observations and he packages them in humorous anecdotes and asides that endear him to the audience. Lighten up. Don’t take yourself (or your topic) too seriously.

Stick to the 18-minute rule:
A TED presentation can be no longer than 18 minutes.. the ideal length of time to get your point across. Researchers have discovered that “cognitive backlog,” too much information, prevents the successful transmission of ideas. TED curator Chris Anderson has been quoted as saying that 18 minutes is “long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention.”

Favor pictures over text:
PowerPoint is not the enemy. Bullet points are. Regardless of the software, there are no bullet points on the slides of the best TED presentations. There are pictures, animations, and limited amounts of text—but no slides cluttered with line after line of bullet points. This technique is called “picture superiority.” We are much more likely to recall an idea when a picture complements it.

Stay in your lane:
The most inspiring TED speakers are open, authentic, and, at times, vulnerable. Researcher Brené Brown gave a TED talk on the topic of vulnerability & how her own research led to her personal journey to know herself. Opening up paid off for Brown in a big way. Oprah discovered Brown on TED, invited Brown to be on her show, and today Brown is a bestselling author and regular contributor to O, The Oprah Magazine.

Make no mistake. Your ability to persuasively sell your ideas is the single greatest skill that will help you achieve your dreams. Follow these nine rules and you’ll astonish, electrify, and inspire your audiences.

- Carmine Gallo

Notes On Resilience

  1. When we tackle obstacles, we find hidden reserves of courage and resilience we did not know we had. And it is only when we are faced with failure do we realize that these resources were always there within us. We only need to find them and move on with our lives. - A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
  2. Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit. - Bernard William
  3. If ‘Plan A’ does not work, the alphabet has 26 more letters. Stay cool. - Unknown
  4. You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. - Unknown
  5. Resilience is the capacity of a system, enterprise or person, to maintain its core purpose and integrity, in the face of dramatically changed circumstances. - Andrew Zolli
  6. Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself-and be lenient to everybody else. - Henry Ward Beecher
  7. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend. - Bruce Lee
  8. I just love it when people say I can't do it, there's nothing that makes me feel better, because all my life, people have said that I wasn't going to make it. - Ted Turner
  9. Once you're caught in the mousetrap, why not eat the cheese?. - Unknown
  10. The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you're willing to work. - Oprah Winfrey

Story Time

A young woman was going through a hard time in life. She went to her grandmother and told her about how she was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that as one problem was solved, a new one arose. She just wanted to give up.

Her Grandmother quietly walked her to the kitchen. There, she filled three pots with water and placed them on the fire. As the water in the pots came to boil, she placed carrots in one pot of boiling water. In the other she placed some eggs. In the third pot she dropped some coffee beans. Grandma kept quiet as the three pots boiled.

About twenty minutes later, Grandma turned off the flames. She took the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She then took out the eggs and placed them in another bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a third bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?” “Carrots, eggs, and coffee” the young woman replied.

Grandma asked the young woman to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The grand-daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The grand-daughter then asked, “What does it mean, Grandma?”

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity — boiling water — but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water. “Which are you?” she asked her grand-daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”


Am I the carrot that seems strong, but wilts in pain and adversity to become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor of your life. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level?

So… Which one are you? Carrot, egg, or coffee?

- Barbara Diamond

Mercuri Mail is a thoughtful compilation of meaningful articles drawn from Mercuri India archives, and from timeless management literature. Edited by Jaishankar Balasubramaniam & Sridhar Srinivasan of Mercuri Goldmann (India) Pvt. Ltd. This publication is for private circulation only.; |

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