The teacher will arrive when the student is ready

The month of April 2013 epitomized the caption! Yes there were many including myself who were ready for the teacher. It was a great month of personal growth.

The month started with 60 souls from various organizations and walks of life taking part in the Mastery of Self through Neuro Linguistic Programming [NLP] playshop that was conducted in Sri Lanka [see more details in: http://www.ranjandesilva.net/#!mind-power/cpqz ] . This was the first 2 days and all of them left feeling more valuable than ever before, more empowered than ever before and more purposeful than ever before. They come back for the final 2 days on the 6 & 7 of May.

Then I travelled to Vietnam where I conduct the same session for another 60 souls from Fashion Garments a company of the Hirdramani Group in Sri Lanka. The impact created was the same and I go to Vietnam again to do the final 2 days of the training on the 11 & 12 of May 2013.

From Vietnam I travelled to Dubai to conduct a 2 day training on advanced negotiation skills and a 1 day training in work life balance. While the numbers were around 16 participants in each session, as customary in trainings that take place in Dubai, the impact created for them was tremendous.

After having helped unlock potential of so many souls in the first half of the month, the second half was about me going back to school. Yes I was a participant with 15 other senior executives from the health care industry who took part in a 2 week long intensive leadership development session held by the Samson Global Leadership Academy of the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

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Unlocking Sales Potential – Exploring the resources available in inner-space

If I tell you that you can fly, would you agree with me? This is the first question I asked the audience at the Sales Master Class at The Radisson Blu Water Garden In Dhaka Bangladesh on the 20th of October, when I started presenting at the day event, ‘Unlocking Sales Potential’. There were some instant ‘yes’ answers and a few others said ‘no’. The point made by this question was to get the audience thinking about the unlimited potential we are blessed with. With the realization that we can fly in an air craft and aircrafts been made by people using god given brains and resources opened up the minds in the room to the possibilities yet untapped.

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If selling is a dishonest job and if everyone is a salesman, then is everyone dishonest?

A Better Way to Sell Book CoverYes this is an interesting dilemma!

It is a generally known perception that selling is a dishonest job as sales people only try to sell a product to a customer, even if the product is not needed by the customer and at any cost to the customer. Most sales books and sales training introduces sales ‘tactics’ that help sales people to ‘sell’ at any cost.

On the other hand it is a known fact that everyone is a salesman from the little child to the grandfather, from the housewife to the corporate executive, from film star to sportsman and from the politician to the priest. They all sell ideas, they sell their value, they sell all the time.

So does it mean everyone is dishonest? The answer is a clear ‘NO’. In fact my belief is that we don’t sell, we help people to buy. We don’t sell, we provide information for people to make the right decision, we don’t sell, we help others become more successful.

It is with attitude in mind that I decided to title my second book [an improved new edit of the first book]; A better way to sell – Mastery of Sales through Mastery of Self. Click here for more details of the book.

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Business/Donor partnership, the best formula for empowering the poor – The Agora case study

The Business/Donor partners working on the Agora SME development project.

Agora established in 2001 with an ultimate aspiration to be the Wal-Mart of the East is an expanding chain of retail outlets in Bangladesh, run by Rahimafrooz Superstores Ltd. Agora now operates 11 outlets, a sourcing and processing centre for commodities and a state of the art distribution centre with 680 employees and 320 suppliers. With an aggressive expansion programme in mind Agora recently migrated to an end to end ERP system powered by SAP and WINCOR NIXDORF.

When Agora started its supermarket [providing food, personal care and household needs] business in 2001, the brand was positioned as the best solution for customers for the purchase of fresh produce [fish, meat, vegetables, fruit and dairy] of high quality at the right price as this was the predominant customer need in the absence of an organized modern trade [supermarket] system. This resulted in Agora investing in cold and chill storage, transport and display facilities. The absence of organized fresh produce supply chain resulted in Agora solely developing fresh produce suppliers. This included training perishable traders who operated in the unorganized wet market on proper sorting, grading, storing &transportation of produce and fundamental disciplines of running a business. We also formed partnerships with farmer associations toward this objective.

As Agora expand, the company realized the need to further build the capacity of small and medium fresh produce suppliers and develop robust supply chains and trading relationships. As Agora was looking for solutions for this important need, a meeting between Ms Parveen Huda of BIF [Business Innovation Facility] and Mr Niaz Rahim of Agora led to the signing of an MOU designed to address Agora’s needs while developing their SME suppliers ensuring the ‘inclusive’ aspect.  The project was funded by DFID, BIF and AGORA and the capacity building expertise was received from one of the world’s leading business consultancies Accenture and PUM from Netherlands.

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Olympics 2012 – ‘Imagine’ the great manifestation of possibility

A picture of the Olympic Logo on the Tower Bridge taken from the London Bridge during my visit before the Olympics.

The 2012 Olympics that just concluded was one of the greatest manifestations of possibility that I had experienced.

My family and I were in the UK just before and during the opening ceremony that made us fortunate enough to feel the energy in the country this great spectacle was taking place. We were not able to witness any sporting events at venues at circumstances required us to return end of July, but we were fortunate to be able to witness this great spectacle on TV and the internet.

The first possibility that was manifested was the participation of almost all the countries of the world, 204 in total and every country having both male and female sportsman. All sports had a women’s version as well resulting in some teams such as USA having more women Olympians. What a great equalizer.

It was amazing to see conservative countries such as Saudi Arabia who do not permit women to drive, having women participating. I was fortunate to switch on the TV to see the women’s 800 m heat where Saudi Arabia’s Sarah Attar was running. Although she came last, she got the biggest applause to show that this was a victory for humanity.

World records were many manifesting that there is no end to improving human performance and endurance. Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight, Carmelita Jeter of the USA 4x100m relay team establishing a new world record at 40.82 destroying the 27-year old record and Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt  of Jamaican 4×100 relay team establishing a new world record at 36.84 will remain in our memories for ever. These amazing human beings showed that we can be individuals stars and teams at the same time.

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Liberating Passion at Agora – Leadership lessons Learnt as CEO of Agora over the last 3 years!

ImageLeaving the Agora team was one of the toughest things I had to do. The words, tears, flowers and gifts from the teams in various outlets, office, warehouse and distribution centre was simply heart-warming. I never realized I had made such an impact in the hearts and minds of over 700 team members over the 3 years I led them as their CEO.

After being in Team and Leadership Excellence consulting for 10 years, subsequent to 16 years in corporate life for 16 years as Director for Keells Foods and Keells Super, I took on a new interesting challenge as the CEO of the Agora Supermarket Chain [owned by the highly diversified Rahimafrooz Group] in Bangladesh in July 2009. This was a secondment from Sensei International where I continued to remain as a Partner and Senior Management Consultant.

This was a 3 year assignment to prepare the company for Rapid expansion. I took over this assignment for 3 reasons; Firstly because Agora was close to my heart as I helped start it as a consultant in 2001 and hence  I considered Agora my own baby and I wanted it to be successful. Secondly because I wanted to validate the guidance I give so many companies around the world as a consultant, by being in the hot seat for a while. And thirdly because I respect the Rahimafrooz Group and the family that owns it for running a company driven by ‘Values’ using ‘world-class’ management methods.

My dream was to make Agora a world-class company, the pride of Bangladesh and I write this blog with a mix of emotions that include happiness, sadness, fear, pride and hope.

Firstly I am extremely happy that we together created a company with a positive work culture that was built on the ‘Ultimate Aspiration’, ‘Values’, ‘Agora Aponjon Promise’ [Aponjon is the Bangla word for ‘dear one’ or ‘near one’ and this is the promise we deliver to our ‘guests’ or ‘Aponjon’], quality policy, good leadership, supportive team work and passionate team members. We also made the company profitable building on this culture and taking measures to improve the brand image, value to our guests, business knowledge, planning and execution. We also invested in a brand new state of the art distribution centre, new outlets and a new ERP system [SAP and WINCOR NIXDOEF]. All this helped the company to become profitable for the first time in my first year in office and become a leading revenue and profit contributor of the Rahimafrooz Group [the group that owns Agora an many other companies] providing better benefits and promotional opportunities to Agora’s team members.

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