Jun 30, 2014

How to become a Billionaire by Selling Nothing by Aditya Magal @jhunjhunwala : Book Review

how to become a billionaire by selling nothing
I have "known" Aditya Magal for many years - in a strange way. We are blogging and later Twitter buddies. But till a year or so ago I only knew him by his online personal "The Fake Jhunjhunwala" (Blog, Twitter) - where he took on the persona of the famed stockbroker Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. With that hilarious take on not just the capital markets but current affairs too, the blog and then the twitter account were runaway hit (currently he has 81k followers on Twitter) In fact the Forbes India magazine was confused if the man and the persona were indeed different.

And then two years ago, the cat was out of the blog. The blog was started by my friend Mark Fidelman who after he left India handed over the blog to Aditya to run. And Aditya got to meet the real RJ as well :)

With that context (and disclaimer that Aditya is an online friend) - when Aditya said he was writing a book and wanted to send me a copy I readily agreed.

The premise of the book is that a seemingly crazy person approached Rakesh Jhunjhunwala saying he wants investment to create a company that will manufacture and sell "Nothing". Convinced that the fellow is mad Jhunjhunwala writes him a cheque of Rs. 1 lakh to see a good psychiatrist. However the entrepreneur says that Rakesh Jhunjhunwala has invested in his company and then lists the company - and everyone wants to buy shares in the company making the entrepreneur a billionaire.

What happens after that is the crux of the story and Aditya uses "Nothing" as a metaphor to make acerbic and insightful comments from the state of marketing and sales, our preoccupation with greed and material wealth, the politician-business nexus, the way pricing is done to manipulate sales, how customers are hoodwinked, how meaningless movies are made, how litigation is manipulated etc.

Which is not to say the book is great. There are passages that get repititive include Jhunjhunwala repeating how awesome he is (the persona being brought from the blog), a foray into Davos which could have been shorter and some others. These make the book painful to read sometimes. There are also some passages that are in Hindi and might be irritating to read for non-Hindi speakers.

But overall, a great first attempt - transitioning from writing a blog to a book is never easy - and I think Aditya's next book is going to be way better.

Jun 12, 2014

Using Talent Communities #socialmedia for Employer Branding

Organizations face two big challenges in the context of two ever-changing realities -  key talent is hard to find and job seekers look to peers and the collective wisdom of the social web to decide on what firm to join.

The two objectives organizations will need to start thinking about are:
1.       How to Build an employment brand that is relevant to the needs of the key talented people and to monitor the conversations on the social web to understand how to join in the conversation
2.       Understand where these talented prospective employees are, what they talk about and how to engage them to attract them to consider you an employer.

Organizations will need to move away from building their presence from social networks and integrate them to build online communities for their talent pool.
When a person joins a talent community owned/ stewarded by an organization - he or she gives permission to the organization to have a conversation with him/her - and it is up to the organization to either mess it up by "pushing" its message or to take it to the next level by active engagement.

As this becomes more and more common - recruiters and hiring managers will move more and more into "community manager" roles and need to build and take on newer skills to augment their existing skill sets. The ability that will count will not be to tell their own stories, but encouraging participants to tell their stories.

Tomorrow’s organization needs to tap into the talent pool will need to move from step 1 to 5:

1.Listening & interpreting what your prospective talent desires –
1.       The employer brand is no longer in the organization’s control. Everyday, people are asking information about and reviewing what others have said about employers’ cultures, roles, career prospects – in sites like Glassdoor.com or even Google Places.
2.       What do your prospective employees really look for in their ideal workplace ?
3.       What’s the perception in the market about your company and it’s culture?
4.       What’s the perception about your competitors?
5.       Use “listening” tools (Radian6, Alterian SM2, Buzzstream). This will identify the social places where they “hang out”. Which will lead to step 2.

2. Find & attract good talent. Monitoring content that they create and queries they answer. Holding talent contests around the content they are looking in prospective candidates is a great way to finding talented people. If the organization builds virality in the contest it’s a great way to spread the word and engage a larger talent pool

3. Engage with active prospects. Engaging needs to be done in two places – the niche social networks they converse in – and the organization’s own branded social community – which could be a blog or a full fledged social network. It can be used to showcase organizational culture, with rich multimedia content like photographs, videos. Firms should encourage employees to participate in such forums – specially employees who are considered experts in their field. Both the employees and the organization benefit as both brands get built.
1.       Content can be curated on the corporate site from the social web around different axes : product, market, industry.
2.       Content can be created by the organizational employees on the organizational site too.
3.       Prospective employees could also be invited to contribute content and showcased in a leaderboard.
4.       Employee/ Team blogs serve two purposes specially for large organization – they act as communication vehicles with the media as well as engaging niche talent.
5.       HR and recruitment focused community platform like Microsoft’s http://www.microspotting.com/ also help give tips and tricks to prospective employees

4.Onboarding new recruits – While this is done offline, I feel a part of making initial connection could be done virtually even before people “sign up” and strengthen bonds between future employees.

Learning: Social technology can make learning more of a continuous process than the 2-3 day event it currently is. These tools can also be used by trainers to add more to the classroom and create a community of learners who can continue to share experiences and be a support group as they implement learnings in their workplace. Marcia Conner’s book “The New Social Learning” shows how various firms are using tools to augment employee training.
Recognition : Companies like Rypple, Globoforce have started the concept of social peer recognition and it can be a powerful factor to increase employee engagement. In the future look out for predictive analytics about engagement and attrition by analyzing how employees are being recognized by their peers.
Knowledge Sharing: Forget the idea of databases acting as “repositories” of knowledge, internal social networks can capture employees work activity as social intranets connect deeper into business applications – and team members can follow what others are doing on their activity streams. Newer tools like Opzi and MindQuilt can also emerge as a enterprise version of Quora, the popular Q&A site.

5. Alumni connect – Today’s employees can be tomorrow’s ambassadors if an alumni program is managed well and alumni see value being a part of the community.

In Conclusion

The vast majority of organizations and job seekers are stuck at the “salary” discussions as they don't think about the desire of an individual to make a difference and meaning to others. And unless you can connect with that innately human desire which are discoverable and engaged via social technologies  - recruiters and organizations will continue to judge a person by their current and future salary levels and they in turn will treat each firm as a mercenary would.

It’s about time organizations and job seekers got to know the human side of each other.

Jun 9, 2014

Gender stereotyping in Indian recruitment advertising

Thought I'd share this article in the DNA that I came across: 

Research confirmed 77% of the total ads that had a gender specific term recruited only females (Anand, 2013). Least gender stereotyping was observed in jobs that required specialised skills and technical education like IT, engineering and medicine.Secretary/front office assistant, telecaller, sales(man) and manager claimed the top spot in gender stereotyping.
Gender stereotyping in recruitment ads for receptionists ranged from the benign ‘Receptionist only – Female’ to comments regarding age and attractiveness ‘beautiful and broad minded(F) office assistant and personal secretary’, ‘up to 25’ (Anand, 2013).
Receptionist has not just been relegated as a women’s only zone. Recruitment advertisements have objectified the kind of women recruiters prefer. Ads have portrayed receptionist as decorative pieces in the lobby, behind the front desk of corporate offices, young beautiful and easy on the eyes.
A similar sort of story was depicted by the data on recruitment advertisements for telecaller and data entry operator position. Next to the ‘FEMALE TELECALLERS’ rubric was the image of a girl talking on the hands free. Now, even though there wasn’t any mention of the age or physical attributes, but the picture certainly said everything the recruiters wanted to convey. Sales and field jobs were earmarked as the boys-only section, with keywords like ‘field boys’ and ‘sales boys’. 

What do you think as recruiters in India do we need to eliminate such blantant stereotyping?

May 28, 2014

Big embrace of #SocialRecruiting and Talent Communities by @InsideZappos

I have often blogged about the need for organizations to create talent communities to really embrace "social". You can read my thoughts hereherehere, here and here.  

So I was delighted to learn today that Zappos has embraced "social recruiting" in the way I envisaged, in toto!

Zappos has been a favorite company of mine after I read their CEO Tony Hseih's book. I have blogged about them also.

So what is +Zappos.com going to do? According to the WSJ

Zappos, based in Las Vegas, plans to hire at least 450 people this year, but candidates won't find out about those jobs on LinkedIn.com, Monster.com or the company website. Instead, they will have to join a social network, called Zappos Insiders, where they will network with current employees and demonstrate their passion for the company—in some cases publicly—in hopes that recruiters will tap them when jobs come open.
The retailer is attempting to fix a common problem, recruitment experts say: how to make the hiring process faster and easier by keeping a pool of willing and able candidates at the ready.

May 26, 2014

Using #SocialMedia for your professional growth

So the good folks at +SocialSamosa invited me to a "Twangout" - where people could ask me questions via Twitter and I had to reply via a Google Hangout. It was moderated by the co-founder +Ankita Gaba

You can watch the video here - more about the Twangout here

May 20, 2014

Weighing in on @Zomato's "controversial" recruitment ad

So today Twitter exploded for some reason with outrage over a recruitment ad by Zomato that said they wanted to make Delhi the tech capital of India and was basically a pitch for Bangalore based techies as to why they should move to Delhi (for wider roads, late night hours)

The Bangalore folks on Twitter did not like Zomato's job ad and someone put together a retort basically saying that Delhi sucks when it comes to Bangalore (intolerant, extreme weather)

Both the ads are tongue in cheek and the best part for Zomato is that it has got people talking about it. It might not be able to lure many folks from Bangalore, but what it has done with this ad is shown itself to be sassy and having a personality. Even though it's Bangalore users don't feel very good about it. 

Here's one marketing expert weighing in

While the Delhi experts feel that the response was in bad taste

My verdict? Zomato is the winner! People are talking about it, it has shared it is hiring in Delhi, and I suspect if the product is good most Bangalore users (except the communications and marketing experts) will even know this twitter brouhaha to stop using the app/website.