Friday, April 29, 2011 5 comments

Look before you Leap

I am sure that quite a few of you may have had some unpleasant experience while doing online shopping. Let me share my own.

This incident is related to a very popular ecommerce website. After hearing a lot of positive responses from my friends, I decided to make a purchase myself. Normally I avoid shopping on internet as I feel uncomfortable doing so. However in this case, I was attracted by a decent offer, that is on a particular game[for the PS2] which I had always desired.

So I placed an order for it. It was mentioned that I would receive the product in 5 business days. I waited for a week, becoming a little impatient before I finally received an unexpected email. In the mail it was mentioned that my order had been cancelled as they could not find that game anywhere. To say I was shocked after reading this would be an understatement. I sent them an email asking for an explanation. They replied that they do not keep any stock with themselves in the office, and after an order is placed they go and purchase it from their vendors. However in my case, none of the vendors had the item. To which I asked- Why didnt you put an Out of Stock message in that case? I got this reply-'When you placed the order, we had the product. But when we went to the vendor to get it, it went out of stock.'

I found that a laughable excuse for a company as reputed as theirs. Is there no record maintained for the availability of the product? In any case my amount was refunded. There was nothing to be done either.

Some time later, I decided to place an order for the same item again[I admit it, I am a desperate gamer]. This time the message was-'Item in stock. Delivered in 3 business days.' This time I got the item within 4 days itself[thanks largely to the highly efficient Bluedart courier service- It also replied to my email in 10 minutes]. I was overjoyed on getting the item at last. Finally after so many turn-arounds I could play my game in peace. But- yes you guessed right, my joy was shortlived. On opening the packet, I was shocked to see a different game than the one I had ordered. Let me explain with an analogy- 'Suppose I had ordered FIFA 2011. They sent me FIFA 2007 instead.'

It may have been a genuine mistake. Or it is also possible that they never had the actual game in the first place, and sent me that older game which I did not want. But the bottomline is- Why on earth did they make such a blunder? This was completely unexpected from a service as reputed as theirs. I guess the moral of the story is that even Big companies make Big mistakes.

I mailed them about the incident. My tone clearly displayed my disappointment. They have replied saying that they are sorry for the inconvenience. And I am waiting to see what happens next. Will they replace the item, or refund my money or do neither?

Next time you order something online be careful. Things may not go as planned. The advantage of purchasing an item from an actual shop is that you know what you are going to get. Thats all I have to say. If you have any interesting experience of your own, do post it here, or give me the link of the same.
Friday, April 15, 2011 9 comments

So you want to be an Entrepreneur?


For the past few months, I have read lots of interview experiences[mostly MBA] and have conversed with several people. In many cases, people say that they want to work in a company for 4-5 years, get some corporate experience, save some money, and then start a business of their own: That is become an Entrepreneur.

Now if 2 or 3 people were to tell me this, I could have believed them. But when almost every Tom, Dick and Harry begins to say this, I have no option but to be skeptical. Nowadays it has become a fad to say that someone wants to be an entrepreneur. Not withstanding the fact that he or she may not know the heads or tails of entrepreneurship. Out of 10 MBA aspirants, 6 or 7 will say that they want to be an entrepreneur so that is why they are doing an MBA. Interviewers have become so frustrated after hearing such clichéd answers that they automatically assume that when a person says he wants to be an entrepreneur, he is obviously lying.

Here are a few reasons as to why so many people say that they want to be an entrepreneur, especially with respect to contemporary Indian scenario.

1) The Cool Factor: People think its a cool and fashionable thing to be an entrepreneur. They also believe that they can become famous easily, and launch a mind blowingly innovative product or franchise, and go global within a few months, and become world renowned. Nowadays entrepreneurs have replaced film stars as role models for many.

2) The Money: Somehow, many young people have this impression that becoming an entrepreneur will help you in making some quick bucks. That they will become a millionaire instantly as they feel that they have some unique idea or business plan. They forget the amount of hard work and patience it needs for an entrepreneur to gain success. On an average it may take 8-10 years for an entrepreneur to get fully established. Moreover, 9 out of 10 entrepreneurial ventures end up as failures. Somehow most people ignore their fact and believe that becoming an entrepreneur is in their genes.

3) No Boss, Please: Everybody wants to be his or her own boss. Most people detest the idea of a megalomaniac boss running after them 24 x 7, barking orders on the top of his voice. They feel that by becoming an entrepreneur, they have automatically become the CEO and are hence answerable to nobody but themselves. They feel that they can work whenever they want to, and can relax and take holidays whenever they want, as the business is their own. This is obviously a very false notion and can lead to disaster if the person indeed tries to launch his own venture.

There are several other factors too, but am not mentioning them. The truth is that NOT everyone can become an Entrepreneur. You need to have certain skill sets if you do want to be a successful entrepreneur, risk taking and social skills included. For details you can read a good book-'The High Performance Entrepreneur' written by Subroto Bagchi.

The worst thing you can do is to jump into entrepreneurship without evaluating the pros and cons of it. Remember just having one brilliant business idea does not mean that you can be a great entrepreneur. You need to have the ability to execute it and lead it to a chain of ideas which can develop into a sustainable business over a period of time.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011 22 comments

MBA Exam Preparation Tips

Finally, the post which I have meant to write for quite some time. Over the last few months, many people have asked me questions related to MBA exams preparation. What to do and what not to do, tips, how to prepare for GDPI, etc. So I have decided to write on How I actually prepared. I will be writing two posts, the first one[ie this post] will deal with the written exams, and the second one for GDPI preparation. But before I start, here is a very important NOTE:

This is purely my personal experience and the methodology I followed in my preparation. If you do the same, it will NOT guarantee that you too will manage to get into a top Bschool. I am not claiming that if you follow the steps, you will surely succeed. What suits me may not suit you and vice versa. So instead of blindly following what someone else tells you, it would be best to create an original strategy that complements you. I am writing this post in the hope that it will be helpful to candidates appearing for such exams in the future. Do not consider my post as a Holy Grail or something which must be followed strictly. Make your own decisions. But yes, more than any coaching institute material, mocks, books, the three things which you surely need are:

i) Self Confidence

ii) Hard Work- Persistence

iii) Never Say Die Attitude

With these few words, I begin:

Written Tests:

For convenience, I have made this post into a Question-Answer format.

Q) 1) What do MBA entrance exams test us on?

Ans)

Most MBA entrance exams will test you on these parameters:

i) Quantitative Ability

ii) Verbal Ability

iii) Logical Ability

You can get the detailed syllabus in any coaching institute material. Different exams have different time limits. You can get more information online, and also at Pagalguy.com

Q) 2) When should one start preparing for MBA?

Ans) The first question which most people ask is What is the Ideal time to start preparation. I would say it would be better to Ask yourself Why MBA first and then decide how to prepare. If you are planning to do MBA without a valid reason, suit yourself. But do remember that it may come back to haunt you later in your life. Now to my first question. There is no ideal time to begin preparation. But generally, 6-8 months before CAT is enough. Am considering CAT as the default exam for obvious reasons.
Personally I started preparing after class 12th exams were over. But I repeat, you do NOT need to study for 3 years or more in order to crack CAT/other exams. Enjoy your college life and do not neglect studies. Plus it is always better to get some work experience before joining a Bschool.

Q)3) Which Coaching Institute to Take?

Ans) Whichever one you want. It hardly makes any difference. Personally I feel that coaching institutes are way too over-hyped with every institute claiming 100% success rate. Don’t be fooled by such ads alone, do a proper analysis before joining an institute. I made the grave mistake of joining an institute in my 3rd year of college and I regretted it. Best would be just to take up a test series and take mock tests. That’s it. If you have it in you, you can definitely make it into any top bschool, coaching or no coaching.

Q)4) How many Mock Test should one take?

Ans) I believe 10-12 mocks over a period of 5 months are more than enough. But make sure that you peak at the right time, ie when your CAT exam arrives. I personally took 12 mocks, that too of just one series[IMS]. My percentiles ranged from 89-97. Mostly in the 92-94 range. The mocks provided good practice. And analysis of mocks is crucial.

Things to AVOID:

i) Solving too many mocks, especially in a short span of time: This will just decrease your efficiency and increase your frustration.

ii) Joining too many test series, thinking you will get the best of all: Totally unwanted and useless thing to do. Most mock tests are similar to a great extent.

iii) Getting depressed after one poor performance: I got 83 and 84 percentile in my last 2 mocks. Yet I ended up with a percentile of 96.54. So nothing to get disappointed about mock scores. They are just for practice and analysis.

The most negative point about mocks is that most of them have a high standard of difficulty. Many people get frustrated after solving such problems. But in actual CAT, the problems will be logical based and you will hardly need to remember any formula or complicated step in order to solve them. I personally feel that solving extremely hard problems is a total waste of time. And I know one person who did not TAKE a SINGLE mock the entire season, was working, yet scored 99.7 percentile in CAT and 99.8 percentile in XAT. So it is quite possible to do well without bothering about your mock scores. I got fed up of mocks after I took ten of them.

Q)5) How do I prepare for Quant, Verbal, DI, LR, RC? Which books to follow?

Ans) One of the most common questions asked by many candidates. Here is a short guide:

i) Quant: Arun Sharma books are okay for beginners. You can solve the problems especially if you have forgotten your basics. Else you can take any coaching institute material and revise the basic concepts. Some topics such as Number System, Geometry, P & C, Time and Distance, etc are generally considered more important than others. Solving past papers of CAT, XAT, etc, may also help. Remember that you do not need to be a master of Mathematics in order to score well in this section. But make sure your accuracy is good. Do not do blind guesses. I am personally weak in Quant, so I cannot offer you much advice here, but do remember that with a bit of logic and common sense you can solve most problems.

ii) Verbal: GRE books are good, especially for vocabulary. Barrons guide may be useful for beginners. I personally liked Norman Lewis too. Do revise basic grammar from Wren and Martin or other books. CAT problems are usually typical in the sense that they are tricky, and the options are quite close to one another.
Apart from this, start reading extensively. Books, magazines and newspapers. The Hindu, TOI, ET, Frontline, India Today, etc. Try reading some non-fiction books, especially on management or business. This will not only improve your vocabulary, but will prove quite useful in tackling the Reading Comprehension section. Try to improve your reading speed and comprehending ability.

Remember: Reading books randomly wont help. If you do not like something do not force yourself to read it. For example there is no point starting with Ayn Rand if you are not interested in philosophy, just because your coaching institute teacher told you to. Finally solve previous year papers.

iii) Data Interpretation, Logical Reasoning: This section just requires practice and common sense. But make sure that you have both speed and accuracy. Try to do calculations as fast as you can. Avoid using calculators at all costs. Make sure that you avoid passages which may consume too much time. Just by a cursory glance you should be able to decide which are the passages/caselets that you are going to attempt. Most important is not to get stuck on any problem. Practice from mock tests or previous year papers. Arun Sharma has mostly quite simple problems.

Rest will be continued in future posts. Feel free to ask any queries if you have. Thank you.
 
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