EQ for Entrepreneurs

When emotional intelligence first surfaced as a concept, it served as an explanation to the curious finding that about 70% of the people with an average IQ have a better performance than those with the highest IQ.

This changed the way we perceive success and where its source is. Research has shown that emotional intelligence is an essential factor that makes some entrepreneurs stand out from others. Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is that “something” within us that has an effect on how we manage our behavioural patterns, handle social situations, and make personal decisions that lead to positive results.

EQ for Entrepreneurs

 Significant aspects of EQ:

Self-awareness

 When we take emotional intelligence into account, self-awareness differs from what many people define as “knowing yourself”, or in other words, taking up strategies such as self-assessments, writing journals, and analyzing what other people think of you. It is more than just being knowledgeable about your strengths and weaknesses.

Emotional intelligence is a lot more about being aware of what you are actually feeling in a particular situation. A lot of people have emotional responses to events that they have no awareness of. When asked about how they feel, they will give you one of the basic answers such as happy, angry, sad, and the like.

Being more self-aware is actually about paying attention to the state of your emotions at regular intervals during the day. This way you get to be more aware of the subtle variations in your emotions, and what exactly is influencing them. This is important when you are faced with new information, interacting with your colleagues or clients, or changing your environment.

In order to work on your self-awareness, you should meditate and develop a habit of examining your emotions before an important meeting or a conversation with a client.

Self-management

When you become more aware of your emotions in particular situations, you enable yourself to properly manage them. Self-management is all about being completely aware of what you are feeling, and therefore being capable to choose the appropriate response in the given circumstances.

There is a huge difference between raging out when you’re marketing manager makes a mistake in your email marketing campaign, and being aware of how you are feeling and choosing to be compassionate about the situation.

However, you should know the difference between self-management and self-containment. You can’t call it self-awareness when you’re walking around with a fake smile and saying everything is working out just fine.

In order to truly master self-management, you need to work on accepting what you are feeling. While you can alter your emotional response to a certain situation, most often you won’t be able to just shut off the emotions that you are experiencing. Accept your feelings instead of bottling them up, and you will be able to come up with an appropriate way to respond to what’s going on.

Social awareness

Social awareness, or what most people call empathy, is what defined as understanding and sharing the feelings of others.

In order to be truly empathetic, you need to be completely present to people that surround us, so that we can sense when they are feeling and anticipate the emotional changes. We also need to be aware of ourselves and more vulnerable so that we are able to identify with all the emotions that another person is having.

People are often surprised by the fact that being more vulnerable and self-aware boosts your ability to be empathetic. But it is a fact that it is like language – you won’t understand what others are saying if you don’t speak it. By taking up meditation and exercising your mind, you will be able to be more present in your workplace and have a better understanding of what your colleagues and clients are feeling.

In the end, you can just be straightforward and ask them, to try and confirm your understanding of their emotional state.

Relationship management

Once you have mastered the previous three skills, you will be able to manage your relationships with people in the best possible way. Forming beneficial relationships depends on three crucial skills: always being curious about what motivates other people and what brings given situations about, believing that everyone has the best intentions, and being open when it comes to communicating your emotions and thoughts.

The fact that you are working on your emotional intelligence doesn’t mean that the person you are communicating with is doing the same. Therefore, when interacting with others, you should always be curious about their behavior, so that you can learn how self-aware they are and how they manage their emotions.

The importance of assuming the best is in keeping a positive mind and bringing about positive outcomes. In most cases, people are just looking for a way to gain something beneficial from the interaction, the same way as you are, and being the bigger person is the best way for you to go.

This changed the way we perceive success and where its source is. Research has shown that emotional intelligence is an essential factor that makes some entrepreneurs stand out from others. Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is that “something” within us that has an effect on how we manage our behavioural patterns, handle social situations, and make personal decisions that lead to positive results.

How to Stabilize Emotional Quotient especially for Entrepreneurs?

How to Stabilize your Emotional Quotient

Yesterday, I met my entrepreneur friend who was overloaded with stress. After a small conversation with him, I found that his client was new to the business and very aggressive. I know him for the past 5years. He has been running a successful venture.

He was worried about delivering the work in a short span, as his client demanded. The stress started affecting his work which prompted me to write this blog. In life, emotions can certainly get the best of us. It’s hard to stay calm in-between life’s stresses; it’s challenging to bring ourselves back to neutral. 

It’s best to acknowledge your emotional state, accept it, validate it, and then try and move on. If your emotions involve another individual, communicate with that person in a rational, levelheaded tone to reach a common ground. If your emotions come from personal stresses, take some time for yourself and do something that makes you feel comfortable and happy.

There are few ways to stabilize your mood and stop emotions in their tracks before you do something you might regret.

Acknowledge Thoughts

Taking note of your thoughts and feelings, as well as validating them, can help you move on. “Unhelpful thoughts often pop into our minds without our conscious control and science is now showing that fighting against unhelpful thoughts usually only serves to amplify them and in turn magnify our emotional experience,” Shape thoughts towards a positive direction.

Separate Yourself From Your Emotions

Keep in mind that your thoughts and emotions don’t define you. “Remind yourself that ‘you are not your thoughts. “There is a big difference between having the thought that you’re undesirable and actually being undesirable.” If you let your thoughts define your core, you’ll become hopeless and more in negativity. Be the best version of yourself.

Bring Humor To Your Emotions

By making your emotions seem silly and lighthearted, it’ll minimize the rage and sadness you might feel. “Write the thought on paper and make a picture out of it,” By creating a pretty painting and letting your fun, despite the hardship you are dealing with, you’ll be better able to calm down.

Meditate

Closing your eyes and meditate that can keep emotions under control. It allows you to think clearly through problems and emotional hardships. Meditate for a few minutes regularly to create a healthy habit regarding emotional regulation, or use when you feel a stress.

Don’t Judge Yourself

As humans, it’s natural to become emotional every now and then. Take your emotions for what they are and validate them as real feelings, without judging yourself. “If you can non-judgmentally observe their presence, they will reach their peak more quickly and eventually dissipate without any effort on your behalf,” If you start hating on yourself, you will only feel worse.

Cry, If You Need

“If you need to cry, there is a reason, and the tears should come out. It’s healthy to experience a full range of emotions,” Let yourself be vulnerable and cry if you need to. Don’t worry about mascara; just let yourself be. It’s best to cry alone or in the comfort of people you trust, rather than on the street or at work, so be mindful of your location.

Get Fresh Air

Fresh air can calm emotions. Take yourself for a brisk walk outside, as the movement can provide mood-boosting energy and promote healthy blood flow. Taking a few moments to yourself allows you to collect your thoughts, calm your body and separate yourself from the situation.

Convert Your Emotions Into Something Positive

Let your emotions enhance your creativity and performance. “If you’re angry, try to do something constructive with your anger” Convert emotions into your art, as well. Write a story, sing a relatable song, doodle, or work on a project you have been putting off.

While it’s important to address your emotions, it is critical to keep them under control and move on efficiently and quickly so that you can start enjoying your life again. When emotions involve another person, it’s vital to work with that person and communicate your thoughts well in order to overcome the tension.

By,

Monisha Kumaraguru

How to build products that customers Love?

Last week we had team discussion with the sales team of METI, an IIoT company, who has the reputation of building amazing products, especially hardware.  We were discussing on what value addition the products were offering to their customers. The main value addition that METI emphasised was remote monitoring. But we wanted to get deeper and understand why customers wanted Remote Monitoring Solutions.
We met their customer which was an Engineering Services company and had a two-hour discussion. The process of interview is as follows 
Meti: Why do you need a remote monitoring solution? 
Company: To do energy monitoring in our foundries. 
Meti: Why do you need energy monitoring in the foundries? 
Company: Want to check if the furnace is fully loaded. 
Meti: Why do have to check if the furnace is fully loaded? 
Company: Otherwise there will be wastage of power. 
Meti: Why do you say power is wasted if the furnace is not fully loaded? 
Company: Whether the furnace is not fully loaded or not, the furnace will consume the same amount of power. If the furnace is fully loaded then the entire power is efficiently utilised, otherwise power is wasted. 
Meti: Is there a benchmark for comparison? 
Company: Yes. Usually, it takes 590 units to melt one ton of metal.  
Meti: How does remote monitoring help you achieve your goal? What is the goal? 
Company: Remote monitoring helps us understand the power consumption pattern. We estimate the power consumption pattern every minute and the quantity of metal melted in the foundry. This will help us understand if the foundry is working in full efficiency. In other words, we understand if the machine is running is maximum capacity or is it under-utilised which only means power is wasted.  
METI: Can you please elaborate quantitatively? 
An optimal value to melt one tonne of metal is 590 units. If we can do that 610 units, it’s still productive. The manager showed the data wherein before the remote monitoring system was employed, the company was consuming 710 units to melt one tonne because of under utilisation of machines. Remote monitoring helped them to reduce the power consumption to 610 units/ton. 
Meti: What happens without a remote monitoring solution? Cant we not monitor it manually? 
Company: If there is no remote monitoring solution then there must be a supervisor who has to go and inspect the machines every one hour and come back with a report. It only helps in a post-mortem. It does not help the system take a timely corrective action. Even if a sample is collected every one hour, it will not be enough for optimisation as the pattern varies in a minute to minute basis.  
Meti: What is the power consumption of the unit? 
Company: The power consumption of the factory is 50 lakh unit. The foundry consumes 48 lakh units. 
Meti: How many tons do you melt every month? 
Company: 3000 tons 
Meti: what are the other value additions that you derive out of real-time monitoring? 
Company: If we are able to understand the maximum load duration and the period, we shall work to keep the maximum load off the peak hours (6-9pm). Further, if the maximum load is kept after 10 pm, we also get a 20% rebate. 
Meti: What else sir? 
Company: Remote monitoring also helps to maintain the power factor, apart from optimising the furnace usage. 
Meti: What else do we compute from the patterns? 
Company: The solution has helped to improve /maintain the power factor and also compute the peak load. Without a real-time date, it will be impossible to calculate and maintain both of these parameters. It also makes sure we can keep our Maximum Demand in check thereby avoiding penalty.  
Meti: How did you decide to buy the solution? 
Company: Earlier readings used to be taken every one hour. Every tonne consumed almost 700 units.590 units is the benchmark. But you will find everyone is working all the time. Only when you know the loading pattern; you will know to how to make it efficient. The load has to be full for effective power consumption.  
Meti: History of energy monitoring : 
Company: Analog- mainly used to protect the switchboard. Analog meter was replaced by Digital energy meter. Now it has moved to Industry 4.0.  
Meti: Future expectations? 
Company: 1. Production report needs to be generated every month. The company should work to generate the report effortlessly.  
                  2. Energy consumption every minute. Patterns have to captured.  
                  3. Help us learn good practices from other companies.  
 
How to build products that customers Love
Inference:
Insights for METi after the interview. 
Having bought the product, the company was able to achieve ROI of  71% in less than 30 days.
Apart, the device also helped the company to maintain the power factor and also calculate the maximum power demand.
“All these things, we were able to achieve effortlessly”, These were the right words from the manager
This is real value addition, not Remote Monitoring. METI is now trying to position itself differently now with these insights. 
Often, startups do not understand customer needs. Many products are launched on the market with a lot of assumptions. The biggest problem with these assumptions is that the startups do not know how to position the product in the market, even worse, if these assumptions fail, then the whole business collapses.  
If you want to build a product that customers love, then build the product with the customer. Even better, let the customer build the product for you.
                                          By
Dr.Kaarthick                
CEO                             
Incubating IoT Dreams

Get Out Of The Building

          MEET YOUR ACTUAL CUSTOMER

Having been in the startup space for the last 4 years and having dealt with multiple failures, if a ‘new’ startup founder came to me for advice, I would tell him/her just one thing – “Get out of your damn office building and spend some time with your actual customers”
 
 
 
I am not going to mince words here. There is no point ‘intellectually ideating’ with a bunch of mentors in a room discussing ‘who will be the ideal customer’. Instead, go out into the market and find it out yourself. You will be stunned with the insights your customers/non-customers can give you! If at all you really like the air conditioning in your swanky office, then go at 7pm once you’ve spent the day in the field.
 
 
 
Look, everything follows the Pareto’s principle (80/20 rule) eg – 20% of your clients give you 80% of the revenue. Similarly, spend 80% of your time in the field and 20% in the office. If only I had done this earlier, I would be the founder of a unicorn company (it’s never too late though)
 
 
 
Let me tell you the story of my good friend who I won’t name for obvious reasons. He spent about 1.5 years preparing the perfect product which NO ONE WANTED! He was always living in a fantasy world where ‘he thought’ this is what the customer needs. Unfortunately, he was in for a rude shock when customers didn’t show any interest in his product. All of this in the guise of the ‘perfect first impression’. He always told me ‘You know I want to show my customer a great product, hence I don’t want to go to the market right now’. I am sorry, but in my humble opinion, first impressions count only if you are going on a date (actually no, but we’ll talk about this later). Screw the first impression if you want to have a great impression in the long run. Make as many mistakes as possible by talking to potential customers. Even if you leave a bad impression with a few customers, remember – we Indians are doing really well with our population rate. You will never run out of market size!
 
 
 
I humbly appeal to you, get out of the damn building and go on multiple dates with your customer. That’s how you’ll find your love. I meant your ‘actual customer’!
            By,                   

Anmol Garg

 

Customer Interviews

Customer interviews are a very critical part of product design. After all, the product is designed for the customers who build it. However, this critical part is the most neglected part of any product development. Founders resort to inefficient mechanisms like a survey to do understand their customers but they never capture the required information to product development.
The purpose of a customer survey is not to find out whether people will buy your product or not. The objective of the customer interview is to identify their pain points and to understand their patterns of decision making.
Once the founders have decided to the customer interview then there are four important steps to go ahead and do the interview
  1. Mindset
  2. Where do you meet your target customers?
  3. What questions to ask?
  4. Post Interview Notes
Mindset- Every now and then I keep emphasising on preparing ourselves mentally, because many a time we may have to handle disappointments. Be excited to go and conduct a customer interview. Its a place an opportunity to understand your customer better.  Proceed with a learning mindset. The best way to ensure a learning mindset is to follow an 80:20 rule.  Listen for 80% of the time and speak only less than 20% of the time. Another important attribute that needs to be followed during the interview process is never interrupted the flow of the customer.
PS: Make sure you do not use the two words in the entire interview- NO, BUT
 
Where do you meet your target customers: The best place to meet your target customers is at the place where they make the decision of buying your product. For instance, if it’s a  B2B business, then the best place to meet the customer is at their office where they make the decision. It is important, the customer should also be in the right framework to answer the questions. If the idea is to a  build a gifting portal for a B2C market, then the best place to interview is their home or at a gift shop where they buy the product. Our personal experience of conducting customer interviews with the purely special team at shopping malls was really exciting. We first went to a gift shop and asked them if we could conduct interviews in their shop without disturbing the customers. The manager refused to give us permission. We then decided to meet strangers in the mall and conduct our interviews, We managed to meet 30 different people at different age categories and the whole experience was completely enthralling.
PS: Conduct interviews as a team (2-5 members)
What questions do I ask in an interview? Be very clear about the objective of the interview. What inferences need to be collected at the end of the interview? If the interview is conducted without a prior appointment then start by introducing yourself and why you need to talk to them. Request them for a few minutes of their time. Never mention a word about the existence of your product. Try and capture their patterns. Try to go deeper. Sharing a few questions that we used to conduct our interview for Purely Special.
  1. What are the occasions on which you gift?
  2. How do you remember the occasions?
  3. Why do you feel gifting to people is important?
  4. How do you feel when people gift you?
  5. Who are the people who gift you?
  6. Whom do you gift?
  7. What was the best gift that you have received?
  8. Who is the person who gifted you the best gift?
  9. When did you feel very special when you gifted someone?
  10. How do you choose your gifts?
  11. What are the driving factors that decide your gifts?
  12. What type of gifts do you choose for different people?
  13. How do you like to purchase your gifts?
  14. What are your favourite online and offline shopping stores?
  15. How do you send your gifts to your loved ones?
  16. When do you take the decision of gifting someone?
  17. Can you please run me through your process once you have decided to gift someone?
  18. What are the challenges you have faced in buying gifts?
  19. What would you consider as a great gift buying experience?
  20. Can you share one such a great experience?
etc
The objective of the survey is to understand customers gifting patterns.

PS: Don’t use leading questions. Capture emotions.

Making Notes:
Make sure you capture every important information in the survey. Let every member of the team make individual notes. If there is an option, take the permission of the customer and do a  video recording to make sure no points were missed.
BE a master observer and listener.

Testing Bathroom ideas using Design Thinking

A good morning shower can become more alluring start for the day when a creative idea props in our mind. Many a time these ideas don’t see the light of day as they get lost in our daily schedules. Imminently we happen to find the news that someone has raised a million dollar investment with our forgotten idea. That instant we feel a deep sense of guilt in our heart for not executing our idea and our face turns yearning to be that million dollar businessman.

“IDEAS ARE NOBODY’S PROPRIETORSHIP”. 

One in a million ideas. Yes, you read it right, One in a million ideas step out of the bathroom and see the light of day. This becomes a start-up. Looking into today’s context, less than 10% of our start-ups taste success. When it refers to success, they either raise money & scale fast or they become self-sustainable business ventures in a stretch of time. We are yet to explore many scalable and profitable businesses in India. The high failure rate of start-ups may be attributed to many factors, however, let’s start building our start-up right. The first step is to validate our bathroom idea once we decide to convert it into a business.

Now, Here comes the billion dollar question, How do I validate my idea? There are many methods/tools to validate ideas. Most of the founders prepare a questionnaire and do a validation by doing survey with their friends. At the end of the survey, they are in “WOW” moment… Now, they have concrete proof that their idea is going to be a humungous success. The billion-dollar start-up is in the making. Please Trust!!! This is the shortest route to the grave. Kindly forgive me for being so rude, yet that’s the truth. Let’s take a closer look, assume the questionnaire is sent to us, how do we do it. We force ourselves to complete it because it is sent by our friend, isn’t that true. Mostly they are completed in less than 7 minutes irrespective of kind/length of the survey. Around 80% of people do not even spare time to read the questions completely. So validating our idea using a survey is like saying “India will win the match for sure, we have to score 36 runs in 6 balls. All we need is just 6 sixes”. Can India win? Yes, of course or May be. What’s the probability? Leaving it for guessing.

If surveys are ineffective, what else can we do? Let’s ring the bell; our bathroom idea has to do a “JOB” for a sure set of people in an exacting circumstance. We call this sure set as our target customers. So, our first step would be identification of target customers. Once they are identified we have to converse with these people for better understanding of their needs or I would go ahead and say “Finding out their unstated needs”. From our personal experience and the experience of our startups whom we work with (#Anmol Garg of Beyond Skool), it is necessary to talk to at least 100 target customers (B2C idea) before we could assume our idea is good. If we ever think this is a simple task, THINK AGAIN. Many a times the simplest of things are the most difficult to implement. People find it extremely challenging to go out and talk to customers. One of the prime factors is “FEAR”.

In the past 2 years, our team had spoke and also helped our start-ups speak to different sets of target customers to validate IDEAS. As pointed out earlier, our biggest challenge was overcoming fear and helping our team to overcome fears well. From our learning, we would like to impart two tips to conduct successful customer interviews: The first tip is, “Go with prepared mindset”. It is quite difficult talk to customers in their workplace or in some public place. We may start feeling shy or some bugging in our mind like, what will they think of us? What if they don’t respond properly? etc. So whenever we go out to do interviews with target customers we have to predefine our mindset to “Excitement”. Excited because we get some new information/ideas or excited because we were meeting new people who cut us abruptly or excited because we have overcome fear to talk to strangers. Means irrespective of whatever happens during the interview process, we will remain excited. Trust, if we predefine our mindset that it’s going to be exciting, come what may, then we will learn much more.

PS: Please do interviews as a team (2 to 5 members) and it will be of great fun.

The second tip is “Chai Pe Charcha”, the title of course copied from our honourable Prime Minister. This tip actually rendered by one of our start-ups townO . They used the idea to successfully validate their business ideas. If the idea of talking to strangers/customers feels uncomfortable then start with a “Chai Pe Charcha”. We may probably invite a group of target customers over a tea through a known network, for example, if we want to interview millennials, we could approach the colleges nearby and invite students for “Chai Pe Charcha”. The students will fell elated and they shall come up with lot of ideas that may add value to the business/product.

This is how we begin the concept of “DESIGN THINKING”. Design Thinking is all about building our business/product with customer.