Bhutan is no ordinary place. Its a beautifully land-locked Himalayan kingdom, which has remained cut off from the outside world, till about 35 years back. And that it is one of the most tenaciously guarded culture and tradition is no secret. The exclusivity of adventure, nature and culture awaits you like no other place in the world.
The traditional Buddhism reigns supreme in daily lives of people, and for Bhutanese – Modernisation does not necessarily mean Westernisation. After all they are not chasing GDP, but happiness through GNH Index – Gross National Happiness and have 70% of their country under forest cover. Now if that’s not amazing – then fathom this –
They are never in a haste, don’t publish newspaper on a Sunday, have a holiday on Rainy Day, make time for customs, family, friends and archery. So while riding in Bhutan – No Hurry, No Worry!
If it helps you – here is the route we did … Started and Finished at Siliguri …
Here are the top 20 Images from our recent ride to Bhutan – It’s SHANGRI-LA …
Hope you enjoyed these images. Though I must admit that none of these can do full justice to a road trip in Bhutan.
Some Advise for those planning to Go …
I have had a privilege of riding over 20,000 km in Bhutan. Every time I ride into Phuentsholing and through the mystical fog of Gedu, its an ever exhilarating feeling of rejuvenation. For the guys who are planning to take a road trip to Bhutan – here is a quick update on what has changed in last 1-2 years –
The entry to Phuentsholing from Jaigaon has changed. You need to go further ahead from the earlier gate, and take a circuitous route to the town – its now a rear entry to the Phuentsholing from further down the wall. A lot of roads are now one-ways which really make reaching your hotel a very interesting. 🙂
You cannot have an E-Permit / E-Visa, if you are using the back up vehicle and mechanic from India. Effectively if you want an E Permit / E Visa, you have to use every service from a Bhutan travel agent.
The new highway construction to Thimphu that completely bypasses the thin and risky roads of Tsimasham – and now its just a song of a ride to Thimphu or Paro.
Indian riders are unable to ride beyond Phobjika or Gangtey. So basically due to road reconstruction, the central and eastern Bhutan remains elusive to Indian riders. Although I do hear that Bhutan bikes are now allowed to travel east.
In the coming months I have some amazing destinations to go to. Would share the stories of Kyrgyszstan, Eastern Europe and Spiti rides – in coming months.
Please do share the Photo Blog with your friends who have interests in unique places, riding and outdoor life. Also would be grateful if leave a comment …
Thanking you from Myanmar, for being here and following this blog on road trip to London. Please do share with those who are keen on reading our stories from the highway.
Getting this blog out is more challenging than I initially thought. The sheer quantum of operations and coordination work in the day light hours, consumes us all completely. But I am committed to bring it to you -at least twice a week if not more.
I am now sitting in a roadside cyber cafe in a small border town of Tamu in Myanmar, and penning this one down – got some hook on to the cafe’s wifi – it cost me 3000 Kyat ( don’t worry its just Rs 150). We have had a rendezvous with some early monsoon showers and the humidity is rising – its mostly cloudy and a good weather for riders. Its noon and I have not seen the sun yet.
Tamu is the sister town of Indian border town of Moreh in Manipur. Tamu is 2 shades cleaner, and the roads are a few shades better. But looking at my last 5 years across this town of Moreh – Tamu – it has gone a lot better year on year. I guess the under development Asian Highway ( AH1), which is supposed to be the Gateway to ASEAN – will do wonders to these border towns. Interestingly Moreh has a thriving Tamil population from the British days.
I assume you all would like to know a bit about actors of this magnum opus. Allow me a few lines on the participants and Hamsafars.
We have Rason, in his early forties, who has a business of Concrete from Coimbatore. An amazing rider of CCT ( Cotton City Throttle) riding group. Rason has been on our rides in Chiangmai and Bhutan. Rason’s humility and a capability to laugh at himself is something that just about catches your attention early. Of course he is the best camera shot on the ride – and do watch out for his pics that he has allowed me to use on our blog and Instagram. He is riding a BMW 1200 GS.
The next in line is the Prasads’ Family – GV, Nandini and their Son Rakshith from Hyderabad. Prasads run a chain of Pathcare Labs, pan India. GV came to realise his riding passion 3 years back, now owns 10 super-bikes, and here is the big news- he would achieve the rare landmark of doing 1,00,000 kms within few hours of entering Myanmar. For GV there is no looking back, he is now a rider on the mission to ride the lengths and breadths of this Globe, hopefully we would be part of that dream.
GV and Rakshith are riding BMW 1200 GS, and Nandiniis watching them ride the road across Asia and Europe from the back up SUV – this she believes is a lot more peace than worrying back home about the boys on bikes.
Rakshith is all of 21 and has just taken the time out between MBBS commitments to finish this ride of a lifetime … What luck to do this at such early stage in life. And the by the way, he is amazingly tech savvy, is aware of the nitty gritty of whats inside of BMW GS 1200 motorcycle. That is such a relief to all the other BMW riders on expedition. With the parents as spirited road trippers, he has inherited an amazing attitude to adventure rides.
Moving on to the 2 riders from Ahmedabad of the Vibrant Gujarat – Prakash Bhai or PP and Hirenbhai or Kaka or Bablo. I have not seen more vibrant riders yet – with so much zest for life and endless energies to keep the team spirits high. Both are members of Gun Riders Motorcycle Club (GRMC) of Ahmedabad, and are doing the journey on amazing Royal Enfield Himalayans. Two Indian bikes that would do this arduous journey and make Royal Enfield proud.
PP – an active Lions Club of Karnavati, Ahmedabad member (LIONS Club is an International NGO) , is the brain being running of GRMC. A veteran of many enduring and tough rides all over India – he has a savvy social media presence and is pretty popular among bikers of India and abroad. PP has high endurance for long rides and a penchant to find a biker friend in every city.
Hirenbhai or Kaka is running 60 and is age wise the eldest on the group. Had he not come to this ride, he would have been overage to ride on China. This young man too came to adventure a few years back. Hiren believes that his current phase of life is a bonus and is ready to do anything to live life to the fullest – anything else just does not matter to him #OneLife #CarpeDiem. His indomitable positivity and capability to accept things the way they are, speaks of the deep philosophical understanding Kaka has of the life we are living. His zest for living life is worth emulating.
Then we have the man from the Royal Household of Dundlod, Rajat Singh Shekhawat, again on the 4th BMW 1200 GS of our ride. This steed he bought just a few months back with the sole purpose of doing a ride to London. Rajat grew up in the tea gardens of North Assam, went to Scindhias, Mayo and DU, is a reputed shooter and an excellent sportsman. He runs SUVASA – an awe inspiring, pan-India chain of ethnic clothing. Rajat incidentally was the first guy to sign up and its his steely resolve that pushed us to make this ride happen. We are all grateful.
Ankit of Viktorianz, is the man-friday who has put in countless hours for almost 100 days in working out and putting together the complex logistics of ride – you cannot imagine what it takes. He has been a Viktorianz man for 3 years+, has done a few trans-border rides already, and is now on this big one. Ankit is as tireless in operations as anyone can imagine – and a budding world explorer. Such great support to the expedition that I cannot do justice in writing here …
Finally its Keshwars’ Family – Sarita, heads a few mission critical things at Viktorianz – and has pieced together the maze of stays we would do in 2 continents over 55 days. Sarita has been a biker, a trekker, a road tripper across India and an Educator – including Principal of a School – and above all a conscience keeper at Viktorianz. Her rock solid efforts for conduct of an operation of this proportion – is the reason that it became possible to roll out in time.
Teesta, or daughter, is moving into final year BMM from Jaihind College Mumbai and would be our Camera team cum Media person. On the verge of stepping out of her teens, she para-jumped into the expedition – literally. More from her cameras as we go along.
And finally we have Tanay, all of 13 years, going into standard 9th at Suncity School, Gurgaon – and the only thing he was worried for packing is – the football. His aim on this expedition is to play football with local kids wherever we halt. Always on a look out for kids playing something or the other. Tanay, at this age is missing a month plus of school to go onto this education for life. We are so happy to enable this for him. His only regret – is that we are in Moscow in FIFA World Cup opening and we are not watching a game.
Well thats the team … now back to story again.
Bit of a flashback – I began from home in Gurgaon on 26 April, did about 1900 kms and reached Guwahati for preparations in two and a half days, on 28 April. The road from NOIDA to Lucknow was unbelievably super – we pulled tremendous mileage. I am sure you are aware that there is a portion on highway Agra – Lucknow, where the fighter jets of Indian Airforce can land. Yes .. thats true.
At Lucknow, Rajat joined us and we rode together till Guwahati. Except the road from Lucknow to Gorakhpur that looks crowded, the rest of the roads have come up well. There are one million diversions and opposite coming traffic and goats – but, what the heck – a lot is getting better for roads in our country.
In Guwahati, we had a hectic 2 days of final coordination work and preps and we launched the ride right on time.
Given below in images are the glimpses of day wise activities with notes. Have a look and please do share the blog with family and friend, especially children.
Day 1 | 01 May 2018 | Guwahati to Dimapur | 280 kms
We rode out right on time at 7:30 am, to Pobitra National Park, 45 kms out of Guwahati – to watch some Rhinos in the wild, Pobitra has a remarkable density of one horned Indian Rhinos ( world’s highest – as they claim) and citing is definite. We saw over a dozen Rhinos in the grasslands, a wild boar and some species of birds. The abundant oxygen and freshness of jungle made us quickly forget the polluted cities we live in. Have a look at the pics of the day.
Day 2 | 02 May 2018 | Dimapur to Imphal | 210 kms
This was a tough day. Dimapur to Kohima is one of the worst roads to ride – and then to Imphal is no better. This surely was one ‘BAD ROADs Day’. It took us a full day and some night hours to make to Imphal. We did make a brief halt at Kohima War Cemetery and Zakhama War Memorial – you would like to know that British War Museum has nominated the battles of Imphal and Kohima to be the most significant battles ever fought by the British Army, ever . The rains did play truant several time. The neglect of this part of India is so obvious and sad – and I really wish things get better here – with Look East Policy. Have a look at the pics of the day.
Day 3 | 03 May 2018 | Imphal to Kale | 250 kms
This was a big day – we were scheduled to cross our first border – into Myanmar. So you cross a series of Assam Rifles, Immigration, Customs and again Assam Rifles border post – to get into Myanmar. The process went very smooth and seamless – and quite a few landmarks achieved in the day. It is interesting to know that Indian Border Roads Organisation constructed the first 80 km of road from Moreh – Tamu – now called the Friendship Road. Do you know that Myanmar is the world’s highest growing tourist destination? It whopping 400% year on year. Have a look at pics of the day.
Alright people, I am going to close now – its time to roll on. In the next blog we shall talk of the two most spectacular spots in Myanmar – The ultimate Old Bagan and the Life on Inle Lake. Here is something to smile …
Do keep watching this space for the stories. It would be great if some young children follow the travelogue – I believe it would be a good learning for them. Thanks once again for being here – do leave a comment and would be happy to answer anything you want to ask …
+91-997 1119 102 ( may not be active on the road)
PS: We are planning the next London Road Trip, from 15 April 2019.
This blog I have just started, is BIG, VERY BIG … and probably the most ambitious thing I have ever done in my life. Its a 20,000 km family road trip from Delhi to Scotland … On our Hyundai Creta (purchased for the purpose).
Have a look at this picture and what do you think are these guys doing? 🙂
This afternoon, I took the Creta for a pre Road Trip inspection – and these guys spent most of the evening asking me questions, about the route map on the bonnet. Of course they did declare the vehicle fit for the trip – after some checks.
Myself, Sarita (wife); Teesta (daughter) & Tanay (son) – are all super excited to be on a this 2 month trip.
While we traverse the 20,000 kms journey metre by metre, I promise to send you some very interesting stuff to read. Please Subscribe to my Blog to get these updates.
We would ride through – 16 Countries, cross 32 borders, change 7 time zones, see 2 continents over 20,000 kms in 55 days. We are 12 of us on 6 bikes and 2 SUVs. This is how the day wise itinerary would look like – please click on this link to view a detailed one :Guwahati to London : Detailed Plan
And the message for the World we wish to carry with us on the expedition is the one inspired by none other than our Prime Minister :
So if you like Travelogues … you are up for an exciting journey. Read the write up behind our truck …
Please don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and do share it. Thanks for following …
Hi, I am Mike (Col Manoj Keshwar) and I am a Veteran, a Bombay Sapper officer of 1990 seniority. I took a voluntary retirement in 2011, and have had an interesting journey outside of military life. There has been a variety, ups and downs, failures and successes of life post military … and some learnings that would benefit anyone who is stepping out of the forces. While everyone goes through this but, hardly anyone shares them. It is a little long but, every bit of it will be worth knowing. Here it goes!
Fish Out of Water
It was in 2011 after finishing command of my Regiment, that I decided to step out of the Army and make myself a Second career. I was not too sure of what I would do, but, was certain that i wished to do something different and interesting for rest of my life. I grew up as an army kid, went to NDA from a KV, and then a nice military career.
The only thing one knew was the way it works in Army and the wonderful way of life in cantonments. In 2011, I was in my early forties, and was pretty pumped up to make things happen – the release came in the later part of 2011 and i was out in civil. Stepping out of the military comfort zone was really like a ‘fish out of water’ or as if someone had peeled the skin off a banana.
Unlearn & Relearn : IIM Lucknow
I soon found myself as a military-man with heavy baggage of attitude ( like, I am a Colonel guys …), inflated self-opinion (like, let me tell you how ..), telling stories (like, when i was in Siachen … ) and know-it-all ( we did it like this …) – You have the right hardware, but the software certainly had to be new. My hard disc needed re-formatting and loading of new upgraded, relevant soft-ware.
In the period from putting in my papers to a release from services, I enrolled myself with a first of its kind – Executive Global Business Management Program at IIM Lucknow. It was a distance learning e-program – with some contact classes at IIML NOIDA Campus. Most of these IIMs, XLRI etc offer this course now. This feeling of back to School was nice – and pretty different from whatever i had seen in the Army institutes. I was the only Military guy on the course – felt important and to-begin-with, widely respected.
There was a fresh kind of learning – contemporary, relevant and real. I began to realise that i did not know quite a lot of the business stuff. In course a few things made sense to me and i could relate to things like – Operations and Human Resources, but some things were greek and scary – like Finances, Marketing, Sales, Business Strategy etc. The course went off well and i did get a fair and nervous sense of what lies ahead – like FOG OF PEACE!
Life at McDonalds
Next to Military, the closest thing that makes us comfortable is a salaried 9-2-5 corporate job – need to have salary coming to bank account at the end of month. Good jobs of your level in corporate will always be through connections – very few Head HRs would have a vision to fathom your worth.
Through some good connections, I had this offer to head the HR for McDonalds, based out of Delhi. I did not want to be too selective. Fresh out of Army, i badly needed something that obviated the self created uncertainty of post PMR life. And so, i took the first bus that came my way – and propelled myself into a Corporate job. McDonalds was an iconic MNC and a trail blazer in fast food business.
Corporate jobs are nice, well defined, well structured part of the whole machinery – you are another cog in the wheel. It was a new learning at corporate. Some of HR – i knew well from forces ( my MS Branch days), which made me pretty comfortable with a lot of stuff except ‘salaries’ and ‘compensation system’. First six months was a steep learning curve – very engaging, i worked very hard, they liked me, and i liked the edu-curve.
Once i knew the ropes, i found that i am back into doing a routine, mundane, repetitive office work – I was missing the field work, open skies and green mountains. It was a good learning every single day, this new life and a thing called Business. One of the things I began to realise was that – the large organisations are all the same – it had a resistance to change, cronyism, status-quoism and politics – and unless you are a sail-along guy, you are quite likely to NOT like it. The existential question appears – ‘Did I leave Army for this …?’
So here I was, a year into a renowned corporate, and i was already having a mid life crisis – i had stopped liking it. It was not engaging me enough, it was not realising my full potential and there was not much to learn in current role. On the other hand, there was comfort, there was monthly pay, there was security – but there wasn’t Growth. I had begun to feel that the learning and challenge – had vanished.
I spoke to a few people among family, friends and business. It became certain to me that I needed more traction in life, more challenge & cadence and may be raising my own business would be quite the thing that would suit me. I decided to try entrepreneurship and raise a Startup of my own. Time had come to jump off the safe shores of a harbour, and to set sail for the high seas.
Startup Idea that does not Feel Like WORK
This was late 2012, and now began for me a new phase of thrill and infinite excitement – this was more than engaging. Start-ups are like a child – immense energies and dreams and growth and whatever you want to make of it. Its an open sky – boundless possibilities – and a potential to consume you completely – and it was consuming me completely. I really wanted to be right in selection of my Startup Idea. I allowed myself a few weeks – and the question I asked myself was –
What would make my life worth lived?
Something that fulfils my dream and makes a decent business sense?
Something I would be excited to work day in, day out, and in my sleep too?
Something that does not feel like WORK anymore?
I was always fond of outdoors and was missing being outdoor badly – motorcycling expeditions, trekking mountains, being with nature or playing golf in various courses gave me happiness . I had this child-hood dream to wander and see the World on Motorcycle and may be climb the beautiful mountains and see how the world looked from up there!
This was the thought that lent the spark – at all of 44, I had at least 25 years of motorcycling left in me – and if i ride one country a year on a bike, in 25 years I would have 25 countries done – and that sure would be a life, well lived.
This spark of an idea was called “DREAM 25. And thus came up the idea for my business run on passion – that i would raise a Road Expeditions Company, that would provide people with a platform to live their DREAM 25. This business was to be called VIKTORIANZ – inspired from the Victoria Cross Regiment that i was fortunate to serve. Much later in journey, and to my utter excitement, News18 / Cars18 was kind enough to capture this dream of mine. Here is the link to click and see the interview and video.
Back then, I was not sure where this dream would take me. I launched Viktorianz – as an Active Holidays Company – a sole proprietorship company to begin with, which later became a strong Partnership company. We had a couple of record making trips within first year – a Motorcycle Expedition into North Thailand in May 2013 and an Everest Base Camp Trek in October 2013. These till date are our most subscribed and popular active holidays options.
Viktorianz has grown steadily over last 5 years from Scotland to New Zealand – with 19 road trips, 6 unique treks and 3 Golf holidays to offer around the globe. It has helped over 1000+ people live their dreams across the globe. Its a vision rolling forward at its own pace, and we are living a life of passion – that does not feel like WORK.
Interestingly, Viktorianz is completely staffed with ex Military or wards of Military Personnel. We wish to retain the original military DNA in our business – the culture, lingo, ethics and style. The partners are all ex military officers – with amazing adventure and military reputation. Viktorianz happens to be the only company of its kind in India – and in road expeditions space we occupy a premium brand position.
To Death and Back
Well all that sounds nice to hear now. The journey as I look back has not been as rosy as it sounds. There have been tremendous hurdles to overcome, mistakes to pay for, financial lows to suffer, points of emotional breakdowns, partnership challenges and near death physical exhaustion.
The failure storm struck us within first 6 months – and it brought bad times for all of us. We finished all our retirement & reserve savings, a few partners had to quit to join jobs, and Viktorianz went downhill. We had to rush and find money to run homes, so we decided to handover Viktorianz to our wives and raise DGR Security Agencies to keep afloat. That DGR help was a big-big saviour – it allowed Viktorianz to survive the storm.
Nothing good will ever come easy and anything that comes easy lacks the staying power. Financially in 5 years, Viktorianz has not broken even till date. But our net worth has doubled YoY, geography & customer-base has expanded and client reviews have been exceptional. Now that gives us damn good hope and feeling about its potential.
There are some fundamental things that i wish to share with Military men who have energies to enter the romantic entrepreneurial space . It is hard and difficult and it would put every capability in your skin to test. You have to get your hands dirty and become a young Captain again. In the next few paragraphs i wish to highlight these fundamental learnings that i have had ever since.
1. You Have, Whatever it Takes
Let me tell you this good news – You have everything that is needed to raise a business for yourself to be a master of your destiny. Your following qualities is the stuff successful entrepreneurs are made of – and that already puts you a notch ahead of others to run your own business. But your capacities begin to diminish with age. Be proud of your :-
Resilience & Perseverance
A person with reasonably good officer like qualities – will be able to make a good Entrepreneur. One thing you need to shun is your typically ‘know-it-all’ and ‘been-there-done-that’ attitude. In this new game, you actually DO NOT ‘know-it-all’ and have NOT ‘been-here-done-this’.
2. Secure Firm Base : Home Finances
Ok the salary days are over – there is no more CDA sending you monthly salary and pay slips! I am sure you don’t know how that feels in last 25+ years. My father does not know that feeling till today. Its not a good feeling, its a sinking feeling and you don’t have an idea how to handle it. Fear this one situation to your bones.
One thing that can kill your dream prematurely is your home finances. Your endurance to stay the course in a start-up is directly proportional to financial reserves or inflow of money to run your kitchen & pay your bills. This oxygen to your home kitchen – is the classical firm base from which your operations will be launched. The first thing to do therefore is to secure the Firm Base – in your struggle phase of 3-4 years where will the money come for kids education, food and basic standard of living?
As a rule of thumb in 2017-18 – if you are in a metro you would need approx. Rs. 1-1.25 Lacs if living in own house and about Rs. 1.6-1.75 lacs if in a rented house. Factoring in your pension, you will need Rs. 50-75K and Rs. 1-1.25 Lacs respectively to be arranged. This would be lesser if you are not in a metro.
If you don’t have arrangements for these funds for about 3-5 years! Well you are not ready yet? I jumped in when i was not ready, and i did fail …
3. When are You Ready?
Well that is a million dollar question. Typically, only 10% of the business is clear at the start, the rest of 90% will only be clear once you are into it. One will never be completely ready for the jump – the dive will be into some vagueness and uncertainty. This is like a 10m jump, where you have to step forward and let go in thin air. Your firm base, constantly improved business model and military attributes will give you staying power to cross-over the valley of death in a startup.
4. Do Less, Something Special
Most of us who have been handling large scope of work, and have an inflated idea about our capabilities. I used to handle construction projects in 250+ locations over 700+ Sq kms on Line of Control. Now all that was with a colossal support system. Without that support system you can handle just about 1-2% of that. So in your initial years at Start Up – be very careful about this limitation and tone down the expectation of your own capabilities. You would be able to accomplish very little – and everything will have to be done by just YOU – from business idea to banks to brooms. One of my early mentors Samrendra Kumar (founder, Mitkat Advisory), said ‘Do less, to do more’ – I cannot tell you how precious this advice is.
In the early Start Up years you have to select a very narrow niche – an area of your unique specialisation, thats different from market and there is a sure demand. Run pilot project if you need to. But you have to become a reasonable expert at your niche. Your focus has to be ‘Inch wide and a Mile Deep’.
5. There will be Struggle
Startups will never be easy – in fact it will be very very difficult – and it will extract every ounce of your mental, physical, financial, emotional and social endurance. And quite a lot of this will have to be done alone, unless you are in a partnership company. This of course will ease out as you move in the right direction – but until you find your firm footing and decent money begins to roll-in – this will be a Dog-fight and a Dog’s day.
While struggling in the startup years, you tend to neglect FAMILY and physical FITNESS. There is a tendency to put in every minute of your time into doing something for the startup – and that is the time stolen away from family, fitness and well being. You will repent if you allow this neglect to happen. This desperation to work endlessly can be avoided if Firm Base is established.
6. Agile on Your Feet
It would be rarest of the rare that the idea you begin with would be the idea that you end up working. You modify lots of things on the way. Like an agile boxer, you have to be quick on your feet. You have to have your eye on the mission and your ear to the ground. Constantly be on a look out of what is working and more importantly what is not working. As a rule – whatever is not working has to be closed or modified and whatever is working needs to be reinforced.
Listening to your customers is a big resource for making mid course corrections. They tell you a lot of stuff that would work for your business. You will soon find the way or a model that would work for your business. Remember – No point climbing a ladder fast, if its leaning against the wrong wall – Get your compass bearing right – first and fast.
7. Learn Selling, Marketing and Finances
An entrepreneur is an all roles rolled into one. As i mentioned earlier, one thing that really needs to be learnt is the art or technique of sales and methods of marketing. Military man – till he leaves uniform is bad at selling and he looks down on marketing efforts. And rightfully so – coz we believed our work will automatically speak for us. One major reason for a good idea startup to fail – is under-estimating the marketing effort, leading to poor sales. And that in some time will lead to death of a startup.
Finances is another thing a military man barely learns. He is in fact trained quite opposite – coz we believe that a money minded guy rarely makes a good soldier. Most of us are poor at accounts, hardly match the two sides of our payslips, or scrutinise the mess bills. That was good there and is not good here.
This insensitivity to money has to be completely unlearnt and re-learnt. In business its Money – you have to make more money than you spend. You have to think and track where is the money coming from and going. You have to know how much money is needed to run your house, how much money is needed to begin the business and how much is needed to run it next 6 months to a year and most importantly – where is this money coming from? Money is the ether of Business existence – if its badly managed – business will choke to death.
8. Re-Learn to Deep Dive
Military officer is a large hearted soul and a lot strategic than tactical. In fact he forgets to be tactical ever since he became a senior Major. He usually is adept at taking decisions basis ambiguity and scant information. That has to change too. While there is vagueness in the running of business, but there is no dearth of data and factual information or mentors and resources. You must re-learn the habit of diving deep – cull out relevant data – consult experts – make it look intelligent – and use it to good effect for your business. You can no more make broad based, off the cuff, un-consulted, intuitive decisions – everything must be data supported because everything costs money.
You would do good to get yourself mentors. Our community is very very helpful in sitting and spending time to guide you. But you have to go to them to seek advice.
9. Passion may Not become Business
A passion is a passion – and one is often blinded with passion thing. Unless you apply business sense to make money out of it – it would die down. One needs to distinguish between the two and understand that – not every passion can be made into a successful business. We began with a motorcycle expeditions company, moved to road trips and now we have finally called ourselves an ‘Active Holidays Company’.
If the passion product in not a Market fit, you should know early … and move on from it or modify it. A passion that does not make profit – is nothing more than a hobby. It happened to us.
10. Where is your Network
When i stepped out of the forces, i found that i knew no one in the neighbourhood and very few in the city. So where do i go for help, support, ideation or contacts? The people i have known all my life are somewhere in the wilderness serving the country – and none of those good soldiers can help with business contacts.
Everyone who is successful has a good support of a relevant network – they know a lot of people in a lot of places. Some guys told me that your ‘Net-Work is your Net-Worth’. Military man has a major hurdle to cross here – and one must begin early to develop and nurture a network that is relevant to your business.
One can go on and on in this journey. Entrepreneurship is a wonderful and adventurous way of life and it is not for faint hearted. You are your own boss, creating meaningful value, generating employment, always on your toes, immense professional satisfaction and leaving a legacy for generations. As military officer, You have it in YOU, all the QRs of a successful entrepreneur – To be the Commander you were always destined to be … May God be with you!
I made these notes for my team at Viktorianz. Then realised it would be of great value to entrepreneur and startup community as a whole. Those who may not have time to read the book – but can gain critical advice from my Notes on this Book. Here is the cover of the book i am reviewing here … “NEVER GIVE UP” Jack Ma in his own words (Suk Lee & Bob Song)
Jack Ma and Alibaba, represents the struggle and hardships that any Start-Up or Entrepreneur would go through – and achieve success the hard way up. His style of leadership, positivity, humility and perseverance is an inspiration for any entrepreneur or a start up team.
Jack Ma in Short
With $21.8 Billion worth, Jack Ma is one of the wealthiest individual on earth. In 2015, Forbes Magazine named him as one of the 22 most powerful people in the World
Jack Ma’s journey to the top is a rags to riches story. Before creating Alibaba, he was a humble struggling English teacher at Hangzhou Normal College.
Ma faced rejection at every stage of life. He made to city’s worst University (in his own words) after failing twice. After graduation, Ma applied for 30 different jobs and got rejected by all. The Harvard’s Graduate School rejected him 10 times and when KFC came to China 24 persons applied and he was the only one rejected.
Alibaba is now one of the most valuable tech companies in the world and Jack Ma now serves as executive chairman of Alibaba Group, which is a holding company with nine major subsidiaries: Alibaba.com, Taobao Marketplace, Tmall, eTao, Alibaba Cloud Computing, Juhuasuan, 1688.com, AliExpress.com and Alipay.
Quoting Jack Ma on Startups
There is inspiration and wisdom in what Jack Ma has to say about starting a business and making it a success. Here is what he says …
1. Believe in Your Dream and Never Give Up.
“In the internet recession of 2001-02, we talked only about ‘surviving’. Even if all other internet companies died, we had to survive. And we did so only after Refusing to Give Up, by believing in our dream. This incessant effort and constant ability to learn from our mistakes led to success”.
“While today is tough, tomorrow may be tougher. However the day after tomorrow may be beautiful. But too many will give up after tough times on the eve of tomorrow night. Therefore Never Give Up today.”
“From Day one all entrepreneurs know that their day is about dealing with difficulty and failure rather than defined by Success. My most difficult time has not come yet, but it surely will. Nearly a decade of entrepreneurial experience tells me that difficult times cannot be evaded or shouldered by others – the entrepreneur must be able to face failure and Never Give Up.”
2. Establish Credibility & Trust.
“After lots of research, we found that number one thing for business is Trust & Credibility. Business people are most concerned with this.”
“I am lucky now, in that, if i were to leave this company, i could still finance USD 30 Million, with one telephone call. That’s credibility. We have walked the walk, relying on this belief”.
3. Client is God, Period.
“The important comments come from your clients – If users find your service useful, then it is. If they say it is useless then it is.”
“You can talk your product to high heavens, but if users regard your product without value or utility, you will be crashing to earth in no time.”
As i say to my staff “Don’t tell me how to make money. Just tell me how to provide value to our clients”.
“Most of the time Salesman think of how to get 5 Yen from your pocket into theirs. Alibaba employees need to consider, how they can keep that 5 Yen in your pocket and change it into 50 Yen. Thinking this way makes us different.”
“When a disaster strikes, think of your clients. Then think of employees and then your competition.In fact better not think of competition as you need to handle your own troubles first.”
4. Always tell the truth .. Always.
“Our only secret is to always tell the truth. No matter wherever or whenever, say what you are thinking.” “Don’t say things that media wants to hear or to cater to them. Tell a lie now and you will be forced to keep it going even as you forget parts of it. This will only cause lots of pain.”
“People like honesty. Not many people, however, will tell the truth at anytime. Do so and you will differ from others.” “Never deceive others, in business or in life. In 1995, I was deceived by four companies – four companies that are now closed. A company can not go far by deceit.”
5. Failure or Mistakes Will Happen, Its part of Entrepreneurial Journey.
“Invariably, mistakes are made when starting a business.” “Failure (in fast moving internet company) comes from fear of making mistakes. Mistakes have to be made today, in order to grow and run better tomorrow. Just don’t keep making the same mistake.”
“Strength accumulates from failures.” “Final success includes many miserable mistakes.” “There in no CEO who does not make mistakes. Every successful person has faced frustration and made mistakes.”
I call Alibaba ‘1001 Mistakes’. “We expanded too fast, then Dot Com bubble and lay offs. By 2002 we had only enough cash to survive 18 months. We had lot of free members using our sites and we did not know how we will make money. So we developed a product for China exporters to meet US buyers online. This model saved us. By end 2002 we made $1 profit. Each year we improved. Today, Alibaba is very profitable.”
“If you only regret the fact you failed but not the reasons for it, you will always be in a state of REGRET.”
6. Your Business Strategy is Three Questions …
“One word – Survival. Small and Medium enterprises need unique survival methods. Opportunity exists in danger. A big crisis may take down larger companies, allowing small to medium sized companies to emerge.” Think through three questions :
What do you want to do? “You must have an ideal and a dream you are willing to give up your house for.” What should you do? “It is critical that you think about this from very beginning. Easy to say, difficult to do.” How long do you do it for? “No matter the Industry, count on at least 30 chances in your first five years. Insist on this principle, no matter outside temptations and pressures.”
7. An internal Email to Employees
“We never promise that as Alibaba employees you will enjoy non-stop promotions and share in lots of wealth. We do promise however, that you will have a steady share of our difficulties, depression and pain.” “If you have been with us for less than a year, please spare us Alibaba Strategy reports and development plans. Better you should open an exit door on your way out, than your mouth.” “However if you have been here at least three years, I am all ears, happy to hear your suggestions for our growth and grateful for you intention to make us better.” “Remember Alibaba does not pay you for your own personal development, but for helping our customers in their growth. We develop ourselves though our customers.”
8. Financing …
“Never think about financing when creating a business. You will never create a good company that way. Don’t chase after investors ( they will only run away faster) but know that as a successful small to medium- sized company, investors will come to you. Money will then be a happy surprise.”
“If everything could be won by money, then banks would control all the biggest companies.”
9. Free Services
“When we launched Taobao two years ago, we offered it free. Alibaba also provided three years of free service. Almost all of our services are launched free for the first year or two.”
“The main reason is to understand our clients needs during this period. Then we make adjustments accordingly . But if you find then that you can’t generate any traffic even as free service, it’s hopeless. You may not have any value.”
“We gained lots of valuable experience during our free period, so that today things are very good. We now have USD 1 billion and can provide even more free service.”
10. Equity and Shareholding
“Equity should be dispersed. Wisdom, not financing should influence company management and employee teamwork.”
“While i respect shareholders and occasionally even listen to them, i act on my own ideas. I hear from my staff too, but still do what i think is right. But for customers, i am all ears and try to follow their advice as much as possible.”
“Customers First, Employees second, Shareholders third – this order does not change … because of an IPO or stock market.”
11. Softbank CEO before Investing in Alibaba
“700+ companies apply to Softbank and they invest in only 10%. The CEO Masayoshi Son negotiated directly only with one : Alibaba.” And this is what he said to me : “I invest in you because of your unique leadership. Keep it up!”
12. Creating Value …
“If your CEO serves 10,000 clients, then your team should serve 100,000 clients. These 100,000 clients should serve 1 million clients. You create the most value when you clients can help other clients.”
Can Alibaba be copied?
“Our methods, may be, but not our team and the wisdom gained from our mistakes. Nor can you copy my thoughts, our client’s trust, or the opportunities they have presented us.” “You company’s core competitiveness is you team and you. Others may copy your model, but not your constant persistence and passion.”
14. Ranking First or Second in Your Industry
“We rank first in some of our industries and second in others. Some of our ventures fail to make money and die. Ranking second while still spending little, making good money and being influential is fine.” “Be either first or second, NEVER third. If after two years of being third we cannot pass into second, then it is time to close that venture.”
15. Crocodile in the Yangtze – Succeed in Home Turf First
“Alibaba is like a crocodile in the Yangtze River. To fight with the shark in the sea is to lose. However if we fight in Yangtze river, we surely will not be defeated.” “eBay came to China to do battle in our native country, where we have home field advantage. Here it is Ok for us to eat a bowl of noodles for 3 Yen and rather stupid to spend 300 Yen for the same.” “eBay invests 70 billion Yen in the Chinese market to our mere 100 million. But what can they do better than us?”
16. The Four Qualities in Addition to Talent
“At Alibaba, four qualities are needed in addition to talent : Trustworthiness, Team Spirit, Adaptability & Optimism.”
17. Common Company Values
“A common mission, values and goals are mandatory in any company or organisation. Without these three things you cannot succeed.” “When we employ a person, we choose those who identify with our company values. No matter a person’s individual talents, they must identify with our culture and ideals.” “From first day of our training, we talk about common values and team spirit. Together this leads ordinary people to extraordinary achievement.”
18. There will be Uncertainty – Always Adapt – Blind Tiger
“In the past 15 years that I’ve been working, I’ve called myself “a blind man riding on the back of a blind tiger”. Those experts riding horses, they all fell. We survived because we worried about the future, We believed in future. We changed ourselves.”
19. Wild Dogs and White Rabbits
“We assess employees on two standards : Performance & Team Spirit. Those with high performance but no team spirit are ‘wild dogs’ and those with a good team spirit but low performance are ‘white rabbits’. No Dogs or Rabbits in employees, please; they must excel at both.”
20. Focus is the Key
“Our concentration on e-commerce is persistent. 10 years ago we concentrated on e-commerce and we still concentrate on e-commerce. 10 years ago we focused on small and medium companies, and we still concentrate on small and medium companies.”
21. On Business with Government or Relatives
“I have never gotten one cent from government.”
“I had a very strict talk with my team. Never, ever do business with the government.
Love them. Don’t marry them. So we never do projects for the government. ( if they ask help, we do it for free)”
“When Selling to close friends and family, no matter how much you’re selling to them, they will always feel you’re earning their money, no matter how cheap you sell to them, they still wouldn’t appreciate it.”
“When doing Sales, the first people who will trust you will be Strangers, Friends will be shielding against you, fair-weather friends will distance from you. Family will look down upon you.”
I am really inspired by these quotes from Jack Ma. I thought these would be useful as not everyone has time to read the whole book. I would be really keen to know which of these 21 wisdoms you liked the most. And do subscribe if you wish to keep receiving such blogs …
The year is coming to an end! And we will now get into reflecting what ‘got-done’ and what ‘did-not-get-done’ in the year. If i tell you that, we are inadvertently shrinking our kids – how would you react?
This blog is about the physical (and Mental) handicap our children are facing due to lifestyle changes of our society. We are increasingly getting less physical and more sedentary – that is not good.
I wonder if you have seen this1989 live-action comedy film – Honey, I Shrunk the Kids ! The plot goes like this – an inventor Prof. Szalinski experiments with an electromagnetic human shrinking machine. He leaves the device unattended; shortly afterwards, it is accidentally activated. Alas, the demon machine is aimed at his children. The kids, shrunk to 1/4-inch height, are tossed into the trash. For the rest of the film, our tiny protagonists attempt to gain their parents’ attention – to survive the wilds of the backyard, that threaten their well-being. Remember this as you read on …
In real life the subject is a lot more serious – right in front of our eyes – something like the film is happening to our kids. Inadvertently our generation of parents is poised to shrink (metaphorically :)) our kids and may be send them up a path of Counter Evolution**.
I am sure everyone remembers Mr Darwin and his theory ‘Survival of the Fittest’. Our physical human body got evolved as a great combination of intelligence, adaptability and strength – we are the nature’s best creation – we evolved in body as hunters and farmers. And so our physical constitution, complimented this strength to hunt for our food or grow crops. Both of these required physical labour – none of that hunting or farming we need to do today!
So what do you think is happening to our Body and its Capabilities? See the picture below, does it ring a bell?
Its only in last 2 decades we ushered in this big Shrinking Machine – the automation, technology and IT – making us lazy and glued to devices – resulting in massive reduction in physical activity. So most of us don’t farm, don’t hunt and don’t do any physicals. Mr Nature is pretty confused – this wonderful human physique was never designed to : Sit on chairs or bed …or Work on computers … or Look at some or the other screen ‘All Day’.
Lifestyle changes of the day is a large threat to the physical well-being of our societies than we could possibly think. And the worst hit segment of this change in society are “OUR KIDS”.
Now that is what I am calling – the body’s **Counter Evolution.
Modern kids are glued to screens of various kinds – I pads, Smart phones, LED TVs, Laptops, PSPs, X-Box, video games etc. The modern parents – both go to work – kids have lesser parent time – and they do what is easy and gratifying – Nothing. Thats the Catch.
Experts on Whats Happening to our Kids!
Children are Getting Weaker! This is interesting – a study published in the child health journal Acta Paediatrica compared children 10 years of age, 10 years apart (Year 1998- 315 children and Year 2008 – 309 children). Compared to 1998 group, 2008 children could do lesser sit ups ( -27%), had lesser arm strength (-26%), lesser number of them could not pull up their own weight (-50%) and, even more alarming is that kids of 2008 batch carried much more fat than muscle.
To summarize the study – “Children are becoming sedentary, weaker, less muscular, heavier, unable to do physical tasks that previous generations found simple.”
Well to do Children at more Risk! As per paediatricians – Dr Nidhish Nanavaty, prevalence of obesity is estimated to be 10% in children below 14 years of age while it shoots up to 50% in children of high-income families. Its the excessive nutrition to blame – too much is being given to children to eat. Children of wealthy parents are thus at a greater risk.
Problem we are not Solving? This problem at hand – is a typical Covey’s 2nd Quadrant item -‘important but not urgent’. So we all understand that it is a major problem but since it is not immediate, and not too urgent to solve, hence the ‘Action to Solve’ gets postponed. The devil is in Habits – of junk food, of addiction to modern gadgets, of sedentary lifestyle. What is the solution?
Questions and Suggestions If this lifestyle is not good for future of our kids … then what do we need to change?
Are kids screen addicted? This one is a killer of good habits. Being stuck to a screen is an addiction – kids leave one screen to go to the other. This is slowly affecting their social behaviour and health. It would pay if we do not provide the modern gadgets to the kids too early in age. Parents will have to fix the screen time for the children.
Are they doing enough Outdoors? One of the important healthy habit to nurture in children is to have a decent volume of physical activity everyday. They have tremendous energies and those need to be positively find expression. Sports and outdoors fill that gap very well.
Healthy Mind in Healthy Body – So how do we get this Outdoors and Physical activity into daily routines of our kids. Traditionally– this physical outdoor activity habit is inculcated in 3 forms –
Children should endeavour to play at least one field or team game – such as hockey, football, basket ball etc; Team games are known to develop body, character and team spirit.
Pick up one individual game – Individual games such as athletics, swimming, tennis, squash, badminton, taekwondo or golf – are known to develop physical fitness, skills, personal excellence and competitive spirit.
Its good to nurture one or two hobbies in outdoors space – trekking, wall climbing, biking, mountaineering, skiing, hiking, kayaking or canoeing etc.
Family Adventure Activities is Best Answer 🙂
The good Schools of the yore, normally would take care of above three things. Expecting to find these solutions in city schools is a long shot, but, taking your child out for an adventurous activity is in your hands for sure. In addition to many things that you would plan for year coming up – taking your children on outdoors adventure activity, should be high on your list. Not only does this increase family bonding, you would also give to your children, the most precious habit for life – the love of outdoors and open skies.
Parents seem to be overlooking the Shrinking Machine that is stunting their kids’ growth. May be its time for Parents to make a resolution for New Year – Break the sedentary lifestyle and …
Your Resolution could sound like – have an Outdoors Focus – Get them into some sports and take them out for a family adventure outing … You would do long term good to them … and launch them well in life!
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself …. ….. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”Khalil Gibran
I would be so keen to know what you think of it and how do we get out of this real life problem of our generation? Please leave a comment or suggestion.