Sales Kick-offs

It is the start of another new year. If you are in the profession of selling, you will be invited to yet another Sales kick-off that your company has organised.

The leadership team will get on stage and share the results from the past year. If it was a good year, it will call for some celebration. If it was a tough year, it will still call for some celebrations (not many companies publicly admit that it was a tough year and so instead of introspection about what went wrong, they will still find something to celebrate). There is nothing wrong with that as long as they also do some amount of introspection regarding their challenges and failures as well.
Then there will be a barrage of presentations from the sales leadership explaining why this year is going to be bigger and better.
If you are lucky
  • You will have someone in the leadership who will get on stage and lay out the overall company strategy, which hopefully will be translated into the your goals (I’ve seen too many companies where the strategy shared by the CEO and the top leadership and the compensation plan that sales executives get are from two different worlds).
  • There will be some useful sessions that you would be mandated to attend. You might actually get to learn something new about the product that you are supposed to be selling, or positioning against a competitor who is giving tough competition or some new sales process or tools. You might even get sometime to network with people whom you might have to work in the year to be successful at what you are expected to sell.
  • You might already know what your target territory or accounts are before you head into the sales kick-off, so that you are able to put in context everything that you hear at the kick off. You can use the time to network with important and relevant people, try to learn about the account or territory (if it is a new assignment) from someone who managed this account or territory before you.
  • Your manager might have identified some topics for you to focus on (learn new skill, meet new folks, meet senior executives, etc) and do while you are at the kick-off.
If not,
  • You can enjoy the booze, music and the party
  • You can go visit a museum or an art gallery or a nice picturesque spot to get some calm.
  • And create your very own sales plan, learning plan and investment plan (time, money and attention to improving yourself to become a better sales professional)
And believe that ,


PBTO Season 2: EP01: Future of Work with Andy Tryba

Opening music credits goes to Riju Mukhopadhyay & Pavan Cherukumilli

Who is he on the show: 
In the first episode of the new season, we host Andy Tryba. He is the CEO of Ride Austin, EngineYard and
Why is he on the show:
Andy has spent the last 15 years as CEO of multiple successful startups and is currently running three startups. One of them is a very interesting social experiment and has a very interesting approach to running his other two startups as well. He has built a product that already provides glimpses of how the future of work might unfold.   
What do we talk about:
In this wide ranging conversation, we talk about: 
– How he transitioned from the corporate world to getting a job at the Whitehouse and then to become an entrepreneur
– Having some corporate experience vs becoming an entrepreneur right off of our college
– His learning from being part of a large corporate and the White House. 
– Creating a local ride sharing app and competing with the cash rich Uber/Lyft and what he is learning from that experience
– Running a business as a non-profit (so they can pay their drivers much more), open data (sharing all kinds of data to allow people to find insights around mobility services) & engage with the community (by enabling their customers to contribute to charities)
– How economic theory & reality are not really congruent with each other
– Dynamics of competition (Uber and Ola) and throwing money at customer acquisition & what to do when you can’t compete against the money
– Changing the competitive landscape (hyper-local, community driven)
– Books from Dan and Chip Heath (Made to Stick & The Power of Moments) and some of the learnings from these books and how he has integrated them in his business. 
– Why it is difficult to gain customer attention and the thinking behind the business (All high skill jobs will go to the cloud) 
– Why he thinks that “There is no such thing as a talent shortage!”
– Going International doesn’t mean going cheap
– How it is possible to hire the Best 1% of people in the world (doing rigorous testing to finding the best of the best) 
– Why Format of the resume is almost 500 years old and why resume + interview is not the best way to recruit people. 
– Future of work is about Awesome teams on the cloud, great playbooks, create a platform to provide regular feedback so the teams can get better is like a Fitbit for work
– The importance of doing Deep Work (as advocated by Cal Newport) 
– The importance of coaching to get to our peak performance & the data that provides the insight for this level of coaching
– The thinking that went behind building
– What can we learn from professional athletes and bring them into our work environment
– The effect of cognitive residue on our performance
– How does he balance his time and focus among the three startups that he runs? 
– Where do you bleed time? 
– What would he do differently, if he were to start off again
– What is so obvious to him now, that people miss all the time. 
Resources mentioned in the conversation: 
The Art of The Start by Guy Kawasaki, 
Deep Work by Cal Newport, 
Peak by Anders Ericsson, 
Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath
The Power of Moments by Dan and Chip Heath
– Crossover platform (
How to connect with him: 
You can connect with via twitter (@AndyTryba or email

Life is Not A Journey

In this thought provoking video, the kind folks at AfterSkool have converted something that Alan Watts’s thoughts into a wonderful animation.

Alan argues that life is not like a journey or a pilgrimage that we set out for but is like a dance or some other form of playful art.

Depending upon which frame we use to life our life determines our attitude, our decisions and how we spend our time.

How do you look at life? Is it a journey or is it a playful dance?

Seeds of success


After the hustle bustle and the celebrations of the new year, we are now entering the time of the year, which is fraught with opportunities and dangers in equal measures. This is the time to celebrate the past year, the peaks we scaled and give a pat on our backs for all that hard work. I am sure every team does that. This is also the time to reflect at the valley’s we encountered in the past year and think about the reasons we ended up in there. And think about what did we do get ourselves out of that situation. And analyse what worked and what didn’t. And why? This is the time to do reflections and learn from our past actions – both that led us on the path to success and that which made us dig a hole for ourselves.

Analyse why we succeeded:

The first set of analysis needs to be about our successes. We can use the following framework that can help us analyse our successes:

  • What did we do that produced the best results? Why did we decide to take that action? When we took that decision, did we expect this kind of result? Why?
  • How much of the success was due to our planning and execution of the plan? How much was it due to course corrections made while executing the plan?
  • How much was it luck? If we got lucky, what did we do to get lucky? What would have happened if we didn’t get lucky? Would we have still had a good year?
  • What can we learn from these successes? How can they help us plan the upcoming year?

Analyse why we failed:

The next set of analysis needs to be about our failures. We can use the following questions that can help us analyse our failures:

  • What did we do that produced the biggest failures? Why did we decide to do these activities? What were the assumptions behind the decision? Which one of them were flawed? Why did we make this assumption?
  • How much of the failure was due to poor planning or execution of the plan? Where did we go wrong? Why? How can we ensure we don’t make the same mistakes again?
  • How much of it was luck? IF we were unlucky, is there something that we could have done differently to avoid this?
  • What have we learnt from these failures? How can these lessons help us plan the upcoming year?

Plan the year ahead:

Based on the learning from the analysis of failure and success and the goals that we need to achieve in the upcoming year, we need to work with the team to come up with a plan that builds on the strengths, compensates for the weaknesses and has the potential to succeed. The one thing that would help us really well, going forward is to document the assumptions that we are making while creating the plan. This will help us course correct as soon as we see that our assumptions no longer hold true.

Every tree sprouts from a seed. A seed that has all the information that is necessary information that it needs to grow into a healthy tree. All it needs is the right environment and some care for it to grow into a tree.

So it is with every team. The seed that will allow us to grow, which has all the necessary information is the past performance and learnings from the same. Once we have this, all we need is the right environment and some care to sprout into a successful year ahead.

Cultivating the Right environment:

Have the right environment that can aid the team to plan well, execute the plan and find its success is the responsibility of the leaders. We need to make the environment that is conducive for the team to execute the plan well.

  • We need to remove roadblocks (don’t allow bad behaviour in the team, shield them from the pressure from above, help them navigate organisational politics & bureaucracy, coach the team members based on their individual needs, etc) to the teams’ success.
  • We need to pave the way for their success by ensuring that everyone is constantly learning {from their actions, from others actions and some new skills}, are constantly being challenged {giving them the right level of stretch goals, finding projects that can allow them to strengthen a core skill that they need to develop, etc} and are constantly evolving their own leadership skills {personal or organisational, depending upon what they want to become}.

In conclusion:

Once we do our jobs as leaders and provide the right environment, the right plan, the chances that the team does well is really high.

We reap what we sow. This is the time for us to sow the seeds of success so we can reap success at the end of the year…

Here is wishing you all a great planning season and a rock star performance for 2018!