Are you still using Jan-to-Dec calendar for critical business decisions?

The current form of the calendar was invented in 776 BC and I am sure a lot has changed in these last 2,792 years. Despite these changes, our “so-called” modern businesses have continued to use the same calendar for planning, discussions, and all critical decisions. Does it sound like we forgot to innovate something very important?

Here are 3 key major transformations needed to help your company win:

1. Don’t tell your employees that they have to wait for your annual cycle to finish before they get any detailed performance feedback or pay hike or bonus.

In the current lifestyle of Facebook and Twitter, employees (especially millennials) don’t have time to wait for 12 months. According to a survey by Forbes, 18% employees quit if they feel decision-making in the company is slow or if company’s future is not clear. According to another survey by ERE Media, 10% extremely talented employees don’t join companies if the hiring process is slow.

So when you ask your employees to wait for 1 year, what they hear is “It’s time to find a new job”. Think about it!

2. Don’t tell your customers that you have to meet your “annual” targets.

Customers do realize that you are too obsessed and desperate with “annual” targets and you will, therefore, offer discounted prices. According to research by Stanford, “deeper discounts build customer expectations that there are good deals to be found – and thus encourage more searching”. Eventually, your company loses a significant number of customers (and money) to attract customers who are waiting for you to offer those annual discounts again.

So when you tell your customers about your annual cycle, what they hear is “Let’s wait for your year-end desperate attempt to meet sales targets”. Think about it!

3. Don’t tell your shareholders that you will share your corporate performance report only at the end of the year.

Despite all the financial regulations, there are a lot of discretionary disclosures that a company can do. Instead of waiting for the annual year-end reporting, doing frequent, regular updates help keep shareholders interested in your company. Even though it may attract some criticism, it will also bring a lot of important feedback needed to fine-tune your business strategy.

So if you don’t update you shareholders regularly, what they think is “We need to look for alternative investment, before this black hole goes bust”. Think about it!


Find a new way to use the calendar soon or re-create these practices. If you don’t change soon enough, be ready to go extinct.

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Trapezium vs ‘Let’s try this sh*t’ progression in life

Depending on who you ask for life lessons about career progression, you will get different answers. There is no right answer, but there are certainly a lot of wrong answers (i.e. answers that are totally misaligned with your natural personality).

Predominantly there are 3 types of career progression observed by individuals: (1) Line Progression, (2) Trapezium Progression, and (3) ‘Let’s try this sh*t’ progression. The choice of which one is best for you cannot be answered by anyone, but you. Before you make a choice, spend some time thinking about each one of them and introspecting if this suits you.

Line Progression: Simple to execute

A lot of Gen X have followed this track. You become an expert in your domain and almost everyone comes to you for advice on your domain expertise. You are less confused in life. The entire line progression is intuitive, and almost always guarantees success until you realize you know very few things in life.

Trapezium Progression: Difficult to plan

A lot of young individuals are trying this out. It involves rotating across different opportunities while ensuring that there is a common theme across these opportunities. The focus is to keep moving up, but also learn other areas and/or experiment your capabilities in different areas. It takes a while to grow in this way, but it is a lot more fulfilling. This route often keeps people excited about their day-to-day lives. And most of all, this path gives people the ability to pretend to be smart in almost all situations. That’s why a lot of companies are also promoting the trapezium progression internally. But is this the right way? I am sure people in this route often think that they lack the technical depth and/or they are growing much slower than people opting for line progression.

‘Let’s try this sh*t’ progression: Unpredictable, crazy, but awesome

This is the type which is most in the limelight. This is meant for people who are explorers in life, who are not scared of failure and who lead the path to real big innovation. These are the people who often make big, but they also lose big. And that is why their progression lines run in all directions. They try out different areas quite often. Sometimes they are lost, but they are not afraid to go back to the ground again and again. In summary, these are the people who create awesome things like Airbnb and Farmville. It may look awesome from outside, but a high proportion of people on this path often cry their heart out thinking what it could have been if they didn’t follow this. They often envy line progression and trapezium guys for their stability but soon come back to their self of ‘Let’s try this sh*t’ route.


A lot of factors should be considered while choosing your progression: cultural and economic backgrounds, education, risk taking ability, social pressures, etc. I am sure the list is long, but not a mathematics formula that can be applied to find the right answer. But don’t be afraid to find your own answer. You will find it sooner or later.

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Let’s pretend to know our career and life goals!!!

HBR and Forbes have published a lot of articles about how “successful” people achieve their “career goals”. But no one has talked about the elephant in the room – Do we all know our career goals? Do we know what does success mean to us?

In this VUCA environment (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity), even the best of the companies (eg. Yahoo) are struggling to decide their goals and we expect individuals to be clear about their career and life goals. Is that fair?

Maybe we should start redrafting our career goals as the type of journey that we want to have. So here are 4 questions of 21st century that you should start to think about:

  • How many different things you want to try in your life or career? Not everyone wants to diversify their portfolio; focusing on just 1 thing is best for some people. There are big companies (eg. Crocs, Michelin, etc.) that focus on single product and there are also a lot of companies (eg. Samsung, Tata, etc.) that do everything under the sun.
  • How often do you want to revisit your skill sets? Not everyone can (or want to) revisit their skill set every year. Accountants often stick to their skillsets, but consultants tend to revisit them quite often.
  • Are you ready to fail? Be clear on your definition of failure. Defining success is hard, but failure is easy to define. Would you consider the temporary financial failure of solar companies (eg. R&R Solar Supply) as a failure? Or is your failure measured by spoiling the environment to earn money (eg. Peabody Energy)?
  • Does non-failure mean success? What would it mean to you if you haven’t failed? Think it over!

Don’t forget that Yahoo and Orkut failed because defining goals is unfortunately not as easy as we pretend. It’s your choice, either you stop pretending or you go extinct.

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