Price: A Measure of Value


Prices in the marketplace are a rough measure of how society values particular goods and services. If consumers are willing to pay the marketplaces, then apparently they feel they are getting at least their money’s worth. Similarly, the cost of labor and materials is a rough measure of the value of resources used in the production of goods and services to meet these needs. New consumer needs that can be served profitably—not just the needs of the majority—will probably be met by some profit-minded businesses.

In a market-directed economic system the prices in both the production sector (for resources) and the consumption sector (for goods and services) vary to allocate resources and distribute income according to consumer preferences. Over time, the result is a balance of supply and demand and the coordination of the economic activity of many individuals and institutions.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Success through Leadership


More than eighty percent of today’s millionaires were born in low- or middle-income families. Imagine! The great majority of successful people – corporate executives, entrepreneurs, lawyers, physicians, entertainers, members of legislative bodies, individuals at the top – earned their right to greatness.

Leadership is not for sale. Nor is it inherited, acquired by luck, or bestowed through marriage. And education correlates poorly, if at all, with leadership.

But leadership can be developed through persistent application. There are five simple, practical steps you can put to use immediately:

  1. Think excellence;
  2. Set winning examples;
  3. Speak up;
  4. Let other people help you;
  5. Take risks and win admiration.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Investing in Success


To get profit without risk, experience without danger, and reward without work is as impossible as it is to live without being born. Succinctly, there is no success without sacrifice. But is sacrifice bad? Like many words, the word “sacrifice” is misunderstood. To most people, sacrifice means giving up time or money, or enduring hardships, or doing something unpleasant. Now, it is true that sacrifice may mean those things. But that is only half the definition. The other part of the definition, the one that is almost always overlooked, is to gain something even more valuable.

The complete definition of sacrifice is give up something of value – money, time, or energy – to gain something of even more value – more money, a higher standard of living, better education for the kids, or other valuable considerations. Sacrifice means give up a little now to receive more later.

Sacrificing then means investing. We give up something today so we will have more of something tomorrow. Anyone who wants to achieve maximum success must be willing to sacrifice or invest now for reward later. To validate this point, consider the following:

  • A majority of people reaching age 65 have little savings, investments, or other valuables – this after spending 45 adult years in the richest society ever known. Had these people in poverty and near-poverty invested only ten percent of what they had earned in one of hundreds of “sure” investments, they would be very well off financially, and the social security system could be phased out completely.
  • Many young people feel that 35 0r 40 hours a week is all they should work. Being asked to work more than that is such a “big” sacrifice, many try to find another job.
  • Millions of people performing tasks that are rapidly being taken over by robots and computers think it’s too much of a sacrifice to learn new skills that are increasingly in demand.
  • Rather than invest part of what they earn, millions and millions of people give way to temptation and buy things on a certain plan.
  • And millions of students, rather than sacrifice and really learn a subject, use every conceivable technique to pass a course except to learn the material.

On the positive side, there are some people of all ages to be commended for their willingness – and good sense – to sacrifice. Sacrifice is an investment that means more than just money. Sacrifice means deep satisfaction in helping others to find joy in this world.

Happiness, achievement, money, promotion, reward, love, and anything else of value are gained only through sacrifice. Make sacrifices. They eventually lead to success.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The New Corporate Governance Structures


The most significant change in the restructuring is the heightened role of corporate internal auditors. Auditors have traditionally been viewed as performing a necessary but perfunctory function, namely to probe corporate financial records for unintentional or illicit misrepresentations. Although a majority of US corporations have longstanding traditions of reporting that their auditors operated independently of CFO approval and that they had direct access to the board, in practice, the auditors’ work usually traveled through the organization’s hierarchical chain of command.

In the past, internal auditors reviewed financial reports generated by other corporate accountants. The auditors considered professional accounting and financial practices, as well as, relevant aspects of corporate law, and then presented their findings to the chief financial officer (CFO). Historically, the CFO reviewed the audits and determined the financial data and information that was to be presented to top management, directors, and investors of the company.

Because CEOs and audit committees sign-off on financial results, auditors now routinely deal directly with top corporate officials. Approximately 75 percent of senior corporate auditors now report directly to the Board of Directors’ audit committee. Additionally, to eliminate the potential for accounting problems, companies are establishing direct lines of communication between top managers and the board and auditors that inform the CFO but that are not dependent on CFO approval or authorization.

The new structure also provides the CEO information provided directly by the company’s chief compliance and chief accounting officers. Consequently, the CFO, who is responsible for ultimately approving all company payments, is not empowered to be the sole provider of data for financial evaluations by the CEO and board.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Talk Less, Listen More


The more talking you do, the less information you will receive. Your role is that of a buyer. You are thinking about purchasing services from the person you’re interviewing. Asking questions and evaluating the responses are your key functions. Picture yourself at a car dealership, talking to a salesperson about the possible purchase of a car. Who should be doing most of the talking? Who should be answering the most questions? In both cases the answer is the person selling, not the person buying. The person asking the questions gets the most information.

Your questions should seek information on specific issues and also let you uncover personality traits. Listen for comments that include attitudes, energy levels, and the ability to communicate concisely and to answer the question asked, not the one the interviewee wants to answer. None of this can be accomplished when you are doing the majority of the talking.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Risks: Building Blocks of Success


A person’s confidence is best measured by his or her willingness to take risks. Fear is best reflected by the degree to which a person seeks to avoid risk. The old saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” will always be true. Risk, the possibility of loss, is a necessary to success as air is to life.

Imagine what would happen if everyone decided to try to live 100 percent risk-free:

  • No farmer would plant a crop because there might be too much rain or too little. Or the market price for the grain might collapse.
  • No one would start a business because comptition might cause it to fail.
  • No television programs would be produced because there might be too few viewers to attract advertisers.
  • Investors would not put money into new construction, into oil well exploration, and into new ventures.
  • Artists and authors would stop work because people might reject their activity,

To be completely secure, people would take their money out of banks (the banks may fail), hoard food (there may be an atomic war), refuse to drive cars (I may have an accident), and patients in hospitals would refuse blood transfusions (the blood may be contaminated). A goal of 100 percent security would almost overnight destroy our economy.

To avoid risk completely, no one would apply for a job (you may not get it), submit a poem to a literary journal (it may be rejected), speak up in a meeting (you may be laughed at), or ask for an order (the prospect may say No).

Here is an important point: Success-oriented people take risks and sometimes the risks turn out to be losses. Thirty-seven percent of today’s millionaires went broke after accumulating wealth. But they came back to win. No investor is always “right,” and people who build shopping centers, rersidential neighborhoods, and office buildings sometimes lose money. In the oil drilling business, a majority of wells turn out to be dry holes.

How we react to defeat is the key. You have heard people who have failed in a job or in a business of their own say, “I’ve had it. Never again!”

At times, we all feel like giving up. And if we’re not careful, we will give up. Pressure from peers to surrender can be powerful. They tell you, “Look, you tried. The plan didn’t work. Why beat your head against a wall? Don’t feel bad. Most people who try something new fail.”

These people – your peers and “friends” – are often glad to see you surrender. It’s disappointing but it’s true. They don’t have the courage to do something on their own. If they see you fail, they feel better about themselves; you are one of them – another mediocrity.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

Creating an Integrated Marketing Communications Program (IMC)


a)        Use zero-based budgets. Most companies use incremental approaches in allocating promotional budgets. A preferred approach is the objective and task approach. Start with a zero budget and force all promotional managers managers to justify their investment.

b)        Focus primarily on current customers. Many organizations direct 80% or more of their advertising and selling effort activities to trying to win new business (conquest marketing).  An Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program recognizes the importance of retention marketing and inverts that ratio so that a majority of the promotional activity is earmarked for relationship building with existing customers. This reduces customer defection, upgrades business relationships, and creates advocates for the firm’s services.

c)        Use highly targeted mass promotion. Direct mail, specialized lists, trade publications, and the Internet can be used effectively to reach prospects rather than suspects. A website has become an indispensable marketing technology for 21st century companies. It has evolved into a one-stop, online corporate information source, customer support tool, distribution channel, order taker, product catalog, price list, promotional vehicle, research technique, segmentation source, and a strategic and tactical marketing differentiator.

d)        Build marketing relationships. Strategic partnering is a major part of a good IMC program. In addition to Internet and intranets (protected corporation information resource centers), progressive companies are creating extranets which link an enterprise’s extended family of suppliers, distributors, retailers, and partners. Hence, customer, channel, referral, and stakeholder relationships can all be nurtured through carefully conceived promotional efforts.

e)        Note that everything an organization does send a message. Image and atmospherics are very important in communicating value to customers. The little things, such as stationery, signage, telephone greetings, and website design, etc., should all reflect professionalism and a consistent message to the marketplace.

f)          Two-way dialogue is key. In an over-communicated society, the marketing challenge is to establish a meaningful dialogue with customers as to how the firm’s service mix can provide maximum benefits/value. Interactivity and involvement on the part of the customers is important for sharing information and creating firmer bonds. The Web is an ideal medium to accomplish this objective. Its selectivity and flexibility create a customized business experience for each user.

g)        Use 21st century communication technologies. In today’s changing marketplace, companies must seek new and better ways to stay in touch with their target markets. Appropriate communication options include e-mail, electronic commerce, fax-on-demand, telemarketing, point-of-sale promotion, special events, multimedia, etc.

h)        Measure promotional effectiveness. Traditionally, advertising executives competed with sales managers for their “fair share” of the corporate promotional budget. Today, management requires accountability and demands to know and justify the return on investment of limited resources—they will no longer accept the non-measurable communications methods used by marketers in the past. A marketing information system/database is the key tool for effectively monitoring and measuring the success of an IMC program. As part of this process, job descriptions and reward systems are likely to be redesigned. In a strong IMC-centered environment, in-house competition is replaced with cooperation and teamwork. Joint rewards help the organization do what is best, rather than just project individual turfs.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Firm Value and National Wealth


The wealth creation process of a nation cannot be seen separately from that taking place at the industry level. Hence, unless a nation is able to unleash the value creating potential of each organization, its over-all progress in this context will be significantly hampered. Incidentally for each firm to maximize its wealth creation potential, the need for private ownership of capital and well defined property rights in all sectors of an economy cannot be over-emphasized. Private sector business organizations will ensure that their managers are held accountable for the way they use the company assets, and the outcome thereof. When the firm level ownership is diffused (as in the cases of public or joint sector companies) and the majority ownership is predominantly with distant and impersonal state, there is no incentive for intra and inter-organizational cooperation for mutual benefit including wealth creation.

Since the wealth creation process of a nation is synonymous with that of its organizations, macro policies of governments of nation states must facilitate evolution and development of organizations that are focused, market driven, efficiency and change seeking, nimble-footed, and also capable of building and leveraging capabilities, all required to create wealth not only for their shareholders, but also for other stakeholders, including the government. For such value creation to take root within an organization, the external context must be right—market economy, healthy competition, transparent regulations, strong institutional frameworks in all public policy areas, clear intellectual and other property rights, freedom to access information and high ethical standards. If a nation is state is not able to put in place the required public policies in these areas and also no effort is made to simultaneously enhance managerial capabilities to create value, its wealth creation effort will always remain sub-optimal.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Just about Joint Ventures


Joint ventures (JV) are the waves of the future. There is hardly a Fortune 500 company, active overseas, that does not have at least one JV.

JV represents a higher risk alternative because it requires various levels of direct investment.  A JV involves sharing risks to accomplish mutual enterprise. JVs, incidentally, are the next most common form of entry once a firm moves beyond the exporting stage to a more regular overseas involvement.

JVs provide a mutually beneficial alternative to domestic and foreign businesses to join forces. For both parties, the ventures are a means to share both capital and risk and make use of each other’s technical strength.

JVs, however, are not an unmixed blessing. The major problem in managining joint ventures stems from one cause: there is more than one partner. With patience and flexibility on the part of both partners, JVs can be managed successfully. But one of the partners must play the key, dominant role to steer the business to success.

Widespread interest in JVs is related to:

  1. Seeking market opportunities.
  2. Dealing with rising economic nationalism.
  3. Preempting raw materials.
  4. Risk sharing.
  5. Developing an export base.
  6. Selling technology.

Even a JV with a well-qualified majority foreign partner may provide significant advantages, such as:

  1. Participation in income and growth.
  2. Low cash requirements.
  3. Preferred treatment for the venture.
  4. Easier access to a market and to market information.
  5. Less drain on a company’s managerial resources.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight