The Haja Sheriff Blog

In Search of Excellence

Posted by in Leadership, Management, Personal Branding


This is a wonderful story I recently read in a mail I received yesterday.


A German once visited a temple under construction where he saw a sculptor making an idol of God. Suddenly he noticed a similar idol lying nearby. Surprised, he asked the sculptor, "Do you need two statues of the same idol?" "No," said the sculptor without looking up, "We need only one, but the first one got damaged at the last stage." The gentleman examined the idol and found no apparent damage. "Where is the damage?" he asked. "There is a scratch on the nose of the idol." said the sculptor, still busy with his work. "Where are you going to install the idol?"

The sculptor replied that it would be installed on a pillar twenty feet high. "If the idol is that far, who is going to know that there is a scratch on the nose?" the gentleman asked… The sculptor stopped his work, looked up at the gentleman, smiled and said, "I will know it."

The desire to excel is exclusive of the fact whether someone else appreciates it or not. "Excellence" is a drive from inside, not outside. Excellence is not for someone else to notice but for your own satisfaction and efficiency.


The desire to excel and do a great job should be a driving force in each of us.

Every time you do a job, ask yourself-

  1. Is this the best I can do or is there something that could be done better?
  2. Is there something that I can do, that makes it better?
  3. If someone else did this, will they do the same or will it be better? What can I do differently?
  4. Will people be able to recognize it is work done by ME? (what is the unique element in the work done, that is my “signature”).

Starting today, look at leaving your mark in everything you do.

You will leave a legacy that others can only look up to & strive to reach.

One job at a time. One extra “signature” at a time.





Going the extra mile to Delight your customers–in 3 steps!

Posted by in Business, Leadership, Management


Browsing the Net, I chanced upon this article at the Fast Company site.  Reading this article, rekindled a thought on customer service and how one can make a difference.

It also brought memories of a recent trip I had made by Air France to the US and back. During my return journey, I missed the connecting flight because of Air Frances’ delayed arrival.  What I went through made me think of customer service in a completely different light- and how the employees, let go of an excellent opportunity. Given a choice of either delighting a customer OR losing the customer-for life, they unfortunately chose the latter.  I am sure that Air France, as an organization and the top management views their customer service to be one of the best in the Industry. But what companies see in feedback forms OR Customer Satisfaction studies done by Agencies – do not prepare them to create a culture of customer service- that is targeted at DELIGHTING the customer.  In most cases, I think it is just plain corporate speak- rarely delivered on the ground by the customer facing reps. 

Coming back to the article, I was stuck by the corporate ethos of Zappos, the company that was profiled (I confess, I had not heard of them before this)-

  1. Deliver Wow Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More with Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

Cool.  I guess most companies have similar ideals that they promote on their sites and corporate presentations. How many of them actually translate it into value?

It appears that they (Zappos) are going a step ahead of the rest. And it appears that they are actually executing well on their vision.

My top 3 to be the best in customer service- and to me this starts with EVERY employee.  They should –

Be a bundle of Positive Energy

Be the person who is brimming with Positive energy. Show a lot of enthusiasm. Let the customer feel that the employee is actually enjoying his time helping him.

Be a Problem Solver

Think of your experiences as a customer.  Think of a situation that you particularly remember positively.  Chances are it had to do with someone solving a problem for you WITHOUT you having to chase them.  Someone who went out of the way to help you and left you feeling truly great. Let the customer feel that his voice has been heard. Be a solver of problems and if you are the Management – Reward those who are problem solvers.

Follow through

Call the customer a few day after he has bought! Does your company have the systems to track the customer database- and respond to them within a week of purchase?  Can you imagine the feeling- and the power of CRM will come alive post that!  Customers who are followed through, will remember what happened- and will buy again, and again. More importantly, they will talk about you to their other customers.

Think about it. There is a goldmine out there with millions of customers who are starved for quality customer service.  How are you as an individual or an organization going to deliver what they want?


3 Success principles – Creating IMPACT at work

Posted by in Career, Personal Effectiveness

Most of you who work are constantly in situations where you are not happy or excited about things at work.   There are many things that are caused by Organizational politics or culture. How many times do you take that coffee break where you berate your organization or your colleagues for being hare-brained about something or not being able to see something clearly!


The next time you feel like doing something like that (or catch yourself doing it), think about what is it you can do about it – and learn something new that your learning. Changing your attitude, and your approach to these problems could take a long way to positoin yourself for better things in the future- for you and your company.


Here are 3 quickies that you could follow –

Take initiative – don’t wait for instructions

You see a problem – think about whether it is something that is causing problems to you and the organization.  Act on it.  Think what you can do about it – possibly highlighting this to the people responsible- and just do it!


There are a lot of people who “would like to do it” but don’t go around to doing it. 80% of these people who thought about it don’t act on it- and the single biggest reason that most issues do not get noticed and hence not solved.


3 words of advice – in the words of Nike- Just Do It!

Focus on the opportunity (and the solution), not problems

If you are the employee, look at a problem as an opportunity!  Every problem presents multiple opportunity for you to act on. Use these windows to create your own personal brand (not to mention learning’s). You will be helping yourself MORE than the company.


Take personal responsibility for fixing things. Don’t blame others for that you don’t like

This is the single most important time waster – and something that most of us do not do.  Rather than blame someone for things that you don’t like (or they are not doing), see how you can help them and help the team do it better.  Take personal responsibility for the outcomes of all the activities that are not working the way you want them.


3 simple acts to a better experience at work – both at a professional and personal level.

Try it- and life will be more meaningful for you and for the people around you.


Learning for the day! The Pomodoro Technique

Posted by in Personal Effectiveness, Time Management


imageOne of my pet interests is time-management.  To be effective in time-management, one needs to focus on handling the “to-do” lists.

I found out about the “The Pomodoro technique” of time management from one of the blogs I was going through.

Curiosity got the better of me, and after going through the website, I realize this could be relevant to some of the readers of this blog… Personally, I think this is a great tool, but more than that, if one could follow the process rigor as mentioned in the website, it could be a great way to execute this.

Check out this website for some great reading material for you. Don’t forget to download the free pdf that is good reading as well as some very good thought provoking tips that you could implement. 

Have fun… the Pomodoro has started already!



2 steps in changing your perspective of life!

Posted by in Goals, Leadership, Management, Personal Effectiveness

Not what we  have, but what we use

Not what we see, but what we choose

These are the things that mar or bless human happiness

Joseph Newton

Every now and then people have a challenge – and get stuck with some problem that may appear to be insurmountable. Some drown and some come through it with flying colours. Let us talk about those who make it through!


I have friends of mine who were made redundant in their jobs- for no fault of theirs.  Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I saw them emerge stronger, and more secure in their approach towards life.


How did they do it?


I believe they changed their view of life. Rather than look at what the rest of the world looks at (the negatives), they choose to look at the positives.


They shifted their perspective of life.


They saw life differently – and that is what made the difference to them.


Here are some tips on how to change the perspective- and do things differently –


1.    At a personal thought process level –

      Focus on how far you have come, not how far you have to go.

      Focus on what you have rather than what you lack- a.k.a Count your blessings. Seriously – how often does one do it?

o   Take 5 min of your time now- and list out things that are blessings for you

§  Family

§  Kids

§  Dog/ pets that make life complete

§  Friends who stand up for you

§  Maybe a great work environment

§  Perks on the job

§  The car you have

There are always numerous things that work well despite the challenging situations you may be up against.

List them out

o   Tear that paper out and carry it with you always!


2.    At an Action level – do the following 

a.    Focus on the solution – not the problem

                                         i.    List out the problem statement and position it as a question to be solved. Instead of saying “I have been fired from this job” – ask – “What can I do now that I have an opportunity to start afresh?”

1.    Do a mindstorm – and list out 20 things you could differently

2.    Prioritize and start doing the top 3 immediately.

b.    Think of – “How can I leave my mark on this role”

                                         i.    It will force your mind to identify at least 2-3 things that should be your hallmark and the “legacy” you leave behind


Remember-In all situations, remember, what you have, is your ability to CHOOSE.

That is what makes the difference.



Page 1 of 212