The Haja Sheriff Blog

Delighting a customer…

Posted by in Books, Business, General Interest


Recently I had written an article on finding two gems… one of which was Grammarly. In fact, I wrote it and forgot about it post that. Imagine my surprise when I get a mail from the Grammarly team where they thanked me for referring their product in my note.

I believe this is an excellent example of great customer experience where I feel good about the product, and they add on top of that and delight me by acknowledging my comment.

The product is good (I am sure it will become better). The value it provides is significant. And to top it up with customer engagement like this makes the engagement that much more delightful.

Read more about their review here –


What Dalai Lama taught us about our life in a Startup

Posted by in Attitude, Business, Innovation, Leadership, Motivation, Personal Branding


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Dalai Lama is undoubtedly an inspirational leader! He is one of the most positive human beings I have seen, heard and read about. While reading the Deccan Herald today, I came across these rules (18 of them and I picked the top 5 which I wanted to share -with some thoughts of my own pertaining to running your own Startup.

Rule 1: Take into account that great love and great achievement involves great risk.  Absolutely!  The rewards are always commensurate with the risks you take in life!  Take risks, of course, calculated ones- and see the rewards spilling out in the long run.  Leaving your corporate job and creating a startup is a risk. A major risk at the time when you leave.  Irrespective of the outcome, great achievements are round the corner -and you need to have complete BELIEF in that!  Go with the approach- and you will come out richer, better and stronger!

Rule 2: When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.  You will lose in many of the battles you take up.  Which is good.  Remember, they are not the end of the world.  As a startup, we lose customers- but we learn lessons from why we lost them.  Look for a learning in every misstep you take.  And the more you take, the more lessons that you learn – which makes you sharper in the longer run.

Rule 3: Not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.  Always!  It may be bitter and makes you feel even more desperate! Ultimately in the long run, it is all for a good reason.   We lost some great opportunities (it looked like that at that point in time), but in the longer run, we realised it was good that we did not win them.  Go with this attitude into many of your discussions- and you will end up a winner in the long run.

Rule 4: Learn the rules so you know how to break them.   The objective is not to break the rules. It is to understand how you can think out of the box and approach a challenge differently. Innovatively.   As an employee you end up always having to work the rules- but as an entrepreneur, you have a chance to reset the rules.  Follow that. For that- learn the rules first… and find ways of rewriting them.

Rule 5: Share your knowledge. Its a way to achieve immortality.   The Path of an entrepreneur is a lonely one.  But remember, there are a lot of people wanting to follow the same path.  Show them the road. Be free with the feedback. Help them navigate the path basis what you have learnt.  It is not about immortality- but it is highly satisfying- and that makes a big difference.  If you are a believer- then remember, it will all pay itself back in the long run.

Being a Startup has its share of risks & disappointments. But the rewards far outweigh the risks you take to do this. Irrespective of the outcome, you will also always emerge better than before – and that is the best outcome of becoming an Entrepreneur.

Go and try it. Live your life. Live it well.  Leave your mark in the world!

Thank you, Dalai Lama for these life lessons.


3 Things Nestle should have done differently in India

Posted by in Business, Leadership, Management, Retail

viewimageThis is fast becoming a key case studies in Business Schools. Not for what they have done (they have done a tremendous amount of market innovation till date), but on what they have NOT done.

Nestle, almost single handedly created this market for Instant Noodles in India, and India today ranks 5th worldwide in this segment. That may all change since the Maggi fiasco has hit the industry as a whole. The sales have dropped by almost 80% for most of the leading brands, according to Economic Times.

But here are some interesting facts –
– Almost 39% of the Nestle Revenues in India comes from the sale of the Maggi 2 Minute Noodle.
– Nestle has a distribution network of around 2M Outlets/ distributors/ Sub distributors, where they sell their products. However, and according to Nielsen’s data, the Maggi Noodle reaches a whopping 47% of the country’s 8.8M Retail outlets – which means an additional 2M outlets sell these products.
– Out of the 450Cr Ad spend that Nestle has, almost 150Cr is spent on Maggi itself.

Without a doubt, this is one of the most critical products in their inventory- and they have achieved a significant reach of an extremely complex Indian market. Through sweat and blood.

And hence this question – Why is Nestle silent?

Here are 3 things, in my opinion, Nestle could have done differently to avoid reaching this rather desperate stage.

1. Reached out to their customers immediately– Possibly there really is an issue with the product. Possibly Nestle was worried about the fallout from this. Possibly they never thought it would snowball into such a big issue. But any way you look at it- Nestle should have reached out to the customers immediately and highlighted the issues that had been raised. They should have given a perspective of their own- and created a dialogue with customers. In a world driven by Social Media, Nestle was not visible. Period. And the customers had access to only one source- the Press.
2. Acted Immediately – Nestle should have taken immediate action and picked up products themselves and done the study immediately. They should have pulled out the products if they felt this was not appropriate. It should have given a refund to customers who had bought the products. It should have signed up all their resellers – and got them to be their agents in their messaging out to the customers. Ideally taken action when the first complaints were received. Nestle missed a great opportunity to do this.
3. Got their leadership team in front of the media – Nestle is a global giant. They know how to leverage the PR engines. They have great leaders. It was, and continues to be, quite surprising at the total lack of any visibility of their leaders at this time. The entire leadership team was missing – and possibly the biggest lesson. The Leadership team needed to take responsibility, and handle the entire fallout from this.

This offers some good lessons on leadership and strategic direction a company should take in times like this. Nestle failed. Now the wave has gone beyond their means -and even if the Government backs down, the loss of trust from the end users, will take a long time to overcome, if at all.

The above points are from my perspective and I would love to hear from you on more insights as to what you think Nestle should have done- differently and better.


Business Innovation- Amazon Kindle in India

Posted by in Bangalore, Business, India, Innovation




Innovation has several synonyms- Change, alteration, revolution, upheaval, transformation, metamorphosis etc.


Great companies constantly keep updating themselves- and discovering new ways of doing things.  Kindle is one of them.  Amazon Kindle has a free run in India as the only eReader company in India. Despite being in a unique position, they continue to innovate, and find new ways of reaching their target audience. It is important for any company to constantly look at ways of differentiating themselves –and find ways of creating new markets and new customers.  


I was having coffee in Cafe Coffee Day and I saw this there. And I was stuck with this amazing idea!  While people drink coffee, and look around, they can ask for a Kindle, and read something in it.  Getting them hooked to reading and experiencing a device like Kindle while relaxing, is a great idea!   Great job, Kindle India Team! 

Of course, to land anything in India, you need to be prepared for the unexpected!  That will be interesting to see.  More on it later.




The 10 Commandments of Steve Jobs

Posted by in Apple

I got this from a friend of mine- so not sure where this was originally published. Nevertheless, with all credit to the author of this,  I wanted to share this because I think there is a lesson for each of us to learn from this man.

Hate him, love him, but you certainly cannot ignore him. Let us look for what we can learn from him!

10 Commandments of Steve Jobs

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