This is a guest column by Amrutash Misra, the co-founder at Life Online which runs The i love read.in’ Library. Before that, he worked at Hindustan Unilever. And before that, he was a student at IIT Madras. For Amrut, the glass is never half empty. It’s always half full.In a previous avatar, I happened to be a management trainee at HUL. An ID that says ‘management trainee’ is pretty much an all-access pass over there. An MT can ask any one anything; from the mundane, everyday stuff to the larger questions of life. Every senior was also invariably asked: How can we get to the top quickly? (And how much money can we earn in the process?) But, one of the questions that stayed with me is this: What separates a manager from a director? The supply chain director, Dhaval Bhuj, answered in one word: discipline.
His answer has haunted me ever since. Partly because it is 100% true; partly because it’s hard to be “disciplined”. I, for instance, have really had to struggle to bring discipline into everything I do. I envy people who are naturally disciplined: for whom being disciplined is effortless.
From my experience, here’s a check list of things to be disciplined about. I am sure you can add a hundred items to it. You’ll notice that most items on the list actually have nothing to do with starting up.
- Good health: Don’t fall sick. Whenever I fall sick, my company loses money. No exception. Hence, I try my best not to fall sick. The perfect way to do it is to be disciplined about your body.Sleep well. Must wake up by 7; must sleep by 11: business happens in the DAY. Unless you have clients in other countries. In which case, sleep such that you are awake when they are awake!
- Good food habits. Bad stomach and bad timing can mean bad customer experience. Moreover, bad stomach can really dip productivity. Eat home-cooked (preferably self-cooked) food.
- Good drinking habits. Customers don’t care if you have a hangover. And customers do call at 1 am (“I’m sorry if I woke you up, but my credit card got rejected on your website...”) and 6 am (“Can you send my books before 9 am...”)
- Exercise: keep everything oiled. There are a hundred parts of the human body that can unexpectedly give trouble: back (long hours of sitting), feet (half-clutch and half-accelerator), teeth (really, do they even need a reason), eyes (shifting power), sinus, etc, etc. Go to a gym, do yoga, live healthy.
- Cleanliness. Wear a clean ironed shirt to work (no tee-shirts). Cut your nails and get a haircut regularly. Shave often, if not every day. It makes a difference. It also forces all your employees to do the same. (This is a rather silly point – but I’ve met so many entrepreneurs who are shabbily dressed that I had to write this down.)
- Money. Spend wisely. Be pound-wise and penny-wise. Tally your accounts regularly and file your bills properly. Keep your P&L statement disciplined.
- Communication. Reply to all emails, sms and calls. Keep all communication to the point – don’t beat about the bush. Keep your emails nicely arranged.
- Appointments: Use a diary to mark appointments and to take down notes. Always carry your diary with you.
- Time: Be disciplined about time. Don’t waste time, don’t watch TV. Be on time for meetings; if you are running late, inform everyone.
Bottomline is this: if you are your boss, then take the extra effort to be disciplined. About EVERYTHING. It makes a difference.
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Also, we recommend you to read Amrutash’s previous articles on YourStory.in