Monthly Archives: February 2012

Working in an office vs. at home

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Do you work better in an office or at home?
Many of us work at home these days. Some of us are disciplined and can churn out hour after hour of work at home.  We never shut down, when we are home, we are always working.  Office folks clock out at a particular hour, and don’t lift a finger when at home.  It is a completely different lifestyle.  I have spent my life working very industriously at home or should I say, “from home”.  However, I have spent some time in offices, or hotels in office areas, and the vibration in those places is so work oriented that I work faster. 
So, rather than saying that working from an office is better, I would say, that working in a place with a good “work energy” is fantastic.  Your productivity can go up significantly.  It is hard to measure how much extra work you can do in a good environment, but perhaps we SHOULD measure it.  A good work environment could help you to get more done per hour. While it could also help you have the focus to put in more hours without getting tired or distracted. 
Part of it is seeing other people busy around you. That will rub off on you as well. I study feng-shui, so I believe that whether you see these others or not, their feng-shui of being busy and productive will rub off on you.
The worst thing that can happen to you is to be in a lazy place. I go on vacation in the woods.  I bring my laptop to the hotel in the redwoods.  This is a place that does wonders for my health and spirits, not to mention all the nice people I meet hiking around.  But, I feel lazy about work in those types of foresty places.  Sometimes I don’t crack open the lap top for days, and if I open it, I might only do two or three hours of work. I always work on vacation, and call a vacation a workation.  I go away to revive my health and spirits, but not to slack off. I am extremely busy on trips, and every minute counts.
My concluding note is to meditate in an environment that is condusive to meditation.  Work where it is most condusive to work. Play where it is most condusive to playing too.  There is a perfect environment for everything, you just have to find it.  And if you can’t have the perfect environment, then work with what you have, but do it with awareness!

Choose a company from an area that specializes in what they do?

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Choose a company from a region that specializes in what the company does?

I recently chose a programming company that was in an area that specialized in wine and small farms.  I found that the skill of the programmer was quite good.  However, the attitude about getting things done, and getting back to me was very lackidasical.  Perhaps this is the culture of the area they are in which is famous for wine, and a great place to take a weekend away from home if you live in the big city. The area has wonderful family owned small farms with all types of produce.  There are wonderful small restaurants, bars, seashores, oysters, and much more.  Is it bad luck that I had bad luck with this company, or did I break a rule of life?
My last programming company was in suburban Los Angeles.  The head programmer was quite good, and the boss was excellent. But, once again, they were not completely focused on programming, and had only two programmers. Now, they have zero since the market for programming got slow nationwide.  I’m thinking that they are in an area which is not focused on programming. Our area is focused on Hollywood, and the clothing industry, and other things, but not IT work. 
I talked to some smart young guys I bumped into at an Indian fast food joint.  They were in the social media and programming business in the management end.  These guys told me that in the Los Angeles area, only one out of ten programmers is good and hard working, while in the Bay Area (silicon valley) which is famous for the computer industry and where the the computer and internet was invented, that 80% of programmers up there were good in their opinion.  I think these two gentlemen summed it up, and proved my point.
If you want to hire a wine expert, go to an area famous for wine. If you want to hire a great cook, look for one in an area famous for food.  But, if you want to hire a programmer, hire one in an area famous for programmers.   Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Silicon Valley, and Phoenix Arizona are places that come to my mind.
The company I am using now for programming has been working on projects with me for five years. They are in Pune which is an up and coming programming hub in India.  This company has 45 programmers.  This proves how serious they are about the industry in contrast to companies in America that have one or two programmers who are perpetually late completing projects, etc.

What is the process of setting up a BPO Company?

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What is the process of setting up a call center or data entry house?
I have never done anything like this before, so I am the wrong person to ask.  However, I regularly interact with those in the BPO, Call Center, and Data Entry professions, so I know a few of the basics.
Here is a step by step plan for setting up a BPO company.
(1) You need to be an expert at most of the core skills of the outsourcing company you are setting up. If you don’t know what you are doing, you will not be able to hire or train others to do the job well. Also, if you don’t know what you are doing, you are not serious, and will fall on your face.
(2) You need to be a business expert, and an expert at attracting and keeping clientele.  If you know how to run a BPO call center perfectly, but fail to attract clients, you would be better off as a manager at someone else’s call center. If nobody will hire you, then that proves your value (or lack of it)
(3) You need to pick an auspicious location.  Some areas offer better rates per square foot.  In my opinion, lucky offices will attract more clients, so keep luck in mind.  Do you see an area where companies are generally thriving and making profits?  It is easy to see if someone has revenues, but profits are harder to detect. Maybe these seemingly thriving companies are just getting by, or taking a loss.
(4) There are companies that focus on selling equipment and networking for new companies to set up their phone systems and internet systems. 
(5) Once you have your office all set up, you need clients.  If you have an attractive web site and do outreach to large companies that might need a call center, you might be able to set up a client base.  From there, hopefully you will get referrals.
(6) You need to have a large pool of workers you can call if you need service.  Call centers have unsteady business, so you need a long list of people to call if you get a new client.  It is not a bad idea to let the client have a say in who you hire for their particular projects too.
Those are the basics.  I am not in that business, so I can not tell you more!  But, keeping an eye on your employees, and making sure they are doing their best is key. Bringing in an outside consultant to train and critique your workers could make a wonderful improvement too, and is worth the money.  Quality wins the game in the end, so if you are willing to invest in quality, you could beat out the competition.

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BPO projects, how to get them and what they entail!

What does Mark Cuban say about startups?

What is your management style?

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What is your management style like?
I have seen different management styles in action. I have seen managers who keep distant.  I have seen others who micromanage.  I have also seen some who are mean and yell at their workers all the time.  There are others who praise their workers all the time.  Which management style is correct or optimal?  I think it depends on what type of workers you have.
Some workers know exactly what to do, and don’t need help. Leave them alone and they will be happier and excel.  Other workers are pathetic, and can’t do anything right unless someone is babysitting them.  Many workers are brilliant, but will never finish anything on time unless you are constantly on their back. Then, they complain that you are always on their back — maybe there is a reason why you are on their back. If they would finish work on time, then you wouldn’t be micromanaging them in the first place — do they realize this?
India is an interesting country to visit.  They have a very rigid class system.  If you are a manager, culturally you are supposed to behave like a dictator when you are around your underlings.  You point authoritatively and say, “Do this, do that, and make it snappy!!!”  From an American perspective, it is a culture shock watching these managers in action.  But, maybe the type of workers they have need this type of authoritarian approach for them to perform at their best. It is not for me to say, because I have not had to manage people in India.  I only work with OTHER people’s employees who have always behaved — otherwise they would get fired (gulp!).   I think the Indian work ethic depends greatly on what type of industry you are in.  IT folks seem very diligent in India, while government workers have a reputation of being lackidasical — too much job security if you ask me!
America is the opposite, where you have to be nice to employees, while they feel free to have bad attitudes and even talk back to their bosses and customers.  I am not a big fan of the American work ethic in 2012, or the lack of it thereof.  India has it’s problems, but people WANT to work, and that willingness is such a huge plus, that it makes working with Indians a positive experience, even when there are problems. 
Regardless of what your management style is like now, if you work in a BPO, KPO, LPO, or other outsourcing company, you can think outside the box to find new and better ways of managing people.  Do you offer bonuses and incentives?  Different people are motivated in different ways.  Some workers see the long run scenario, while others like quarterly bonuses.  Many people can not see more than 24 hours ahead of time.  If you give the wrong incentive to the wrong person, it won’t work out even in the short run. 
If it were up to me, I would think about a dozen different management styles, and compare notes with others in management. Try some of your better ideas out for a quarter and see if they are better than the status quo.  The only way to improve yourself is to try new things that seem promising. If they don’t work out, you can always go back to the old way of doing things!