Category Archives: Leadership

Rappelling, Zip line and Trekking


I was in two minds till the previous evening  –  but then, considering i was yet to try Rappelling I decided to go for the one day adventure trip………..and I was the first one in the start point the next morning!!   :)

The place of choice was Ramagiri(Ramadeverabetta) in Ramanagaram, around 5o km and the plan was a day long session of trekking, rappelling and zip line.  Ramanagaram is famous from the film industry perspective also  –   Hindi movie “Sholay”  and English movie “A passage to India”  was filmed in this location.   We were guided by Adventureworx, a professional company specializing on outdoor adventures.

The rocks are visible from the Bangalore-Mysore road on the right side (when you drive from Bangalore), beyond Ramanagaram town. We had a leisurely breakfast and chose the tough route (interesting route as per the guide!).  It was a tough climb, though we made it in couple of hours.  We reached the top and then came around to the Ram temple. The water from the small water body near the temple was so fresh and refreshingly cool. From the temple, we took the steps downs.  As always, the trek was refreshing, stretching the muscles and made my day.   It was very unique experience to have a dog from the village following us and making sure that the last person of the group has crossed the tough stretch of the climb.  The guide said that the dog always ensures that the climbers are escorted  –  it was some sort of a spiritual experience to look at the dog’s eyes and see that determination to accompany the trekkers.  With beautiful sights on the way (it was very unique to see the tree growing on the rock top), it was a well spent morning.

Post lunch, we tried zip line and rappelling.  It was first time experience.   While zip line was more of a fun, rappelling was a test of one’s mental strength, confidence and focus.   The trick was -breaking away from the mental fear and taking the first step in rappelling  –   believe that you are completely protected (ofcourse, the critical thing for any rock climbing is the high quality safety gears –  these were provided by adventureworx to us, I saw all of them were imported gears, mostly from Italy).

Rock climbing

Ramanagara Rock climbing

It was well spent day and it was worth the decision to go!!

Ramanagaram is recognized as an international rock climbing site and we spotted many foreigners trying their rock climbing skills here.  Grades here are between 5.8-5.11 American is what I learnt later (you can read about rock climbing grades here).

Vasan Eye Care – Leadership and Management!


Effective leadership is putting first things first.  Effective management is discipline, carrying it out  –  Covey.

When you see Covey principles in action, especially meticulously implemented at large-scale, we have to commend!!   It was time for cataract surgery for dad  –   while I can call myself decently educated, when it comes to medical field, I am as novice as anyone can get….rather, I get psyched by how the medical field operate  –  I still struggle to comprehend on the fact that doctors are also human beings and their individual skills make or break a life (not a program unlike a software engineer!!)

So, when we went to the Vasan Eye Care center in Vadapalani, Chennai –  I was not expecting to see Covey in action!!   Starting from the security, receptionist, ward nurse and doctors  –   all I saw was the focus   –  CARE team in action….they have analyzed the psyche of patients, the psyche of attendants and established the processes…….!!

The experience was very unique for me  –  while I have seen the multinational hospitals, system and process  –  what was unique here was the human touch to everything  –  while the scale of operations is much smaller compared to a huge hospital, the focus to ensure the implementation of their USP  –  “WE CARE”  was amazing!!

Later I learnt about Dr.A.M.Arun and read through their vision, mission and values….nothing so unique for the story of a successful entrepreneur.   What was unique was the  business model which they implemented across this chain of hospitals.  

To put it simply –  a business model of a business is the one which converts the technical inputs to revenue outputs.  While I look at the most generic  components of a business model and see how Vasan fairs, this is how it looks

Value proposition – establishing the CARE TEAM, which also doubles up as their USP.  I feel there are probably excess staff –  but may be very specifically trained to do specific jobs  –  in an average eye clinic, I have mostly see ophthalmologist handling  the sensitive testing instruments, but in Vasan I saw trained technicians doing that work  –  while it is a guess, I think Vasan gets to have more staff on their roles at probably low-cost as they are only trained on specific functions. 

Market Segment  –   Vasan seems to target the upper middle class market segment –  who are affluent enough to spend money, but want to ensure that there are no frills  –  spend enough for the necessity!!  Look at the location of the hospital chains they have picked….their ambience is something which is not of a five-star status, but of a decent well-kept hospital.

Position in Value Network  -  Vasan probably is feeding the need for a neighbourhood eye clinic and hospital   –  replacing the individual eye clinics and the super-speciality huge eye hospitals.  In the value chain, they are probably all over   – adding value as a one time eye clinic visit, to the high-end of cosmetic eye treatments!!

Revenue generation and margins  – proof is in the pudding!!  they are planning their IPO!

Good going!!!

Management lessons in Maaribetta Trek!!


As part of our team’s 2011 annual goal setting/team bonding sessions in Bangalore, we had a trekking session in Maaribetta day before yesterday (Saturday).  It was a team of 22 who came from all over India for the two-day sessions!

Maaribetta or Banathamaaribetta  is a little known adventure destination, near Bangalore.  We took the help of Woody Adventure Inc, an adventure event management company (Thank you, Raj!  You referred the right organizers) in Bangalore.  The hill is located 55 km from Bangalore near Kanakapura and 6 km on the Ramnagar road.   The trek through the rocky slopes, thorny bushes made the trip very challenging and interesting.  This place is also an ideal destination for photography – actually couple of eligible bachelors ensured that they captured their pictures in Maaribetta background for their matrimonial picture portfolio  :) :) !!!

The group was a  mix of male/female and young/old.  While couple in this group had experienced trekking earlier, for most of the participants,  this was the first time trekking experience.  Mr.Muniraj was our guide from Woody Adventure,  and was ably supported by Sangeeth, a 3rd year electrical engineering student from BMS engineering college, Bangalore (he said, it was his part-time job!!).  Through the entire trip, Mr. Muniraj was giving us lot of instructions and I found that  there were many management lessons in them to remember and implement  –  read them below!

We  reached the foothills of Marribetta at around 9.45 am (I have to commend the skills of the driver who drove through those muddy village narrow roads).  Mr. Muniraj requested us to form a small circle and addressed us  –  “  We have two options for this trek.  One  –  easy but takes longer time and the second one  is moderately difficult but takes less time. I will suggest the second one.  We have taken even 5th grade school children on this and they made it easily.  Let me know your choice”.  There was hustle and bustle with the team, when three of us opted for the second moderately difficult option, there was a sudden wave and everyone (even the ones who was skeptical about the whole concept of trek) opted for it.

  • Lesson 1  –  Give the options to the team.  Set expectations  – state the real scenario.
  • Lesson 2 –  When the leaders make the decision and set an example, it becomes easier for the team to follow.

Once our guide saw that the team is up for the trek, he went on with the instructions.   “We need very minimal things with us  –  just water and some light snacks, caps and coolers.  Avoid all fancy bags  – if you have a small light backpack, take it.”

  • Lesson 3:  If your goal is on something high, keep your requirements minimal.  Less baggage, more comfort.

We started walking and it was indeed a memorable one.  Mr.Muniraj was so knowledgable and kept the team motivated  through the trek with his instructions. While we did not spot any wild animals, he did show us the droppings/footprints of elephant, bear, panther, rabbits, porcupine, antlions.  He also showed us the trees which are dangerous (itchy trees) and the antiseptic plants.  He insisted that nature is beyond us and if we understand it, we will become very humble.

  • Lesson 4 –  Understand the big picture.  You will know who you are.

While the climb up was very steep and the climb down was very slippery, all he said was the following

  • Lesson  5 – Take Small steps –  one step at a time
  • Lesson 6 – When you need support, ask for help
  • Lesson 7 – Lead, follow or get out-of-the-way
  • Lesson 8 – In a team, the leader leads the way  and everyone has a part to play

At one point, I was almost stuck –  perching on a steep rock, not sure of my next step.  The guide saw me and said  –  “Feel the rock and focus on your steps”.  It just hit me…….how true…..all I need to do is to focus on my next step and not on anything else.

  • Lesson 9 –  Focus on your next steps.

We had a wonderful time and came back as a satisfied team  with more learnings  to operate as a team!!

ps- This post is my entry for the ‘Cleartrip My Purpose‘ contest in Indiblogger. If you enjoyed this post, you can vote for this in Indiblogger.

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