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January 17, 2016

Flashback - worth of the worthless

Recently I found this priceless treasure at my home in Baroda. It is dated circa 2002. 

Now in flashback -- 
It is the post 9-11 world, software organization I work for in Bangalore is on a forced death march, in the wake of 9/11, our business from America has all but dried up. Acute famine for revenue stares at us , with no end in sight, we decided to find opportunities in the domestic market, revenue from which would offset atleast some of our fixed costs. Those days before the wide spread use of internet, the only way to find out sales prospects was by travelling. And sometimes days on end, I would be wandering around Bangalore on my motorcycle - Kormangala, Peenya, Yeshwantpur, Old Madras road, Jallahali, et el . Wherever I located a decent office building or an interesting business enterprise, I would make a note in my dairy , sometimes I would even walk up to the security and inquire .Sometimes if I was lucky, I would even get to know the name of the relevant business manager , who could be interested in our services. And on occasion I even got to walk in and meet someone , ‘cold calling’ at its purest. Peenya being an large industrial estate used to be my favorite haunt. After this sortie, I returned to our office on Hosur road, go through the telephone directory to locate their numbers . Then with all the panache I could muster, I called that organization and tried to find someone who would give me an appointment. And that’s how gradually I build my contacts, one card at a time. 

No organization big or small escaped my attention, research institutes,PSU's, foreign trade mission offices, educational institutes, engineering companies, trading companies even furniture & decoration companies. Over the period of 8-9 months from absolutely ZERO contacts , I prospected 100 + companies, had atleast 20 of them visit our office and got business from 4 of them – HAL Airport, Tata Coffee, Raman Research Institute and Akson institute . Our first domestic business ever in the history of the organization.
Then on one fine Monday, I reached office earlier than normal to find the CPU of my computer missing, a sign that my company had backed up data from my CPU, which in turn meant , it was time for me to leave. Before others came in, I sneaked out to a nearby tea stall, deposited the most precious treasure I had accumulated over the year and went back into the office. As I had anticipated , during my exit , I was asked about the visiting cards of all my contacts. As contact information was already updated in the prospect database on my computer, I did not feel the need to carry the cards with me was my explanation. In the evening with my relieving letter, full & final settlement, I signed the exit register for one last time , went to that tea stall ,collected my treasure and went home.That treasure was these business cards.
In a few months, I would relocate to Hyderabad and these cards folder would be forgotten, buried in memories of time and the organization I left would continue on its death march, succumbing to debt and close down few months later. 

Today these cards may be worthless but for me each visiting card has a story to tell, they are an physical relic of an epic struggle of the years gone by !

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