How do we persuade someone who has more power than us and who is not convinced of what we are proposing?

It’s 1:05 pm. I’m in the offices (these are pre-pandemic times) of a senior executive (let’s call him “Eric”). I am pitching the services of my company. This presentation is a big deal for me and my company. Eric’s company is a household name. Just getting a meeting with Eric is huge. I must ace this.

So I had prepared thoroughly including carefully planning what I wanted to say. No cut-and-paste of existing PowerPoint slides. I had soaked up information about great presentations from the best of the best: Nancy Duarte’s awesome “Secret Structure of Great Talks” to Carmine Gallo’s…

A case study from my experience at

Clicking on a label marked ‘Security’
Clicking on a label marked ‘Security’
(Source: Pixabay)

“The road to security hell is paved with good intentions.”

We all want highly secure websites, users to choose strong passwords and for all of us to live happily ever after. When this idyllic world does not come to pass, we often blame the hapless user who does something silly and with due schadenfreude we exclaim with all the superiority we can muster: “What a fool! Who does that?!?!”

Let’s indeed blame the careless users who choose ‘passw0rd’ as their password. …

To sell something, first build something beautiful

( The Sun is Rising — Ryan McGuire Source: Unsplash )

In the world of software — in which I traffic — I often hear the phrases “quick and dirty,” “move fast and break things,” “fast cycle time,” “get it out there,” etc. Even the word “hack” (defined in the dictionary as ‘cut with rough or heavy blows’) now finds itself being celebrated as people tout their “hack”-ing credentials and participate in “hack”-athons.

Heck (or, should I say “hack”?) there is even a language called HACK. But whatever positive connotations this word may conjure up in your mind, a hack is not associated with something beautiful.

Beautiful things at minimum work…

If yes, let’s pledge to do something concrete.

(Photo by David Ramos on Unsplash)

On this somber and solemn occasion of George Floyd’s death, I had occasion to go back to the Declaration of Independence where the Founders laid out their 27 grievances with the King George III, declare independence and end with the following:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Their lives. Their fortunes. Their sacred honor.

Imagine instead that the Founders having laid out their accusations, declared independence and ended with the following:

And for the support…

Focusing on how you can help others is the key to forming better business connections.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

What the heck is ‘one-eyed’ networking? Well, it’s simple: We show up at a networking event or mixer (in pre-pandemic times, of course) eager to find ideal prospects to grow our business. Needless to say, most people at this event have the same idea and are looking for prospects to grow their businesses.

What ensues are mostly shallow and perfunctory interactions between people who would each rather be talking to someone else. We make polite conversation while trying to spot someone — with sidelong glances — who we believe may be more valuable to us.

That’s one-eyed networking — talking…

Take control of your time and the rest will follow.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Most people assume Warren Buffett is successful because he’s able to buy stocks and businesses of value at attractive prices. Wrong! Actually, Mr. Buffett through personal mastery is first and foremost an amazing time trader: he buys time by shedding the unimportant and sells time for truly worthwhile activities. It is this success at time trading that has enabled Mr. Buffett to become an investor and businessman par excellence.

In 1913, James Allen wrote that our thoughts drive our actions. Sadly, too many of us find ourselves with a distracted hodgepodge of thoughts which results in distracted outcomes. Focus our…

Bring your product. Bring your pitch. Close your prospects.

( Source: Give me a place to stand and I will move the Earth. Painting by Guilio Parigi )

All of us who are in the “closing” business toil away building products for which we believe there is demand. Then, we toil away some more on perfecting a pitch that we hope can persuade a prospect. Then, we pitch our identified prospects. And then, a big nothing. The deafening sound of silence. That silence we hear is the sign of an unpersuaded prospect.

We won’t talk about how we should, of course, have a great product and a great pitch because that’s just table stakes. …

( Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash )

Steve Jobs exhorted us to “Think Different” in a series of iconic ads. They are incredibly inspiring ads that motivate us but fall short in that they do not tell us how to think different. They may as well have said, “Be an iconic guru by … becoming an iconic guru” — a recursive exhortation that leaves us none the wiser.

The thought processes of brilliant minds have always been opaque to us lesser mortals. Instead of understanding how they think, gallons of electronic ink are expended instead in how they behave which we then copy in hopes that somehow…

( Photo by Larisa Birta on Unsplash )

It’s a truism that we all face impossibly demanding jobs these days: an always-on culture, bosses that want stretch goals accomplished routinely, older workers who feel threatened by younger entrants who think nothing of spending 18–20 hours at work each day, everyone threatened by the rise of automation and low-cost outsourcing, wage increments that barely keep up with the cost of living, etc. And, sadly, our performance at work can degrade with age creating its own sources of frustration and anguish for many.

Even if we “succeed” in such an environment, we tend not be much “happier.” In fact, paradoxically…

(Image: Auguste Rodin’s “Thinker” — Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Sapere Aude — ‘dare to think’ (for yourself) exhorted Kant. He said people did not do this because:

It is so easy not to be of age. If I have a book which understands for me, a pastor who has a conscience for me, a physician who decides my diet, and so forth, I need not trouble myself. I need not think, if only I can pay — others will easily undertake the irksome work for me.

If the defining image of Kant’s exhortation is Rodin’s Thinker, what is our defining image today? I’d say it is the diametrically opposite…

Sridhar Ramakrishnan

I like to think deeply about business, entrepreneurship, success and failure. I am the Founder/CEO of Arnexa (

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