Aravind: Management can change the world

If Mcdonalds can sell billions of burgers and Pepsi can sell billions of cola, then why can’t Aravind sell millions of sight restoration operations? That’s the Dr. Venkataswamy speaking when he opened up the hospital at the age of 58.

And no wonder Aravind, a change of eye hospital in India has performed more than 30 million operations.

There was a challenge because many people were losing the eyesight in India, which could be avoided. So Dr. Venkataswamy decided to do something about it. And built management around his vision and practically changed the world.

Similarly like Ray decided to franchise the McDonald’s, but the managers made McDonald’s the way it is now. Having good management and choices shapes the way.

The Impossible

Aravind performs millions of operations based on their hospital and eye care clinics and camps for different areas.

How is this even possible, and the bigger question is why they do it?

The secret is they do so many eye surgeries that every training doctor in eye works in here so they can excel faster.

Another thing Dr. Venkataswamy decided was to reduce the cost so that the operation can be faster. He did this by making sure the patient was ready once the current operation was done by a doctor. And he achieved this with only 4 in 1000 infection which is less than the accepted standard.

The Management Role

Dr. Venkataswamy is no more. But the management persists. You can either focus on getting more dollars for the CEO or do the work because it matters for your goal of making change happen.At Aravind, their goal is to make eye care accessible to everyone.

Hence when you go for cataract surgery, you can either pay a nominal fee or get it for free. And still, they make a profit.

Principles and Management

Aravind focuses on continued improvement. For example, they recently announced that the screening number of people went down. But it was because their screening methods improved.

Another thing is they do everything centric in the patient. Also, they came up with better drug and machines so they can be cheap and then shared with others.

Also, they focused on the staff because most of the work is voluntary. The major focus is to be frugal – spending money wisely to achieve the larger goal.

This was they were focusing on better. Hence in recent 50 years, they have gone from 1 man to performing millions of surgeries, thus making life better.

In contrast, Pepsi focused on increasing appetite of yours to drink more colas.

It boils down to management – what are you focusing on. And once you do it for a long time, then it becomes more efficient, cheaper and better.

Having great management focusing on things they care about and measuring the right things accelerates their growth.

The Cycle

In social media, the game is to get your attention, make you stick longer on the site. So for that, they introduced followers metric and how many people clicked. Thus you end up spending more time because of that metric.

Another example is people keeping track of quarterly reports of public CEO. And if people are reacting, then the companies would focus on somehow increasing the numbers.

But Aravind never focused on quarterly profit reports because if he did, then he couldn’t have changed the world in such a positive manner.


When you go to work, you are measuring something. You have been trained always to ask what will be on the test or how to do the job. You rely on the rules set by management.

But if you see yourself not finding value in your work, then you need to decide. You can either take a shortcut and get a quick job or dig deep and find the place where you can see and be seen.

Money is easy to measure. As such, you should focus on making change happen. Because Pepsi, who is focusing on money, is leaving behind a legacy of obesity.

So you need to decide the direction where you want to go.

Being managed by good management is great, but it depends on the leadership by making quality principle.

So the opportunity you have is to become a leader by taking in focus on things you measure for yourself.

Short term or long term – you decide. What is a good day for you? So put the right things you want to measure. You have a choice to make about which story you will tell yourself to your coworkers and for what impact.


  • What is the difference between being supple and chasing the next shiny object?

When you commit to the people who seek to change –  so you might change the tactic, but the goal is the same. Supple means being open to different ways to reach the goal, which was the change you want to make happen.

It means sticking when something because it matters even when the paths change by adopting them.

  • I am a freelancer, and my living depends on it. But my passion is on being an entrepreneur. What to do?

One of the reasons for your dilemma might be because you enjoy the quest more than the destination.

Another reason is that you aren’t fulfilling your job. So you are hesitating because your success isn’t making you happy, but you have worked hard for it.

It is up to you to accept the gift from your past self who worked hard.

But you can use your reputation and leverage then work on the next project, which matters to you.

One way to do your project is to focus on clients that are related to your passion. And ignore the clients who aren’t on your journey.

It’s scary to walk away from success. But if next thing matters, you have to get going.

But if you aren’t going to leap then stop that narrative and enjoy the moment you have. Make the contribution and enjoy the status you have worked hard for.

It’s Atmosphere Cancer – Breathe

Every day you breathe in air so that you keep on existing, have you ever wondered about the air you breathe in.

Air Composition

Air is invisible if you are lucky. There is about 78 percent of Nitrogen, which is a boring gas for you because it doesn’t do much for you directly. And about 21 percent of the air is oxygen, which is essential for you.

About 1 percent of air is Argon, also a boring gas. And ignoring water vapor there is carbon dioxide which in the news like forever comprises of 0.03 percent.

That seems almost negligible. But that much carbon dioxide is enough to change the dynamic of the environment.

The Cycle

Other planets get warm and cold because there is no atmosphere over there. Earth has it, which makes sure there is a comfortable amount of temperature for the organism to live.

Plants take in carbon dioxide, use energy from the sun, and do photosynthesis and thus making fruits and other things and releases oxygen. You breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.

All of this is easily measured and hence not in dispute.

The Greenhouse Effect

That little carbon percentage makes a barrier not to allow heat to escape.

For a million years, plants used to do their cycle and eventually die. And some would de compost and grow again, and some would become fossil fuels. Thus the carbon they had has been trapped in the form of oil.

Because of the industrial revolution, fossil fuels combustion started happening, and thus, there has been a tremendous increase in carbon dioxide due to the oxidation of carbon.

Adding to this the deforestation, there has been a ⅓ increase in the percentage of carbon dioxide.

The Report

All of the above things aren’t in dispute and are in agreement with everyone.

R P Jacobs and team made a report for Exxon mobile, mentioning that there will be huge repercussions in the human environment and have a significant social, economic, and political shift.

The Real Reason

Many of the top scientists analyzed all the information and the crisis that was supposed to come. But their bosses at many companies had different plans.

According to their study, it was found that the top 100 companies were responsible for more than 50 percent of the increase in carbon dioxide release.

But they didn’t want the companies to shift. Because many people were seeking profits of those companies and they will be not happy.

So leaders of these companies decided to make it a political issue. And soon it was given to the public. Thus this scientific issue was kept somewhere in behind.

And everyday people can’t anticipate how the future will be and thus can’t make a better decision for the future. Or at least understand the significance of the crisis.

The Short Term

Everyone is focused on the short term goal. Social media has added to this fuel.

Humans don’t understand most of the complicated things, and their instinct in political issue is to argue. Also, the poor people have least say in such a situation, who are probably the people going to be impacted the most.

What you end up with is a perfect storm (irony intended), Of science, culture, and industry making it very difficult to respond appropriately.

The important thing is to understand is that about 100 companies are responsible for about half the change which is happening. Hence a better technology innovation could dramatically change the carbon dioxide and also your quality of life.

For example, driving an electric car is futuristic because it is. But it is difficult to sell because the culture is to stay the same. Also, it is about dividing people into teams, and people at the top are controlling and profit from your argument.

One best example is breaking the news about things which is happening. It plays on your human tendency.

But it isn’t easy to make breaking news about a crisis in the future.

Let’s not focus on global warming. Let’s call it environmental cancer because that is a scientific name and there is no denying about that. Changing the narrative and pushing companies to take the best leap is the goal.

When right people come and says, follow me for a brighter future, if you can leave behind your innate desire to argue about it. Instead, focus on being people like us do things like this – being in sync of ‘this.’

Politicizing a crisis so that about 100 companies CEO can benefit – there is a better opportunity than that. To see, open doors to innovations to make things better all along.


  • Do you think about how we do small things is how we do big things?

Never just ship it. Rather merely ship it if you commit to ship on a certain deadline. That means your work will get better the more you ship it.

How long does it take to write a novel? Maybe nine months.

How long to type a novel? Maybe 4 days.

You are stuck in almost 9 and a half months, trying to figure out dead ends and exploring different narratives.

Erle Gardener wrote Perry Mason novel in 20 days. He dictated the novel to the secretary, and that is the final draft.

The point is that you can do your craft by merely shipping without a lot of wasted time. Whenever the deadline comes, you ship the best version at that time. Doing best work ain’t easy, but you have to put in the time.

So by merely shipping your work, you will know your craft and work and it will only keep on getting better with time.

What’s the problem with a used car salesman?

One person made all the difference in the automobile industry. He enabled the shift in the culture such that a car company is named after him; of course, he is William Metzger.

The Story

He was the first car dealer in the US. In the 1890s he opened up a bike store. He got influenced by the auto show and car making process, he sold his bike store and started making electric cars.

Here are some of the problems he faced:

  • You needed a huge capital
  • The car was relatively unknown
  • And it would need service

Metzger devoted his life to the automobile industry. He started the auto shows in the US and started public racing. And among then racers was Henry Ford.

This was an important thing because people needed to visualize cars and see the shift in culture.

So highways were created to have a place so cars can be used.

Meanwhile Henry Ford had created 3 companies primarily because he had became famous by winning the automobile races.

The End Of Dealership

The business of dealership went through the roof because car companies couldn’t build up distribution from the ground up.

So they made a deal that they will stick with the dealership for decades or centuries if they can keep having customers for cars and also profit per car.

Tesla ended that cycle because you can order directly from them. The trick is they offer a 30-day money back guarantee, and that’s cheaper for them than working with a dealership.

But here is the messy part. Cars broke, and dealership is in the business of doing service. That’s why you have to take many trips to the car dealership for getting the problem solved.

And in a way, car companies are required to keep dealership happy. But now tables have turned and car company have the upper hand and your TESLA won’t need many trips for service.

You might wonder why car companies ask you to rate the dealership for service. Turns out for you as a customer can’t differentiate between car dealership and brands.

So some dealerships are working towards having a better service rather than focusing on short term profit. This is also an example of how the distribution changes things for people.

Computers And Other Examples

When the personal computer came into existence, they had the same problem as car acceptance did:

  • You need a huge capital
  • You don’t trust
  • And it needed service

So computer land became a sorta dealership for computers. But you as a customer weren’t ready to pay for the repair in huge dollars.

Apple decided that the hardware might not be fixed by you, but you don’t need to worry because the software is top notched.

And they created the Apple Store, which created an empathy level connection while selling Mac computers. So despite them being available everywhere, you bought it from them.

Now they aren’t focused on connection though as they have grown and their core values have been compromised.

Another Perspective

Still today many people don’t want to buy something which they can’t touch. One such example is eyeglasses.

Warby Parker put the bus in a different spot of a potential customer and experimented a lot. And where the bus had sold more, they rented the place and opened the store.

Opening retail outlet is an easy way to show trust if you are just an online company.

People Like Metzger

There are many high-end coffee beans retail place because economics allow them to exist. On another hand, there aren’t many high-end chocolate bars selling the retail store.

Hence when you think about how culture changes based in business, we need more people like Metzger to take the leap and push to go for the extra mile.


  • As a publishing company, what to do because of the hanging landscape?

First, you need to see that the world is changing. Also, what is your goal for your organization?

When the world changes, people fall because they focus on the things they don’t have. First focus on the things you have and double down on them.

In the book publishing industry, you are the intermediary, and you need to build a relationship with readers and authors.

You should be finding great authors for your readers and not find readers for authors. Build a relationship and show your value of curation.

One way to do is have a connection build in everything you do around you, authors, and readers. It’s tough, but if you are persistence and focused on both ends, you will grow.

  • Is it too late to start at 30 ignoring sunk costs and being supple?

First, you aren’t starting late. Because as the world changes, many people who have more sunk cost than you will have to start over.

Another thing is to look at the smallest Viable audience. And not focus on the biggest dip.

Instead of thinking of becoming the best and getting an academy winning actor, then there is a considerable dip you need to go through.

A better way is to become an accountant for a specific group of people – musicians in New York. By doing the best work for them, you will get a referral, and you can get through the dip fast and get the success you need. Choose your dip wisely by being ultra-specific in your craft.

  • Is there an approach to find your minimum viable audience?

And it depends on your craft and approach.

For example, if you get $1000 from 100 customers then that is your minimum viable audience. But before going in, you need to ask real questions – how many people will change, do they have money and do they need better service. And then go ahead.

With the advent of new cameras and phones, what is next for filmmaking student?

Better keeps on changing. For example, in filmmaking better used to mean if you can focus or use CGI. But now with AI doing most of the job, better means what kind of projects you are doing and can you lead

So ahead and take risky projects, do emotional labor, and have something beyond the pictures to show. Always keep asking, what does better mean?

Fooled By Spectrum

Television Saved The World

In 1950, 9 percent of the people in the US had televisions, and by 1962, almost 90 percent got TV.

Following is about the magic moment that TV created.

Limitation Of Spectrum

Heinrich Hertz demonstrates what Maxwell theorized that they are more than the traditional VIBGYOR (Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red).

For example, there are gamma rays which helped Bruce turn into Incredible Hulk and X-ray, which enables to scan bones.

And then there are high-frequency rays which enabled radio and televisions. All the right at different frequency is a part of the spectrum.

The spectrum of light is scarce. You can try to put more channels because analog is precise you need to put in spacing between channels. So initially there were limited channels, unlike today.

All because there are technical and economic reasons for this setup.

Radio And Television

Everything was local when TV was around. So everyone and their own local hero, news and so on. Hence you might win in the local market because there weren’t many competitors.

But then the radio came in, and for the economics were awesome. Because it didn’t cost them much to beam the radio to another city or other part of the world.

So suddenly the local shifted. And you can get the same heroes in every part of the world. The culture shifted from the ghetto to the world stage.

This lasted from 1940 till 2000 as the culture people were living in. So brands made a fortune by advertising on TV.

Average stuff was being made for average people and being advertised all over the world.

Digital Spectrum

Once digital showed up, you can have billions of digital channels because of new advancements. At the same time, it became cheaper to make TV like the content.

Also, people shifted to have desire specific things and not what other people were having.

Scarcity of spectrum helped many decisions like movies. Because of limited slots in theatres and spectrum on theatre, those movies which got in and advertised heavily got seen more.

Fooled by Spectrum

The magic of TV and its alignment with scarcity in the physical world changed the culture.

The reason there are nationwide chain stores because there is nation wide TV. The reason there are nation wide brands there is nationwide advertising.

Scarcity of shelf case lined up with scarcity of spectrum. So a chain was fueled by capitalism and public market. Not everything would get distributed, and those who get distributed will be bought, and thus they will buy ads, and the chain will continue, ultimately dictating what you want.

1000 True Fans

Due to limited spectrum, everything that was distributed was for mass media people. And thus Oprah wasn’t distributed as often.

But now you can choose to listen to Oprah. Because now it isn’t possible to have nation wide brands and voices. Go and listen and interact with specific people who can give what you want.

Infinite spectrum enables you and everyone to have a Minimum Viable audience. If you have 1000 fans interacting, then you survive and more. It doesn’t matter if big brands don’t want to distribute you.

Heinz, the ketchup company reporter huge earnings losses because things that worked for them didn’t work anymore.

Now what works is your passion and interact with enough people. You aren’t looking for 10 million people – those were fueled by limited spectrum.

Enter the internet – infinite spectrum, a micro market where there are so many possibilities.The Opportunity Ahead

Yes, there are some cons of living in your own filter bubble because you will read what you agree on. And the forces at high room might take advantage of you.

But the pros are enormous. You can interact, make connections happen, and grow, which might not be possible earlier.

You make it happen – thousands of people are making a difference, earning money and connecting instead of just a few people who had created a scarce market.

You don’t need a big budget and marketing to everyone to make a difference.


  • Your take on focus when you start too many things?

Real artist ship. It isn’t the idea generation, which is your work. Instead, it is your persistence and discipline to stick with an idea and do something when another idea is shinier.

So do the work, be generous, and do the shipping. It might not work the first time or the tenth time. To those, you seek to serve to enable you to do the best work of yours.

  • How to test yourself for being supple?

One way to understand being supple is to test how you go about some decisions.

For example, if you are planning a trip and your 7 bags are checked in, then you aren’t being supple. Compare that someone who has just 1 bag ready to switch gears when something comes up.

The underlying issue is how to deal with sunk costs, which will make you supple.

Take this example, if you are on a flight and an offer is made of $400 to take a later trip of 1 hour. So do you choose the offer or sit there because of your prior decision.

Ignoring sunk costs to make a new decision can help you know how supple you are.

  • Working to become linchpin? And for that, I went out above job descriptions and still the reviews of annual job evaluations re average, how to deal with that?

Seth Godin: I am sorry that people who you are working with aren’t getting the point, and I can feel your pain.

A linchpin does extra that any organization will embrace, but the fact is many managers want cog because they can control.

Hence future belongs to an organization which has the magic – and can’t be replaced by AI. But we are still in transition.

If you are in a company that rewards cog, then you will not be rewarded mostly if you are a linchpin. But be good news is that it is a signal that the organizations aren’t for you.

Start looking for somewhere else where a linchpin will be rewarded. You got the hint, being a linchpin that should be your goal. Because pretending to be a cog is way worse.

The Little Person Inside (Synecdoche)

The headline could be – Iran backs off from negotiation. What does it mean?

Does it refer to all the people in a country or just a few politician decision.

NASA Shuttle

How do space shuttles came into existence which costs billions of dollars and still have not achieved its intended course of action.

In 1969, NASA decided to go to the moon, and they achieved this as a manned mission within a decade.

People at NASA wanted to do many missions – mining of asteroids, going to mars as manned mission and many more. But this was going to cost a lot of money.

Richard Nixon wasn’t in the mood to spend any money. So NASA was in a dilemma on how to make sure they have a presence in space.

A committee was appointed to look into the issue. They found out that if more missions happened then, it would be beneficial than a one-off mission.

Somewhere near 50 mission per year. And they would need approval from the Defence Department.

They did build the shuttle, and it was still costing a lot of money.

The Side Effect

The Soviets saw this and ran the numbers. And it seemed a large amount of money. So they reasoned people at White House wouldn’t sanction this unless it had more use than just going to space.

So they duplicated the shuttle called Buran and kept in reserve.

Once they would know what the USA was up to, they could match.

And the shuttle Buran just flew once, and it crashed under the storm. In this story, Soviets failed to realize that there wasn’t White House that was deciding. So no single person was making a rational decision – that’s not how government works.

Why Organisations Fail

A book was written ‘essence of decision ‘ on the Cuban crisis, telling how the organization decides.

You might think that a specific country made a bad decision because that doesn’t align with rationality.

Here is how an organization decide something:

When faced with a crisis, leaders break it and give it to respective departments.

Because of resource limitation, leaders finalize the first solution, which is good enough.

Leaders are focused on the elimination of short term uncertainty and not long term betterment.

Often they use the old playbook which solved their problem previously.

And that’s why the organization shatters. Because once the world changes a lot, the old way of things doesn’t work.

An example, when the shift happens from cable to YouTube to Netflix, the transformation was new, and you can’t play anymore with old rules. You have to find a new playbook or fall flat.

Rational Actor In Your Mind

There is no real Nobel Prize in Economics. It’s indeed fake because it is funded by a bank and it is based on the rational actor model.

Meaning that you will act as per the laws of economics, keeping in factor short and long term interest.

But there is no rational actor in your mind. Here is an example, Seth was baking roasted carrot in olive oil by putting them in the oven in rotation.

In the process, his finger got burned, and there panned dropped, and so did the oil.

And the whole oven was on fire. Luckily the fire extinguisher was nearby, and the fire was off.

But was this in the interest of the long term damage possibility? Hell no.

However, Seth didn’t get to decide, his pinky finger decided on the short term rationale and probably next time too the same outcome might come.

You don’t have one single voice as a rational actor. Rather a bunch of actors on various factors -short term or long term response.

For example, you might think Starbucks hate you. That’s not true – a person working there didn’t like you, and that isn’t an indication of the organization.

So your brain functions on multiple different decisions sometimes short term objective and sometimes thinking more rationally.

Voices In Your Head

When faced with a crisis, you break it down and assign it to different preassigned roles in your head.

De to the limitation on resources, you settle on the first good enough solution. You gravitate towards a solution which removes short term uncertainty. And you use your old solution to tackle similar problems.

Inside of your head is an organization like the space shuttle and the Soviets. That works with a process with different voices doing its own job.

And you just sum total of all of your processes.


  • How do you when to use inconvenience for a worthy outcome and when to switch being convenient and drop in quality?

Almost no one wants inconvenient, and they won’t pay extra for waiting.

With the times, they are in a hurry for the supermarket tuna. They don’t care.

As a creator, you need to make a choice. You need to find people who care enough and then make things which are extraordinary. And they will come.

  • How can you handcraft websites, app, or code?

You can still do inconvenient things and add value in the digital world.

There is a software called Superhuman, and its price is $1 per day, which is expensive than any other email client. And every day they work on making it better for you because they aren’t trying to lure you into sucking in and making the CEO richer. That’s happening by your payment of $1 per day so every day they are working for your betterment.

Also, when they started the CEO and the team of 5 members visited and on-board the first 15000 customers.

That’s crazy and costs them a lot of money. But if they do it right and they did, the customers stick, and it all is paid back.

Another example is the early team which worked on Mac computers. They made all the icons and functions with care, and it resonated.

Now it just exists to be a luxury, and as such, it shows.

Will my status roles go down if I approach people in a networking event?

Status expresses in such events. But that might not matter. What if you are learning something when you interact.

Or you can talk as a peer, and your status role will be intact.

Often stories about status happen first in your head. You need to figure out is that helping in making a change which you want to make.