Saving our planet; one bag at a time

June 29, 2010

We design artwork too!

Being in the business of promotional bags, most of the inquiries we get are for your conventional promotional bags with prints that are either company logo’s and/or names and occasionally names of special events. Its not as if we don’t enjoy working with these; we love to… every new inquiry and every new prospective client comes in with a wave of excitement and eagerness to get their order no matter what… and as a whole that’s what keeps us at Norquest Bags going.

But every once in awhile we happen to meet customers who do a bit more than promotional work; they look for spreading the same message we hope to spread with each and every bag we make… a message to save our planet. We hope to do it one bag at a time, and they do it for us.

Recently, we got an inquiry for one such customer. After much deliberation and discussions, we finalized 3 of our best selling styles. 2 of the styles were supposed to carry prints given to us by our customer and the last one was without a print. At Norquest, we make sure that you get exactly what you’re looking for and that nobody dealing with us has to compromise at any stage.

So, as our process goes, the first printed bag is always photographed and a picture is sent to the customer for their approval. One of the bags, as expected looked very nice. The other one… not as much! The print was a pretty good one, but didn’t sit well on the bag… and this is where we decided to offer our help. The theme being green and for the environment, it was too close to home for us and there was no way we were going to miss an opportunity to design something.

It took a few tries to get a print finalized, but the final one ended up looking great on the screen and even better on the bag. We’re always very happy when we get a chance to come out of our normal work and try something different. Kudos to our customer, because it always takes a lot of willingness and wee bit of patience to try something new… and its because our customer was like that, we got an opportunity to do this.

We’ve seen the bag and even though our customer has seen a picture of it, we can’t wait till he gets it in his hand and feels as happy about it as we are right now. Should be any day now.

At Norquest, we make it our goal to make sure that all of our customers are as excited about seeing their bags as all of us here are, right from the time the order is finalized to the time each and every bag is stitched, finished and packed. We make bags not just to fulfil our customer’s needs but also to try and show the world the bigger picture to at least try and help us in our aim to save our planet, one bag at a time.

January 13, 2009

Secret revealed: How to conquer the world

Can’t do it overnight, you’ve gotta work at it, one bag at a time, one customer at a time, but it pays off and pays off handsomely.

Not only does it earn you money and all the goodies that money can buy but it also gives you the satisfaction of being good human beings, able to earn the liking and respect of other human beings.

The formula is simple, you’ve got to love what you do and the folks you do it for. If this seems like effort, you’re in the wrong game. Do yourself a favour and switch to doing something you enjoy and love.

This isn’t about CSR. CSR is reactive, while to do this you have to be proactive. CSR is mechanised, while this is about love, for which there is no software available except all the software humans are blessed with, mainly the ability to love.

We practice this every day and get much joy from it and love it when a customer writes in tells us that they could feel it too.

Thanks Natalia, for reminding us again today what we stand for.

And thanks again, Kaajal and Arjun and Disha for communicating this love to our customers, and thanks again Sanjiv and Alpesh and Jayendra and all the other folks at the factory and the office for making sure our customers get the products they like and that our logistics team get them to the customers bang on time.

Here’s what Natalia wrote when she sent in her picture from Italy:

Dear Kajaal,

Here you have a picture of me holding the bag and a picture of the bag in itself.
and here our comment:

The bags looks very nice and the quality is good as well!! Thank you so much for the good collaboration.

Best wishes, Natalia

December 10, 2008

No minimums, complete customisation and total happiness. That’s what we promise our customers

And we deliver! Every time! Pennsylvania wine aficionados will now get a free wine bag made by us.

Mark, who runs http://www.PAwinetalk.com was concerned about the avoidable packaging used when people buy wine.

When he set out looking for a solution he found us. Here’s a testimonial he kindly sent us: “I wanted to get some reusable bags made with my web site logo. Norquest was the only company willing to make a relatively small number of bags. They were easy to work with and produced a custom bag exactly the way I wanted. I am very happy with the final product”

Here’s what Mark says on his website:

“Have you ever stopped to think about the number of paper and plastic bags you bring home every time you visit a Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits Shoppe? If you buy three bottles, two of them are put into their own separate brown paper bag, then they are all put into a larger brown paper bag, and lastly that is put into a plastic bag. The rule seems to be n+1: If you buy n bottles, you’ll be given n+1 bags.

So in the spirit of going green, PAWineTalk is pleased to offer our own reusable wine bag. Made from durable non-woven polypropylene, our bags hold three regular bottles or magnums, with internal dividers to keep them separated. And of course it sports a nifty PAWineTalk logo!”

As we’re based in India, we don’t get to meet as many of our customers as we’d like to. Some kindly write and tell us that they are happy with what we do for them, and send us a testimonial, it makes us very happy.

Mark is so right. Studies indicate that gift wrapping adds an additional one million tons per week to US landfills. If people only switched to our reusable gift bags and wine bags, the US could achieve a huge saving in landfill waste!

See the line at www.badlani.com/bags. When you look you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how affordable they are. Why mess up our world? It’s the only planet we have folks!

November 10, 2008

Start a new trend from Japan in your markets – minibags

The world’s fashion industry has recognised that Japanese street fashion often points the way to megatrends.

The latest story coming out of Japan is about the sudden popularity of mini-bags. It was carried in the Daily Yomiuri a couple of months back.

Entrepreneurs in countries where fashion is meaningful, would do well to read this story.

Here’s the story:

Minibags, small purses that can hold little more than a mobile phone, wallet or accessories, are one of the latest fashion trends. They come in a wealth of shapes and styles - some with colourful patterns, others with sequins.

You can enjoy them simply as utilitarian totes or as fashion accessories in their own right. They are also handy for tidying up inside your larger bag, as they help you sort out various items.

Concierge Petit, a shop in the Marunouchi building near Tokyo Station, is always crowded with women contemplating a series of Babyroo minibags.

The bag, 20cm by 22cm, is suitable for holding a clutch wallet.

Some Babyroo bags are adorned with illustrations on the cotton fabric while others are glamorously decorated with beads.

The shop deals with more than 50 kinds of Babyroo bags, most of them priced from 2,100 yen (US$20) to 20,000 yen ($187).

Super Planning Co, a company in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, dealing with lifestyle items, launched Babyroo in 2005 as bags handy for office workers to take along when going out for lunch. The variety on offer has increased every season.

The bag comes with a pocket designed to hold train passes and other cards. A shop manager said the products are popular among people of all ages, ranging from teenagers to elderly women.

Heming’s Inc, another company handling household items, started selling its Etoffe minibag in 2005. The bag is characterised by its materials, often Swedish or French fabric, and sophisticated design.

The bag, 20cm by 18 cm by 7cm, is priced from 4,095 yen ($38) to about 20,000 yen ($187).

A spokesperson for the company, based in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, touted Etoffe bags as gorgeous, befitting any party “It is also good when you’re on the move, as you can use it when going to a restaurant, for example” the spokesperson said.

In May, imported households goods shop Plaza began carrying Bag in Bag, a glittering, shiny, polyurethane minibag.

The Bag in Bag is 16cm by 22cm by 7cm. The bag includes a pocket for a mobile phone, and is priced at 2,310 yen ($22). The bag is now stocked at about 70 Plaza outlets.

Many women change their bags to suit what they wear. If you always keep small items in a minibag, it is easy to transfer them from one bag to the other, according to your outfit, said a spokesperson for Plaza Style, the company behind Plaza.

When you buy these minibags from us, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out how economical they can be. Calculate the potential markups and write to me today - rajiv at badlani dot com.

October 27, 2008

British villages show the way

Filed under: Environment, Happy customers — Tags: , , , — Kaajal @ 4:35 pm

Our “use and throw away” culture needs to change for real change to happen. What’s heartening is the kind of effort people are making.

Hopefully, plastic bags will soon be a thing of the past in a pair of Saddleworth villages.

Greenfield and Grasscroft Residents’ Association (GGRA) has persuaded local shopkeepers to ban free plastic carrier bags with the launch of a groundbreaking green-bag project.

Using funding from the National Lottery and Saddleworth and Lees Community Council, the group has produced 6,000 re-usable cotton bags which will now be sold in shops, schools and churches.

It is hoped the move will engage the 3,000 households in the area into changing from a ‘throwaway’ culture to one that is more aware of the harm plastic bags have on the environment and wildlife.

The money made from bag sales will feed back into the project to produce more bags and hopefully make the project fully sustainable.

If successful, Greenfield and Grasscroft will be the North West’s first plastic-bag-free community, and could inspire others to do the same.

GGRA has taken its lead from Modbury in Devon – Britain’s first plastic bag free town – which banned shopkeepers and traders from giving customers plastic bags.

The ‘Green Grass Bags’ feature artwork by children from primary schools at St Mary’s Greenfield, Greenfield School, Friezland and St Anne’s Lydgate.

On Friday, more than 100 residents packed Friezland Parish Hall to mark the launch.

MP Phil Woolas and Chris Davies MEP, both avid supporters of the project, both praised GGRA, saying campaigns such as the ‘Green Grass Bag’ could eliminate the menace of plastic pollution in coming decades.

There was also a presentation by 10 ‘eco reps’ from the four local primary schools involved in the scheme.

Secretary of GGRA, Mike Rooke, said it was hoped the project would serve as a pilot scheme for the rest of Oldham.

“Experience tells us that oaks grow out of acorns, and it’s best to start with a local project,” he said. “Our villages can help lead the way. We’re trail-blazing for an all-out borough attack on disposable plastic bags.”

October 25, 2008

Americans are thinking greener

I just read about a national survey commissioned by a leading American retail chain Plow & Hearth where they found that half of Americans plan to purchase an environmentally friendly gift this holiday season.

Even more heartening, 66% of them are willing to spend between 10 and 25% more on green gifts.

Women (55%) are more apt than men (45%) to purchase green products. Middle-aged (56%) and younger (54%) Americans are more likely than their older (40%) counterparts to purchase eco-friendly gifts. Those in the West (57%) are more likely than Americans in the South (51%), Northeast (49%) and the Midwest (42%) to buy green gifts.

How accurate is this finding? Pretty accurate it seems. A nationally representative sample of 1,001 Americans was interviewed by telephone via Ipsos’ U.S. Telephone Express omnibus. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate within ± 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire population of adults in the U.S. been polled.

Great news indeed. Indicating clearly that environmentally friendly behaviour is appreciated and respected by a very large number of American consumers.

Makes sense to consider reusable fabric promotion bags for your next branding or promotional activity. They are amazingly affordable (see www.badlani.com/bags and discover how affordable) and very attractive, and even more important, greatly appreciated by your consumers.

June 27, 2008

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown looks at a Norquest Bag

Filed under: Branding, Environment, Happy customers — Kaajal @ 4:38 pm

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown looks at a Norquest Bag

Every so often a pleasant surprise arrives in your mailbox.

This morning it was a friend and customer in England Simon Hawthorne sending us a picture of him showing one of our bags to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“He’s very supportive of the reusable bag campaign” wrote Simon “and with all that’s happening – Zimbabwe, petrol and food prices, the credit crunch, he was very kind to give us the time”.

Though just substituting reusable cloth bags for plastic bags happens slowly, it is, I am glad to note, happening steadily too.

Five years ago, when we were starting this business, I had an uphill task even discussing this subject with people. Folks would look at me as if I were some radical greenie who was pushing an irrelevant agenda (Plastic bags for heavens sake, the world’s got so many problems, that kind of thing) but now I’m happy to note that everyone around the world is acknowledging that this is one of the world’s bigger problems and one that is easy to solve.

Having said that, this is a cause that still needs champions. If you’d care to do something, do write to me. I’ll be more than happy to work out a program tailor made just for you. Rajiv at Badlani dot com.

May 8, 2008

The answer to “paper or plastic” is Neither!

Filed under: Environment, Happy customers — Kaajal @ 2:34 pm

The answer to �paper or plastic� is Neither!
Seattle’s mayor  Greg Nickels and City Council President Richard Conlin have proposed a 20 cent “green fee” on all disposable shopping bags. It targets both paper and plastic bags at grocery, drug and convenience stores, says this story in LA Times. “The answer to the question ‘paper or plastic’ is neither: Both harm the environment,” the mayor said in pushing for the citywide change. That’s exactly the message Margie Shepherd from
Crozet, VA asked us to print on the cotton bags she ordered from us a few months ago. She’s selling them from her school and has received many compliments from the parents of her students.

This is one of the mails she got from a parent “Ms. Shepherd, Just used the cloth bags I bought…they’re great! What would have taken 5 plastic bags, was contained in just 2 cloth bags. And I even got to say, “neither, thanks” when the checker inevitably asked, “paper or plastic?” Thank you again for selling the bags!! Happy holiday. Best, Debbie”

Margie also wrote us the nicest mail where amongst lots of compliments she also said “I was nervous about ordering something with only a picture from halfway around the world, but you made me a believer. You can use anything I said in part or whole, and put me down as a reference to anyone looking to do the same!”

We consider ourselves privileged to be in such a nice business at a time when the world is beginning to appreciate the value of reusable fabric bags, and lucky to get such lovely customers.

Here’s the original LA Times story by Stuart Glascock.

SEATTLE — - Conservation-mindful Seattlites know their garbage. They pack compost bins, fill yard waste carts, separate glass bottles and jars into tubs, and pack paper, cans and plastic jugs into oversize recycling containers. A city ordinance prohibits putting recyclables in the garbage.

Residents can be fined for tossing too much glass or paper in the trash. Low-cost city-issued rain barrels help homeowners reroute well-known Northwest drizzle.

So no shock greeted Seattle’s latest eco-friendly proposal from Mayor Greg Nickels and City Council President Richard Conlin. It would impose a 20-cent “green fee” on all disposable shopping bags. It targets both paper and plastic bags at grocery, drug and convenience stores.

“The answer to the question ‘paper or plastic’ is neither: Both harm the environment,” the mayor said in pushing for the citywide change.

The measure also would ban foam containers in the food service industry, such as restaurant plates, trays and cups and grocery stores’ meat trays and egg cartons.

The response to the proposed green fee and ban on foam, announced April 2, has mostly been positive, Nickels said. .

“It sparked a good debate in grocery stores, and on blogs,” the mayor said. “People are talking and bringing up good issues. We’ve got a good proposal.”

Seattle goes through 360 million throwaway paper and plastic bags every year, Nickels said.

“We are faced with changing our culture from one of conspicuous consumption to conspicuous conservation,” Nickels said. “Seattle is a good place to do that. Seattle has had a strong conservation ethic for a long time.”

‘I expect it will pass’

The City Council expects to vote on the proposal in June. If adopted, the measure will take effect in January 2009. Retailers would keep 5 cents per bag to cover the administrative costs. Store owners grossing less than $1 million annually will keep the entire fee.

“The council is very supportive, and I expect it will pass,” Conlin said. “The public has been generally supportive. The plastic industry doesn’t like it.”

In fact, the American Chemistry Council intends to lobby against the proposal. It sees plastic recycling as a better alternative, said Keith Christman, senior director of packaging for the chemistry council’s Progressive Bag Affiliates.

“We appreciate the city’s interest in reducing waste,” Christman said. “The tax is not the right approach. Recycling plastic bags is the right approach.”

Studies show that consumers recycle and reuse their plastic bags, he said. Sales of plastic bags go up when plastic bags are prohibited, he said.

“Once people understand that plastic bags are recyclable and reusable, people will do that,” Christman said.

But the trend in a number of countries is away from plastic bags.

Ireland started taxing them in 2003. China’s ban on free plastic bags begins June 1. Shoppers must pay for the bags in Switzerland, Germany and Holland.

Ikea, the Swedish home furnishings store that has charged 5 cents for plastic bags since March 2007, will pull them from all U.S. stores in October.

Last year, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban nonbiodegradable plastic bags in large grocery stores and drugstores.

“Right before our eyes we see habits changing for the better,” said Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, sponsor of San Francisco’s ban.

Mirkarimi views switching from plastic bags to reusable ones as a modest local act that has international implications.

“Climate change is so severe people feel paralyzed and yet they are desirous to do something,” he said. “Instead of waiting for the federal government, municipal governments can do some things.”

A range of far-reaching issues drove Mirkarimi to push the San Francisco measure. He said over-reliance on oil, insufficient pursuit of renewable energy, the war in Iraq and the U.S. refusal to sign the Kyoto Treaty “created a stew of inspiration to try and do something locally.”

California cities, said Mirkarimi, essentially have two options: recycle plastic bags or ban them outright. California lawmakers passed a state law specifically prohibiting municipalities from levying taxes similar to Seattle’s planned green fee.

“Locally, it’s about litter, debris, the fact these plastic bags take a millennium to degrade,” Mirkarimi said. “Despite the propaganda the industry says, there is no recycling of plastic bags. Only a tiny percentage of bags are recycled. The challenge is not to recycle more but to decrease reliance on bags.”

He doesn’t have to convince his municipal brethren in Seattle.

Fashion statement

Practically overnight, Mayor Nickels’ proposed green fee jump-started a cottage industry — supplying fashionable reusable bags.

In one case, the owners of PB&J Textiles in Seattle heard the mayor’s proposal and immediately pressed their custom embroidery and garment printing shop into action.

They cranked out a series of large, sturdy canvas bags emblazoned with anti-plastic bag messages:

“Look mom I just saved 20 cents,” “Just say no to plastics” and “No tax required.”

On display in their shop window, the newly minted, reusable bags spark interest and sales, said co-owner David Robertson.

“We read about it and decided to try something,” said Robertson, who acknowledges that he usually forgets to take a canvas bag along when he goes shopping.

“We are so used to the plastic bags,” he said. “It will take time.”

Even the mayor admits he struggles to remember to bring along reusable bags. But he has started keeping them in the family car. Still, Nickels said, “about half the time we get to the register and have forgotten the bag.”

“It will,” he said, “take a bit of time and effort to make the change.”

March 27, 2008

Learning from the masters - in this case, Google.

Filed under: Branding, Environment, Happy customers — Kaajal @ 3:08 pm

At Norquest we're learning all the time

I just read this fascinating article “9 rules of innovation from Google”. The most awesome statement there was “…believing that we can build a successful business without compromising our standards and values.” We all want to be good guys and those of us who have discovered that you can be a good guy and make loads of money are the really fortunate few.

March 11, 2008 - 9 rules of innovation from Google

1. Innovation, not instant perfection

“There are two different types of programmers. Some like to code for months or even years, and hope they will have built the perfect product. That’s castle building. Companies work this way, too. Apple is great at it. If you get it right and you’ve built just the perfect thing, you get this worldwide ‘Wow!’ The problem is, if you get it wrong, you get a thud, a thud in which you’ve spent, like, five years and 100 people on something the market doesn’t want.”

“Others prefer to have something working at the end of the day, something to refine and improve the next day. That’s what we do: our ‘launch early and often’ strategy. The hardest part about indoctrinating people into our culture is when engineers show me a prototype and I’m like, ‘Great, let’s go!’ They’ll say, ‘Oh, no, it’s not ready.

It’s not up to Google standards. This doesn’t look like a Google product yet.’ They want to castle-build and do all these other features and make it all perfect.”

“I tell them, ‘The Googly thing is to launch it early on Google Labs and then iterate, learning what the market wants–and making it great.’ The beauty of experimenting in this way is that you never get too far from what the market wants. The market pulls you back.”

2. Ideas come from everywhere

“We have this great internal list where people post new ideas and everyone can go on and see them. It’s like a voting pool where you can say how good or bad you think an idea is. Those comments lead to new ideas.”

3. A license to pursue your dreams

“Since around 2000, we let engineers spend 20% of their time working on whatever they want, and we trust that they’ll build interesting things. After September 11, one of our researchers, Krishna Bharat, would go to 10 or 15 news sites each day looking for information about the case. And he thought, Why don’t I write a program to do this? So Krishna, who’s an expert in artificial intelligence, used a Web crawler to cluster articles.”

“He later emailed it around the company. My office mate and I got it, and we were like, ‘This isn’t just a cool little tool for Krishna. We could add more sources and build this into a great product.’ That’s how Google News came about. Krishna did not intend to build a product, but he accidentally gave us the idea for one.”

“We let engineers spend 20% of their time working on whatever they want, and we trust that they’ll build interesting things.”

4. Morph projects don’t kill them

“Eric [Schmidt, CEO] made this observation to me once, which I think is accurate: Any project that is good enough to make it to Labs probably has a kernel of something interesting in there somewhere, even if the market doesn’t respond to it. It’s our job to take the product and morph it into something that the market needs.”

5. Share as much information as you can

“People are blown away by the information you can get on MOMA, our intranet. Because there is so much information shared across the company, employees have insight into what’s happening with the business and what’s important.”

“We also have people do things like Snippets. Every Monday, all the employees write an email that has five to seven bullet points on what you did the previous week. Being a search company, we take all the emails and make a giant Web page and index them.”

“If you’re wondering, ‘Who’s working on maps?’ you can find out. It allows us to share what we know across the whole company, and it reduces duplication.”

6. Users, users, users

“I used to call this ‘Users, Not Money.’ We believe that if we focus on the users, the money will come. In a truly virtual business, if you’re successful, you’ll be working at something that’s so necessary people will pay for it in subscription form. Or you’ll have so many users that advertisers will pay to sponsor the site.”

7. Data is apolitical

“When I meet people who run design at other organizations, they’re always like, ‘Design is one of the most political areas of the company. This designer likes green and that one likes purple, and whose design gets picked? The one who buddies up to the boss.’

Some companies think of design as an art. We think of design as a science. It doesn’t matter who is the favorite or how much you like this aesthetic versus that aesthetic. It all comes down to data. Run a 1% test [on 1% of the audience] and whichever design does best against the user-happiness metrics over a two-week period is the one we launch. We have a very academic environment where we’re looking at data all the time.

We probably have somewhere between 50 and 100 experiments running on live traffic, everything from the default number of results to underlined links to how big an arrow should be. We’re trying all those different things.”

8. Creativity loves constraints

“This is one of my favorites. People think of creativity as this sort of unbridled thing, but engineers thrive on constraints. They love to think their way out of that little box: ‘We know you said it was impossible, but we’re going to do this, this, and that to get us there.’”

9. You’re brilliant? We’re hiring

“When I was a grad student at Stanford, I saw that phrase on a flyer for another company in the basement of the computer-science building. It made me stop dead in my tracks and laugh out loud.”

“A couple of months later, I’m working at Google, and the engineers were asked to write job ads for engineers. We had a contest. I put, ‘You’re brilliant? We’re hiring. Come work at Google,’ and got eight times the click rate that anyone else got.

“Google now has a thousand times as many people as when I started, which is just staggering to me. What’s remarkable, though, is what hasn’t changed–the types of people who work here and the types of things that they like to work on. It’s almost identical to the first 20 or so of us at Google.”

“There is this amazing element to the culture of wanting to work on big problems that matter, wanting to do great things for the world, believing that we can build a successful business without compromising our standards and values.”

“If I’m an entrepreneur and I want to start a Web site, I need a billing system. Oh, there’s Google Checkout. I need a mapping function. Oh, there’s Google Maps. Okay, I need to monetize. There’s Google AdSense, right? I need a user name and password-authentication system. There’s Google Accounts.”

“This is just way easier than going out and trying to create all of that from scratch. That’s how we’re going to stay innovative. We’re going to continue to attract entrepreneurs who say, ‘I found an idea, and I can go to Google and have a demo in a month and be launched in six.’”

March 20, 2008

What they didn’t teach us at B-School - the common sense of ethics

Filed under: Branding, Happy customers — Kaajal @ 6:04 pm

Ethics can be taught

I just read a blog by an old friend named Ajit Balakrishnan where he, in his position as Chairman of the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta said he was impressed when a Professor suggested adding ethics to the course content

Someone argued that ethics can’t be taught. This, in my opinion, is pure nonsense.

Let’s try and define ethics. Some definitions go this way: Ethical motive: motivation based on ideas of right and wrong; Ethics: the philosophical study of moral values and rules. Ethics: the branch of philosophy concerned with evaluating human action. Some distinguish ethics, what is right or wrong based on reason, from morals, what is considered right or wrong behaviour based on social custom.

I have a much simpler definition, not of ethics, but of ethical behaviour. Quite simply I consider ethical behaviour as behaving exactly how you’d like the world to behave towards you.

For me, this cuts across almost everything. You’d like the world to smile at you, be kind to you when you are feeling down, be considerate of you. Well, that’s what the world will appreciate from you also.

It’s really as simple as that.

Issue based thinking can get confusing. That product hasn’t come out just right – how high should our quality standards be, how much rejection can we afford? That question isn’t the one we should be asking. What we need to ask is would I be happy to receive that product?

I prefer to look at the big picture. If we as a company can behave towards our stakeholders exactly as we’d like them to behave towards us, we’ll do all right.

Its sad that business schools don’t bring the subject up for intense discussion. There will be a sociopathic few who believe that they can behave badly and never be caught. But even those guys when exposed to enough empirical data about the downfall of companies who’ve been self-obsessed to the detriment of their stakeholders will know that it all catches up with you eventually. In the process of a discussion, they will also come to discover what others think.

In our increasingly cynical world, and particularly in India, people assume that to succeed in business you have to cut corners and do shady things, and I cannot deny that there is enough grossly visible evidence of shady people having succeeded.

But there are many of us who managed to make good without ever compromising our conscience and it helps for kids to know about that also.

Good sense tells you to behave in a manner that will earn you approval and goodwill and will make your stakeholders want to continue to do business with you (try us out and be brutal in telling me whether we behaved the way you would have liked us to or not).

So, at the end of the day, ethical behaviour is just simply sensible behaviour.

Ethics can be taught. Not through pontification, but through stories, examples and role playing. And it is certainly worth making the effort to do so.

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