Marie Kondo, KonMari and Organizing Things

 “Weeding out what doesn’t spark joy applies to just about anything…after cleaning her house, one of my clients changed jobs and another one dumped her boyfriend.”

-Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo is Japanese entrepreneur, she is quite successful in her profession. Her profession is to provide consultancy on how to declutter and organize things.

She has long list of clients and is in demand for her expertise.

As a child she was always interested in organizing things. After college she made consulting on organizing things her profession.

“A customer was struggling with what to keep and what to get rid of..so  I suddenly said, does owning this spark joy(tokimeki)? From then on, cleaning really went fast.”

-Marie Kondo

Her method of organizing things is called KonMari. It consists of gathering together all belongings, holding one item at a time, and then keeping only those things that bring joy, in words of Marie, “tokimeki” i.e. things that “spark joy”. Those things are then arranged in particular manner and preferably kept in drawers.

“Dump all your clothes in a heap, keep only what makes you happy, and say “thanks” to each possession before throwing it out.”

-Marie Kondo

Marie today is mother of two children and in one of her interviews she said that her husband before marrying read her book and then he moved in to new house with just 5 boxes.

“If you have a big house, perhaps you can allocate a whole room for your child, but in Japan, where housing is quite small, some people decide to allocate two or three big drawers.”

-Marie Kondo

She has written book on this subject.

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Grassroot Innovation, Anil Gupta and Mansukhbhai Prajapati

“You need to work in the field to gain knowledge about it, doing an MBA is not enough …Demand for items that are environmental friendly and good for the health will always remain.”

-Mansukhbhai Prajapati

Mansukhbhai Prajapati is a high school dropout potter from Rajkot, taking loan of Rs.30000, he started company to manufacture products made from baked mud. He uses his knowledge and skills of pottery to manufacture fridges, water filters, water coolers, baking pan, cooker etc. He feels that earthenware add taste to food, which cannot happen it case of metals.

“The earth is enriched, it is where we find iron, gold, and other metals. Eating is earthenware makes the food so much tastier.”

-Masukhbhai Prajapati

Mansukbhai’s innovative idea of replacing metal with mud and thereby making products affordable to people at bottom of pyramid has created sort of mini revolution. Even retail chains like Big Bazaar are now selling his products.

 “When people talk about Mansukhbhai Prajapati’s Mitticool Fridge, we don’t talk about the several prototypes that were made. This was not a result of tinkering but systematic innovation.”

Prof. Anil Gupta

According to Prof. Anil Gupta of IIM Ahmedabad, Mitticool range of products are what he calls as grassroot innovation-Innovations made by people without a scientific or technical background who have come up with ingenious solutions to problems they faced, using the meager resources they had at their disposal.

Anil also tries to differentiate grass root innovation from “Juggad “, as opposed to Juggad which is makeshift solution, grassroot innovation needs systematic efforts.

Anil’s organisation Honeybee Network collects information about such innovations all over India and help them to get it patented. He has written book on grassroot innovation.

“Over the years, Gupta and his team have created a dense network of organisations, each to specifically further a particular aspect of the grassroots innovation process.

The results have been impressive. More than 70 technologies have been commercialised, 700 patents have been filed on behalf of their inventors, and another 10,000 innovations placed in the public domain.”

-The Hindu

Pakistan- removing impurities from the land of pure

I cannot emphasize it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community, because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on, and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalis, Madrasis and so on, will vanish.”

-Jinnah address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, Aug 11 1947

Pakistan was formed based on two nations theory of Jinnah- that Hindus and Muslims cannot coexist. Though transfer of population was not something that was planned, Jinnah believed in “hostage theory” i.e. minorities in each country were treated as hostage to ensure fair treatment of minorities in the other. Which meant that Pakistan needed Hindus to ensure fair treatment of Muslim in India. But unlike Jinnah, Nehru did not believe in such nonsense, for him all Indians, irrespective of their religion were equal in letter and spirit.

From a secular leader Jinnah was slowing transforming himself into an Islamic leader.

But unfortunately, the partition was not well managed, there was large transfer of population. The native Muslims benefited from migration of Hindus, but Muslims from India lost their property and became homeless in Pakistan. Since Pakistan was land of Muslims, all Muslims were welcomed in Pakistan.

So, Pakistan now consisted of Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs. Ideally all should have forgotten their differences and become Pakistanis.

But soon differences cropped up. Pakistan was land of pure, minorities were now seen as impurities, not welcome, but to be tolerated.

Pakistan’s first prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan wanted Pakistan’s constitution to be Islamic, but minorities were assured that their rights would be protected. Many Pakistani leaders like Jogendra Nath Mandal saw reality, treatment given to Hindus forced him to leave Pakistan and he went to India.

Islamic constitution would mean minorities like Hindus and Christians will be second class citizens.

In 1956, Pakistan was declared as Islamic Republic. After religious minorities, next targets were Ahmadiyyas and citizens of East Pakistan. Military rule by Ayub Khan kept religious leaders in check.

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All this changed after war with India in 1965, now religious leaders wanted Ayub Khan to be replaced, his was replaced by Yahya Khan. Yahya Khan dissolved the constitution and first ever election based on adult franchise was held in 1970. Awami league won elections in East Pakistan, while Bhutto won elections in Punjab and Sindh, religious parties were routed.

These elections led to civil war as Bhutto and Yahya Khan were not interested in sharing power with Awami League, because East Pakistanis were not “pure” enough. East Pakistan became independent nation called Bangladesh. Two nation theory was proved to be untrue.

In 1973 a new constitution was made and Pakistan again became Islamic republic. Ahmadiyyas were declared as non-Muslims. Ahmadiyyas like Zafarullah Khan were active supporters of Pakistan, while Abdus Salam got Noble Prize. Though Ahmadiyyas kept insisting that they were pure Muslims, constitution declared them as impure. In fact, to get passport in Pakistan a Muslim has to give declaration that he does not recognize Ahmadiyyas as Muslim.

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Bhutto wanted a servile military head, so he appointed Zia ul Haq as military head. But it was a fatal mistake, though Zia appeared to be dumb, he was very smart. He had Bhutto imprisoned and under false case hanged him.

Zia was mullah in military dress. As pious Sunni Muslim, he decided to make Pakistan a true Muslim country. Now not just Ahmadiyyas but even Shias were not pure enough. Due to invasion of Afghanistan by USSR, two things happened, Zia now became darling of USA and Pakistan gave birth to Taliban. Emergence of Taliban lead to more violence and intolerance. Not just Hindus, Christians and Ahmadiyyas, now even Shias were targeted.

Democratically elected governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif didn’t change the situation, only intolerance kept getting worse. General Musharraf tried to improve the situation, but soon lost control over masses. Benazir was assassinated and Nawaz was re-elected. But by now situation was out of control and nobody was interested in Pakistan of Jinnah- differences will never vanish.

 

Chicano literature, Tim Hernandez and Bea Franco

“I use the term Chicano to refer to people of Mexican ancestry who have resided permanently in the United States for an extended period. Chicanos can be native-born citizens or Mexican-born immigrants who have adapted to life in the United States.”

Raymund Paredes, UCLA

Chicano literature is body of work by writers and poets of Mexican ancestry permanently living in USA. It deals with issues of migration, hardship, feminism, racism etc. faced by Chicanos. One such author is Tim Hernandez.

Tim Hernandez is an American writer and poet. He is son of migrant farm workers. He has written two books.

One is on a Mexican lady called Bea Franco with title- Mañana Means Heaven and other with title- All They Will Call You, is about 32 farm workers who died in air crash in 1948 in California, some of whom were illegal immigrants called deportees.

Tim read novel “On The Road” by American author Jack Kerouac, in which Jack talks about his brief relationship with a Mexican lady. The lady was running away from an abusive husband and was attracted towards Jack. At that time, she was married with two children, but that did not stop her from having affair with Jack. Year was 1947.

At that moment I had a copy of On the Road with me and when I opened it up to the section about “Terry, the Mexican Girl” it leapt out at me like it hadn’t before. Too, the fact that I was from the same territory that “Terry” was from, California’s San Joaquin Valley, and being the son and grandson of migrant farm workers, I knew I could shed light on this specific character…”

-Tim Hernandez

Tim was interested in knowing who this lady was and also, he wanted to hear her side of story. In novel she is called Terry the Mexican girl. Her real name was Beatrice Kozera, she was also known as Bea Franco. He started searching this lady called Bea Franco. He got hold of letters written by Bea from library. He searched lot of cemeteries, he even hired a private investigator to find Bea. But two years of efforts did not yield any result.

Finally, the investigator talked about possibility of her being alive. Tim’s mother got interested in this search and finally was able to trace her.

“I asked Bea that same question once. “Bea, what do you want people to take away when they read your story?” She replied, “That I was mostly a good mother.”

Tim met Bea and published her side of story in novel “Mañana Means Heaven.”

“The book is ultimately Bea’s story, but because she’s been the most elusive and mysterious character in On the Road, I knew that the telling of how I came to find her was also important to the overall context, and to proving that this was in fact the Bea Franco.”

-Tim Hernandez

 

Shame, Self-destruction and Psychopaths

“Shame is part of the human experience. Keeping your feelings of shame in perspective can relieve you of a harmful tendency to self-blame, and, eventually, make peace with your shadow side. Knowing that you are good enough, worthwhile, and deserving of love and acceptance is essential for building resilience and living your most authentic life.”

– Manfred Kets De Vries

Manfred Kets De Vries is professor of leadership development at INSEAD France. He had done research on shame. He feels that shame if not handled properly can become self-destructive. If someone does an act which he perceives shameful, then there are three ways in which he copes with shame.

First strategy is to attack self, person will blame himself for his action. He may think that he worthless and may try to withdraw from the world.

Second strategy is to attack others, blame others for shame. They are in denial mode and lash out at others.

Third strategy is to be exceptionally good or giving to others. They try be nice to others to compensate for their shame, by this they believe that they will improve their self-worth.

“When something goes wrong, they say to themselves, “I’m to blame for what happened. It’s entirely my fault.” Not only do they demean themselves, but they also feel helpless, and don’t think that there’s anything they can do to change the situation.”

-Manfred Kets De Vries

But these strategies do not resolve the issue, they may at times give temporary relief, but they do not resolve the issue.

Manfred talks about strategies to overcome shame. First thing to do is to bring the shame in open, try to trace its origin. Bringing wound in open heals it faster.

Second thing to do it self-compassion. Be nice to self, treat self with respect and empathy. Just think what you would say to your friend in similar circumstances, tell same to self.

While in case of most people shame is self-destructive, in case of psychopaths feeling of shame is lacking. They feel no remorse or shame on their behaviour esp. committing crime, playing dirty politics etc. Shame does not bother them.

“They can be found wherever power, status, or money is at stake. Outwardly normal, apparently successful and charming, their lack of empathy, shame, guilt, or remorse can have serious interpersonal repercussions and destroy organizations.”

-Manfred Kets De Vries

 

 

Sewell Avery, Montgomery Ward and Sears

Sewell Avery was American businessman. He got into gypsum mining and became president of US Gypsum Company. J.P. Morgan & Company was impressed with his performance and asked him to turnaround loss making retail chain Montgomery Ward.

Sewell initially did a great job of turning around Montgomery Ward by restructuring the various processes. The company became a profitable. Sewell too gained financially through stock options.

“I never saw such a mass movement forward in a business. Avery turned the place inside out, even to the fixtures and decorations. All the fellows were hustling and bustling to make the grade in a big way. Everyone wanted to get in there and pitch for the old man.”

-Montgomery Ward Employee

But the processes that helped to turnaround the company also resulted in its decline. Because the methods he used to turnaround company did not work after end of World War II. Sewell was against trade unions and sharing of profits with workers. He refused to spend money on expansion.

This resulted in strike and being retail industry, it started affecting the supply of essential goods. President Roosevelt asked him to step down, which stubborn Sewell refused. Finally, national guards carried him out of his office with Sewell still sitting on his chair.

“… the government has been coercing both employers and employees to accept a brand of unionism which in all too many cases is engineered by people who are not employees of the plant…these devices…only appear to make workers free to choose… are a disguise for leading the nation into a government of dictators.”

-Sewell Avery

Stubborn attitude combined with refusal to notice changes happening in environment cost Montgomery Ward its market share. They started losing market share to retail chains like Sears.

Later, Sears lost its market share to Walmart.