Yesterday moi took part in a paper presentation contest for young managers, organized by a so-called management association.
All teams were of four. As bad luck would have it, we got our invitation letter for the presentation with just a day's notice. We then set out on the mammoth task of creating a dashing deck and deciding what to say. Yours truly ended up covering a large chunk of the deck (one team member couldn't repeat what was given in writing, and another was jittery coz it was his first public speaking assignment).
Call me a loser in anything, but in presentation skills. Yours truly was selected best faculty from a group of two thousand - simply because of solid presentation skills.
I gave it my last ounce of energy, made eye contact, did all the right things - while expounding gloriously on our material. Our strategy was solid and so was our deck. Our Q&A session was quite good too - the 65-yr old judges seemed happy with what we proposed to make the Indians more competitive.
We saw a couple of other presentations - they were the lousiest ever. Bad slides, no strategy, ugly people and totally Mallu-ised English.
Basically, we had no competition.
The results were announced, and we came a measly second. The team that came first gave a repeat presentation, and we searched for that one reason why they were better than us - nothing - apart from the fact that their people spoke in almost equal increments of time - unlike we did. In terms of strategy and presentation, we were way better.
How did we know? During our snack session later in the evening, one of the judges leaned over to me and congratulated me on a job well done. With a snotty smirk he said - in a team of four, all should talk, not just one or two.
So that's what killed us - an overdose of me. Inspite of giving it more than a hundred percent AND moi being a better presenter, we lost. I lost. Rather, we lost , because I did.
Maybe it WAS a mistake. What pissed me off however, was the lack of attention the oldies paid towards the quality of our content and presentation, regardless of who said what. They gave higher marks for more voices - rather than for what the words actually meant.
We retained our trophy from last year - and that really is of the least importance.
Anyway, here are my conclusions on the management association and its thought processes.
1. This association has noone aged less than 55. All through the evening, we heard talk about how the 'young' managers of today make the older ones' life difficult. The chief guest ran out of saliva talking about how 'these young people think 180 degrees opposite to us'.
Really, if we were indeed such a threat, then why hold a competition for us?
2. All through the past fifty years the association has been around - from 1958 till date - there has been one woman president.ONE. I say no more.
3. Radical ideas and smart youngsters scare them - because they have to move out of their comfort zones at the ripe old age of 60. Tell them what they want to hear, and they'll keep you happy. During our presentation I suggested the 'hire and fire' policy for Indians - one of the judges took it very personally.
4. The so-called senior managers of yonder years need to wake up to the fact that wisdom and experience do not automatically come with old age. NOTHING does - except wrinkles.
Personally, I think their certificate is worth less than the paper it's printed on. And I believe in getting rid of trash as soon as possible.
Simply because it stinks.