"CEOs can't wait to read Sunny Bindra's articles every week."

Feb 18, 2024
Are you suffering from the Spotlight Effect?

Picture yourself on a dark stage, delivering the central performance of the day. A spotlight is shining right on you, staying with you as you move. All else is dark. There are hundreds of people in the audience, but you can barely make them out. All their attention is on you: how you look, and […]

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Feb 11, 2024
Some thoughts about longevity in business

Childhood is a place of magical memories—once we have left it. Our first tastes and other sensory pleasures tend to stay with us for life. We develop deep loyalties and could potentially consume our favourite products from our tender years for our entire lifetimes. But there’s a problem. Do those products and businesses still exist? […]

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Nov 19, 2023
Does anyone LIKE your business?

I have a question for you: is your business liked by anyone? We don’t usually view businesses in that way, do we? It’s not one of the regular aims of a business, to be held in affection by any party. We are far more transactional than that. We provide a product or service, customers gain […]

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Jul 30, 2023
A misadventure in home food delivery—and some business lessons

The alarm bell rang in my head, but I did it anyway. I was trying to order dinner using a home delivery app, from one of my regular, favourite restaurants. For some reason the app was showing “restaurant not available” on that day. We decided to call the restaurant directly, to ask what was wrong. […]

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Jul 02, 2023
Be wary of fairy stories about business success

I read this hilarious tweet a while back and bookmarked it. It is from Andrew Wilkinson, an entrepreneur, characterising entrepreneurs giving advice thus: “Here’s the number I used to win the lottery.”  I’ve stopped laughing now, enough to think and write about that excellent sentence.  Young folks lining up to listen to successful entrepreneurs talk […]

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May 21, 2023
Most human failures follow this predictable trajectory

In Ernest Hemingway’s famous novel, The Sun Also Rises, a character is asked how he went bankrupt. “In two ways,” he answers. “Gradually and then suddenly.” A famous sentence, one that aptly describes how businesses go down. We get fixated on the sudden events that occur at the end of the trajectory—banks calling in their […]

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May 07, 2023
The tricky challenge of evolving the family business

Look at this list of companies: Walmart, Ford, Bosch, Aldi, Tata, Toyota, Hermès, Maersk, Samsung, Dangote, Bidvest, BMW. Quite a roll-call, huh? What do they have in common? They were all family founded. Family businesses are a really big deal in the world. Surveys around the globe regularly suggest that they contribute close to two-thirds […]

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Apr 23, 2023
Does your business have a soul, or just spreadsheets?

I have a lot of time for James Daunt. He is the man trying valiantly to rescue the bookselling trade, against all odds. As a reader and writer I look on, gripped by the hope that bookstores can withstand the onslaught of online sellers and e-books. James Daunt was once an investment banker. In his […]

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Apr 16, 2023
Why do you ask for customer feedback?

You’re familiar, I’m sure, with the guest feedback survey that hotels send out to those who have stayed with them. You click a link, provide some ratings based on your experience of the hotel, and perhaps some more detailed points if you have the time or inclination. That opportunity, however, is typically provided soon after […]

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Apr 02, 2023
Learning from street hustles

Last week I discussed the Netflix series Street Food Asia. The foodie in me loved looking at the origins and excellence of various dishes: chaat in India; tom yum in Thailand; jajan pasar in Indonesia; putu piring in Singapore. But the student of human endeavour in me was even more impressed. Street food, you see, […]

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Mar 26, 2023
What a father advised his son

Have you watched Street Food Asia on Netflix? If you’re interested in the human being at work, this series is worth a peep. It’s only ostensibly about food; more about the human hustling to eke out a living—and about what it takes to survive and thrive in very difficult environments. One episode, set in Delhi, […]

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Mar 12, 2023
What does your customer actually buy?

I am always very interested in long-lived companies and brands. It is not easy to live long as a business, and most do not. What special things do the venerable ones do? This week I cast my eye on a set of products that are always in our kitchen and pantry shelves, and never seem […]

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Feb 05, 2023
The big reveal: here are the secrets of success

A question that keeps popping up: what are the secrets of success in business? Every new generation seems to ask it—these days on social media. I am asked the question often, and I wonder: why do people think it’s about “secrets” in the first place? I guess because true business success is rare rather than […]

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Jan 29, 2023
A tap-and-go world is already here. What now?

If you have visited an advanced city in any country with high labour costs recently, you will have noticed a peculiar phenomenon, post-COVID. The digital acceleration in ordinary life is very, very real. Supermarkets in those cities have very few people deployed to receive your payment. Self-checkout counters are the norm, where you scan your […]

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Jan 22, 2023
This airline’s recent meltdown has lessons for us all

Southwest Airlines has been the business-education world’s poster-child for the longest time. It started life half a century ago as an upstart low-cost disruptor, and grew steadily to become a huge airline—and a hugely popular one. It now has more than 700 aircraft, and it is also, in an industry dogged by regular downturns and […]

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Dec 18, 2022
What do your organisation’s core values actually say?

Let me apologize in advance: I am about to upset a bunch of people this Sunday. If you are part of a large corporation, I want to discuss your core values. You know, those lofty things on your walls, your computer screens, your office mugs. They are supposed to be your guiding lights; your noble […]

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Nov 27, 2022
Who innovates, and why?

Last week I discussed some examples of rapid and effective innovation, highlighting the “YO!” chain of sushi restaurants. That business could have taken a fatal hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, given the high-touch nature of its business; but lo and behold, it’s still alive, still kicking, still growing. Others didn’t experience that fortunate an outcome. […]

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Oct 30, 2022
Want to join a board? You’ll need to be able to think in these three ways

Lots of people want to join boards. Who wouldn’t? To be a member of the board of directors of a reputable organization bestows great esteem, does it not? It’s an impressive line in your resumé, an eye-catching feather in your cap. Of course you want that. Wait, do you really? Being a board director is […]

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May 22, 2022
How companies get to celebrate their 100th birthdays

Large corporations don’t really have long lives. It is estimated that the average lifespan of a large American company is under 20 years these days. Many enjoy short-lived success, and then just fail and go bankrupt. Others get merged or acquired. Why should this be? As I wrote in my book The Bigger Deal, corporate […]

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May 15, 2022
Why books are still booming in the digital era

This wasn’t supposed to happen. The prolonged global pandemic accelerated all things digital. We embraced electronic ways of doing things: digital payments, virtual meetings, online shopping, video streaming, instant messaging, web-based learning. Devices and software boomed as never before; many old ways of doing things took a permanent hit. Using cash, going to cinemas, travelling […]

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May 08, 2022
An iconic company hits a speed bump

Netflix is tanking. Or rather, its stock price is—which is a rather different thing. What should we make of this? Netflix is one of the iconic companies of this epoch, a trailblazer and game-changer. It upended traditional video, moving people away from linear television and movie theatres. It has been on a seemingly unstoppable spend-and-grow […]

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Apr 17, 2022
Where does great customer care come from?

I’m writing this sitting in an organization where I’ve had a surprisingly good customer experience. That is rare enough to make me pause and reflect. Why is it that some can pull this off, but most fail quite miserably? First, here’s what was good. It started from the front entrance, when the security guard jumped […]

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Mar 27, 2022
The business lessons of the pandemic

Picture yourself driving on a fog-filled road you don’t know too well. You suddenly realise you’re approaching a curve—and it’s rather a sharp one. Seasoned drivers will not slam on the brakes suddenly—that might have unpredictable consequences. Rather, they will start slowing down before they get to the sharp part of the curve. Then, when […]

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Feb 20, 2022
What you sell is not what your customer buys

If you sell something (which is most of us), here’s one of the most important sentences you’ll ever read: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” That was written by Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen, who attributed it to Theodore Levitt. It probably came from Leo McGivena, originally. Whatever […]

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Jan 23, 2022
Thinking like a strategist about potatoes and chips

Many years ago I was sitting in a hotel abroad. I was part of an international multidisciplinary team advising that country’s government on its infrastructure strategy. We were about to have lunch. The order was made. We chatted. In a short while, though, our waiter was back with news. “We can’t offer any of the […]

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Jan 16, 2022
Why your little neighbourhood shop may be thriving

Let me tell you the story of S, who runs a little shop—a kaduka—in my hood. S started off operating from a tiny makeshift kiosk. He was the milk ’n’ bread guy for our house, and for many on our street. Every morning the regular order would arrive, like clockwork—one less thing for us to […]

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Nov 21, 2021
The era of customer primacy is finally loading

What if you could get your weekly groceries—or a few impulse buys— all delivered to you in ten minutes? Not an hour; ten minutes. Founded six years ago and accelerated by the global pandemic, Getir is leading a posse of ultrafast delivery providers. It started operations in Turkey and is now valued at close to […]

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Aug 29, 2021
How much unnecessary pain do you inflict on your customers?

Some years back I was the facilitator for a strategy retreat for a leading corporate, and checked into a hotel for the event. It was a high-level affair; all board members and senior executives were present. A top-notch hotel had therefore been chosen, to cater for the senior attendees and deliver an excellent service experience. […]

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