I work in a team of three people, two guys and then me. We work on setting up an end to end system for buyers of a reputed supply chain market in the world. We worked country wise, taking up data and the requirements for the portal, setting up a user interface and then training the people of the company how to use this so that their buying gets easy. It is just like Flipkart and other e-commerce sites, except that, they but for the needs of their own company. Products on the website would be owned by different manufacturers. We would be making buying for the company so easy that all they need to do is login to a site and click the items they need and check out. The manufacturers will get their order and get them delivered to the company. Earlier, the client and the teams would go shopping from town to town to pick up merchandise to make their products. This includes raw materials for products, card boards for packing, toiletries, water cups and paper for invoices etc. Now all of that would be made simpler.
Making the portal and setting the end to end system is not as tough as training the users of the client company to work on this portal. First, the client has spent a lot of money by getting our company to make this system for them. Next, they have spent a lot of money on us too by sponsoring our travel and putting us up in acclaimed five stars hotels and having a luxury car at our disposal during our stay there. And like all clients, even these people were hard to please. They would go out of their way to try to make our product look bad. It was all about how you present the product to them and help them use it, so that they will get used to it and start enjoying the buying experience. Each training session lasts for a week with about twenty buyers in one session. Twenty is a large number to impress and this has to be done every single day for a week with twenty different sets of people each day.
The first day, my colleague took it upon him to take the session. Since we were away from home in a different country for more than a month already, he was dangerously home sick. He looked unkempt and shabby. His clothes were branded and his suit was freshly pressed. Yet, he looked like he had just woken up. My other colleague and I looked at each other wondering what was to happen. If the crowd was looking to make an impression, I knew that it was no way going to be a good one. He started the session with a joke but everyone remained grumpily seated. When he began the actual presentation, the people around looked away from the screen and started talking to themselves. They were looking all around and did not pay any attention to my colleague who was sweating to make them understand the product. He was visibly upset and itched his beard feeling the irritation.
Next day, it was my chance to take up the session and it went surprisingly well. The people payed good attention and they even understood quite a lot. No, it was not because I was girl that I got all the attention. I spoke really well and had ample help from my colleagues who were now put in the backseat. The next day, my other colleague took the session and that too was good. The crowd was eager this time and we had quite a few interactions too. I was feeling good but my other poor colleague was deeply hurt. I tried to console him by saying that it is okay no problem, but the pain was already rooted deep and the male ego had been stumped. I looked at him and then at the other colleague who was currently taking the session. Honestly, his use of language and presentation skills were not that great, but people still found him interesting. The guy next to me was polished and spoke really well, yet they booed him off the stage. I looked at them one after the other and the difference became very obvious.
"Oh, don't be silly." He shouts.
"I'm not being silly. I'm sure this is what it is." I say.
"Nonsense. Just because I have a beard doesn't make me a bad presenter." He argues.
"No, it doesn't. But people get the impression that you are not serious about your work. Look at us, here were are in one if the best countries of the world representing our company and the least we can do is show the client that we can look after their product much better than we can take care of ourselves. For that we need to look good and feel good. If we look unkempt, they think that we were shabby with their work too. I changed my entire wardrobe before I could come here, you know. Look at him, he is clean shaven and doesn't know the language well. Yet, he manages to make a much better impression than you." I say pointing to my other colleague who seemed to agree to what I was saying.
"I don't understand. I don't feel like myself anymore. I miss my family, I miss my home cooked food. I hate these continental breakfast and dinners. I miss everything back home and I do not feel like taking care of myself. I just want to get out of here at the earliest." He melts down.
"Okay, relax. We have been here for over a month now. All we did until now was make the product. This is our last week here and now we have to sell and present the product to them and train the buyers on using the product. Get a grip and groom yourself for now. After that, you will notice the difference. Please, for the sake of finishing this project successfully, listen to me." I try to make him understand.
"Okay fine, but I still think that this is silly." He looks up and smiles and walks away.
The next morning he is all clean shaven and looks years younger suddenly. He is in his best suit and shining shoes and had a bright smile on his face. He looked really fresh and happy today. I was glad. When he took the stage, there was a murmur in the crowd. His face grew sad for an instant but after a while the crowd was eagerly listening to him devouring every word he was saying. I smiled in my seat. People were calling out to him, asking doubts and explanations. Some girls were calling him way too often. He was always a good looking guy, but all he needed was a good shave to bring out the professional in him. You see only when you take good care of yourself is when people believe that you can take good care of others. That is how it works for me and the world. I see him standing up on the stage smiling away in joy and speaking like a dream. During the tea break, he takes me to a side and thanks me for helping him out. He said that he now felt really light and realized that it is not looks that matter, but how you present yourself that matters.
We took turns each day for training and everyday was smooth sailing. Soon, the project was successful and we came back to India. I'm sure, now, my colleague his befriended his razor for life.
I now tag the below bloggers to take up the #WillYouShave Challenge:
If you guys decide to write a post to carry on this tag, please mention that you were tagged by me.