What An Ancient Indian Ritual Taught Me About Long-Lasting Success
The Rig Veda, the oldest and most revered Hindu scripture, explains the ritual of yagna. The yajaman initiates this ritual, making offerings into the agni, the fire burning in the altar. Each time, he exclaims “Svaha” – this of me I offer – hoping to please his chosen deity, the devata. The devata, in return, gives him what he desires, claiming tathastu – so be it.
In his book, Business Sutra, Devdutt Pattanaik applies this ritual to business. Business is yagna, he states, the yajaman is an entrepreneur, svaha is her offering to the market, devata is the customer and tathastu is the return on investment. A yajaman wants devatas to part with their tatashtu willingly and gladly, while devatas want as much as they can get out of the yagna.
An entrepreneur has many devatas. Customers, investors, employees… everyone whom her success depends on, are devatas. The svaha changes accordingly. Just like Lord Shiva is offered raw milk and a bilwa leaf while Krishna is offered butter and a tulsi leaf, each devata needs a svaha customized to his needs. But the essence of svaha always remains the same – value.
Like innovation, value is one of the most misunderstood, yet overused terms. Like innovation though, it’s also one of the most important.
The value you offer is what entices people to trade with you – to give you your desired tathastu. If your customer is your devata, tathastu could be direct revenue. It also could be indirect revenue in form of references. If the investor is your devata, tathastu could be another round of funding. If your employee is your devata, tathastu could be more meaningful contributions to your business from them. In his insightful article on designing an amazing LinkedIn profile, Karthik Rajan emphasizes on the sweet spot – the spot where what we want to show people and what people want to see merge. The same concept can explain value also.
For the rest of this post, I’ll focus on value for customers.
Value is not the price associated with an offering. It isn’t fixed or tangible; it lies is in the mind of the beholder. Value is created when a life is improved, when transformation, however small, occurs.
In his book, Getting Innovation Right, Seth Kahan identifies three ways to deliver value to customers:
1. New Value
This means creating a new category instead of going after incremental improvements. Think Cirque dü Soliel, or the iPhone. New value is about venturing into uncharted blue oceans and creating new categories. Few companies do this effectively.
2. More Value
A discount or freebies are both perceived as favorable by potential customers. When you offer a discount for a popular product, or offer something additional, you create more value for customers. This also enhances your opportunities for increasing revenue due to increased sales.
3. Better Value
Like more value, better value focuses on increasing existing value. However, instead of quantity, it focuses on quality. To create better value through impact, change the consequence, the effect, or a benefit your offering delivers. The flip camera in smartphones which allowed people to click selfies is one example. Online education, which has made higher education available to many more people, is another. Now anyone can study further at her pace and convenience, instead of adjusting to the schedule of a college or university.
Traditional definitions don’t recognize the most fundamental quality of value—that it is subjective changes according to circumstance. As a yajaman, your duty is to identify what drives your devatas, and create offerings around those drivers. Just like value, the return on investment is not always tangible. But it is lasts for longer. Creating a personal brand where you sell yourself offers exponential returns to begin with, but diminishes equally quickly when others steal the spotlight. Creating value guarantees long term results, and is the key to the most accomplished people’s and organizations’ success. This is what I aim to do through Aryatra – create value for people and help them become the best versions of themselves.
About the Author:
Vishal is the founder of Aryatra, a venture which helps individuals improve their productivity and live more fulfilled lives. He also is a digital marketing consultant helping businesses generate revenue from their online presence.