India’s Menstruation Man :The Sanitary Pad Genius

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Arunachalam Muruganantham with one of his machines for making sanitary pads: Aljazeera

Arunachalam Muruganantham was obsessed with making the perfect sanitary pad for his wife. After years of work, his invention has changed the lives of millions of women in India. Arunachalam Muruganantham’s invention came at a great personal cost – he nearly lost his family, his money and his place in society. But he kept his sense of humour.

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It all began in 1998, when Arunachalam Muruganantham, the son of poor handloom weavers in South India, realised that his wife was using old rags to deal with menstruation because she couldn’t afford sanitary pads. Muruga was shocked. But he also saw a chance to impress her. He decided to produce her sanitary pads himself. At first it seemed a simple task: he bought a roll of cotton wool and cut it into pieces, the same size as the pads sold in the shops, and then wrapped a thin layer of cotton around it. He presented this homemade prototype pad to his wife and asked her to test it. The feedback she gave him was devastating: his pad was useless and she would rather continue using old rags.

Where did he go wrong? What was the difference between his sanitary pads and those available at the shop? Muruga started experimenting with different materials, but was faced with another problem: he always had to wait a month before his wife could test each new prototype.

Muruganantham says that he was shocked to learn that women in rural areas don’t just use old rags, but other unhygienic substances such as sand, sawdust, leaves and even ash.

Women who do use cloths are often too embarrassed to dry them in the sun, which means they don’t get disinfected. Approximately 70% of all reproductive diseases in India are caused by poor menstrual hygiene – it can also affect maternal mortality.

Muruga needed volunteers and had an idea where he might find them. He asked medical students at a university close to his village. Some of them actually tested his pads but they were too shy to give him detailed feedback.

Left with no alternative, he decided to test the sanitary pads himself. He built a uterus using a rubber bladder, filled it with animal blood and fixed it to his hip. A tube led from the artificial uterus to the sanitary pad in his underpants. By pressing the bladder he simulated the menstrual flow.

Unfortunately he began to smell foul and his clothes were often stained with blood. His neighbours soon noticed this. It was clear to them that Muruga was either ill or perverted. After a while his wife couldn’t stand the constant gossip. She left him and went to live with her mother.

But Muruga didn’t give up. He knew why he was going through all this. During his research he had learned that only ten to twenty percent of all girls and women in India have access to proper menstrual hygiene products. This was no longer just about helping his wife. Muruga was on mission: to produce low-cost sanitary pads for all the girls and women in his country.

It was two years before he finally found the right material and another four years before he developed a way to process it. The result was an easy-to-use machine for producing low-cost sanitary pads. Imported machines cost over US$500,000. Muruga’s machine, by contrast, is priced at US$950.

Now women’s groups or schools can buy his machine, produce their own sanitary pads and sell the surplus. In this way, Muruga’s machine has created jobs for women in rural India. He has started a revolution in his own country, selling 1,300 machines to 27 states, and has recently begun exporting them to developing countries all over the world.

Today he is one of India’s most well-known social entrepreneurs and TIME magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2014.

Several corporations have offered to buy his machine, but he has refused, instead preferring to sell to women’s self help groups.

Some Facts:
* 300 million: The number of women in India without access to safe menstrual hygiene products.

* 1 in 5: The number of girls in India who drop out of school due to menstruation.

Source: Al Jazeera

Check out this novel strategy this CEO employs with prospective employees

Walt Bettinger, CEO of banking and brokerage firm Charles Schwaab is not one to be impressed with just a good certificate. He says he seeks to know what’s in the heart of his prospective employees not just what they have in their heads. Why? Because other people matter.

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Before taking job candidates on a breakfast interview, Bettinger shows up early and asks the restaurant to purposely mess up the order, with the promise of a good tip in exchange. 

Bettinger says that he’s most concerned about a prospective employee’s character, and this is a test to see how they deal with adversity, he said.

‘Are they upset, are they frustrated, or are they understanding? Life is like that, and business is like that,’ he explained.
‘It’s just another way to look inside their heart rather than their head.’ 

And the heart is what Bettinger is trying to understand, asking candidates about their greatest successes in life before he offers them a job at his company.

‘What I’m looking for is whether their view of the world really revolves around others, or whether it revolves around them,’ he said.
‘And I’ll ask then about their greatest failures in their life and see whether they own them or whether they were somebody else’s fault.’  

Bettinger says one of his last exams in college which ruined his perfect 4.0 score made him realise it is important to acknowledge those ‘who do the real work’.  He had spent hours memorising formulas for calculations, he turned up to the exam to meet a blank paper, all his hard graft useless.

According to him, ‘The professor said, “I’ve taught you everything I can teach you about business in the last 10 weeks.’
‘But the most important message, the most important question, is this: What’s the name of the lady who cleans this building?’ 

Bettinger didn’t know. He failed and got a B in the class.

‘That had a powerful impact,’ he said. ‘Her name was Dottie, and I didn’t know Dottie. I’d seen her, but I’d never taken the time to ask her name.’
‘I’ve tried to know every Dottie I’ve worked with ever since. It was a great reminder of what really matters in life.’ 

Source: UK Daily Mail

It Ain’t Over: The Business 9 Women Kept A Secret For Three Decades

In as much as there is a lot of evils in the world, there is also a lot of good too.

Somewhere in West Tennessee, not far from Graceland, nine women — or “The 9 Nanas,” as they prefer to be called — gather in the darkness of night. At 4am they begin their daily routine — a ritual that no one, not even their husbands, knew about for 30 years. They have one mission and one mission only: to create happiness. And it all begins with baked goods.

“One of us starts sifting the flour and another washing the eggs,” explained Nana Mary Ellen, the appointed spokesperson for their secret society. “And someone else makes sure the pans are all ready. We switch off, depending on what we feel like doing that day.

“But you make sure to say Nana Pearl is in charge, because she’s the oldest!” she added with a wink and a smile.

Over the next three hours, The 9 Nanas (who all consider themselves sisters, despite what some of their birth certificates say) will whip up hundreds of pound cakes, as part of a grand scheme to help those in need. And then, before anyone gets as much as a glimpse of them, they’ll disappear back into their daily lives. The only hint that may remain is the heavenly scent of vanilla, lemon and lime, lingering in the air.

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Even the UPS driver, who picks up hundreds of packages at a time, has no clue what these women, who range in age from 54 to 72, are doing. He’s just happy to get a hug and a bag filled with special treats. What he doesn’t know is that he’s part of their master plan. A plan that began 35 years ago — when the “sisters” got together for their weekly card game — something their husbands referred to as “Broads and Bridge.”

“Pearl says it was all her idea,” Mary Ellen teased, “but as I remember it, we were sitting around reminiscing about MaMaw and PaPaw and all the different ways they would lend a hand in the community.” MaMaw and PaPaw are the grandparents who raised four of the women, Mary Ellen included, when their mother passed away; and they took in Pearl as their own, when her parents needed some help.

“MaMaw Ruth would read in the paper that someone had died,” Mary Ellen remembered, “and she’d send off one of her special pound cakes. She didn’t have to know the family. She just wanted to put a little smile on their faces. And we started thinking about what we could do to make a difference like that. What if we had a million dollars? How would we spend it?

So the ladies began brainstorming.

One of the sisters suggested that we should all start doing our own laundry and put the money we saved to good use. I admit, I protested at first. There’s just something about laundering that I don’t like. But I was outnumbered! So among the nine of us, we’d put aside about $400 a month and our husbands never noticed a thing. Their shirts looked just fine.”

And then the women started listening. They’d eavesdrop — all with good intentions, of course — at the local beauty shop or when they were picking up groceries. And when they heard about a widow or a single mom who needed a little help, they’d step in and anonymously pay a utility bill or buy some new clothes for the children.

“We wanted to help as much as we could,” Mary Ellen said, “without taking away from our own families, so we became coupon clippers. And we’d use green stamps. Remember those? We’d use green stamps and we’d make sure to go to Goldsmith’s department store on Wednesdays. Every week they’d have a big sale and you could spend $100 and walk away with $700 worth of merchandise.”

The Nanas would find out where the person lived and send a package with a note that simply said, “Somebody loves you” — and they’d be sure to include one of MaMaw Ruth’s special pound cakes.

The more people they helped, the bolder they became.

“We gave new meaning to the term drive-by,” Mary Ellen said with delight. “We’d drive through low-income neighborhoods and look for homes that had fans in the window. That told us that the people who lived there didn’t have air-conditioning. Or we’d see that there were no lights on at night, which meant there was a good chance their utilities had been turned off. Then we’d return before the sun came up, like cat burglars, and drop off a little care package.”

For three decades, the ladies’ good deeds went undetected — that is, until five years ago, when Mary Ellen’s husband, whom she lovingly calls “Southern Charmer,” started noticing extra mileage on the car and large amounts of cash being withdrawn from their savings account.

“He brought out bank statements and they were highlighted!” Mary Ellen said, recalling the horror she felt. “I tried to explain that I had bought some things, but he had this look on his face that I’d never seen before — and I realized what he must have been thinking. I called the sisters and said, ‘You all need to get over here right away.’”

So 30 years into their secret mission, the 9 Nanas and their husbands gathered in Mary Ellen’s living room and the sisters came clean. They told the husbands about the laundry and the eavesdropping — even the drive-bys. And that’s where their story gets even better — because the husbands offered to help.

“They were amazed that we were doing this and even more amazed that they never knew. We can keep a good secret! All but three of them are retired now, so sometimes they come with us on our drive-bys. In our area, all you need is an address to pay someone’s utility bill, so we keep the men busy jotting down numbers.”

It wasn’t long before the couples decided it was also time to tell their grown children. And that’s when happiness began to happen in an even bigger way. The children encouraged their mothers to start selling MaMaw Ruth’s pound cakes online, so they could raise money to help even more people. And it wasn’t long before they were receiving more than 100 orders in a day.

“The first time we saw those orders roll in, we were jumping up and down,” Mary Ellen said with a laugh. “We were so excited that we did a ring-around-the-rosie! Then we called all the children and said, ‘What do we do next?'”

That’s when the 9 Nanas moved their covert baking operation out of their homes and into the commercial kitchen of a restaurant owned by one of their sons, where they can sneak in before sunrise and sneak out before the staff comes in. They even hired a “happiness coordinator” (whose code name is “Sunny,” of course). Her identity needs to be a secret, too, so she can help out with the eavesdropping.

“We swore her to secrecy — her parents think she works in marketing. And, really, if you think about it, she is doing public relations and spends a lot of time looking for people to help at the supermarket!”

These days, The 9 Nanas are able to take on even bigger projects, given their online success. Recently they donated more than $5,000 of pillows and linens and personal care products to a shelter for survivors of domestic violence. And this August, they’ll celebrate their second consecutive “Happiness Happens Month” by sending tokens of their appreciation to one person in every state who has made a difference in their own community.

And that million dollars they once wished for? They’re almost there. In the last 35 years, the 9 Nanas have contributed nearly $900,000 of happiness to their local community.

But that doesn’t mean they’re too busy to continue doing the little things that make life a bit happier. Sometimes they just pull out the phone book and send off pound cakes to complete strangers. And if the Nanas spot someone at the grocery store who appears to need a little help, it’s not unusual for them to start filling a stranger’s cart.

“Not everyone is as lucky as we were to have MaMaw and PaPaw to take care of them, to fix all those things that are wrong.

“So this is our way of giving back,” Mary Ellen said. “We want people to know that someone out there cares enough to do something. We want to make sure that happiness happens.”

To learn more about The 9 Nanas and Happiness Happens or to purchase one of MaMaw Ruth’s special pound cakes, you can visit their website: Happiness-Happens.com.

Culled from Huff post

Joke :The Money Making Idea!

When the office photo-copies began to look faint, the office manager called in a local repair service.

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The friendly technician after inspecting the equipment, informed the manager that the machine was in need of a good cleaning.

The tech suggested that someone might try reading the operator’s manual and perform the job themselves, since it would cost $100.00, if he did the work.

Pleasantly surprised by his candor, the office manager asks, ‘Does your boss know you are discouraging business?’

‘Actually, my boss demands we explain this to all our customers’. ‘After people try first to fix things themselves, we end-up making much more money on repairs’

Joke : How The Stock Market Really Works!

A stockbroker was cold calling about a penny stock and found a taker. ‘I think this one will really move said the broker, it’s only $1 a share.’

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‘Buy me 1000 shares.’ said the client.

The next day the stock was at $2. The client called the broker and said, ‘You were right, give me 5000 more shares.’

The next day the client looked in the paper and the stock was at $4.

The client ran to the phone and called the broker, ‘Get me 10,000 more shares said the client.’

‘Great!’ said the broker.

The next day the client looked in the paper and the stock was at $9.

Seeing what a great profit he had in just a few days, the client ran to the phone and told the broker, ‘Sell all my shares!’

The broker said, ‘To whom? You were the only one buying that stock.’

Joke :The CEO And The Three Envelopes

A fellow had just been hired as the new CEO of a large high tech
corporation. The CEO who was stepping down met with him privately and presented him with three numbered envelopes. ‘Open these if you run up against a problem you don’t think you can solve,’ he said.

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Well, things went along pretty smoothly, but six months later, sales took a downturn and he was really catching a lot of heat. About at his wit’s end, he remembered the envelopes.

He went to his drawer and took out the first envelope. The message read, ‘Blame your predecessor.’ The new CEO called a press conference and tactfully laid the blame at the feet of the previous CEO.

Satisfied with his comments, the press and Wall Street responded positively, sales began to pick up and the problem was soon behind him.

About a year later, the company was again experiencing a slight dip in sales, combined with serious product problems. Having learned from his previous experience, the CEO quickly opened the second
envelope. The message read, ‘Reorganize.’ This he did, and the company quickly rebounded. After several consecutive profitable quarters, the company once again fell on difficult times.

The CEO went to his office, closed the door and opened the third envelope. The message said, ‘Prepare three envelopes.’

Funny but not far from today’s truth!

When Does Innovation Become An Unhealthy Obsession?

In the early 1990s, Rubbermaid, a company that manufactured and distributed household items, announced the plan to “introduce at least one new product per day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, while entering a new product category every twelve to eighteen months.” According to the CEO at the time, Wolfgang Schmit, the company’s vision was to “grow.”

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In his book, How the Mighty Fall, Jim Collins mentions how Fortune Magazine wrote about Rubbermaid in 1994, calling it America’s “Most Admired Company”. It was said to be more innovative than Apple and Intel at the time. Twenty-one years later, Apple is rated as one of the most innovative companies in the world while Rubbermaid went on a decline till it was acquired by Newell Corporation in 1998.

What caused Rubbermaid’s decline? It certainly wasn’t a lack of innovation. Rather, it was the excess of it. Innovation has been duly extolled for the world-changing virtue that it is, but there comes a time when it brings negative returns. Motorola, Merck and HP proved this as they suffered decline amidst much innovation in the early 90s.

So, when does innovation lead to a decline, or when does it become a disease?

When it leads to an unhealthy obsession with growth

In Jim Collins’ How the Mighty Fall. In the book, he highlights some once-great organizations that went through five stages of decline. One of those stages is the “Undisciplined pursuit of more.”

There is nothing wrong with organizations looking to grow and expand their business. That, in fact, is the reasonable way to go. However, when an organization becomes so obsessed with growth and expansion, that it starts cooking up ideas that make it neglect its core business, things will go sideways. Not all innovation is good. What’s worse, when the innovating company refuses to acknowledge the failure of said innovations, then it starts to eat up what was once sturdy.

When it erodes tactical excellence

Looking at Rubbermaid’s ambition to introduce one product per day, it seemed like a good idea at the time. But the company started failing at controlling costs and filling orders on time. In the four years following the plan and just before they were absorbed by Newell Corporation, the company’s revenues declined, nearly 6,000 products were eliminated, nine manufacturing plants were shut down, and 1,170 people lost their jobs. The company tried to comeback with acquisitions but it was too late.

When it becomes more important than company values

All companies have their values, i.e. what they stand for, and those values should guide the company’s direction. However, when the company starts to abandon its values, which have endeared it to customers and stakeholders, then trouble lies ahead.

Great companies change strategies all the time, but their core values remain constant. It’s like using a compass; the centre of the compass remains constant while the needles move around to find the correct bearing.