“In the summer of 1855, 16-year-old John D. Rockefeller needed a job. He had just completed a 3-month course in bookkeeping, and he made a list of the companies in his hometown of Cleveland that might need a bookkeeping assistant. Cleveland was booming with businesses, but none was willing to take a chance on someone so young and inexperienced. For weeks, Rockefeller spent 6 days a week walking hot streets in his suit and tie, trying to find work. He was rejected from every business on his list. Rockefeller responded to this potentially crushing setback by simply starting over, requesting interviews from the same firms that had denied him days earlier. Eventually, a produce shipping company executive rewarded Rockefeller’s persistence and hired the boy who would become the richest and most powerful businessman in the world.”

Persistence is an important human trait. Having persistence does not guarantee success but it is often important to be successful. Just setting goals and dreams is not enough but it is important to be persistent. It is good to create plans, but important to be persistent and implement them. It is one thing to launch your project or startup but another and important thing to be persistent and play through the challenges and setbacks.

I met a entrepreneur a while back whose startup was considered a failure for 9 years and he pivoted 4 times in that time. As a young man, he said he was always a step behind from his luck and always attained everything with more efforts than others. He said he only knew that he had to get “there” which he did every time.

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Never ever underestimate the power of word of mouth. Never ever super ever underestimate power of one pissed of customer.

Have I ever flown through Air France? Do I have any shares in that company? Am I going to fly them anytime soon? No is the answer to all of these questions.

But guess what? Now for the coming few months and years every time I hear about Air France, see their ads and banners I will remember Jay Shah from India and his experience with Air France. I will think of the stranded elderly passengers who could not talk in French or English and how disabled they would have felt. I would think of the guy who was rushing for his father’s last rites [been there, done that].

The story is powerful and the damage is enormous. Even if I incorrectly assume that 50% details are correct, it is atrocious.  Yes, while travelling incidents do happen, but how about Air France training their customer service team some lessons on being compassionate and being more communicative. How about the person who responded to Jay’s blog be more personal and human than acting as a corporation!

To Jay Shah – dude shit happens and I am glad it was you and not me, as I would have completely lost it. I am sorry that you and others had to go through this.

To Air France – Correctly or incorrectly you just managed to piss off hundreds of thousands of potential Indian customers! You managed to damage lots of relationship even before they were born.