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May 27, 2018

How Jim Carey helped me in my career....

It was the beginning of the April 2016. I had just started out my career as a Freelance ERP consultant. I had no prior experience as a Freelance Consultant. I did not know how the freelance consulting worked, how a consultant received leads, how they were converted to opportunities, how consultants set their price, how they branded and marketed themselves....

Except for updating my LinkedIn profile title as  'Independent ERP Consultant', I had done nothing. I did not know how to proceed.

That is where Jim Carey appeared out of nowhere.

I read an article about the movie 'Yes Man'. In that movie, Carl, a pessimist character played by Carey, attends a meeting and is motivated to say 'Yes' to any opportunity that comes his way. Being enthused he decides to try it out and amazing things start happening to him...

After reading the article, I decided there and then that I was going to be an 'Yes Man'. My default answer to any opportunity or query that comes my way will be 'Yes'. 

How about risks? You are not considering the potential risks? I hear you ask.

We will cross the bridge when we reach it.

Almost as if the universe wanted to test my decision, within a couple of days, M, a friend of mine called me up.

"Ram, have you worked on Revenue Recognition?", he asked me.

I am an ERP consultant. Of course I have worked on Revenue Recognition. 

"Will you be able to take a three day corporate training (for consultants of XYZ company) on the new revenue recognition standards under IFRS15 / ASC 606.", M queried

There were many questions I wanted to ask. What is ASC 606? What is the scope of training? Who are the attendees? What is the expectation? How many hours of training? What is the scope? ....

We Indians are risk averse by nature. About 70% of any proposal that we submit for a project will contain sections on 'Disclaimers', 'Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plans', 'Expectations from the Customer', 'Assumptions' and 'Scope Exclusions'. My default response in such situations would have been to cover my ass. To express the risks, set the expectations, state a series of disclaimers, and explain all the assumptions....

In normal situations, I start off by explaining forcefully that I do not have experience in this area. I would have....

"Yes, of course", I replied. I was the 'Yes Man', remember?

Then the details came thick and fast. The training was on a new application that handles Revenue Management under the new standards under IFRS15 / ASC606.

While saying Yes to the opportunity, I had assumed that training material was already available and I had to only deliver.

"You will have to prepare the training material", M informed me.

I am from India. I had not worked on IFRS or US GAAP accounting standards. I had no idea of the existing standards, let alone the new standards. That was a risk my pre 'Yes Man' avatar would have considered, I bitterly realized.

In addition, I had a call with the leader of the customer company to whom I was going to deliver the training. His expectations were scary.

"Each of the participant in the training session will be experienced and qualified accountants who have extensive experience in existing accounting standards under US GAAP / IFRS. However, they are not aware of the latest standards. Our expectation is the following. One, you will explain various elements of the new standards, specifically how it differs from the current standards, two, how the Oracle product handle each element and three show us an end to end flow of the transactions along with the associated accounting entries"

So I had to do lot of things. Learn the new standards, learn new application, link the standards to the application and demo an end to end transaction flow. And I had 15 days, including weekends to prepare for the training including preparing the training materials...

I started my preparations. As first step, I downloaded all the material that I could lay my hands on on the new standards. I went through them in detail. I printed them out, read each line very thoroughly, both silently and aloud, made copious notes and in a span of three days, I had a fairly good idea of the new standards.

Working on the application proved tricky. The application was unstable, it was refreshed every week leading me losing all my work and having to redo them multiple times and many features were not working.

I raised many tickets and followed them aggressively to closure and by the mid of the second week, was in a reasonably good position to integrate the standards with how they were applied in the application....

End to end flow was still not working.

Finally training started. At the end of day one of training, customer came back with a feedback that the training was terrible and they did not want to continue with me.

I explained to my managers, two very thorough professional named K and S that part of the problem was that the application was not working as expected. Of course, my material also lacked flair. It was not crisp. It was not organized properly, I could have set the agenda much better et cetera, et cetera....

To say that I was disappointed with myself was an understatement. But I did not take it too much to heart. As an ERP Professional, you are accustomed to getting negative feedback from the customer. You learn your lessons, improve yourself, do a much better job next time....

It is called experience...

K, S and M were amazing. As training professionals, they had 'been there' many times. They (along with M) consoled me and supported me. Using their rapport with the customer, they got me a second chance to prove myself.

This time, under a close guidance from S, K and M, I continued the training, the approach was totally different. I set and controlled the training agenda from minute one.

Earlier I was in awe of the customer, now I was in charge. 

To cut the long story short, I delivered on the training and got a customer satisfaction score of 8 / 10 for my training effort....

I consolidated my learning and wrote an article in LinkedIn on the new standards..

Fast forward a year. In mid of 2017, I got a call from a company in Dubai. They had read my article on IFRS15 / ASC606 in LinkedIn. There was an opportunity in Dubai to implement this application for a leading Telecom company. Are you interested?

I said 'Yes', of course, Remember, I am the 'Yes Man'.

I started the project in September 2017 and came out in March 2018 after completing the solution design, test pilot, data conversion, end user training and reports development. As I write this the project is ongoing..

I am one of the very few consultants in the world who have conceptual clarity on IFRS15 / ASC 606 standards and have a hands on implementation experience in the application.

(By the way, the application is Oracle Fusion Revenue Management...)

Post this experience, I have become more confident of my abilities, more comfortable of taking risks and my perspectives have changed. I realize that universe always wants you to succeed. I have evolved as a person and as a consultant.

All happened because I read the article on the movie 'Yes Man' and decided to follow the example of the character Carl by saying 'Yes' to any opportunity that came my way. 

Thank you Jim Carey.....