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Alok's Posts / Startup

Have you ever had a Graphene moment?!

Graphene is the strongest material know to man. The two Scientists who discovered it won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.


Now, these science rockstars may have recently invented this amazing material, but I believe that another version of Graphene has existed in humans for centuries. 

It’s called the Courage of Conviction.  

Consider what the Standard and Poor (S & P) team went through when they downgraded the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA from AAA to AA+ ratings. 

I mean, can you imagine the HIMMAT it takes to be telling the PRESIDENT of the USA and his team and telling them that your organisation – S&P believes that the USA will be downgraded for the first time in 70 years –  to a notch below ‘king of kings’?

Imagine calling Obama and saying – “I hereby DEMOTE you!” 

I am completely smitten by Jharkand born Indian – Deven Sharma and his belief in the judgement of his team and Company, to have made this call!! 

If you listen in to the murmurs in the financial circles, the USA govt and the movers and shakers of the big banks and wall street firms, they are asking for S&P’s and Deven’s head. 

BUT this fallout was KNOWN to S&P BEFORE they took the decision!! 

Also, if you read some of the stories of the decision – there was a major ‘error’ by the S&P that the White House pointed out when they received the first draft of the S&P PR note that outlined the downgrade. 

S & P actually reviewed that error and then diligently re-examined the case, to come to the same decision of the downgrade – this time based on the overall financial AND political health of the USA – not just considering the Budget deficit alone. 

In my humble experience, everyone goes through what I call the GRAPHENE MOMENT – when your belief and everything you stand for ARE TESTED IN THE STRONGEST manner possible.


Check out this SCARY incident I experienced in my father’s factory 13 years ago. 


I was making ‘Argyle’ socks (like the one photographed here) for exports. This was my first order of Argyle socks. 

After having made them in various color combinations, we began packing them in typical ‘bundles’ wrapped together using adhesive stickers that displayed the size and the price etc. 

After all the packing was done and in the final inspection, I just picked out one bundle and opened it like a consumer. As I ripped the adhesive sticker from the socks, I got a heart attack! 

The THREAD of the small ‘criss cross’ lines (that make the Argyle pattern so distinct) began ripping out of the socks – since they had got attached to the sticker and were not strong enough to stay in the socks. Hence, every TOP SOCK in every bundle would be damaged via the sticker on top of it when opened by the buyer. 

I had no clue what to do. The shipment was leaving my factory for the docks in 3 hours. It was 1 pm in the afternoon.  Interestingly, the socks had PASSED inspection from Europe and India (I guess they had not opened the bundles OR that the sticker had become problematic over time) – so technically I was good to Ship. 

Almost intuitively, I decided to be honest and called up my buyer. He had a sample bundle on his desk and he immediately could understand the problem when he opened the bundle like any consumer in his store later would. 

I guess calling him and waiting for his reaction was my GRAPHENE moment… 

The conversation that followed is an invaluable lesson I learnt to put courage behind conviction: 

The buyer first THANKED me for being honest and truthful. Then he revealed that ARGYLE socks supplied by other manufacturers were also being returned to their stores by consumers for reasons that could not understand – TILL NOW; it was clear that it was the problem of the ROGUE adhesive. This was a global problem for them. 

The buyers extended my timeline and PAID FOR THE EXTRA TOP SOCKS we had to produce!! They also gave us many more orders in the years and almost began skipping inspections for our consignments. 

BUT HONESTLY – My Heart and Soul were in my mouth when I first made that call. 

So, the question I ask you is: 

– Despite the “requests” and the “this will not make the client happy” and the “we will NEVER EVER get business back again” and the sob stories and direct threats – do you have the GUTS to call a spade a spade? 

– Do you sleep well at night – NOT being HONEST to YOURSELF? 

– The people you work with, work for and those who work under you – do you they RESPECT you for MASKING the truth? 

– In the course of your long career, when something that should have been reported by YOU goes horribly wrong – WILL YOU BE ABLE TO FORGIVE yourself? 

In the end, It’s NOT EASY to be Churchill, Steve Jobs or Deven Sharma. 

But shouldn’t you at least TRY? 

Don’t you deserve your OWN GRAPHENE MOMENT?




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  1. 🙂

  2. Didn’t know about it? Thanks for sharing….:-)…

  3. Nice article but as a see it if US has to come out from this crisis they have to bring their jobs back..government has too spend a lot and that’s what Obama is not doing because of the political turn moil there.

  4. John Chambers is the current MD of S&P who is a CPA drawing $500000 a year , and never studied Econimics yet was the decision maker for S&P, besides Deven Sharma,

    Yet Obamas response on the downgrade was- as published in New York Post-

    “No matter which Agency downgrades us, This is  United States of America, and we will ALWAYS remain a AAA country”

    Ashwin (from NY)

  5. People and media says here that there is no hope for him for 2012 elections,


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