Lessons from a Fruit seller…


fruit vendor-edit

Several years ago, we used to live in a tree-lined modest locality of Madras (now Chennai) which was famous for its perennial rows of fruit carts. It was the uncrowned king of streets that sold fruit. Fruit vendors – seasonal businesswomen and men – would load their small push-carts with the fruit of the season and line up on the street. They each had their designated little spot and would hawk their fruit-of-the-day – Ripe Banganapalli mangoes, fragrant Neelums, Kashmir Apples, Nagpur Oranges, Rose Grapes, Pineapples, Bananas – Red and Green, enticing muskmelons and if you were lucky, you could get strawberries and litchis too. There was just no fruit that you could not find in that colourful Triplicane end of Lloyds Road. Muthu was one such fruit vendor of Triplicane, who taught me a truth I will never forget.

As we reach the end of FY 16 and begin FY 17, I recall Muthu’s sagacity. For Muthu was not a seasonal businessman – he was a regular. He was the most successful fruit vendor on that street. He sold plantains, apples, oranges (the juice variety) and pomegranates. His cart was staid, solid and unexciting. Yet, it was the only one that sold out by the end of the day. I asked him once why he was not “making hay while the sun shines” by selling seasonal fruits. Muthu’s answer was logical. “Amma, I sell fruits that heal, not the ones that thrill. Is there a special season for health?” And this was no casual remark – it was a well-considered strategy. How so? There was a hospital nearby and folks who came to visit their dear ones at the hospital frequented Muthu’s cart, since he sold fruits that were not exotic, just regular. Apples and Oranges suited the mood of a hospital-goer, they conveyed care, affection and concern – not the pleasure which a box of Alphonso would provide! And each day, while other fruit-sellers took a gamble (their fruit would either be sold out or remain unhawked, depending on the mood of the customer), Muthu went back home with an empty cart, having sold his stock fully.

In this New Financial Year ‘17, I wish you a fruit-cart laden with business that is fully sold at the end of the day! I wish you a career loaded with strategic intent which empties out and refills with learning. Like Muthu, may we all too find our own spot that ensures we have unqualified professional success the year ahead!

Author: Dr. Saundarya Rajesh

Founder - President, AVTAR Group, SME on Diversity & Inclusion and Women's Workforce Participation