Manjeri Nasser, with his Idea Factory group, is on a mission to make people change for the better
Photos: Manjeri Nasser; members on their first Caribbean cruise
By Shevlin Sebastian
It was a Caribbean cruise from Kochi. More than 50 people from North Kerala were on the ship. They were making their first trip overseas trip to Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. They came from different backgrounds: artists, businessmen, teachers, IT executives and entrepreneurs, all in the age range of 23 to 40. While there, they interacted with the local businessmen, as well as administrators and bureaucrats. They were led by businessman Manjeri Nasser and his 99 Idea Factory CCD team (CCD= Collection, Coordination and Distribution).
“For the group, the trip was a revelation,” says Nasser. “They met people with completely different attitudes. As a result, they could better understand our Malayali mindset.”
And what is that mindset? “Malayalis have a lot of common sense but they lack professionalism,” he says. “We have an attitude problem. We will not allow anybody to do anything good nor will we appreciate it when something nice is done. Instead, we tend to look for faults.”
And we take our freedom for granted. “One person takes the freedom of one-and-a-half people,” says Nasser. “There is a lack of productivity among the people. And we don't have a vision for our life. If I ask somebody, 'what are your aims for 2030'?, nine times out of ten, they will have no answer.”
For Nasser, the best visionary was the late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. “Thanks to his far-reaching thinking, he was able to set up the Indian Institute of Management and many other institutions all over the country. In Singapore, too, the administrators have a long-term vision. And they do their work aligned with this.”
Through the Idea Factory, the Manjeri-based businessman wants to change the attitude of the people. So Nasser holds a 'Salute to the Seniors' programme, where successful people talk about their life experiences and take questions from the audience. “If we spend two hours with a 70-year-old man and can get an idea of his experiences and life lessons, it will be very helpful to us,” says Nasser.
Some of the speakers included the collage artist Manu Kallikad, the Limca Book record holder, CP Kunjumohammed, chairman of Iqraa hospital, as well as motivational expert Santosh Nair.
After attending Santosh's one-day workshop, an ordinary farmer by the name of Rafeeq Shah (name changed) felt that he had an entrepreneurial gift. He started a business in steel rods and it took off. Now, Rafiq has 32 branches all over Kerala. So, some people have made dramatic changes.
Another programme is called the Positive Circle programme. Again, the aim is to change the mindset of Malayalis. “90 percent of the people who live in the state have a negative attitude,” he says. At this moment, the programme is taking place in Manjeri, Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kochi. But Nasser wants to spread it all over Kerala. “Interestingly, most of the attendees tend to have a positive attitude,” says Nasser. “The others stay away.”
He has taken the concept to Dubai, where again about 400 people took part in a four-day seminar of talks, discussions and ideas.
Meanwhile, Nasser has just returned from a trip to Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Belgium and France. “Our next trip is Idea Tour Europe,” he says. This will take place next May, and 40 people will comprise the group.
“There will be different types of interactions, apart from sight-seeing,” says Nasser. “I believe the 12-day tour will help develop a new mindset among the participants.”
(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode)