Tatopo Digital - Digital Elevation

How big is your NNI network? “The secret to fortifying your business”​

In a world where most of us have a physical and a virtual personality, in a world where personal brand building and coaching is growing at an alarming pace, in a world where fame is judged by engagement rate, share of voice and social selling index scores, what seems to have taken a back seat is human interaction. Hold on, I am not referring to how technology has taken over our lives; as if that needs explicit mention.

I’ve been extremely fortunate in my career to have had the opportunity to connect with industry moguls and celebrities through my work, friends and colleagues. These meetings comprised of incisive conversations about multiple industries, valuable insights, their future trends and their own life lessons.

Not discounting any of those lessons, if I sit back and count the most heart touching lessons I’ve learned about life and how to face challenges, it’s from my, what I call, NNI (No Net worth Individuals) network.

Anyone who knows me knows that I try my level best to treat everyone with equal respect. Be it a door person, lift person, valet, janitor, bouncer, driver, delivery person, house helps etc. I spend time having conversations, understanding where they come from, their struggles, daily life, dreams and desires. Essentially their journey.

Here’s me sharing the top 6 insights and lessons I’ve learned

1) They feel ignored, acknowledge them


They would do anything to be acknowledged. Here are some of the eye opening realities they shared with me;

“Over 90% of the people walk past us like we are furniture”

“When we say hello to them, some don’t even look at us”

“I was abused once because I forgot to open the car door for the daughter of a customer”

“I was made to salute properly by a customer saying my first one wasn’t strong enough”

They are human too and want to have a great day at work and there’s no feeling worse than being ignored. Acknowledge them, a smile, a few cordial words, a handshake; they all go a long way.

2) They are doing their job, respect that


Regardless of what your views are, they’re doing their job and must be respected. Treating them as if they owe you something is portraying elitist and uncouth behavior.

Take an extra second to ask their name, it gives them immense joy to be addressed by their name. Weird clicking noises, whistles and table knocks are terribly offensive.

3) They’re paid peanuts, tip them when you can


Waiters have a higher salary than any of the above mentioned jobs, but 9 out of 10 times we ensure they are tipped. It won’t hurt if a few tens of rupees are reserved for the janitor, doorman, valet etc. They’re paid peanuts and most times way lower than market standards. No matter how small it is, it counts.

Due to minimum or split second interactions, we usually condone their existence. They might be replaceable but not redundant. They’re crucial nuts and bolts of a well-oiled machine. And if waiters can be tipped, so can them.

4) They’re aware they lack certain soft skills or etiquette but keen to learn


I’ve heard people complain, I didn’t like the way he/she sounded, looked, what he/she said or the manner in which he/she said it.

You must understand, they don’t come from money or have any formal education or soft skill/etiquette training. They’ve left behind families, debt piles, personal issues and a plethora of unimaginable issues that could bring us self-actualized and formidable members of society to the brink of self-destruction.

I remember when I pointed out a concern to them politely, his expression immediately switched to fear and then apologetic. He said, “Sir, I am illiterate and thank you for taking time out to tell me this. I will never repeat it again. If there are any more mistakes, please tell me”

I am sure despite all the education and training money can buy, you could point to at least one prized a$$@#le you know. You are thinking about them right this moment. So cut these guys some slack.

5) They are more powerful than you think


This was by far, the biggest surprise to me. There were numerous occasions in my initial years and before Linkedin became the networking playground, when I struggled to get a meeting with a key decision maker. Either they were too busy to meet, away traveling or even go off the radar.

My relationship with NNIs came to the rescue at these times. No, they didn’t get me the meeting, obviously, but they surely connected me to the ones who could. Either a pally manager who always borrows a lighter from them or a warm lady he helps park/get the car every morning/evening. These people were approachable, express interest, share valuable thoughts and even get me the meeting while putting in a good word.

Another instance, when I need to book a table in my favorite pub or restaurant, if the insiders are unreachable, I’ve always managed to get through my NNIs.

I never expected this to ever happen and my respect only grew for them. They help without expecting anything in return just because you’ve acknowledged and been cordial with them.

6) How you behave with NNIs say a lot about the person you are


Don’t fake it; be natural and warm. How you treat someone beneath you in the societal hierarchy, says a lot about your personality.

I can’t stress on how many times people have asked me why I interact with NNIs so much, only to find them doing the same, the next time I meet them. It’s cathartic, satisfying and most importantly, makes you realize to never underestimate how making someone else happy can make you feel.

So hereon with NNIs,

  • Be a little more human and a little less entitled
  • Launch your best smile at them
  • Spare a couple of tenners
  • A cordial exchange or few words will go a long way


  • There always are bad apples in NNIs as well
  • “NNI” is not to be seen as a belittling acronym, it’s an HNI’s counterpart
  • All statements have been translated and paraphrased

I hope this article gives you some insight on a part of our daily lives we unknowingly miss out on.

Are you someone who believes or agrees with this article? Could you add some more insights to this?

By Mithun Chandra
Business Head – Tatopo Digital

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