Ravi was working for many nights on this project. It has been a stressful time but this was potentially the greatest opportunity of his career. The head office team was flying down from London to see the proposal for the new product that Ravi had developed over the last six months. And now it was time to market and present the product in the best way possible. Only then they would agree to fund the entire exercise. The research and product development in the lab had been easy and not so expensive, but commercial manufacturing, marketing and sale was another matter altogether. For that, Ravi needed a complete backing from the head office. If they didn’t support it, Ravi would be forced to abandon the product and just continue to work on the others which were tried and tested already.
His presentation was finally ready at midnight before the day of the meeting. His put final touches to it and decided to add some extra data just to make it more effective. At around 2 AM he decided that it was enough and he needed to get some sleep to look presentable himself tomorrow. He slept an anxious sleep for the next five hours.
At 7 AM, Ravi was up. He looked at himself in the mirror. He had a big beard because of days of overwork and lack of grooming. His eyes looked sunken and his hair looked messy. He contemplated getting cleaned up for a few minutes. And then he laughed and said to himself, “That is so vain! It’s the presentation that’s important. How does it matter how I look?!”
He reached office at 8 AM and reviewed his presentation one final time. Then he set it up in the conference hall. Everybody was in place by 9 AM and the presentation started. Ravi felt confident and positive.
Throughout the presentation Ravi felt prepared and sure of himself. He remembered all the data and information. He did not have to look at the screen or papers. He smiled and spoke loudly. But there was something wrong. The head office team looked slightly unsure. They kept exchanging glances.
After the presentation ended, Ravi’s boss came up to him and said, “They have decided to delay the funding by 6 months.”
“What?! But why? Everything was perfect!” Ravi said.
“Yes, the presentation was perfect. But your appearance was not.”
“Yes, they feel unsure that a person who is not capable of grooming himself can handle a project as serious as this.”