Sunday, December 28, 2014

Creative Confidence

Creative confidence busts the myth that only few people can be creative and others are not creative. Most people under-utilize the creative talent. Creative confidence helps us reclaim our creativity, passion and fun. True potential of our brain is unknown and it is not limited by what we’ve done before. The Process of Guided Mastery will help to overcome fear and help people believe that they can change the situation and accomplish what they had set to do in the world. To be creative, we need to fail more. Experiment with experiences; embrace continuous learning and start designing your own life. Life is a creative innovation lab. Life is full of side hobbies and experiments. Try doing experiments, do it creatively.

Be a fly on the wall in your customer world, understand his pain points, try your own service, talk with unexpected experts. The best way to gain creative confidence is through action – taken one step at a time.. Doug Diez at GE with scan machine, Embrace infant warmers, Pulse news creators, etc and many more examples.

Failure sucks, but instructs – IDEO

Job.Career. Calling – People’s relation to their work Amy Wrzseniewski (Curse of competence. (Actively unhappy about work)

How can we ‘Improving video conference’ to how can we provide viable alternative to air travel – John Chambers Cisco (reframing challenges)

Knowing – Doing gap : HBR  how to turn knowledge to action

How to draw anything (Napkin academy)

Kelley brothers – David and Tom Kelley, Albert Bandura, SirKen Robinson, Claudia Kotchka (P&G)

Toolkits : | OpenIDEO |

Key methods (writing this so that I keep track for my future use):
  1. Mind maps – for convergent + divergent thinking
  2. Note down list of all ideas you get in a day
  3. SAY – Think – Do – Feel (all need to be aligned to successful)
  4. Empathy maps
  5. I Like / I wish Constructive and effective feedback (My favorite!)
  6. Speed dating 
  7. - how would your family members describe you
    - If you had $100000000000,..
    - You wish your parents told..
  8. Nick names in a group event
  9. Journey maps
  10. Dream/Gripe. Convert Dream/Dripe into  Problems to works – How might we..?

Another review of the book in yourstory

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Everyone has stories

We live in a world where we have the option to choose the information we want to read/listen. One like, One subscribe button is all that It takes. But this provides a lopsided view of arguments and doesn't empower us to have balanced opinions or connect divergent things.

Every time we travel, we listen to songs, sleep, read books, check latest news, update status messages on Facebook/twitter, talk over phone or reply mails. When was the last time you struck a conversation with a stranger and listened to his stories or opinions. Everyone has stories. But we choose to move out of comfort zone, try knowing someone/something new. We like to play within the box that we have created with the info we have subscribed to. Technology has just enabled us to fall back on easier choice than doing something difficult.

Some people by nature are extroverts. For the rest of them, this becomes a habit when we sustain this for months. And we tend to think that social and interpersonal skills are not their cup of tea. The biggest challenge comes when they’re evaluated based on their social skills. (Say during college admissions, job interviews). This is not the only criteria, but a factor that might play a crucial role in the future.

Next time you travel in bus, train, flights or even walk, listen. Everyone has stories. Problems of other people can be solved by your solutions and breakthrough ideas. After all, it is not a bad skill to have and develop.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Rohit Sharma's 264 is meh!

Rohit Sharma scores 264 against Sri Lanka in ODI match. I repeat it is a 50 over One Day International. To be far to Rohit, he just capitalized on the toothless Sri Lankan attack without any quality international bowler in the league of Malingas or Vaas. 3 drop catches and the opportunity to play 50 overs is not something most batsman can dream, given each spot in the cricketing teams have become highly competitive.

It is only fitting that Rohit plays this blinder as a tribute to all the talk about his talent and prowess.  No one in the Indian cricket has got opportunities for 7 years on the trot to prove one’s mettle. Just that Rohit was born in the right age and the right time where the fab four of Indian cricket vacated their batting spots (Amol Mazumdar and S.Badrinath will be kicking themselves)

O Boy! What a knock. Is Rohit Sharma the greatest batsman of Indian cricket? No. Will this record stay forever? No. I remember when SaeedAnwar scored 194 at Chepauk, it remained a magical number etched in people’s minds. Only when something is unachievable for years and someone yearns for something (Ask Sachin on worldcup win), these joys and moments in the game extra special, both for players and viewers.

Superior willows, smaller grounds, ODI fielding restrictions and belter wickets have made the game heavily skewed in favour of the batsmen.  The aggressive T20 mindset from the batsmen has truly made ODI cricket high scoring lopsided games. This generation of Kohlis, ABDs, Amlas,etc. scoring runs at ease and at will. It has made the records look insignificant, not symbolizing anything as their previous generation records did. That Anwar 194, Sachin100s, Afridi 37 ball hundred and Jayasuriya’s 17 ball fifty are all meaningless to the next generation.

People save monthly salary to buy iPhone5s, only to realize that Apple has already launched iPhone6 and their phone is not in vogue anymore. Likewise Rohit can be a proud owner, till someone breaks his record.

PS: Even Sir Jadeja has three 300s in first class and is in the same league as Don Bradman, Walter Hammond, Mike Hussey, etc. Records are just numbers. It doesn’t signify quality or talent in this era.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


'Never let your fear decide your fate' - Anon

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Steve Jobs

Fascinating to read about Steve Jobs and his approach to changing people's life.  As a person deeply interested in building products, companies, entrepreneurship and business, i read this book very slowly - Googled for the stories and people mentioned in the book, watched his keynote speeches, searched for interviews and quotes. There were many goosebumps level moments and quotes that i awed. Not always you get a truly inspiring account (Both positives and negatives) of person who lived in your contemporary world.

The last chapter 'Legacy' aptly summarizes Jobs in his own words. He was definitely not an inventor. He possessed a remarkable ability to connect different ideas and different things to build products and companies that transformed people's lives. Empathy, Focus, Impute were tools he used his endeavor. He made people do impossible with his reality distortion field and bring out the best in them. What you see is what you get

'Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication' - Da Vinci

I you're don't love something, you're not going to go the extra mile, work the extra weekend and challenge the status quo as much.

In craziness we see genius.

Approach to building companies/Products
'You never start a company with the goal of getting rich. Your goal will be to make something you believe in and making a company that will last'

As a start-up scales
It is too easy as a team grows to put up with a few B players

Why apple and not HP/Altair at the valley
'It is better to be a pirate than to join the navy'

Relationship with people
He was both a romantic and afraid to be a romantic. Arrogant, peevish, emotional were all part of his mood swings. Either you're a hero or a bozo. He had a deep connect with every girl friend he had. So many people he slept with. Wonder how he found purest and deepest connect with every women! (#whatisthisidonteven)

Every time the book talked about i was excited. Given my knowledge about Bob Dylan and Beatles were limited, I googled for 'Like a rolling stone', 'You say want a revolution', 'Here comes the sun'

If he was an asshole, How to put up with him

Every one had their problems with Jobs. Chrisann Bernnan, John Sculley, Mike Markula, BillG, EricS, Steve Woz, endless list. Two people who managed him well Tim Cook and Jon Ivey. Both had deep connect with Jobs philosophies, but a bit more grounded persona. He was better at being an underdog than being a humble giant.

'If you didn't voice your opinion he would mow you down. He takes contrary positions to create more discussions because it might lead to better result' - Tim Cook

'Ideas are fragile. You have to be tender when they're in development' - Jon Ivey

'The best way to create the future is to invent it' 
His life, his philosophy, his products leaves an indelible impression on my thinking, career and life. Thank you Steve!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Doing something

'One should not dream of becoming something, one should dream of doing something.'

Source: PM Narendra Modi #NamoWave Indian express

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Yercaud trip

Two hours of planning for the entire trip on a Friday for a weekend trip to Yercaud. Trip was a farewell to a couple of colleagues who are quitting to pursue their MBAs.

Yercaud, 380 Kms from Chennai, poor man’s Ooty (Poor man’s Shimla) was chosen for one Saroja level trip with 6 guys. We rented a Toyota Innova from Carzonrent. Very good experience, a brand new vehicle, 8K+ kms, good suspension. This ended up being a better experience than taking our own cars and comes at almost same cost. Impressed!

The Chennai->Ulundurpet->Salem->Yercaud is national highway and is better to travel than Thiruvanamalai route or Krishnagiri route. 7 tolls on the road and it is worth paying for the quality of roads where you can easily clock 150km per hour speed.

At Yercaud, we stayed at KC Hotels (1AC room, 1Tv, Washroom) near the Yercaud Lake (center point) for Rs.1100 per night. This works better than the posh resorts or hotels if it is going to be a 1 night stay. Best experience was the day 1 dinner buffet for Rs.650 at GRT Nature Trails SkyRocca. Value for money food, good variety and great service. We visited Karadiyur view point, Shevaroyan temple (highest point at Yercaud) on Day 1 evening  and Kiliyur falls and pagoda point on day 2. The Trek downhill and rock climbing at Kiliyur was a fabulous and tiring experience. Day 2 breakfast at Eggeterian was perfect for the insatiable hunger after tiresome walk back uphill. On our return,we descended the famous 21 hairpin bends of Yercaud and finished our Lunch at GRT Grand Estancia Salem. Repeat customer at GRT!

Fabulous weekend and a welcome break from work schedule to spend time with people and nature. All expenses dutched, it comes to Rs.4000-5000 per head. Yercaud experience could work even better if you visit on a trekking or cycling expedition than just as a weekend trip for Chennai/Bangalore folks.

Friday, May 9, 2014


Outliers - The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers are people who had the strength and presence of mind to seize the opportunities that come their way. Gladwell uses life examples of Bill gates, Beatles, Bill joy, Hockey players, and air crashes of Korean airlines to understand different outliers. He argues that Achievement is talent plus preparation and Successful people don’t do it alone. Even factors like where they come from matters and the ancestors have an impact. The cumulative effect of small but significant factors can make a huge difference.

Not all people born in a month or in a place are successful.  People at the top who work much much harder than others and have more than 10000 hours in a field become successful. Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard.

While conceptually the book covers the concept of 10000 hours, and explains about successful people. But I wonder how many of these factors are controllable and can help a personal become successful in life.

Here’s one more example of Outliers concept. On class 12 exams in Tamil Nadu.

Gladwell is a good story teller. Worth a read.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Investment advice

This cannot be considered solid advice in investment or savings. Just what I wish was told to me when I was 22 and out of college. I could be very wrong on a lot of stuff but I am still learning. 

1. Spend less on stuff
For first time in your life, you might be getting a good sum of money(read: more than what you may need) every month. This gives a sense of freedom and an intent to buy a lot of stuff - Read Stuff by Paul Graham. 

You don't need lot of those stuff. Don't buy stuff because you can afford them or need just once. Buy because it might significantly improve your quality of life on a regular basis. Rent/share/borrow everything else. 

2. Spend more on experiences
Try taking a music lesson. Go to an exotic location with your friend(s). Maybe try flying abroad like south east asia, europe etc. Do a backpacking trip. Attend a yoga class. Collect comic books. May be spend on a spa and give yourself a good massage. 

These are just some of the things. But you get the picture. Spend on experiences. They last forever and you are better for gaining them.

3. Spend better for services
Lets say you usually eat at a restaurant. When you have more money don't go for a costlier joint, Instead try the same place but start tipping the waiters well. Build a relationship with them. If you are regular and tip better than other customers, the service you are gonna get is going to be much better.

Similarly for saloon, grocery shopping etc. 

Don't be just another customer. Be a privileged customer to someone. The service providers love a returning customer. You are giving them reason to do their service better. 

4. Spend on people
Your parents, your siblings, your friends. Pay for a lunch, a movie, a trip for your parents that they would never do, anything. Let them know that they are important in your life than your money. Of course, only on people, to whom you want to mean that!  

5. Make mistakes: 
Don't worry about losing money when you are learning. It is OK to make mistakes. The inability to learn and the cost of making mistakes seem to grow up exponentially with age and commitments. 

If you are in India, like me, chances are the amount of learning you had in your engineering course is going to be low. That doesn't mean you can't learn them. Don't think much for spending on courses/lessons that could help you get better at what you do.

6. Shit happens.
Inflation isn't going away anytime soon. There are going to be market crashes and bad times for jobs. The single best thing you could do to equip yourself is not by saving a lot of money in your bank account but give yourself skills and experiences to flourish in any situation. 

I am not saying don't do savings/investments. Those are important to you on a rainy day. But the confidence and ability to back yourself to enjoy/manage yourself in any kind of situation could be the best thing you give yourself.

Courtesy: Reposting from Suren at Quora. He wouldn't mind as long as audience get the message. Also because he's #Nanbaenda

Friday, March 14, 2014

International Trip

Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone in taking the road less travelled and doing things that are not a part of your banality. I’ve always been curious about life of people outside India .why there’s always been huge queues outside US embassies.  US myth or reality! The days leading to the trip were as exciting as the whole trip.

First and foremost, any trip definitely tests your geography skills, directions. What states are there in the country? Which states are there in which coast? How many time zones are there? Day light saving concept. What are the places to hangout and cuisines to try out in your visit? Weather is grossly underrated especially if you’re moving a different hemisphere and time zone. Get ready for a  deluge of advice from every Tom, dick and Harry you meet for his expert comments on airports, flights, metros, food like they’ve lived their lifetime abroad.

No better expression describes an international trip like ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’. Till now, no one gave a damn about your existence (because you’re a local engineering fellow, not even a MBA correspondence degree holder). The moment you announce your trip details to friends and family, it spreads like swine flu. Big-headed uncles and annoying aunties (who repeatedly crack the rhetoric ‘next in line’ marriage jokes) call from different parts of the country to congratulate and slyly boast about their international experience. East coast or west coast. My son is there in California. US is very different.. bhah blah. My wife’s cousin’s brother-in-law’s son is in DC area. He’s a very nice fellow, you should meet him. I’ll whatsapp his number. Knowingly or unknowingly, big contacts list comes your way and you’ll oblige to give a courtesy call.
Next shopping. The uncles and aunties have polluted parents’ minds with their first hand experience. Winter clothes, thermal wears, Podis from Grand sweets. One stop to the Indian walmart, Saravana Stores , gave a true indication of the real india than the posh outlets in Nungambakkam. Plus all shopping done quick speed.

Finally, any international trip throws up a whole range of emotions from happiness to anxiety. There’s so much pride and elation in getting your first international stamp on passport before it expires. So much fascination and allurement to set foot on a different continent, breathe a different air and get a closer look on all the hoopla on NRI life. Fear creeps in especially if you’re travelling 1 week after Malaysian Airlines MH370 disappearance. Plethora of questions unanswered. Will I catch my transit flight? Is 1 hr too small to shift terminals in London? How will I buy tickets if I miss flight? What if flight crashes? Too many random thoughts crossed the mind when you board the flight that you realize it is better to shutdown your mind and sleep than think on the uncontrollable.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Impact: Number of lives we touch

Everyone talks about the pay, salary, CTC, Millions, Billions, Turnover, Revenue, Topline.

Would you prefer be remembered as a person who was a millionaire. Or as a man who changed a million lives.

Can our salary be interms of the number of people we have impacted?

Thinking Loud! Just a figment of my imagination :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Go to bed smarter than when you woke up

“The best thing a human being can do is to help another human being know more.”
— Charlie Munger
Most people go though life not really getting any smarter. Why? They simply won’t do the work required.
It’s easy to come home, sit on the couch, watch TV and zone out until bed time rolls around. But that’s not really going to help you get smarter.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Book Review : Dongri To Dubai - Six Decades of The Mumbai Mafia

Author : S. Hussain Zaidi

I was eager to read about Mumbai mafia and this book is like an encyclopedia covering Haji Mastan, Karim Lala, Varadaraja Mudaliar, Karim Lala, Dawood Ibrahim kaskar, Chota Rajan, Chota Shakeel, Abu Salem, Anees Ibrahim. Reading through this book, you realize how many films had these sub plots. This is a Mass masala movie. 3 Nagayans, 2 Baashas, 4 Pudhupettai, 3 Thalapathis, Satya, Gangs of Wasseypur rolled into one film.

The story of a brave young boy, whose father was a police constable, was used by Mumbai police to wipe out other gang lords in Mumbai and eventually became their nemesis. The book portrays D larger than life and minutely explains how D changes his game each time. A man created by the system, ended up using the system and its loopholes and manipulated it with his bravado, his lust for power and cunningness to become a larger than life figure.

I liked the initial story sketch of Tamil Nadu born Mumbai dons Haji Mastan and Varadaraja Mudaliar and how they ruled the roost. ManiRatnam later made Nayagan loosely based on Varadaraja Mudaliyar. The scene where Dawood is summoned by Police and Dawood’s father as police constable takes us back to Rajnikant, Raghuvaran pair of Baasha and Mark Antony.

Some personal favorite lines:
'Necessity may be the mother of invention, but it is also the father of crime'
'Keep people’s bellies full and balls empty'
'Offence is the best form of defence and the best way to take revenge is to hit where it hurts the most'
'The human tendency is to become oblivious to other issues in life when the coffers are filling'

PS: I don’t endorse criminality or abuse of power. Just that the book is an engaging read.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Desire to make a difference

'Give me a place to stand, and a lever long enough, and I will move the world'

Source : Archimedes