Sunday, July 27, 2008

Moments and My Fear

Life is made up of moments - hundreds of thousands of them. Some of these moments are more important than the others. These are the moments that define your life. What you say, what you do, what you feel, everything that is contained in those moments, will determine the path that your life ends up taking. There is no way you can prepare for these special moments - the sum total of everything you are and what is within you decides what happens in them. You cannot see them coming, you can only see them in retrospect.

Looking back at my life so far, I have had many such moments - may be adding up to a total of 10 minutes. I can proudly say that I have lived most of those moments well thus far. There are some of them that I am not proud of and I can only wonder what-if. I know that I will experience many more such moments and I hope that I can look back and remember them fondly when it is all said and done. I fear making a mistake in any one such moment. It seems grossly unfair that your life, which contains thousands of moments, be defined by just a few of them.


An article in the Times today triggered my thoughts on this topic. I consider myself to be a creative individual and I strive to be creative in anything that I do. The reason for blogging on this is for me to organize my random thoughts on this topic and hopefully identify the conditions that enable creativity.

First and foremost, it is important to define "Creativity". Creativity lies in doing ordinary things in extra-ordinary ways. You can be creative while doing anything - washing your car, solving a math problem, arguing, making music, whatever - it is just how you do what you are doing. Upon analysis of the times when I had done something creative, I have identified the following conditions that had enabled me to get there:

State of Mind: I can be creative only when my mind is 100% focused on the work at hand. It is impossible to come up with any creative ideas when the mind is half-occupied with other thoughts. So when you know that conventional solutions will not lead you anywhere with a particular matter, clear your head and work on it only when you can give it your undivided attention.

Goal: Are you working towards efficiency or are you working to meet a deadline? If you are working towards a deadline, you are trying to satisfy someone else and it will hamper your creativity. Work towards a simple goal ... your own pleasure/happiness from the activity at hand and creative ideas will flow.

Fresh Perspective: Question the details that are regarded as "basic principles". You will realize that some of them are made up just to guide you and are not meant to be adhered to every time. When you follow alternate principles, you are more likely to buck the conventional trend and be creative.

I am sure I will keep adding to this list as time goes on. But for now, I like my chances of being creative if I follow these 3 steps. People and organizations should pay more attention to how things are done instead of just caring about the results. It will make the world a better place.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Hero - Guy shoots Lawn mower

Here is something that made News today: US Man Charged for Shooting Lawn mower

Excerpt from it:

A 56-year-old man from the Midwestern US state of Wisconsin has been arrested after shooting his lawn mower in his garden because it would not start.

Police officers said Mr Walendowski had told them: "It's my lawn mower and my yard, so I can shoot it if I want."

The guy now faces up to 7 years in prison! How many of us have had the intense urge to beat the shi*t out of something that is totally frustrating us? Just in the last week, I wanted to:
- Throw my computer off 5th floor window coz it froze while I was working on something important.
- Choke the guy controlling power cuts coz it is very frustrating to look for soap in the bathroom in total darkness.
- Shoot a crow coz it took a dump on my windshield! (I would return the favor if I knew where it was nesting.)
and many more ....

I guess that is the difference between thought and action - 7 years in a prison. But, I definitely sympathize with the guy for shooting his mower.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Role of a Manager

I came across this today: "Being a good manager is about doing things right and not necessarily about doing the right things".

My stance: That is total bullshit.

There is nothing as useless as something done right when it should not have been done at all. Hitler was very efficient at what he had done, but I don't see him being used as a case study in Management studies. Similarly, in soccer, a self-goal will never be appreciated, however spectacularly it is struck.

Peter Drucker says: Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

We should not separate the two.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

How to Travel in India

If you are going to be traveling in India, the following piece of advice should your trip more memorable:
  1. Research your destination: It is stunning how many people embark on journeys without proper knowledge of their destination. Before you even start planning your trip, do your research. Google is your friend. Read up on trip reports from people who have been there and enjoyed their trips. Make a list of places you want to visit that are around your destination. Read up on the best mode of transportation. Make a list of hotels that serve great food. Look up your destination on IndiaMike forums - an amazing source of information and advice. Wikitravel is another place with good info. Make sure you have the contact information of a local tour operator just in case things don't go according to plan on your vacation. It is good to have a backup plan.
  2. Picture your destination: Websites like flickr, picasa and google image search give you a chance to see your destination before you get there. Look up pictures of various places that you want to visit and it should add to your motivation. A fun little activity is to download some images that you like and make sure you take the exact same shot on your vacation.
  3. Decide on Accomodation: Almost every place in India has hotels to suit any budget. With the expansion of the internet, there are more and more websites emerging with reviews of hotels. Use them. is a decent source. Pay special attention to the hotels that mix hospitality with the local traditions and culture. A stay at these places will add to the fun and memories.
  4. Set an itinerary: Make a plan of which places you want to visit on which days. Just performing this activity is more important than the result because it will require you do some research on the relative distances between places and feasibility of your itinerary. It will be of great help if things don't go according to plan on your trip. It will prepare you to take better decisions on your trip.
  5. Find great company: Who you are traveling with can make or break your vacation. Ensure you are traveling with someone whose company you find enjoyable.
  6. Have fun: If you have followed steps 1-5, there is very little chance that things will go wrong. Even if they do, you have put yourself in a position to make the best of it. Now it is time for you to relax and enjoy your trip. Do not worry if you happen to deviate from the itinerary. Trust your instincts and may you have your best vacation ever.

Apple's India Strategy Sucks!

As I watch the news of the new iphone launch around the world, I cant help but balk at the indifference that I see in Apple's attitude towards the Indian market.

Here is whats happening:
  • Most Indian consumers have never had the chance to see the iphone.
  • iphone will be released later this year in India.
  • Whatever little marketing is being done, is done by the carriers (Airtel and Vodafone). Apple is surprisingly absent in the marketing campaign.

The launch of iphone presents Apple with a magnificent opportunity to begin with a bang. None of the other Apple products (ipod, macs etc etc) have the potential that the iphone does. India has close to 200 million cell phone users today and this number will keep growing by leaps and bounds for the foreseeable future.

Why Apple should re-think their India strategy:
  • Numbers!! - 200 million users and growing
  • Indian Spending Habits - Indians (especially the middle class) are surprisingly extravagant at spending for cell phones. For example, it is not uncommon to see people spend $$ equal to one month's salary on their cell phone as it is a status symbol. That is unheard of in the US. Assuming iphone would be priced at $300 in India, and looking at the number of people who earn that amount in a month, the potential customer base is huge.
  • Brand Establishment - The Indian consumer is surprisingly brand conscious. Apple is lesser known in comparison to Sony, HP, Phillips etc. iPhone can establish the Apple brand in India which will help Apple sell more of its other products.
  • Future! - Apple will be have a bigger customer base and it bodes well for the future of the company to have an established base in India.
  • More iPhone Apps - The more number of users there are, the more Apps you are going to see written for the iPhone. With an intelligent strategy, Apple can mint money with the apps written for the iphone by the Indian programmers. It is a win-win situation.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


In the Indian society, people place a lot of importance on how they are perceived in the society - their image. The other day, I got an alert from my grandmother as I was going to a late night movie with a friend of mine who happens to be a girl - "What will neighbors/ people think of you two if they see you together at this time of the night?" ... My response was "I don't care". I did not say it to brush her comment aside, but I said it because I was truly not concerned about the effect that act would have on my image.

I have attempted to define this word - "image" and no definition that I have come across satisfies me. Image is not something that is within a person or the observer ... I believe it lies in the interaction between the two. Your image depends not only on what you are doing, but also on the observers (their views, values, etc etc). For example, if you kiss someone in India, you will project a different image to your audience than if you were to do the same in Europe. You have no control over who observes you, so I feel it is futile to even attempt controlling it.

This is not to say you should not be mindful of your image at all. If the society thinks you are a murderer, obviously there is something wrong in your actions. In such a case, it is important to realize that it is not your actions that need modifications, the underlying values that govern the way you act, need to be changed. If that happens, your actions will automatically reflect the change and so will your image.

Let the way you act define your image and not the other way around. Don't set a pre-defined image that you would like to project and then act in congruence with that image. The difference between the two is huge. In the first, you are acting upon YOUR wishes. In the second, you are letting others define the way you act and before long, you will realize that you are living life by someone else's rules.


I have this habit - Whenever I come across a statement that is quote-worthy, I note it down. Here are few that I noted this week: (unsure abt source)

  • We can't take any credit for our talents. It's how we use them that counts.

  • Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is in the doing, not the getting - in the trying, not the triumph.

  • It is not wanting to win that makes you a winner; it is refusing to fail.

  • Invincibility lies in the defense; the possibility of victory in the Attack.

  • Don't ask God to make your life easier, ask him to make you a stronger person.

  • Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.

  • You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.

  • Stand up for what you believe in, even if it means standing alone.

  • In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.

  • A man curses because he doesn't have the words to say what's on his mind.

  • We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.

  • Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.


... "My own opinion is that the intellect of modern man isn't that superior. IQs aren't that much different. Those Indians and medieval men were just as intelligent as we are, but the context in which they thought was completely different. Within that context of thought, ghosts and spirits are quite as real as atoms, particles, photons and quants are to a modern man. In that sense I believe in ghosts. Modern man has his ghosts and spirits too, you know. The laws of physics and of logic -- the number system -- the principle of algebraic substitution. These are ghosts. We just believe in them so thoroughly they seem real." .... Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance

Myth-buster! I believe a lot of us inherently hold the belief that we are superior in intelligence to the generations that have preceded us. It is essential that we trash that belief and leave it at just a difference in the context of our thoughts. In fact, this argument has to be expanded to include the discrepancies in cultures and religions. It is a mistake to believe one culture/ religion is superior to another. Context is the key.