Archive for February, 2010

If I am not taking a decision, leave me alone

February 25, 2010

More often than not, I take quick decisions. Even I risk being impulsive. But there are some areas where I consider many parameters and conjure up arguments for and against and weigh each of them carefully. At times, I don’t decide at all. But I’ve noticed that my mental process is active in the background, adding in more and more arguments that strengthen some theories while rejecting others. I have a question now – does this structural mindset make me a good or bad decision maker? Should I change? If so, should I freeze up or ease up?

That’s what I call my comatose zone and while I am in one, I prefer solitude much to the chagrin of others that are impacted by that decision, even remotely. Some get vexed but retain calm not wanting to bother me. Others slightly adventurous dare to quiz what’s going on in my mind. What a commentary on civilization, when being alone is being suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it – like a secret vice.

I do it all the time. I practice solitude. It opens up doors and windows of my mind, gives me new perceptions and clarity of thought. Fills me up with renewed energy and my imagination takes wings. Deep burrows in my mind are opened and treasures revealed. I think the great omission in human life is solitude; not loneliness, for this is an alienation that thrives most in the midst of crowds, but that zone of time and space, free from the outside pressures, which is the incubator of the spirit. It’s a nice feeling when the room is filled with air saturated with a bouquet of silence. Solitude helps me escape not from others, but from myself for I see in others a reflection of self. And heck, it never hurts to rest my body and mind for a while if that means revival of spirit and my creativity.

“When I get better at…..

February 23, 2010

I was reading this nice post by Marshal Goldsmith in the HBR blog.

Marshal talks about a curious test developed by his friend Dr.Nathaniel Branden to study change in personality traits. Branden simply challenges his customers to pick the one behavior pattern for personal change that will make the biggest difference.

“This is how he helps people decide whether change is worth it: Five to eight people sit around a table, and each person selects one practice to change. One person begins the exercise by saying: “When I get better at…” and completes the sentence by mentioning one benefit that will accompany this change. For example, one person may say: “When I get better at being open to differing opinions, I will hear more great ideas.”

I tried it with myself. I am way too impulsive and have both benefited and been beaten by it. So I said “When I get better at being less impulsive, my decisions will have a firmer footing.” The next I want to try out with my impatience to leave cash idle for long by saying “When I get better at sitting on cash, I’ll have enough left to monetize great opportunities”.

What did you say?

The pursuit of dreams

February 23, 2010

David Schwartz, the author of Magic of Thinking Big asserts “Successful people are not supermen. Success does not require a super-intellect. Nor is there anything mystical about success. And success isn’t based on luck … Believe Big.”

I can use a twist to that surmise.

Going after one’s belief ain’t easy. Have no illusions about it. The secret of actualizing belief is endurance. In Economics, they say “markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent”. In essence it means there is a high likelihood of you going broke before your bets begin to pay off. The real deal is acquiring the capability to sustain yourselves while being “in the trenches”. That phase – figuring out how long before you get there – is crucial, when belief-morphing-into-reality is still a grindingly slow work-in-progress. Lasting it out without being crushed will be the real determinant.

Busting the Beijing myth – It’s China after all!

February 11, 2010

William Fung, Li & Fung’s managing director of Li & Fung Ltd., a century-old Hong Kong–based sourcing company which manages a 40-economy sourcing network, calls his company’s recent record “flat-world success”. Excerpts from his interview –

“The existing measurements of trade are very much antiquated. When the president of the United States says, “We’re running a trade deficit with China,” he’s working off an erroneous base for measurement. The way we determine a product’s country of origin is based on something called “major transformation,” rather than value-added processes. If the major transformation is final assembly, and that occurs in China, the product will be said to be made in China and exported back to the U.S. — even if most of the value of that product is actually manufactured in the United States. In other words, under that system of measurement, the country that gets credit for making the item may not be the one that gets the majority of the economic benefits.

For example, look at a laptop today. Chances are that the monitor is made in Taiwan, the memory is from some plant in Penang, the assembly might be in China, but “Intel Inside” is the most expensive component. Because it’s assembled in China, they slap “Made in China” on it, and it becomes part of the U.S. trade deficit with China.”

I’ve often wondered why Chinese consumers make do with quality that sucks. The fact if one were to believe Mr.Fung goes like this.

“In China, there has always been a dichotomy between the industry that supplies the domestic markets and the industry that supplies exports, world-class products. If you were setting up a world-class factory in China, for example, you could set it up tax-free, but you couldn’t do so if it were for domestic products. Also, the export sector has been whipped into shape by companies like ours and customers around the world who demand compliance with rules or standards involving technology, speed of response, quality, health and safety, the environment, and other issues. The domestic side is not faced with the same compliance issues. So the hundreds of thousands of factories supplying the domestic market are generally of lower quality…. The big thing in China that will provide its next growth is to satisfy the local consumer by merging these two sectors…. Chinese consumers are like any other consumers; they just want the best product their money can buy, whether it’s from India or China or anyplace else.”

On its artificially depreciated currency –

“Everyone thinks China is such a juggernaut, but it has a serious weakness, one that reminds me of Japan in the 1970s and ’80s: a lot of production capacity, but no raw materials. China has some cotton but is still importing a lot from Pakistan and the United States. It has almost no wood. All the metals are imported. The only energy source China has in abundance is coal, which is highly polluting. China is very vulnerable, because it is subject to worldwide fluctuations in the prices of raw materials.”

“When the RMB [renminbi] appreciated [in 2005–07], China fell into a fairly uncompetitive situation. Now, China believes that it can be competitive if its industrial base, especially for exported goods, moves away from the high-cost coastal regions and into the interior. Until that happens, China is unlikely to let the renminbi appreciate, because doing so would put the country in a position of being vulnerable to changes in materials prices.”

Well, it may not be the complete picture. I can think of Chinese military might that’s quite formidable. No country would settle for cheap ammo for its armed forces. So it’s not all bad quality after all. But Mr. Fung’s contention seems plausible. I whisper “Trust, but verify”. It’s China, after all…!!!