Archive for the ‘General’ Category

“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?


Don’t be your own enemy

August 11, 2009

I’ve read somewhere – “The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t”. Indeed, the greatest oak was once a little nut that held its ground.

And then courtesy of Ben Casnocha, I read this Boston Globe piece on persistence. An excerpt –

“I’d bet that there isn’t a single highly successful person who hasn’t depended on grit,” says Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who helped pioneer the study of grit. “Nobody is talented enough to not have to work hard, and that’s what grit allows you to do.”

So, that’s it. The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running. Intelligence is clearly secondary if you stack it up against persistence. No quantum of intelligence will help you “get there” unless you’re willing to persevere. Think of the postage stamp; its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there. The drops of rain make a hole in the stone not by violence but by falling often.

Like Jonah Lehrer says in that article “Everybody knows that things fall – it took Newton to explain why”.

If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking. Stalwart investors that dabbled in the stock markets will vouch for it. There could be as many dissuaders that stress upon the perils of stock market investing to deflect every genuine investor. They pound you with instances of past crashes and bust stories, why stock markets are unsafe and why one should keep away. But what if someone is left with not many alternative fields of expertise? What if he finds it the most exciting place to be?

I would just say this. Stick around and be dogged about it! Don’t be your own enemy !

In crisis, spot your default future and tweak it

July 23, 2009

Steve Zaffron, CEO of the Vanto Group, a global consulting firm and Dave Logan, who teaches at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, offer a set of simple rules to show how leaders and their companies can prosper, even when the odds are stacked against them in their best selling book The Three Laws of Performance: Rewriting the Future of Your Organization and Your Life.

Recognize that people normally have an unconscious, gut-level idea of where they — and their company — are at, and where they’re likely to go. Zaffron and Logan call this “the default future” and show how it is deeply rooted in people’s assumptions, hopes, fears, and past experiences. The first task of leadership, they argue, is to identify the default future, discuss it, and analyze it, and then go about reimagining — and, in effect, rewriting — the future. The book examines a series of management cases at companies around the world where rewriting the future has led to real business transformation. And the lessons are just as applicable to individuals. it’s extra-critical for the CEO who has to steer the ship, to get people in communication about the future that they see coming at them. This is what they call the “default future,” and it’s constituted by a lot of complexity that all comes together in a certain way. This default future consists of our expectations, our fears, our hopes, and our predictions, all of which are ultimately based on our prior experience.

But most CEOs worry about telling the people about the firm’s default future as they see it. They try to paint a happy picture in a relative sense pointing to the competition that had gone belly up. They try to benchmark their performance against a broader industry index and say, “hey, we’re better off.” But the people know the level of emptiness behind those statements and don’t buy a word of it. So why not say it as it looks?

That calls for intuitive grit. The CEO will have to begin by believing in his ability to face up to the responsibility and keep the ship afloat. He should be quick to capture what others see and then gauge the standard deviation from what he thinks about it. He has to communicate the long term goals he has outlined for the company. Say every morning that our business is fragile, and that it can break very easily. So you’d better look at all the risks and make sure that they’re mitigated as much as possible. You see something you don’t like, tell that to the people and ask them do something else. Dare to be naïve.

Believe in getting into hot water. It keeps you clean.

Inside the bore zone

July 22, 2009

For quite some time now, I haven’t had much to post on. There was nothing worth its while to contemplate, to have deep thoughts on. It was just the mundane stuff coming back up, week after week. It’s not the first time I’d hit this morose zone, a hiatus, pretty much a forced pause. There had been times in the past when deals dry up and my creativity sagged. Not a thing that I could do to get over it than to quietly let it pass.

May be it’s got to do with the global gloomy sentiment. The weather isn’t helping much either. We’ve had some showers in Mumbai and it’s all wet all around. The laziness is, like a gift of the monsoon – at least for me. I walk and sleep a lot more and read and write a lot less. Stock Markets – that has lately been my mainstay in the absence of meaningful resource raising deal flow that is otherwise my true calling, have been quite range-bound after a brisk run over the last three months.

I knew I had to do something to get rid of this boredom. Boredom is a serious enough problem, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it. The fun was that I wasn’t even feeling insecure. So, is this listlessness a symptom of security? I had to deal with this internal commotion. The war between being and nothingness is the underlying illness of the post-crisis times. Coming to reckon that, boredom slays more of existence than war. Some take to mad shopping, others gamble and most others drink. But I knew I had to stimulate myself somehow and I’d rather do something else. And that’s going to be the only way to get out of this unsavory morass.

But I’ve noticed something. I am regular to pick up my daughter from her coaching classes now more than ever. Guess punctuality is the virtue of the bored! And there is one other reason. I like to drive down early and get a great parking spot, then sit in my car and count how many people ask me if I’m leaving.

To them, I’d rather ask – Could they teach me how to sit still in one room ?

Try hiring an entrepreneur

May 26, 2009

Much as founding teams would like to hire future leaders, they would in fact be looking for true blue entrepreneurs to lead their enterprise into the next phase of growth.  Having been in the founding mode for quite a while, they know how it’s like to be in the trenches and what takes an entrepreneur come of age.  Having been thro all that grind and having survived it, why would any one leave that joy of enjoying one’s own fruits of labor and the freedom that comes with it to move on to manage someone else’s enterprise?

 Actually speaking, there is no reason why one should forsake enterprise liberties to go and work in another firm.  But sometimes it’s a necessity for many a fledgling ventures and other tried-it-but-didn’t-quite-fly types.  Not necessarily that these guys are losers, it may just be that they found the risks too much to bear.  Nothing wrong with it.  In fact, if you have that realization early on and are quick to make amends and retrace your steps, you must be a real warrior in another firm where the risks are shared. 

 I know quite a few mediocre guys making it big in the job scene and quite a few brilliant entrepreneurs that are struggling.  I am seriously in talks with a few such guys for a new venture that I intend to float in the coming weeks.  That’s why the topic.  I don’t need employees, I need founding partners.  Employees come to work to earn a paycheck, whereas entrepreneurs try to prove a point.  They go to any lengths to achieve their goals and it’s such guys that I need to work with me.

 So, how do I headhunt entrepreneurs?  Most recruiting firms I talked to boast of head hunters in their database, but none came forward.  The recruiters cannot keep using the same bait of “better prospects” to an entrepreneur, because he isn’t exactly after a paycheck.  He had figured out something in his head and is on a lookout for a play field where he could exercise his theories and make a living.  Meanwhile I’ll keep searching.

Creative conundrum

May 3, 2009

I concede.  Having known some, it’s way too difficult to explain why creative individuals are the way they are.  Not that they are weird or something. On occasions when they don’t conform to conventions and follow their hearts, it seems they are kind of warped.  Scratch deeper and we get at some stark rationale – in that quite little quirks and twists go into the making of an individual.  To suppress them all and follow the clock and calendar and creed until the individual is lost in the neutral gray of the host is to be less than true to their inheritance.  Life never compels one to follow another man’s rules.  It’s true that we have the same hunger and same thirsts, but that is for different things in different ways at different seasons. Lay down your own day, follow it to its noon, your own noon or you’ll sit in an outer hall listening to the chimes but never reaching high enough to strike your own.  

Their appetite for novelty is inexhaustible.  For them, life is one long process of trying risk laden new things, getting tired before starting all over again.  The levels of creative energy sets them apart from other mortals.  They’ve long since realized opportunity is often difficult to recognize;  something we usually expect to beckon us with beepers and billboards.  Like the CNBC analyst that cautions investors to wait till markets stabilize for investing in a relatively inexpensive stock, by when the stock is in every one’s radar, the arbitrage vanishes and valuations shoot through the roof.

So if you are a lesser mortal but raring to set your own rules and go,  remember.  Before you dunk in the creative seas,  always use the rule #1 in the old life guard rule book – Seize the opportunity by the beard,  for it is bald behind !!!


How about a large wall street collider?

September 10, 2008

Over to the Big Bang research. The Large Hadron Collider is designed to accelerate protons to energies of 7 trillion electron volts and then smash them together, recreating conditions in the primordial fireball only a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang.

Many physicists hope to materialize a hypothetical particle called the Higgs boson, which according to theory endows other particles with mass, or identify the nature of the mysterious invisible dark matter that makes up 25 percent of the universe and provides the scaffolding for galaxies. Some dream of revealing new dimensions of space-time.

As I understand, those discoveries are in the future. If the new collider is a car, then what physicists did today was turn on an engine, that will now sit and warm up for a couple of months before anybody drives it anywhere. The first meaningful collisions, at an energy of 5 trillion electron volts, will not happen until a few months down the line.  Nevertheless, the symbolism of the moment was not lost on the experts and non-experts gathered there.

Wish they invent some ingenious machine to do some predictive analytics at the Wall Street as well to see what will be left there after the big crunch that started off since september last – a Large Wall Street Collider?  But I won’t bet they’ll ever learn.  They hardly did from LTCM debacle. As striking as the parallel is to Bear Stearns, Long-Term Capital’s echo is far more profound. Its strategy was grounded in the notion that markets could be modeled. Thus, in August 1998, the hedge fund calculated that its daily “value at risk” — meaning the total it could lose — was only $35 million. Later that month, it dropped $550 million in a day. I hope the scientists are a different breed, and hope they learn a few things from this new `why machine’ 😉


Spaghetti Junction

August 15, 2008


Happy Independence Day! 


Not for a minute think we’re free.  There are social, economic and political battles left to win. You’re not free in your own country where untold hundreds track every phone call and e-mail you make in private.  We are in a spaghetti junction where challenges come from everywhere.  I dug out a Francis Duggan poem for you.  I enjoyed reading it. 


The True Meaning Of Freedom

Many look on what constitutes freedom one might say differently
What seems free to you may not seem free to me
To be ruled by your own people to you as freedom does count
But in the true meaning of freedom that to little amount.
To be ruled by your own people may be seen as quite okay
But if you have to be careful with the words you do say
Then you are not a free person despite about it how you may feel
Your idea of freedom to me does not appeal.
Of love of Country you are one who brag
And your patriotism you carry in your National flag
But despite this your Government you seemingly fear
And they only tell you what you need to hear.
Patriotic songs and ballads many like to sing
And to their admiration of freedom fighters they fervently do cling
And if that’s your idea of freedom well that suits me fine
Though your ideas on life are quite different to mine.
 Francis Duggan

Hope you liked it too.  Now tell me, what is your idea of independence…?