Archive for the ‘motivation’ Category

Why not Peter Orszag move to citigroup…?

December 23, 2010

Courtesy author, blogger and friend Ben Casnocha, I read this piece by James Kwak on Peter Orszag moving to Citigroup after resigning as Budget Director under Obama administration and the rant goes like this.

“This is the mindset of the ambitious educational elite: You go to Harvard (or Stanford), maybe to Oxford (or Cambridge) for a Rhodes (or Marshall), then to Goldman (or McKinsey, or TFA), then to Harvard Business School (or Yale Law School), then back to Goldman (or Google), and on and on. You keep doing the thing that is more prestigious, opens more doors, has more (supposed) impact on the world, and eventually will make you more and more famous and powerful. Money is something that happens along the way, but it’s not your primary motivation. Then you get to Peter Orszag’s position, where you can do anything, and you want to go work for Citigroup? Why do our society and culture shape high-achieving people so they want to be executives at big, big companies that are decades past their prime? Why is that the thing people aspire to? Orszag wanting to work at a megabank — instead of starting a new company, or joining a foundation, or joining an NGO, or becoming an executive at a struggling manufacturing company that makes things, or even being a consultant to countries with sovereign debt problems — is the same as an engineer from a top school going to Goldman instead of a real company. It’s not his fault, but it’s a symptom of something that’s bad for our country.”

Here’s my take –

Terrible cliche. I see it as way too presumptuous of the squeaky critics that ordain a simplistic linear transition from domain knowledge to industry vertical, depriving the candidate of the range of options before him.

If it’s the creative mind of the engineer that is being seen as having been manipulated by the lure of a fatter wall street pay check, it’s the very original creativity of that mind choosing with little external prompt to apply its potential in a disparate dimension to experience a radically innovative if not a revolutionary outcome. After the meltdown, perhaps it’s a bit too off-putting to recognize the contributions of financial engineers in developing exotic derivative products like the ABS, CDS and so on, but let’s not forget that what caused the crisis was not the genus of these products, but its specie that got grossly misunderstood, misapplied and miscarried. Not in the least when the very products helped raise a significant portion of the billions of dollars for funding scientific and industrial research by the world’s major corporations that sustained several manufacturing innovations.

It’s ok to trim the flab, but don’t chop off the muscle that holds it together.


Be a problem creator

July 17, 2010

Given a choice people would resist a shift from their comfort zones. They live with a feeling that the status quo has everything they want from life and why alter it so long as they are at peace with it. It makes people keep at doing stuff they’ve been doing for years together and at the end of it, define it as their career. It has clearly not been their bidding. It happened to them by default. Let’s call them `the chancers’.

A great majority of careerists are chancers. I’ve talked to some of my own friends belonging to that set and have found most of them unhappy over where they wound up. Many tried to switch careers midway, but it’s a cruel world out there that didn’t let them veer off the course because they got labeled already. “You were an accountant for the last 20 years, now how can we trust you with marketing” – is the refrain. They go try again and nothing happens. But then bills have to be paid and they are forced to stick with the soul-sucking career they’ve gotten into.

So what should they do to get around it…? First off, they should create a problem before they can solve it. Recognize that you are cut for something different and you won’t settle short. Settling for the status quo is easy, but it bleeds you from inside. Make it your mission to get to where your heart is. Work towards it. Use your weekends and workday evenings to talk to people who are in the field of your choice and get to know its intricacies, finding out ways to “get in”. But the best method is to start freelancing, go blog your views on it. Take on the mighty and the frivolous, but make sure you have solid arguments that stand out. When I say freelancing, I really mean it in a literal sense. Do it for free for a few guys and make them see how good you are at it. You may not make money initially, but you are building referrals and even track record in a small way. Use it to your advantage until the moment of reckoning finally arrives. It will.

Most importantly, never give up, never compromise. Go after it. Get it.

Anywhere it’s paradise…

January 13, 2009


Wistfully looking up the BW happiness ranking.   Usual suspects steal the show starting with Denmark, Switzerland and Austria filling up the top three slots.  I wound down to no.8 and froze.  There it read, Bhutan, wow – the only asian country to figure in there.  U.S ranked 23rd, China 82 and India way back at 125.  African countries like Zimbabwe and Tanzania bring up the rear.


Why am I doing this?  Why does it really matter?  What has always made a hell on earth has been that man has tried to make it his heaven.  Francis Bacon said “Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes, and adversity is not without comforts and hopes”.   Fate often puts all the material for happiness and prosperity into a man’s hands just to see how miserable he can make himself with them.  It helps build a world of contended bodies and discontented minds.  If prosperity guarantees progress, then it also imposes new possibilities together with new restrictions. 


Consoled?  Like hell.  That’s all bunkum.  It means a lot to be rich. Obscenely wealthy. There is nothing wrong in being rich. No sense of guilt attached to being wealthy.  Just that when prosperity comes, do not use all of it.  Not all wear their pearls around the neck with stones upon the heart.  That is propagated by those who wear stones around their necks while dreaming of pearls replacing them some day.  Luxury, if it corrupts the rich by possession, it distorts the poor by covetousness.


My advise to the world. Covet prosperity by all means.  To get there, you can start by staying positive. A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. Happiness is an attitude.  We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong.  The amount of work is the same.  Just because you’re miserable doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life. We may all be in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.


Anywhere is paradise.  It’s up to you 🙂



My Beijing Hero

August 22, 2008


The Beijing Olympic games are still on. But I’ve found my hero.  It is neither Usain “Lightning” Bolt nor it is Michael Phelps.  It is the Dutchman Maarten van der Weijden.  The 27-year-old was diagnosed with leukemia in 2001, but came back stronger after his ordeal to compete at the 2003 open water world championships before he was crowned world champion over 25km in Seville earlier this year.  He said the experience of beating cancer helped him win an Olympic gold medal after victory in the men’s 10 kilometers open water marathon swim Thursday.

He compared his gold medal triumph to his personal battle against cancer as he waited patiently for the leaders to set the early pace before a late burst saw him claim gold in a time of 1 hour 51 minutes 51.6 seconds.

“The leukemia has taught me to think step-by-step…. When you are in hospital and feeling so much pain and feeling so tired, you don’t want to want to think about the next day or week – you just think about the next hour. It teaches you to be patient when you are lying in a hospital bed and that was almost the same strategy I chose here to wait for my chance in the pack.” said the brave Dutchman who raised 50,000 euros (US$74,000) in 2004 for cancer research by swimming the giant Ijsselmeer lake in Holland.

The Art of living hour by hour.  Tell that to me, a Ph D from the school of hard knocks !