Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Very interesting weblink

I've taken to entertaining myself by watching commercials, awesome, good and crappy alike, on youtube. It's alotta fun and I've now spent almost two whole Sundays doing that. Recently I also found a website I really like and highly recommend whoever reads this post to check it out... it has featured some of the best ads, business card ideas, website ideas, logos etc that are really worth looking at.
I have decided that I'm going to bug my best friend for more than half my life, Gayle D'souza, co-founder and partner of one of the best design firms - 'And Design' to teach me photoshop so I can doodle and honour you all with some of my awesome doodles ;-).
That day shall come. I just hope my short attention span and low threshold for boredom let me get there soon enough.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Chai Biskut - a steaming success

I've been MIA for a week coz of the walkabout... it was cccraaazzzzyyyyy........ my partners and me were running a full fledged business... almost a restaurant! but it was fantastic... stretched me to the limit with all the college work and moreso the running of the tea stall..

Pre-event publicity consisted of:

  • Print media
  • Web 2.0 usage - emails, social networking sites like facebook, youtube, videos
  • Word of mouth publicity...
Since we'd generated alot of hype, personally I was really anxious about how we'd manage the crowd on the first day... I'd never made tea in such large batches before... a part of me was actually hoping not too many people turn up... but even before we opened shop there was a throng of samosa hungry and tea thirsty people...

what was awesome was that so many people turned up to sample our products and support us in our walkabout....

there were alotta people who didn't know it was our walkabout and since we were doing it for the first time ever and had very limited resources our service was a bit slow... a student from the MDM batch actually thought we were running this as a vocation a la Jessica (the Indian food caterer) and told us off for taking time to serve him his tea...
our classmates helped out quite a bit.. I cannot even begin to explain how crazy the first one and a half hours were... I think I mustve made about 70-80 cups of tea and we sold about 120 samosas... all fried right there....
after that when we took a break and people complimented us on the food, tea and the ambience it felt so great!!!! and that's when I realized something... in an earlier post 'dignity of labour' I'd mentioned 'chottu' chai wala who serves 'cutting chai' by the roadside always with a smile on his face...I could kinda identify with his level of flow coz it feels great to be able to make something, even as mundane as tea, and have people appreciate it... not through words but through their expressions!
This walkabout (although it was more a business venture) has been such a fantastic learning experience... we actually used demand forecasting, accounts maintaing, marketing strategies (of course), experience creation through the ambience. Moreso, we even experiemented with our menu and came to an emperical understanding of what the best business model for the stall... the primary purpose was to conduct a feasibility study to demonstrate the profitability of the venture and I'm happy to say that we reached the best product mix and strategy to make the Indian Tea Stall a profitable venture on campus.

The walkabout got over yesterday and throughout the latter half of last week we kept getting requests to extend the dates... even today people haven't stopped requesting us to serve chai and samosas... in fact some of the seniors jokingly said that they'd take this up as a career option...

I've always maintained that I want to run a restaurant sometime in the future and our venture actually exposed me first hand to what situations I will face when I do so, albeit on a much larger scale... for starters.. I've really learnt to appreciate the good sense in clearly... and by clearly I mean explicitly... defining the firm strategy and more importantly sticking to it...

Conflicts are inevitable and there were a few times all of us (partners) didn't agree on things... I can happily report that we managed to resolve all differences amicably and had a good time doing the same...

Sourcing the raw materials was a great experience... I always thought that when it came to all those nitty-gritties I would buckle and wouldn't be able to go through with such boring activities but it was a plesant surprise looking for deals... looking for places to source the cheapest but best quality items...

Sustainance was another facet I uncovered... I was apprehensive about being able to sustain my enthusiasm and commitment beyond the first couple of days especially because we had limited capital and had lots of variable costs everyday... (fresh raw materials) which had to be taken care of...

Beyond all the visible aspects, maintainence was another area we had to take care of... start the shop before time... have stuff ready, clean up after the shop shut... all of these were extremely taxing coz after standing - whether facing a mob of customers, behind a stove making batches of tea or frying samosas which never seemed to satisfy the demands - for hours we had to clean up the place, wash the utensils and keep things ready for the next day....

My god... what a rush... I loved it... it tired every muscle and more in my body... but it's been a great experience... somehow my self-confidence too has gotten a boost!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chai Biskut and more

I feel like we're passing through a weird time-space warp... sometimes time speeds up and sometimes it just stands still... last week was quite hectic moreso coz we had to work out the nitty-gritties of our walkabout - the indian tea stall - christened 'Chai Biskut'.

I was super excited when we thought up the concept, totally oblivious to the fact that what we wanted to undertake was going to be super tough....

Why tough...

well for starters... we, at least me, are broke...

on top of that... milk, the second chief ingredient of our product - chai - is frickin expensive...

third... we're running the stall, very happily, for seven days... I have this nagging worry about the sustainability of our stall...

Due to the budget constraint, we've had to scrap some of our marketing ideas and make do with what resources we have at our disposal....

Well, we managed to figure out where to get what from and have gotten some pretty good deals... more importantly, we've managed to create a buzz on campus about our stall to the extent that everyday, everywhere we go people have started asking us for chai... I've gotten sick of telling them over and over again that it starts on Monday and not before that....

We did a trial run today... initially I was very excited and volunteered to make the first batch... Amit Mathur, our senior at college and a dear friend, agreed to be our tea taster... So I wen ahead and made the chai .... AND IT WAS DISGUSTING!!!

the sugar was whimsical... not matter how much I added the other stuff the sugar kept overpowering every other ingredient !!!

We threw away the batch and Rachna made the next one... it turned out great! In Amit's words, we found our gourmet tea brewer... so we decided to go ahead with Rachna's recepie and Shibani made the next batch... it turned out really good... I went next... petrified what my nemesis, the sugar, would do to my rendition of a good recepie... suprisingly the tea turned out good...

Now you'd think that all of this would've taken about 45 mins to an hour tops.... but we were at this for 2 and a half hours!!! That's when I realized how difficult our next 7 days are going to be.... To be serving an institute full of expectant people tea till 2 AM when we take about 30 minutes to brew a batch is a very daunting proposition!!! Although, in our defense its not the brewing that takes time but the washing coz currently there is no facility next to our stall.. tomorrow we're going to have to work that out....

I'm also worried about standing next to an open stove in the heat (AIM's spoilt us by providing us with round-the-clock AC facilities) for 7 hours!

God help me!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chai Stall taking shape

This evening, after our third consecutive day of shopping for our chai stall, we started work on the buzz creating aspect.
But before I move onto that.... I'm amazed at how I've been working on handling this tea stall. I'm usually the kind of person who gets excited about an idea and then moves onto another idea or squanders away my energy. This process has always been on auto-pilot.
But with the tea stall ... I want to take it step by step and work on chunks of it or as MBA jargon would call it ... on functional areas (ahem).
I've been making lists (which I never make.. my mom would be so proud of me... she cried herself hoarse telling me to make lists)... I've been categorizing ... inventory, raw materials, assets, supplies!!!
The funny part is when I did that, I did it as a joke, but realized that categorizing it in that fashion actually made things easier and also made it recallable.
There's a sort of discipline thats gotten into my system (I just hope I haven't spoken too soon)
Anyway... coming back to the stall taking shape... we made our promo material... (will put it up by tomorrow or day after latest). The promo was suppossed to be made in secrecy but with the number of people all over AIM, you can imagine how difficult that was... add to that the attention grabing super kallan! I walked down with it and everybody started asking us if we were going to make chai! Then we needed a power outlet which wasn't available at our venue i.e. behind the SA store (Parasol garden I think it's called) and we ended up creating quite an unwanted 'buzz' with carrying the power points available in the dorm lobby to the cafe area... (it looked like I was taking a weird creature on a walk and with the cord wrapped all around me it looked more like the creature was taking me for a walk).
Finally we managed to diffuse the attention we'd generated and got our work done... it was so much of fun...
It felt best when people started telling us why don't you start you tea stall earlier... now itself!
Did I mention that the super kallan makes the tea stall sound like an authentic Indian tea stall ... I was supremely happy when we lit it today!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The countdown begins!

In exactly five days we run our week long walkabout - the Indian tea stall. (I'm writing as though I haven't mentioned it before in case there are readers who haven't gone thru' my prior posts... shame on you!)
Anyway, altho' I usually hate planning and making lists... doing all of that for this project has been alot of fun... I think it helps that the huge green-board in our dorm is my paper substitute. However, I have switched to more portable list-worthy apparatus. :)
Usually we're pretty bogged down by work and don't really get out of the campus much... but thanks to sourcing stuff for our walkabout - right from raw materials to (capital) assets (read Super Kallan ... our much-in-demand stove) we've been around Luzon quite a bit... first we went to Libertad - Pasay, then Baktikan Street and tomorrow we'll probably have to make a trip to UN Avenue and in the middle of all of this we gotta find slates and hay!
We've managed to get some decorative objects to Indianify our stall FOR FREE from our supplier...
So right now our room has a Super Kallan, an electric frier and raw materials... come tomorrow, it'll be filled with hay, fairy lights, et al... thankfully we have really supportive roomies...
I'll keep you posted! Watch this space for breaking news featuring exclusively our tea stall!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Walkabout Update

It's one thing to decide on the walkabout topic but its another thing altogether executing's been alot of fun brainstorming about how we'll decorate our tea stall - but we realized that we couldnt really go bezerk with our costs and big picture people that we are... you can imagine how restricted we felt. And then came the arguments... could we include blah blah... lets also have yada yada... what should we call our tea stall?
The interesting part is.. I usually avoid conflicts at all costs... don't really like them too much... but while figuring out all this stuff with my fellow walkaboutees, I realized that conflicts are over-rated in the sense... people avoid them coz they (I) feel relations could sour or nothing of value will come out of it. Maybe its what I read in our HBO 'Conflict Management' class - "Polite conversations lead to polite solutions" that has changed the anti-conflictness in me. It's actually fun to see things from somebody else's perspective and when I say see things I mean understand where they're coming from, once you've gotten past the defensive stage...
So to cut the long story short...we've successfully managed to reach consensus on what we're going to have at our very own tea-stall here at AIM and also managed to agree on a name!
Now comes the execution... as long as its not our execution, it's all good...!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I'm not as much a gizmo fan as I'd like to be...the way technology changes and with my myriad interests its difficult to stay updated... Geez I already sound like a technognorant (my attempt at coining funny words - techno-ignorant)....
But in terms of business' dealing with this same phenomenan, I think it's going to be pretty challenging for all companies coz companies themselves today decide the lifespan of their products (inspired by Critical Change by Goldratt)... with emergent technology every few months there's going to be more of a 'generation gap', if I could call it that. I'm part of the 20-25 year old's and I know how the parents of our generation crib and complain about how they don't gel with technology coz they don't understand it!!!Very soon I see people of all ages complaining that they don't know as much as people a few years younger do!
This in my eyes is going to get corporates to design various kinds of products to cater to all levels of technology-know-how. Can you imagine the amount of product differentiation that would involve. Not only that companies are going to have to come up with more captivating ways of marketing a product with 'improved benefits'.
Things are getting interesting.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Uncertainty displaced

The world is pretty arbitrary... Quite often I find myself feeling disconnected with what I've learnt and what I see... most things, when you study about them in theory, seem pretty grandiose and oh so simple... but it's the Murphiness in life that disconnects reality from theory...
However, personally for me, the qualitative subjects here at AIM have exposed me to a more realistic perspective of things... not just postulates that ought to work...
Today especially I feel that there are absolutely no certainties with anything and its probably foolish to expect them to ever be there... I don't think it's possible to learn enough to know anything for certain... and I think it's a huge thing for me to digest and come to terms with...
Strangely, it feels good to realize this.

Monday, November 3, 2008

And so begin the Walkabout preparations

There's been something or the other going on pretty much every weekend this term at AIM (Asian Institute of Management). Finally Rachna, Shibani and me got down to getting some serious work done for our Walkabout.
A walkabout is kinda like an initiation ceremony that Australian aborigines go through to prove their coming of age... here at AIM it assumes alot of significance coz it has been adapted to the business-world concept. In fact our Associate Dean, Prof. Ricardo Lim spoke about the walkabout being a unique feature of AIM when interviewed by one of the leading MBA websites, (Check here for the full interview Each student here has to do a 'walkabout', in the sense, not necessarily go off into the wilderness (although we were contemplating that) and 'survive' but do something that we've never done before, something that stretches us, something that changes us, something that makes us grow.
There are two ways of looking at it... one just do something you haven't done before or do something that you've always wanted to do but haven't had the b@#%%s to do before...
Our plan is to have a 'chai' stall right here on campus from late evening to early morning - why coz there's a need in the market for this product, at this time, done this way (I like using 3 adjectives, reasons etc... it feels poetic to me) - a good cup of tea (or is it a cup of good tea) can solve anything. (I agree with you Katti on this... we will forever remember our chai sessions by the poolside... won't we). As a rider, I want to add that I also think beer does the same thing.
We're nervously excited about it coz we're gonna have to micro-manage (bleccchhh) and time-manage (wow... if only I could do that).
Up until today we were figuring out what we wanted to do exactly with the stall and now that we have a fair idea we went in to 'source' our requirements.
Usually when you goto a shop, negotiating comes naturally to you... what happened today was that now that I knew we were being MBA-esque, part of me was doing it and the other part was observing, relating what we were doing to what we've read or studied and getting supremely amused.
Honestly I feel there's nothing new that you learn in an MBA... its primarily things you have been doing... it's just a shift of perspective to making it more non-mundane.
Anyway, coming back to our sourcing exploits... we've managed to get a good deal (cannot be disclosed... confidentiality and all that jazz ;-)) on raw materials as well as capital investment...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Encouraging Entrepreneurship

While looking for an Asian Sports Company for my Asian Business Systems paper here at AIM, Manila I chanced upon this website It's not surprising to see TATA at the forefront of such a contest. Apparently it's the first peoples choice type of contest. Brings to my mind the fact that today everybody wants to participate. Even if you look at the type of shows that people enjoy, it's mainly vicarious enjoyment through reality shows and game shows wherein people have to send in their vote. People's choice matters. Although I do think that currently since we're at the start of this participative trend, there might be a herd mentality. Very soon that should be replaced with informative participation and that is when companies are going to need to be more synchronous with their primary stakeholders i.e. their consumers.
Coming back to this website, some of these business ideas are really great and the internet allows these to be exhibited to a large mass. I honestly feel they should include courses in business schools on how to juice out as much as you can through Web 2.0 offerings.
Another thing that came to mind was a question that are more people looking to set up their own ventures in the face of lots of standardization and boredom with regular jobs? Have they realized that maximum value will come from occupying niche long tails?

Monday, October 27, 2008

AIM Diwali 2008 Celebrations

Last friday we celebrated Diwali at the Asian Institute of Management... Shailaja, Rachna, whom I fondly call Rakhans La, Lambi and lotsa variations of those words, and me stayed up till 3 AM friday morning making chottu (small) diyas to stick on all the dorm doors. At 3:15 - esque we decided to stick diyas on the professors cabins... was awesome fun... the place is so huge we actually got lost a couple of times... and all of this while the Diwali Taash (cards) session was going on in college (which we obviously missed)
Come AIM Diwali day and our entire dorm, 311, was performing 'Bollywood through the ages'... I'm not usually the dance on stage kinda person but it was a dorm-mate's walkabout and so lots of us from class performed....

Hats off to Shailaja who made sure we came for practice, casework or no casework, decoration or no decoration work. She's a fabulous dancer but she'd never choreographed before and made the Diwali performances her walkabout... After going through what she did, I realized had I been in her place, I'd have probably given up and picked another walkabout topic... getting everybody, including the exchange students, to come for practice was quite a task... the best part was that inspite of everybody's nakhras (tantrums) she kept plodding on....

I was pretty worried about performing coz the songs she was making me dance to arn't normally the kind of songs I'd dance to and so I had a drink or two before I went on... it was so much of fun... the show went off pretty well and of course Shailaja won everybody's hearts.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sportatainment resorts

The future of hospitality development is the convergence of leisure, recreational, entertainment and sporting activities all rolled into an offering, complete with seasonility proofing through providing something, especially adventure sports, for all seasons....
What do I mean by that... indoor versions of outdoor sports like skiing, kayaking, golfing, surfing... you name it!
Sounds great for a sports marketing wannabe like me... but it got another part of me thinking... going to different places to experience the charm and the sports styles of that place is a package deal... with these indoor or man-made resort-sportatainment complexes the whole 'discovering places and their natural sporting charm' will disappear.
But then again... with most of us caught up trying to make as much money as we can to enjoy it how we want, we often miss out on going to all those places we fantasize about...
Thinking about it some more I feel these developments are fantastic... coz this way a curious mind knows where he can go, can make a weekend trip out of it (assuming the infrastructure comes up globally - which it will), try it out and if he truly wants to experience the magic of nature go and do the same without making the visit a commercial travel... why did I bring that into the picture? Today alot of people want to travel to 'exotic' locations, example Leh-Ladakh, to the extent that their travels to these places is proving hazardous to their (places') existence...
So with these resorts in place at least natural beauty can be conserved.
Another good thing is everybody will have tons of fun options to indulge in, all year round.
These resorts then make business sense by having multiple offerings. Most importently it portends good job options for people like me. :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Quotable Quotes

This is going to be an on-going post of quotes that I find inspiring, quirky or just plain funny...
"You have to approach the world as an equal... there's no such thing as being a supplicant" - Howard Stevenson
"Bacteria is the only culture some people have" - No clue
"Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes - that way if you still feel the need to say something abrasive, you've walked a mile away and you have their shoes" - No clue

Another fillip to Sports in India

It's been a really long while since I last blogged... the weather's been too rainy to get any significant work done...
but trust sporting developments to get me to blog again...
I see that the Sports Authority of India (SAI) is going to build 20 astro turfs for hockey, to better the basketball court in Bhopal (apparently the regional center for SAI) and waiving off 30 million that sports federations owe them... sounds fantastic....
this is just what Sporting India needs... a good signal that the government is taking the business and social potential of Sports seriously...
I just hope the projects take off, middlemen or no middlemen apart
Our country needs focussed investment and sports is definitely a good way to go....
Here in Makati, I see phenomenal sports infrastructure.... they have fantastic badminton courts and more importantly people are perpetually engaged in keeping fit and playing lots of sports... its fantastic... even these regular courts I mentioned are really really good... it's basically an indoor construct with I think close to 10 courts, all occupied with waiting lists, on working days too!
We could take a leaf out of Makati's book and use sports to mobilize people and channelize their energy... for which the step taken by SAI seems to be one taken in the right direction

Monday, September 15, 2008


4 months at AIM has taught me already that irrespective of the amount of work given, things have a knack of getting done and that most of the stress that gets generated is primarily anticipatory stress or self created stress... Once I realize this, it becomes easier to de-stress which in turn allows my head to get de-cluttered which in turn allows for opportunities of fruitful action...
so far so good... but today, during class, I had a scary thought... what if repeatedly going through the motions of getting stressed and de-stressed makes you complacent in that... you know you're gonna get stressed but still work will get done... allowing lethargy to sink in... that's scary...
which in turn brings me to the point that maybe the mind will take this direction but at that point of time, motivation needs to kick in... and that motivation could be just about anything... you don't necessarily need to subscribe to 'managerial' characteristics... you could just as well be unstructered but realize that, make the motivation kick in CONSCIOUSLY and get there...
and my ramblings continue ;)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cheers to the Business of Sports

Alot of people are waking up to the fact that sports is a fantastic avenue to promote tourism and to add to the GDP.
I've always lived in India, except for my current studenting here at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) (Manila), and I still dint know that there was this mountain biking rally in Himachal which has been happening for the past three years! It felt so good to see this event in the news and to realize that it is a focussed, thought out event to boost tourism...big roads are crossed step by step....
Why should Sports be used?
Coz global sports is set to be a $141 billion industry by 2012 and the best part is I see it as an industry with a phenomenal 'multiplier' effect along with a crazy number of employment opportunities. And Asia has an important role to play... it's going to be a hotbed for sports with $19.4 billion expected to be its contribution. (source
The main elements in the Sports BUSINESS are: teams or rightsholders, broadcasters, sponsors, infrastructure providers (facilities / venues), promoters, athletes, organizers. Across the board corporates are getting into becoming rightsholders, sponsors, promoters, infra providers and organizers. There's even been talk about having a sportsperson index listed on the bourses, which I think is very interesting and worth a try.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bye-Bye Firm

We had a class on Asian Business Systems (ABS) today as part of our MBA program at Asian Institute of Management (AIM). We were discussing firms and their existence which actually was very interesting coz there are so many different perspectives on what actually constitutes a firm... even an individual can be a firm for that matter... customers themselves are called firms who buy products based on differentials in their income to obtain utility. The definition I found most interesting was by Nightingale who says very simply... firms exist because people don't necessarily know what they want, people don't necessarily know how to make something and people don't necessarily know whether want they want will be made properly or not... so the most obvious thing to do is to get together, collaborate if you may, and get the work done....thus in effect creating a firm.
However, there are people who believe that the MNC-like structure of the firm is gonna disappear to make way for more entrepreneurial structures.. personally I don't see that happening coz I feel products are sold through directive strategies... companies induce buying through suggestive ads and marketing... consumers don't buy based on utility only... these company guys (maybe I shouldn't say that coz very soon I'm gonna be one) create demand perceptions which consumers buy into... even information to an extent (I'm not specifying what extent) is controlled....
unless unbiased, untampered information is made available to consumers I personally don't see MNC's making way for entrepreneurial ventures....
Our prof. said he'd give us an article written by an IBM manager on the age of MNC's being over... as soon as I get it, I'll post either the link or the excerpt... until then keep your views pouring in!

Whatever will they think of next?

Web 2.0 allows you to jump from topic to topic, site to site, oftentimes totally unconnected. While trying to stay updated about the Big-Bang recreation experiment by CERN I chanced upon this article which initially I found pretty funny...
It's about how in Japan you can employ a professional agency to set your love life right no matter what the issue is... infidelity, getting back with someone and get this... even if you want to be with somebody you've only seen, don't yet know!!!
It's crazy to think that something which is natural and of course emotional is now outsourced to an agency which brings it straight to you... no life lessons learnt in the process for you... hence no value addition to your life... just pure money power... I'm guessing their 'happiness', with the use of such agencies to ''source" life's ingredients, is short-lived... probably making relationships have pre-decided shelf lives!
I'm posting the link below for those of you (and I'm pretty sure you would want to read the article) who want to read the article by Times Online:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Big-Bang... LHC style

I've been hearing about CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC for all ya'll quantum-theory homies) for a while now and finally they've switched it on.
Methinks instead of being all philosophical I could try being informative in this blog and so I'd like to tell all those who may not yet be aware of this great scientific moment in history that we're in the middle of... check this youtube link out:
There are tons of anti-LHC theorists who think this experiment will herald (altho this world connotes a positive tone I choose to use it here) the end of the world. Maybe with the state of affairs the world over - materialism, income disparity, greed, connivance, corruption, psychosis - it's not such a bad thing (the wannabe philosopher in me couldn't resist). And I don't mean that as a fatalistic thing but just so that created structres are razed to allow new ones to be formed....
But rest assured Stephen Hawking and co. have said that the CERN project's completely safe... even if anti-matter does get created, the energy release due to the annihilation will be short lived and be absorbed by the LHC... so doomsday naysayers rejoice... there ain't no armageddon coming our way yet!
All in all, its very interesting... "this experiment" is set to re-create the big bang by getting two super slowed down protons to collide, release energy which creates matter! I'm definitely looking forward to knowing what happens next!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ruminations at Sea

I went to Subic during my two week break from the MBA course... We went kayaking and snorkelling and swimming in the ocean... I've always loved the water until that day when I swam in the open seas... I'm swimming and I suddenly look up to find a vast expanse of ocean gaping at me.. almost ready to swallow a miniscule human being like me as if I were a tiny amoeboid for it..
It was so scary to realize that all you have above sea level is your damn head... and that same head is of no use if something comes to get you under water.... !!!
We, as an intelligent species, have hardly discovered all the life forms there are to find out about under water... it sure is beautiful... I can say that after having snorkelled but it sure is scary...
Even while snorkelling, with my head under water I'd actually forget I was in the middle of the ocean until such a time I put my head up to check my poistion viz-a-viz the shore and get the fright of my life to see myself so far out at sea....
I think it has something to do with being able to see myself standing on firm ground or just see myself whole....

What's better?

I have a question for anybody who reads this blog...
which is better... forming opinions super quick.. but also being open to change or taking time to form them but once you've formed them, they stay for life...?
I ask this simpy coz I honestly think things are too ephemeral to have a constant opinion.. where does standing your ground come in the face of this?
This obviously doesn't hold true for things that have a moralistic background...
How long does it normally take to form an opinion and how many times have you been right?


Well... a day into my vacation I realized that it's not a planned out, well defined vacation week that I need... rather... its a good mixture of work and fun that I require...
Having said that... it's not that inspite of having one of those, I can't make use of it... time is THE MOST transient thing ever...
You always have these to-do lists... which get you through the hard times like exam times... deadlines...
I just wonder where these to-do lists disappear once vacations start?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I want empowerment....Err... Do I?

Is Empowerment for everybody – When I ask this I don't only refer to people who want/could be empowered… I also refer to those who're letting go of control to empower… – it depends on how much value you place on people’s individuality, their opinion and their ability to solve problems.
So why can’t everybody be empowered… this is what I think…
I hope my view isn’t too myopic… but empowerment brings with it primarily problem solving abilities…To solve a problem you need to take on responsibility… to take on responsibility you got to be able to believe in yourself… to to be able to believe in yourself you got to at least know lots of parts of yourself if not yourself completely.
For some reason people fear responsibility… either it means you’d have to work a little too much, or its your neck on the line… or you’re just plain scared you won’t deliver… Are we so scared that we won't figure out who we are and therefore won't know what we're good at or how to deliver and hence are okay with getting straight-jacketed?
Of course there are people who thrive on challenges… I guess for those who are unempowered coz they’re scared… ‘chunking’ (breaking the task down to its tiniest activity and starting from there) should help them overcome this fear… NLP says… chunking allows just about anybody to learn just about anything...
Empowerment, i guess can happen, only with your own permission... only you can empower yourself actually...
So why has it suddenly become the buzzword... maybe a critical mass of the human race isn't content with fitting into a structure ... more and more people are looking to figure out what makes them them... and not necessarily out of some cosmic phenomenon that has awakened their philosophical gene... but because discovering yourself lets you sell yourself better or do something better and thus makes you that less transient..

Digressing a bit… I read the 12 laws of NLP and these I can call empowering … they infuse you with confidence and since at the end of it all the story of your life is the story of your mind… I THINK therefore I AM and therefore I SHOULD be empowered…
So when you think you can achieve… the probability of your actually achieving it would be pretty high… maybe I should conduct a survey when I’m relatively free to corroborate this.

Life at 4:00 A.M.

So... i was forewarned that life at AIM is tough... but nothing could've prepared me to face and more importantly cope with the actual rigour...
Even in these trying times everybody has managed to find what sets them free altho' only for a while... but still free!
I love going for a walk at (guess what) ... yea... you guessed it... 4:00 A.M. It usually involves a trip to McDonald's which is open 24/7 except on a day like today...(maybe the whole world can change) ... well.. every sunday actually...
That lovely step you take which takes you over the AIM treshold into the outside world is awesome and it continues being awesome everytime!(Irony please don't intervene and take this pleasure away from me). A short, brisk walk on an empty road is just what you (okay maybe not every you who reads this) need to free your clogged mind...
Walk around the block, enter through the ACCM (that's the hotel run by AIM) entrance and actually come back re-charged to finish off the case or reading or both!
Good morning Manila!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sportal development

Not enough justice is done to sports. Miracles arn't going to put Sporting India on the world map. They can help but not subsitute the impetus which needs to be given..
Everybody should mandatorily participate in sports. I think there are a few schools which do this... And its time many more did too. Nobody will disagree with me when I say sports is THE best activity for all-round development... So why do a lot of people stop once they 'grow up'? It's not that grown-ups don't need more all round development. Maybe it comes about as a natural effect of society making us pick between higher education and sports.
India is capable of producing world class athletes. It's not that we lack talent or the necessary mind-set as is touted. India as a country, and I'm sure every other country can say the same about its citizens, is filled with talented individuals... you see them in all walks of life... for instance...I went to Kedarnath (pilgrimage spot in the Himalayas and one of the Jyotir-lings of Shiva). Getting to the temple involves a steep 14 km climb, 3600 meters above seal level, which can get your lungs in a tizzy if you try the climb. Obviously we go on horseback. Interestingly, for those who arn't comfortable with the idea of riding a horse on a narrow, steep, cobbled pathway with lots of other tired horses, there is a 'pitthu' (guys who take you piggyback) or a 'doli' (palanquin) service available. Everytime I visit Kedarnath or any similar place, I can't help but wonder how it would be if these doli guys who trek 14 kms up and 14 kms down, sometimes twice a day, loaded with bags or heavy set human beings, were trained in a sport at a professional level. They obviously have amazing strength, stamina and focus. All that's needed is to teach them the sport and we could probably have a winner.
I know its not that simple... the few encouraged sports have a crazy level of competition...but the spectrum needs to widen...more volume needs to be built up... a larger talent pool spread across more sports will be great. I do acknowledge our sportstars who've done us proud...but besides cricket no other sport yet has the power to help a common man realize his sporting dream and it is time the the scope increases.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Irony or Karma

I watched 'Libertine' last night. Basically it tells of John Wilmot, a friend of King Charles II, a 'libertine' and the 2nd Earl of Rochester. A libertine, as the dictionary defines it is someone who lacks restraint. But from the 17th to the 19th century it gained popularity as a way of life as has been depicted in a lot of movies including the one I'm talking about. So this guy is a complete cynic who isn't moved by anything. His passions, funnily enough, are theatre, writing and wine. What I don't understand is how people can write without being moved... for me... I find it very difficult to write unless I'm moved! But obviously he did and really well... literary greats (I'll confess I haven't read any of them but I hear they're called literary giants) like Voltaire, Goethe and even Tennyson called him a genuis (source good ol' wikipedia). A particular scence in the movie struck me... it beautifully captured just about how unmoved he could get...he's with a woman and in the middle of it, looks at the ceiling and emotionlessly coins a few awesome sounding verses which tell of how he lay there, unmoved, like a lump!
But this same John Wilmot could move people!!! The king kept asking him to petition on his behalf to solicit funds since he felt Wilmot was influential and could move the masses!
Later on while watching a first-time actress on stage he falls in love with her! She on the other hand wants to carve a name for herself in the world of theatre and leave behind a legacy and in being true to herself and her art doesn't veer from her goal. Of course she was his lover but had no qualms about being his wife.
What struck me about life in general were two things and they overwhelmed me for a while:
1. How people who're unmoved themselves have the ability to move people... maybe lack of emotion gives them heightened objectivity that allows them to persuade people and also the fact that they probably don't care enough to persuade people... the same 'play hard to get syndrome' at work here?
2. Irony or is it karma that John Wilmot who had all the women swooning with his mere touch falls in love and is spurned?
This happens so often in life... you're scared of something and keep avoiding it until you finally overcome your fear.... do it... and guess what IT happens!!! maybe the reason you have a fear of it is coz that fears been put there as an aid to survival!

Just a passing thought... I'm pretty sure I'll have a contra view on this tomorrow!!! :)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The benefits of last minute studying

I’m sure I’m wading into controversial waters here, but I seriously feel that studying at the last minute is much better than regular studying… why?
For starters, somehow the pressure built up automatically increases your concentration, grasping and retention abilities. Secondly, when you’ve already done something well enough before, and have to read it again … it is supremely boring. Thirdly, there’s always a chance of overlooking something important which would not have happened if you had studied at the last minute… what tends to happen is… you see a topic and quickly skim through thinking… “I know this damn thing”… and therein lies your folly… coz sure enough something buried in all those simple words appears in the exam to befuddle you…
Lastly… you don’t learn anything new… if you had to study at the last minute… you can be assured of the fact that no matter what, you will walk away from that night more learned !!!

Corporate culture

Corporate culture - I didn't have to pay attention to that! I love learning new things, being exposed to new ideas. It gives me a fantastic high. Also, I feel really silly when I know of things but haven't given them enough thought or credit and find out just how potentially big they can be. Fortunately the high quotient outweighs the silly quotient and after my class on corporate culture I was fueled enough to start attempting to sensitize myself to corporate culture.

I feel trying to understand corporate culture seems to be more of a pro-active approach to better understand your target organization. This lets you decide where you'd like to be (to avoid a timshel situation - i.e. a maybe, maybe not kind of situation) and not have situations decide for you.
(As a rider to this, I do believe that once you make your choice, no matter how big it is, you will find a way to provided you're engaged enough)

What I also realized was that culture first crosses my mind if I were to think of a society or a country or a tribe. Today, there was a broadening of my ‘culture understanding’ horizon to apply the culture context to an organization. And the potential benefits I see are immense. Sure it may be difficult at first and maybe I’d be completely off but once I’m able to figure things out, identifying corporate culture seems beneficial. For example, if I wanted to switch jobs and know my set of values, I’d obviously see where I’d fit in best. Don’t you think recruiting people would also become simpler? And if I were to have my own set-up, won’t knowing my values would be critical in shaping the set-up culture? (at least till such a time that it works!)

That’s the idealistic scenario. It still remains to be seen whether with this understanding I will be able to better get an idea of a company closest to the truth. What I would like to be able to identify in the shortest time possible is to figure out the corporate culture without having to be a part of the organization. Is there another way to do that besides surveying those in the organization? And how much time will I spend in understanding cultures? When I know either ways, I’ll have a sequel post.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dignity of labour

How many of us have been victims of 'Oh my job is so boring'? Inspite of prevalant practices to boost employee morale and 'engage' them, things tend to get monotonous 'coz most humans like change (although change comes with letting go and sometimes trusting - two things we don't really like).
Ever wondered what keeps 'chottu' working at the road-side tea stall or the canteen guy at the office engaged?
When we talk of engagement, until my first class of Human Behaviour in Organizations, taking the E word to all the employees involved the management cadre. Looking at engaging the non management section didn't even cross my mind! An instance was pointed out in which a coffee serving guy, inspite of doing the same thing (i.e. serve coffee - in case my previous sentence was too long-winded) at meetings all the time, does his bit cheerfully. That actually got me thinking about how we take those guys for granted.
On more than one occassion, while talking to friends who've switched jobs, the quickest and fondest memory of an old job involves the non-management class'. For instance an ex-colleague remembers this of her old workplace (a global bank) Hectic work schedules didn't leave her with time to eat and invariably at 4 P.M. the canteen guy would make sure there was hot 'vada pav' (a Mumbai burger, served hot and spicy with sauteed green chillies if you so liked) and 'cutting chai' (a typical measure of piping hot roadside tea) at her desk!
Wonder what keeps people like him going most if not all of the time? Makes me wonder if the unengaged are missing something simple yet essential?Makes me appreciate these guys more and re-enforces that everybody has his own place in this Universe. Makes me realize that the concept of 'dignity of labour' should be explicitly stated... maybe therein lies the key to engagement?