Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Here Comes Another Bubble - The Richter Scales

I know its been too much of Video on my blog lately , but i have to share it , its too Good . MUST WATCH .

you can get the mp3 here

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Less Than Four

If you feel SAD,incapable,helpless anytime . Please see this inspiring video .

More details and more of such stuff at Less Than Four .

Monday, October 22, 2007

On Rudeness

My experience is that rude behavior is never forced upon people by circumstance. Some people are rude by nature, some people aren't. Don't tell me you have to be rude to people because of such and such. That's just rationalization.

I don't like rudeness , specially when I am at the receiving end of it
~ Anonymous

I never meet a person who says that He/She like rude people . Everyone wants to avoid a rude behavior . thats very understandable . What baffles me is people's perception of rudeness and the approach they
adopt to tackle with rude behavior. Most of the time people see rudeness as a personality trait .something in which you don't have a choice .something which is default to you . something as intrinsic to you as your skin . in short , majority of world thinks that Rude people are born rude or you can't do any thing about rude behavior of somebody who has passed a certain age .

I don't think so . I have seen enough of world to believe that rudeness is not a personality trait . its just a situational liberty which some of us exercise . simply saying people are rude because their surrounding
allow them to be rude and insensitive . they have no incentive or punishment for acting otherwise . that makes both actor and victim an equal partner in the act of rudeness.

So whenever someone is rude with me First question i ask to myself is

"What's there in my conduct which made this guy think that I deserve this or I will take this & how can i ensure that this doesn't happen again "

Fundamental Attribution Error : (FAE)

The fundamental attribution error (also known as correspondence bias or over attribution effect) is the tendency for people to over-emphasize dispositional, or personality-based, explanations for behaviors
observed in others while under-emphasizing situational explanations. In other words, people have an unjustified tendency to assume that a person's actions depend on what "kind" of person that person is rather than on the social and environmental forces influencing the person.
~ From Wikipedia

FAE is a powerful force . Our society have almost internalized this . Whether its a judicial system dealing with a criminal or a Church talking about Attaining Nirvana . Whether its a HR person discussing your performance appraisal or some issue where you disagree with your spouse . Whenever we analysis somebody's behavior ,we see the person in question as a separate , stand alone entity .

Psychology for the most part has been a study in dispositional analysis . We study individual , We study institution , but comparatively a very little research has been done on Individual inside a Institution .and whatever little study we have at our disposal is enough to shatter our understanding . some world famous psychological experiments like Stanford prison experiment has shown that there is very little of our action which is dispositional .

Recently I saw a video of a lecture by my favorite social scientist Dr. Philip Zimbardo . he was talking about "Lucifer Effect : How Good People Turn Evil ". Although his talk was mostly in context of Atrocities done by US soldiers in Abu Garibh but it is not very hard to extrapolate his teaching to our day to day life . I saw some similarity in the context of our understanding of Rude behavior . In his thesis Zimbardo explain how certain situations can lead our mind to believe that its OK to be cruel .

But You Can't Change Human Nature :

No Body can be changed by preaching , You are entitled to change only one person in this universe , that is you yourself ,
~Bhagwat Gita

Whenever I complain about rude behavior of people a lot of times I hear this line in reply ." You can't Change him/her . its His /her Nature" . It has been repeated too many time that sometime I tends to think if its true .

But I don't think its true . Human nature is not something you are born with ,we acquire it .Its not your skin tone or shape of your nose . Its just a set of rule , a code of conduct which we formulate to guide our action . our nature is dependent on conditioning .On what we see around us, how we are treated .what sort of people we deal with . Most of us have this false assumption that these exposers ,interactions leave a permanent effect and human being are not flexible /capable of changing their approach. They might not be open to change but they are surely capable of changing .

Some examples

I belong to a small city in Rajasthan named Sri Ganganagar . Most of the families in my neighborhood have one of their son/relative in UK/Canada . Every year i hear that one or two elderly parents have migrated to Canada to live with their kids . these people are in their late 50s or mid 60s. by any standard of conventional wisdom they are well past the age where they can change anything about there own thinking . Right ? Well................. Wrong .

On more than one occasion I have seen that these guys ,who seems to have strong opinion on Education, conduct,dress ,friend circle of female members of family in India , when they reach South hall they transform in to a Progressive mindset effortlessly . Drinking ,Dating , Late night parties are rampant among girls of UK based Indian and all of these old guys not only approve it but actually they are glad to be a part of it .

Funny......60 Years of "Nature" can easily be undone in 2 months . How ? Context and environment around them don't allow these guys to take liberty .

Australian feels pride in declaring them self as aggressive and say that rudeness is part of their culture . they use this justification to explain why their players pushed a senior Indian leader .I seriously doubt if they would have done the same with Queen of England . so much for Rudeness in DNA argument .

Google wants to provide free access to information to people every where . They refuse to alter the search result even if it hurts the sentiments of Jew . but they accepted the censorship terms with China . so much for mission & value statement . China didn't offer an option and Google Complied .

In 1984 New York city was suffering from a very high crime rate and vandalism on Subway trains . Subway was considered very very unsafe . so much so that Bernhard Goetz became a symbol of New Yorkers' frustrations with a high crime rate when he shot four muggers intent on robbing him on subway train in Manhattan . To deal with this problem Police department of New York city took a radically different approach called Broken Window Theory . Basic premise of Broken Window Theory is that if you change the environment or surrounding of people . you can effectively control their tendency to commit crime .

We don't need speedy justice , we don't need stringent law , we need better enforcement . the whole environment should act as a damper to the urge of committing crime . so in order to solve the problem Police
Department , started removing graffiti from walls of subway stations and trains. their top priority was to make subway look exceptionally clean and managed . this had an magical effect . crime rate fall down drastically .

My point behind giving all these examples is that if change in situation / Surrounding can cause a different behavior in people in old age , Giant Organizations like Google, Proud to be rude people of Australia, Crime struck New York city . than why can't we expect to see a similar change in the behavior of rude guys around us .

Your Land Lord, Your Manager , The Guy at convenience store, Your Spouse . Why we are always so hell bent to accept it as "Nature" . is it FAE at work ? is it our aversion to act and escapism to see the reality ? or is it really something one is born with . what do you say ?

Word of caution

Article like this are provocative . they force you to rethink your assumption & steers up the emotion. things are complicated if you are in the receiving end of such behavior for sometime . I know an incedient where someone read a post of mine and had a fight with a colleague . He repent badly for his immature act . My experience is that such spontaneous out burst are not sustainable . you want to change people's behavior and conduct toward you ? than accept that it won't be done overnight . its a painfully slow process

Be very careful in your judgment about Rude behavior . is it a one off incident ...than its ok. We all have a bad day now and again maybe you just bumped into them while they were stuck at a low point. Problem is if its a recurring pattern. than you know its time to change circumstances . Because its not about him only its about You too.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The FaceBook Song

It's Hilarious , do check it out . I Love Facebook

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Class Of Late 70s : Transient Generation

Time is Nature's way of ensuring that everything doesn't happen at once .
Space is Nature's way to ensure that everything doesn't happen to you .
Albert Einstein

Some Factoids

My Date of birth is 24th of march 1978 . I went to a Govt. Engg College in 1996 came out of college in 2001 .

When I was in college, computers were expensive, a typical 486 / Pentium I used to cost 35K . 2 GB Hard disk was a luxury.

There was no Cellphone service in KOTA until my second year and until my final year it used to cost 5-12 Rs per minute for incoming call.

There were only three cellphone in college campus . one belong to a Lecturer , another to a Guy who was son of a BIG Shot . Third and most interesting person to posses a cellphone in campus was a Female in final year . Her fiance had gifted her that phone on their engagement . She used to boast about it . [ BTW this particular female was seeing a guy since her high school but ditched him as his new suitor was based in US . In short going to US was a BIG Deal ]

When I was in Final Year I used internet for the first time , I was hooked . It used to cost me 100 Rs /Hour for accessing email . it was painfully slow but it gave a strange pleasure to see that
blue status bar moving.

IIT Kanpur was the only place I visited where I can get free internet access . for the first time in my life I read some thing online , without saving it on floppy to read later on college comp. Guess what it was ??
Starr Report on Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton scandal .

In second ,third and Final Year of college i got my Project report done from a DTP shop in KOTA , the guy at DTP shop used to have WordStar. We used to hear about Windows 95 and Bill Gates but our computer labs had Monochrome Computers with DOS .

It was very hard to see coffee shop in North India and Coffee for me was synonym to a Cup full of foaming Espresso served in wedding parties .Mojito,tequila, mocha, capachino ,Lasagne,Rossito ,paperoni ,Martini were names of Italian Girls .

Most of the guys were deprived of female company & they used to think of marrying every girl on which they had crush .To tell you the truth they were very sincere with their plans . There was only one small problem . they had never talked to the girl in Question . Too shy /Arrogant/ Masculine to do that .

We used to talk a lot about Kissing scene in RAJA HINDUSTANI . Sex sequence like Murder or Aashique Banaya Aapne were stuff of legend /porn .

Things are a lot different today .

You can get a decent laptop in 35K , I have a WiFi internet at my home and it cost me only 1000/Month . Most of the colleges have net access in Hostel . Cell phone is very common , Going to US is no Big deal , Gmail offer 2GB disk space for free, WordStar is extinct ,CCD and Barista are in every neighborhood. Dating is not a Taboo any more .

If reading all this make you think that I attended college long long time back in past then you are wrong . Every single thing I mentioned above has happened JUST 06 Year back .
so why I am talking about all this ? I know some of you might be thinking that this is yet another post by me telling you how world is unfair .

No , Unfortunately this is not the case this time . What i am going to tell here is a long standing observational hypothesis of mine .which i collected and constructed piece by piece for past 2 years . I call this "Theory of Transient Generation " .

What is Transient Generation ??

People are crazy and times are strange
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

Bob Dylan

Every generation has their time under the sun . Their moment of Un-diverted attention , the time when they could connect to or contribute to everything which was new . When I was in my teens my Dad's generation was Present and My generation was "Near Future" . We were waiting for our Turn when Baton would be passed to us . If my peers belong to Generation X . My Dad belong to generation( X-1) and my Grandfather belong to Generation (X-2. ) and pace of change was such that this equilibrium was sustained for an extended period of time ,at least for more than a decade.

In the tradition of time, Baton was passed to our generation too but I realize that this time around Equilibrium was not stable for that long . We spent our " Hour of Glory" in a transient conditions . Before we realize that future has arrived , Future was over. Baton was unwillingly passed to next generation .

Most of us don't understand the thought process of KIDS who are just 5 year younger to us . In all probability these kids are indicator of things to come but there is a vast gap between us and them . This gap is not easy to explain because difference of Age is very little .why we are so out of sync. That makes me think that Class of late 70s has actually became a Transient Generation.

Circumstantial Evidence for my theory :

Neither me nor any of my friends went to college thinking that we will be getting a salary in the order of double digit lakhs per annum . but today I see freshers with a salary expectation of 7-8 lakhs from the day one . I doubt if standard of education has changed drastically in 05 years . some of it can be attributed to overheated market place .But there is more to it than jsut market . something subtle is missing .

Fresher today are more seasoned than ever before . Almost invariably I fail to see the rebel,Zeal, Ideal ,Naiveness and vigor in freshers. They use word "Professional" very frequently to justify their hostile competitive tactics in workplace . Talk to any freshly minted MBA and you will know what I mean. This chap find it very hard to listen , he always has something to add to what you are telling him . He use vague statements full of buzzwords .you can't really teach any thing to him .This was not that BAD in my time.
When me and my batch mate come out of college market was in recession. jobs were hard to find .I know a lot hardworking and intelligent and deserving students who were not able to find a job . when market begin to recover after few year . Companies began to offer jobs to Fresher and every one who graduated in 2000-2002 was facing the Q " Whats your Industry experience ? " why you were not able to get a job when you were out of college ? surprisingly companies found it hard to hire them even at the level of fresher . Corporate India seems to have deleted most of them from memory.
Around two year back someone asked my friend if she has used Orkut while she was in college ? She said no. There was no orkut at that time . She was told that since you haven't used Orkut in college you can't understand the thought process of Social Networking junkies . she is out of college for 05 years only and she is using ORKUT for 3 years now .
Two year back, sometime in mid February a school girl from my neighborhood asked me . "Kya apke time mein Valentine day hota tha?? " [ Was there a concept of Valentine Day ,In your time ] .
Around a year back a strange incident happened to me . I was coming back from office in an Auto Rikshaw . Amity College is very close to my office . two females in their early twenties asked for a lift up to a Mall .They offered to split the bill . I said thats not needed and obliged . These girls were chit chatting continuously. Our Auto stopped at a Traffic Light . They spotted a couple on a Bike . Probably this couple was from their college .one of the girl said to another " I didn't knew She is seeing Him " . other replied "No, No , She is not seeing him , They are just going around ".

I was amused to hear their conversation so I asked
"Excuse me ladies but I overheard your conversation , Please Educate . I am not sure if I understand the difference between "Seeing " and "Going Around " in my times it used to be

Classmates-> Friend-Date-Commitment-->Shaddi .

They laughed and obliged . Here is what they told me

Things are different now . We have various intermediate phase now a days

[or Acquaintance]
[ Part of common gang]
Going Around
[Part of a gang but special consideration to the Target]
[Gang is not a necessary precondition to meet and hang around for daily stuff COACHING ,SHOPPING,Notes exchange]
[ Now they don't need a reason like "Notes" to meet they just spend weekend together and wait for other party to make a move ]
[Starting of Formalizing relationship,by saying declaring on Orkut ,Girls delay it as long as possible]
[ After both parties are settled in job , parents are involved now ]
[The END] .

It was most educating 30 min of my life .Six month later someone told me that there is a intermingled state too . Its called "In-Bitween " , this is when you are frustrated/ Disillusioned with your current relationship but keep on dragging it due to peer pressure till you get another opportunity .


I realized there are so many things around me which i don't know .Age difference between me and those girls ?? 7 Years Max.

About a month back i was observing some kids playing games in my colonies park . they were playing an age old game which i am sure you too have played at their age . Its called "उंच- नीच " [ High Land -Low Land ]

I noticed that they have changed the rule of game. In my times whosoever was on High land was not compelled to come to low land . they can stay there for as long as they want and guy on the low land was forced to wait . game used to be a bit boring unless person on the highland choose to make it funny by coming down .

This is not the case now .under the modified rule of game player on the high land need to keep singing a song as long as he is on highland . if you want to take a break form singing you need to get down to low land . so game was more fun . I was riveted to see how small kid balanced singing and running . it was not dull . is it just about game ? I think this change in game has reflect a change in society too . Now Children realize at very young age that you can't stay at Top without doing something . Don't take me wrong but i think the main reason is that when I was a kid, Rules of Game were designed by children of Govt. Employees . Today its Children Of IT Professional in MNC who are making the rule . but do we know that Rules have changed ??

Who did it ?

I am sure about my Observation of events but to understand the cause of event you need to have a deeper understanding of complex dynamics of socio economic forces . I am not a sociologist so I am not sure how accurate my reasoning is . Still in my view main reason for this rapid and exponential change and this vast disconnect between two chronologically adjacent age group is due to following reasons .

Access to Internet : Access to internet is more cheap today . I have a Wi Fi network at my apartment it cost me only 3000 Rs to setup and now i have 24X7 Internet access for 1000 Rs /month . same is true for most of the college . Access to internet in formative years widen the horizon of student and this exposer at right time in growing up has contributed a lot to this difference .

Access To Mobile Phone : Owning a mobile phone means more than just a convenience of communication . Owning a mobile phone in formative years allow its user to cultivate a social network independent of your family and more confirming to your peer. Mobile phone has affected our thinking in many ways than we consciously know. Kids are allowed to stay out of home till late night because parents have this sense of security that they can reach their kids any time .

Its easier for Kids to maintain a communication channel out side of parental supervision . MMS,SMS," Miss call " all of these stuff have made communication between teenagers and specially teenagers of opposite sex more convenient . This has a far reaching effect .

If you really want to understand the impact of mobile phone on social psyche i suggest reading Howard Rheingold's Classic book SMART MOBS .

Exposer to Alternate Media : For the most part of our life we were exposed to only DoorDarshan although there were some cable TV Channel while we were in high school still the content of these channel were not radically different form DD .

Today KIDS have access to Animax,Discovery ,AXN,MTV,ZOOM. On internet they have access to community of every type.From Bike enthusiast to Fine Arts . From Independent Music to Gay and Lesbian .

Economics : A significant number of students who are coming out of college these days have one of their Parents,Elder sibling or someone else in neighborhood who has been in IT or MNC for sometime . it affects student in many ways .

sometime it offers as a higher benchmark , some time it works as a role model , some case it means that student goes to college with more Pocket money . almost always it means a better guidance to chart out their carrier.

There are many more reasons like Proliferation of Call center, students doing summer jobs in BPO.

Experimentation in Bollywood movies which has made us more tolerant to certain taboo.

Isolation of working class youths from national political agenda because much of their life is effected more from Rupee -Dollar Exchange rate than who is ruling in Center .

BRIC Report and Euphoria it generated,

Sania Mirza, Twenty20 World Series,Sri Santh

List is long and I admit that I don't know about all of them .
Looking at all these factor and their implication it seems everything which happened was inevitable . Do you agree ??

Epilogue : For the records I am not trying to say that Class of Late 70s have lost their chance or we can not do anything significant and we should silently walk down to oblivion . No . Thats not what i am saying .

I am from Class of Late 70s and i believe that Best is yet to come for me .All I am trying to do is to Estimate the size of our challenge. I always believe that first step to solve any problem is to admit that there is a problem. Thats the sole purpose of writing this post . .
So Do you agree that we have got a problem here ??
Thanks for reading this long post .

Photo Courtesy : Flavio Ronco . you can see his flickr stream here

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Facebook End Game

I am a Big FAN of Facebook and like thousands of internet enthusiast I see Mark Zukerberg as a HERO . He has created a Giant distribution Platform called Social Graph . He did it on his vision of Internet and social media . Some of his moves like Newsfeed, Opening up the platform for Third party application developers , Not doing a revenue split deal with Application developers and finally Facebook Fund are nothing short of a Masterstroke .

He has turned down the deal from Yahoo and he insist to maintain FB as an independent company . Cyberspace is abuzz with the Fear,excitement and anticipation of next move of this Boy wizard . Most Frequently Asked Question is

How will he plan and time his Exit ? Will it be through IPO or through Acquisition ?

Most of the folks think that Facebook will go public at a valuation of some where between the range of 25-35 Billions USD . Thats a lot of money .IPO Advocate says that FB will go public because there is no one who can afford to buy them at the valuation FB team want .

I think it will not be a good move for FB to go public . They should sellout .

Why ?

Short and sweet answer is Due to unrealistic expectations . When Google decide to go public and filed S1 . Their earning details came as a pleasant surprise to many folks . This is not the case with FB . No matter what number they put as their revenue , it will always be a disappointment . In a hyped environment reaction to the same hype machine will work against him and it can spiral FB to doom . This is not to say that Mark and VCs who invested in FB will not get good ROI if they go public . they will , but Mark's vision of FB will be lost .

You may say that haven't we seen this before ? with Netscape ? YES . But Netscape was a pioneer and back than there was no history behind internet , things are different today we have a DOT COM Bust behind us . Netscape too got some MAD money valuation but they have a good revenue from their enterprise clients . This is not the case with FB .

Fact is that in spite of all his greatness ,Mark can't be exempted from the BIG question about viability of FB as a business and Once FB file for IPO they will have to face this Question every quarter .They have created a seemingly"Perpetual Motion Machine" . If they stay independent they will have to feed it with something . that "something" is not apparent as of now .

Why Sellout??

I think for FB ,biggest advantage of selling is that selling out would give them a reason [ Excuse ] for course correction .

FB is a Great distribution platform ,they have done a great job by separating application and Social graph . Now they control the social graph and you and I can write application to ride over it . thats all very good . but This was not something which could not be copied by My Space or Orkut . so in order to differentiate their offering Mark played a Brilliant move by opening API for free. Whole world was at their feet.

This limelight comes with its own price tag . There were many instances where a one man company made a popular service . FB user started to use it but it was hard for the programmer to sustain it , and company went bust . Leaving FB with an unsupported application and unhappy users. Our Hero made another master stroke "FB Fund" .

What worry me is that He is doing all this with VC money . not from FB Revenues . VC Funds will not last forever and in absences of a massive revenue these Question will haunt FB too . if not now than may be some years down the line .

Opening platform for free was good move but moving away from "Free" under Marks Leadership will take sheen from his image . so they need a scapegoat . and i feel impact of such policy shift are moderate if there is a change in ownership .

We have an example of GrandCentral , a startup which offered a telephone number for life , Once you have a Grand Central Number you need not to change it when you change service provider , move to a new city or whatever . They promised "One Number for One Life " very romantic .Grand Central got acquired by Google . with in few weeks of selling out . Google changed the policy and issued new numbers to existing GC users . There was a small outcry but Google silenced them by offering money for reprinting Biz cards .

Grand Shift in ideology , little flutter , little money and things are going on smoothly since , GC is still signing new users .

If Tomorrow FB wants to take a corrective action like say a 5-10% revenue split with its existing app developer or they want to sell Flash overlay adds on small widget based TV on every profile . Given his image , doing this will be hard for Mark. So he may collect the money and run to do next venture . but if some other company say Google or MSFT do it ?

Like grand central there will be little unrest and people will abuse MSFT for greed and FB will keep going . In my opinion that will be a Good End game for Facebook exit .

Extra :

Now that i am at Crystal Ball Gazing i can't resist temptation to talk about some thing else

Who will buy FB ?? Microsoft

at What valuation 16-18 Bill.

Why do i think so ? I don't think so its a guess .

These are my view and I admit that there is a possibility that I might be wrong and Mark and his team can come up with some new strategy to address these issues and stay independent . I will be a happy man if thats the case .

Whats your take on FaceBook Endgame ?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Observations,Patterns and Exception

I spend most of my free time reading books , blog , journals, newspaper etc. I had this hobby since my school days . I was never too good or keen with sports . only physically demanding activity I indulge in is Traveling . But most of the time my travels are a way to facilitate my thought process only . some kind of walking meditation .

If you ask me to name something in which I consider my self "Gifted" . I would say its my penchant for reading on wide range of subjects , and My more than ordinary memory for things which interest me . Somehow I am always able to remember trivial things from past . This is a funny and strange combination . This cocktail of Reading ,Remembering and Analysis sometime gives me some funny insights . they are mostly not earth shaking but they are amusing .

I had one such observation yesterday . Funny thing is that I observed something , [i thought ] i discovered a strange pattern , I was amused and inflated at my personal discovery and with in few hours an exception of that pattern was staring me in my face .

I rarely share these discoveries with anyone . My Girlfriend is very bored with my sudden shouts of Eureka!! Eureka!! Poor Girl :( .

so I decided to spare her and tell you my weird observation . Here I go ,Keep an Aspirin handy ,

Biographies :

I read biographies of a lot of Famous and successful people from different field. overtime i Noticed a strange thing in most of them . Successful and famous people somehow know each other long before they became famous .you may ask Whats the big deal in it ? Well see it like this

Statistically Only 10% of people try to do something which has a potential of morphing in to something big and more than half of them will fail. out of these remaining 5% , only 1-2% of people will be BIG enough to attract public attention. Attention of ordinary people like me . now my Question is "What do you think is the probability of the scenario where these 2% of folks know each other or are associated with each other in childhood or long before they werer famous ? " I think instincitve answer is very little or almost coincdential . well i notice these co incedencec too many times . see this facts .

  • Steve Ballmer and Scott McNealy were childhood buddy as they grew up in same neighborhood .One of them is CEO of Microsoft and other is Founder and [until recently ] CEO of SUN Microsystem . What was the probability of having two Key figures of PC and Computing Era coming out of same neighborhood ?

  • Dhiru Bhai Ambani got his first Institutional loan of INR 80 Lakh from a Banker named K V Kammth , who was just a simple Bank Manager at that time . Today K V Kammth is Heading ICICI Bank , a leading private sector bank of India . and Dhiru Bhai Ambani created Reliance Empire . Kammth was main person in resolving dispute between Anil and Mukesh Ambani . What was the ODDS that a regular banker and Trader who did a transaction and end up as Key person in their fields ?

  • As a KID ShahRukh Khan was friend with a girl [daughter of a family friends ] who used to accompany him to movies and they used to enact movie scene after ward . Name of the girl was Amrita Singh . She became a popular actress and SRK became King Of Bollywood .

  • While ShahRukh Khan was in school , He took part in a play where he has to sing a song. Teacher thought that SRK is good with acting but it might not be a good idea to make him sing too. so He asked another guy from school to be his playback singer . Name of the guy was Palash Sen ,Lead Singer of Euphoria .

  • SRK was part of a Theater group called TAG . His first movie was an experimental film , where he played a cameo role of a gay . screen play of this movie was written by Arundhati Roy .Arundhati won Booker prize for her debut novel "The God Of Small Things ".

  • SRK's Father -In-Law Mr.Chiiba was a close associate of Dr. Zakir Hussain, Former President of India .

  • SRK's first TV Serial "Fauji " was produced by Retd.Col. Raj Kapoor . Col.Raj was classmate of Shammi Kapoor , Raj Kapoor,Shashi Kapoor.

  • SRK's ancestral house in Peshawar was only few blocks away from house of Prithviraj Kapoor .

  • During his stint in politics Amitabh Bacchan bought a house in Delhi , which was few block away from SRK's Place .

  • Hollywood actor Rusell Crow is a Relative of Martin Crow who was Captain of Newzeland Cricket Team .

  • John F. Kennedy was Chief Guest at convocation ceremony of Bill Clinton.

I noticed few more points about few more famous personalities but i think these example are adequate to convey a point . Enuff said

Exception :

So once I knew all these facts I was feeling very insightful.As if I have accidentally stumbled upon some secret formula .After few hours of this cloud walk I noticed something in news paper about Geetanjali Nagpal, . An erstwhile model who once shared ramp with Sushmita sen. News paper story said she was living a life of poverty . my theory was proven wrong . or is it ?


So this was my little story of the day , I am still wondering if all these were some random occurrence or it has a hidden meaning . I am not sure . what do you think ??

PS: BTW I share my birthday (24th of March ) with Steve Ballmer and Imran Hashmi . Now i am wondering if it is a sign of things to come .:)

Thanks for reading my rants.

UPDATE: Recently I came to know another supporting evidence. Before joining Microsoft, Steve Ballmer worked at P&G . He used to sell Brownies and Cake mix . During his sting at P&G Ballmer has some co worker .One of them was Jeff Immelt , He is CEO of GE Today. Other was Steve Case , who Founded America On Line [ AoL] . if that's not enough there was a third guy too. His name was Scott Cook who started a hugely successful financial software company called Intuit .Microsoft tried to buy that company but some legal technicality forced them to give up the idea. Now you tell me is it strange that i smell something here

Monday, August 20, 2007

While You Are Waiting

“My mother always told me I wouldn't amount to anything because I procrastinate. I said 'Just wait.'”~ Judy Tenuta

Idea of this post is based on a simple premise that In Life we may not get what we want in the first time or may be not in the second or third time around. Job, Friends, ideology, Business Partners, deciding on a holiday destination, choosing a restaurant, ordering a dish, playing stock market , going out on DATE, deciding what to study , choosing a Book at Airport , you name it. It's true for all aspects of life .chances are that you will screw up for the first few time .

First case is rarely the Best Case .No one get it right in the first time .We have to kiss a lot of frogs, before we find our prince. So what we do while its not the right time yet, while we are stuck in less than perfect situation. Sometime its as easy as to move out of it. If you don't like a Movie you can move out of Multiplex, if you don't like a Dish, you are not forced to eat it. But in some cases it becomes a little more complicated. If its your JOB, House, Friends, college, Neighborhood, Business Associate, It's somewhat difficult to move out just like that. So what we do in that condition .We wait.

My Question is

"What do you do while you are waiting ?"

"कह के गये हैं ख्वाब में आयेंगे रात को, खुशी के मारे नीद ना आये तो क्या करु "
[She has promised me that She will come in my dreams, I am so happy that no sleep is possible to me tonight ]

“All good things arrive unto them that wait - and don't die in the meantime” ~ Mark Twain

I don't know if it happens to you, but many a time I have seen people giving up while waiting. Often we think that the fact that Fire in us died means it was not strong enough in the first place or our fuel is spent. We try to convince our self that perhaps this was not what we actually wanted; we thought we wanted it but in reality it was just a passing dream. Maybe it was meant to die like this.

I disagree. I think intensity of Fire is not the issue here. Every fire start with a spark, a tiny spark . This spark turns in to flame and flame turns to Fire. This fire can destroy the forest. Problem is that if it's raining dirt around you than it's somewhat difficult for ANY fire to survive. You need to FAN the spark till it turns in to FLAME; Fan the Flame till it becomes Fire.

So here is my Answer to the Question "What do you do while you are waiting? " .Answer is " While you are waiting You should FAN the Spark and Protect it".You may ask How Do I Do That ?

Well I don't know , Answer is different for every one . What I can do is to tell you a personal experience so that you can draw your own parable from it .

Manali Trip .

Last month I went to Manali for a trekking and camping holiday. I started preparing for the trip two week in advance. . it was Saturday evening and I was standing at ISBT . My room mate Jitu had dropped me there. All my life I never went on a trip alone. The moment I long cherished was right in front of me . But you know what? I developed cold feet. I felt like the HERO who waited for his Heroine all his life and when finally She was right in front of him somehow he was not able to run and give her a Big hug.

Why? Well I didn't had Ticket for Volvo Coach to Manali & Person on the window told me that all seats are already booked . I bribed the guy to adjust me. I got a good seat and I learned my first lesson

Lesson #1: Buy your Ticket to Game while you are waiting

Now, Ticket can be different for different scenarios, if you want to do a startup learn the skill, or work on your strength and hone them . If you want to work for a particular Company find out the technology they use and master them, if you want to check out a specific restaurant find out if they are open on the day of visit, if you are dreaming about dating a particular female in your neighborhood, try to find out if she is seeing someone else , if you want to do a certain type of project at work [say redesigning company's website ] tell your Boss about it, so that if some work of that sort come his way he doesn't outsource it to some vendor or worse hire someone else to do it .

This seems to be so obvious, but time and again I see folks [me included ] who doesn't "Buy the Ticket" . why?? I am not sure why. May be the reason is our [flawed] tendency to start waiting for Bus /Opportunity right after buying the ticket. This tendency of getting frustrated and expecting spot result stops us from buying ticket.

By the way in my case bus was late by 3 hours :)

No one in my family has been to Manila. I was a bit afraid. I didn't knew much about the place when I started planning for it .I googled for the Manali Travel Plans and come across a post by Ritesh Nadhani. That was exactly what I wanted.

My friend EKTA asked me to join Lonely Planet Discussion group. I followed her advice and it was far more beneficial than I could have imagined. Member of Lonely planet gave me tips about Food , Room Rent, Timing of Trip ,Links to Pics and right time for photography , Precautions, Price range of stuff at Kasol Market ,Protocol for interacting with Israeli Tourist etc.

I learned my Lesson #2 Talk To people.

Talk to people who have been there done that. You will be surprised to see how much these guys are willing to share and help. This is something I have discovered on more than one occasion. Go see Yahoo Answer, Email list, Discussion forums, Open source Software, Counseling sites, Look at the behavior of people and notice there co ordination in the hour of crisis. It indicates that most of the folks are Nice and want to help.

But I have noticed that most of the times my friends shy away from seeking help. They fear rejection, they fear being judged and hell of other self made, self validated assumption about the way the world works.

It's the biggest frustrating bullshit I have seen. People ask me why this guy would help you. What in it for him? Till recently I had no answer to this point, but one day during my trip to Manali I was thinking about this. About why those unknown guys at Lonely Planet were so eager to help me? What was there for them? No I am not going to tell you that they are altruistic sage. They are Vanity users. Helping someone also help themselves. It boosts their vanity and makes them happy that their learning, experience and wisdom is being used and someone is being benefited from it. Whether it's good or bad is a different debate.

My point here is that even if you stumble upon some rude responses one or two times , still if you look at over all "Potential" gain you will find that its a risk worth taking . Lack of initiative is bad. “A shy failure is not nobler than a failed attempt”.

Finally I reached Manali and I was in my 3rd day of trip. I bought a Tourist map on the day one and I was visiting all the spots mentioned in it. It was good but something was missing. than one day when I was on my way to pula via manikaran. I decided to take a road less traveled [literally].

I went down in woods in a deep pit, down from a Hill top, I crossed 10 KM by walk, reached a road side tea stall near a village which was not in map. A small settlement with 20 houses. my destination PULGA was approx 6 Km away , it was 4:00 PM in eve , I was late by 3 hours , I had already walked 5 Km extra ,there was no bus after 5:30 . Nearest bus stop was 4 KM in opposite direction to pulga. It was very tempting to walk back to Bus stop and go back to kasol. But I decided otherwise, I begin to walk toward Pulga. I said to my self that at the worst what will happen? I will have to ask for shelter in village somewhere, or sleep on rock near road. Big Deal! I have sleeping bag and a bottle of water , there is an apple tree everywhere . And if I keep walking I will reach somewhere. I will not die for sure. So I kept walking. 7:30 PM I was dead tired and I was sipping hot tea at Pulga . 8:00PM I got a room.

It was hell of fun. I was feeling victorious as if I have conquered Mount Everest. but truth is I had just covered a road stretch of 6 KM , where I was having population around me and I was connected to whole world by my Cell phone [ I use Airtel ] .

You may ask what's the big fuss is about? Well, let me tell you what the big deal about it? Even though I didn't conquered Everest, I conquered something else. I conquered [albeit temporarily] my fear of uncertainty. Today I am more confident to take risk and I know I will not die of risk .I can take plunge, get in to trouble and come out of it. I don't think it would have been possible if I would have followed tourist guide. I learned my Lesson #3

Lesson #3 : Buy a Map but throw it away after a while,

All our answer lies inside us .Our most important journeys are always inward and no one can chart a course for it. We have to discover and create our path .if you want to find your own unique solution and answers to your questions then it's a must that you stop confirming and take risk, mild risk.

Trust me even if this approach fails to give you all the answers. It will give you a faith to believe that there is an answer and someday you will find it. if you find it a little cryptic than I suggest you should go on a wild Adventure trip or do an easier thing, go from Noida to Gurgaon and come back after staying there for whole day with only Rs.50 in your pocket . You will probably understand what I am talking about .

After a week of living in jungle like a hippy and walking 10-20KM-per-Day in mountain I came back to Noida. Next day it was usual routine. Cab came to pick me up at 9:30 AM .I was ready and eager to tell my colleagues about my trip and show them photos.

One of my colleague asked "How was the trip sir ? " I said "Too Cool, I was at ...."

He interrupted me and asked "How much does it cost you ?" . I was shocked. Because I didn't counted that and I was surprised why he is more interested in Expense and less in my experience of trip.

Truth is that this guy makes approx 2 times more than me .His wife is also in a decent job . Still he is more interested in financials of trip. Whatever is the number I am sure it was not outside of his reach . At that moment i realized that he is looking for reasons to believe that its not a good idea. So that he can justify or glorify his boring life and his inertia and his inability ot take risk and explore .

If I would have talked to him a little more he would have blamed it on House Loan EMI, Wife, Tax Planning, Global Warming, Food price, etc. But I didn't i stopped the discussion and I didn't shared the pics with most of my colleague. I learned my fourth and last lesson

Lesson #4 : When you are surrounded by Bozos ,don't explain your vision to them , just hibernate and protect your ignorance .

I may sound idiot saying this but trust me my friend that your ignorance of all the worldly wisdom is your biggest strength. People will give you all the solution to problem with which they are still struggling themselves. You don't have take them as final word. Follow your heart. Remember those who danced were considered to be fool by those who were not able to hear the music.

Thanks for reading a long post . I hope you will benefit from my experience and will be able to protect and fan your flame. Good luck and Godspeed .

Image Courtesy : JCuerva

You can see Photos from my Manali-kasol Trip here.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

State of Internet Marketing In India

The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax-- Of cabbages--and kings-- And why the sea is boiling hot-- And whether pigs have wings."

Some recent events in Indian Consumer internet market .
  • launched a "Search and Win " challenge where they are trying to lure user in to using their search engine by giving iPod , Pulsar and holiday package.
  • A virtually unknown company called mGinger, created a lot of news by offering Money to customer for reading SMS advertisements on their mobile phone .
  • MIH ,a Gurgaon based startup launched IbQash and Great Indian Blogger Hunt , a contest to promote their blogging service. They plan to give cash reward to user.
  • appoint student representative in major colleges in india and abroad and pay them to bring user to signup .
  • 's dubious plan of offering $5 Million over 40 year .[ i seriously think byindia guys are smoking dope] .
Not enough ?? well there is mgarlic ,algoco,sms2india etc etc .All trying hard to out bid each other by giving money to user .

What on earth is happening ?? why suddenly everyone in Indian internet space is desperate to "Buy " users ? and why they are not giving a damn about ensuring user's "Buy in " for their application . I am no expert in Online marketing but still i think that this is internet marketing at its worst . you are already giving something for free to user now on top if this you are offering them bounty to use the application . Its true that all these bounties and prize money can attract some users . but i think no startup in world wants that type of users . those who are on your web page only till you are giving the money away . The moment your cash reserve is finished they move on to next sucker in line.

No Matter who fund you or how much they fund you , you will eventually run out of cash .
But still this is being done why ??
Poor Marketing :
Not content to slink off the stage without some revenge , this sullen and resentful crew of failed startup cast among them self to find a scapegoat and whom do they light upon ? with unfailing consistency and unerring accuracy all fingers point to - The Vice President of Marketing . its marketing's fault .Oracle outmarketed Sybase . Cisco outmarketed Bay, Intel outmarketed Motorola .We too have been outmarketed by our competitor .

Firing is too good for this monster .Hang him .

If you ask people in HiTech about the reasons why software companies ,specially startups fails ? than Marketing will be on top of it . Marketeers are blamed so many time that it becomes a fact of nature . but this is only one side of story . surprisingly most of the conversation ends there and we start whining about incompetency of marketing team without further realizing why ?? Is there a reason for it or is this so called incompetency is intrinsic to the profession of Marketing . i don't think so .
While there are many factor like lack of supporting environment within the organization , pressure from VCs, Half cooked Technology, Market crash and of course Intrinsic Incompetence of some people , which may lead to a fail startup but I think there are two main reason for marketing 's failure here .
  1. Marketeers are operating under a wrong set of assumptions
  2. Most of the Marketers are not right guys for the job .
I am giving more importance to these two reasons because most of the time these reasons goes unnoticed .Teams are oblivious to them . Lets examine them one by one .

Operating under wrong set of assumptions :

Problem with marketing is that it follows or rather forced to follow something called

"Market Research " .

Market Research give them numbers ,estimation , usage pattern ,segmentation,purchasing power ,Life expectancy and sexual health of prospective users [you name it and Market research will give you that ] . All marketing plans are supposed to operate within that premises . When it comes to Online consumer market specially in India ,Market research is little more than a WooDo Art or Witch Craft . Often i come across studies which consider Ringtone download as Mobile internet usage and Job hunting as a way to ensure loyal and ongoing relationship with your users . Till date i didn't come across a report which takes in to the consideration the fact that most of the internet usage in India is through Cybercafe . user reaction or behavior @ Cyber Cafe is a function of lot of things, how many folks are sharing the bandwidth ,privacy, whether the right pluggins are installed in browser or not , how much do they charge per hour, annoyance of registration . These are some real constraints under which an Indian internet user operate . how many times these factor are considered ? not much . what we see is a number.Indian broadband subscriber base is XYZ Million . does that gives you any real insight ? i doubt .

Another sore point is that MR fails to capture and estimate is that how far a user can go to adopt when value offered is good enough . when i started using internet in early 90's i used to pay 100/Hr for a dial up connection with 6 PCs sharing the bandwidth and i used to pre-compose the email messages on Floppy disk . I never read an article on line i used to take backup and read it in college lab . In US a lot of old people learned to work on computer and internet so that they can use Ebay . In India a lot of folks bought high end phone and enabled MMS functionality when there was DPS MMS case . I seriously doubt if any market research or study could have predicted it . even in mature categories like FMCG Market research has failed badly to predict the user acceptance of any new product Think of Vanilla Coke , research said it will be a big hit in India and Aeron chairs market research predicted that its destined to fail .

I request these Market research guys to please move out of their Focus groups/ survey questionnaire and spend some time on road . Its not hard to see the hunger for meaning full internet and hi tech product . look at the way online marriage portal and Chat rooms are going great in India [ ever been to Delhi global chat room on Yahoo ??] but dating sites fails terribly in providing the solution . look at the usage of Reliance's R World Mobile Data service portal , R World usage is very high if you consider the profile of average reliance phone user . i think no one can deny the potential here .

Indians are hungry for more application . these are just few of the example . i can list 5-10 more cases. the point i want to make is that Market research is just like a map and these symptom are like actual road . when there is a difference between road and map i think we should choose road . but sadly most of the guys choose to follow the map . go figure .

Marketers are not right guys for the job :

[caveat : this is my personal opinion based on my observation .this is no golden rule i agree there are exception and i know few of them ]

Sometime back i read that HDFC has made a conscious choice of hiring Fresh graduate from Level B Business school only . Why ?? their idea was that ,since most of the students those Tier B colleges are from Middle class family they can connect to them more easily because they understand the value of House for their clients better than someone from Top grade B school . very insightful isn't it ?

I think that first and foremost requirement for a marketer is that he should be a common man to an uncommon degree .but look at the marketers in most of the tech startups [specially the one which are funded ] if you do a statistical study you will find out that more often than not the marketing guy is an high flyer ,fast talking person , who has been to Top school and read all the right books and speak latest bullshit.

Do you see them as a common man to uncommon degree? i don't think so .Not by any stretch of imagination . these guys are a social outcast [ in a positive and progressive manner ] and we give them the responsibility of running a social network .

Result ?? 100th MySpace and YouTube clone and these marketing campaign.

Point is that paradigm under which these guys live and operate is totally out of sync from the paradigm of their users . Mostly these guys are clueless and don't have insight to break new market ,they don't understand the pain point . for example DATING SITES . we all know that dating sites attracts the maximum amount of funding . we also know that dating sites sucks . there will always be room for one more dating site. why ? Because no one is addressing the basic problem with dating sites . May be no one in their team felt the frustration .

Another aspect of this problem is that wide spread assumption that Marketing is a generic function .Its not domain specific . thats why its very common to see an Ex FMCG Marketers or an Ex Advertisement Guy working with DOTCOM as Head of Marketing .what do these guys do ? they buy links and banner Ads ? they focus on distribution and revenue split . How many sugar water sales man world needs before they learn that Hi Tech is totally different ball game?

Marketing in online world is not like FMCG [ mostly Distribution and pricing ] or its not purely about Creative advertisement . it s not even about Desktop Era stuff [ Making better mouse traps ] . For the most part its about nurturing a Community,evangelism,PR and keep your user base captivated. Wonder how it can be done ?? Look at Signal Vs Noise by 37signals . Every startup should have a guy like Jason Fried .

Jason is not alone , look at Mark Zuckerberg Founder of Facebook .He looks and live like a college guy and his site is a SocNw of College . Look at Kevin Ross , Founder of Digg . He looks like your Typical Neighborhood Techie ,his site is a Tech news site .

You can find many such examples . In online world your spokesperson should inspire a sense of connection in your targeted community . your user should say " He is one of us" thats the key.

Thanks for reading a Long post .

Photo Courtesy : Eva Ekeblad

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Please Don't Try To Understand

What I think is that being Nice is Overrated in India
~ Mayank , said while talking to me over a beer .

I belong to a middle class family in Rajasthan, a provinces of Northern India . my early childhood was spent in a joint family . like every thing else in world, there are many good and Bad aspects of growing up in a Joint family too . which is fine with me as long as we acknowledge it as such . if we can tell a Bad thing a Bad Thing . where things get unbearable is when we know something to be bad and we try to present it as a Virtue .Long term consequences of such thing is very damaging .

One such tendency which is subconsciously drilled into our head by society is the importance of being Nice . we always love the kid who is obedient , who is not adamant , who is ever ready to make peace with everything and don't make you uncomfortable . whenever i go to a family gathering , wedding or some Pooja i see some kid who is too grown up for his /her age . who speaks politely and who can always be bullied by his cousin from metro city or Atomic family .

i once saw a kid who was being bullied by his cousin brother from
Big City. This kid was asking for his Leo Gun which was his Birthday present but the Metro Brat simply refused and humiliated him . later in the day when i saw him sitting sadly at stair i asked him "why didn't you fight back ? why did you simply listen to Sonu's Nonsense ? " .

His reply was "I am elder than him, They are our guest and Good boys don't act like that " .

This kid was 5 Year old , only 8 month elder to the other Kid and his parents were elated and proud of him when i narrated this incident over dinner table .
[ i told them bluntly that if they think its healthy for a 5 year old to talk like that than they are wrong ] .

I think his parents don't have and idea what they are setting him up for . They are preparing him for a life of Nice submissive idiot who will find it very hard to stand up for what he think he deserve and will always feel ripped off by other .

"You just can't make every one happy . How far would Moses have gone if he had taken a poll in Egypt?” : ~ Harry S. Truman

This Question by Harry S. Truman is very insightful . It shows power of acting on what you think is right without thinking much about the comfort or approval of others . sadly most of the time in India we teach our children to adjust . because their mind is very impressionable so a child learn to adjust very soon .

Growing up in a joint family I had my share of conflict between my interest and that of people around me . like the kid I mentioned above i was also not able to express my anger most of the time . I used to be upset with my parents when they didn't supported me even when I was right and I used to complain to my parents. They were always there to listen to me , but their advice was always the same . Learn to adjust .

I grew up believing that saying No is bad thing and whenever i said "No, this is not acceptable to me " i always felt a strange guilt as if i had failed to live up to the expectation of people around me . It was impossible for me to convince myself that you can not say "YES" always ,i had the example of my parents right beofre me . they were taken for granted , exploited , misbehaved and neglected by so many of my relatives but i never saw them expressing their anger or resentment to the concerned parties. they are epitome of patience . but i know that they were holding the anger inside . [i won't get in to the specific of it , as i believe that it happens in every family and all of my indian friends can relate to it "] .

so i was a nice guy all my child hood . i never argued,i was never stubborn , i was a bit too grown up for my age , many families used to give my example to their kids .
Now things are somewhats different. Its been 12 years since i am living away from home . i learned a lot of things during this time . if you asked me what was the hardest thing to learn i would say it was "Learning to be assertive " .

I always used to wonder why i find it so hard to stand for what i feel is right. why i m not assertive like people around me . Why can't i say No ?
My years in sales taught me to be assertive to certain extent when it comes to professional matter . but when it comes to personal matter . I still find it very hard to be assertive toward people round me .Even when I know I m right .

I am not the only one facing this problem . i am [perhapses] the only one to talk about it . i know a lot fo guys who find it hard to negotiate a good salary with their employers . i know a lot of guys who don't want to spoil there relationship with their Boss so they put up with his non sense . list is long.

looking at the incident like that of KID gave me the perspective on why i feel like that . why i am not assertive , and what is the root cause of it ? so sometime back i decided to find out some tips on increasing my assertiveness , i googled for it and find out a lot of good stuff . some article were plain academic crap , some were rants on how world is unfair ,but a few of them were really good . I read an article on this subject by Phil Kerslake . its very well written in layman's language . Phil says
"If you let yourself be pushed around by people, you'll resent them and yourself for it. Internalizing your feelings is unhealthy for you and your relationships. Asserting yourself is an effective way to take control of your feelings." .

He goes on expalining why you feel like that and how you can avoid it . its really worth a read . you can read it here . some other usefull stuff can be found here here and here .

Epilogue :

"When it came down to it, I guess my life was more important to me than his"
~ Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct 2

"The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction [that] you give it."
~ John Galt In Atlas Shrugged

Bad effect of submissiveness and lack of assertive apporoach is not limited to porfesstional life . it effect us in our personal life also . all around us we see people who are cribbing and whining about their spouse , girlfriends , family and whole world in general . they want the whole world to make them happy . what they actually need to do is to stand up and say what they can't withstand in life .

So very often
We read in business press that Indian executive are not natural leader . they lack the confidence to take decision . after 4 years of working in software industry and dealing with American & European clients i can safely say that this perception is not entirely baseless . Indian are competent but [most of the time ]they are not assertive . Why ??

may be its because of our upbringing and the emphasis our society puts on being nice . sometime its hard to be assertive and nice at the same time . its a fine line and we are too afraid to cross it even at the risk of damaging our own chances .

So my advice to all of you is "Please Don't Try to understand and care for everyone around you at the cost of your own happiness ". If you are right don't give up just because it may hurt the guy who is wrong. in the long run it will be good for all of us . i will try to do it my self now onward .