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Showing posts from February, 2011

Learning In A Digital Age - Part I

This post is a part of series on learning in a digital age which focuses on advantages of Online learning over class room model of learning.  The classroom model of learning where professor is teaching and students listen, sleep, talk and even learn sometimes is absolutely flawed model.  This model has worked in the premier institutes where best of the breed approach is selected. It turns out that this model works when you have the following:
1.) You have Best Professors in the world who can make any subject interesting (How many colleges have it?). 2.) Every student learns at the same pace (I don't think so.) 3.) Every student asks questions (Many students have questions but they are afraid to ask.) 4.) Every student will think creatively at the same time 5.) Professors should always have answers to all kind of questions that students have.
Reality Check: Even in the premier institutes this is not granted as not all the students graduated till now have equally outperformed in the histo…

Future Is Not In Our Hands

Few days ago I wrote on preparing ourselves for the future because truly future is not in our hands.  What is in our hands is present.  Today is yours.  This is very idealistic statement but realize this fact no body knows what is going to happen tomorrow.  The only thing that we are in control is today or now.  Whatever you do now is in your control.

The following thought motivated me to write this post and here it is:

"I may not know the future or where I will be, but I know exactly what I want to do today".  What we can do for the future is prepare.  Now I am know the importance of choices, work ethics, relationship, wisdom, humbleness, honesty, integrity, standards, best practices, quality, service, innovation.  And I exactly know how these and more can affect a person's development and the whole company's future.

So by doing above few things I know what I exactly need to do so that I will be some where at a better place.  While we were young right, like very v…

Continuous Learning

If you believe and do continuous learning then after few years you will not believe how far you have reached.  And if you stopped learning then after years you will not believe how far you were left behind.

Continuous Learning leads to Continuous Improvement and Continuous Improvement leads to Excellence.  Excellence differentiates market leader from the rest.

Continuous Learning also leads to Innovation.  And innovation differentiates a leader from the followers.

Common Sense Can Be Misleading

A 6' inch sandwich worth $4.25 or 12' inch foot long sandwich worth $5.00, which one will you buy?  As common sense dictates that we should buy something which is the best deal.  And the best deal is to get more with less.  The above option tempts you to go with 12' inch choice since it gives you more at a better price.  Most people choose the later option.  But this is a no brainer according to me.  This is all price gimmick.  They definitely make enough money in both the cases.  This is a trick to make us consume more.  I used to fall in this trap and even I have done it many times, only to realize later after adding inches on my belly.

If we go with the above common sense and buy the 12'inch sandwich then it is like consuming double the fat content by paying just $0.75 extra.  This is totally misleading.  Indirectly companies are promoting us to over consume and simultaneously making us think that we made a smart choice.  However, it is actually not.  To make consc…

How Will You Deal With Failure?

Google celebrates failures (Eric Schmidt's Video) and they do in a big way.  Even Microsoft has failed many times as it is evident from its past search efforts until Bing.  Failure is good if it teaches you and makes you better.  Microsoft improvised and came strong on their recent products like Bing, Kinect, Windows Phone 7.  So is Google improving their search efforts to make them more social.

One thing world cultures should incorporate in their DNA is embrace and celebrate failures.  The best place to take inspiration is from silicon valley, where entrepreneurs talks about their failures openly.  Silicon valley hires people who have failed in their previous startup efforts because they bring something to the table. They have learnt something.  They not only know what to do but they know what not to do.  The fear of failure has to be eradicated from our memory chips.  In Indian culture and many cultures route for success and race to the top.  That makes us more guarded and clos…

Take Nothing For Granted

Something we should avoid and do least is take anything for granted.  Until last few years, I was very confident that my eyesight was very powerful and I will never wear specs.  I never realized that my eyesight was getting weaker.  One day I was telling symptoms to my friend about having this weird issue with eyes and having headaches.  It struck like a lightning to me when my common sense was awakened when my friend told me, "You need glasses to see properly".  All my confidence was shaken up.

Things can change in a matter of seconds.  If nothing has happened to you that doesn't mean that nothing will ever happen.  Companies realize long after competition has taken them over.  Sometimes companies take their dominant position in the market for granted.  Microsoft and now even Google were threatened by fastest growing companies like Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, Foursquare etc.  Anything can happen tomorrow.  I am not a pessimistic but this attitude enables us to prepare …

Independence And Relationship

The best gift you can give to a person in a relationship is giving them the Freedom to become Independent.  Relationships can flourish if each individual realizes, respects and stays within the limits of their Freedom.  Independence helps people to have their own identity.  Your power doesn't exist in controlling the other but your power lies in giving them the freedom so they can do whatever they want and still respect you.  The best you can do in a relationship is become less possessive,  exercise least control, educate and inform the maximum you can, love them immensely and unconditionally, and make them independent.

Marketing And Story Telling

Marketing is all about how you want to tell your story to the world.  If you have a great story, you would want to  tell it to as many people as you can.  If it is going to change lives of people you would want to create a kind of buzz so that people pay attention.  And in all this process if you are able to live up to people's expectations then you can keep people's trust and build brand loyalty.

If you are to tell a story to your kid, then you would want your kid to pay attention to it.  You would not tell a story if the child is sleeping or playing Xbox.  You need attention.  Bingo! Similarly you want to market your products to those group of people who pays attention.  That's means selecting the right demographic to put up your advertising at the right place during the right time.

Why People Share On Facebook?

I don't have a definitive answer but I have penned down my thoughts on why people share and why they don't share too.

People share different items or objects (sorry a programmer's mind) for different reasons.  So don't judge people based upon what they share(Can't judge a person from just his hairs, look at the person as a whole.)

Reasons...

Unintentional and Accidental shares
1.) Sometimes they accidentally share due to clicking and taking part in different applications.  May be they didn't knew it.  Not their fault.

2.) Attended a party and friend shared and tagged my photos.  Oops ! did I allowed it?  Friends causing troubles...Once again not their fault.

Intentional shares
1.) People sometimes share because they want to be perceived in a certain way to certain groups of people

2.) People share to express their feelings and emotions

3.) They share because they want to play a part in spreading social awareness.

4.) They share because they felt someone might fin…

Why Can't People Decide Or Take Action?

Why can't people decide or take action, for something they want to do, for something they believe is true?  Yes that's my question.  What is going on in people's mind that causes periods of indecision?  You are mentoring someone and giving all the signals, information that should lead to decision.  But still that someone can't decide.  What lacks here?  Where is the gap?

For example,  I told my friend the importance of going to a premier institute and then he should only apply and go for those universities to study.  I gave an over all perspective of how thing can change if he chooses to go a top university.  But once I left, it was all the same.  They aren't motivated and they hesitant to take a major decision.

The biggest reason I believe is confidence.  People lack self-confidence.  To take a giant leap towards something that they have never achieved or never tried before they, it takes lot of self confidence.  Self-confidence cannot come from even thousand se…

Now Is The Time To Save

Last November I wrote "Simple Saving Mathematics", an article on how easy it is to save and there is very simple logic that people find it hard to follow.  In this post, I want to mention few trends, which I found it interesting as it signals that this is the right time to save money.

1.) Economy is on the rise.  That's the right time to save.  The time to invest is passing fast by.  The best time to invest was in 2009.  Moreover inflation is also rising (see here) which means we have to pay more for everything we buy.   Noticed rising gas prices?

2.) Recently Mr. President announced that lots of money they were giving to oil companies as subsidies will now go to clean energy companies.  Which implies that oil and gas companies will now have to cover up for those subsidies.  And from where they will cover up?  Yes by raising gas prices.  If you have noticed lately oil prices have started increasing like 2008 summer.

3.) Look at this chart, rising consumer credit card d…

What An Attitude Mr. Brandon Fisher!

In the Presidential State of the Union address, at the end of the speech one name emerged and that was of Brandon Fisher, CEO of Center Rock drilling company in Pennsylvania.  In this video featured on CNN, he describes their experience rescuing the Chilean miners in 2010.  I am impressed with the attitude of Mr. Brandon, who wasted no time to make the phone calls to Chilean authorities when his company saw a hope that their technology can make a difference in saving the trapped miners.  
We need more and more people like Brandon in our economy worldwide.  We need people who can make the call, who can lead, who can take initiatives and who can make a difference in the world.  When the Miners were rescued, Mr. Brandon was not even there as he left for his next mission home.  An attitude can really make a difference in our life.  And as Oprah says it, "You can change your life by changing your attitude".  Yes Mr. Brandon your Attitude made a difference to not just 33 miners but…

Hello Doctors

In our economy, we have people who aspire to be big and rich.  Well nothing is wrong in that, but their behavior doesn't match with their expectations.  It is the main reason behind unhappiness.  As normal logic goes in our society medical doctors are considered to be wealthy.  One reason I believe is due to their hard work they have put up these many years.  And even after that they are ready to run at any time if there is an emergency.  For them the TGIF mentality is not at work.  After all, they believe in a greater cause: saving someone's life, which goes beyond themselves.

If we expect to be richer or want a better life or even change something for the better of the world, we would have to act like doctors.  Even though there are many different disciplines to be a doctor but as general perception goes they know everything regarding their domain of expertise.  A skin specialist is expert at skin related issues.  Over time these disciplines are increasing and fragmenting. …

Are You Prepared For The Future?

Worried about competition catching up with you?  Good.  You should be and you shouldn't be.  Well you should be if you aren't prepared for the battle.  And you should not be if you aren't prepared.  

Tim Cook, Chief Operating Officer(COO) and acting CEO of Apple said in his commencement speech at Auburn University in Spring 2010, "In business and as in sports, the vast majority of victories are determined before the beginning of the game.  We really can't control the timing of the opportunity but we surely can prepare."  That was so striking  to hear and almost made perfect sense to me about the importance of preparation.

Today, I read an article about CEO of Finnish cell phone company Nokia, Stephen Elop's  internal memo send to his executives about competition in the smartphone business.   One paragraph that really stand out in his memo is mentioned below:

"The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don't have a product that is close to the…

Religious Business Rituals

With this post, I want to emphasize on the importance of rituals in our daily life and how they co-relate with business world.  Public Speaker Tony Robbins often says about having some kind of ritual in our life.  Rituals also habits, are our routine activities which we perform  daily with our willingness.  Rituals for some could be going to Gym daily, checking finances, practicing and perfecting their everyday art.

I have been observing some of my close friends and their habits since last three years.   I am not interested in their personal lives but I try to co-relate their behaviors with some top business executives and their habits.  I found that people who follow rituals (check their bank balances daily, pray to God, checks all of their accounts, who are detail oriented, follow instructions with diligence, call friends and family regularly) tend to excel financially and make up for good managers.  Eventually, if these people make right decisions then they can become good business…

When Do You Need To Change?

In this post, this is a very simple question I want to ask, "When do you need to change?"  Now.  But how will you know that "Now" is the time to change.  Business books and programs talk a lot about organizational change and how it can impact organizations.  It is very important to recognize and sense the changing atmosphere within an organization to implement change.  It is also very difficult one.
At a personal level, it is even more difficult.  For organizations, individuals will fight their ego and work harder to drive the change.   When it comes to individuals, people tend to give up.  Many are not able to recognize the changing atmosphere around them.  Long after time has passed they realize that it is time to change.  The harder part is not about implementing change, the harder part is recognizing change and implementing it.  
If you ask yourself this question then you will get the signal to change something.  The question. "Do you really want to do what …

Resume Product Life cycle

Every product has a product life cycle.  Products goes through different stages(Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline) during their time line.  As products gets older, companies make changes or introduces newer products with different specifications.  Sometimes they might even get rid of aging products.  Apple every year introduces newer line of its consumer products and breaks record sales in its product categories.

Your "Resume" also has a product life cycle.  Which ultimately means that the product (that's you) with a current specification (Resume) also have a life cycle.  For example, assume that you get graduated with a Bachelors degree and you get a nice job.  Your resume is set and you will enjoy all benefits of a successful product.  Once your product is getting saturation point you will have to improve yourself.  Else your product will decline.  So you decide to get a Masters degree or some other kind of associate degree.  Again product is updated.  And th…

The Invisible Power Of Restaurants

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Have you ever noticed that when you go to a certain place, you feel like eating?  Even though you are not hungry you want to eat there or sit there or even have chat with friends?  In a city you have few places which are known for food and they have a magical attraction for food lovers.  I meet and talk with my wife everyday but whenever we go outside for dinner or lunch to a restaurant, the feeling is different, we talk different, we feel relaxed.

Food can attract lots of tourists to your city and has the potential to become a great business attraction.  It is very common practice among business people to meet over lunch and dinner.  If your city has nice restaurants then people would be attracted more and more by its food.  It turns out that best hangout places are those which can feed us too: Restaurants.

In this Ted video, Steven Johnson, author of the book Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, says that good ideas generally comes from public meeting plac…

Do Exams Matter?

Open book exam or Closed book exam?

Or even Exam or No Exam?

I believe that if you teach conceptually and devise a better methodology for measuring and evaluating knowledge  then we don't need exams.

If you are able to perform a certain task then that's what should matter.  If you are able to prove it then thats it.

10 Factors That Affect Happiness

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Last year I wrote on The Happiness Guide, in which I discussed about two factors related to staying happy.  One was connectedness and progress (inspired largely by the Zappos book).  Today I want to highlight on few more factors that affect our Happiness which are as follows:

1.) Beliefs
2.) Assumptions
3.) Level of Satisfaction with our personal, professional and social life.
4.) Successes and Failures
5.) Emotional Growth and Stability
6.) Level of Connectedness
7.) Accumulation of Regretful moments in life
8.) Level of forgetfulness (the more you forget bad moments and move the more happy you would be.) and the ability to remember(the more you remember happy moments, the more happy you would be).
9.) Perceived Progress Towards Goals
10.) Content

Challenging Assumptions

Our assumptions shape our beliefs, thinking and our actions.  Our underlying assumptions of our belief system are very rarely challenged everyday.  They need to be challenged every time for our belief system to be strong.

Our assumptions are challenged when we go to school, job or social setting.  How?  At school we get knowledge backed by research and we trust professors.  At job our bosses and colleagues even friends ask questions(the key) which forces us to think for logical answers.  It is only when we ask right questions continuously we can challenge our belief system and we acquire knowledge.

In our personal life, however this is different.  We form opinions and judgments about people without even realizing.  We start hating (even though we may never realize it) people, brands, things, weather, health and more.  The opposite is also true.  When we make important decisions in life we have to keep in mind about our underlying assumptions.  Critical thinking requires us to challe…