Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rave Parties

Heard of rave parties? Right.  Rave Parties where everyone is standing and dancing to music of DJ.  The DJ is the king of the floor in such parties.  He/She controls the environment and the mood of the floor.  DJ knows the crowd: their likes and dislikes.  The DJ serves them music that takes that group on to next high.  The crowd swings to the music.  You get the feeling of such parties.  If you have been to such parties then you know DJ really can make or break the entire experience.

In an organization, the leader, the CEO is the DJ.  Picture annual meeting of a company taking place in such a format where everyone is swinging to the dance of the CEO.  Of course this is depends a lot on the CEO, the DJ.  Rave parties are great because they bring a sense of togetherness.  Everyone is one.  You jump and the crowd jumps.  Try this out and be a DJ for one party or at least for one song.  You will get the feeling.  The crowd will be frank and thrash your music if they don't like it.  In a crowd, a hidden feeling or a hidden emotion gets an uplift and you would get crowds' opinion amplified.  As a leader if you did great the crowd will say, "You ROCK" and if you did bad the crowd will say, "You SUCK".  

How many times in an organization have you heard people talking in cohesion about a leader?  How often a corporate culture speaks in one voice?  If there is an incapable leader in house, the crowd can get the leader out too.  It is a great way to know and feel the culture of an organization.  If you allow the crowd to do all the talking then crowd will reflect the culture.   So next time when you do a general meeting, don't do it to just brief the crowd.  Get the crowd talking.  And if you give them enough time then they will come to talk in one voice.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stop Polishing Your Resume To Every Single Pixel

Have you heard of Tom Pinckney, co-founder of Hunch.com?  Read this piece of brilliance.  Tom never got a high school degree and none but MIT accepted him in their undergraduate program.  Who all rejected?  Stanford, Berkeley and everyone rejected him.  


Tom submitted his software programs to all the top colleges and everyone rejected him.  Just because he didn't had a high school degree they didn't even bothered to look his software codes.  How lame!!  MIT recognized his talent and boom.  He is a star and now MIT has set a very good lesson for everyone.  


I am arguing that stop worrying too much on each and every detail of your resume.  If I do this, my resume will look like this.  If I add some skills, some certifications, some references it will help me a lot.  Well it will but what about solid projects you have done.  Real demonstrable work which cannot be ignored.  


Lots of startups in their job openings are very flexible.  They want people who can ship products.  Go and make this happen kind of people.  If you are one of them then go ahead and do it.  Resume will catch on later.  

Execution Will Always Matter

I do believe in first mover advantage. Does that mean that latecomers have no chance?  Well it depends on each case you consider.  Did Friendster won the social networking despite being ahead of everyone in networking space?  Friendster was launched when Mark Zuckerberg was in school.  Facebook came much later  in the game.  Now we don't even hear about Friendster.  Facebook is the king.  So can Google challenge Facebook in social networking?  Well it depends on execution.  Facebook came and took over Myspace like zoom.  Reason: Facebook executed faster and maintained its simplicity.  Can Google go ahead do that?  They cannot go faster and just do what Facebook did it.

Another case if we consider is Bing from Microsoft which is doing very well.  Microsoft despite their failed attempts at search having spent billions of dollars still decided that they can challenge Google.  And in some vertical searches for example travel and images I really like Bing.  And Bing is a product very well executed.  My point in all of this is even if you are very late in the game, you can become one of the major players in the market by focusing on execution(provided you have some other advantage).  In case of Bing, Microsoft had huge pile of cash to pump out.  Execution is one of the factors involved behind a successful product.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Day Your Were Hired

It almost feels magical moment when you think of the day when you were first hired.  Yup! The day when you got your first job.  Amazing memories.  That was the day when you felt that almost everything is possible and now life is going to be an easy ride.  After you heard those magical words, "You are hired", silence spreads in the entire room and nothing is audible.  You are able to feel it I guess.  Fast forward to today and take a deep breath and ask yourself, "Is today the same day like it was when I was first hired?  Is it like the first day at the job?"

If you get the answer NO, then remember something has changed.   And you would have to change it once again to just like the day you were hired.  What is that something?  Your interaction with your boss, your ego, your perception, how people perceive you, your interaction with people, basically that's you gotta find out and fix it.  Yup fix it.  If you can't then remember there is no fun like the day you were hired.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Learning In A Digital Age - Part III

In this third part of series "Learning In a Digital Age" (Read Part I here)(Read Part II here), I want to focus on three important aspects which our schools and universities should adopt.  Those aspects are Adaptive Learning, Life Long Learning & Tasks Based Learning.  


Adaptive Learning
One thing our traditional classroom models do not accommodate is adapting to individualized learning needs of students.  It cannot be customized.  All students are not build same and they demand different learning environments.  First of all, in a digital age every student should have access to learning materials available in different formats like audio, video, paper hardcover books, podcasts, webcasts, so that students can choose whichever format suits them best.   


Currently students have to advance to next level whether to really understood the concept or not.  In online models they can learn at their own pace and whenever they are comfortable.  In addition to that they can practice, watch or review their learning materials and take multiple times exams they would like to have(See this concept in action at Khan Academy).  In other words they only advanced to next level if they achieved mastery over that topic.  Different students need different kind of attention and with nice software tools teachers can provide individualized attention to students.  They can track and monitor progress of students.  Graduation rates will improve drastically just by incorporating Adaptive Learning approach. 


Life Long Learning
When we went to school we were brainstormed to go to school just one and get done with it.  In real world it doesn't work that way.  We need to keep learning on a daily basis.  We have to improve our skills regularly to stay current and become expert in our respective fields.  If our schools can incorporate such a philosophy and provide tools, platforms through which we can continue learning then we would solve problems of layoffs of people who cannot keep up.  Life Long Learning is more of a philosophy which has to be deeply rooted into our minds.  In any field you go even even though you achieved star status you would be required to learn new things.  Online Learning platforms are best suited to provide momentum to life long learning.  I graduated from school last year but now I want to learn new things so what do I do then?  I simply do a YouTube or Google Search and there are tons of videos and articles.  I keep a track record of what I have viewed and read them systematically.  There is no requirement and fees involved here that can stop me from learning.  I wonder how it could have benefited universities if they provided such resources.


Tasks Based Learning
Last fall semester I volunteered to teach jointly with a Professor on Business Intelligence.  That was a big learning experience for me on what professors at universities should be concentrating on in classrooms. I found that most of the time of a professor in many universities is spent on coming up with resources to provide in classroom.  Many professors love to create their own material.  This is such a time consuming stuff.   And little focus is given to building, creating and innovating stuff.  With the advent of Opencourseware model, where different universities are opening up their coursework to the world for free, there is no need to reinvent the wheel now.  Professors can point students to these resources and tell them to focus on creating and building something that is useful and perhaps change the world.   Students learn from practical examples and if students are given more such tasks they would learn even more.  Hence students should be given challenges, insights into future developments, innovation possibilities and tasks that would build careers.  In my opinion all the "How To Do Stuff" courses should be made available online and then in classroom students would have to do tasks or challenges.  Do these 5 challenges this semester and you get A grade.  


In a Digital Age if all these principles are implemented then learning can be made faster which would result into more productive work force.  Innovation would be more faster than imagined.  What are your experience with Learning In A Digital Age?  Give your comments below.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Open For Comments

Since last July I disabled comments on Journey Blog.  Today after little experimentation I have implemented the very famous Facebook Comments feature.  You can leave your comments below :)  That is really nice since you can stay on Facebook and even comment and participate in a discussion related to that topic.  Sweet.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Creativity & Comparison

Have you ever seen Mona Lisa? Not the painting, but the lady.  Even her photograph?  No Right.  Everyone has seen the famous painting Mona Lisa.  In creativity, your work will always be compared if it is referenced to something in existence.  For example, If I draw a sketch from a photograph of a person and if I didn't drew it exactly as it looks like then it will be compared.  There is a reference - the photograph to which you can compare the art.

In case of Mona Lisa, you have never seen the lady or not even her photograph, so there is no point of comparison.  And by general perception people like to say that it is a flawless painting.  The painting is definitely beautiful no doubt about it but because there is no comparison.   Have you ever seen an iPhone like phone before iPhone was invented?  No.  Because it was not created by keeping anything as a reference in mind.  This was totally a new category, a new concept and a new design.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Music, Art And Success

If you have ever tried to play a musical instrument or paint a painting then you would agree that

1.) It takes time to learn and  it can not be done over night.
2.) It requires patience as it is a matter of time.  You need a calm mind to work.
3.) It requires focus.  In that moment you have to present there 100%. You mind, body and soul has to be there.  
4.) It requires relentless effort to get the correct sound out of a flute.
5.) Practice.  You have to practice it a billion times to get it right.
6.) Once you get it, it is almost magical moment called success.

Isn't it true about almost everything in life?  Don't we have to do steps 1 to 5 to get 6?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lets Be Adventurous

Doing something different and challenging status quo is adventurous.  Taking on bigger challenges and walking the unexplored path is adventurous.  Adventures can bring self confidence in us.  It makes us fear less.  If we just keep doing same things everyday and never explore what are different things are possible then we will not be able to find out opportunities around us.    

Mastering a software relates a bit on being adventurous.  It is about poking each tiny piece and see what happens.  We won't know it until we actually do it.  Entrepreneurs are adventurous and they have walked this path before.  Life's different lessons are not learned in a classroom.  They are learned by roaming in the wild by doing actual things.  A simple  example would be asking your boss to take on this next big challenge that will save hundred thousand dollars.  

Theme parks with roller coaster rides are designed to take the fear out of you.  There are not made to scare the hell out of you (which they actually do).  Once you have experience a roller coaster then it is done.  You have achieve the badge of "I did it" or "I too can do it".  World is the biggest theme park ever designed where your life is a roller coaster ride.  And unless you ride it without fear you won't feel the adventure.  Go ride it.  Do different things, explore the world around you.    

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cherish Every Moment Of Your Life

You must have heard the devastation caused by Earthquake in Japan.  So much of destruction, loss of property, lives, infrastructure, resources has been done in these 24 hours. It is unbelievable.  Just when we thought everything was ok, life just tosses everything up side down.  It is said that this kind of earthquake hit after 140 years.  Natural calamities like these are not in our hands.  If you are reading this then just thank God and appreciate everything and everyone around you.  "Don't spend life living someone else's life" - Steve Jobs.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Learning In A Digital Age - Part II

In this second part of series Learning In a Digital Age (Read Part I here ), I thought of writing couple of topics related to it but just now I saw Khan on TED and I really want to dedicate this second part exclusively to Khan Academy.  Watch it below.  Classroom education can be transformed with the help of videos and other collaborative softwares.  And this can really change the role of teachers within classroom.  I liked when Khan co-related learning math with learning a bicycle.  Learning should not be driven by fixed time where you have to complete this module in one week and then even if you go it or not we move on.  It cannot be done that way.  Everyone learns at their own pace.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Networking Tip: Common Interest Points

One important tip in networking is finding common interest points.  You can ask a person's interest and see how he gets excited.  And it gets even more interesting if your interest is also falls into same category.  To find out someone's interest it is really a matter of simply asking them, "What do you like?".  As simple as that just ask.

Just One Bad Customer

It is not the case of just one bad customer that you might have handled that day who was not satisfied.  It is really about how you handled that customer.  We never know but one customer, one reader, one fan can define your customer service.

Our leadership is sometimes defined by how we handle failure.  Under panic situations different people behave differently.  How you handle a frustrated customer can really define your brand.  You know why?  Because these people will tell how they were treated by that rep.  These incidents eventually get converted into stories which propagate like wildfire.  Especially with social media in place.

Will you talk to your friends regarding 20 average or good interactions you did with different people?  Or will you talk about that sales rep who just changed your mood when he refunded your money?  There has to be a special protocol for handling different customers differently.  And special care should be taken for a genuinely frustrated customer.  

Sometimes really that one just customer is all that mattered.  And in the world where a person can tweet, share on facebook, these events don't take time to spread over the wire.  Now with mobile they don't even have to go home to voice their frustration.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Ambidextrous

Today companies need people who possess dual skills and cab do same work in less time and assume multiple responsibilities.  The world is definitely moving fast.  Companies can now scale faster, be productive and also maintain quality at the same time.  Heard of Apple right!   If you feel that you can't do both (e.g. maintain quality and save money or maintain quality and move faster)  then realize that the world has changed and you too need to change.  
  

Friday, March 04, 2011

Hidden Signals

Below are few Hidden Signals which we send throughout the day that might make a difference in your Brand, your Attitude, your mood of the day and  ultimately make your day.

Opening the door for someone
Making that first move to speak up to a stranger
Be the first one to say, "Good Morning"
Humble smile
Gentle handshake
Firm eye contact
Respecting everyone (including time)
Assertive and Optimistic tone
Allowing others to talk more than you.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Give Up

The world rewards Genius, Excellence and only the best with the best.  Highly successful people have pursued their dreams and they never gave up.  How they have achieved it is not a rocket science seriously but a common sense.  Common sense says everyone has 24 hours in one day and that's it.  You too have it but how are you going to use it is up to you.

Successful people know exactly how to use their 24 hours and what to do and what not to do in those precious hours.  So the point is if you feel that you have less time and you are always busy then you will have to figure out what you can give up.  If you apply a very diligent effort in giving up everything then you will be left with only one thing which you should never give up.  That's focus.  

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Open Up

I don't appreciate people who come to a meeting with closed mentality.  Because they don't accept newer ideas and they don't contribute much to the creativity.  They are just not happening people.  The world is moving towards embracing more openness.  Openness enables us to share more.  And the more we share the better this place would be. 

Imagine you walk into meeting and you start discussing any topic with your boss, your colleagues and just about any one.  What if you don't have to think what certain people would think of it.  That's the reason I believe that people don't openly share on social platforms.  I think when we become more open we are relieved from the pressure of thinking what other might think. 

The world needs openness as much as possible.  Businesses, schools, governments and society needs to embrace openness.  The days where we used to do things behind closed doors are getting lesser and lesser relevant.  Open discussion, Open meetings, Open Innovation, yes we need to open the doors for everything.