Archive for the ‘managing people’ Category

Invention requires a long-term willingness to be misunderstood….     Jeff Bezos

A degree of foolishness is essential to entrepreneurship……    Vinod Khosla

The more diverse your education, the more likely you will learn how to learn……    Vinod Khosla @ MIT

Those who appear to be liberal evoke even more suspicion than those who are liberal……   Machiavelli

In the next 10 years, data science and software will do more for medicine than all the biological sciences combined… Vinod Khosla

A good leader stirs shit up when things get comfy, and provides cover when the pressure’s on…. Stefan Klocek

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun ….. Katherine Hepburn

Rules are for fools to follow and the smart to consider….  Unknown

“The key to making great investments is to assume that the past is wrong, and to do something that’s not part of the past, to do something entirely differently,” ….  Don Valentine

“Creativity is not the game preserve of artists, but an intrinsic feature of all human activity.” …..    unknown

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” …..   Albert Einstein

life only makes sense looking backward, but is lived going forward”; punditry is poorer than thoughtful ….

We learn the most from those we have the least in common …..

Almost nobody gets what they deserve, and almost everybody should be grateful for that……

When something bad happens to you, don’t ask “Why me, Lord?”, because it makes Me look bad in front of the angels….. GOD

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via Prakash Iyer, executive coach and MD, Kimberly-Clark Lever

Swaroop Kishen was an unlikely hero.

He was an overweight, portly guy who looked like the jovial Hardy — from the Laurel and Hardy duo. His girth made him instantly recognisable. And quite lovable too.

As a cricket-crazy kid, I remember getting Swaroop Kishen’s autograph at a game.

While most fans were clamouring for the players’ autographs, I was keen to get the umpire to sign in my book. And he did — prefacing his signature with three words:

“Pause and decide!”

These words were not only an articulation of an umpire’s philosophy– they were also a masterclass in effective decision-making.

Every time I need to respond to something, or take a decision, the umpire’s words flash in my mind.

Many times, we take decisions in haste. And we end up with impulsive responses. Someone says something to us — and we immediately react. Either with words that come back to haunt us. Or with actions that we live to regret. If only we’d make it a habit to heed the late umpire’s advice to pause and decide!

Next time you are angry or hurt, or need to take a decision, good idea to take a deep breath — before saying a word. Next time something goes wrong and you feel like reacting — just hold it. After the moment passes, you will find the turmoil settling down. The mind gets clearer. And the decision that follows is usually a lot better than what you might have done in that instant.

Very often our decisions are more like a negative vote — rather than a positive choice. We change jobs — because of one tough appraisal feedback session, or a missed promotion.

We make career choices, break relationships, commit to investments — all in the heat of the moment. And in an era of increasing download speeds — we seem to be in a hurry to take decisions. In most cases, a cooler head — and the passage of time — would have made for far better, more reasoned decisions.

Whoever said “Decide in haste, repent at leisure” was right. He may have said it a long time ago, but we clearly haven’t learnt our lesson.

There’s an interesting story of a spiritual master who went on a pilgrimage with his disciples. The wise man felt thirsty and wanted some water.

A disciple quickly went across with a jar to a nearby stream to get some water. The water was crystal clear and he could see the sun’s rays dancing on the water. As he was about to fill the jar, a bullock cart crossed the stream.

As the wheels churned through the soil at the bottom of the stream, the water suddenly became muddy. It didn’t look good enough to drink and the disciple went back to the master, empty-handed, and explained what happened.

The master asked him to wait a while, to allow the mud to settle — and then fill up the jar. When the disciple went back a little later, he found that the water was crystal clear again.

As the master took a sip of the water — he exclaimed: “Our minds are like that stream too. An external event or stimulus — like that bullock cart – can cause our minds to look all muddled up. When that happens, all you need to do is relax. Just wait a while and allow the dust to settle. And the mind will be clear again.”

Next time you are feeling agitated or stressed and want to respond, just think of the bullock cart and the stream. And remember the good umpire’s advice. Pause and decide!

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(via wsj)  A story that captures our society’s misguided efforts to deal with dishonesty. One day, Peter locked himself out of his house. After a spell, the locksmith pulled up in his truck and picked the lock in about a minute.

“I was amazed at how quickly and easily this guy was able to open the door,” Peter said. The locksmith told him that locks are on doors only to keep honest people honest. One percent of people will always be honest and never steal. Another 1% will always be dishonest and always try to pick your lock and steal your television; locks won’t do much to protect you from the hardened thieves, who can get into your house if they really want to. The purpose of locks, the locksmith said, is to protect you from the 98% of mostly honest people who might be tempted to try your door if it had no lock.

In India, a former CVC director profiled Indians on  honesty. His observation that 20% of Indians are utterly honest, 33% are utterly dishonest, the rest are mostly honest and dishonest. After 7 years of doing business and investments across sectors, I think this observation is spot on.

Except for a few outliers at the top and bottom, the behavior of almost everyone is driven by two opposing motivations. On the one hand, we want to benefit from cheating and get as much money and glory as possible; on the other hand, we want to view ourselves as honest, honorable people. Sadly, it is this kind of small-scale mass cheating, not the high-profile cases, that is most corrosive to society. Read More >>>>

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A short speech by the CEO of Coca Cola, short, effective and profound

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – Work, FamilyHealthFriends and Spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit– are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.

Work efficiently during office hours and leave on time. Give the required time to your family, friends and have proper rest. Value has a value only if its value is valued.”

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I am often reminded by a saying of those at sea, “water water everywhere but not a drop to drink”. I hear something similar from hiring managers and CEOs of companies looking for good staff, “graduates graduates everywhere but not one fit to hire”. Indian graduates many engineers but few are fit to hire. I would like to blog a few articles that highlight the symptoms of Indian education. The root cause will be evaluated in future articles.

(via WSJ) Geeta Anand writes about India graduating millions, but too few are fit to hire. The perception and reality are stark contrasts of one another. India projects an image of a nation churning out hundreds of thousands of students every year who are well educated, a looming threat to the better-paid middle-class workers of the West. The reality is about a 24/7 BPO that has plans to expand by 3000 workers and has decided to expand into Philippines and Nicaragua. What was 24/7 looking for ? 24/7 Customer Pvt. Ltd was eagerly searching for “recruits who can answer questions by phone and e-mail”, it’s found that “so few of the high school and college graduates who come through the door can communicate effectively in English, and so many lack a grasp of educational basics such as reading comprehension, that the company can hire just three out of every 100 applicants.” This is our future. All this the consequence of reforming the financial system and not reforming the education system. The vested interests most of them politicians and the rich will not allow the reform to happen, their wish, not even over their dead body.

The ratio of those that can be hired is miserable to say the least, engineering colleges in India now have seats for 1.5 million students, nearly four times the 390,000 available in 2000, according to the National Association of Software and Services Companies, a trade group. But 75% of technical graduates and more than 85% of general graduates are unemployable by India’s high-growth global industries, including information technology and call centers, according to results from assessment tests administered by the group. read more on The Sorry State …. >>>

Most Idiots give more weight to a college degree than what the degree holder can do. The CEO of a startup narrated the story of interviewing a fresh graduate who was not able answer even basic conceptual questions. However when asked about his salary expectations, he wanted the best the company could offer, seeing the CEO squirm in his chair, the young lad retorted what the hell did I graduate for ?

As for India, the story of untalented college graduates is a reminder that rather than something that makes us smart, college is at best what smart people have traditionally aspired to. Try as we might to make everyone above average, these attempts as revealed by the Indian experience are vain on their best day. Taking nothing away from the fun that is college, the idea that advanced education is anything more than a high-priced union card is hard to countenance. If college does in fact serve a purpose, it’s as a source of talent for private companies eager to grow. read more …. Economic Folly of a College Degree >>>

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The rise of Gandhi and his role in the independence struggle against the British is not a one man story. Mahatma Gandhi was a HR genius. Behind him was a little known team he carefully recruited. Gandhi was actually an energetic and effective director of one of the 20th century’s most innovative social enterprises. He was, in essence, an exceptional entrepreneur who relied on a tight-knit community of coworkers—and an extensive store of intellectual resources—to support him and his work.

One of his team members was a man named Mahadev Desai. Desai’s daily routine was grueling. He woke before Gandhi arose at 4 am in order to work on the Mahatma’s schedule and make other preparations. He was by Gandhi’s side throughout the day, taking notes on his meetings and various activities and helping him draft correspondence and articles. Finally, after Gandhi had retired, Desai wrote a diary account of the Mahatma’s day so that no important detail went unrecorded.

Can you get an assistant like Madadev today. Very difficult!

Read more via Gandhi’s Invisible Hands by Ian Desai in The Wilson Quarterly >>>

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I always advice young entrepreneurs to align responsibility and authority in their teams, a basic management funda, not natural to Indians who demonstrate authority and take no responsibility. A good leader or manager always manages the link between the two, while managing the performance of his/her teams. A good leader will always step aside when a major goal is not achieved. There have been many resignation rituals in the past 2-3 months. L.K. Advani led the BJP to defeat, resigned and quickly took back his resignation. The same happened with Sreedharan, CEO of Delhi Metro. Another character is Narayan Murthy who still makes announcements on the Infosys platform. Leaders just do not like to let go, because they are basically addicted to the power they wield. These insecure characters are extremely worried what will happen if they let go ? they cannot imagine a day with no phone ringing, no business card, no photos or quotes in newspapers, no admin to manage your day, privileges like free tickets to one day cricket matches, patronage and entourage of chamchas. If they do choose to move on, they can experience the aroma of morning coffee or roses in the garden, at the same time mentor the next generation of leaders and managers. They continue to cling on desperately until the end, if only someone had reminded them that a graveyard is full of indispensable people.

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