Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How logical we are?

Its interesting to observe the way we Indians think!

We apply logic and build complex software. But forget to apply basic common sense in many aspects. Following are some simple examples from Bangalore:
  1. Nobody talks about laying proper roads to Bangalore International airport before opening it. The airport construction is complete now. But it takes more time to reach the airport by road than the flying time to Chennai. Out of the blue another set of activists, workers, media talk about 'What to do with HAL airport?'.
  2. The majority of the road traffic (during the office hours) is due to knowledge workers traveling to ITPL and electronic city. Yet the proposed metro rail route is not covering both the places.
  3. Always IT employees complain about not getting autos to reach their homes. Auto drivers complain about not getting 'savari' all the times. More demand, more supply! But still there is a problem.
  4. How come one third of cubbon road can be declared as 'auto lane', when autos are not contributing to 33% of traffic ?
  5. When an American engineer visits Bangalore counterparts, 10 engineers will come forward to help him setup the laptop (without even asking). When the fellow Indian IT engineer asks for help,all of a sudden we become inflexible, rude and self-centered.
  6. The road digging work never stops even in MG road. Multiple departments (Telephone, PWD, ISPs, BWSSB and now the great metro) will 'plan well' and 'dig sequentially'.

Do u have any more examples?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Landmark Forum - Part II

I understood quite a lot of things by observing people who attend landmark forum. Primarily the educated, upper-middle class, urban population attend this and they don't have any clue of what life is all about. The materialistic life style has taken toll totally, which makes them live a miserable life with wrong perceptions, notions and beliefs. Suddenly they realize that the situation it out of control and start thinking about 'one-stop' solution for all their problems.

They look for one 'thread' on which they can hang on for rest of their life and forget their worries. The start identifying the thread by attending course like: Landmark forum, Art of living, Ramdev yoga and then getting associated with them. Other examples include: Kanchi ashram,ISKCON, Saibaba ashram, Aurobindo ahsram, Amritanandamayi etc. In a way all these organizations and courses teach almost the same universal values like: humility, responsibility, community service, treating everybody equal, selflessness, service etc.

In my point of view, its absolutely fine to learn any of these courses. But the problems starts when people go overboard and start indulging themselves. This indulgence turns into addiction after some time and they become mobile sales person for the organization they are associated with. They start forcing their friends, families and relatives to sign up and promise that all their problems will be solved in a jiffy. When such communities becomes bigger in size it results in scandals, murders and controversies.I don't want to take up any specific examples here as everyone of us has come across some or the other experiences.

Here are my conclusions:
  1. No course, religion or ashram is bad. Everything is created with a good purpose of making things better for humans.
  2. It is also OK to get associated with any of these 'threads' and learn their courses. But becoming sales person is really dangerous
  3. No course can bring in 'transformation' overnight. It takes years of focus, commitment, dedication and perceverence to even get a feel of real self transformation. For normal human beings it is better to learn a course and start implementing the techniques in real lives.
  4. Forcing others to take up any course or join a group is not correct.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Landmark forum – Part I

It’s been 6 months since I attended Landmark Forum in Bangalore. For people who don't know what this is all about please check out this link. I have mixed opinions about the course. Let me share my first set of thoughts about this course.

Let me explain the course structure first. It’s basically a three day plus one evening course primarily focused on personal transformation. Each day starts about 9 AM in the morning (sharp) and goes on till 11 PM in the night, with grueling sessions. Each day has only very few break in between, that too at odd timings (11 AM, 3 PM and 7 PM). A well trained ‘forum leader' will be leading the course for about 400 participants. He has a pre-defined courseware and speaks non-stop for all the three days. These leaders are extremely smart people and ruthless in expressing their viewpoints. The landmark education forum has internal methods of identifying, coaching and grooming these leaders.

Coming to the course contents, it’s completely a westernized therapy session. They give a different perspective of life, more from the psychological point of view. The forum leader will encourage participants to come and share problems they face in relationships, career and life. He will listen to those problems and provides different perspective about solving those problems. In between these conversations the leader keeps on giving certain gyan about: parenting, purpose of life, holistic living, relationships, human behaviors etc. I found these sessions totally boring and couldn't get anything at all from them. I felt more annoyed when people cry in public about their personal problems and their inability to solve them. This is what happens on the first two days.

On the third day of the forum, I found pretty interesting things. The leader started discussion certain topics (question like ‘Who am I?’), which slowly dwells into a philosophy. When I questioned the leader about its interference with philosophy (especially Indian way of thinking), he totally diverted the discussion and forced me to sit down. He went on expressing some of the points in a very forceful manner in loud voice. Finally he ended up with some of the concepts from Zen Buddhism.

When such philosophical thoughts are conveyed in forceful manner (this is what I call western therapy), people feel all they have discovered something great. They feel they are free and get whatever they want. This is what defined as ‘transformation’ by the Landmark education people. Apart from that they give a whole new terminologies like ‘racket’, ‘break-through’, ‘possibility’, ‘break-down’, ‘interpretation’ etc. Thus the third day of the course comes to an end.

The evening session resumes after two days, where each participants are asked to bring at least three guests. These guests can be friends, family members or relatives. When the evening session stats, the nasty sales pitch of the Landmark forum takes the centre stage. The forum leader literally forces all the participants to take up the ‘advanced’ course. There are many so called ‘volunteers’ who do excellent job in brainwashing the guests to sign up for the ‘basic’ course. I took my wife and some close friends on the evening session but felt totally humiliated when they started the sales pitch. I didn’t expect this at all!

After the course (sales pitch session) gets over, the participants are asked to take up ‘Landmark forum in action’ lecture series. I was so pissed off with their evening session that I just stopped going in that direction. Also it’s quite interesting to see the way the course is marketed. People who are weak minded, immature or lived a miserable life in the past become ‘volunteers’ of this forum after achieving ‘transformation’. These volunteers become mobile marketing/sales people for the organization and they go ahead and force all of their friends and family members to take up the course. I do see some value of courses like this but can’t even think of becoming a sales person for them.

Let me write more about Landmark Forum in the next blog post!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ergonomic laptop stand

I was reading Andy's blog and found this interesting piece about Ergonomic laptop stand (Using 3-ring binder as laptop stand).It was very easy to try at my workplace and worked wonders. I am feeling extremely comfortable using my laptop and typing speed has increased to a greater extent. Check out the couple photographs below and its really worth trying!

Tail piece: I have read Andy's 'Word-of-mouth-marketing' (WOMMA) book recently and become a fan of it. Will write the book review very soon.

Interview with Ram Shriram

So many things has happened in the last three months, when I was not blogging!

Last month, Ram Shriram (One of the early investors in Google) was in India and I had a chance to watch his interview in CNBC. It is probably one of the best TV interviews (in the similar lines of Dalai Lama, Azim Premji) I have ever seen. I was completely hooked up with each and every word Ram was speaking in rhythmic, soothing voice with clear thoughts. The text version of the interview is available here in the CNBC website.

Here is my favorite portion (especially the highlighted one) from the interview. Very simple statements but very realistic.

Q: How important is it for you to have an Aha moment every time you put your money into something?
A: It is important to realize not every investment will be a Google.

Q: It would be great if it turned out to be that way.
A: Yes. So, every ten years or so, you will see a Google size company emerge. But in general, it takes committed entrepreneurs, great teams that they build around themselves and then great execution with good monetization or business model around it. But the business model can come last. So, the first part of building that virtuous cycle is having happy users. From happy users come happy advertisers and from happy advertisers come revenue streams. Then, if you have good execution, there comes profit.

Q: And a happy investor?
A: Yes, that is Nirvana.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An Inconvenient Truth

Barcamp Bangalore 6 : Summer edition

Last weekend I attended the summer edition of Barcamp Bangalore. This is my first Barcamp and I found it very interesting!

To start with, its amazing to see the energy level of attendees. They were all highly pumped up and it was showing up with almost everyone I have met. Compared with a hierarchial corporate setup, it was organized as a completely an informal, flat and free-flowing setup. Every session was packed with very interesting questions, debates, critisicms and smart answers in eight different tracks.

I was mainly interested in the 'startups and demo' track and spend almost the whole day (saturday) there. I was able to see pretty good web 2.0 applications (Example: demonstrated for roping in the technology enthusiasts. There was an interesting session (according to me) hosted by Prof.Suresh from NSRCEL at IIM-B on the topic 'Startup pains'. He was asking the campers about the list of problems faced by aspiring Entrepreneurs and what bodies like NSRCEL can do about solving those issues more at the ecosystem level.

Thats it! People started throwing up statements like 'Not enough angels available', 'Inadequate support services (legal, financial etc..)', 'Coming up with operational agreement between co-founders' etc. I was silently sitting and listening to the discussions happening out there and wondering the maturity level of these entrepreneurs. In my opinion, these folks are still in the 'self-employed' mindset and not thinking about doing business in scale. All the points they put forward was from the same tone and nobody spoke about important aspects like: Difficulty in finding prospective customers (especially in the technology space), Developing cost effective marketing strategies, Limitations of domestic market, Hiring new employees in the overheated Indian job market, Lack of incubation centres. Also many of the folks were thinking from the bootstrapping perspective.Even though the number of entrepreneurs attended the camp was quite high, their understanding about the startup from the business perspective was very low.

Apart from that, there were many geeks roaming around with latest gadgets (like iPhone) wearing all viered t-shirts. Most any of them had Linux on their laptops and doing some or the other things during the sessions. I haven't got any opportunity to interact with any of the organizers/volunteers during the camp. I would extend thanks for all the effort they have put to make this happen. I would love to connect with some of these enthusiasts in the near future.

If not for anything, barcamps are worth attending for boosting the personal energy level.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Back to blogging

I stopped writing blogs ever since the year 2008 has started. It was mainly due to some priority tasks (both personal and professional side) occupied my time.

Now its high time for me to get back to the habit of blogging! This break has given me more energy to venture deeper into the blogosphere.

Stay tuned.