Monday, October 31, 2011

Why Unmaterialistic People Should Want to Get Rich

#POST 0024
Imagine a greedy old miser, nearing the end of his life. For years he shunned friends and family to amass a fortune, but now, in old age, he sits alone in an empty mansion, cursing himself for missing out on the truly important things in life. No one wants to end up like him. We want to enjoy the love of our family and friends. Only materialistic people with skewed priorities care about being rich. Right?
The burden of acquiring money weighs heavily on anyone without it. People don’t go to work because they like it. They go because without money their families will have nowhere to live and nothing to eat. Without money you have no clothes, no food, no shelter, no life. For money we trade the bulk of our waking hours, 5 days a week, until old age renders us incapable.
Money isn’t everything, but it comes damn close. So with all these reasons to want money, why is the drive become rich associated with greed, selfishness, and materialism?

Why Money Arouses Greed and Resentment

What is the first image ‘rich man’ brings to mind? Think Disney, think Christmas, thinkScrooge. Since before we could read we’ve been fed images of greedy misers abusing the helpless and kind hearted poor. Scrooge is only one instance of this popular archetype. Scan your mind for villains and you’ll find that ‘greedy rich man’ is the finest. Nothing inspires resentment better than someone with abundance who craves more, more,MORE.
But this isn’t reality. Real villains are few and far between and as likely to be poor as rich. Money is inherently neutral. The greed that inspires evil deeds originates not in money, but in the perpetrator. Money is as good or bad as the force that wields it.
In addition to media portrayals, there are more tangible reasons that richness inspires resentment. The greatest of these is the division of classes. While some people have relationships with both rich and poor, most don’t. You have your team and you stick to it. Even though most rich people are good folks, some are downright horrible. These spoiled brats (No one cares who your daddy is, and you’re making him look like a fool) create the resentment that spreads to all richness. The relationship between rich and poor is a toxic mixture of hatred and envy; people are forced to pick sides, and as Steve Olson explained, the outcome isn’t pretty.
There is also the wretched plague of materialism. The worst offenders aren’t the rich, but those who live beyond their means. The people going into debt to buy big houses, luxury cars, and plasma T.V.s. It isn’t about what you have, but what you can show. These fools want to be rich for shallow despicable reasons. Unmaterialistic people associate this idiocy with the desire to be rich and label the pursuit of the money unfulfilling. I was a member of this group of unmaterialists until I began to consider money and the nature of employment in a different light.

You Can Buy Time

The popular saying ‘you can’t buy time’ is blatantly false. Employers buy time everyday when they exchange money for labor. You may not be able to buy back time that has already passed, but you can certainly prevent yourself from having to sell your time in the future. Only the rich are able to avoid selling their time for money on a daily basis. Without the pressure to trade time for money, rich people are free to enjoy their lives however they please. If you take nothing else from this article, remember that money is freedom.
This realization led to the formation of my primary life goal: to become independently wealthy. By nature I am not a materialistic person. I care little for extravagance and the admiration of others. My favorite past times are the outdoors, basketball, reading, and collecting books. Old, used books, that generally cost less than a dollar, are more precious to me than any high tech gadgetry. But there is one valuable commodity that I prize above all others. Time.
When I started working full time 7 months ago I realized what it really meant to sell my time. I’m not complaining about my job. It pays well, affords decent hours, and the people are great. The problem is having to be there all the time. Call me ungrateful, but I don’t want just a good life, I want the best life I can muster, and that means having control of my own time.

Making Money Helps Other

After you buy something how do you usually feel? Unless you have spent foolishly and have buyer’s remorse you probably feel good. This is because have acquired something worth more to you than the money you paid for it. Commerce is an exchange of values. The merchant gets your money and you get wonderful commodities. Everyone is happy. If you weren’t happy you’d buy from someone else, which is why companies that don’t provide value go out of business. The success someone has is a direct indication of the value they provide to others.
Becoming rich doesn’t mean working long hours at a job you hate. Many people believe that becoming wealthy requires a high paying job i.e. doctor, lawyer, banker, executive etc. This may be the most certain path, but it isn’t the only one. There are unlimited ways to provide value to others, and the more creative ones are the most explosively successful. Don’t resign yourself to being poor just because these professions don’t fit. If you don’t like something you will never be great at doing it. The key is finding something you love that provides value to others.
You are currently witnessing my first foray into the world of independent value creation. I don’t expect this site to make me rich overnight, but it’s my first attempt at using my passions and abilities to create value. You may say I’m an optimistic fool, but each minute I work on this site I learn more about business and sharpen my creative abilities. Plus, it’s also very fun!
If you want to make the most of your life and attain personal freedom, becoming rich is a goal we both share. Don’t resign yourself to trading time for money just because that’s what most people do. Don’t wait to get going. Start working now. It’s going to be hard and you will need to make sacrifices, but don’t be discouraged. You have everything to gain, all you have to lose is your time.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dhirubhaisms - Lessons from Dhirubhai Ambani

#POST 0024

Some great lessons from the one and only - Dhirubhai Ambani

Leave the professional alone! Much as people would like to believe, most owners (even managers and clients), though eager to hire the best professionals in the field, do so and then use them as extensions of their own personality. Every time I come across this, which is much too often, I am reminded of how Dhirubhai's management techniques used to be (and still remain) so refreshingly different.

Change your orbit, constantly! Let me explain Dhirubhai's "orbit theory." He would often explain that we are all born into an orbit. It is up to us to progress to the next. We could choose to live and die in the orbit that we are born in. But that would be a criminal waste of potential. When we push ourselves into the next orbit, we benefit not only ourselves but everyone connected with us. Take India's push for development. There was once a time our country's growth rate was just 4 per cent, sarcastically referred to as the "Hindu growth rate." Look at us today, galloping along at a healthy 7-8 per cent. This is no miracle. It is the product of a handful of determined orbit changers like Dhirubhai, all of whose efforts have benefited a larger sphere in their respective fields. IHowever, when you change orbits, you will create friction. The good news is that your enemies from your previous orbit will never be able to reach you in your new one. By the time resentment builds up in your new orbit, you should move to the next level. And so on. Changing orbits is the key to our progress as a nation.

Roll up your sleeves and help. You and your team share the same DNA. Reliance, during Vimal's heady days had organized a fashion show at the Convention Hall, at Ashoka Hotel in New Delhi As usual, every seat in the hall was taken, and there were an equal number of impatient guests outside, waiting to be seated. Dhirubhai at that time was already a name to reckon with and a VIP himself, but that did not stop him from rolling up his sleeves and diving in to rescue a situation that had gone out of control. Most bosses in his place would have driven up in their swank cars at the last moment and given the manager a piece of their minds. Not Dhirubhai. When things went wrong, he was the first person to sense that the circumstances would have been beyond his team's control, rather than it being a slip on their part, as he trusted their capabilities implicitly. His first instinct was always to join his men in putting out the fire and not crucifying them for it. Sounds too good a boss to be true, doesn't he? But then, that was Dhirubhai.

Be a safety net for your team. There used to be a time when his ad agency Mudra was the target of some extremely vicious propaganda by our peers, when on an almost daily basis its business ethics were put on trial. But one day, during a particularly nasty spell, he gently asked his manager if he needed any help in combating it. That did it. That was all the help that the manager needed. Overwhelmed by his concern and compassion, he told him he could cope, but the knowledge that Dhirubhai knew and cared for what I was going through, and that he was there for me the manager I he needed him, worked wonders for his confidence. By letting managers know that he was always aware of the trials we underwent and that he was by their side through it all, he gave them the courage they never knew they had.

The silent benefactor. This was another of his remarkable traits. When he helped someone, he never ever breathed a word about it to anyone else. There have been many us who have known his kindness, yet he never went around broadcasting it. He never used charity as a platform to gain publicity. Sometimes, he would even go to the extent of not letting the recipient know who the donor was. Such was the extent of his generosity. "Expect the unexpected" just might have been coined for him.

Dream big but dream with your eyes open. His phenomenal achievement showed India that limitations were only in the mind. And that nothing was truly unattainable for those who dreamed big. Whenever manager's tried to point out to him that a task seemed too big to be accomplished, he would reply: " No is no answer!" Not only did he dream big, he taught all of us to do so too. His one-line brief to his manager was: "Make Vimal's advertising the benchmark for fashion advertising in the country." His favourite response was always: "It's difficult but not impossible!" And he was right. We did go on to achieve the impossible. Both in its size and scope Vimal's fashion shows were unprecedented in the country. Grand showroom openings, stunning experiments in print and poster work all combined to give the brand a truly benchmark image. But way back in 1980, no one would have believed it could have ever been possible. Except Dhirubhai. But though he dreamed big, he was able to clearly distinguish between perception and reality and his favourite phrase "dream with your eyes open" underlined this. He never let preset norms govern his vision, yet he worked night and day familiarizing himself with every little nitty-gritty that constituted his dreams constantly sifting the wheat from the chaff. This is how, as he put it, even though he dreamed, none of his dreams turned into nightmares. And this is what gave him the courage to move from one orbit to the next despite tremendous odds. Dhirubhai was indeed a man of many parts, as is evident. I am sure there are many people who display some of the traits mentioned above, in their working styles as well, but Dhirubhai was one of those rare people who demonstrated all of them, all the time.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Jobs not only bestow money and power, they also make for wisdom and learning

# POST 0023

Unable to bear his poverty, a priest went to the temple and begged the deity there for a solution. That night the deity left a golden pot in the courtyard of the priest's house. The priest found the golden pot with some water in it. He threw the water out and went to the market where he sold the pot to a merchant. With the money he received, he repaid all his debts and returned home a rich man laden with gifts for his family. Soon after, his family fought over the vast wealth, everyone from his wife to his children to his parents and his siblings demanding their share. 

Unable to bear the mental agony, the priest went back to the temple and complained to the deity. "You have added to my problem not solved it with the golden pot". And deity said, "Golden pot? What golden pot? I gave you the elixir of contentment, enough for you and your family. It happened to be contained in a golden pot. Did you not drink it?" 

Every job is a golden container full of water. The pot is the salary that pays our bills and the designation that pleases our desire to feel significant. But in each job is potentially the opportunity to grow intellectually and emotionally. Each job contains the seed of learning that can germinate in our mind, if we allow it to. Unfortunately, jobs are seen more in economic terms (the pot) than in learning terms (the water). 

Animals work for survival. Humans are the only animals who also work for meaning. Hence in Sanskrit, the same word, artha, is used to indicate economics, politics and meaning. Jobs can give us money and power (the pot) but they can also give us wisdom (the water). Do we drink the water? 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

6 Facebook etiquettes for starters

#POST 0022

Ever since its inception in 2005 - Facebook has come a long way. A lot has changed in the interface, the applications have doubled and privacy options have been stepped up. For good reasons I bet!
When these days - we spend almost 12 hours on Facebook - perhaps more for some people (like me - judge me if you want!); our daily life etiquettes and manners should apply to our virtual avatars as well. It's only fair!
Who we are, what we say, how we behave in normal lives with other beings - face to face; the same rules should apply in the 'social network'. Just because 'virtuality' prevents physical assault - that does not mean we may incite one to think it.
So, about 11 years since its birth - we must list some Facebook etiquettes for good measure...
1. Do not tag people in random photos or tag without permission - applies to Diwali, New Year, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Friendship Day, Independence Day, Republic Day, Janamashtami, Eid photo wishes. Also applies to photos that claim to create an absurd matrix of your top friends, or the hottest girls and boys on your friend list, or who should play what role in Harry Potter or Who won the Friends' Cup (What is that anyway?)
IF you care enough to wish me - text me. Drop me a line. Just as people - in real life - don't like being photographed with anyone and everyone - it is pretty much the same on Facebook.
Don't mass tag. It is hard to isolate your name from that pile of tags and un-tag. And if I un-tag myself - you just might get offended. So save yourself and us the misery.
All photos are not meant to be put up on Facebook - now if some rather sinister person chooses to put up a rather embarrassing picture of you on Facebook that would make every cell in your being blush when sober - you should have the capacity to approve the tag or simply disapprove. By the time you can un-tag yourself - the damage is done. Your grand uncle sitting in Canada has seen it and all chances of a decent matrimonial match find have gone up in smoke!
2. If my wall is blocked for you - don't ask why.
Facebook allows us to put friends in separate groups and also allows moderation of privacy principles in each case. Am sure Zuckerberg thought about this long and hard. If someone's wall is blocked - let it be. Don't prod and poke and ask a million times as to why you cannot see the posts. It is the virtual equivalent of asking your neighbour twice a day (at least) - why he would keep his bedroom window closed. Some people like their personal lives to be 'personal' - respect that. And just because you cannot see the wall that does not mean I don't like you. If so was the case - remember the 'unfriend' and 'blocked and delete' option?
3. If your friend request turns up unacknowledged for days - get the hint. Don't ask again.
A friend request is very clearly visible when one logs in to Facebook. And therefore it is very easy to accept or hide. Those who are not regular on Facebook - may get to accepting or hiding requests once in a blue moon. At this point I must add - that if you have sent a friend request to someone his/her posts will keep appearing on your wall like in the case of all other friends - so you will know how regular he/she is on the site. So, id the person you want to 'befriend' has not accepted your request for days - and is still rather active on Facebook - clearly does not want you on their list. Get the drift...lay off. Receiving repeated requests and offline messages is very annoying. It is like begging someone over and over again to be your friend. Sounds pathetic? That is exactly the vibes repeated friendship requests give on Facebook.
4. If you share someone else's shared link/status message/photos - please inform.
Someone must have made slight efforts to chance upon an interesting link or a status message or a photo and post it - please respect that 'effort' - even if it means 5 extra Facebook seconds. A simple - "I am sharing" would work. If you share someone's link/status message/photos without permission - it is a little like plagiarising. Just a little. And the plagiarism incites the same feelings every where! Online or offline!
5. Stop with the constant Relationship Status changes.
Single. Commited. Complicated. Commited to ____. Married. Divorced. Separated.
Please. Spare. Me. The. Horror.
Your closest friends will know of your love life without you having to shout it out on your wall. It is like washing your dirty linen in public. As repulsive as it is in real life - it is worse online for everyone is simultaneously tortured by random comments on them - "Why did you break up?", "Did she cheat on you?", "Did he dump you?", "When did you guys hook up?", "When is the wedding?"
Facebook has the private message option - please resort to using that for the dirty details. Thank you.
6. Don't invite me to events that are not in my city or ones that don't exist in reality.
Facebook events ideally are meant to work like invitations - formal or informal - so as the organisers can have a rough idea as to how many people to expect. In big events - it goes a long way. So for events that are clearly beyond people's geographical reach - save yourself that extra second and don't send it to one and all. If you are taking an effort to organise an event - take an effort to invite the right people. And no one is interested in imaginary events like - The End of the World in 2013, or some such. Don't create such an event - and even if you are bored enough to do so - don't invite people who won't get the absurd thrills of an imaginary event. The time it takes to reply to the RSVP online - takes the same time to click on - Not Attending. These days -we come to learn - even one second in precious.
It is not Google+ and it is not Orkut - my posts and photos are only for my friends. Random people are requested not to add me or 'follow' me - virtual stalking is just as horrid. Am not interested in anyone waxing eloquent on my profile picture. I don't know you - I don't care.
People mind their own business in real life - please do so in your virtual life as well!
These are starters for Facebook etiquettes for the next 11 years and more. Add your pet peeves by all means!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The ROI of an MBA - MBA karna chahiye - ya nahin??

#POST 0021 

In the last couple of years I've met with students at ISB, Great Lakes, ICFAI Business School Hyderabad and IIM Indore. And the one concern which unites students across one year and two year programs is the burden of the EMI.

The average ISB student will be paying an EMI of 25k over 7 years, an IIM student 25k over 5 years (going for the exchange program could jack that up by another 4-5k per month). So the concern students have is: "What will be my ROI?"

The way in which a bschooler calculates ROI is very direct: compare what I spent on the course, with the placement salary at the time of exit. In case you have significant work experience, also factor in one year of 'lost income'.

OK. By this method of calculation, the ROI - for a majority of students - will be negative. 

The published figure for average domestic salary at ISB last year is Rs 16.47 lakhs p.a. (CTC).

The fees for this batch were approximately Rs 19 lakhs, while the average incoming salary was Rs 8 lakhs p.a.

Do the math and you can see that there is much heartburn. Especially for the 50% of the batch which must - necessarily - bag a job lower than the 'average'. 

The same holds true for an ICFAI Business School graduates, where fees + living expenses for the course would works out to Rs 9-10 lakhs.

The average placement salary would be in the range of Rs 5-6 lakhs. A large % of candidates are freshers or with 1-2 years of work ex so we can discount the income loss component.

Now let us examine the case at IIM Indore. The average salary for the class of 2010 was Rs 10.29 lakhs. 

The cost of the 2 year course for this batch was approximately Rs 8 lakhs.

Of course, 50% of the batch would have bagged jobs in the Rs 6-10 lakhs range but prima facie IIM seems to provide maximum chances of a high ROI.

However. As they say with mutual fund investments, past performance may not be indicative of future returns. So students who are considering the MBA today - be warned.

The class of 2010 at IIM Indore consisted of 175 students. That number went up to 235for the batch of 2011. The class of 2012 is a record 450 students.

No doubt this will affect the average salary figure. (In fact the larger the batch, the more focus the institute puts on 'quantity' over quality). 

Moreover from this year, the cost of attending IIM Indore has also gone up to Rs 10 lakhs. Making the 'equation' far less favourable.

I can bore you with several more examples but you get the drift. 

The origin of this entire mess go back to 2008, when the market was booming. It appeared that the MBA was a Golden Degree which, like the yellow metal, could only go up, up and up.

Record placement salaries, record number of jobs - and a relatively low fee structure - made the MBA a most exciting qualification. The better the bschool brand, the more excitement, of course.

At this stage two things happened:

1) In April 2008, IIM Ahmedabad more than doubled its fees (from Rs 4.3 lakhs to Rs 11.5 lakhs). Other IIMs followed.

2) At the same time, year on year, IIMs began admitting more students (seats increased btw 40-100%)

Let me be honest, when IIMA first hiked its fee, I thought it was a good thing. The course was highly subsidised, there seemed to be no reason for taxpayers to underwrite the careers of bright students bagging excellent jobs. 

What's more, IIMs promised that no one would be denied a seat due to lack of funds. Education loans were made available to all and also merit scholarships, based on family income. 

But. The consequences of these actions were not limited to IIM students.

In the world of finance the Reserve Bank of India signals changes in rates. Similarly, IIMs hiking their fees sent a clear signal to the entire bschool industry. Practically every bschool in India increased its fees by 50-100%.

In a strange and convoluted way, the low fees charged by IIMs kept fees of all bschools low. Because no one - apart from ISB, with its own unique brand - dared to charge more than the market leader.

To compound the problem, the market crashed. Jobs disappeared. The class of 2009 saw the worst of it - higher fees and lower placement salaries. The number of students appearing for CAT in 2009 also declined - for the first time in years. 

So, what does this all boil down to? MBA karna chahiye - ya nahin??

Well, I think the 'Gold Rush' era is over. If you are looking for quick and safe returns, you will be disappointed.

I do think an MBA will add a lot of value to your career over the long term. By long term I mean a 10-15 year horizon. But you will begin to see the difference in as little as 3-5 years.

Certain avenues in the corporate world do open up for you, if you have the right 'branding'.

And if you are not from the best known schools you still have the chance to work your way up the ladder through performance and personality.

40 years of working life lie ahead of most of us, a one or two year program is an investment whose returns cannot and should not be calculated merely at the end of the course.

And yes, demand and supply is the inexorable law of Nature. Bschools may well have to go back to smaller batches and lower fees - to make themselves more attractive.

The other - and tougher way - is to provide such value addition that recruiters are happy to shell out more to snap up students. A scenario so implausible... the more practical method would be to hire Leonardo di Caprio. 

How to Explore New Careers (Without Quitting Your Day Job)

#POST 0020

Ever wonder what it would be like to spend your 40+ hours a week working somewhere else? If so, you’re in good company. In the India alone, 55% of people aren’t happy with their current job. We’ve heard the success stories of people who quit their day job and found something better. Maybe they went back to school, moved to another location, or even started their own business. We admire their tenacity because we too would love to drop our lives and start afresh. Then reality kicks in. Many of us can’t take the financial risk of quitting our jobs. Our children need a roof over their heads, our house payments keep coming, and our obligations keep us rooted in our current communities. We dream about changing jobs, but looking at our lives, it appears impossible to follow in our career heroes’ footsteps.

 Fortunately for us, exploring new career opportunities doesn’t mean you have quit your day job tomorrow. There are more subtle ways of getting where you want to be. Consider these simple ways to start pursuing a new career:

 Talk to people who have your “dream job.” The first step in any career change is knowledge. Daydreaming about having a different job is not the same as knowing you want that change. Before you make any career move, you should learn about your dream job, and what better way to make that happen than talk to someone who is already doing it.
 If you don’t know anyone offhand with your dream job, don’t despair. It doesn’t matter what profession you’re pursuing, you can find someone to talk to. Ask your friends if they know anyone. Use LinkedIn (the social network for career professionals) to join relevant discussion groups. You can even cold email people who have your job and ask if you can chat with them over coffee. You will be amazed how people love to talk about their jobs and are willing to take the time to teach you a thing or two about your new career.

Join a networking group. Speaking of networking, you should pinpoint a professional group dedicated to your desired career. Professional groups come in all flavors from marketing to mechanical engineering. Many of these groups have formal seminars, but others just meet for drinks at a local bar. Begin your search online by doing a trusty Google search or try to see if something interesting is going on in your area. 

Take a class. If you’ve never cracked open the catalog for your community college, you’re missing out. Local colleges generally offer affordable evening and weekend classes on subjects ranging from “Intro to Law” to “Advanced Restaurant Management.” For a bigger (and more expensive) challenge, you can pursue a degree in a new field by taking 2-3 classes per semester. Devoting time to class will not only gauge if you’re really interested in the subject matter, but the professor is bound to know people with the same career aspirations as you. She can give you advice on how to get involved in the local scene.

 Start a hobby. If you really want to change your career, you’ve got to do it. Turn your career passion into a hobby by devoting a significant portion of your free time to practicing your new profession. If you want to become a graphic artist, upgrade your computer, buy new graphic software, and start creating. If you want to become a mechanic, restore a classic car. Dedicating your time and money to a hobby will go a long way to making a full career change (and will show future employers you’re really willing to make the switch). 

Start a part-time business. You may have the skills, but not the money to make a career switch. That doesn’t mean you don’t have the time. Find part-time work that incorporates your new job skills or find contract positions through job search sites. If you’re really dedicated, start a side business that incorporates your new job skills. My husband snagged a full-time web development job with no degree simply by devoting his free time to creating web pages for family and friends. Even if you don’t make enough money to pay the bills today, these small experiences quickly add up on a résumé and will make you more attractive to companies with full time positions.

 No one said the road to changing careers was easy, but it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. Sometimes the best way to make a huge life change is to plot out your first small steps. Even if you ultimately keep your current job, you’ll probably learn something about yourself and your ability to try something new.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Arranged Marriages !!!

#POST 0019

In light of some of my recent experiences I have been thinking a little about the concept of arranged marriage and as to why it is so successful. Disclaimers as usual include, 

1) This is not a debate of a love marriage vs. arranged marriage. Both have their own merits and demerits.
 2) If after reading this you somehow feel that I have argued in "favor" of the arranged marriage concept then you are wrong. I have only highlighted the positives of arranged marriage. 
3) I do not want drab comments that are similar to "you have to experience love so as to appreciate it".
4) There are exceptions to every compromise below. Exceptions do not make examples.
5) If you feel like tearing your hair and saying "no" to any of these compromises below, read point 4 again. Calm down. Drink some water. 

These are just my points of view. Take it or leave it. Ok, A few days ago I had a chat with a few of my friends on this topic and these are guys/gals who have seen quite a bit in their lives and have had their share of experiences on relationships. As the discussion went on, I began to wonder, what is it, that makes this concept of arranged marriage tick? Before I go on, for those in the West who do not know anything about arranged marriages, please read this This is what I could gather at the end of it the many discussions I had, Before I go on to Arranged marriage, I would make an assumption. The assumption is that to make a marriage work, one has to make compromises. The lesser the number of compromises the easier it is to keep the marriage together. I may be entirely wrong in this assumption (i.e people may exist who keep making compromises to save their marriage, but I do not belong to this category and neither do most of the friends with whom I have talked to). By compromise, I do not mean silly ones like sleeping on the right side of the bed or eating in a restaurant of the other persons choice. I mean compromises which make you go against the way you have lived thus far in your life or are against your value system and make something in your stomach go uvack#@$@#. That said, Arranged marriages work simply because there are very minimal compromises made in an arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage,

1) No compromise is made on the way of life - this includes your daily habits

2) No compromise need be made on food habits - Typically parents look for a match who is a vegetarian if you are a vegetarian and a non vegetarian if you are one

3) No compromise is made in religion/caste/community - whichever you have strong feelings for, pick that one

4) No compromise is made on regional traits - Mother tongue (which is important when you want to have a comfortable conversation with the other party). Try experimenting with some other language everyday and it is going to be one big compromise you make in your life

5) No compromise is made on Age - this is highly arguable, I do agree, but I believe that it is great to have a younger girl and an elder boy as a couple, with a gap of at least a couple or more years. The reasons are two fold. First of all men last longer physically in terms of sexual life than women do. Second reason is that the emotional reach of a woman is higher than a man of same age (arguable, but there are many scientific studies that say this, and I too kind of go with this)

 6) No compromise made on physical appearance - You always can say "no" in an arranged marriage if you think the guy/gal is not up to your expectations

 7) No compromise made on economic angle - Salaries of the people getting married are looked at, and the basic economic background is looked at. It is rare that you see in an arranged marriage that a pauper is wedded to a millionaire.

 8) No compromise made on talent/intellectual capability - Typically men prefer to marry women who are less or at most as educated as they are. I.e, you don't see a bachelor degree holder get married to a masters degree holder that often (in Arranged marriage). I can hear all "non MCPs" shouting at me now. I don't care. However much men scream, they have this ego which would blow up at some point in time. Even women prefer men who are more/at least as educated as they are for precisely the same reason. There are exceptions to this rule. Exceptions do not make examples

 9) No compromise made on geography - These days I see a very common trend. In case the boy or girl has decided to stay in a particular city, say Bangalore, they make it very clear before the marriage so that later there are no qualms about the same. Also they make it very clear if they are going to work post marriage and also about what they feel about going and settling abroad. I think it is best these issues get sorted before marriage than after.

10) No compromise is made as far as other habits go - This would hold true for guys/gals who look for partners who do not have habits such as smoking/drinking and are very particular about it. However, this would hold true only if the other person does not lie about his/her drinking/smoking habits. But in case they are truthful about these, then there would hardly be any issues post marriage. 

So, there go the 10 major compromises I "DONT" see in an arranged marriage. Once these major compromises are taken care, almost 90% of your life is made easy. All that is left is for you to just understand the other persons basic nature better, and the rest of the things just fall in place. I do agree that in-spite of all these advantages of arranged marriages, there simply will be pairs which cannot stay together. But think for a moment...are all love marriages successful? In UK, where there is no concept of arranged marriage, 50+% of women over the age of 40 are unmarried (says a bbc survey). Maybe something to think about.

Why dont you start a company of your own?

#POST 0018

Have you ever been asked this question? Have you ever wondered yourself about this question? And the answer I get is the same as "Why dont I become a zoologist?" or "Why dont I become a cricketer?" I am not entirely convinced that that is what I want to be doing. I am not saying that I wont start a company of my own - all I am saying is that I dont know if I will, I dont know when and I dont know how. The things that are needed for me to be an entrepreneur (whatever they may be) havent yet taken place in my life. I am yet to get an idea that excites me. I am yet to get the inspiration to act on an idea. I am yet to get enough guts to start doing something on my own. And last but not the least - I am still not convinced why "entrepreneurship" is the right option for me.

 But all of this apart, What I dont understand is, why do people give entrepreneurship such a high regard? I hear sentences like

 1) Entrepreneurs control their life and they have a complete rein over what they want to do (they can come to office when they want to, go when the want to, do what they want etc) 

2) Entrepreneurs are wealthy 

3) Entrepreneurs can hire anyone 

4) Entrepreneurs are famous Well, I do agree that Entrepreneurship is an exciting career option and many at some point of time in their career have always wanted to have a company of their own. It has been like this little dream in almost everybodys heart to own their own company and provide job opportunities. But that doesnt mean that Entrepreneurship is the end all of life. If you are not an entrepreneur then so be it. There are so many professions out there - and each come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. 

There is no one career option that can be "best". The "best" career option is the one where you are enjoying your work. Thats it. If by chance - your career and your passion match - then you can consider yourself lucky. If per chance - you happen to enjoy painting - but are a software developer - then you can always paint in your spare time - but be a developer for your living. 
Entrepreneurship has its own advantages, namely

1) The feeling of self satisfaction
2) Best possible way of getting paid what you are actually worth
3) Its a service - you provide job opportunity to so many 
4) Fame. A lot of people look up to you 

But it comes with its baggage
1) Risk Factors. Competition, changing technology, changing needs etc. Any of these can put an end to the business. 
2) Ability to spend time for personal life 
3) Stress
4) Success Factors are low in many cases 

 The above mentioned are hard aspects. But there is one very critical baggage which this career option brings - which is With success in entrepreneurship comes the difficulty in managing success. There is nothing that people like to see - more than to see someone high up - fall down. You always want Australia to lose a cricket match. You always prefer a Tata to a Reliance group. You always prefer an AR Rahman to any other musician. You prefer Tendulkar to Ponting. You prefer a Narayanamurthy to Azim Premji. You prefer a Kalam to any other politician. Why? The way these companies, teams, individuals manage success. With success in entrepreneurship - comes the great responsibility of managing it right. People always love to hear a scandal more than anything and it is human nature. A simple mistake on part of an entrepreneur is enough to put at risk the personal and professional relations. 

Some qualities which look bad on a CEO or Entrepreneur are 
1) Arrogance 2) Negligence 3) Disrespect for others 4) Show of wealth/power/fame

I am not saying that they would impact the CEO personally. It is just that others love to see such persons fail - and it is always not a good feeling to have for a CEO.

People always love a Warren Buffet to a Richard Branson.  Both are successful. But I enjoy to see Buffet successful while I think "man - God has been kind to this Branson" What I think does not matter to Branson. But I would personally want to be a Buffet and not a Branson.

Monday, October 17, 2011

FUNtastic Lessons from Zindegi Milegi Na Dobara

#POST 0016
The racing bulls are running full-tilt on the streets of Pamplona, scattering all-comers under horn and hoof. As they round the home stretch, we meet Abhay Deol, flying around the corner, head held high, eyes twinkling, and a ghost of a smile on his lips. Likewise, Farhan Akhtar and Hrithik Roshan also crank up the gears and, face-forward, race towards the gates.
This final sequence of the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD) is probably one of the best metaphors for how life — personal or professional — can be lived successfully.
So what's that all-important metaphor? It's not that they're running fast, and are in the right physical shape to do so. Yes, that's important. But the key is that they are looking forward. Yes, the demons from past mistakes will always be behind you. But the future holds that success, the achievement that you are constantly aspiring for. So focus everything, confidently and joyously, on that prospective goal. Then the past will hold no importance nor fear.
ZNMD has many such lessons, especially for the corporate world, if one wishes to imbibe them. One can say with a lot of certainty that this was definitely not Zoya Akhtar's aim when she made this wholly entertaining movie — to reduce it to training material for a corporate workshop. But we are all richer for the material it provides us, as reminders for a better way of life, professionally.
Let's take the issue of coping with fear and anxiety, for instance. We face this at all levels. And a lot of times, this is our biggest enemy in meeting our goals. Each of the three protagonists in ZNMD take turns to vehemently profess their fears — of deep-sea diving, of sky-diving, and running with the bulls. And yet, the strategy they use to overcome the fears is one we would do well to inculcate in the corporate world.
Acknowledge and announce the fear to those around you.
Give yourself no choice but to overcome it.
Enjoy the life-changing perspective that follows afterwards.
A crucial part of the strategy is to have people who understand your fears around you, and are there to help you overcome it, rather than ridicule you for it or take advantage of your fear to their own benefit. Trust and teamwork, therefore, become paramount.
ZNMD also reminds us that we're often stuck in the past or mindlessly pursue a distant future. In the process, we ignore the immense possibilities of the here and now.
There's a sequence after the Tomatina Festival when our heroes have left Buñol (Valencia) and are motoring along towards Pamplona (or Seville?). Katrina Kaif chases them down on a bike, just to tell Hrithik Roshan, Mujhe afsos karna nahi aata (“I don't know how to regret”). For Hrithik, it's a double whammy when Katrina tells him at another point in the movie, “Yes, but what if you don't live to see 40? Live now, live for now.” It's a turning point in self-discovery and mindfulness for Hrithik. And a reminder to us in the corporate world that goals are good and history can be a good teacher. But what matters is how we tackle each day, and make the most of it. When we passionately immerse ourselves in what we do today, productivity and success take care of themselves. And we enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
There is also a metamorphosis in the characters of the three protagonists as ZNMD progresses. Farhan Akhtar acknowledges the angst beneath his frivolity, and ultimately overcomes it. Abhay Deol confronts a forced circumstantial choice and reverses it. And Hrithik Roshan comes face-to-face with the near-farcical chase his life has become, and turns over a new leaf. In doing so, they all ably demonstrate — in different ways — the inevitability of change, and the innate ability to transform that each of us possesses.
We always acknowledge that change is a constant, and yet are afraid to transform — ourselves, our circumstances, those around us, and our decisions. And yet, true progress and success lie in just that. In going beyond the comfort zone of familiarity. In recognising what constrains us, and moving beyond them. To recall another powerful line from an altogether different movie, “It doesn't matter that we fall. What matters is that we get up again.” (From Batman Begins, if you must know the movie name.)
When it comes to that, perhaps the lesson of freeing ourselves from constraints is the one we can most easily take out of ZNMD. The world offers us a plethora of options to shake off our everyday shackles, and experience real, intrinsic freedom.
We don't need to dive among the sea urchins, draw figures of eight in the sky or have near-death experiences among bovine companions. But we can still find ways to be creative, and inspire ourselves on a daily basis. With music. With games. With not being slaves to habit. With just this singular perspective, that we have this one life to make the most of. Let's go seize it

Albert Einstein - "Answers have changed"

#POST 0015

It is said of Albert Einstein that he gave a particular exam to a class that had already been given that exam. Alarmed at what he saw and thinking it to be the result of the professor's absent-mindedness, an assistant warned Einstein of what he was about to do.  The Professor just smiled and said: It's alright the answers have changed.

The problems over the past few decades might have remained same....but the answers have changed.

we cant continue to follow the age old processes or tread down the beaten path.