rachnaspace

smokerings of my mind..

Life lessons from Randy Pausch

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand
Dream big
Earnest is better than hip
Don’t complain, just work harder
Treat the disease, not the symptom
Don’t obsess over what people think
Look for the best in everybody
Watch what people do, not what they say (judge people by what they do, rather than what they say)
Get people’s attention
Always say, `Thank you!’
All you have is what you bring with you
A bad apology is worse than no apology
Tell the truth
No job is beneath you
Never give up
Be a communitarian
All you have to do is ask. Don’t be afraid to appear ignorant.

I have deep admiration and respect for people like Randy Pausch who live their life to the last minute, and before dying leave a lasting gift (in this case, his last lecture) for posterity.

August 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Life and GMAT

Life’s a lot like a GMAT test, or vice versa.

It starts with questions/challenges of average difficulty. If you get the answer right, your next question will be slightly more difficult. If you get the answer wrong, your next question will be slightly easier. The underlying algorithm determines the level of difficulty of questions you are asked, based on your performance in answering previous questions. Difficult questions are weighted more heavily in scoring than easier questions. Eventually higher the level of difficulty you successfully tackle, higher the final score! 🙂

August 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Jerry Yang – you owe it to the spirit of the valley

It was the meritocracy-based culture, the encouraging entrepreneurial spirit of silicon valley where your passion, smarts and bold moves make great things happen – that helped him directly/indirectly in taking Yahoo to great heights. No doubt he made more than his fair share of mistakes (some of which just can not be justified). He has the option to exit, or succumb to the pressures to exit… BUT for the very same spirit of the valley, he owes it to get his act together and get Yahoo back to its glory days.

Most of the articles that one reads these days talk about Yahoo being in shambles, and insinuating that it’s a gone case now and should sell itself off… indeed it is in shambles!, but it’s still worth $30 billion (shareholder value isn’t wiped off), it has 500mm unique monthly visitors, its net income for the first quarter of this year was $542 million – which is three times that of last year,  the product portfolio is also good — I mean, it’s a profit-making business, and just a while ago Microsoft did offer to buy it for $44 billion… moreover, the employees don’t really hate Jerry (at least I haven’t come across any post insinuating this). The point I am trying to make is – it is in a bad state, the morale of employees is at an all time low, the media is impatient, there’s huge exodus of some very key executives…BUT, there is hope and it’s not a gone case. Jerry Yang has the choice to exit, or prove his mettle once again – if he had it in him to get Yahoo to the glory once, he now has the opportunity to fight and get the same glory back for Yahoo. He can choose to go down the annals of history as one-time success, or take a shot at true glory (coming back up shining again, after having fallen in abyss from the top)!!

This sounds all emotions.. agreed.. but then almost always truly great acts have emanated from the emotions, the passions, the bold thinking combined with the smarts. I’m reminded of something JK Rowling recently said during her Harvard commencement speech – “…And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” This IS rock bottom for Yahoo, and I truly hope/wish that Yahoo makes this its foundation and that Jerry does it!

“Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it.” – JK Rowling

June 20, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mystery of Right Time, Right Place..

We often hear that xyz has what they have because they were there at the right place at the right time. I’ve always wondered that this sounds so much ‘luck-based’..and that there’s something missing here. Over the years, I’ve now come to realize that it’s not just a matter of being at the right place at the right time but also being “prepared” at that point of time.. having the smarts to prove at that place/time that you deserve the opportunity, and grab and embrace it… and there you go, you’ve made it!

Update 6/20/08 – Hrishikesh pointed a very crucial point here… that you got to know (the awareness) that it IS the right time and the right place!!!

June 19, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

JK Rowling’s Harvard commencement speech 2008

After Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford in 2005, it is the speech that JK Rowling gave at Harvard recently that impressed me a lot. My key take-aways were: importance/benefits of failure, imagination and hope. The gist of what she spoke is well represented in the word-cloud below –

Some immensely powerful statements made by her –

“The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive.” [as the saying goes – that which does not kills makes you stronger]

“…And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

“…failure meant a stripping away of the inessential.” [failure just rips apart all the clutter… and then all you see is what really matters]

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

Some other good ones…

“There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.”

“Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it.”

I read long time back, and now I believe, that when you really look for answers, they just come to you.. I read this speech early this month and liked it.. and that was it. Yesterday, I was just browsing the reader on my iphone and hit this speech again – and there it was.. in my face.. hitting right on at things that were bothering me for a while.. well, not exactly answering my questions, but offering a perspective with which to re-look at things.. 🙂

PS: I made the above ‘word-cloud’ using this cool tool Wordle.

June 16, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rip the context.. skim the spirit

…and go make what ever meaning you want of it… and interpret it the way you want.

One good example of this is what’s happening with what Michelle Obama said about she being proud of America for the first time in her life…. Now, this can be really sensationalized (the way it is being done), over-looking the spirit in which she said. You hear the entire speech and remember the occasion… and any cool-headed person would construe that though her choice of word was incorrect (instead of “proud”, the word should’ve been “prouder”), the intent of what she wanted to convey was innocuous.

Anyways, this post is not about Michelle Obama’s defense. Her example was to put across the point. I have often seen one of the big causes of misunderstanding is when we try to derive meaning by merely looking at what is being said or done and taking that at face value, and overlooking the context in which it happens, the spirit in which it’s done… and most often, ignoring the complete picture leads us to a totally different meaning… and at times, it complicates things (further).

To make an objective assessment, I guess it it not only good but also imperative to keep in mind the context and the spirit behind the action – it is not an easy task to do it always, as many times the literal face value of the spoken word / act is so strong that you totally miss out thinking about the context… however, once some time has lapsed and you can think a bit more clearly on the subject, it helps to consider the context.

June 16, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sarkar Raj – awesome movie / words of wisdom

Saw Sarkar Raj last night. Pretty powerful story, awesome acting by Amitabh Bachchan (he was too good), and Abhishek seemed damn comfortable as Shankar Nagre.. Aish too did well. I do not want to get into the subject of the story, rather let me share some really wise thoughts from the movie –

1. Living life on your own terms is not something that’s easily available or an easy-to-do thing, so who ever gets to do that or chooses to do that has to pay a price for this luxury.

How very freakishly true!!!

2. Everything is personal.

I used to believe that the key decision-driver for business partnerships is professional, merit-based kind of stuff. Over the years, I have come to realize that most of the times, it is all personal – given that your offering is nothing insanely revolutionary or changing-the-paradigm types, the clincher for partnership is the personal connect, the rapport you share / build with the potential partner. From the partner’s perspective also, even if you know the other vendor/partner has a slight edge, you would still prefer to go with the partner with whom you share a connect and you are more comfortable with. You would be more willing to work with the latter to ensure success. We like to work with people we connect with.

3. Do what you feel is right, people will anyways perceive the way they want to.

I am a strong believer of doing what your heart/mind/conscience feels right… doesn’t really matter what others say… and besides, at the time of making the decision, you have no way of knowing whether it is right or wrong, it’s only in hindsight that you can make that call. Further, people will perceive the way they want to based on their thoughts, experiences, beliefs, predispositions, personal agenda. You have to live with the decision, so it might as well be yours.

4. Decisions/Solutions come out of situations.

On a perfectly nice relaxed sunny day, our clarity of thinking, ability of analyzing and coming up with a balanced decision or a solution is at it’s prime. However, we do not have similar luxury of a perfect background scene when we have to make most of our decisions… most of the times when we have to make crucial decisions, we are not at the peak of our mental engergies, rather we might be under pressure, stressed, feeling not so great… Moreover, all decisions that are to be made have to made keeping the context, the prevailing situation in mind… it’s not one solution fits all similar problems. So, before we pass a judgement on how good or bad a decision is, it is important to consider that decisions are made under differing states of mind, and the situations are different, the context is different and the people making those decisions are different..

5. When you do something, people do not react to you, they do not hate/love you, it’s your thinking that they react to.

And yeah the tag line of the movie is quite something too – Power can not be given, it has to be taken.

June 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pioneers & Settlers

I read a very interesting line this afternoon… adding to that.. here it goes..

In the world of business, there are Pioneers and there are Settlers. Businesses need both.

Knowing who you are will help you in deciding which direction to take.

May 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our views, our wants, our life

Sirf: It’s a movie about four couples from different strata of society and how each couple feels that the other couple’s life is better than theirs. Some interesting observations come to mind as I watch this

– we believe what we want to believe

– we entertain the misunderstandings (good/bad) we want to

– we live in the version and with the view of life we feel most comfortable with

– grass is (and will continue to be) greener on the other side

– anything can be mended if we want to

– any problem can be solved if we want to

– in the final analysis, it is our willingness (the “want“)

– all’s fair and fine as it is eventually our life and it is shaped by our views and our wants..

May 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Living one’s true self..

  • very few people even bother to figure out who / who all 🙂 they are
  • a small fraction can actually figure that out
  • still fewer can be honest about it
  • still fewer can be open about it
  • and an extremely rare breed actually *live* their true self

May 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment