Jun 26, 2008

A dream come true!

Having been an ardent admirer of Dr.Abdul Kalam, his books and his vision 2020, I always had the dream to hear his speech in person. This dream turned a reality at IIMB last evening. I got to experience how a good opening of a speech can make a powerful impact, a lesson I learnt from Toastmasters. He started off with the following verses:-
Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Just walk beside me, and be my friend.

Dr.Kalam painted a picture of his vision 2020 and highlighted different areas such as infrastructure, energy and agriculture where management graduates can play a vital role. He also urged on the importance of employablity and put forth key leadership traits such as vision, exploring the unexplored, courage and integrity. Creative leadership means being a coach rather than a commander and a mentor rather than a manager.

More than his talk, I admired the way he tackled the questions. When a guy listed down a series of problems that India is facing, he encouraged him to think about what he could do to solve some of these problems. Youth should enter developmental politics and not political politics.

As a fitting end to the evening, he made the audience take an oath that we would work with integrity and succeed with integrity. An experience I would cherish for a long time!

Jun 23, 2008

Not so long ago!

Seeds of leadership were sown when I fought for the fundamental rights of kids - to play and have fun.

As I sit in my balcony trying to make sense of the extremes "business of a business is business" and corporate social responsibility, the kids in my apartment complex are enjoying the company of each other, playing some games and shouting on top of their voices. I could feel myself being transported back to 14 years when I was one among them. Every evening, after school it was a fun evening with my neighborhood friends. Being the eldest, I came up with new games and activities.

"My son is preparing for CA. Do you know how tough the exams are? Go home and stop playing every evening" - my neighbor uncle blasted us one day. I boldly replied "Ask him to close all the windows and study". I didn't care much about his son's studies then.

When I look at the kids today, I regret the fact that I have grown up. I sit here, admiring these little kids and their tantrums. Although kids have become more sophisticated these days, the basic premise remains the same. Amidst their games, they stare at me wondering why this aunty (???) is looking at us and not her books. Do I tell them that they are more interesting than the Milton Friedman's article? :-)

Jun 19, 2008

fine to falter and flounder

My contribution to 3WW

a horrendous job to
wade through the dark forest
dried leaves, brown sticks
strewn around everywhere

holding hands together
frequenting this wonderland
quite often, hoping for
a treasure to get exposed

someday rain played spoilsport
drenching the brown mud and rocks
making the grounds slippery
bringing alive the sucking leeches

undeterred by the lashing wind
unscathed by the oozing blood
determined to discover the trove
working diligently, we dug deep

an old wooden box
locked tight by its side
with intricate carvings
revealed itself with pride

fine to falter and flounder
the only objective to open,
there she lies, our sweet pie
the cute kitten, feeling shy

Jun 17, 2008

A quest

My contribution to Cafe Writing - May & June project

Aroused by the pure rays of the sun
wakes up to the mellow voice of the cuckoo
with no need to scurry, admires the beauty
of the shades and colors of morning sky

devours the tunes of enchanting temple bells
the fragrance of burgeoning jasmine bushes
every reason to feel zealous about the dawn
unscathed by the hustle and bustle of metros

nerves her to hit the road yet again
in her embellished bullock cart
waving hands to the men and women
of the distant green fields

a nomad by choice, wandering through life
befriending toddlers and children on her way
humming to the tunes of the rustling leaves
in quest for her destination, nowhere

Jun 16, 2008

Sign off, Saturdays!

A perfect weekend it was! With the last free Saturday for the next one year (My 2nd year of PGSEM begins this Friday), it has to be something special. I woke up late at 8:30 AM and prepared myself a hot cup of tea. I love to sip my tea slowly and glance through the newspaper headlines. A day began that way makes me feel so good. I don't like to rush around this morning routine. But I don't get to have such a luxurious time every morning.

It's been a month since I shifted to my new home. But the cleaning hadn't got over yet. After 2 days of efforts, my home now looks so neat. The feel-good factor cannot be explained in words - with my bookshelf neatly stacked, my study table arranged with all those colorful, not-so-frequently used MBA textbooks, my music system plugged in and ready to be played anytime I want. Sifting through the horrendous pile of items and characterizing them into useful and junk is not an easy task with a person like me who loves to cling onto each and every piece of item. "I might use my 5 year old java notes sometime later", "I can play this old flute in my free time", "This is my college ID card, I can't get rid of it" - with lots of such thoughts and arguments, the weekend passed with repeats of a couple of hours of sorting and arranging, aptly rewarded with an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S for the efforts that we had to put. I ended up watching around 8-10 episodes and all I could hear in my dreams were Ross's "We were on a break!!".

Experimenting with cooking new dishes used to be my favorite past time on Saturdays a year ago. I happened to catch up on that as well. The only thing that was missing was a lazy siesta after a heavy home made lunch. All these tasks were made possible, thanks to one main reason - I didn't switch on my laptop for the whole weekend.

Jun 11, 2008

The 3 mistakes of my life

Here comes another interesting, witty and melodramatic novel "The 3 mistakes of my life" from Chetan Bhagat, his third offering after "Five point someone" and "One night at the call center". This new book has a similar flow in terms of simple phrases and day-to-day conversations. Contrary to his other two books, this one is slightly serious and touches upon real issues like politics and religion.

The protogonist Govind plans to start his own business (a cricket shop in particular) along with his two best friends Ishant and Omi. Govind has been responsible right from his childhood and has been supporting his mother. Mathematics is his passion and he can only think in terms of numbers. Ishant, a local cricketer is very passionate about the game. His attempt to join the army failed because of which his dad is unhappy about him. Omi, the son of a priest is a very reclusive and aimless person but very much inclined towards his religious beliefs. There are other interesting characters - Ali, a young cricketer who has tremendous skills with special abilities; Vidya, Ishant's younger sister and the love interest of Govind; Bittoo Mama, Omi's maternal uncle who plays a pivotal role in this plot. The story is about the impact of three mistakes that Govind commits in his life on other people's lives. A fast paced, at times witty and at times emotional narration; A typical Chetan Bhagat style, I should say! But at times, the incidents became very serious. Maybe, Chetan tried to give a complete picture and not just the fun aspect of these characters.

The story is centered around Gujarat and the lives of people there. The way he has interwoven real life incidents (Ind v/s Aus Kolkata test match, Gujarat earthquake, Godhra violence, 9/11 etc) with the storyline made me think if it's indeed a real story. There are a couple of glitches I couldn't stand - too much use of the F word by everyone, including Bittoo Mama who is supposedly an elder person involved in active politics, lots of management jargon in the first half when Govind and his friends have just started their cricket shop. These doesn't gel with the dialogues and seem to just hang around.

"3 mistakes" is a light fiction which can easily be read through in 3-4 hours. Don't expect it to be a FPS or ONACC. The style might be similar but the storyline very different :-)

Jun 6, 2008

ஏன் இந்த நிலைமை

என் குழப்பங்கள்
என் ஏமாற்றங்கள்
இன்று நான் தோன்றவா?
மலையின் பின் ஒழியவா?

உலகத்தை பார்த்து
ஒரு சிறு புன்னகை
ஆனால் அதை கவனிக்க
யாருமில்லா சூழ் நிலை

வாழ்க்கை ஓட்டம்
ஓடும் மனிதர்கள்
ஒரு நிமிடம் என்னை
பார்க்காத சிறுவர்கள்

குழவிக்கு சோறு ஊட்ட
நான் இனிமேல் தேவையில்லை
Animal Planet டும்
Pogoவும் போதும்

சிறு சிறு சோற்று உருண்டை
கையில் வைத்து நிலாச்சோறு
குடும்பத்துடன் ஒன்றாய்
வெற்றுத்தரையில் அமர் ந்து

அன்று என் முன்
கதைகள் சொல்ல ஏராளம்,
இன்று தொலைக்காட்சி முன்
கை விரலுக்கு வேலை தாராளம்

A rough translation in English

Why such a state?

My confusions
My disappointments
Should I rise today?
Should I hide behind the mountains?

I look at the world
and offer a slight smile,
But no one to notice
is my pathetic state

Engaged in the race
of life are the adults,
No leisure time in the
hands of the children

To feed the newborn,
I'm no longer needed
There is Animal Planet
and Pogo these days

Small balls of rice
placed in the centre of palms,
the whole family united
together and ate their dinner

in front of me then
lots of stories to tell,
in front of TV now
lots of work for the fingers

Jun 4, 2008

Not so routine but special

When you do something which used to be a routine activity after a very long time, it feels very special. I totally agree with this statement. I used to be a regular listener of Sun Music a year ago. But after a few months, the same songs were repeated and mostly, those were the new songs. I couldn't bear to hear the stupid comments or questions from those VJs. They just spoil the experience of music by continuous talking. Once I got into PGSEM, I stopped watching Sun Music completely which gave me some time in the evening for my course work.

Now, with the vacation and a new Tata Sky connection at home, I turned to Sun music last night. I'm not sure if it was my luck or they have seriously changed their songs collection. My favorite songs started flowing one after the other and moreover, the RJ was also bearable. Some of the songs that I listened to and happily sang at the top of my voice while preparing dinner are these -

Rojavai thalattum thendral from ??
Poongatru un per solla from Vettri Vizha
Mandram vandha from Mouna Raagam
Vaa vaa kanna vaa from Veelaikkaaran
Medhuvaa medhuvaa oru kaadhal paatu from Anna nagar mudhal theru

Illayaraja, SPB and Chitra at their best, I should say!

Jun 3, 2008

A novel experience!

The last weekend was very special for numerous reasons. First and foremost, I had never stayed in a campus hostel either during my school or college days. Thanks to the 3 day leadership event "LCube" organized at IIM Bangalore, I got to experience the life in a hostel as a PGSEM student. What a beautiful campus IIMB has! Although I go to IIMB every weekend for my classes, I never took the time to roam around the entire campus and admire the greenery. The campus is so serene and peaceful, with absolutely no noise from the traffic woes of Bannerghatta Road. This stay also gave me a chance to meet new people - both my seniors and juniors. It also paved a way to know the fun side of a few of my classmates. These three days were packed with action that I slept for less than 6 hours and yet I felt fresh the whole day.

The leadership workshop brought in a lot of fun and thought provoking activities, games and theatre events. Although I didn't get much of the theory that was discussed, I enjoyed the different activities. As groups, we danced, enacted a short play, composed a tune, wrote the lyrics and even sang in front of the group. There was self introspection and deep thinking to understand ourselves. There was also an activity to write my own obituary which set me into deep pondering about my life. Some of the key take-aways from this workshop are
- A leader is no leader if there is no one to follow him/her.
- Trust is very important between the leader and his/her followers.
- A leader needs to be authentic. His thoughts, feelings and actions ought to be in sync.

I participated in a role play event "Practicing pundits" where different challenges faced by the software industry are given as scenarios and the participants need to put themselves in the shoes of the decision maker. The prelims was just a rehash of the OB concepts that we learnt in the first year which we were able to crack through and get into finals. Although my team didn't win, atleast I didn't make a fool of myself.

The quiz prelims on global leaders was so tough that I could hardly answer 5 questions out of 25. The finals was an interesting watch, with hard core quizzers taking the plunge.

A vacation is one that when you come back, you feel rejuvenated. I felt the same when I returned home after stay at IIMB.

My strategy on "Strategy"

Points that I presented to 2008 batch PGSEM students as part of their induction programme on June 1st 2008. My presentation was an overview of "Strategic Management" course which is a core course in Quarter 1.

Disclaimer
Based on my experiences as a 2007 student

Strategy
- Given a firm’s strengths and limitations under certain market conditions and external environmental factors, what should be its objectives in order to build a competitive position in the industry?

What’s this course all about?
- Provides a foundation for subsequent courses on marketing, finance and operations
- Covers many analytical frameworks to identify a problem and evaluate alternate solutions
- Emphasize on holistic thinking when taking important decisions
- Identify and analyze the impact of
- external factors such as Govt policies, market conditions and industry dynamics
- internal factors such as strengths of the firm, capabilities and weaknesses

Frameworks
- SWOT
- Porter’s five forces model
- Generic strategies
- Resource based view
- OCA (objectives, criteria, alternatives)
- Miles and Snow typology

Methodology
- Case based approach of learning
- Typically 2 cases per week with additional articles/theory as readings
- Cases from different industries and firms across the globe – Coca-Cola, Dell, Southwest Airlines, Zara Fashions, Samsung Electronics, Google, Walmart etc
- Become friends with Michael Porter
- 3P strategy (Preparation, participation and postmortem)

Case preparation
- Read the case - don't ponder too much on the facts, don't get judgmental in the first read (45 min - 1 hr)
- Read it again - this time, give importance to case facts. Do not ignore exhibits. Make notes if needed (1 hr)
- Go over the assigned readings/theory (1-2 hrs)
- Read the case again with conceptual knowledge. Make notes based on your analysis (1 hr)

Class participation
- If (any of the previous 4 steps not completed) then exit;
- Participate effectively but don’t get into arguments
- Even if you are doubtful about your analysis, put forth your viewpoints
- Professor or your classmates would either oppose/defend your argument
- Do not disrupt the flow of the discussion by bringing in irrelevant points to the table

Postmortem
- Participate in after-class discussions (typically happens over email)
- Analyze the current trends and latest strategic decisions of the firm
- Has the firm’s strategy you understood from the case undergone any drastic changes?

Term paper/project
- Analysis of an industry
- Evolutionary and revolutionary changes
- Key players and their growth patterns
- Contemporary challenges
- Your recommendations to face these challenges
- Make use of the frameworks/concepts to conduct an effective analysis

End term exam
- Open book
- Case analysis
- Clearly articulate your analysis/viewpoints
- Ample time given, so take some time to read the case carefully
- Don’t jump to conclusions

What did I do right?
- Spent good amount of time every week in case preparations
- Participated in class discussions
- Selected a different industry for analysis as part of term paper, very good learning experience
- Was able to articulate my case analysis clearly in end term

Where did I miss out?
- Not much efforts in postmortem
- Didn’t dive deep into theory (“text book”)
- Didn’t enforce the 4-step preparation process for all cases

Jun 2, 2008

Let the music play!

It's a rare occasion when two albums of Rahman of different genre release around the same time. I was hoping that Ada would be better than Jaane Tu yaa Jaane naa but I was wrong. JTYJN is a superb album with many beautiful songs. Except for one song, Ada didn't impress me that much.
"Meherbaan" from Ada is such a soothing, caressing melody that my eyes have been welling up ever since I listened to this song for the first time last week. It starts off with a similar tune as of "Shauk hai" from Guru but that's just for the first couple of seconds, after which Rahman takes the listeners through a magical journey. I'm just mesmerized by his voice and the humming while the background score goes slow. The instrumental version of the song is equally good. Although I'm not attracted to any of the other songs in this movie, I'm just hooked onto this brilliant composition and voice. This is definitely one of my favorites of Rahman.

The album JTYJN has a range of brilliant songs. This album is on similar lines like Kaadhal Desam, Kaadhalar Dhinam etc. Youthful, peppy and foot tapping numbers! A romantic melody "Kahin to hogi ho" is sung so beautifully by Rashid Ali and Vasundhara Das. I missed her voice for quite some time. This is my most favorite song of the album.

"Nazrein milaana" is a peppy, foot tapping number that caught my attention right from the first hearing. I just watched a trailer of this song and can't wait to watch the picturization of the whole song. The jazzy song "Tu Bole" sung by Rahman himself is a unique composition with trumpet tunes used for interludes and has some interesting lyrics. There is a slight resemblance to Sillunu Oru Kaadhal title track. Another superb song is "Kabhi Kabhi Aditi" sung by Rashid Ali again. I like the background tune that flows in throughout the song. I would call it a morning song as this will cheer your mood for the whole day. And for all the fans of fast paced numbers, there is "Pappu can't dance" which will make you dance.

I guess this movie should be worth a watch, with such nice songs and ofcourse Imraan Khan!

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