Monday, June 30, 2008

Teaching the intellectuals...

Intellectuals and researchers are so caught up in their work that it is often very difficult to communicate with them. Normal words and meanings dont apply in their sphere of thought. They have their own language... their own methods...

After searching far and wide for a way of getting to them, i found the answer inscribed on a friend's T-Shirt... A path to explain The Meaning of Life in a way that they can comprehend... using commas...


Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Art of Negotiation...

An MBA education teaches you a lot. Apart from the obvious subjects, it teaches you to work with a diverse bunch of motivated students with cut-throat competition on their minds. It teaches you to get along with BIG egos. It teaches you to be political at times. It teaches you to navigate your way thru a maze of problems and issues. On the lighter side, it also teaches you to read a 1000 page book in a single night. But frankly, these were things that I expected out of the MBA. What I dint expect was to learn so much from fellow classmates. Sometimes from interacting with them, sometimes from listening to them and sometimes from simply watching them. Its amazing the things you can pick up.

When you watch people from a distance, you pick up a lot of cues on mannerisms, some good, some not so good. You get to see how really capable people get things done and how incapable people cry for attention. You get to see who among the group is most likely to really go on to becoming good successful managers. You get to see who you can trust and who you cannot. You get to see cry babies. You get to see those few who are, as Prof. Venkat says, “Sheep Lions” (meaning they are really dynamic Lions, but do not realise it themselves... They think they are just sheep).

You also see people who are “Wolves in Sheep skin” - the bad type. You will see a few who will take advantage of just anyone, use them, and then throw them away – the worse type. You will also see outright vile cheats who will stop at nothing to meet their end and even cheat you of property – the worst type.

And then among all these, there are those few Gems, those normally quiet few who can, with one swift effortless sweep, get their things done without causing damage to anyone or anything around them.

A case in point happened a few days back when our Executive Director, PGPM, Prof. Rao and Executive Director, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Prof. Sriram had an informal chat with the entire batch to allay any issues that we faced (Great Lakes is good in that way – the administration listens to the concerns of the students.. Well, atleast most of them :D ). OK, before I recollect the incident let me ask you this – If you don’t agree with certain policies of your institution, how do you deal with it?

If you are like most people, including me, you will raise the issue, you will fight (sometimes to death, coz its the right thing to do or whatever), you will debate on it, sometimes you will close your ears to others logic, fight, fight and more fight – basically you will become a 4 year old child crying for a much wanted toy. I find that most people, young and old, fall in this category. So, is there a different way of getting your way? Yes. And I got to learn that from an expert himself.

Well, let me tell you the story. We get a lot (and by that I mean a LOT) of guest lectures at Great Lakes. Its basically industry people coming over to share gyan or anything that they want to talk about. These are not regular classroom sessions. The takeaway from the talks are varied depending on the speaker and the college puts in a lot of effort to get these going. Since some of these clashes with our regular classes for some sections, which ever section is free gets to sit thru the sessions.

Now, we know that even Amruth in large quantities is bad. During Term 1, students from Section 2 (E2) got to sit thru most, if not all, of the lectures. Things got to a point where they had to sit thru one of these lectures right before a Term Exam! Obviously, tempers were high and lot of resentment was in the air. So when Prof. Rao and Prof Sriram addressed the entire batch we were expecting a flurry of questions regarding it and expected it to be obviously along the lines that I previously mentioned.

At this point, before anyone raised the issue, Mr Ranjit Shankar, a classmate and friend, stood up and said
“Sir, I have a concern regarding the scheduling of the Guest Lectures” And I was thinking – So, the deluge begins... But something quite unexpected happened then.

Mr Ranjit continued “Sir, E2 section has had the good fortune of attending all the Guest Lectures, both scheduled and adhoc. While it is really great that we get to be part of all the Guest Lectures and learn so much from them, I feel that we are getting undue advantage here. The other sections also have an equal right to be part of the guest lectures and I feel we are depriving them of these wonderful opportunities. I hope that all future lectures will be scheduled so that the other 2 batches, E1 and E3, will also be be able to take full advantage of it. Infact, E2 is more than willing to sacrifice the opportunities and advantages for a while so that the other batches can catch up with us!”

All of us understood what he was hinting at, but the way he said it made us all sit up and take notice. Even Prof. Rao took the hint and replied in equal finesse:

“It is not that we have a plan to give the E2 section special advantage by depriving the other 2 sections from enjoying the benefits of the guest lectures, but it just happened that the time slots that we got from the guest lectures happened to clash with the schedules of the other sections. That’s all... Hence forth, we will try our level best to give the pleasure of the guest lectures to the other sections too. Please bear with us on this until we sort this out”

And in that smooth move, Mr Ranjit laid to rest an issue that could have brought the students locking horns with the management. And if you are wondering, he got results too. Not that there are any less of guest lectures to be content with, but nowadays E2 does not get “undue advantage” alone... The rest of the class gets to enjoy it along with them!!!

Many thanks to Mr Ranjit for showing me an alternate path in The Art of Negotiation...


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Of Pots and Pans...

Way back when we were in school, my friend Vinod’s dad bought a complete set of non-stick cookware set as a gift for aunty. Non-stick cookware was such a novelty back then (and a very expensive one at that) that it was almost considered a Prestige Issue (pardon the pun) to own even one. And here was aunty with a complete set!

Now, I don’t mean to hint here that Vinod’s family was looking for a lot of Prestige (again, pardon the pun). Rather his dad loved his mom so much that he bought her the entire set so as to relieve her from the burden of washing away grime and dried up charcoal from the utensils after a hard evenings work of cooking the family dinner.

A couple of days after this the whole family went out leaving the domestic help in charge of cooking and cleaning. When they returned after a couple of hours of shopping, aunty was greeted by a full set of gleaming, swanky new set of aluminum utensils. And she couldn’t find her non-stick cookware anywhere.

When she asked the domestic help, she replied “Madam, I found all the utensils black in colour covered with charcoal due to burnt food... So I took a lot of pains to clean each of them until they gleamed... Good no?”

What culd aunty say to such dedication? Even if it meant having to see her precious gift shining in all its glory!!!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fast track to success...

How would you define a fast track MBA program?

Is it finishing Operations Management in 5 days, 4 hours each and being done with 1 Quiz, 1 group case study and a finals in the allotted 20 hrs?

Or finishing Marketing management with 2 Quizzes, one group project and one finals in 20 hours

Or finishing Corporate Finance in the equal span of 20 hours but with 13 extra pre-readings (other than text chapters), 3 Quizzes, 1 finals, 1 individual case study and one group project?

ow about this: Having to read and understand the entire Bhagavath Gita (A 200 page book from Ramakrishna Math), a complicated research paper on “The Epic Period” and Vivekananda’s discourse on “The Sages of India” in one SINGLE night?

Well, I think the last one defines it the best.

MBA at Great lakes is so truly fast track that it makes me dizzy!!!

Oh! and BTW, all these are happening in parallel...


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Meditation, its not always what it seems...

My first job was at Bangalore and being a bachelor way back then (Yea, it was along time back), I stayed with a bunch of my equally bachelor school friends - Vinod, Rohit, Anoob and Shyam. All the 5 of us used to be cramped in a tiny 1 BHK house. I mean the place was so tiny that to go to the toilet, you had to turn your bum to face the indian toilet, move in gingerly, make sure you had your plastic mug in your hands and then just sit. And for the next 5-10 mins, you can enjoy the clostrophobic feeling of a "made-to-order" size toilet.

My friends are great guys... truely world class. Each has his own set of tales. Ill talk about them sometime i guess. Anoob was a major Bhakt of Sri Sri Ravi Shanker. If he could help it, he would not for the world miss his morning and evening Art of Living yoga sessions. All of us would wake up to the enchanting sounds of his "OOooMMmm" and heavy breathing exercises.

As I mentioned, he did his yoga in the mornings and evenings. So we were surprised to hear him chant the Mantra in the afternoon. As was the custom at our house, no one disturbed him. But his "OOooMMmm"s became increasingly regular and one too many. We were wondering why he was chanting so many "OM"s. After a while, we could take it no more and decided to see what he was really upto.

We opened the door to bedroom to find Anoob lying on the bed as if contempltating though he had a distorted look on his face... Just as we were about to ask him abou all the "OM"s, he let out another even louder one...

"UUUuuuMMMMmmmm" We realised, He had just had a heavy lunch and he was burping..


Sunday, June 22, 2008

My monthly period...

"Om Shanthi..."

"Filled full with Brahman are the things we see,
Filled full with Brahman are the things we see not,
From out of Brahman floweth all that is,
From Brahman all -- yet he is still the same."

"Remember.. your aim in life should be to attain ultimate happiness"

"Do your Karma without expecting anything back, and you will attain the ultimate goal of any being... Moksha"

"Your Karma, or your actions, determines your reincarnation"

"All Karma has good and bad side... what is good for one person might be bad for another... hence there is no point in worrying about it... just do your best"

"If you think bad things, then your Karma will be bad... but instead if you think good things, then your Karma will be good"

"Freedom is the ultimate goal of every soul... and your Karma will determine if you achieve it or not"

"Don't be attached to your work... be free... don't have bondage... let go of all attachment"

Ok... Ok... I've not gone mad with the Upanishads (thanks to Great lakes). This "holy pain in the behind" transformation happens to me every month. Well, its only natural for me. It is my Life. It is my Lakshya... for the lord has commanded that once a month I turn into Sri Satya Sai Georgeaananda Baba!

The only way to Moksha is to shave my head... Om Shanthi... 


Friday, June 20, 2008

Reliance... Reliance... why art thou so Unreliance...

I was again out of action due to my dada card having stopped working... This time for a whole 5 days and counting!! I’ve bitched about reliance before.. And a plan to continue doing the same. I mean they are so inefficient that they don’t deserve to stay in business. Infact, its amazing hey still are!

Once I found that my data card wasn’t working, I made a lot of frantic calls to their customer care. Reliance Customer Care is one of a kind, let me tell you that. And I’m pretty darn glad they are... Coz they truly suck at it! Here is a transcript of a couple of my calls. (Honestly, there is no fudging here... These were more or less actual conversations)

Call 1

Me: “Hi, my num is so-n-so, my data card is not working”
Cust care person: “We are very delighted to have your call”

What?! They should not be delighted at getting complaint calls. Its as if they are creating complaints just to delight themselves.

Me: “Right... In the mean time, I’m not able to connect to the net”
Cust care person: “I see that you have been using this for almost 2 months now.”
Me: “Yes”
Cust care person: “Are you sure you have the right settings?”

You should appreciate how much I have matured over the years to keep my cool at this point!

Me: ”Obviously, how else could I have been using the card all this while?!”
Cust care person: ”Ok, what operating system do you use?”
Me: “OS X”
Cust care person: ”No sir, Operating system... Like windows XP, Vista”
Me: “OS X... Mac OS X”
Cust care person: {curt reply} “We don’t service Macintosh”
Me: “What do you mean you don’t service? You sold me the modem for Mac!”
Cust care person: {curt reply} “We don’t service Macintosh”

And the call got disconnected. Yes, really! The way they avoided Mac, You would think Mac was some kind of medieval disease or something!!

Call 2

Me: “Hi, my num is so-n-so, I’m not able to connect to the net”
Cust care person: “Sure sir, I help you with data card”
Me: “Thanks, can you please take down the complaint”
Cust care person: “Sure sir. Please tell me problem”
Me: “Well... Like I said I’m not able to connect to the net”
Cust care person: “Are you connected modem?”

I could see that this conversation was going to be interesting.

Me: “Ofcourse yes...”
Cust care person: “Ok Sir, is there error message?”
Me: “Yes, error 649”
Cust care person: “Ok, I take down problem”
Me: “Thank you!”
Cust care person: “What is your OS?”
Me: “Mac OS X”
Me: {hastily} “But I have tried on Win XP too”
Cust care person: “Sorry sir, we not service you”

What the F***

Me: “WHAT?!! Why??!!”
Cust care person: “We not service Mac”
Me: “Dude... I told you I tried on an XP machine too!”
Cust care person: “Sir, It is happy that you take reliance. But we not service you”

IT is happy? What Reliance is run by some animal or something? Ofcourse! Mr Anil Ambani, the devil incarnate monster! But even his employees call him IT? Anyway, the call was cutoff again.


Rock Solid!!

“Its Rocky’s class man…”
“Rocky? Who’s that?”
“Prof. Rakesh Singh… Our Macro Economics Prof.”
“So, why the long face?”
“You’ll have one too if you knew about him. He is supposed to be a terror… “

Thus was my introduction of Prof. Singh. But we’ve had tough Profs before and so I took this in with a pinch of salt… C’mon.. How much worse can this get? Soon I realised the folly of thinking so. Prof. Singh made sure we understood that too. Him being a terror was an understatement! First time he came to class he asked us for our background and since most of us were engineers, he pooh-poohed us and got on with the class. He even told us that he knew he was known to be a tough nut… And he plans to keep up the reputation! At the end of the class he gave us an assignment that we were to submit by the end of the day.

All of us went to work and came up with what we thought were good reports. But he scoffed at these too!!! Man! This guy was sure hard to please. This cycle of assignments-submissions-scoffs went on for days with our patience running short as each day passed. Its not that we had a problem with doing the assignments per say (it was expected of us, and we are willing to do it too), but the way he reacted to them. And the worst part was, he would not even explain anything much to us save some funda about basic Macro Economic variables. But as to how it all tied together with the assignments we did, we dint have much clue! We were all in a state of utter confusion… Not knowing what is right and what is not. People began to crack, tempers started running high “Why on earth is he coming here Man! He dosen’t even teach anything! What a waste of all our time. Anything I’ve learnt in macro is purely due to my hard work in understanding it.” So on and so forth.

After a week and a half of this torture, we got a long break from him – about a week. But later we came to know that we were scheduled to have his classes for the 2 days preceding our term exams. Damn it! He is gonna give us some assignments and we will have to sit up late into the night doing them instead of preparing for the exams. And that’s exactly what happened. He asked us to figure out why the crisis of 1991 occurred and what after that. Tough one. But we managed. We even managed to write the exams pretty ok.

Then we had his last class on a Sunday @ 12 noon (the next day we were to have accounts and stats term exams). All of us were jittery, yet most of us were present even though there was a nasty rumour of a surprise quiz. That din’t happen, instead Prof Singh started his discourse on the economic history of India - since the time of independence. There was pin drop silence in the class. He went on and on and soon one and a half hours had zoomed past. At 1:30 PM Prof. Singh asked how many of us wanted to go for lunch. Just 3 hands shot up. The rest of us were glued to our chairs and waiting for him to go on. True to his word of him being democratic and taking the majority vote, he went on to speak for another 1 and quarter hours.

At 2:45 PM, a riveting 2 hours and 45 mins later, he stopped his story stating “And that is the India story. Thank you” and majestically walked out of the room to a sea of applause. I can honestly say it was the loudest we had given to any of our Profs. We were all amazed at the things he said, the clarity with which he summarised his thoughts and at the way he explained it all to us. It took most of us another 5 mins to budge from our seats. We were all in a trance…

Soon after this we were discussing this amongst ourselves. “Why couldn’t he have told us all this before itself? Why did he have to put us thru so much agony and mental torture?” The answer came to us almost instantly. There was no other way he could have taught a subject like Macro Economics in 10 hours. By putting us thru all that grind and umpteen assignments, he made sure that we had had most of our foundations intact before he told us the real thing. Otherwise we would never have understood or even appreciated the subject.

Needless to say, the Macro Economics Subject has been one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had this far in my MBA education. So much so that I cant wait to go thru this same harrowing experience with Micro Economics… But sadly, that will have to wait for 4th term…

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Notebooks... Old and New

June 1st week used to be a dreaded time for me for most part of my life. Thats when school reopened after 2 months of summer vacations. My mom used to have all my books ready, texts and notes, covered by brown paper or plastic cover in the hope that I would somehow metamorphose into a model student. Sadly that never happened... She still dreams of how good it would have been to have an IIT-ian son!

Its a different matter that all the covered books would somehow become unwrapped in a matter of just 2 days. I'm still to unravel the mystery in the above mentioned unraveling. but it wasn't me who did it... honest ;) 

I thought that was the last I would see of covered notebooks. How wrong I was... 

There are all  kinds of people with all kinds of modern notebooks (read laptops) in my MBA class. But what I dint expect to find is a reminiscent of my school days in a modern form. 

Plastic covered Notebook! Take a look...


Friday, June 13, 2008

Stupid Reliance...

Wonder who thought up that name for the company. They are anything but reliable! 

For instance the latest Reliance Power IPO. Its was such a failure that even Mr Anil Ambani dint want the company's shares and was handing it out to anyone who would take it away from him!

Another case: My Reliance net connect does not work at my house anymore. It works only when I bring it to college. (and hence my not posting any blogs for the last 2 days). They told me I would get speeds of upto 144 Kbps. I should have guessed they included ZERO in that upto condition :-S So now I'm stuck with a connection that seldom works, gives me blaaaazing speeds of upto 7 Kbps (Including ZERO) and costs me Rs 1500 per month + tax! Aint I a lucky guy! 

BTW, would anyone be interested in buying the connection from me? 


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

1/8th MBA... or am I?

Amidst all the chaos of macro and marketing assignments up until even the previous day, our  first term exams are finally over. Well, it sounds as if the exams took a month or something, but in reality it was just 3 days. 

So how did I do? 

Well, I would like to think that I did extremely well with the ANOVA, correlation, regression, marketing cash cows and dogs, GDP, NNP and mental schemas...

My Profs just might beg to differ...

Only time will tell...


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Seal of Zzuggzzezzzzz....

Every major industry was a growth industry. But some that are now riding a wave of growth enthusiasm are very much in the shadow of decline. Others that are thought of as seasoned growth industr.. Zzzzzzzzz....

Until recently, the rural market was beyond the purview of the corporate radar. Most of the companies, in consumer durables space, concentrated on the urban market and selectively ignored th... Zzzzzzzz....

In recent years, the contagion effect has become more pronounced primarily because of the rapid integration of global economies. Though the phenomenon of global stock market contagion comes for deba... Zzzzzzzzz....

The real purpose of scientific method is to make sure Nature hasn't misled you into thinking you know something you don't actually know. There's not.... Zzzzzzzzzzz...

One major reason for using marketing research is to idenify market opporunities. Once the research is complete, marketers must measure and forcast the size, growth and profit potential of each mar... Zzzzzzzzzz....

Interestingly, models of open innovation offer the promise that firms can achieve a greater return on their innovative activities and their intellectual property (IP) by loosening their control op.... Zzzzzzzzz....

BANG and there I had it! The Archimedes moment had arrived... I ran out of the library shouting “EUREKA! EUREKA! KITTI POYEEEE...” (sans the clothes bit, but with drool all over my face)

I had the answer to the ultimate question:
What is the hallmark of a good research paper?

Answer: Put the average reader to sleep within the first 2 sentences!!
Man, I truly hope my research paper will be half as boring!!!


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Some unanswered questions...

I got this sms from Smrithi the other day and felt its something that needs to be shared... BTW, if you know the answer(s), please put it on the "Pies" section. 

1) If all the countries (including the US, the biggest of them all) are in debt, where did all the money go?
2) When they say "New and Improved, better taste!" for dog food, who tests it? 
3) If you spin an oriental man, does he become disoriented?
4) If the "BlackBox" flight recorder is not damaged during a plane crash, why isn't the entire damn plane built of that stuff?
5) Who has the copyright to the copyright symbol?
6) Why do doctors call what they do "Practice"? {Scary!}
7) If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one around, does it still make a noise?
8) If a cannibal ate a clown, would it taste funny?
9) Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?
10) If you try to fail and you fail, have you succeeded? or failed?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The "MBA Paradox"

An MBA education makes your life all topsy-turvy. Infact its doing something very similar to that to me... something that I call the "MBA Paradox"

now that i have absolutely no time to waste or to spare, I'm wasting more of it!! 
now that i have absolutely no time to blog, I'm blogging more than ever... 
now that i have absolutely no time to sleep,  where I used to sleep just 4 hrs, I'm sleeping 6-8 hrs!! 
now that i have absolutely no time to surf, I'm surfin all the more...
now that i have absolutely no time to day dream, I'm day dreaming all the more... 
now that i have absolutely no time to ramble, I end up doing just that...
now that i have absolutely no time for extra-curriculars, thats all I'm doing.

Maybe I'm becoming more efficient than ever... or is that just wishful thinking?

I wonder...