Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Absolute or Relative: the game to play

IIT was the first place to witness relative grading. Almost after 12 years I want to tell you why playing relative is a poor concept.

Experience makes you both wiser and bitter. Comparisons are pretty irrelevant between individuals as backgrounds, capabilities and motivations almost always differ. Most of us are grappling with multitude of vagaries of life. The wisdom gained over time tells me to stop comparing and competing with anyone except myself. The bitterness grows when I observe lack of understanding of this concept in our society. The tendency to compare is also embedded in me somewhere which needs to be worked on.

It is high time we redefine failure and success for our own well being. To do better than most and still have a poor life because focus is on there are some still better than you is unfair. One of the seven sins is envy and playing relative makes us prone to it. It hardly serves our purpose as it can lead to distractions from our own self. A better approach is to ask ourselves what can we offer to the world and then spend our energies to do that better. If someone does even that better than us, applaud and learn. Competition is good and also necessary to measure and push ourselves but let it not bring us down. The want for competition should be self-driven and the mind should be trained to accept failure.

I'm not giving the pill of following your passions and day dreaming like it's a fad these days. Think first, understand your background, responsibilities, risks and most importantly the fire and capabilities within you. If you are not the "special" one regarded by the society, understand this, it does not always translate to a "special" life and vice versa. Go absolute. Stop measuring against others. Start assessing yourself, your goals, your desires, your limitations. Basically get real.

The stress of relative game will kill most of us over time, the realization of beauty within and our uniqueness will lead to a better life.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Work for yourself

Its been more than 7 years working in industry and 5 small or big companies I've been part of, each having its own distinct culture and way of operating. In this piece, won't be discussing on culture though but how my thinking has evolved after being part of these companies.

After college it was typical to make choices based on compensation and easy to get carried away in a profession where you do not belong. A costly mistake, not only in terms of money but also as it affects your mental well being over time. The future career either becomes tough to handle or you are compelled to start all over again. The power of compounding and sticking to what you want to do is always the best bet to take.

Most employees are liabilities on the firm just because they pretend to be what they are not. They do not want to be actually there. This is true for employees even at mid-senior levels. A trend that I've observed is most of the top brass in a company is very committed, focused and clear in its goals.

The point that I wish to highlight to who are relatively new to the industry is never take a job because of money only, if you cannot do justice to it or you do not want to be a part of the work that people inside are doing. You waste valuable time, invite negativity, risk your reputation, end up with little achievements and poor results which might not be a reflection of your true self and capabilities. More often than not you would not end up with good relationships as well. Just as you choose your friends choose a job and work life which you would love to be a part of. Remember even if it pays slightly less it would be far more rewarding in longer term. Easier said than done though, but if you can please do it for yourself. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Staying back is staying back

I always thought giving a fight is good and arbitrage was something which dies out pretty soon and not something worth going for. Recently I've begin to question my old kind of beliefs. Working hard can be good but it can be pretty unnecessary and uneconomic. The context I am talking about here is working in India.

The quality of life, the issue one has to deal with and long term career and infrastructure progression in India is not up to global standards for sure. Dollar pay still beats most of the good jobs here and lets accept the fact India is mostly an offshore destination and there is never the same kind of recognition you get being in offshore. So looking back after 7 years of passing out of IIT one of the things that I would have definitely done differently was to get out this country, get a foreign degree and skip the pain of going through the rigors here.

It still baffles me in such an interconnected world which is moving so fast, why India is still uneconomic and a low return per unit stress destination to work in. Add to it earning in Rupees does not make you good enough to spend internationally with ease. So when I look around people from down south being transported to USA I feel I too should have joined the bandwagon.

Being international is much more important probably than to be in tier-I college if we are analyzing the quality of life. So all those who have just got out - go out and lose the inhibitions before its too late. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Post IIT: Dilemma and solution

I don't know whether I'm the only IITian thinking about this or there are many. There are higher expectations from life after IIT in terms of career and ambitions. And you often end up with relative failure. Why?

1. Is it a case of high expectations or just an alignment to appropriate levels based on your capabilities? 
2. Is it change in your methodologies/ways that leads to such a situation or are different skills required to tackle a more practical and not-so meritocratic system in the outside world?

As an IITian I keep measuring myself against my peers, against my expectations and against society as a whole. And more often than not results are disappointing. And then I think further about personal circumstances, the choices I make/made given certain constraints, how coming from different backgrounds and having different starting points have an effect. Should money or successful professional career be the only metric for success? If they indeed are, do you have control over them? If yes, how much control?

Looking for answers  ----

1. Warren Buffet is biased towards brainy people and yet he feels its a small ingredient in the overall "success" of a person. He attributes his success to emotional stability, doing what he loves for a living, starting early and being born in US(concedes he was lucky to be born in a capitalistic society). He also says the book by his teacher Ben Graham on investing changed his life. A very good idea he shares is look for people whom you like and whom you don't like, write down 5 qualities which you like/dislike about them. Practice to follow the ones you like and the ones you dislike to become better all the time. In the long term, you will automatically become the most liked person you wanted to become at the first place. Key takeaways from Warren: Do simple things right all the time. Seems easy but its quite tough to follow. 

2. Sachin Tendulkar says become a good person first and then you can give a shot at something else. We all listened to the great man in his farewell speech. However talented and gifted you may be; preparation, discipline, hardwork and overall work ethic are extremely important. Playing in the right spirit never hurts. Ricky Ponting was a great player but the kind of love, respect and admiration Sachin garnered was truly exceptional; a testimony to the great man's way of carrying himself.

3. Sanjay Bakshi, professor at MDI Gurgaon and a value investor teaches and teaches well. In my small world, I have never heard of a professor who has so many followers, well wishers and who is so respected. A lot of teachers would do well to learn from him. Reading is so important to know about people, experiences, ways to act and solve problems is a thing to learn from him. How to develop clarity of thought and keep the focus right is important. He also says envy is the most dangerous sin out of seven sins (gluttony, wrath, sloth, anger, greed, lust, envy).      

4. Victor Frankl (Man's search for meaning) - The book that was recommended by Frank Martin(a fund manager) to all young people changed the way I think. In the book he says "You should measure yourself by not what life gives to you but what you give to life" (a bit like BhagavadGita's philosophy) and that for me is a very important lesson. As you mature, you begin to understand that each life is unique and each life has a course which is not comparable to any other. So focus on what you DO right here and not what happens with you. 

SO what is the essence of all the above?
1. We all know what's right and wrong. And more often that not we have a choice between right and wrong. Choose "RIGHT" always.
2. Consistently do "RIGHT" to do well.
3. You do not have control over most important things in life. But control what you can.
4. Avoid envy, don't compare and try to avoid all seven sins. 

Confession: All the four examples/rules cited above solved confusion of my restless mind but still have to find something better to console my heart. :)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Don't confuse IITians with technocrats

Its an irony that best ones selected to study in the best institutes of technology of the country do not really share the tech tag among themselves. In my opinion they share the zeal to crack levels and become better all the time. They share motivation, belief and hunger. They share intellect and intelligence for sure but its not so much hard coded qualities that defines them.

The post is more like a tweet than a blog actually and it ends here. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Seize it (IIT Life)

It might be taking things too far but nevertheless its good to know and one should always keep this at the back of his/her mind. People have a tendency to look at the success stories only, maybe rightly so and thus its always good to be on that side. The point I am trying to make and which few realize is the days at IIT can shape your future ahead. There is a tendency to get into relax mode once you enter IIT. Those two years of JEE make you feel so. Little do we realize we have decades to go and a lot more to achieve before you relax. Taking time off is never a bad idea. But getting off the track is. Its worth pointing out that most of the IITians that are making it big may not have realized the point I'm making here and may not be the best examples to prove my point either. But they must be doing some things right. They must be doing something different.

Things that you should focus on while you are at IIT should definitely include networking, preparing yourself to work on your risk taking abilities and reading. I would say with changing dynamics across the world there are a lot of opportunities so you should be aware about them and figure out your strengths. But some qualities are just common in all successful people.

People who making it big soon after getting out of IITs atleast in the initial five years mostly focus on businesses. Be it their own startups, trading or private equity the skill sets are not hardcore technical or based on engineering but on the qualities that I mentioned above. Agreed there are some very good opportunities in tech as well but they are pretty limited to Comp Sc graduates. If you are in any other department and just too impatient to make it big just after graduation you have to develop in those areas. The other careers either have a long gestation times or have small payouts.

Being in IIT is a huge advantage. I do not want to say that exert extra pressure on yourself in your college days but be aware that you have to start thinking big and prepare yourself in a way to get there because while you are in IIT you have all the resources, are in the network of best minds you will find and exposed to a lot of areas at one time. The opportunity is tremendous. Don't limit your dreams and constrain your efforts only to regret later. The cost of working hard later is much more and tedious. The differences between people, the return on efforts and ambitions gets huge. Thinking ahead is the best preparation for the future.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Junk technocrats

As ironical it might sound, there would be some if not many IITians who might fall into this category. I am a bit embarrassed to be one of those. The term "Junk technocrat" here is coined by my stupid brain by combining junk bonds and technology. Its common sense to expect IITians as technology graduates to have a better sense and awareness of newer technologies and their intricacies. Or atleast not to be clumsy and outdated in the area. But yet they are. There is no direct correlation between the quality of an IITian and the technical expertise the person possesses. From IIT, you would expect that won't you.

To share a few personal feelings on the subject, it gets a bit embarrassing and sometimes irritating when people expect that I am the one that can get them the next app, website and what not made with ease. I think its the perception that the word technology creates. The reason here is two fold. Firstly, IIT never tests you as a technocrat before letting you in. Neither your ability nor your interest. Whether its possible or not its a different matter. True, people good in PCM can be expected to be fit in engineering but in a age of computers and when almost every new breakthrough innovation in technology is through computers, these three clearly are not good enough. Also in hindsight, alignment of interests of student and an institute's vision should match. Interviews could be very helpful in that regard. Secondly, as I've explained in blogs before the quality of education is still far away from it should be. The professors are not innovative and inspiring enough to embed the importance of technology in students and fail to get them motivated to gain knowledge. They have to learn to connect to students in a much better fashion. Students can be blamed to an extent only.

After joining the industry, working in technology and now in finance studying global trends I definitely see a lack of innovative spirit in our students. Its because of our education not fostering that culture and also due to the financial condition of our people. But as a country we have to realize be it US, be it Germany, be it Japan all leading nations have to depend on technology to maintain a lead in international markets. As the best institutes in technology and with the kind of recognition that IITs already get they have to do better.

To conclude, the purpose of this blog is to show the mismatch between what should we be achieving and what are we achieving through an IITian. Either we should start labelling them as universities where our top brain study from or else as a technology institutes they should welcome students only with a "techie" mindset.