Saturday, June 28, 2014

Why do we fall, Bruce?

Mr Wayne was teaching the young Bruce the realities of the life while asking the existential question in Batman Begins. Why do we fall, Bruce? It is an inspiring scene. Our lives will be much less complicated if we all understood the inner meaning of the question. What if we could bounce back within no time while at the same time learning from the mistake we made? This never happens in real life. One of my young friend recently had an Eureka moment when she was attending an interview where she realized a previous failure in fact helped her in scoring.

So my young friend was attending an interview in a dynamic young company. The interview was a very hostile one where there was rapid round of questions. She was unsure where all this was leading to. She had the necessary skill sets but the hostility was something which was not anticipated. As far as I am concerned, hostility during an interview is a trick. This simulates a high stress scenario. You can easily know if your candidate will crumble under pressure. Anyways, there was a series of rapid fire style of questions. All of a sudden, the interview panel was interested in a section of her resume which stated ex-entrepreneur. She had in fact run a small business a few years back.

She explained in detail about her business. She started off well but they were many things that didn't go well. As a result, she had to close down the business taking a good hit on the investment. According to her, there was a bit of excitement and also melancholy while describing it. As luck would have it, she got the offer before the week was over. The game changer was the entrepreneurial failure. Everyone tries hard not to fall down. For this reason alone, we are not sure how it feels like to fall down. Does it really hurt? Or was it worth the pain? If you fear the fall, you will not take the next step. At the same time, however hard you fall down, you need to pick yourself up and get going.

Tags: Musings,Entrepreneur,Falling Down,Mistake

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Photos: Beach babe

When good fortune smiles, you can be at the beach in an excellent weather. There are people having fun surfing. When people are surfing, then there is a lot of opportunities to click a picture. This was taken at Bournemouth, UK.

Tags: Photos


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Should I stop trying because I am old?

Naughty at 40. 40s is the new 20s. I have heard many things about turning 40. Turning 40 is considered a milestone. I fail to understand the reason. A friend of mine had marked 40 as the age before which he should earn his first million. He cruised past this line a few years back. Till date, I am not sure if realized his dream or not and I am to shy to ask him. When I approached 40, I had no grand dreams. I am thankful to sail past the line.

Did life offer anything special since turning 40? Yes, it did. An experience. Was it an eye-opening or a shocking one? That is a question difficult to answer. Recently when I was looking for a new assignment, I encountered a series of "No". It was disappointing. I have never seen so many closed doors one after the other in my life before. Every opportunity starts out very well and at some point, it fizzles out. Either I didn't have any relevant experience or I had too much of experience. While I was recounting this experience to a friend, the response was immediate. "Your are over 40. Nobody will take people like you!". To be honest, my face convulsed in pain when I heard it.

Turning 40 has not slowed my mind although it has slowed my body a bit. Should I stop trying because I am 40? As long as my mind is young, nothing should stop me. In case you doubt me, your brain can grown under the right stimulation. Read through the article on how taxi drivers' brains grow to navigate London's streets! If this isn't enough, have you heard about Carol Dweck's study of fixed mindset and growth mindset. It is all in your head!

I refuse to believe a story ends without a happy ending. I eventually found a new assignment. I am one of the youngest in the new group at present. Though, I will not remain the youngest for long.

Tags: Musings,40,Brain,Mindset

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Resignation is not an easy business

My friend is waiting to resign. You may have already guessed the reason behind it. Compensation, challenge and location constraints are some of the reasons that comes to our mind. Although these contribute to the main reasons, my friend is well past this stage. The reason he is waiting for is simpler than these reasons. At the same time, it has got a bigger effect on his current situation.

Gone are the uncomplicated days where you inform your manager and HR about your decision to quit in the most simple and sensible way. Inform them verbally which is followed by an email. This doesn't cut it anymore. Now, you have to use the various applications hosted on the intranet portals. Once you enter the necessary information and press submit, notifications are triggered automatically to all the necessary people in the hierarchy.

Anybody who has struggled with the intranet knows, the feature you need to work NOW never works. As a result, you have to raise a help desk ticket which get resolved in the agreed SLA which is usually 3-5 business days. The resignation feature is not working on the intranet portal and my friend has raised a help desk ticket. Now he is awaiting resolution for the ticket raised.

In a way, all is well that ends well. With this move, you can retain an employee for longer time. The ticket might get rejected because of lack of information which in turn means the employee is going to be here for a lot longer time.

Tags: Musings,Resignation,Employee,Intranet

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Photos: Waiting to serve

This is another picture taken during Reading Food Festival. The beautiful girl in the picture was serving food in a stall featuring Indian food. As soon as she saw me aiming my camera at her, she broke into a smile. I like it when people aren't afraid of the camera.

Tags: Photos


Friday, June 20, 2014

Photos: Finger-licking good

Steve Jobs of Reading? It may be the receding hairline and stubble which makes us think so. Anyways, I found this man enjoying the food offered by Reading Food Festival. The salt and pepper hair caught my attention first. I decided to take a picture and here I got one which says finger-licking good.

Tags: Photos


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Photos: Portrait of a wise man

This was taken during the Reading Food Festival.

Tags: Photos


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Your response and how you respond are both equally important.

"The bed is his favorite place. As soon as he comes back home, he goes to the bedroom and lays there." It was a friend's wife complaining to us about my friend. Although she was complaining, her tone contained a strange unmistakable mix of love, affection and resignation. If her tone wasn't enough to amuse me, the zen-like smile on my friend's face could have done the trick. For me, the tone of her voice and the smile on his face provided the double bonanza.

On one hand, I understand the yearning for doing nothing after a hard day's work. Sometimes, work can be so tiresome that it drains your last ounce of energy. At the same time, communication is important in any relation. I chanced upon an article titled "Masters of Love" a couple of days after the incident. The article talks about a lot of things. What caught my attention is the way the author has divided our responses (to our partners) into four different types - passive destructive, active destructive, passive constructive and active constructive. The author also gives an example of each.

One glance at the classification and it's example, I need no soul searching to conclude I am guilty on several occasions. In fact, I still continue to make these mistakes. But learning about it from a third person helps me to at least strive for correcting it. Another interesting aspect of this classification is that you can use it not only personal relationships but also in professional relationships. 

Do you what is more interesting? Most of my friends are married to people who are diametrically opposite to them in temperament. Despite making all the mistakes mentioned in the article, their marriages still work!

Tags: Musings,Marriage,Communication

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Photos: How to eat a burger?

I smirk at friends who go for a knife and a fork while eating a burger. I started noticing this trend in Paris. I always tell those friends that it is not the right way to do it. One of the very first images of someone eating burger was in a movie where that someone takes a bite off the burger and the ketchup jumps out of the other end making a mess of the entire place. I always liked that image. What is the fun in eating a burger if we don't make a bit of a mess of it? Sticky fingers... Tell-tale marks on our shirt... You know the drill!

Last week, I was at the Reading Food festival and chanced upon someone eating a burger. I loved this image. It is very messy but it shows what it takes to eat a burger the right way.

Tags: Photos


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

When you can't get them, steal them

Were you tempted to steal something after trying to get it through rightful means? Is it a disturbing question? From childhood, we are taught not to steal, not to lie, not to cause harm to other and a whole lot of other "not to"s. Do we forget all these "not to"s when we grow up? It is the innocent-at-first-glance kind of thievery that interests me. Especially these seemingly innocent ones relates to work place. There is another broad term assigned to this kind of thievery. Poaching.

With rising demand in reducing the operating costs, it is beneficial to change for a cheaper and newer horse in the middle of the race. Familiarity breeds contempt. Sometimes, it is referred to status-quo. Even in a relationship, we are advised to surprise our partner constantly. So you can imagine the life of drudgery when you turn up at work to see the same people dealing with the same problems. In such a case, the problems cannot be changed. The faces associated with dealing with the problems may be changed. In a certain sense, you have thwarted the status-quo. Now you only have to hope this does not become the new status-quo!

At the work place, this results in changing the supplier or the vendor. But however mature the processes are, there are still some members who have gained enough knowledge and confidence of everyone. When the new supplier/vendor comes in, there isn't time to extract the knowledge from these key team members. If you can't extract the knowledge, the newcomer is going to be in trouble. So what do they do? The new supplier/vendor poaches critical team members from the old supplier/vendor.

Recently, my friend's team was involved in such a transition. His team has been involved in the knowledge transfer at his office. His office was the chosen location for this exchange as he believes he can contain the poaching exercise. So where is this transfer of knowledge happening? In the conference room. Is he present in the conference room all the time? No. Then how can he be sure such an attempt has not already been made. No. Pat came the answer.

If you treat your team well and they see a challenging future in the current workplace, they will stay despite all attempts from external sources. If not, they have already tucked away where you cannot see it.

Tags: Musings,Poaching,Supplier,Vendor

Friday, June 6, 2014

Photos: A Hero in an unlikely place

We have heard stories about finding a hero at unlikely places. Probably, you yourself would have been in such a situation. Don't we all love the guardian angel who show up without any fanfare to give us much needed boost to come out of a difficult situation?

Scouting the Camden Lock Market over the last weekend, I encountered a hero. This hero was prominently featured during my childhood, the Hero cycle. It was not stylish as the BSA cycles. But still, it had a rugged dont-mess-with-me look. At least, I think so.

It is amazing to see a remnant of your childhood at an unlikely place in the world.

Tags: Photos


Monday, June 2, 2014

How you doing, Amber?

I am not a big fan of coffee. So unlike some of my friends who can have tirelessly talking about coffee and it's virtues, I go silent. In fact. I am silent about my preference, too, which is tea. I would rather have a cup at regular intervals than talk about the tea and it's positive effects on mankind.

Let me go back to where I started. The coffee. I love Starbucks despite my indifference to coffee. It is not because of their business strategy to sell coffee at an insanely high prices. It is because of giving me a familiar icon in any land within a few minutes of arriving. To be honest, I feel the same way about McDonalds too. These days, finding one reassures you are in the midst of civilization.

Unlike McDonalds, Starbucks is a great social enabler. It provides the much needed icebreaker. For instance, I met Amber because of Starbucks. Amber is a beautiful girl who loves coffee. Because of Starbuck, I could glide to her as elegantly as possible and also could have initiated a conversation. Where we came across each other was not inside a Starbucks shop. We met in the Underground on Bakerloo line. Amber was carrying a Starbucks grande cup. Her name was prominently displayed on it. Starbucks is known to show their creativity while writing names. However, I am pretty sure they didn't apply any creativity while writing Amber's name.

Sometimes, we advertise ourselves without knowing. In this case, the packaging is so convenient that we can carry our coffee anywhere. Little do we notice our names written on it. Although it is not as serious as writing our financial information or contact information on the cup, it is still a very personal information we don't want to advertise. Sometimes, anonymity is the greatest boon!

This also makes me wonder if you really give you real name in such situations. Do you? Please don't tell me yes. If you do, then I will be wondering if Amber's real name is Amber or not!

Tags: Musings,Starbucks,Coffee,Name

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