Life on an express track

September 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

Last Friday, I was traveling from Hyderabad to Madurai (my hometown) in train and had the best possible time in the last 1 year. So, quiet and calm..did n’t have much to do, no commitments, decent food, snacks, fruits, awesome sleep with no alarm.. hmm..

Over the last few months, there has been a good amount of work in my application. Added to that, the meetings, calls, deadlines..does n’t leave you with enough time to enjoy the little things in life. I even had a dream about my on-site manager once! It’s a guy by the way 😦

Blurred

Though i like my job and working late nights, taking responsibilities, etc etc, over a period of time we crave for things to stop and stand still..I would like to spend a day with just a book, food and sound sleep. Sometimes tend to think our patience has become so thin, that we can’t wait till the end of a novel to know the climax let alone have the patience to read till the last page!

That’s when a full day for you with the laptop battery down becomes a rare thing to cherish. Even better, I was down to paper and pen. Awesome!

But let’s face it, I almost can’t live with a slow net connection. Its like living in the early 90’s. Why would I want to do that? I love my laptop when it hits 1 mbps. Though we would enjoy all these pleasures of stand still life we can’t do that every day.

That’s OK. Whenever i get a chance will make sure, i don’t miss that..

—-
Arun Vallappan

Specialization is for insects

September 20, 2009 § 1 Comment

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

curious smile

Original Link

From: In search of escapism

Give it a try, would you?

September 18, 2009 § 8 Comments

Over the last few months, I have been quite restless. Generally, was bored to death, did not feel like working (managed to meet the targets/deadlines though), friends & life everything seemed to go slow, future goals blurred, etc.

Around the same time, also got convinced that I should start-up a company in the technology front preferably a service based website (like bookmyshow). I read about flipkart(which sells books online) and thought why don’t we develop the same thing or a website to sell magazines online(Indiamags). Unfortunately, whatever comes to our mind, it already exists in market place (sad story, uh?). We considered Hospital ERP, School ERP as well. But the base point, is even if the same product/website offering same service exists, why not tweak a bit and offer it in a different geographical region if possible?

Lots of thinking went into all these. Sometimes I would realize i either do not have the technology know-how or business know-how. For e.g: Creating a website which sells all retail items online from grocery to tooth brush to cookies. To put it simply, managing a store like Reliance or More online. Now for a start-up, it means competing against Amazon and Reliance Fresh put together. That freaks me out!

Entrepreneur

Finally, i kind of realized, i may not be prepared to take all of them at once. I clearly don’t have the guts to run something like that. (Realization is the 1st step, buddy 🙂 ) If I had a MBA, i would have given it a shot. But, armed with just a B.E, I am nowhere close to taking the 1st step. So, thought would put down in writing and see if it distills out, below is the essence.

What i thought is needed to start a business?

1. Technical knowledge – Being the best in what you do (if you are selling ropes for bungee jumping, do u know how to manufacture the strongest one with least cost?)

2. Business knowledge & Money-matters – Being ahead of the curve in the area, taking care of business partners, clients, vendors involved, working out more than just profit, loss

3. Last but not least, Kick ass confidence

I have personally met many people who say they want to do something with their life, but never do (am one of them, trying hard to cross the bridge). They could cite all sort of reasons from lack of time, or “am not sure” or “ya, in a few months”, etc. One thought which often comes to my mind is: If at least once it had occurred that you should start a company or running a venture on your own, then you are destined to start one in the future. A good number of people are comfortable and so conveniently placed in their career, they never want to lose that cushion in their life.

As Henry ford says,

If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.

No one can build a Microsoft or IBM in a day. Step by step. A winner gets to victory inch by inch. So,

What actually is needed to start a business?

1. Even if you don’t know how to build the best product on the 1st day, start with something basic, put it out in the market, start improvising it. (Make sure the bungee jumping rope does not fail under tension, primary requirement). No one gets it right the 1st time. That’s why even pencils have erasers! Strive towards perfection.

2. Be in touch with your area, it definitely helps. Do not worry about all the client, vendor, financial over heads. When the situation demands a business case presentation or a negotiation, you will raise up to the occasion. Virgin’s turnover was around $100 million in 1984 when they first brought in a proper financial guy/CA to manage the accounts. (from Richard Branson’s autobiography Losing My Virginity)

3. I am not going to refute the kick-ass part, it will always hold good.

Recently i came across a link which had featured 4 serial entrepreneurs. All of them around 20 yrs old and one Jessica at 19 yrs with 3 start-ups under her belt. Wow! Richard Branson managed to get the 1st issue of his Student magazine out in UK almost 2 years after he started working on that. Imagine the amount of determination and the courage needed to sustain oneself for that long.

What is with these people? What makes them tick this big? They take chances, they do not say NO! They commit themselves to things and events, put their foot down, get things DONE. For people who can’t make that commitment, they simply don’t deserve it.

If your heart says something, there should be nothing in the entire world to stop you from going for it.. Give yourself a chance, give it a try!

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Multi-tasking

September 7, 2009 § Leave a comment

Do you multi task?  If yes you should definitely read this. Stanford researchers have proved that multi-tasking more than often distracts your mind than helping it. I could remember my mom telling me “Do one thing at the time; What’s the hurry?”. All these years, I have been thinking, its genius to be able to do so many things at the same time. But with research findings not in my side, may be its time to a take serious look.

multi-task

Three different tests were conducted on a set of chronic multi-taskers and another set of light multi-taskers to decide on the filtering ability, short term memory, ability to control their thoughts.

In one experiment, a set of rectangles(red and blue interspersed) were shown twice and the group of participants should identify if the orientation of red ones had changed from the 1st time. The light multi-taskers were comfortably able to divert their thoughts from blue rectangles but the chronic MT’s were distracted by them.
In another one, participants were shown images of alphabets and numbers. In one case, they should focus on alphabets identifying vowels, consonants and in the 2nd case ignoring numbers, participants should say odd or even. Again the chronic multi-taskers were not able to focus on one thing.

Ophir says “Light multi taskers have a greater tendency for top-down attentional control, and thus they may find it easier to attentionally focus on a single task in the face of distractions”. Multi-taskers try to acquire as much information as possible from every source in front of them there by working on something with another secondary thought running in the mind.

All these R & D, blah blah is good,but, personally I do not think the situation is going to get any simpler. Social networks, YouTube, Google, Twitter, News feeds along with all sms and chatting are going to rule our lives. Added to that is Google Wave which is going to be a real time update, synchronization and  integration of all the above said things, there is going to be little possibility for something called Attention span in life.

Instead of diverting thoughts every 3 minutes throughout the day (on an average), do it for every 30 minutes or 1 hour. Every now and then cut yourself off from all the frenzy, spend a day or two with no network connection atleast. Or as we all know our brain, could rewire itself over a period of time, to skillfully handle all threads of thought.

————–
Arun Vallappan

Long Live the King

September 5, 2009 § Leave a comment

In a way i have been using the phrase (long live the king!) from my school-age. All along i had thought its just a way of wishing a king, good & happy life. But seems that it normally is combined with another phrase (The King is dead..)

Couple of days back, Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy CM of Andhra Pradesh(India) died in a chopper crash. He was at he peak of his career after getting elected for a 2nd term after completing a full 5 years in office (He is the only CM to have stayed for the full term in AP till now).

Brought in numerous welfare schemes for rural people, through irrigation projects, health-insurance, micro-funding for entrepreneurs, education for backward classes, etc. YSR had so much respect from Congress high command in Delhi, that he does n’t need to consult Delhi Congress for party/state matters which no other congress alliance in state has achieved.

It is a monumental loss to the state and more than that, loss of a good person.

King is dead, Long Live the King!

————–
Arun Vallappan

Indians in 90 seconds

September 3, 2009 § Leave a comment

Nice one..

Crowd-Sourcing

September 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

Andrea Lunsford a professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford University from her Stanford Study of Writing research conducted for 5 years concludes,

..we’re in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen since Greek civilization and young people today write far more than any generation before them.

Nowadays, people express themselves so much in their facebook accounts, blogs, tweets or sms’s it greatly increases their ability to write. Twitter updates in less than 140 characters helps our thoughts be brief. Blogs on the other hand lets us get in depth..or writing on the wall teaches us how to grab the attention of people or commenting on a post/video is nothing but argument.. There have been concerns on using acronyms like LOL or gr8, etc, but it does not mean people who use it do not know the spelling for ‘great’ or similar words.

crowd

Anyway, why not take social networks deeper into the classroom? For e.g, Create a controlled environment which could simulate YouTube or Flickr(could be any social network having enough scope for participation) and let the students interact meaning people would contribute to the community and get commented/criticized for an item, etc. Over a period of time when these interactions are recorded and assessed it would provide interesting insights on the behavior of an individual or the level of contribution in a collaborative space. It’s been realized that such kind of controlled environment even promotes innovation cited by this INSEAD research paper (InnoTube : A video-based connection tool supporting collaborative innovation).

In the world of book publishing, collaborative reading (using a wordpress theme) is already in practice where readers can add their comment on for each page/paragraph/sentence or even a word in a book, much like Wikipedia. This would at the end basically look like a used hard copy text book which is valued for its smart explanations and notes on the sides of pages.

More implementations like the above would harness the power of social networks in a quantifiable way. As a sort of confession, I was part of the team that created the 1st version of InnoTube cited above under Albert Angehrn at CALT-INSEAD.

————-
Arun Vallappan

References:

1. WIRED Article – Clive Thomson On the New Literacy

2. InnoTube Brief Introduction – Video

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