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Anyone who has started, will start, or wants to start a startup MUST watch this video

October 18, 2012 Leave a comment


source: venturebeat



The quote I like the most is:

‎”You’re gonna screw up. If you’re gonna go fast enough to succeed you’re gonna make mistakes. If you are not making mistakes you’re going too slow, you will never win. And it’s all about how you deal with those mistakes, it’s the key.”
— Dan Levin, COO, BOX.

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echo::boost

October 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Leaving apart the commercial associations, I watch this video (or listen to its audio) for a power booster, whenever needed.

Remembering Steve – the insanely great

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment

There is no reason not to follow your heart.

We all knew, well more or less, that it was coming, from the last 7years. It was just lurking around the corner all the time. The wall street would have been more worried about how to use/cope-with this event and its slow commencement has definitely taught them how to live with it. However, I (a true disciple of Steve) and many other like me were more worried about the legacy that fall upon us when Steve is gone. The day has come. No, I am not talking about his material assets, I am talking about the legacy that he has instilled in the hearts & minds of each and every one of us. Its like a baton that we have to carry, glorify and instill in the hearts & minds of future generations, because after all we are just "mere mortals" our part of the track will end somewhere sooner or later and we shall have to pass it on.

We (me and many other like me) have been horned defenders, advocates, fan-boys of Steve and have taken his words to be line drawn in stone. Its time we take those words to the truest of their destination, live and execute them, without expectations, pride or fear.

In Steve’s own words (from his speech at Stanford’s commencement address, 2005):

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.”

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

There is no end to the text that I can write in Steve’s praise and a lot of videos (some of them rare) that I can share but I will keep this tribute short on this sad day and share more on some later date.

May his soul rest in peace but the fire he kindled live forever in our hearts & minds.

the crazy ones

keep showing up

June 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I just wanted to put this here

Original post By: Indus
Link: http://www.khaitan.org/blog/2010/05/as-a-ceo-have-you-immersed-yourself-including-showing-that-you-are-in-idiot/

“””
No holds barred immersion into your business is one quality which IMO keeps people at sidelines. If you don’t engross, how can you tell the story, if you don’t act foolish, how can you break the ice and win nay-sayers? If you don’t keep showing your face, how would people feel your presence.
“””

A first look at “Rework” – Json and DHH [37 signals]

June 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I have been a fan of DHH, ROR, the 37 signals, the basecamp stories and have read the book “getting real” partially. [unfortunate, since I left it once to do some important work that came up and could never back to it, till date]. But I do aim to complete it sometime soon.

Today I got my hands onto the freely available 19page excerpt of Json and DHHs’ latest – ‘Rework‘. I read it and ordered the full book right away, but that will take 2-3 days to come. However, I thought of putting up my immediate reaction to the book, from whatever I could get to know about it from the free excerpt, into a small post up here. So here goes.

Workoholism:
Rework talks about workoholism, why its an excuse to compensate for lower levels of competence and why its bad and should be discouraged for the good of all. I agree partially. The truth is, this is highly subjective.

However, taking a rational and somewhat objective look at it, workoholism is bad if its comes unnaturally to the person doing it and/or if it is done too often . There are different kinds of people, they have different working styles, some need a break after every hour to be productive, some need hours of solace, its just a matter of how they work and be productive.

Some, JUST DON’T GET SLEEP if the work they were doing is not complete or is not at a logical conclusion or there is a bug that has become an eternal challenge in the face of their brain. Forcing them to leave office/work in such a situation is far more dangerous than letting them work, coz even if they lie on bed for the whole night their brain will not sleep, the body might. As a result you will have a fresh body in the office next morning but with a zombie brain. In such cases, do the lesser evil, let them just do what they want to, however the frequency of this, should be kept under control.

On the other hand, a perspective on people who need a break every hour, to say keep themselves productive:
The objective theory says, ‘interruption’ is the single biggest killer of productivity. Guess what, if you tell this to a person who practices hourly break and munching and is very satisfied with his performance this way and he has got even a few admirers of his work and style and performance, he will just confront you on this and blow the lid off your objective opinionated mind.

The bad effects of too frequent show of workoholism on health are well known, thats where I am in complete agreement with the authors. One should not push his body beyond limits, he ain’t got a spare one. 🙂

Meetings:

I agree, meetings, in their current form, achieve far less than what they are aimed for and most of time they end up in a negative sum, in terms of achievements-(time invested in hours*sum(productivity of attendees per hour)).

I compare meetings with a vinyl record [the old gramaphone stuff], there is a record made of plastic/vax with tracks on it and there is mechanical hand that goes over it in spirals, and there is a traction mechanism which keeps the head in the right track. But since the whole system is mechanical, and if its a bit old many a times the head goes avary and jumps tracks, goes diagonal, etc. But there is an external agent, the person who is listening to it. Wonder why people use to sit very near to old gramaphones, even when they had huge speakers? To reset the head to the track. Coming out of the analogy, meetings need to have two controls, a traction to prevent them from going off topic/carried away and secondly a hard resetter who has a “point black focus” on the agenda, and obviously he should be given rights to interrupt anyone and everyone in the meeting, irrespective of his post/rank.

Meetings, are a necessary evil and could turn out to be lesser and lesser evil if the traction/prevention and the resetting mechanisms are in place.

Pick a fight.
This is a good one, I like it, as is.

Be bold, have high integrity, be confrontal if need be to defend what you speak and believe. Pick a fight even if its not a necessarily required element to move ahead. It will give you a better direction, improved speed, a killer instinct. 🙂

Planning is guessing:

No or very-little planning is as bad a long or very long term planning. No planning means you will never be proactive, only reactive. You will never be creating opportunities out of probabilities, coz probabilities are required to be sighted from a distance and than some preparation is required to convert them, by the time they arrive in your face. If you are the guy who just takes things as they come, you might never achieve what you could have, but just achieve what you did.

Whereas long/very-long term plans are pure guesses, assuming a lot. There are too many variables around us that we can only predict with certain reasonable accuracy only when we reach within a certain reasonable distance (in time) from them. Predicting what you will be doing tomorrow afternoon is very easy as compared to predicting what you are going to do on one specific afternoon in 20 weeks from now.

So, do plan, but,
* do not plan for more than 90 – 120 days at any point. [inspired by Eric Ries from the startuplessonslearned ]
* put a concrete plan for the next 1 – 3 weeks.
* put an amorphous and flexible plan for 4th week – 90th day.
* the planning for the period of 3 weeks – 90 days should be a linear gradient, moving from concreteness(4th week) to amorphous (85th-90th day)

Under-do your competition:

I agree and disagree with this one, in two different contexts.

Its good to under-do your competition, in the sense that, if they are doing a lot of things, spreading themselves too thin and are not able to manage it nicely, than you should find the most critical pivots of your business, find how your competitor is delivering on these critical pivots and concentrate more where he is weak. This is will enable you to take the earth from under his feet.

On the other hand, if you keep under-doing all the time, you risk innovativeness. Not all your marketing research is bullet proof. There might be things, other than the ones’ that your research has established, as the most critical pivots, that might turn the game around. Sometimes its one silly feature from a foolish competitor, who is spreading too thin, over too many things, that ‘just works’ for him. He just turns lucky ‘coz he allowed one lousy coder/manager to put his ego driven feature into the product, even when all the odds were right out against it. Its a risk with a low probability, but its there.

So, the propensity to keep a check on doing only the things that are necessarily needed sometimes hurts innovation and a probable crazy hit.


Woh, I wrote quite a lot for an excerpt. I am eagerly awaiting the book, hoping it has atleast 30% more then the Signal vs Noise blog. Will update this post with new insights from the book soon.

Follow the hunch

November 28, 2009 2 comments
I have learned to kind of follow hunches, even though you can't necessarily 
justify them or know where they are going to go. 
- Evan Williams

Evan Williams the co-founder of Pyra Labs, Blogger, Odeo, Twitter talks about how twitter listens to its users and how he follows hunches.

Its interesting to know that Blogger and Twitter were hunches and that very fact itself reveals how far hunches can go.

An echo’ed note-to-self and an iterated note to others who are interested:
“Follow the hunch but don’t assume where it will go”.

What makes a silicon valley?

July 30, 2009 Leave a comment

I have been pondering over the fact that India has a huge talent pool, in terms of number, brainz and quality, to match any country. It does not have the right ecosystem to engage this talent pool within the country, most of them decide to go abroad and sell their talent as service to big companies or start technology companies abroad, not here. They do come to India for getting a cheap but quality work done (building products in development offices in India and maintaining corporate offices abroad).
Hence they do use their talent, but not to create a hub of talent, innovation(real not the marketing gimmick) and intellectual property in India, why?
How can we create a self sustainable ecosystem here in India, so that this huge pool of talent creates value here?

Well, I have my own thoughts and after thoughts on this, which I shall compile and share on this blog some other time.

Today I am sharing a similar perspective (to mine) by Dr. Vinton Cerf,Vice president and chief Internet evangelist, Google.

The following is an excerpt from one of his speeches.

Tony Blair, prime minister UK, came to the silicon valley on invitation from Cisco, in the summer 2007. His ostensible reason for showing up was to try to figure out whether there was any way to re-create a silicon valley in England. He was talking this and about education, etc. Speech finished and the attendees were all silent for a while, then Steve Jobs spoke up – “one thing that we all have experienced is that we all have failed one time or another”.

Now that was an insightful comment. For it brings out the fact that “failure” does not bring a red cane mark on one’s forehead marking him as “a failure for live” and that “failure is acceptable” in the US. It is treated more like and experience rather than a sin or a sign of in capability. Unlike in the Europe or India/Asia (I am adding India/Asia from my side coz the argument is valid) where failure is treated like a sin and one is marked as a incapable man if he fails. He is asked to take safe options and avert taking risk. Of course if you fail regularly then its a different story altogether.

We are also fortunate here in the Silicon valley to have such a strong source of educated workers. There is a continuous influx of educated and skilled people, from the colleges around, to fit in jobs in the Valley’s enterprises. We also have liquid market (we had, but its picking up again).

For being successful a market has to allow public investments, not requiring VC’s for the funding all the way. Though VC’s are the one’s who put in a lot at the onset, taking calculated risks for rewarding returns. Venture capitalists were not common in Europe, rather risk averting banks feared to lend money for new ventures. This hinders creation of new businesses.

We also have a talent pool that is very fluid in the sense that they can shift from one business to another and it does so. In Europe it is less so. Everybody knows everybody else here, either you worked together, worked for the other or he worked for you. So people are aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

One last point is what is refered to as “cargo cults”.

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

The most widely known period of cargo cult activity, however, was in the years during and after World War II. First, the Japanese arrived with a great deal of unknown equipment, and later, Allied forces also used the islands in the same way. The vast amounts of war materiel that were air dropped onto these islands during the Pacific campaign between the Allies and the Empire of Japan necessarily meant drastic changes to the lifestyle of the islanders, many of whom had never seen Westerners or Easterners before. Manufactured clothing, medicine, canned food, tents, weapons, and other useful goods arrived in vast quantities to equip soldiers. Some of it was shared with the islanders who were their guides and hosts. With the end of the war, the airbases were abandoned, and cargo was no longer dropped.

In attempts to get cargo to fall by parachute or land in planes or ships again, islanders imitated the same practices they had seen the soldiers, sailors, and airmen use. They carved headphones from wood and wore them while sitting in fabricated control towers. They waved the landing signals while standing on the runways. They lit signal fires and torches to light up runways and lighthouses. The cult members thought that the foreigners had some special connection to the deities and ancestors of the natives, who were the only beings powerful enough to produce such riches.

In a form of sympathetic magic, many built life-size replicas of airplanes out of straw and created new military-style landing strips, hoping to attract more airplanes. Ultimately, although these practices did not bring about the return of the airplanes that brought such marvelous cargo during the war, they did have the effect of eradicating most of the religious practices that had existed prior to the war.[citation needed]


The Countries that don’t understand the dynamics and the environment that has to be in place to create a silicon valley and to sustain it. They put industrial parks, they put buildings together, they provide power and all the other stuff and then they ask the companies to come in and populate these shells. The problem is that these are just like those cargo shells, it is an empty shell and until you have all the other desiderata to keep this economic engine going, it just doesn’t work without them. So you can’t just build a shell, an industrial base, you have to have all the other pieces working together like an engine and its parts. But it turns out to be much harder a fact for some policy makers to understand.

——————————————

I think Dr. Vinton (or “Vint” as he likes to be called) has made a solid point. I saw his speech (video) at Stanford Ecorner and found it resonating. There might be (and are) many other aspects that determine the growth of such an ecosystem but this post is not meant to touch on those, this was just to bring out a thought that it did.

More on this and my own thoughts and after thoughts on this topic shall appear within the next few postings.

Till then, think different.

JV

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