Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

Shelfari continues to introduce me to new ideas & books....

I have added Three Cups of Tea: One Man's mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time to my list of books to read in 2008. Greg Mortensen - the co-author of the book - is an inspirational figure who has started 50+ schools in remote & inaccessible parts of Pakistan & Afghanistan in the past decade through the Central Asia Institute organization.

The title of the Book is derived from a Baltistan proverb:
The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time, you are an honored guest. The third time you become family.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bone marrow drives

Came across Bone Marrow donation for the first time on a Shelfari discussion post. The post was about inviting people to test for Bone Marrow tissue match for a seven year old Russian girl. Digging into the concepts further, I am now aware about how Bone Marrow donation works, and how it is helpful for a patient suffering from Leukemia. I am a registered donor on the National Marrow Donor Program.

From a donor's perspective, it is a very simple procedure. After filling up a few forms (no, nothing about giving up my first born in those forms), I was asked to take four swabs of Q-tips and rub them against my cheek from inside my mouth on the four sides of my teeth - right upper, right lower, left upper & left lower. After I had rubbed each of them for about 10 seconds the volunteer took the swabs from me and placed them in a cover with my name on it. These swabs would be used to determine the type of my bone marrow tissue DNA.

It is quite unlikely that my tissue would be a match for this Russian Girl. Tissue types are inherited, and hence patients are most likely to match someone of their own race or ethnicity. Very frequently it is likely there is a match within the family.

If a patient is a match for my bone marrow tissue, and is in an urgent need for these Cells, I will be informed and requested to donate bone marrow tissue. The donation process could be in two ways:
  1. In an operating room under general anesthesia, some of the bone marrow will be removed from the top of the hip bone, Or
  2. Bone marrow stem cells will be made to move into the blood circulation through special medication (usually administered as daily injections over 3-4 days) and then these stem cells will be taken from the blood-stream.
I would probably prefer the second alternative! Don't want anybody to be cutting me up...

While a patient with Blood Cancer undergoes chemotherapy to destroy the cancerous cells, they also lose the healthy bone marrow tissue which is required to generate new blood cells. Bone Marrow Donation helps the patients to regain the lost tissue in a couple of weeks after the transplant procedure is done.

Got to know about there being a deficiency of donors of various racial/ethnic backgrounds. There are stories on the web about patients from India/South Asia finding it difficult to find a matching donor. The stories of Pia Awal, Vinay, Raji Balachandran, Sonia Kumar, Gayatri Ramesh, Savita, and many other Indian / South Asian Cancer patients & the efforts from their friends and family to get a matching bone marrow donor for them should make it for an increased awareness among the people from the sub-continent, and help in more people being saved.

In the coming months/years, I hope to see more such bone marrow drive events happening in the sub-continent.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Veni Vidi Vici

These days I am all-consumed with entrepreneurship - learning about starting a business, the history of successful companies, biographies of successful Entrepreneurs, and even advising people on entrepreneurship-related questions on Shelfari web-site.

The guy who started the Entrepreneurship group on Shelfari - Kevin Carlow - turns out to be a successful new-entrepreneur himself. He is the co-founder of Vici Enterprises, along with his University of Minnesota class-mate Nick Beste. Vici Enterprises is the holding company for the companies Kevin & Nick have started currently and hope to start in the future.

Wish Kevin and Nick - who are 22 and 20 respectively - the very best in their effort to "Conquer".

On a personal note, I am immensely pleased to be cited on Kevin's blog w.r.t. my comments about Ben Casnocha's book - My Start-up Life. I guess this is the first time someone is citing my name in their blog post.

I have a place to go to when I am all consumed with self-doubt next time!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Kiva, MIX Market, Micro-finance institutions ....

Got an invite from EG to sign up for the Kiva web-site. This site allows for affluent donors to provide loans to "third-world" entrepreneurs in need of money. The donors are directly in contact with the entrepreneurs and get regular updates about how their money is being used, and about the Money repayment details.

The web-site has a video of Bill Clinton explaining the working of Kiva on Television.

Very impressive!

The projects to be financed are picked up through local Micro-finance organizations. One of the requirements for a Micro-finance company to avail of Kiva's services is to be listed on and ranked highly on MIX Market.

I am surprised to see very few Indian Micro-finance companies listed on both Kiva and MIX Market. Micro-financing seems to be an appropriate model for stimulating economic growth among the skilled poor in any part of the world.

Wonder if anyone in my friends' circle have - or know someone who has - started a business in Micro-finance space.

Ever since Micro-finance was thrust into the limelight by the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 to Muhammad Yunus & Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, there seems to be a rapid growth in the spreading of this grass-roots level "revolution".

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Things to do in 2008

Never before have I attempted to make a list of things to do in a Calendar year. For that matter, very rarely have I even used a to-do list in my regular life. "It cramps my style" or "They don't help much" or "I will look like a fool if I don't succeed" have been some of my reasons/excuses for not listing out things ahead of time.

2008 is going to be a different year; after-all, I rang in the New Year by running in the midnight 4 mile run in Central Park!

2007 has been a wonderful year for me; main achievement of the year being the gaining of Self-Confidence in every aspect of my life! And 2008 will be a much bigger and better year than any so far for me. After-all it is the first year in the rest of my life.

So here are the components I am putting together to have a spectacular 2008:
1. Love. Be lovable. Find Love. Fall in Love! Have a Girl-friend by Mar 2008.

2. Start on my own in the "Trading Software Best Practices" Space by Jun 2008.

2a. Write to Ben Casnocha thanking him for writing a book and sharing his experience of starting a firm - which inspired me and gave me confidence to start on my own : Jan 2008

3. Make the dream of Run Walk India a reality; First event in Bangalore in Mar 2008.

4. Read one book per week in 2008. (My wish-list for the year on Shelfari)

5. Run in the necessary number of qualifying events to make it to the 2009 NYC Marathon.

6. Complete the Introduction Leaders Program at Landmark Education (Mar - Sep 2008) - A key step in becoming a Landmark Forum Leader and transforming the world 100+ people per weekend.

7. Socialize. Meet People. Organize Parties. Organize Get-togethers. Organize Skiing Trips. Organize Kayaking Trips. Organize....

8. Continue the French Language Learning Adventure.

An inspiration:
Make no small plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will themselves not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die. - Daniel Burnham
On y va

An adjustment to the above list after a couple of weeks in 2008:
2007 has been a wonderful year It looks very difficult that I can spend as much time on reading books as I expected, especially with the new business ideas taking up a whole lot of my time. I will change the goal to Reading one+ book per month from the original Reading one book per week.