Sunday, May 18, 2008

Goodies from the Seth Godin Seminar

Finally got around to write about the Day Long Seminar with Seth Godin I was at more than two weeks ago. It was a very impressive day; as I was telling my friends at Landmark, this Seminar was like Landmark Forum for Businesses - cutting through the filters and blindspots of the business people who had come to the Seminar.

One had to be there to get the juicy stuff!! Here in this post, I will try to list out a few fringe benefits that I got out of the seminar.

First and foremost, I got an All Marketers Are Liars NOSE !! Actually I did not get it; I took it from the guy who got it as he did not want it.

Seth riffed on the RunWalkIndia web-site and the business model of the company and that has given me quite a bit to work with. More about this on the RunWalkIndia blog.

Here are a few things - in random order - that I thought would be of use in the future:
  • Basecamp : Web based Project management, collaboration, and task software.
  • Woot.com : An eccentric web-site selling only one item per day!
  • BatchBook : Small business CRM; one of the fellow participant's company.

One insight Seth shared from his experience at Yoyodyne:
Have people change their desk - bag baggage and all - to a new desk at work on a regular basis. It is a simple and effective way to have people be adjusted to constant change.
Ain't that simple and insightful?!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Don't forget to eat your fish

Heard this anecdote from a Landmark Forum Leader a while ago and it has been on my mind for a while as a perfect item for my Stories Blog. Incidentally for those who don't know what the blog name is all about : Kathegalu is Stories in Kannada - my mother tongue.

Back to the story of eating one's fish.

A chinese American woman was at the Landmark Forum, and was venting her anger towards her mother. Her mother - among other things - had been annoying her for years by saying "Don't forget to eat your fish today" every day as her daughter walked out of the door.

After sorting out all the other complaints the woman had towards her mother, the Landmark Forum Leader said to her "Do you realize asking you to eat fish is the way your mother shows her love towards you?"

The woman was stumped but got what it meant. She went back home and the next time her mother said "Don't forget to eat your fish today", she went over to her mother and hugged her telling "Thank you for loving me so much".

Brings tears to my eyes whenever I remember that story.

Question to you my dear reader:
Is there anyone in your life who is reminding you to eat your fish and you are not seeing the underlying deep love?

Bose QuietComfort 3 Acoustic Noice Cancelling Headphones

I am immensely gratified to note that I have transformed myself to a Gadget Geek over the past couple of years after being afraid of new gadgets or any kind of hardware for long. To let you in on a secret, I haven't yet touched a Gameboy or a XBox or any gaming console yet!

I wrote about being a pioneer in adopting iPhone as a personal 'machine' around a year ago. Now that I realize what a Gadget-Freak I have become, I will take it upon myself to write about some of the gadgets that are employed in making my life fuller and richer. Today, I want to talk about the Bose QuietComfort 3 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones.

As usual it took me a while to put the gadget into use from the time I bought it. In this case it took almost a month!

The Headphones were surprisingly easy to figure out and include it's management & maintenance in my regular life. And it has been awesome to use.

The noise canceling feature is incredible - even without switching on the headphones, I just have to put on the headphones to avail myself of some quiet time where ever I am. The music on my iPhone is sweeter with these headphones. I am one of the few people who have these expensive headphones on in the PATH trains and the NYC Subways.

A bonus feature I found out after I bought the headphones is that it works as a surprisingly good phone head-set as well! I have been using it to speak over the phone while driving.

Makes me wonder if I wasted my money buying a bluetooth headset. More about that later - after I figure out how to use the bluetooth headset.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

For the Entrepreneurs-in-hiding in my circle

I have always wanted to be my own boss, and over the past year or so have transformed my life from a regular office worker to a Serial Entrepreneur - with one venture RunWalkIndia off the starting block, and another - in the Trading & Risk Management Software area - in the works. I wonder how many in my circle are having ambitions of starting an own business but are not doing anything about it.

The thought was sparked by the following paragraph I read in Seth Godin's The Bootstrapper's Bible:
In the face of uncertainty, it seems to me that the very worst thing you can do is fail to try. I went to business school at Standord, which prides itself on being very entrepreneurial. Of the 300 people in my class, at least half publicly proclaimed that they were going to start their own businesses sooner or later. Now, 20 years later, only about 30 of us have actually done it. The rest are still waiting for the right time or the right idea or the right backing. They're waiting for an engraved invitation and some guarantee of success.
I am sure quite a few of friends and classmates as well are in the same boat and waiting for something. I myself was in similar situation till early last year, and have tread a different path in the last few months to be where I am now.

This post is for those Entrepreneurs-in-hiding in my circle (MBA class mates, Engineering classmates, Colleagues from various organizations I have worked with, my family,....), and in this post I aim to give a bullet-point list to help them move towards Entrepreneurship.

So here goes the list:

  1. Participate in The Landmark Forum : Landmark Education's flagship program The Landmark Forum is rated #2 on the list of Top 100 Adventures at the Top 100 Expo web-site. This program jump-started my entrepreneurial adventures when I attended the Forum in June 2007, having been driven to it by pain and anguish caused by a personal tragedy. Some Independent research, Case Studies, and Surveys have highlighted the value Landmark Forum brings into the life of each of the participants. Personally, I got the courage to take control of my career after attending the Forum, and subsequently have achieved immense breakthroughs in many aspects of my life through my continued association with Landmark Education. My advice to anyone who wants to do something and feel stuck or not ready : "Attend the Landmark Forum!! You will start seeing the world in a whole new light!
  2. Read Ben Casnocha's book My Start-up Life and his blog : I came across Ben's book shortly after participating in the Landmark Forum, and when I was searching - with perfect clarity - for some book to help me start up my own business. I doubt if I could have picked up a better book this this one : Written by a guy who started a business when he was 13 years old!! And that too in the similar space I was considering a new business in. Ben is very articulate and provides an engaging and informational story of how he came about starting a company at such a young age. Ben's Blog too is a treasure trove of valuable advice for entrepreneurs as well. And if you need advice about something, write to Ben - he gets back to you with a valued answer with a very quick turn-around!
  3. Read up Rajesh Setty's Blog; the blog post titled Blast from the Past - Entrepreneur Pack is a gem.
  4. View Guy Kawasaki's The Art of the Start video; then buy a copy of Guy Kawasaki's The Art of the Start and keep it by your bed-side, and read it up from end to end a few times! Read up Guy Kawasaki's funny and insightful blog entries regularly.
  5. Read up anything written by Seth Godin that you can get your hands on. Seth's Blog constantly send me "Wow, why didn't I think of it" or "Sooooo Simple!!". All of Seth Godin's books are a must for anyone starting an own business. The now out-of-print The Bootstrapper's Bible is another mandatory bed-side book for a budding entrepreneur, what with a byline which goes How to Start and Build a Business with a Great Idea and (Almost) No Money.
After reading some of the above, you are ready to go!

Go out and start your own business and have a ball of a time while doing it!

A parting note about the value of Entrepreneurship in the Global economy (excerpted from a blog post by Ben Casnocha):
Economic growth is desirable for all countries because it improves the material standard of living and spawns moral benefits, i.e. it “fosters greater opportunity, tolerance of diversity, social mobility, commitment to fairness, and dedication to democracy.” Of the various causes of economic growth, I believe one value is paramount: entrepreneurship.

The First Marathon of My Life

Finally got the courage to aim for completing a marathon. And have zeroed in on running my first marathon at the 2008 Self-Transcendence Marathon on Friday Aug 22nd at the Rockland Lake State Park - close to Nyack, New York.

I am moving beyond the 5K and 10K races I was aiming to complete - and be happy - for the past couple of years, and going for the GOLD! The 26.2 miles gold standard of running!!!

And why wouldn't I do it? I can have everything I want!!

People in my circle have been of great inspiration in my effort to build on my 'running' successes.
With so many marathoners in my circle, any surprise I have succumbed to the temptation to run a marathon myself?

I have a little less than 15 weeks till Aug 22nd. I am starting on a customized version of the 18 week Novice program Marathon training schedule provided by Hal Higdon.


My Objectives in participating in this Marathon:
  • Have Fun!
  • Complete the distance. No attempt to break the World Record!
  • Find out for myself how far I can stretch myself!
It's a little bit funny, this feeling inside......

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Financial Literacy

An excerpt from an article about Financial Literacy in the April 3rd 2008 issue of The Economist:

Everybody wants it. Nobody understands it. Money is the great taboo. People just won't talk about it. And that is what leads you to sub-prime. Take the greed and the financial representation out of it, and the root of this crisis is massive levels of financial illiteracy.

Some names of people, organizations and ideas I want to follow up from the article:

  • John Bryant
  • Operation HOPE
  • World Savings Bank Institute
  • Aflatoun
  • Jeroo Billimoria
  • Child Savings International
  • Jump$tart
  • Laura Levine - head of Jump$tart
  • Lewis Mandell - Economist at Buffalo
  • Richard Thaler - Behavioural economist at University of Chicago
  • Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness - Cass Sunstien
  • NYC Office of Financial Empowerment

Selected Quotes by Mahatma Gandhi

The following quotes by Mahatma Gandhi were displayed at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis - a museum which is housed in Lorraine Hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. was felled by an assassin's bullet.
  • You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
  • It has always been a mystery to me, how men can feel themselves honored by the humiliation of their fellow beings.
  • If you want to cultivate a true spirit of democracy, we cannot afford to be intolerant. Intolerance betrays want of faith in one's cause.
Some of my friends in New York were very moved when they read these; that surprised me as I wasn't all that moved with these quotes, and were taking them sort of for granted. Made me wonder if I and my fellow Indians are saturated with Gandhian-isms that we don't appreciate what he stood for. 

Thursday, May 8, 2008

If it were your funeral today....

My Coach Kyra Gaunt said a very profound thing yesterday on the coaching call, when I was cribbing about the list of things to do:
If it is your funeral today, what your friends and family will be remembering, and miss the most is YOU - not what you have not done or have left incomplete.
That is an amazing way of looking at our never-ending to-do list. A reminder for us to be who we are, and not get swamped and swayed by the things we are doing / not doing.