2011 Ramblings’ Reportcard

2011 annual report for my blog

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. My blog was viewed about 7,400 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

The big 5 of the year are -

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? (Review of a personal favorite book by McKinsey alumnus. A must read for management guys)

Google Docs as Database (Technical post on using Google Spreadsheet as a database)

Book Review – The Goal by Goldratt (A review of recommended book for operations personnel)

Book Review – Creation of Wealth CSR P  (A school assignment turned into blog)

Marketing Myopia – The Cause of Low In (Marketing gyan from b-school days)

My personal favorites of the year Shit happens,let the buck stop and a poem With you I lived my sweetest part

Click here to see the complete report.

Wish you a very happy new year.

“Two Fates” is filmy but fun

Two Fates Cover Page

Two Fates Cover Page

Judy Balan’s debut novel “Two Fates – The story of my divorce” is an extension of the story of “Two States – The story of my marriage” by Chetan Bhagat. The plot is about separation of the couple (Deepika and Rishabh) who are like Yin and Yang, intrinsically different but complementary in nature. While the pair plots for their severance, their family unknowingly conspires against their divorce. Two Fates is story of these opposing forces, full of humour, sarcasm and some high schoolish turn of events.

Yin Yang Symbol

Yin Yang Symbol

Judy narrates the story through the protagonist Deepika’s perspective and sticks to Aam-Janata syle of writing – use of plan language. Though the story is fun, Judy’s story is built around some very hard-core beliefs of the Indian society like inter-class or inter-religion marriages are social stigma, divorce decisions are not personal but family decisions, non-conventional form of vocation/studies/career like writing, vetenary doctor etc are not easily accepted by society. The author is also bold in presenting the sexual life of the couple in a very comic way.

The central characters of the novel might relate to many urban cosmopolitan citizens but the turn of events presented in the story like the baby making conspiracy by the families, the events related to the clandestine divorce, the union of the two inter-community families involved, the openness of the family to talk about sex etc are way-off from the life of a common man. The constantly-fighting-yet-loving-sort-of-relationship between Deepika and Rishabh is also expected to strike a chord with many couples.

Judy’s job of extending Chetan’s story line is remarkable as I believe extending someone else’s imagination is more difficult than creating a completely new plot. Hence, I think that the book is better than many other books belonging to modern literati genre. The book is a stand-alone success and does not require readers to have read “Two States”. The story is racy, dramatic and quick read (Should not take more than five hours to read).

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at  BlogAdda.com. Thanks BlogAdda for the free book. Participate now to get free books!

Shit happens, let the buck stop

Buck Stops Here

Buck Stops Here

This post is in response to a post by Fire Crystal about a girl’s right to career. This blog derives heavily from my personal experience, blogs & books I have read and songs to which I have lent my ears to.

Often many parents ignore the fact that “Ramming one’s point down the throat of another will NOT work no matter how correct the point might be.”  The case of Ananya is a typical case of disagreement between a parent and a child where the parent is intolerant to the alternate choice of his child and is trying to enforce his view point onto the child without any (near-to-zilch) logical debate around the issue. More often than not, child in these cases tends to accept these enforced decisions with a caveat of passing the buck to their parents in case of the choice not materializing successfully. But siree, ain’t we fostering an environment wherein a child can easily prefer to be irresponsible?

Parents need to realize that “Individuals need to be themselves responsible for what happens to them. Merely passing the buck is irresponsibility.” Hence, let the child make choices and decisions which impact his/her life the most. Shit might happen but let the buck stop with your child.

Ananya’s dad needs to realize the above said statements. Based on the narration in the post, I deduce that no one has given much effort to convince Ananya’s dad on the matter. Ananya needs to take proactive efforts (probably making him talk to her teachers, the course administrators about the usefulness of the course etc). Moreover, Ananya should reflect the confidence that taking an alternate course will only enhance her chances of leading a better life. If her Dad is able to see such confidence in her, I think he would agree (but this might take time).

In case her Dad disagrees, let Ananya pursue the other course and let her try making a good living out of the other course. In either case, I would urge her to talk and to discuss her desires with her Dad more. Simply do not hold back your thoughts and desire and do not place your happiness in others’ hands. A few lines for Ananya to remember

Remember, There are no free lunches in life.No matter how much support you have from people around you, at the end of the day, you are going to be on your own. YOU are the one who has to live your life, and you are your own staunchest, most unswervingly loyal ally. No one is as concerned about your happiness as you.

P.S: I borrow a few lines from Savage Garden’s song Affirmation – “I believe your parents did the best job they knew how to do…… ” – There is no manual to parenting and parents always make decisions keeping the best interest of their child in mind. Their choices are half chances as everybody else’s and hence shit happens.

P.P.S: Some references made in the post belong to the following blogs and you might find these blogs/posts interesting:

Letter To A Classmate Who “Just Wants To Settle Down”

Interview of Indyeah by Blogadda

Why are religions getting irrelevant today?

This post is in an extension to many posts and comments I have come across on religions recently. Many of the posts and comments have raised points around religion being used as a tool to discriminate and relevance of religion in today’s world. In this post, I would primarily try to present my view on religion’s relevance in the current world.

I think religions are loosing relevance in today’s world. Many bloggers have pointed out that religions today have outlived their use and have not evolved with the pace of the world.

One of the primary reason for this decline in relevance is that unfortunately religions have been too much about God and very less about human. Priests and preachers are too much in love with the traditions and rituals and worry less about the individuals. Theory says firms/institutions (in this context – religion) that focuses on firm’s/institution’s needs instead of it’s customers’ needs and wants (in this context – individuals) falter, fall and disappear.

Today very few religions offer counseling services around fighting stress, coping with pains, practical insights into leading good life. Even if they offer, these are still very naive and built around traditions and rituals and offer no solace to the individual concerned. An example to cite here: catholic churches in south India appealed to Christian couples to have more children (News Article – Catholic church says to have more children). Unfortunately this advice/appeal was issued keeping dwindling Christian population’s impact on Christianity in mind rather than the common good of individuals in mind. The above example indicates the focus of religious institutions – power, traditions and rituals above the common good of individuals involved. This love of religious institutions with traditions, rituals and power makes religions irrelevant to many youths.

So, does that mean religions would perish from the surface of the earth? NO. As religions represent way of life (often with a lagged effect), religious institutions will alter themselves slowly. Though a universal religion might be a very distant dream, I hope religious affiliations will no longer be used to discriminate individuals. For the common good of human being, religion would become a part of private life and would stay away from public life. AMEN.

P.S: I have read through many blogs and opinions of individuals on religion. Some of them which the readers of this blog might find interesting are presented below:

“Civilization made god out of good people (mostly philosophers/social workers) who gave a direction to society may be laid a few pointers to lead life with respect to their structure and situation of the society… Somewhere down these paths people lost the view that these are just ways to live and all is made by humans for humans to live like humans …” – Sumit Mukherjee, a close pal of mine

Read what IHM has to say about religion in her blog Religion Makes Us Kind and Good!?

Read why Tikuli prefers to believe in GOOD than GOD in her post Walk the talk – Temple Tales

Read Indyeah’s view on religion in her interview with Blogadda

With you I lived the sweetest part

Sweetest Memories

A hundred days have passed since I had a contended heart,

With you I lived my sweetest part.

Today, dreams are my favorite place,

where I see myself closer to your face.

The pain does not die and I motionlessly cry,

for being away from thy.

Often I desire to mend my past,

and pray to set things right.

But nothing seems to change

And I realize – this part is the heaviest baggage.

With you I lived my sweetest part….

“Becoming Consultant” – Volume 1

 “Any clod can have loads of information, but forming an opinion is an art”

Consultants often work through random & wellspring of information and come out with sensible and effective solutions. Identifying themes and key messages from the deluge of information therefore becomes a cornerstone for success of a consulting engagement. It contributes not only to developing solutions but also presenting solutions and hence is one among the highest rated skill in consulting industry. The article presents my thoughts on how identifying key messages contribute to effective communication & problem solving and offers some tips on developing the skill of identifying key messages.

How key messages contribute to problem solving and problem solving

  • In communicating solutions, consultants need to covey the key message foremost followed by the supporting facts (often named as pyramid principle or top-down approach). The key message therefore goes as the title of the chart or becomes the first slide and the supporting facts form the body of the slide or follows the first slide. (In nutshell, apply the concept of Elevator Pitch)
  • In the process of problem solving, identifying key themes/areas of problem helps consultants to prioritize and channel their efforts, which translates into timely and effective design of solution. Often, in the consulting lingo we refer to identifying key themes and areas as Pareto principle (80/20 principle).

How to develop the art of identifying key messages: One aspiring to effectively use this tool needs to practice the tool regularly. Some of the easy to adopt methods (Not Exhaustive) are listed below

  • Summarizing: Summarizing articles/documents one reads in his daily life is a great tool to learn the method of identifying themes. Apply observations and common sense to derive the key message from the summary. Please note that key message is not a mere summary of facts and observations but a synthesized version of the summary. Attaching weights/priorities to the identified themes and messages can help you elevate your skills of problem solving.
  • Structure your communication: Always apply the thumb rule of conveying the message first while communicating. While making slides ensure that you state key messages as the title and support the message with facts and inferences in the body of the slide OR while designing the flow of the presentation ensure you present key messages first followed by the supporting facts and information.
  • Use of Word clouds: Word cloud is a visual representation of text data, typically used to depict keywords and themes. A word cloud of this is presented in the below image. It simply indicates that this blog talks about identifying key messages in consulting. Word cloud software can be of great help to capture key themes and messages from lengthy documents and articles in quick span of time.
Word Cloud

Word Cloud of this blog

As stated in my opening statement, merely having information does not translate into solution. Identifying key messages helps one to effectively use the information to design and present solutions and hence one among the highest rated skill set in the consulting industry.

A trip to regal reminiscence of the Mughal Empire in India – Red Fort [PhotoBlog]

Prime Minister of India addressing the public from ramparts of Red Fort

Prime Minister of India addressing the public from ramparts of Red Fort

Prime Minister of India addressing the country from Red Fort

Prime Minister of India addressing the country from Red Fort

Prime Minister of India on ramparts on Red Fort

Prime Minister of India on ramparts on Red Fort

If I were to display the above three pictures a few years ago and ask you to pen down a few top of mind words, ‘authority’, ‘power’, ‘big’, ‘colossal’ and similar words would make it to the list (Authority might not figure in the list, if I were to do the test today). Red Fort has been symbolic of authority and power since the time it was constructed.

The place still retains the aura of stateliness, it commanded in the period of Mughal Empire. Here a few pics from recent visit to the colossal monument in Old Delhi.

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