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Book review: The Score Takes Care of Itself

This book on leadership based on American Football (ഇടികളി) coach Bill Walsh is best read as a leadership case study. The book was gifted to me as an employee by my company.  The style of writing is slow paced and boring. The connection between the real life experience of Bill Walsh as a coach and his experiments is interesting to read. As a person who knows naught about American Football I could not relate or understand many of the American Football terms used, nevertheless the leadership idea could be derived from the context presented.

As the name of the book suggests, the leadership skills the writer sought to reveal is based on the practical Karma Yoga experience of Bill Walsh.

An addict to the game, he could have been unemployable in any other job unrelated to sports. That focus and sharpness of mind eventually made him develop, lead and achieve through the best team known as 49ers. The beginning of the book can hook a working professional onto it, since it talks on ‘how to know if you are doing your job’. Since the setting is USA, it talks about endless focus on work going beyond 9 to 5 (working hours). I feel this is an old era logic because now work place is not the same anymore globally. French have the right to ignore work emails after work hours.

India traditionally enjoys a lot of national holidays and paid holidays were you are not expected to work. This has been a tradition hence not a news like the French one. I had met President and CEO of a nice engineering firm in Boston who told me that productivity in Europe is less because of such schemes to disconnect from work. Deriving a global standard of performance from Bill’s book is not easy. It inclines towards USA and American Football , which is not a global game like real football (soccer).

This book re-emphasizes what Lord Krishna told Arjuna. ‘Stick to the work at hand and do not worry about the results’. This emphasizes another thought of prioritizing your time. Why ? Because, if there is a classic book and plenty of new books on the topic of leadership, which one to choose ? The time tested one. And what a reference Bhagavad Gita is ! It may take, reading a couple of other new books on stands to arrive at this conclusion. The earlier we fail, the faster we can realize that the most effort put on timeless classic can yield best cost-effective results. Of  course, the broader western world may take Bhagavad Gita to be a religious book, does it matter if the lessons learned from a religious or non-religious book are the same ? End result is a better human.

With the sloppy writing and occasional sentences of wisdom, this book is compiled in a good manner and better than certain John Maxwell‘s leadership books. The goodness of a person lives in what he leaves behind. The last chapter by Craig Walsh on his father was nice to know. The book then takes itself to another level where it is not just a leadership book but a biography within itself.

View all my reviews

  • Book review: The Score Takes Care of Itself - This book on leadership based on American Football (ഇടികളി) coach Bill Walsh is best read as a leadership case study. The book was gifted to me as an employee by my company.  The style of writing is slow paced and boring. The connection between the real life experience of Bill Walsh as a coach and […]
  • Book Review: Destiny Disrupted - I heard about this book from a Palo Alto entrepreneur. I read the book Destiny Disrupted by Tamim Ansary. The style of writing is unbiased for most portion and biased whenever it is expected. This book gives a good idea on the endless wars that the west Asia has seen the history and some facts. […]
  • Book Review : Algorithms to live by - This book came up in the circles of job search and discussions of things that don’t matter. It would have been a fallacy if the title said stood by what it said. Algorithms are thought processes and having behavioral philosophies of itself, that mathematicians may appreciate better. However, math being a yesteryear wonder-keyword and a […]
  • “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love”: Book Review - Background My previous reads were “Biography of Steve Jobs: Walter Issacson“, ” Notes on Startups: Peter Thiel“, “Siddhartha : Herman Hesse”  and I can only wonder how this book connects with those. I came across the author Cal Newport due to the Happy Schools Blog. This book arrives in style, for  a job hunter in […]
  • Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups - Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel My rating: 4 of 5 stars View all my reviews I came across this book accidentally. My lab mate had this book on his table for a long time. I see it sometimes on this desk , even now. I […]
  • Great reference for life and sales - How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger My rating: 5 of 5 stars https://ajeya.wordpress.com/2016/07/1… View all my reviews I did not expect to give such a title for reviewing a book that had the ” How to ..” in its title. But the book “How I Raised Myself from […]
  • Narrative of the Blunder termed war - Brig.  J.P Dalvi gives a clear account of want exactly happened at the India- China war (1962), which was less than a war in his book, “The Himalayan Blunder”. The motivation to read this was reading about VK Krishna Menon , the then Defence Minister of India. The title given is great because it happened […]
  • Lessons from Violin: how to choose one - This is from the Book by W.C Honeyman. A very old book (1893)  borrowed through the inter-library loan had to be handled carefully. It is a small but dense book. Things to learn are written by the expert W.C Honeyman. In addition, the way in which the book is written is also very interesting , […]
  • Being Rich: Richest Man in Babylon - In all classes to richness and courses to richness, business building seminars and rich friends and rich relatives, the base attraction is to know the ways to rich. Unlike some other self-help book to richness. This book “The Richest Man in Babylon” narrates a story. A story in its real sense because except for first […]
  • Reading: The Monk who sold his Ferrari - I had taken the book in hand twice before. But, both the times I was not happy with the way it was written. The beginning of the book seemed to try and build a background on which to put all the philosophy. I tended to ignore the story in my third time. The background story […]
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Posted by on September 10, 2017 in Book Review, Uncategorized

 

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Book Review: Destiny Disrupted

I heard about this book from a Palo Alto entrepreneur. I read the book Destiny Disrupted by Tamim Ansary. The style of writing is unbiased for most portion and biased whenever it is expected. This book gives a good idea on the endless wars that the west Asia has seen the history and some facts. I would have loved to see more references per page.

Supposedly, there is a historical gap that the western education misses. The book tries to fill in as much as the author can. I could revive my memories of school history (Kerala Syllabus), where we learned about independence movement in many countries including Algeria, Libya, Kenya and so on. After reading this book I really appreciate the effort they have put in making the history textbooks in Kerala syllabus. Interestingly a Q&A session including Dr.Shashi Tharoor’s bashing of British and the intentional hiding of British school system about their previous history was eye opening.

At the same time Holocaust is covered in schools in Germany. Tamim ends the book telling us everyone had a hand on Holocaust, and the Great Game only extended its reach. In USA how many schools teach about native American culture and tradition ? How is it done in the west Asia ?

The book shines light on why Turkey, Iraq and Israel where not covered much ground in my school history textbooks because of its complexity. There are instances of history narrated by Tamim that is questionable and open to opinions. However, the fair amount of references throughout the book along with the ‘anticipatory bail’ in the preface about the book being more subjective that just boring factual statements. Hence it is ‘Hi-Story’. Very interesting perspectives on the crusades are available in Al-Jazeera’s specials. Together with Wikipedia these three resources provide for a nice pass time adding historical curiosity. I like the style of writing, there is glorification of Islam. Some facts are mentioned here are there. They may or may not be tied to Islam as such. The books reaches a logical conclusion in the last few pages. Where it truly states why Islam can be considered in the league of religion (strong), polity (good connection) or culture (weakly connected). Putting itself in an orbit beyond certain misinterpretations.  I would still go by what I understood in the Mahatma Gandhi’s chapter (गान्धिजि का मत) read in my 9th standard (equivalent to 9th grade in the USA) – ‘Everyone has opinion (मत), and opinion(मत) is another word for religion’. In Malayalam language caste (മതം) is derived from the same root word. Reading between the lines and adding to the well know multitude of symbolism that represent God in the Indian tradition (often called Hinduism) which in turn represented the number of people present at that time of formation of scriptures ( 33 million gods in Hinduism represented 33 million people at the time as per Dr. N Gopalakrishnan), it appears as if indeed it is true. There may be a single god (or none or many) based on the many ways and opinions a mind likes to think and ponder about. Religion was used as a tool to divide people and loot forever rather than as a tool to realize human potential (as suggested by Jaggi Vasudev).

I used to wonder how these countries in west Asia ( sometimes called as Middle East, while Tamim calls it Middle World) were formed. Especially Jordan and Syria because I could not place them in linguistic/cultural difference basket. It was also nice to know how Lebanon was formed. Another of my musings was this question ” Was there ever a case were instead of splitting countries, some countries came and joined together to form a bigger country” . Emirs formed UAE to stand together. India was formed by merger of many small countries. The answer in the book about United Arab Republic(UAR) and how the countries which also liked to join, but did not, but follow similar flags was nice to read. In many new independent countries formed when the colonization era was getting over, the sense of national identity and the sense of a nation itself seemed to be distant for a common man. The books tells about the first implementation of democracy and how it related to a common man in Afghanistan. Tamim openly says about the Great Game, Cold wars, many wars over cultural, linguistic, economic and nationalist ideologies in addition to religious. It puts forth very bluntly that whatever the Islamic rulers tried to achieve involved war and death. Nothing to be proud of. In this light Tamim actually missed out Nizam of Hyderabad and to include Tipu Sultan of Mysore. Their stories may be smaller compared to the Mughals but equally violent ?! Coming from Kerala we get to talk about how the Gods helped to protect the Tiru-Kochi (nation) from Tipu. And Tiru-Kochi lasted 7 years unlike UAR which lasted for 3 years. I am sure that Tamim must have missed some more Islamic rulers ( Indonesia ?) and others and focussed on the west Asian scene.

I have heard that certain tribes in Africa do not have restriction imposed by national boundaries. Something similar exists  in different nations created by an ‘Independence movement’ leading to national identity, constitution, flag, anthem and a constitutional head. People easily move between Bhutan, Nepal, India. I guess similar cases exist between Afghanistan and Pakistan via the land of Pashtuns. Random lines on the map created by people who do not know about the land, the culture or language have lead to border tensions in many places. Be it artificial boundaries or natural boundaries of terrain or water. How are national boundaries created ? Who made it a law that every habitable land on earth should be part of nations ? Why should there be nations and national identity ? How many wars were fought over petty disputes on boundaries, resource division and  allocation ? Identity crisis could be one major societal aspect that the boundaries may seem to solve. Can the boundary makers be absolved of the consequences of their fancy markings on the globe ? ever ?

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2017 in Book Review, Uncategorized

 

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Book Review : Algorithms to live by

This book came up in the circles of job search and discussions of things that don’t matter.

It would have been a fallacy if the title said stood by what it said. Algorithms are thought processes and having behavioral philosophies of itself, that mathematicians may appreciate better. However, math being a yesteryear wonder-keyword and a dreaded subject across the globe. It may be better marketing tactics that prevailed over the political correctness, which is may be why the book is titled so.

The beginning of the book tries to shake the forgotten skills of probability and experience with uncertainty, the only use of probability theorems. The book is divided nicely in chapters that are digestible and probably demand a time of rest to rethink and re-iterate.  Game theory could be claimed as child of mathematics, logic, probability or computer science. As I mentioned , I could not think of computer science as something beyond mathematics. Somehow, the term “computer” make it technically appealing rather than the old school math. I feel same about control engineering leading to systems engineering, leading to mechatronics and robotics, and cyber physical systems  graduating into internet of things. More recently,  probability giving space to artificial intelligence and expert systems, to machine learning and deep learning and what not down the line.

 

References from the book for further reading:

Essay – “Walking” , Henry David Thoreau. ” There is a harmony discoverable…”

“The Scientist in the Crib” – Alison Gopnik – ” Extended period of human child’s development provides a way to develop exploration/exploitation trade-off”

 

“What’s best ? > What’s new ?” – Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig

 

Quotes I want to remember:

“In the practical use of our intellect, forgetting is as important a function as remembering” – William James

I was asked to draw my learning curve of whiteboard during an interview. I drew a upward going zigzag. My Y axis being “knowledge’ and X axis “time”, (this happened before I read this book) .I explained that my knowledge increases and shown by an upward slope and then I remove what I do not want reach a local minima and continue to pick up from there, leading to another maxima, again throwing away things I do not want and keep going. Some of my friends were impressed by this answer. Interviewer definitely had not seen such a learning curve, and I did not land up with a job offer.

Future reading:

“The Oligarchs” – David Hoffman – on optimal stopping

“Organizing from the Inside Out” – Julie Morgenstern

“Keeping Found things Found” – William Jones

I had read ” Eat that Frog” . This book compares some title in a single shot such as “The Now Habit” ( schedule leisure than work first), “Wait” ( dangling unfinished tasks), “Getting Things Done”. And then the classic Lao Tzu kicks in ” Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small”.  This chapter simply opens up the thoughts into scheduling ideas than I have used on my own. And it is as expected a nice mix of all these and similar techniques with minimal regret as the first priority..

Another interesting term that came up when reading the book is QED. Unlike Quantum ElectroDynamics, my friend expanded it was “Quite Easy Decision” (QED). While  the book describes Charles Darwin’s algorithm and conclusion to marry being written as “Quad erat demonstrandum“, which translates to “Hence proved”. Remember our school math ?!

The book also gives insights into the optimization problem that shows itself in mathematics, industrial engineering, operational research and project management. The origins of “traveling salesman problem” and why it was not called “prairie lawyer problem” was an interesting read. It was also mind-blowing to learn that the word “Serendipity” is derived from the fairy tales of “The Three Princes of Serendip” ( Serendip standing for Srilanka).

About the book:

Sans the notes the book is average at 262 pages. Reading is heavy with examples and intellectually simulating. This will make the reader think and read. Making the reading time longer than fiction. If the reader has used or searched about some productivity tools and thoughts then this book is interesting.

 

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2017 in Book Review, Uncategorized

 

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“So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love”: Book Review

Background

My previous reads were “Biography of Steve Jobs: Walter Issacson“, ” Notes on Startups: Peter Thiel“, “Siddhartha : Herman Hesse”  and I can only wonder how this book connects with those.

I came across the author Cal Newport due to the Happy Schools Blog. This book arrives in style, for  a job hunter in USA. Yes, I am searching for positions in electrical engineering as I am approaching end of my studies.

Here is the talk by the author :-


In ” Notes on Startups: Peter Thiel”  the author argues that we have to provide something 10 times better than what is available to be a good start up. In Cal Newport‘s “ So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love“. This book tries to come up and blast it on the face as to ‘why passion is not what you are looking for. You are looking for expertise in the beginning of your career’.

As an engineer with some awesome experience in my field, I can say that I have met a couple of people who said the same. They never wrote a book or go to MIT. Great People. Here, was this great retired man who was called back to help serve the company and help the new fellows to catch up with the technologies. I have asked him if he had any passion for the things that he did and if there is any tips and tricks of career life that I can use. He said ” It is good to have your own ideas and developing knowledge to implement it. Even more important is to flow with the crowd till the time is reached; the time when you are confident and knowledgeable enough to have a separate direction of commute than the general flow.” And then the bus had arrived and those were probably the last words I heard from him. Since I left the company- for higher pursuits. The book reinforces this thought.

There was this amazing scientist, who was also called back from retirement the same way as the former. I had breakfast with this man very often when I was working there. I remember that I posed him the question ” Did you have any particular interest or great passion for what you are currently doing, when you were my age”. He replied ” Not really, I got the job, I learned the job. Now, I know some things, with which I can help new people”

And then I talked to a colleague in university very recently, asked him why he changed majors and what his interest is. He said ” I do not have any specific area of interest, But , I am not proud of it. I know jobs are in the computer science area, the number of jobs in software is more than electrical engineering. So I am where I am.” The last I heard from him he had an internship in this super big company in USA.

Very recently, I was speaking to a friend, he was really interested in this wonderful research and was in the process of starting his research. He has not started any job application and he is OK with that. I have this another friends who went from Bachelors to PhD straight and says ” I do what I do , what I like, what is interesting, I keep doing it, Job will come”.

In the beginning, I had this biased understanding of what these people told. It was naive of me in the thought process. Everyone has some attraction to say some colors, some food, some topics, some places. This could be yellow, pasta, history of Incas, Egypt for some. This could be anything. The rational mind of mine tries to normalize the bias whereby this is diluted to any color, veg.food, history, World. This rationality and dilution is for the world to see. This is a form of outlook, self-created outlook, banishing the old preferences and making life simpler. Categorization and division was a tool to tackle odd chunks of data, information or knowledge. This is never diluted, because it becomes hard to grasp. My understanding is that this is not representation of real world. It is not like there are land animals and water animals, there are amphibians. Elephant which swims is not amphibious. That sounds like blasphemy to categorical knowledge. 🙂

 

The book 

As per the book , there are only two kinds of people.

Passionate people and Craftsmen (people who work to achieve their greatness). Also, the book says that ‘passion is rare’.

I got this question from an interview 2 days back ” How much interest , do you have in the work or job description?”

I was lost for words since I was reading the book. I cannot say “I am a passionate worker”. I cannot claim that I am an expert , due to modesty and truth. I cannot suggest that I am a hardworker who  is a go-getter. Because, I am not there to be a self-proclaimed worker who is not interested in the subject , who can master any subject by hardwork, I am not  a machine. I see the blurring of the categories? There is a mix. This is not mutually exclusive, this is my understanding. If I am interested in something, it does not mean I will forget everything and focus only on that. If I am an expert in data entry ( actually I am !) and burrito making (too) that does not mean I am passionate about these. The point is, there are things that people do out of need and circumstances. This makes them experts of the field, in my case burrito making , I can do it blind-folded, I can do it in sleep, you can wake me up at 3 in the morning and I can make burrito. This by no logic means that I am passionate about it.

Passion is  a thing arousing enthusiasm. Work is generally perceived as a bad thing. Increasingly, I hear that job is the worst thing that you can get, who does not like freedom. Don’t  we all trade our freedom with someone else’s freedom !. I mean free as being free to do anything with the time they could have probably invested that in. Then we come to selectivity of fields in which one wants to work. some people like being mathematician, while some do music. There is math in music and music in math. There are people in the interdisciplinary-gray-blurred-line who work here. World is not a number of countries, each with boundaries and armies on either side. This is because everything is depended on everything else. Not just globalization/localization there is glocalization.  This is depicted by mentioning Alan Lightman who wrote Einstein’s Dreams  who made a career in combo of math and culture.

The religion of logic says : choose a field, focus, work hard – you become an expert.

How to choose a field ? – by gut feeling, and elimination process of uninteresting stuff can help shortlist the field.

There are many venues to connect with interest. It is easy to find that out, with what you do in your spare time.

I cannot do something which is not interesting or satisfying me. This can be termed passion. And then I go on to learn how to do these things, if I do not know how to, I learn. This is what Cal says as passion is side effect of mastery. You can start doing things you do not like, to test how broad you are in the mind. See for yourself, where , unintentionally we put limits for ourselves.

 

The Case of Incremental Improvement.

I got bowled over in one of my classes since I was to give a presentation on a new idea. I had this vision of myself as a visionary, going to change the world. After the presentation, I came to terms with what I have heard years back ” There is more than enough of technology available, your phone has tonnes of features, how much of the features do you use or know how to use ?”  This was before the advent of android!

I see myself as learning how to do stuff with existing technologies. Necessities will always push up the technologies to be innovated. That said. The knowledge of existing technologies would bring in the required mastery and formulating the exact requirements for improvement . In this sense, like  a big project, steps follow a waterfall model, the goal of which is a moving target, the field of which is the area of interest. Improvements happen in agile fashion. Continuous improvement! In the religion of science, this is a scientific improvement called innovation/invention(sometimes). In the religion of life , this is self-improvement and sharpening your saw (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey). Improve yourself, so that you can grab the opportunity as it comes, because you are prepared. I would combine Cal‘s mention of ‘exploring the adjacent possible’ with ‘little bets’ with incremental improvement. This is because on a personal side, when you make innovations, improvements these carry the risk of going beyond the comfort zone, this opens venues for exploratory work.

Key Take-aways

All said, with my opinions and Cal‘s opinions (what he calls ‘rules’). I would say I have to work get some career capital (that is expertise) so that I can create opportunities and may be ones that Peter mentions in Notes on Startups.

“Creating a research bible”:(here bible only means another book)

Cal gives good tips on how to go about research. He is a research professor going about his research. It makes sense to follow this path if you have not discovered your own. This involves

summarize a research paper  that you think is relevant for your work

keeping  a timesheet/schedule/calendar

maintain a research note for brainstorming ideas

do practice beyond the practice that we do that can be tagged as “productivity – oriented”. This involves

  • stretching one’s self beyond comfort zone.
  • read tough papers.
  • keep improving.
  • track your work , to see the improvement.

References

This includes provocative title such as “my job went to India“! Jobs are going everywhere.I have read that USA thrives on creating ideas. When new ideas stops getting generated USA job market is not going to be the same. Because this is were the ideas get exported and get adopted by the globe. The title could have been re-thought !

When it comes to bananas, the dwellers in USA get it from Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala and other places. When it is jeans, it comes from Bangladesh and Vietnam. Belts comes from Thailand and China. Now, please do not tell that all these jobs went elsewhere. It was the market and policies of trade that led to this.

 

The references in the book that I would like to refer are as follows.  T

 

Writing Style

The style is lucid and easy to follow. The emotions are kept at neutral while the facts and references are cited. This is a good way to write making it an easy read. The book tries to number the ideas (written as ‘Rules’ in the book). This can be  a drawback to people who dislike rule book. But the count is very less, and it is manageable.

  • Book review: The Score Takes Care of Itself - This book on leadership based on American Football (ഇടികളി) coach Bill Walsh is best read as a leadership case study. The book was gifted to me as an employee by my company.  The style of writing is slow paced and boring. The connection between the real life experience of Bill Walsh as a coach and […]
  • Book Review: Destiny Disrupted - I heard about this book from a Palo Alto entrepreneur. I read the book Destiny Disrupted by Tamim Ansary. The style of writing is unbiased for most portion and biased whenever it is expected. This book gives a good idea on the endless wars that the west Asia has seen the history and some facts. […]
  • Book Review : Algorithms to live by - This book came up in the circles of job search and discussions of things that don’t matter. It would have been a fallacy if the title said stood by what it said. Algorithms are thought processes and having behavioral philosophies of itself, that mathematicians may appreciate better. However, math being a yesteryear wonder-keyword and a […]
  • “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love”: Book Review - Background My previous reads were “Biography of Steve Jobs: Walter Issacson“, ” Notes on Startups: Peter Thiel“, “Siddhartha : Herman Hesse”  and I can only wonder how this book connects with those. I came across the author Cal Newport due to the Happy Schools Blog. This book arrives in style, for  a job hunter in […]
  • Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups - Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel My rating: 4 of 5 stars View all my reviews I came across this book accidentally. My lab mate had this book on his table for a long time. I see it sometimes on this desk , even now. I […]
  • Great reference for life and sales - How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger My rating: 5 of 5 stars https://ajeya.wordpress.com/2016/07/1… View all my reviews I did not expect to give such a title for reviewing a book that had the ” How to ..” in its title. But the book “How I Raised Myself from […]
  • Narrative of the Blunder termed war - Brig.  J.P Dalvi gives a clear account of want exactly happened at the India- China war (1962), which was less than a war in his book, “The Himalayan Blunder”. The motivation to read this was reading about VK Krishna Menon , the then Defence Minister of India. The title given is great because it happened […]
  • Lessons from Violin: how to choose one - This is from the Book by W.C Honeyman. A very old book (1893)  borrowed through the inter-library loan had to be handled carefully. It is a small but dense book. Things to learn are written by the expert W.C Honeyman. In addition, the way in which the book is written is also very interesting , […]
  • Being Rich: Richest Man in Babylon - In all classes to richness and courses to richness, business building seminars and rich friends and rich relatives, the base attraction is to know the ways to rich. Unlike some other self-help book to richness. This book “The Richest Man in Babylon” narrates a story. A story in its real sense because except for first […]
  • Reading: The Monk who sold his Ferrari - I had taken the book in hand twice before. But, both the times I was not happy with the way it was written. The beginning of the book seemed to try and build a background on which to put all the philosophy. I tended to ignore the story in my third time. The background story […]

 

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2016 in Book Review

 

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Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the FutureZero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews
I came across this book accidentally. My lab mate had this book on his table for a long time. I see it sometimes on this desk , even now. I am not sure if it is an illusion. What captured my attention was the cover. The design of the cover than the name.

And the cover designer did a wonderful job in that. In the beginning of the book , the author says that incremental efforts and improvements do not help build a lasting company. The competition builds up as more imitators join the crowd and therefore, a start up should have some product/solution that is atleast ten times better than that provided in the market. This makes the company unique and sell-able.

It is exciting to think about this, if one forgets about the government and public policies and the types of market. I still do not get how can a whole crowd be so patriotic. The American-ism of the book is indisputable, and the love for the country is too evident. How does every US American book get that same?

I am not sure if that will happen with any other country. For my knowledge is limited. I know the affinity for languages and cultures are high in India. And even then when it comes to political decisions and the Government or Nation, it is best not spoken / mentioned in any literature.

By being a technical start-up conglomerate. USA can proudly showcase the technical talents. But how that is analogous to the rock music in USA may not be understood for the broader audience (for which the book was definitely not written) is a question the author should ask. It is nice to be local, but was that rock music and pencil sketched necessary. It kind of deviates the seriousness of a nicely written beginning and is a distraction best avoided. As a result, I could read the first three quarters way faster than the end of the book.

I do not know if it is to fill pages or lack of more cases like Tesla, Solyndra et al that the book mentions that made the passage go into such extent as to bring in mythology .

And also to write

“Every king was a living god.

Every god a murdered king.

Every king is just a scapegoat who has managed to delay his own execution.”

after elucidating examples such as Apple founder.

Overall a nice book. Worth reading especially the first half. It is a simple english book and the name of Peter Thiel and Bio to sell the book off. Not to undermine the effort, it is a very well written book for a content targeted for start up and easy to handle at 195 pages.

View all my reviews

 

  • Book review: The Score Takes Care of Itself - This book on leadership based on American Football (ഇടികളി) coach Bill Walsh is best read as a leadership case study. The book was gifted to me as an employee by my company.  The style of writing is slow paced and boring. The connection between the real life experience of Bill Walsh as a coach and […]
  • Book Review: Destiny Disrupted - I heard about this book from a Palo Alto entrepreneur. I read the book Destiny Disrupted by Tamim Ansary. The style of writing is unbiased for most portion and biased whenever it is expected. This book gives a good idea on the endless wars that the west Asia has seen the history and some facts. […]
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Posted by on September 10, 2016 in Book Review, Review

 

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Kabali da

Three words

Kabali da!

Kabali is the Tanglish spelling for Kapali a.k.a Kapaleeshwaran a.k.a God Siva. It is like a planned name for the movie for Rajni. The discovery says that many Rajni movie have the names of God Siva. Kapalam means head. What does Kabali mean?

There have been plenty of jokes through ICU and Troll Malayalam saying. Kali + Bahubali = Kabali . The film Kabali failed to overtake Bahubali in its first day collection. There are always exceptions. And even as fans, me or you do not get paid a paisa for praising, promoting or seeing the movie. It is all about being in the general social flow with a level of happiness, a bit high.

Neruppu da!

Neruppu is again interpreted as a spark that can ignite, a seed of fire and many a time fire itself.

Magizhchi! (no da)

My understanding of the term was rebuilt after watching this movie. Being a speaker of a mix of languages, with interest in some many languages my mind works to try and figure out  a meaning for a word without referring to the dictionary. The meaning for the word ‘Magizhchi’ was understood as something that keeps you engaged on which you find engagement. Mostly, some movies or sports to which one is glued is a matter of Magizhchi. The film rebuilt the definition to include happiness and joy in the process of engaged mesmerism.

 

The trailer of this film is a great work. It shows simple, neat , budget, rajni for the masses with definitely some transitional narration of new and old days of the main character

 

It was sure as the teaser was released that the film is going to make tonnes of profit, since the expenses are less. I did not know why there is no entertainment tax on the film. Some light on that is here.

The power of fans is evident in the success of the film, the economical success. As a movie the film does justice to the story. But I had my expectations which were not met. I especially did not like the audio only (climax?) at the end leaving a shot of surprise and open guesses. Also, gunshots in this film are to the most part real and not super extra ordinary. There is not much of a dance or song as in proper song. Unlike the film Madras  which gave an anthem to Chennai. Even the song Neruppu da fails to be an anthem or a motivational jig.But that is expected due to the absence of superstar A.R.Rahman as composer. This is not a big budget movie if you remove Thalaivar.

What we look forward to in the movie is nothing but Thalaiva. He rocks. He is Classy. He steals each frame, and the frame wants to focus on him. There is more of film in Rajni than Rajni in the film. You will be eager to watch his steps, what dialog comes next, what heroism is forthcoming and to what extent the reality will be disoriented. Rajni takes up the gun. But when he literally does, it is not the villain of Enthiran. When they show romance, it is not the romantic hero of Sivaji. It is unique, in itself it is Kabali da!

The film gives an idea that the story will be about a sweet and pleasant ( and of course easy) revenge for the situation of the hero. Typical Rajni film where he suffered to rise and act the hero. But the film is based on the soil and ground that the only issue remains on unexplained gang activities and what a truthful underground gang in Malaysia would do. It is not clear from the movie. But it is ok.

We do not expect detailed explanation on many things. Even if we are not the true fan to go for first day first show, nor would we waste food and resources on idolizing the superstar, nor would we give ourself to the crazy frenzy, but we would like to be in vogue, in current trends, to know what it is like to be, and be faithful netizens with supportive and meaningless tweets and posts and reviews and shout outs of Neruppu da. It may not be much. This is definite advertisement. It is more about knowing living and being the social update such as Pokemon and likewise.

Kabali as a movie helps reveal the little explored acting side ( than super-herosim) of Rajni. This may be a trendsetter and wake up call for hundred other directors including those of Salman Khan ( who shot Ek Tha Tiger which shames Spiderman’s Train stopping scene, all of which will give a salute to Chiranjeevi’s train stopping scene). It is not that super heroism did not begin with Rajni. Rajni just took it to break previous records. I would say it is good that Rajni was told to take off his cooling glasses and give a real expression which his face really does. With the heroine doing good acting, probably acting took the main stage alongwith the story in this film. There are some memorable scenes and it does not include the Rajni walk, Rajni gunshots or Rajni fights. This is great to be pulled off in this way and still get a great success story. I expected a more momentous and exciting journey from Malaysia to India. I expected more fight and more dialogue. Because on any day we can have more of Rajni.

What does it take to create overnight success like that of Kabali. Learn from what John Hanke the creator of Pokemon Go said: 20 years. 20 years back yes Arunachalam was released. Imagine how many people have had their food for their toil by working in this Rajni film. And then how many Tamils of Malaysia would be happy to have a Malaysian Tamil film. And how many Tamils will be happy about an International Tamil Film and How many Indians would be happy about an old man entertaining the whole of the world ?That exactly is the redefinition of super heroism.

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Great reference for life and sales

How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in SellingHow I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

https://ajeya.wordpress.com/2016/07/1…

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I did not expect to give such a title for reviewing a book that had the ” How to ..” in its title. But the book “How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling” by Frank Bettger truly does justice to the common conversations, which more or less involves selling. Yes, selling is the single most important activity that no one in this world can escape from. Not just as a consumer, but as a salesperson. Everyone in this world has in one way or another sold something. The success of the common person is so much depended on this skill. But the skill is not very common. Proper training is often not given. This involved selling ourselves through resumes and interviews and applications. It also involves selling our idea for a group to agree upon. Selling to give and take respect. Selling to be heard and be given, to be forgiven and to be helped. An unassuming person goes through these activities throughout their life. This is however, not realized in its true sense and sales is often a skill that is looked down upon. Just imagine a world without sales. No. It is beyond imagination. In fact, such a world without sales does not exist.

The things that we sell include idea, material, design, equipment, the self, opinion, religion, customs, belief, medicine and illusions. There may be some categorization of the market such as socialist and capitalist, either way sales happen. Life and sales are so close that they cannot be distinguished from one another. This makes the omnipresence of sales and apparent neglect of which leads to a class of people called salespeople who are looked down upon for no reason of theirs.

Here is the video of a student selling himself at a career fair through rap

This faintly resembles me of the legendary Malayalam movie Daya. Where a slave sells herself to save her Master. If you have attended any salary negotiation workshops, then this becomes more evident.

 

Now! if you still think that selling stinks that is because you have not read this book.  Every single page is a lesson for sales, for life.  One among the many things that the book prompts the reader is to read about Benjamin Franklin. The book sells itself in the beginning by quoting Dale Carnegie and the author’s interaction with this legend.

 

Effective sales happen when

  • You are enthusiastic, act enthusiastic, feel enthusiastic
  • Track your failures and that will lead to success, when you take corrective actions
  • To make a sale you need an order, which needs an interview which does not happen until you make the call
  • Speak before groups , get courage and self confidence
  • Serve the need of the customer.
  • Make appointment, be prepared , focus on a point, ask questions, have a winning attitude.
  • Find the hidden objection, by asking “Why?”, see that these objections vanish from prospect.
  • Know your business
  • Praise competitors
  • Get direct witness or testimony.
  • Remember names, make friends
  • When you are scared admit it
  • Immediately after the pitch write what could be improved
  • Take care of customers and appreciate their property
  • Sell your appointment, sell your interview, then make the sales.

The book then urges one to know more about the magic method of Benjamin Franklin to improve the self.

 

Frank Bettger’s book is worth multiple re-reads.

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2016 in Book Review, Lesson

 

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Narrative of the Blunder termed war

Brig.  J.P Dalvi gives a clear account of want exactly happened at the India- China war (1962), which was less than a war in his book, “The Himalayan Blunder”. The motivation to read this was reading about VK Krishna Menon , the then Defence Minister of India. The title given is great because it happened in the Himalayas and was a huge (Himalayan) in its very sense.

Even if you one is not into wars and more into peace and freedom of choice resting with peace than something evil as war, a history such as this cannot be ignored. Being prepared, anticipating the possibilities is better than having nothing to defend with than the grandiloquence of peace. As a true Indian nobody would support war. And ministry of defense is truly a matter of defense than offense, compared to other nations.

Of course, the world of humans have not learned much even with great people like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela having walked the earth. But at-least acknowledge that history.

The author has a nice narrative style. It is unassuming and very explanatory and easy to follow with the map provided. Many place are difficult to pronounce. But the pattern is there. After describing the background of the political and economic situation of a brand new country and the leaders at the top, their chemistry and the Army positions, it is easy to follow the actual events in its sequence, with the dates provided. I do not know if this book is a reference in the Defense department but definitely a good read for an average Indian to learn about what happened at that time. The author acknowledges his situations and challenges in a very comprehensive way. The book becomes easy to follow this way. And what is better than reading a narrative from the man who was in the conditions.

The writing is definitely very humble to have given all the conditions and expectations of the “war” scenario and what made it a blunder. It was also interesting to read about the fame of the 2 Rajputs, 9 Punjabs and 1/9 Gorkhas and 4 Grenadiers during the world war elsewhere. It is always good to know the history and why the NEFA had problem with China is not yet known, other than the Chinese ambitions and disregard for McMohan Line. My understanding is that the fall of Tibet was not anticipated and India was more towards appeasing the west than immediate neighbours, including Tibet and China at that time. It was surprising to note that the army was not trained in Chinese language and the Chinese Army, some of them, knew Hindi. That was a big surprise. Of course, we expect spies in the NEFA(North East Frontier Agency) region and in any war situation the political bias and national affinity matters. I do not know why we had nothing much to learn about this ” Himalayan blunder” or the history of the north-east regions in our textbooks (2004 Kerala State Syllabus or lower classes). We had a good amount of data to learn about the politics of USA, Independence movements in Africa, India & Pakistan, History of Travancore with the background of various kingdoms like Choyha, Chera and Pandya in addition to the Mughals. I am surprised why I was never taught about the North east region except for the names of these states and their capitals.

However, the effort to write the book, is highly appreciated. The very humble factual narrative, assuming responsibilities also suggesting what could have been the case, makes this a history to remember. And now that people who are looking for can easily get access to the situation that was a blunder.

 

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2016 in Book Review, India, Review, Uncategorized

 

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Lessons from Violin: how to choose one

This is from the Book by W.C Honeyman. A very old book (1893)  borrowed through the inter-library loan had to be handled carefully. It is a small but dense book. Things to learn are written by the expert W.C Honeyman. In addition, the way in which the book is written is also very interesting , including the usages and references (mostly UK based).

First thing the book does is to bust the myth on the affinity for Stradivarius violin and why it happened, the history and the economics of it. It is interesting to find rating of violin makers in the sequence of priority as

Gasparo da Salo > Maggini > Guarnerius > Stradivarius > Amati.

For me , except for Stradivarius all others are new names in the field. This the author says is because of the known scarcity of violins from these and other makers. The comparative abundance of Stradivarius invited multiple copies of the same to be made, not from the legend , but due to the economy of popular demand became the known name for violins.

Lessons for choosing a violin include , among many tips, these >

  • Check for the tone of the violin.
  • Some notes may sound odd, these are called as “wolf-notes” based on the wood and position of the sound post, and full contact of the sound post. This may be a few notes, especially the higher notes which will be never produced right due to the manufacturing of the violin. There are many violin which goes in the market with the wolf- notes undiscovered, the discovery of which leads to decreased value of the violin, though it is named under many of the great manufacturers.

And then, there are some tips for practicing the violin given in the book:-

  • First thing for a violinist to do is to practice scales daily.
  • Secure first and third fingers before second and fourth.
  • A long note, requiring separate bows may be played to sound continuous by taking the pressure away from the bow slightly, before the moment of reversing.
  • Keep violin away from dust. Even dusting can remove varnish, if dusting is done frequently.
  • It is good to keep in mind that it is not the string but the wood that makes the sound.
  • Try to read Corelli’s solos Op.5 Book I
  • Put weight on left foot , if standing.
  • Grab the opportunity to play with others.
  • Best violin is not always expensive
  • Check for tone from pianissimo to forte
  • Equal height for all strings
  • Violin should be held upwards falling towards the player.
  • And some tips to take care of the violin includes using a damp cotton and wire to clean the inside of the violin.
  • This book is worth many re-reads and guides as a good reference.
 
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Posted by on July 10, 2016 in Book Review, Lesson, Review

 

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Being Rich: Richest Man in Babylon

In all classes to richness and courses to richness, business building seminars and rich friends and rich relatives, the base attraction is to know the ways to rich. Unlike some other self-help book to richness. This book “The Richest Man in Babylon” narrates a story. A story in its real sense because except for first few pages, it dwells deep into the story, with the style of writing and conversations. It is perfectly readable once you read through first few pages which are written in old style English, to give a feel of the olden times of Rich Babylon.

From the wikipedia, the place is in Iraq

 

Since we do not know the language, it does not matter. It is in Old English in new form, not Arabic.

And the major portion of the story goes from rags to riches. It is not a moderate guy getting rich. It is mostly, a person who spend beyond measure or got into ill fortune and then got dragged down to the level of slaves and how they work their way back based on the following points , which are mentioned in the beginning of the book.

Points to note

  • Mind your expenses
  • Save money
  • Invest money
  • Work, earn, be willing to explore
  • Get a house which is a profitable investment

So, everyone knows this. Then how much do you save? and how much do you live on?

The formula given is

save 1/10 th of earning

live on 7/10 th

pay off the debt using 2/10 th

invest the saved money. make the money work.

 

The author George Clason is from USA, so the comparison and the onus of saving is targeted at the lifestyle of USA.

As anyone knows you should not live beyond your earnings. And saving money is second nature in many oriental cultures (like Babylon!). This book may reassure this nature for people who flocked to the land of opportunities.

Good luck in getting rich.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2016 in Book Review, Review, Uncategorized

 

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