Sunday, March 15, 2015

Together we win-musings on life

Life is at times, a rat race and an arms race. Rat race because people see it as a zero sum game and often play the game without knowing why they do it, and arms race because they feel compelled to participate in a race to the bottom just to maintain parity with the other person. This might play havoc with work life balance, contentment and hobbies, making the person unidimensional. After all, it is the rare person who can put in 12hr+ work days consistently, and still have the energy and passion to pursue hobbies and give the necessary time/attention to sustain professional development, or relationships with family  and friends. And this can make them unidimensional, and unsuited to anything else other than what they do at present.

 In my view, people are the most happy when they feel that their results are yielding fruit, and that they are being recognized for this. When this happens, they might be willing to accept compromises in their personal life also. But  the worse part can be putting in umpteen hours but not getting the desired results/outcome. Though the Bhagvad Gita cites Lord Krishna as advising to put the efforts without stressing too much on the outcome which is not in one’s control,that is easier said that done.
Its quite disappointing when efforts do not yield results. In these times, we would do well to remember the Indian Vedanta philosophy and keep working tirelessly. To aid this, some actions that could help snap out of the black mood could be
  1.   Reading inspiring Q&A on Quora or other self improvement sites like Lifehacker
  2.  ·         Working out/physical activity preferably with friends
  3.  ·          Spending time with family and children
  4.  ·         Writing for yourself only-Be it a diary/blog/notebook, do this on a forum where you are not afraid of being judged-this is also therapeutic when you can vent out your feelings and often understand what is causing the issue
  5.  ·         Diversification-Excel in one/more spheres beyond work. This can help financially and emotionally. Maybe you can moonlight elsewhere for extra income, write a best selling novel/code a killer app, or build your sales/creativity/leadership skills at a non profit, to take up a challenge in your present job

The above activities (except reading and writing) are not meant to be solo acts, but need loved ones. From personal experience, I can endorse the power of this. Some months ago, I had to make an important career decision with significant personal ramifications. In true MBA style, I had made the list of pros and cons, but it was leading nowhere. To complicate, there were organization changes happening around me, and it was possible that my plan would lead nowhere. That decision period saw me quite stressed, and with no one to vent it on except closely family and significant other.  With nothing working, I took a trip home and discussed individually. They unanimously advised me to do what was best for my long term objectives, since what was best for me was also best for them. I was touched by this tremendous show of faith in me, and it helped make the decision of moving from Gurgaon to Chennai. What also helped, was not bringing the office laptop, so that I would not be tempted to turn it on and give in more hours to the never ending work wheel. Weeks of spreadsheet analysis paralysis, bowed to 3 days quality time and discussions.That convinced me of the power of personal interactions.

The new rebranding exercise also focusses on the personal touch, especially in the ‘Look Up’ campaign, which is extended in the ‘Together’ positioning. For more, do refer their website below  Their startup story of a few IITians creating the world’s best property intermediary( and this is understatement, not hyperbole) is indeed an example of the power realized by the startup team through being together. But more so, their campaign achieves even more by pushing the optimism wave.

A new start-musings

When I first left home as a kid in 2004 to pursue coaching
at Kota, it was a totally new experience. For two years, I lived away from home
till I returned to Mumbai to pursue studies in commerce. Then, for the next 4
years, I was at home till I cracked the CAT, and then the next 5 years from
2010 till 2015 have seen me live in Ahmedabad, Singapore, Bangalore, Gurgaon
and now Chennai. Having lived out of a suitcase for quite some time, I’ve got
used to shifting locations to achieve my dreams. But these have not been easy
transitions. Having established relationships in/comfort level with each place,
it is difficult to part. Thankfully, social networks like Facebook and
Linkedlin make it easy to keep in touch and even find people.  For instance, Facebook friend finder and
Linkedlin location search help you narrow down on people within your alumni
network/common groups.

Also, even for people without vast social networks, the
internet plays an excellent role. Ecommerce firms have really made this process
much easier. I can use Ola/Meru/Taxiforsure to book safe rides to/from airport,
TruckSumo etc to shift belongings safely, Zomato/TinyOwl to find awesome places
to eat, Olx to sell old belongings/buy new belongings, Pepperfry to order
custom furniture in places where I do not know anybody, UrbanClap for reliable
service provider recommendations, Cleartrip for weekend gateways and so on.
These startups use technology combined with the power of localization, to offer
unique experiences. And of course, who can forget Google Maps for that help to
locate places and get directions in English(albeit weirdly accented), and
preventing you from getting lost. Because of these firms, I have escaped a lot
of horror stories like getting lost/robbed/being starved of good food. It does
make life less interesting when you do not have these horror stories, but in a
good way.
Of all the cities I’ve been, its probably the decision to
move to Chennai, which was the most difficulty and the most impactful. As a ‘fraud
tam’(campus lingo for a Tamil by birth who does not speak fluent tamil) without
roots in Chennai, it was a return to my roots, and a chance to experience what
my forefathers might have. Of course, the IIM-A professional network is much
smaller here, which reduces the chance of serendipitous interactions but which
does make for deeper relationships. Also, Chennai with its slower pace of life,
has changed my outlook to a lot of things. And it is actually easier to live
here than in quite a few other cities. There’ just one bugbear for people which
is finding a nice home. With restrictions basis gender, marital status, caste,
profession etc, finding a house without the notorious broker mafia, is quite difficult.

When I had social networks in place(read metros like
Bangalore, Gurgaon), it was quite easy to find accommodation. But in Chennai,
it was quite difficult. After weeks of looking at forums like Olx, an IIM
batchmate suggested to check
And then I was hooked. The level of details and visualization was startling.
For a stranger to the city, it makes it much easier to contemplate relocation
decisions when you have the pictures of the house, locality ratings, landlord recommendations
and so on. Their ad below gives an idea of the whole thing. 

For those of us needing to make housing decisions, using
technology and websites like would make life much easier. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

When the future seems bright

The NDA won the May-14 general election on the promise of ‘Acche Din Aane Wala Hai’(in English this is a promise of good times to come). Since then, despite the hiccups in between, the stock markets have cheered the pending economic rally. But what this post focusses on, is the positive employment outlook for the Indian digital natives of tomorrow. As a finance business partner at India’s number 1 telco , there are quite a few occasions necessitating travel into rural India. On these occasions, I noticed innovative uses for internet for purposes like educational videos to prepare for exams, getting weather forecasts to plan cropping/harvesting, agricultural prices to decide which mandi to sell from, and even stock trading/ecommerce ventures. The most interesting story however, was how the internet inspired people to think beyond the confines of their rural environment. For example, the rice farmer’s son in Salem who used his understanding of agriculture to try and do futures trading speculation on MCX, the artisans store on Snapdeal who can showcase their wares and fulfill orders seamless ly and end-end with the help of ecommerce fulfilment expertise, the web designer in Coimbatore who used the benefit of the powerful broadband connection at his home to  deliver work to clients securely and remotely, and the Bangalore based startup Zerodha which has made trading much more affordable for retail traders. All these are examples where one can use the power of technology and the internet to improve their economic condition. The Industrial revolution was the golden age of B2B, the IT age was that of B2C and now is the age of C2C. Sites like Ebay, Flipkart and Snapdeal have really democratized commerce and helped smaller traders harness the power of the global market. There were fears that the digital divide would increase  the gap between the rich and poor, and those with access and those without. But now that people have the power to dream and  are not accepting the status quo, it is hoped that the next generation will not join the ranks of the frustrated unemployed which started the Arabian spring/other discontent, but will instead believe in the power of capitalism and turn away from the Naxal/other secessionist movements. Equity and growth are going hand in hand with the social security measures proposed in the union budget and other measures for inclusive growth.
This is also having a trickle-down effect on the real estate sector where the power of technology is being harnessed to equip small agents with the same tools as that available to large companies like Knight and Frank. Housing.Com has an excellent technology interface, for example, which is rated as among the best in the world. In my view, they are at the right place in the right time, to capitalize on the impending surge in disposable income, as also the tendency of Indians to do comparison online. Housing.Com could not have existed and disrupted the real estate market even 5 years back, yet now it is joining the ranks of a Zomato, Flipkart, Ola Cabs and so on. For more, refer their site as below

In conclusion, lets hope that the impending digital boom will transform India’s economy faster.