Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Active Aliens

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

I seriously couldn't control my laughter while reading this. Was tempted to look around to ensure that no one was busy dialing an emergency number. This one is actually just one of the strips in a series - that constitutes a bigger story - but it can still be shared as a stand-alone strip without looking incomplete (isn't that another wonderful C&H specialty?). BTW, I am beginning to wonder if I'm the only one (to be more specific - the only adult, who has probably lived half her life already) who cracks up on reading such kid-stories? Keep the humor aside for a minute and focus on Calvin's creativity! Did that shake you to your roots? Or check out the expressions and the nuances of the drawings! Brilliant stuff as always! OK....gotta go now. Got to meet some aliens from Pluto (the same ones that spoke to Calvin) and discuss equally important things like improving the world's GDP, reducing inflation and mortality rates and all that sort of thing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Netflix CULTure

Awesome set of slides on what Netflix wants its culture to be like. Hat-tip to @unorder (Shawn Callahan). They know exactly what they want in terms of employees and culture....and their preferences sound great to me (Sample this: We don't want Brilliant Jerks). This was uploaded only one month ago into slideshare, but has already been viewed 210000+ times, been set as a favorite almost a 1000 times and embedded elsewhere 500+ times. Not hard to see why. Not hard at all! As someone who once ran through every page of the PCMM manual, I can, well, see the difference between theory and practice.

I'm now motivated to understand their business and read about their management team. But it's quite sad, in a way, that such logical and ethical approaches toward business and culture are now seen as radical and revolutionary! We've, it might seem, come a long way down the wrong path! A clear reflection of the deterioration of the overall corporate culture!

PS: One thing that did make me pause and question is the value of "selflessness". Some of the points therein are understandable and to be appreciated but I think the value can be easily misconstrued. This value, for example, need not mean that you put the organization above everything else like the world/environment etc. And sometimes you may have to necessarily do what's more important to you rather than the organization - what if you're quite ill and not in a position to close an important business deal that cannot be further delayed? You may be forced to find someone else - though it may not be good for the organization - who can take your place and close the deal on your behalf, rather than risk your health.

And, thank you, Mr.Reed. For bringing back this quote that I drooled over a couple of years ago, when I first came across it.

'If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea' - -Antoine De Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Preview of a presentation to be made (or already made?) at the APQC KM conference. Liked the arguments and the way the "case" is built, especially at the start of the presentation......and I think the concepts of integrated search and integrated e-learning (see the screenshot tward the end of the PPT and you might conclude, just as I did, that the e-learning module seems to have video, text and a lot of other attached stuff that is way better than just audio files) are always exciting! [Hat-tip to Sreeharsha]

World Habitat Day

Letting you all know about the World Habitat Day, based on a request I received. I guess each of us can do our own bit - however small - to help, not just on the first Monday of October....but always! Please check out the website to see what Liza and her team are trying to deal with and to find out if you can help spread the awareness or lend direct assistance.


Hi Nimmy

I'm reaching out to ask if you would help spread the word about World Habitat Day by posting about it on Aa..Ha [Thinking Inside The Blog!]. The United Nations has chosen the first Monday in October to be World Habitat Day - a day to stand up and let it be known that affordable, adequate housing should be a priority everywhere. I've put together a blogger press release to help get the message out - there are videos, photos, banners, and even a Flickr photo petition you can use:

If you are able to post about this it would really help spread the message and could help improve many lives. Please let me know if you have any questions and if you are able to help. Thanks so much.



Friday, September 18, 2009

One Inspiration to Another. A Full Circle.

OK. I had that rare Twitter moment a while ago. Here it is. [Wondering how more and more Blog moments are now starting off as Twitter moments and then getting converted into the former]

Inspiration > Purpose > Passion > Insight > Vision > Pursuit > Solitude+Community > Hard Work > Creativity > Focus > Change > Inspiration. Full circle.

All we need to do is look for that one special inspiration that lasts a lifetime and gets converted into a strong and invincible purpose, making us passionate and insightful, leading us to a meaningful vision that we want to pursue no matter what while swinging between phases of solitude and amidst an equally passionate community of people and putting in a lot of hard work, being creative and focusing on the journey as if our life depended on it and ultimately ending up with a positive change from which another - new - inspiration is derived.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Do What you are Asked to!

Priceless! :-) Why does it make me howl with laughter? A little bit of nostalgia, shall we say....?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Curious Incident of the Lazy Blog-Reader in the Afternoon Time

I rarely use this blog to rant about things. I generally manage to avoid such posts except under extreme circumstances. The idea is to use the blog to share useful, nice and profound things that I discover and, of course, ideas - flash in the pan - that occur to me, provided they are worthwhile. But there are certain experiences that deserve to be ranted about. Especially if one is quite bewildered and can't get over it easily. This is one such post. Writing, as I must have mentioned before, is anyway cathartic. So, I am going to do this. Please don't read the rest of this blog post in case you're not the kind who is interested in human psychology and behaviour! ;-)

A regular reader of this blog who generally asks fundamental questions has always received my appreciation for his inquisitive nature and also my responses - however silly, ignorant or mortalish they might have been (what else can you expect from an ordinary mortal like me in response to questions like "Does God decide man's fate or does man decide his own fate?" etc). To set the context, in fact, there was one such discussion that happened on this blog some time back wherein I could only suppose certain things based on my mortal experiences but I finally decided to cut off the discussion because I was not able to give him the answer he expected and nor was I able to convince him about the reasons for my own perceptions. To my credit, he seemed stubborn and prejudiced and anyway you can't expect a debate on God/Fate/Free Will to come to an easy or quick conclusion.

This person decided to follow me on Twitter recently and bombarded me with one too many questions this afternoon but I decided to respond to them despite the fact that I was unwell and had to also balance it with some work. I did not have the heart to cut off the discussion despite the fact that I suspected we would only go around in circles given that he came into the discussion already convinced about something. As the conversation progressed, it became clearer to me that the queries or the arguments were just superficial and he either wanted a radical answer that he would not be able to cross-question or he wanted me to concede ignorance and then gloat over it (he makes "profound" statements like "I am the winner and the loser" if someone tells him they do not know the answer). If this wasn't clear before, let it be known now that I am human. I have no insight into how the Universe functions for me to give him a radical answer with proof that he will not be able to deny. I can only have a normal human conversation wherein I express my thoughts and experiences and try to reason around them or maybe sometimes use my intuition. And yes, I get angry too - when I have to face unreasonable and insensitive blokes.

More than everything else, all his arguments were shocking to me which was probably where the problem began. He said he did not believe in reading books and only believed in real-life experiences - now that is a highly provocative statement for a book-lover like me. Who said books don't talk about real-life experiences? Who said you can't learn from others' experiences and learnings via books? He finally conceded that he did not have the patience to read books! Then why say he does not "believe" in reading books, in the first place? Sample some more: He wants a Guru who knows everything under the sun and tells me he cannot call anyone who does not know everything a Guru! What can I do if his definition of Guru is different from that of the world? Am I supposed to be the martyr bridge between him and the rest of the world? He imagines that I am a preacher (God knows who told him that) and I should have a handle on my temper while he himself is apparently a "dreamer" and deserves to be lazy (like not wanting to read books and expecting people to drop all their work and health and answer all his confounded queries forever!) Oh....I could go on but I think I should try to keep this post short - ok, as short as possible ;-) - for your benefit. [Remember....the idea is to not present a fact file or a case in the court or to even defend myself but for this post to act as a mechanism to get my frustration out of my system! :-)]

Coming back to the story, after a lot of meaningless messages on Twitter he moved to email and started asking me more questions despite my telling him that I did not have any more time to answer his queries for the time being and that he must approach someone local or look up guides via Google for certain questions like how to use Twitter. Honestly speaking, I guess I had quite lost my patience by this time and was in no mood or state of health to explain things via mail to a person who anyway seemed to understand very little beyond what he already believed in and needed to be spoon-fed everything.

The last straw on the camel's back was this final email exchange. His 23287382973th question ( was more like the 30th question) was "How to increase blog traffic?" as he wants to make a living writing a blog or something. I gave him an honest - and, actually, the only answer - I know. "Write extremely well" and the traffic will naturally increase. I also told him that I myself care a damn for blog traffic because I blog/write to share and learn. I finished it off by telling him that he could also tweet his blog posts in case he wants more people to look at them. I have heard of some more techniques to increase blog traffic but I have NEVER paid attention to them because that does not interest me in the least. I do not blog for the traffic. I told him as much in as many words. What does he do? Come back with the same question and insist that I answer it in a different manner since I am from the software industry! I actually did not get annoyed even after this! I simply went back to him and told him to search Google for "how to increase blog traffic" as a) I now knew him to be lazy and suspected that he would have not tried this approach in order to avoid the hard work of sifting through the results and b) I couldn't care less about learning the answer myself. And guess how our exceptional friend responds? He starts his response as follows: "Irritating." What an extraordinary display of courtesy to someone who spent hours responding to questions that in retrospect were not probably genuine! He goes on to say he knows how to do a Google search and I need not tell him about it! Wow! Bless his soul, people!

Do you think I made a mistake asking him not to write to me again after reading this? Honestly. Go ahead, tell me. I feel immature putting this out on my blog....but I seriously will leave this post intact for two reasons. 1) It really is cathartic to write about such a horrendous experience and get it out of my mind. 2) I would be interested to know if I made any mistakes apart from the fact that I lost my patience somewhere in the middle and gave him undiplomatic answers or, well, maybe I actually put up with him for too long? Give me your piece of mind!

PS: I did post a few messages about this experience on Twitter a while back and someone came back and told me to suggest that this person look up "the blog zone". In case you - you know who you are - happen to be reading this post, you might be able to appreciate this suggestion - provided your laziness does not prevent you from looking up this portal and reading through it. There is no substitute for hard-work. Wait! Does that make me sound like a preacher? Maybe! OK, consider that sentence removed if so! ;-) God bless. Whew!

I can't believe that this kind of a thing can happen to someone who actually loves being asked questions, like yours truly! I seriously like being asked questions and engaging in stimulating conversations but only if the intention of the other party is to truly learn or discover something through the conversation and not just prove his own point or prove that there is no answer to his questions (!)...and only if it is a topic that I can actually comment on and only if I am not expected to drop all my other priorities and health and squeeze out the last drop of blood in my body to answer questions that appear lame to me! Enough. And, finally, at the risk of sounding very holy, apologies if this post seems to be written in bad taste and has contaminated the blogosphere...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A Real Jungle in a Concrete Jungle

It's amusing how most of us crave to live in a world different from the one that we actually happen to live in. I don't mean this in the literal sense but in the metaphorical sense. We'd love to escape the traffic jam we encounter every day, we'd love to experience silence and nature amidst the chaos at work, we'd love to run away from meaningless deadlines, the last-minute rush to finish something, mind-boggling tax-forms, lengthy procedures, office politics, annoying misunderstandings and what not! I'd bet that this dream of leading a different life remains just a dream for most people. We continue to chase routine like our lives depended on it and remain in the rut unable to take any physical action to exit the dangerous whirlpool of "civilized" and "modern" life. Some of us are lucky in the sense that we still manage to steal a few moments away from the daily despair and let our minds wander into something far away from it. I am not talking about day-dreaming but something on the lines below: Check out this view from the coffee place in my office.

What a riot! Bang in the middle of the city. Bang in the middle of one of Bangalore's busiest areas but difficult to recognize unless someone tells you! A sea of coconut trees and home to many local birds. Now, take a closer look.

According to me, the bloke who lives in that small house on the terrace of that 6-7 storey building in that somewhat large piece of coconut-tree filled land is one of the most fortunate blokes in Bangalore. I am almost sure the person who stays there is the security guard-watchman of the campus. What a view he'd have provided he doesn't always get distracted by thoughts of thieves! He is bound to have a wonderful breeze all day and night, spot flocks of birds flying overhead, and catch the twinkling skyline of the city at night if he wants a concrete (pun intended) change! He or at least his family would have their quiet moments and enjoy this "real" jungle in the middle of a concrete jungle! Believe me, if you take a look at the beautiful campus roads below, you'd understand what a perfect place this would be for early morning and evening walks! And, btw, the nearest building to this one, in the same campus, happens to be a library! That's the icing on the cake for you! :-)

OK...I think I'll leave you with this for now and see if I can catch more moments focused on this place when I take my tea and water breaks. Yow.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Preserving India's Knowledge

Almost three years ago, I posted about my discovery of the Bangalore-based FRLHT – Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions - and remember vividly that I was quite excited about it at that time. Now, three years of evolution or rotting (depending on the way you look at it ;-)) later, I followed the Twitter profile of a person (Mani) who happened to retweet one of my tweets (this is a distraction, nevertheless, in case you are curious what my retweeted tweet was about and are lazy to click on the link, let me tell you. It was about a KM product company – Trampoline Systems, if you want the name as well - that is adopting a crowdfunding approach to finance its future) and found something there that rang a huge bell in my mind and brought back memories of my spotting the FRLHT office bus. When I glanced through Mani’s recent Twitter updates, I was lucky enough to spot one of his tweets about the existence of an organization called CIKS - Centre of Indian Knowledge Systems! One look at the organization’s home page and I was mighty impressed by their projects, vision and achievements. Not surprisingly, as I glanced through the Trustees page, I realized that the key person behind FRLHT is one of the members of CIKS as well. That bell in my mind was spot on! Ding Dong! :-)

CIKS seems to focus on preserving India’s agricultural knowledge amongst other things and speaks of some inspiring and admirable project areas to help India’s rural population through well-designed programs. Most of the projects revolve around organic farming methods but I guess the scope and potential for expanding this concept is immense! Not many weeks ago, I was having a conversation with two of my friends about the possibility of using KM in non-profit ventures and for social benefits and we’d touched upon areas like Education, Agriculture, Health-Care and Infrastructure. CIKS is a brilliant example of what can be done in the agricultural arena. More so because of the rich agricultural history that India has. Even though the focus at present seems to be only on preserving conventional agricultural knowledge, it would be quite easy to extend it to facilitate sharing of knowledge across farmers, providing them with the platforms and practices to network, collaborate and innovate! If proven to be a success here, I can’t think of any reason why it can’t be replicated in the Education and Health-Care sectors as well. Speaking of Education, I am reminded of India’s traditional and inspiring Gurukul system.

There is an urge to come back and look into this at length and expand on the ideas…..but what do you think?

Managing Relationships

A good post on managing relationships from Steve Goodier.
Notes: T - trust, R - respect, A - Affection, V - vulnerability, E - emotional intimacy, L - laughter

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Sweetness and Light

Well, even if I happen to be a bit infrequent with my blog posts at times, I am glad some people think this blog can serve the purpose of spreading sweetness and light! :-) Take a look at the message below. I received a mail from Hemanth requesting me to put this up for those interested in contributing. Meanwhile, I explored the Anand Charity website and was impressed by their projects and the people behind it! May their tribe increase and inspire!


My name is Hemanth Sampath, a volunteer for a non-profit organization called Anand Charity ( Anand Charity was founded by Indians representing stellar academic institutions such as IIT, Kellogg, Wharton, Johns Hopkins University and multi-national companies such as Qualcomm, Shell, and McKinsey & Company. Anand Charity was founded with the aim of identifying and providing need based financial support to organizations involved with health care, primary education and disaster management in India. We have six active projects in different parts of India. Some of our current projects include providing assistance to:

• A school that offers vocational training to mentally challenged students in Rajasthan
• A school in Uttar Pradesh for building a kitchen that serves 250 students
• A village in Andhra Pradesh for building a well to ease drinking water problems

We have been able to accomplish a lot in a short period of time since our founding. We would like to bring about further change. We are currently running a fundraiser (called “Change for $5”) to help us support more development projects in India. We believe that $5 can go a long way – it can buy textbooks for a student for one year or provide food and drinking water for a person affected by a disaster or buy a daily meal for children in a school.

We would like your kind help in spreading the word about Anand Charity and the fundraiser. Your blog is extremely well written and read. A mention about Anand Charity, its mission, its current projects or the fundraiser would immensely benefit us. It would allow us to reach out to and touch more underprivileged people. We would be very indebted to you for your help.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Thank you for your time, consideration and support.

Best regards,
Anand Charity -