2020

Way back in 2000, as a 13-year-old I had a crazy imagination of 2020.

No, definitely not flying cars but I did think that the world would be a better place. We would all shift to electric cars and there will be a cure for every disease. India would be a developed economy and we will all become rich. How cute.

In 2005 when I turned 18, I did not bother about the future much. All I wanted was faster internet, better mobile phones, better computing power to run the latest games. How ignorant.

In 2010 when I turned 23, I thought to myself that the future is here: 5MP cameras and 1mbps speed. All I cared about was that the economy should create better job opportunities for me to prosper. Self-centered.

In 2015 when I turned 28 I arrived at the conclusion that there has not been any radical innovation since 2000. There have been disruptions through incremental innovations. Everything was so linear. Moore’s law had ruled the semiconductors and Farmville had ruled our minds. Rational despondence.

Quite surprisingly, today, as I wait for 2020 to begin my thoughts are somewhat a blend of all of the above. But I would always prefer the company of the 13-year-old me. I would travel back in 2000 and have a good chat on the possibilities.

Search for the meaning or define your own!

What is the meaning of all this? meaning of life? meaning of our existence and universe? Many times our mind is bogged down by these profound questions. Some people end up in the high mountains in pursuit of answers while the majority just end up numbing their minds, give-up and continue with their mundane activities.

Perhaps what disappoints us the most is this blunt answer: there is no meaning! and then turmoil sets in. (Spoiler Alert) Those who have read Scott Adam’s first part of Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy will recall that when the supercomputer arrives at the output for the ultimate meaning for all existence, the answer comes out to be 42.

But leaving aside the confused and those who resort to the mountains, there is a segment of people whom we ignore in our relentless pursuit to find a meaning for life. These are the people who create their own meaning for everything. Perhaps it only needs a little creativity and an open mindset. Maybe a little non-conformist mindset but not necessary.

We have all the elements to create meaning at our disposal. Maybe someone tried to create a meaning 15 billion years ago that manifested into this universe. If someone puts you on a desolate island, you would be forced to create your own meaning as the year’s pass. Perhaps you will build a small hut, worship coconuts and make volleyball your life long companion. Read Cast Awaywp3641907.jpg

For thousands of years, we have been forced to create meaning for ourselves. Sometimes they are giant monuments like the Pyramids. And sometimes it is the relentless pursuit of life goals; running a marathon, becoming a millionaire or retiring in the Carribean. Here is where the boundary between life purpose and meaning blur. Is leading a purposeful life and meaningful life one and the same? maybe. Perhaps a purposeful life is more meaningful. You have been given all the elements to create and recreate meaning for yourself. All we have to do is focus our energies into creating a meaning, instead of chasing it.

 

 

Of the Thinking brain and the feeling brain

Now, this is very abstract, I hope I succeed in putting this across.

A week ago I banged my knee against a wooden door. It hurt badly. I laid down on the bed in a fetal position. Applied ice and the pain receded slowly. It took two days for the mild pain to recede. All I knew that it was a minor thing and I will get well soon.

A few weeks ago I had an altercation with a close one. My feeling brain got triggered. It felt anger, it was upset and negative feelings ensued. My feeling brain had hit on a sharp object and perhaps it was a little hurt. A few days later it recovered when it started feeling joy and pleasure.

In the meanwhile, the thinking brain knew all the steps which my feeling brain will go through to heal itself like it did in the case of my knee injury.

Thinking brain is that rational parent who knows how his kid will react in the face of rejection and failure. But the parent can do little to help his kid traverse through the ordeal. The parent tries to assure the kid that he or she will get better over time.

The feeling brain is just a dumb organ and that is why it could be manipulated with drugs and chemicals to get better. Just like my poor knee got better with ice. 🙂

Suicidal retailing or smart pricing startegy?

How Crossword, (the book store) manages to practice this bold and crazy pricing tactic?

Every time I walk into a Crossword store, I get annoyed seeing the book prices.

They never match online book prices. Never. Period

This seems suicidal in the age of E-tailing. Crossword sells their books as if Flipkart and Amazon don’t exist. Almost all books crossword sells are available at-least at a 30-40% price drop on the online platforms.

For a book lover that I am, it is always a treat to see so many books neatly organized. But seeing all the books sold at their maximum retail prices (MRP) wanes off the impulsive buying bug in me.

Here are a few thoughts that cross my mind every time I walk out of a Crossword store:

Maybe all physical retail stores don’t have to match online retail prices. All you need is “foot-falls”. Especially on prime locations.

Crossword is not for the rational buyer. It provides all the immersive experience until you make an emotional decision.

Or maybe Crossword is really not able to match the prices. When you can’t match the online prices, simply don’t.

Having said that, Crossword is still sustaining in the age of digital.

Trivia: Crossword doesn’t even matchbook prices on their website. This is crazy!

Any thoughts?

#retailing #pricing #strategy

The great difference between average and excellent

After every 10k marathon that I run, I perform a ritual. And I perhaps enjoy it equally as much as running a 10k if not more.

I randomly check timings of people who have run in that 10k. You just have to put a random bib number to get the finish times of random people who ran that 10k.

My current running pace happens to be 7min/ km. With this pace, I usually rank somewhat average amongst the runners who have finished. There are always 50-60% of runners who beat my time.

With more random hits, I try to find out the pace at which I should run to make it to the top 20%. In the previous race, that pace happened to be 6.5 min/km. Which meant, everyone who ran at 6.5 min/km and below, stood amongst the top 20%

If only I had increased my pace by 30-sec per Km or just by 7 %, I would have boosted my rank by at least 30-40%.

The bottom-line? The gap between being average and above average (in this case) was only 7% more effort.

And 9/10 times that gap results from the mental determination and not our individual capabilities. Was I capable of running at 6.5? definitely yes, was I willing to run at that pace maybe not.

Perhaps a good number of athletes can match Usain Bolt’s physical abilities, but how many could match his state of mind and mental determination makes all the difference that you know him for.

Any thoughts?

Paths of least resistance

Sometimes answers to our indecisiveness are quite simple and straightforward. We only are blind to those answers because we are too worked-up while finding a way out of the sinkhole. I call these answers or choices as paths of least resistance approaches. Electricity takes the path of least resistance. Lightening takes the path of least resistance. Even rivers take the path of least resistance when they meander to meet oceans. 

But when one is left with no choice, they have no option but to keep on walking. When electricity doesn’t find a path of least resistance, it melts and destroys the conductor. Glaciers cut rocks. But when we compare this to human situations, we are always blessed with choices and paths with the least resistance. We only forget to take them sometimes.

IIM’s are nothing but big efficient assessment centers

A good premier B School which ensures 100% placements is nothing but a large assessment center for organizations that intend to hire top-notch talent from such institutions. By assessment center, I mean every candidate that gets a seat at a premier institute has to go through a tough entrance, rounds of GD and PIs. Then that candidate needs to stand out and score consistently throughout two years of the academic journey before he or she gets shortlisted by an organization of their choice.

For organizations, It is a low-risk hiring strategy. Companies get to tap high potentials at a fraction of a cost that they would otherwise spend on talent acquisition. Moreover, it is a fast track process. All these years this process has worked very well. Thanks to the foolproof meritocratic process maintained by all the IIMs. If you break down the elements of this process, you would get the following components in the following order:

 

  1. Coaching Classes: Charge aspirants for cracking CAT

 

  1. CAT /Any other entrance test: Charge aspirants to take the test

 

  1. Colleges: Charge for applications conduct selection process (PI/GD)

 

  1. Colleges: Charge for education, charge facility and placement fees

 

The output of this value chain is an ambitious, young, hardworking, competitive, energetic, smart, result-oriented and resourceful individual. I am stating so many adjectives because that is what organizations want to see in their potential candidates. Hiring organizations just want to grab this crème de la crème as soon as they traverse this value chain. Now let us park this thought here for a moment.

 

Now think of an innovation that might offer a similar outcome. Organizations are indifferent to the four elements stated above all they need is, to reiterate: ambitious, hardworking, competitive, energetic, smart, result-oriented and resourceful individual. All we need is an efficient, democratic, fair, speedy, standardized assessment center! A place that runs diagnostics in such a way that all the four steps are disrupted and replicated more efficiently.

 

We have millions and millions of young people who strive to get their dream jobs. Organizations who want top-notch talent don’t really want to go through the pain of screening resources to select the talent they want. That is just so cost-intensive. Currently, IIM and other premier institutes provide the required super talent for the economy. Having said that, there is always a scope for some mechanism that exactly supplies super-talent of the same quality (with better economics and cost-saving) as the premier institutes. And the foundation of this mechanism will be based on data.