Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What The Dog Didn't Tell

I think Malcolm Gladwell slipped up; or whoever in charge of publicity of his latest book What the Dog Saw has.
They only had to leak out the information that one of the essays in the book is on Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
That alone should have ensured a good readership - I am going by his followers on twitter (@nntaleb); they number 9035 at the time of typing (not a huge number but considering the fact that he has people like Tom Peters (@tom_peters) and Rosabeth Moss Kanter (@Rosabethkanter) as followers). Not that Malcolm Gladwell needs to beg for readership. His books always have been best seller. But a little extra always helps.
In his essay, Blowing Up, Gladwell has done a wonderful job of bringing to life Taleb's personality.
If you have read Fooled By Randomness or The Black Swan, and have wondered about the man, then you must read this essay.
By the way, I had blogged about Gladwell's and Taleb's connection some time ago. A lot of it was guesswork. Seems like one has been studying the other more closely that I thought. Check out Black Swan Tipping Over and decide for yourself.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Sachin Tendulkar Defined

The cricketing world is going gaga over Sachin's mastery of the T20 format of the game.
I think they are missing the point.
It is not his cool batting that has fetched him four 50+ scores in 6 matches or the fact that he is running hard between the wickets. That is something that is expected. He has always been a great batsman.
There is something else.
His hunger for excellent was manifest in a failed attempt in yesterday's match with Deccan Chargers.
He was off like a hare after the ball that took an outside edge from a Deccan Chargers' batsman and just near the boundary he went sliding to cut off the four. He couldn't cut it off, but his slide towards the ball was sublime.
This was also seen in the 1st ODI against South Africa when a diving stop from him shaved one run off a sure boundary.
For me, this new drive to fielding excellence defines Sachin Tendulkar.
He is the Arjuna of the modern era - someone who never stops learning and excelling.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

5 Steps to Better Tweeting

This is tiny list on how to be a good tweeter. Am I a good tweeter. You can make that out by following me @Mgmnt_secrets. ;)
Anyways here's what I do.
1) Bothered by the 140 character restriction? Well, do not be. First type out whatever you want to. Then see how to reduce it to the 140 (or less; see next point) characters. The quality of your tweets will go up.

2) If you wish your tweets to be re-tweeted then you do not have 140 characters available with you. What is available to you is (140 - RT @your_tweet_id). In my case, it is 122 characters. I try to stick to this restriction.

3) Do not tweet to tell what you are doing at a mall or what are you eating for dinner. Your close friends may want to know that. But if you wish to build a good number of follower, use tweet-sense. Pick up a domain that interests you and tweet on that. Unless you are a celebrity - then you will have a HUGE following irrespective of what you tweet.

4) No typos. Use good grammar. And oh! avoid those silly acronyms please.

5) This is important: before pressing the send button, just pause. Does the message seem right? Are you proud of it? Yes? Then what are you waiting for? Send!

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Incentives Matter

[A]t a conference dealing with spine surgery, a surgeon presented the case of a female patient with herniated disk in her neck and pain that was caused by a pinched nerve. She had already failed typical conservative treatments such as physical therapy, medication, and waiting it out.
The surgeon asked the audience to vote for a couple of choices for surgery. The first was the newer anterior approach, where the surgeon removes the entire disc, replaces it with a bone plug, and fuses the discs. The vast majority of the hands shot up. The second choice was the older posterior approach, where the surgeon removes only the portion of the disc that is compressing the nerve. No fusion is required because the procedure leaves most of the disc intact. Only a few audience members raised their hands.
The speaker then asked the audience, which was entirely male, "What if this patient is your wife?" The show of hands reversed for the same two choices. The main reason is that the amount surgeons are paid for the newer and complicated procedure is typically several times what they'd receive for the older procedure.

Hmmm... Three points:
1) Incentives matter.
2) The audience in the above anecdote are very honest, I must say.
3) This story has nothing to do with my present condition (see here). It is pure serendipity. The above extract comes from Think Twice by Michael J. Mauboussin.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Genghis Khan and His Daughters

I should have timed this better. The post is apt for The International Women's Day.

This is an excerpt from The Secret History Of The Mongol Queens: How The Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Jack Weatherford. This appears in the March 2010 of The Scientific American.

Genghis Khan was certainly ambitious and had much larger desires in the world than merely uniting the warring tribes of the steppe. Yet, in order to expand his empire, he needed someone to rule the newly conquered people. he had to leave someone in charge. ideally, he would have had a stable of talented sons and given each one of them a newly conquered country to govern, but his sons were simply not capable. Without competent sons, he could leave a general in charge, but Genghis Khan had been betrayed too many times by men inside and outside his family. He probably knew well the result of Alexander the Great's overreliance on his generals, who subsequently divided the empire among themselves as soon as their leader died ...

Genghis Khan's mother and wives were too old to take command of these new nations and to enjoy the full benefits of what he had to offer, but he had a new generation of women who seemed as capable as the previous ones.

Women ran the largest empire on earth and that too in the 12th-13th century!
Not bad. Not bad at all.

Actually an Indian would not be surprised. Razia Sultan ascended the Delhi throne around that time. She was the first ever woman to rule in the Muslim world.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Unit of Possible Success

My most favourite tweet till date - absolutely original :D

I have been often asked if there is a unit to measure possibility of success. Actually there is. It is Joule-Seconds (=Energy x Time).

Now, isn't that nice?

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Piracy in 1759

Now this is interesting ...

On 15 and 16 January 1759, Voltaire was furtively sending out copies of his new novel Candide, or Optimism, to Paris, Amsterdam, London and Brussels. Once the copies arrived at these major centres of the European book-trade - in what can only be called a marketing innovation- they were published on the same, predetermined date across Western Europe. The reasons for this secrecy were twofold. On the one hand, Voltaire sought to sell as many copies as possible before they were pirated and he was cut out of the profits; on the other hand. Voltaire sought to bring his revolutionary message to as wide an audience as possible before the authorities realized the dangers posed by his ideas and moved to suppress them.

Intellectual piracy existed as early as the 18th century. Wow! And I didn't know philosophers were interested in profit too - just goes to show they are pragmatic too.

This is an extract from the book with perhaps the longest title. It is called How Rich Countries Got Rich and How Poor Countries Stay Poor written by Erik S. Reinert.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

The Good Survive

My 600th Post ...
On a good note.
When Satyam fell, and when media was focused on juicy details of Raju's downfall, very few bloggers (ahem!) wrote about the NGO that Satyam's Raju founded.
In my post, I had wondered ...
I hope Byrraju Foundation will continue to get funds from some source to continue doing what it claims to be doing.
Or was this a front for fraud too? That would be terribly sad.

Read rest of my post here.
Seems like some innovative steps later the Myrraju Foundation has survived beating all odds.
Read all the details here.
The good survive.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Slip Disc Haiku

My first ever (pseudo)Haiku:

tied to my bed --
through my window I see
an eagle soar

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Leadership Lessons from India

Guess what is featured in the March 2010 HBR? Leadership Lessons from India.

What do you think?

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Monday, March 1, 2010

40 Keys to Creativity

I have twittered about this but then all my blog readers do not follow me on twitter (I won't mind, you know!). Hence this piece.
Ok here goes ...

We are all creative in some ways. That is a fact.
Only we have forgotten.
So once in a while we need a swift kick to get us going.
One such swift but well-meaning kick is delivered here.

It is actually an excerpt from the book Ignore Everybody by Hugh Macleod. I would recommend that you buy this book. Even if you don't, please spend some 5-10 minutes reading 1/40th of that book in his web site: Gaping Void.
You will not regret it.
I promise.
Happy reading.

Also spend some time browsing the web site to see creativity come alive.

And no, I do not get any commission for sending you across to his site.

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