Tuesday, December 25, 2018


I have been blogging here for more than 11 years now. So if you know the routine, every year I write a short post to wish you for the next year and give some ideas for a resolution. Half the time I don't keep any resolutions, and the ones that I do are so generic that nothing really happens and another year goes by.

2018 was a bit different for me! Just like 2017, I had a crazy professional year. But somewhere in the beginning of the year I resolved to read at least 1 book per month (12 in a year!). For a change, I managed to finish my 12th book just in time for Christmas. So, I think I finally managed to stick to a resolution. Now I know 12 books ain't a lot. But that's where I guess, resolutions (for me) are best when they are small and achievable. If I get too ambitious, I procrastinate and never make it!

So as we head into 2019, I hope you all have a happy and healthy 2019. Hope you can set S.M.A.R.T resolutions and stick to them. And in the week of 25-31 remember to do these 5 things.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Live Aid 1985

I managed to see Bohemian Rhapsody (movie) in the theater a few weeks ago. I loved it. I know they have taken some artistic freedom to re-interpret Freddie's life story and make it more dramatic. Well, it's not a documentary, so I guess I am fine with it.

Highlight of the movie (for me) was the Live Aid concert that they did in 1985. The actor's performance is amazing at impersonating Freddie. Live Aid happened when I was very young (toddler+) and though I have occasionally seen songs here and there from the concert, this is the first time I made an effort to watch most of Live Aid (Thank you YouTube).

If you are from my generation, you will love (understatement) the Live Aid concert. It features some of the biggest names in music that we grew up with. If you have a year end break and have nothing to do, stop surfing the internet and go see the Live Aid concert now. It's well worth the watch.

Being a big fan of U2, Dire Straits, Eric Clapton and Queen I would like to share some videos here if you are too lazy to click and go to YouTube.

U2 - Bad (Live Aid)

Dire Straits/ Sting - Money for Nothing (Live Aid)

Eric Clapton - Layla (Live Aid)

And the ultimate ....


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Bearded Men

I am on a multi-city tour of India this time around. It's amazing how fast India is growing. The youth seems to have adopted to mobile technology just like any other youth world wide. Everyone is stuck to the phone, surfing social media, online shopping and generally not conscious of their surrounding. But well, this post ain't about that. I guess I have already spent a lot of time in my blog posts before about social media addiction and stuff.

One distinct trend that old uncle Girish noticed amongst the youth of the day is - beard. Yup, I noticed that a significant proportion of the young male population now grows a beard. My generation liked the clean shaven look, but the Indian youth this time has decided to sport their manliness with pride.

Anyway, this brings me to a generic (not scientific/ not statistical) observation of youth in Singapore (or maybe I can further generalize it to East Asia). East Asian women seem to dig the "chocolate boy", "oh-so-clean-shaven", "can't distinguish boy from girl look". The men celebrities that I see on billboards on that side of the world never seem to have any facial hair. They also seem to be very much in touch with their feminine side.

This also means that most east Asian men around me try to look like that. (Do you notice that celebrities set the trends and we unconsciously follow them?). So me looking out of place over there is an understatement. I distinctly stand out. And that's even after trying to sport a clean shaven look.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

G for Gold!

After years of traveling around on random airlines to random places around Asia, I finally managed to accumulate enough frequent-flier miles on a certain airline to make it to their "Gold tier" (or whatever that means!). Well, this may sound as a bragging post, but well, the intention is not to.

Throughout my working life I have traveled with other people of similar statuses. These people made me aware of my commoner status every time I traveled with them and it always intrigued me about what the benefit actually was. Now that I have experienced it a few times let me summarize:

1) I get priority boarding and priority check-in if I travel that airline - I believe this is the biggest benefit so far that I have noticed. But this only helps if you are traveling at peak hours, are running late for your flight and have not already online checked-in and have a bag to deposit. 99% of my business travel, I check-in online and I don't have a bag to deposit.

2) I get access to lounges at most airports - This was a nice surprise in the beginning. I mean, I could go to most big airports around the world, and as long as I am traveling on that airline they give me free access to their lounges where I can relax and unwind.  However, I can also relax and unwind anywhere in any airport and in most cases I enjoy walking around airports while I am waiting to board, cause I can get some steps, see some random people and gaze at some shops. The added disadvantage of the lounge is - there is free food. However hard I try, I end up eating something and it adds to whatever food I would later have on the aircraft anyway

3) My bags come out first on the carousel at the other end - Again, this benefit is great if you have checked-in baggage and hate to wait. But the nominal waiting for baggage collection these days isn't that annoying for me.

So to summarize, I don't get the fuss. Anyway, now I can pretend to be the snobbish, frequent flying businessman who can look-down upon commoners only till he boards the plane and tucks himself into his economy class seat.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

26 reasons why we procrastinate and how to solve it

So, I am the self-proclaimed God of procrastination. I have progressively struggled with disciplining myself. When I say I procrastinate, I do it habitually, constantly and consistently. From simple things like - sleeping on time, to complex things like working on assignments at the last minute or trying to lose weight and giving up, I have mostly never ever been able to achieve my long term or abstract goals.

So I was pleasantly surprised a few days ago when I came across this article on the "Psychology and causes of procrastination". It's a long read, but definitely worth your time if you are bothered by procrastination like I am. To provide a gist (and for my own benefit) the article provides 26 reasons why we procrastinate:

  1. Abstract Goals
  2. Goals that are too distant
  3. A focus on future options
  4. Overestimating future abilities
  5. Being disconnected from the future-self
  6. Indecisiveness
  7. Feeling overwhelmed
  8. Anxiety
  9. Task aversion
  10. Perfectionism
  11. Fear of evaluation and negative feedback
  12. Fear of failure
  13. Self-handicapping
  14. Self-sabotage
  15. A perceived lack of control
  16. Depression
  17. Lack of motivation
  18. Lack of energy
  19. Low conscientiousness
  20. Lack of perseverance
  21. Laziness
  22. Impulsivity
  23. Preference for appealing tasks
  24. Distractability
  25. Sensation seeking
  26. Rebellion
The same website, followed up with another long article on "How to stop procrastination". I think that's an equally interesting and useful read.

The super short version (again reproduced verbatim from the article):

  1. Write down your goals, and make sure that they’re clearly defined, possible to accomplish, and significant enough to allow you to achieve meaningful progress.
  2. Figure out when, how, and why you procrastinate, by examining situations where your tendency to postpone things is preventing you from achieving your goals.
  3. Create a plan of action based on relevant anti-procrastination techniques, while taking into account both your goals as well as the nature of your procrastination.
  4. Implement your plan and monitor your progress, while making sure to refine your approach by figuring out which techniques work for you and how you can implement them most effectively.

And finally, before I end, I also came across this video of a graduating Harvard Law Student - Pete Davis about "the defining characteristic of our (his) generation" which brilliantly sums up some of the reasons we procrastinate ( I believe this video is a summation of 6. Indecisiveness and 24. Distractability - based on my new understanding of procrastination :) ).

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Hoi An Mystery

Last month I happened to be in Hoi An. It's an ancient sleepy touristy town with a beach nearby and lot of great food in Vietnam. One particular place that is quite popular is "Banh Mi Phuong". Banh Mi is a Vietnamese burger (of sorts) and this store rose to crazy popularity because of Anthony Bourdain calling it the "best Banh Mi in Vietnam". You can enjoy the video of him eating there ...

Anyway, this blog post is neither about Banh Mi nor about the restaurant. I ain't no food critic. I loved the Banh Mi, but I have not eaten at enough places around Vietnam to be able to judge. It does qualify as the best Banh Mi I have had yet. However, this blog post is specifically about Gaurav Kapur. The famous Mr. Gaurav Kapur.

Banh Mi Phuong
The Restaurant

Now, I do see a lot of random Indians and sometimes celebrities on my sojourns. Had I seen Gaurav in Hoi An, it would have been a non-event. But this gets even weirder. The restaurant that I just mentioned has this crazy tradition of random people putting their passport size photos in the table. I don't know why they do that, but well that's the way it is.

Photos on the Table!

So as I was enjoying my Banh Mi, I looked at all the photos on my side of the table. People from all over the world smiling at you with their best smile. And amongst all of them, I think I saw a passport size photo of Gaurav. Now, I have no clue whether it is really him or not. So I put it here for you to see and judge.

Gaurav Kapur?

I wonder why he did that (if indeed it is him!). I have no Facebook/ Twitter or other social media to reach out to him and ask him why. So this shall always remain a mystery for me in Hoi An. This takes Celebrity spotting to a weirder level for me!

Saturday, September 29, 2018


I did quite a few courses on "Strategy" during my MBA. I find strategy intriguing, complex, and at many times misunderstood. While I ain't giving a lecture on strategy now, I have been increasingly amused and amazed by the fact that - strategy is too damn difficult and most of us (including me) just don't get it.

Organizations are resource constrained. When I say resource I practically mean - we have a limited no. of people (employees/ partners/ contractors), very limited amount of time (8 - 10 man-hours a day, 5 days a week), and a very limited amount of money. As an organization, you are expected to increase that limited amount of money that you have and generate some more of it, by using the other two resources - people and time all while competing in an externally uncontrolled environment.

For me (the layman) a very important aspect of strategy is - how best you can utilize your time and people everyday so that you can generate increasing amount of money for eternity. Deceptively simple. Period.

Strategy is not an one off thing you do beginning of the year in a resort and then forget about it. But the complexity of executing strategy lies in the fact that every person in an organization can spend her 8 hours of the day doing things that may or may not contribute to money for the organization in the future. This may either be because of alignment problem (lower level people's work is not aligned with overall organization's strategy) or the operational employees are not strategically "managed" (When I say managed, I mean specifically told what NOT to do).  

Let's talk about a very practical function - Sales. A VP of Sales (let's call her Priya) for an Enterprise Software Company. Now Priya has 8 hours in a day. She has 100 prospects that she can reach out. Depending on her territory - she might have the option to go after a specific industry, sell a specific product, and focus on a specific geography. Whatever she chooses, she inherently is taking a risk. That's because every choice of her limits the options. Which means if  she is going after one prospect, she ain't going after 99 others. Every time she focuses her energy on something, she is effectively not doing so many other things that might also have led the company to a better outcome.

The problem with strategy in hindsight is - everything seems to be done with a reason. However, in reality, outcomes are a gamble that everyone takes. The successful gambles give us the survivor-ship bias. No one thinks about what would be the state had they taken the other options.

It's fascinating how many times we go after the wrong opportunity, spend time chasing the wrong customer, selling the wrong product in the wrong market.

I feel strategy should be though of more in terms of - What are we NOT going to do. Most people and organizations I have come across have trouble in choosing what not to do. No wonder, so many employees are so busy doing things that ultimately do not bring any value to the organizations' ultimate pursuit of making money and growing.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Get Bored

Have you guys noticed lately that we (as a human race) hardly get a chance to get bored? With our smartphones, tablets, internet, TV and always-on entertainment availability, there is hardly a moment when we get to sit and just do nothing.

I was wondering whether such complete occupation of the brain has any side effects. Well, based on the limited amount of Google articles I could read on this topic, it looks like it does. Most of my "Aha moments" and my creative ideas (however limited they are) have always appeared when I am doing nothing. I don't seem to get any ideas when I am seeing YouTube videos, playing games, surfing social media or engaging in any other kind of entertainment.

So, before you lose all your creativity, and become a drone, I think it has become increasingly important now to actually make time in your busy schedule to - "do nothing". I mean, I am thinking of chalking out specific time periods in my day/ week where I switch off internet, keep away my smart devices and sit and be a man. Pondering into the void, actually doing nothing!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Productivity Hack - Bluetooth Hands-free Headsets

One of the necessary evils of my job is - I need to still talk and present to a lot of people!

On an ordinary day, I get calls on WhatsApp, Skype for Business, WebEx, Zoom, Skype, Hangout old-fashioned phone calls (yeah they still exist!) etc. Not only do I have casual conversations (personal and business) but also I need to do a lot of "virtual" presentations in which the people on the other side sometimes are in another continent and timezone. The other pain of having so many channels for communication is that - I need to keep switching between my mobile phone and my laptop and it's stressful and messy.

A year ago, tired of all this mess, I decided to give Bluetooth headsets one more try! This is even after having a bad experience of breaking or losing at least 5 Bluetooth headsets before. Anyway, this time I researched long and hard and zeroed in on the Jabra Evolve 65

The Jabra Evolve 65 by no means is the best or the highest end Bluetooth headset that you can get. But within my budget and after researching my needs, I felt this was the right fit. So what exactly was I looking for in my headset?

  1. Connect to a phone and laptop at the same time
  2. Mute and control volumes off the headset
  3. Talk with a lot of background noise so that the listener on the other end can still clearly hear me (boom mic with a capability to cancel other noises)
  4. Listen to music when I am working so that background chatter doesn't affect me (stereo headset not mono)

It's been more than 10 months I have been using it day-in and day-out continuously and I am very impressed by it. Not only has it taken away the pain of communicating through so many apps, on 2 devices, but it also gave me the wireless freedom and the ability to roam around while talking or presenting. The added benefit is - I can listen to music to focus on my work (yeah we have an "open" office - which means there is a constant background chatter that I need to tune out if I have to get serious work done!). And the mic can cancel background noises so well that I am able to even take calls in crowded places like the MRT

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Weird One

So, I managed to spend a few days with my nephews this week. They are growing up to be fine young men under the watchful parenting of my sister. Anyway, this post ain't about them, it's about me.

Growing up in an extended family, you always knew that one person (uncle) amongst your distant relatives that is labelled - weird. Every family used to have them (back in the days). They were weird mainly because they did something that was not considered normal, had an unusual lifestyle and sort of stood out from what the "khandaan" (family) valued.

They were the prodigal sons in Bollywood movies that would "Hamare puure khandaan ka naam tune mitti main mila diya" (You hurt our family name in the society!). And it just dawned on me, that I am the one in our extended khandaan that seems to be the one. The weird uncle.

I grew up being normal, but some how in the last decade I chose to drift. Now I am the weird one. Not that I am complaining or repenting (yet), I am just realizing!

Monday, July 2, 2018

The flight seat secret

As you guys have already guessed by now, I travel a lot for work. But unlike the typical "Business traveller", I don't get to travel "Business Class" and good airlines. I typically go cheapest, fastest, shittiest airline that I can find on the route I am going. What that means essentially is that I need to strategize and fight to get whatever little creature comforts that I can get.

Now there are 2 types of passengers - The Aisle sitters and The Window sitters.
If you are a window sitter, this blog post is not for you. However, if you are an aisle sitter - I have discovered what I believe is an important life-hack for you. Before I share this, please note that this is my little secret. If everyone in the world found out about this, it can no longer be a secret and everyone will start using it. Now, I know that you (my dear reader) is good at keeping secrets, so here it goes:

In aircrafts that have a middle row (2-3-2, 3-4-3, 2-4-2 seating plan etc.) the middle row aisle seats are a good seat for the "single" business traveler. Whenever possible - I recommend that you should chose one. Let me explain why:

Centre row Aisle Seat

Typically seats in an aircraft fill such that the window and aisle seats near the window are taken up first. Subsequently people start occupying the middle row aisle seats. The last set of seats that are taken are typically the middle row center seats. Now, while you are booking if you take the middle row aisle seat in a row that has the other side aisle seat already taken there is a very high chance that the center seat will not be taken. So you end up in a situation where you are sitting on an aisle and the seat next to you is empty! (More space to keep your stuff and stretch your legs!).

Centre row Aisle seat where the other seat is already taken

Now, if the flight you are taking is a full-flight, there is a very high chance that the middle row center seat is taken by 1 person from a couple. In that case, the other aisle seat is obliged to get up everytime their partner wishes to go stretch their legs or go to the toliet. This means - though you have a neighbor in the center, you never ever have to get up for them! So you get an aisle, and you are never disturbed! Isn't it awesome?

Now be a good friend and keep this secret to yourself.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The alternate universe

I always thought of an alternate universe as a science fictional concept. Stuff that futurists talk over beer and argue in the parallel dimension. But increasingly I have been experiencing it right here on earth.

I left Facebook temporarily 3 years ago. Temporarily because I just "deactivated" my account, I didn't permanently delete it. Yes there is a subtle nuance. I believe Facebook still has my data somewhere.

Anyway, long story short, I have been out of the Facebook world for more than 3 years now. What that means is, I am in touch with people that either physically meet me, contact me, call me, email me or somehow reach out to me or I reach out to them. I am no longer aware of what happens in the Facebook universe.

And in that alternate universe, my friends have married, gone on amazing vacations, had a happy fulfilling life, shared their toddlers taking first steps, speaking their first words and going to their first schools. They have shared their political opinion, their world view, sports interests and fiercely debated about everything under the sun and beyond. I have missed knowing and being a part of all of that. It's a bit embarrassing to catch-up with friends these days and discovering that I don't know anything about their existence in the parallel universe. They smirk at me, and sometimes look down upon me in utter disgust.

So what's the moral of this blog-post you ask? Well, if you happen to be my friend and expect me to be in that parallel universe, my existence there has been completely wiped out. So if you have some time, please let's be in touch in this realm as well!


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

God of Car

Growing up in (religious) India, I am very used to having a God staring down at the passengers from the dashboard of a car. It's an extremely common sight in India, and just by looking at the God, you can pretty much guess from which part of India the driver (or the owner of the car is).

For a while in USA, I didn't see many Gods staring down at the passengers other than when an Indian was driving a car. So I pretty much assumed that it was a totally Indian thing till I came to East Asia. Here I occasionally find Gods of different religions sitting above the Dash. But these Gods tend to focus on the road (look out) rather than look at passengers.

So I guess, Indian Gods need to keep an eye on the driver to make sure that he is driving safe. While the rest of the East Asian Gods need to keep an eye outside to make sure that everyone else is driving their cars properly.

I came across this video of a driver in UK (I am assuming he is of Indian origin) who put his Tesla in auto-pilot and moved to the passenger seat. Of course he was fined for reckless driving and his license has been revoked for a period of time. But what I found most interesting in the video is that there is an idol of a God looking at him while he is in the passenger seat and the car is driving itself! Now the reason I felt the driver was of Indian origin is because the God seems to be looking into the car than onto the road.

Now I think I have changed my theory about Gods in car. We (Indians) need the God to look at us so that we don't misbehave (put the car in auto-pilot and do something crazy like moving into the passenger seat!).

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The N Slide Rule

In my job, I am expected to present at random conferences on random topics. Nowadays I am coming across this unique but useless rule of "N Slides only". I don't get it, why do they care about how many slides I use to convey my message as long as I do it in the time alloted?

I have always believed in using more pictorial and less wordy slides. This way I can focus on delivering my content without looking at a distracted audience which is trying to frantically read my slides before I jump onto the next one. if all you want your audience to do is just read your slides, then you can as well print them out and distribute them before or after, rather than standing on the podium and reading them out collectively.

Anyway, last few occasions I tried to be a maverick and didn't adhere to the conference organizer's N slide rule. One organizer actually took matters in their own hands and randomly cut off slides from my deck that they felt "were not relevant".

It's frustrating to see how wordy some presenter's slides are. Wordy slides are also known as Documents. Presentations are not Documents. Just because you make wordy boring slides to put people to sleep, don't make it into a rule!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Say no to straws and single use stirrers!

I am amazed that it is 2018, we all are so conscious about our use of plastics and the impact it has on the planet earth, and we still insist on having straws in our sugary drinks and single use stirrers!

Plastic straws are one of the major pollutants in our oceans. I believed everyone knew about it by now. If this is the first time you are reading this, my friend, please Google the impact of straws. If you are (un)lucky enough you might get to see a video of a turtle choking on a straw in the ocean!

Last week I was told off by a colleague for not taking a straw and directly drinking off the glass as "unhygienic". I was a bit saddened but then didn't say anything about it other than defend myself on why I avoid straws.

I am happy to say that, some governments are now actively planning to ban the use of straws altogether. While you wait for your own country to ban it, I highly recommend to stop using straws "as much as it is possible". Let's reduce our footprint on this planet for the generations to come!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Lost in Distractions

More than a quarter of 2018 is now over. I almost gave up on my new year resolution, yet again. And mundane life has been taken over again by the 3 biggest enemies -
  • Busyness
  • Laziness and
  • Procrastination
I am convinced that if these three evils didn't exist, every human being is capable of greatness.
Anyway, I think the last of the new years have just gone by (Tamil new year/ Thai new year). Whatever is now left is all about getting things done!

Along with Reddit, YouTube and Feedly, now I have found a new distraction. It is called - Netflix. I stayed away from it far too long and now I have succumbed to its addiction. I warn you all from not subscribing to it. I have consumed more TV in the last 2 months than I had in the last 5 years.

Take that as a warning!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Read more

One more negative impact of too much access to the internet is that - I have almost completely stopped reading books. I have gotten used to consuming bite sized information off the internet, whether it is through my RSS Feed reader (Feedly) or through Reddit.

I hardly read 2 books in 2017. A very miserable number in my entire adult life. Looking at the way we are getting addicted to consuming news online, I felt it was important to force myself to read books and tune out. So one of the first purchases I have done this year is to buy an e-book reader (Kindle) and plan and book reads on the go.

While I have always been the traditional paper book variety reader, I realized that carrying big books around is a burden that I no longer enjoy. The result has been that I only ended up reading books when I was at home. I hope the Kindle with its light weight  helps me to read more books on the go.