Story Board – TVS Wego

A lot has been said about the above advert. From the first looks, you will probably never make out what the ad is all about! Until the Ad reaches its closing stages, for the first time, even I thought the Ad was for some acrobatics promoter or something that would appeal to young couples who want to go naughty on bike! – Yeah!

At the end, though the commercial would probably stick to what it wants to convey, about body balancing in the new TVS Wego, I am still not sure if some of the audience would accept the advert this way! Last week, I was watching a video on the Ads the world never saw and was shocked, with the volume of rejections and on the AdSpend. Coming back to this ad, wondering why such stunts on a bike to promote body balance! Would probably do well imitating a Rajni look-alike than get some models to do nasty things behind their riders!

Sounds foolish, but I would like to really know how many people were impressed by this Ad and would want to try out the Wego brand. While Maxabout rates this bike to be costing over 50K on road, is it worth investing for this uni-sex bike to do stunts? People are far intelligent nowadays and I am not sure what this Ad is trying to convey! When I purchased my first TVS product over 10 years ago, they had stormed the market with the Victor and the Fiero! At that time, they started advertising on their ‘Economy Mode’ n ‘Power Mode’ modes on the mobikes! To date, trust me, the two LEDs have not made any difference in my riding! All I figure out is its a switch which turns out to be light Saffron from Green, when you over-accelerate! Would love to know though, as to how this has impacted on my mileage.

And yes on this stunt-bike, Is there a patent on this? Or, Does someone really not fall when they do such acrobatics? I think it depends on the driver! Would like to check it out once I am back in Mysore sometime in the last week.

Bee School Chronicles…. Part I

Finally I start writing an article that may come in three parts! There are still such other long articles pending in my blog’s private folio – My Bristol Days, My Life at Torry, Year by Year… With all due respect to the mentions in the blog, I would not be publishing them in the near future. But well, they will see light soon sometime by the end of this year – Waiting for some promises made before publishing data! Okay, enough of gas, now to start off on a journey, which started almost 10 months ago and now, is almost coming close to an end in another month or so! Across the post I would quote a few people and I hope they would not mind being quoted. The series of blogs go on from Before Great Lakes to A Little After Great Lakes, In Great Lakes and finally will close with Life in Great Lakes to Beyond Great Lakes, which I think may be sometime by the end of April. Though would be finishing my courses by the end of March, I graduate only in April, hence the delay. Will try to add some photos and videos to the blog as I move along – to ensure its not just plain text and boring!

Era I (BGL to ALBL – Before Great Lakes to A Little After Great Lakes)

It all started on the 3rd of February 2010, I had decided to move on to do my Masters, an offer from GMITE at IIMB, was not enough and I wanted to move on to do my Masters full time with applications going in to NUS, Nanyang, Singapore, ISB and well, with the very average GMAT score I had (honest)… was wondering where else to apply. Had ditched Said and Judge, given that they were financially out of bound short term. Queens was still on the horizon… But was unsure. Then, happened to call Ram HH, a close friend of mine (who passed out of Great Lakes – henceforth GL) and a few other ISB pass outs who asked me to consider Great Lakes, given that it was started by one of the famous gurus of accounting world. And there it was with constant prodding from Dhana, Harsha, Maddy, Ranga and well quite a few people, I decided to apply to Great Lakes. Two of my team members, one of them, the best team mate I had (need permission to quote name – a celebrity you see!) – also applied along with me. Ranga and Dhana offered to recommend me to Great Lakes, Vic had recommended me to ISB! God knows what all they had to write. And yes the application was complete. In spite of writing GMAT, I was dumb enough to even go and write GREAT, the school’s own exam. I don’t really know why I wrote it.

Dickenson Road, proved to be lucky again, I hopped on to the Great Lakes interview on 28th February at Royal Orchid Central, right next to the GMAT center run by Pearson in Bengaluru. Both me and my celebrity teammate had our interviews in the same session. It was a Sunday, empty roads greeted us. Thank god! Had a pleasant interview and well at that point of time, I had no clue who they were, but had ‘seen’ Prof. Veeravalli, Dr. Venkat R Krishnan and Mr. Easwar. Was one of the first few to be picked for the interview and had run into Prof. Veeravalli in the panel. Good show it was, but bad time as the one of previous days turned out to be the budget day and one more reason I got to hate the Congress Government.  A budget on the 26th of February! Come on. A few questions on work, budget, my city, Leadership, my onshore experience, Bristol and well it went on pretty well unlike my colleague who was questioned on 5Ps of marketing (What!!!), Pulse Modulation etc… Some questions were also on pro-kannada organizations and Bangalore turning out to be cosmopolitan and how it affected the life.

Came back home to Basavanagudi and drove to Mysore – bliss. Come 16th of March, I got an offer from Great Lakes. A personalized mailer from Prof. Swami and well I decided to jump on board. Bid goodbye to Torry Harris and as I have quoted earlier ended by longest association with any professional organization (Refer: Quite a moment it was indeed – Nagesh and Ram were good people managers. I still cherish and miss the young and exuberant team that worked with me in Torry all along and Torry had made me meet a few great people along the journey. Headed home to work on some mandatory Finance and Statistics assignments. Had called Sunil Prasad, my ex-BU head. He had passed out of the IIMBs one year program and I wanted to know his take.

In between had a few Great Lakes Bangalore meets. Met Binoy, Indraneel, Sandy, Siva, Nidhi, Bala, Anish and a few more people over there. Turned out to be a cozy pack of people. Locations kept changing, but I was unhappy that most of the times, it was in Koramangala – damn, I had to travel such a long time!

The day arrived on April 26th, I took the morning KF to Chennai and landed up in Great Lakes City office. The experience was probably no less than a wizard riding to Hogwarts on the Hogwarts Express. Except that I was offered Sandwich on flight instead of the Chocolate tarts. It did take some time for me to realize that this flight was not the real Hogwarts, but just a journey to Kings Cross! Hehe….

At Great Lakes office, we registered ourselves in and piled in our luggage for the luggage truck. Prof. Swami gave the welcome speech, I think I had to hear it thrice – New batches of people coming in and the same instructions to almost every one. There were some anxious parents (I wondered was I joining a kindergarten!), there were a few like us who preferred to stay away from home for a year (well that never happens, food beckons…). Finally came the real journey. We were supposed to travel along the scenic ECR (Eh????!!!), to the Great Lakes campus. Well we were loaded on to buses, not so cozy, but good. So there chugged off our Hug-Warts express. We were given a cozy welcome at Great Lakes, with Nimbu paani and some junk session (I still do not know what it was for! It was definitely not socializing – just a meeting for some ‘I liked beer last year, you like beer too…’ folks!). Attended the convocation of my previous batch, with Mr. Narayana Murthy gracing the occasion (Refer: Then after 2 days of nothing started the rigorous one-year program.

The start of the program, was with an academy called ELSA. The program resembled the Pegasus program I had been to with Torry Harris, but was in the Great Lakes campus itself. This actually opened up avenues with socialization. Met a few great people like Mr. Hilarious Haider in my so called Red Banded group. Latecomers were made to dance, but if Ravindra is reading this blog, nothing can beat the dance he did for turning up late in Pegasus!!! Had a trek on a nearby hill – blindfolded – Waaahh! At this point of time, still groups were getting formed and well I was wondering where I fit in – I was not a beer drinker! I was not a great dance enthusiast 🙂 Well later I found my own set to hang out with. Not to worry (May be the next part will get this in detail). The ELSA sessions were good, and ended with a mega cultural evening and a Salsa dance session (Thank god! No one has videos of probably me dancing!). At the end of the session a few people like one of my friend Shivesh here had created a niche for themselves for their style and class.

For three days, I did not know who my neighbors were or probably just had met them along and had not even remembered their names. But now, all four of us, in this corner have probably become inseparable parts of our day to day lives! Sharath, a Mangalorean, who studied in Mysore, who brings in cheer whenever around! Imon, a Delhi brought up, Karnataka educated bong and last but not the least Maama a.k.a Krish, well…. I have no words for him, a true Palakkad Iyer who has lost his identity and claims to be from Maharashtra, Kerala, TN and nowadays even AP! He is sometimes a lawyer and sometimes an accountant and respects his grand dad to the core! And of course me – well few feel, I wield a whip to enforce disciple… hehe… More added on as the block opposite to our Block 3A got constructed.

The next day, we had an introduction to faculty with Prof. Swami taking the lead. Prof. Sriram and Prof. Xavier (who has now moved on to IIM Ranchi as its director) had sessions for themselves doling out Dumbledore like instructions. Lake Veeranam and Lake Manasarovar turned out to be the Great Hall of Hogwarts for Great Lakes. Our dean, Dr. Bala addressed us as a class and opened up an array of promises. Meanwhile people started enrolling themselves in various committees, we being a student run organization and I gave my interviews and SOPs for Branding and Public Relations Committee and Admissions Committee for the next batch. For just one reason that Admissions selected me before Branding, I ventured in there and well the whole idea of giving back to the college did not seem to work out for me. The whole campus was abuzz with activities and everyone seemed to be in one or the other committee contributing to college work! Meanwhile one of my friends, Naren, had taken up the task of ensuring all of us subscribe to the dailies and stay abreast with information. I subscribed to The Mint, since I had online accounts of almost every other paper!

Classes started, with Marketing, Prof. Swami delivered his lectures in his own style. He started off with his caricature, explaining his background and probably over the course of the next seven weeks ensured we touched every aspect of marketing, every page of Kotler and some pages of Keller through his own slides and a set of cases to read for every class. As far as I remember, this was one of the subjects where we stayed up late nights in the Amphitheater, Bistro, rooms churning out presentations after presentations and to date what I rate as the best presentation we put forth in Great Lakes, stands to be he Marketing project which we did. All five of us, Binoy, Megha, Krish (mama), Imon and me, put in our heart and soul into the project. Binoy’s wife Midhu, a great friend of all of us, tried helping us ensuring that her husband is awake beyond his working hours which close at 10.

Slowly other subjects started, Mircoeconomics, with Prof. Shanti, Intelligently Interacting with Others, which was dreaded to the core, with Dr. Venkat and Dr. Zubin from TISS – which introduced us to Karma Yoga and Group Processes. I still feel that the small book on Vivekananda’s speeches with the same name was the toughest to read and comprehend! Statistics with Prof. Viswanathan and Business Communication with Prof. Lalitha Maheshwaran added on to the list. One course that just dropped in, went past without much ado, but had the maximum impact was Financial Accounting. So good it was and by far was taught by the best professor in Finance I have met in Great Lakes, Prof. Surysekar from Miami. He made Accounting look as simple as a cakewalk. Plus we had Rajveer, who was one of the most efficient lecturers helping us out in the back end to understand the basics!

As term 1 neared an end, we all had got acclimatized with the environment. Our group of 10, with Me, Binoy, Megha, Iman, Krish, Mani, Gouri, Rishi, Shanup and one of the Lehmann Brother – Sriram, had ventured out on to a village to help them out and empower them. Little did we know we would end up exploring every nook and corner of that village called Nerumbur when eight of us walked out of that place after the next three months! Nerumbur markets resembled the Diagon Alley. Normally people went out to our very own Hogsmead – Anupuram, Mahabalipuram and Kalpakkam as well to have a time out. In all Gladiators, as we were called were having a great time, little aware of the oncoming storm.

Term 1 ended with much ado, people went home – given their home sickness. I am too old to remember whether I did. I think I did not :).

I had befriended quite a few more people, a few who made a lot of difference later on – Karthik, Siva, Rout, Shiva, Indraneel, Sneha, Chadha, Vasajit, Vidhya, Prannay – the kid wizard, Venkat (RV), Keerthi (who gained enlightenment in his second Karmayoga stint with me and Binoy during Leadership Influence and Power course!) just to mention a few and yes the list is endless (will grow in my next blog). Tried to find a few people who could speak my mother tongue so that we could curse with no one understanding what we said – apart from me and Sharath, found Alex, from namma Mysooru, Bhattaru and of course CFA, his holyness Shri Rakesh Mamdapur from Gulbarga. More on the people at Great Lakes in the next part.

Next Version: The stories from Term 2 to Term 6 at Great Lakes. Changing tides. The courses, The curses. The Dean. The Placements. The Careerpath.


The Art(Science) of Learning a Language

Whew! Nowadays, I am sitting in language classes at Great Lakes! Yes, I have to learn Mandarin as a part of my curriculum and trust me this has been one of the hardest language classes I have sat through.

Back in the early days of my life, I honestly do not remember the way I learnt my mother tongue Kannada. It somehow seemed to come from the blood and has stayed there ever since. Be it grammar or the accent (all the three – Malenadu, Mangalooru and Uttarakannada bhaashe- apart form the Mysore side Kannada), I have no clue how I caught them up. Many people who try to learn the language feel its tough to read, write and understand, but well…. Even for me, I started following Kannada only after joining Marimallappa’s Institutions, one of the premier schools in Karanataka State. In fact, I had found it difficult to mingle with non-English speaking folks for the first few days when I joined this school, but when I left this school, I had forgotten the accent/ the slang I had learnt from CFTRI!

Then as I grew up, I got acclimatized with English. Somehow it went on and on, with schools having 1st Language English and 3rd Language as Kannada, I was able to gain a decent understanding and vocabulary of the knowledge. Learning came from books, billboards (At that time, most of the billboards were in English!!!) and many other sources including posters in railway compartments! CFTRI school, where I joined for primary education kind of added the necessary fuel to learn this language and more importantly use it until I joined Marimallappa’s.

One more language that added on to my list at CFTRI was Hindi! Being the national language, I picked it up as the II Language and somehow due to the impact of Doordarshan and amazing teachers, I had no issue in picking up the language to a large extent. But now, if the same teachers run me through a grammar test for the language, they are surely going to stop teaching Hindi!

As I moved  on to Marimallappa’s probably given the value system over there, I picked up Sanskrit as my first language. The school had its prayers in Sanskrit (Titled – Om Shri Gurubhyon Namah) and everyone prayed with folded hands, being from Teresian’s and CFTRI, it took me over three months to get adjusted to this style and  I still remember Shri N R Muralidhar, teaching Sanskrit in the most methodical, yet interesting way! From the basics of Ramaha Paatam Patathi to the most complicated samaasas and chandass somehow Dr. Muralidhar made it look like a cakewalk. I also owe my handwriting to him. My writing was like a hen’s leg, before he trained me in all three – Kannada, English and Devanagari scripts.

Then, there was a pause in the language learning process, though it continued with Sanskrit and English at pre-university levels, no major impacts. Meanwhile, I was almost forgetting a dialect which I was speaking at home called Sankethi – the language has no script, its only spoken. My mom’s family used to speak in that language and I somehow caught it and was speaking very fluently. Well but kind of stopped speaking it after sometime, regaining the lost tongue now.

During the final year of my Engineering, was jobless with only two days of classes. I used to work in Hewlett Packard for four days and under a special arrangement, used to attend classes on Friday/ Saturday in Mysore. Sunday used to go waste and me being me, did not wanna let go of this time. Alliance Francaise under the leadership of Mrs. Meenakshi Sukumaran had opened up a branch in Mysore and I registered for French classes with her. Superman Subramanya also came down for a class, but well did not go beyond the first class given his busy schedule! Took about a year or so to learn basic french, given that I used to attend classes only once a week. Even now, I am in the same state, with no one to converse in French – but somehow it remains a nugget in my collection of the jewels called language.

As I traveled to Scotland, thoughts of learning Galic had crossed my brain, but when my tour guide made me listen to the Scottish National Anthem – The flower of Scotland in Galic – I gave up! But got to know that Scots are striving hard to preserve Galic as hard as we are trying to preserve Sanskrit, the oldest language in India. In a similar way, Welsh, is being promoted in Wales.

And now, the reason for the blog. Of late, whether one wants or not, everyone in Great Lakes are learning Mandarin. In this jargonized world – to gain a Competitive Advantage, one has to learn the language of the country which has the maximum population in the world – China. Trust me, however the geo-political scenario might turn out to be, I pity the Chinese for having had to learn the language. Someone once said, the volume of data coming today every second apparently matches the volume of words used by New York Times a century ago over a year and that probably matches the number of characters in Mandarin. Well, with such a large character set, I really think, Chinese take at least half their life learning their own language! So tough is the language that our professor here has declared that she would be happy if we say Hello in Chinese and ask for ‘Ubhayakushlopari Sampratha’ in Chinese. I meant ask for the well-being (and that was in Kannada)!

If I can claim that I can understand something in Mandarin also, that would be my Seventh language. I am not counting the few words I know in Galic, Welsh as an extended vocabulary – I am not certified in them! And yes, even after trying to learn and still learning Seven Languages I am wondering what is the art or science of learning a Language? How does it happen? May be calls for some research.

Beyond just a ‘Suggested Reading!’

Last week, I was running around the Great Lakes resource center ‘jobless’ – looking for a great read! A month ago, Subroto Bagchi, one of the co-founders of Mind Tree, had visited our campus at Manamai and delivered a guest lecture in an auditorium that was filled to the brim – a rarity nowadays, but the man commanded such respect! And so, it happened that at the same time, I found the book Go, Kiss the World, written by Mr. Bagchi in our Resource Center. For long that book has been on my reading list and has remained there, but now, I decided to pick it up and give it a read!

For a week, the book lay on the table and yesterday on the return journey on Cauvery Express from Mysooru (one of the most boring in the near past!), I completed reading what has been one of my “best reads” over the past one year. My acquaintance with Mind Tree was when Andy moved on from IMR Global (now CGI), to Mind Tree in its Banashankari office. Heard lots of positives from him before he moved on and then heard about how it is now from Harsha who works from its Global Village HQ on Mysore Road.

On the book now, I like the way Mr. Bagchi has put his childhood, his younger days at DCM, his days at Wipro and finally the Mind Tree days into words. Coming from a value-driven family and moving on to establish one of India’s largest VC funded IT firm is a great story to read about. There are some points of the book that I felt were worth mentioning for those of you who haven’t had a chance to read it!

– When most mid-level managers look for a job, they look for jobs in Corporate Strategy, say closer to CEO in a cabin! But nobody asks for the dirty work to interact with the masses and build leadership. No one wants to make a difference in what hurts an organization! – So True

– The first rule to manage is to Listen. – Goes well with what O’Toole says in another good read – Leadership A to Z.

– Perception is the reality in this world – If I can quote myself ‘I perceive therefore I am’

– Have the grace to accept negative public opinion

– There are no A Teams and B Teams, there are only different kinds of leaders who make the teams what they are

– No decision is without risk, take time to think through, then you take very few regrettable decisions

– Fight all battles based on principles

– Once you decide to be unhappy with something, even a small irritation becomes a great annoyance.

– When you make the choice, you also choose the consequence

One thing we as today’s leaders must never forget – Open your heart before you Open your mind, Open your mind before you open your mouth

The book goes on to explain each of these points and the difficulties faced in life and how it was overcome in a clear and a crisp manner and is a clear example of how Life teaches you to be a high performer. Mr. Bagchi winds up the book with useful lessons he learnt in life:

– Its all in the mind, as is your will, so is your act
– The power to receive is far more important than the power to give, to get first you must give
– Life is a constant negotiation
– Marginal person is important
– Passion is what passion does
– The power of resilience
– The key to happiness is not money, look beyond yourself! (Dunno… I have been trying this ;))
– Real men say sorry! and finally
– Self doubt is positive!

He also talks about networking and how important it is for the growth of an individual or an organization.

But what impressed me the most of the lessons was the slipper slope of over-achievement. Mr. Bagchi, in the book argues that over-achievement comes with a price tag, if it is not handled, things may spin out of control. I agree! – Completely. High achievers have a problem of setting standards for themselves and expect everyone to follow them – Legitimate, but unreasonable. This leads to a tendency of high achievers getting frustrated with the system pretty much sooner than the rest. May be its time for every one to realize not everything around you can be changed by you. You can do it only if you can influence others. Just take charge and get things done.

While I leave it here, I think you all, who are reading this blog, must pick a copy of the book as well. Its insightful and interesting and offers lots of lessons to learn for young leaders. Somehow I have had more people now screaming in my ear that Its all Sales that matters. The book does that as well.

The author re-iterates I think in every page – Do what you love to do! Something that takes me to what I am doing now! I want to do what I love to do. I am sure many agree with this.

I am sure that it will remain an inspiration for many to Go, Kiss the World.

Human Augmentation

Was working on a high-end technology based submission for my Technology Management sessions. And here is an abstract of my article collated from several sources and some part in my own words!

Human Augmentation or Intelligence Amplification (IA) is the effective use of Information Technology in augmenting human intelligence. IA is not same as Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Today, I forgot, what I had to remember! My best friend’s Anniversary. Imagine, if we could Google our own memories and recall it perfectly? – A Harry Potter like Pensive? Imagine, a world where technology could directly augment the human abilities, mentally, physically and spiritually. That is what is Human 2.0 and that is where the technology is headed.

Technology, in near future, will be used to restore normal performance and will advance performance in the future. These techniques will come via implants, brain interfaces, genetic selection and nerve to prosthesis applications. Humans will achieve infrared vision, sense transference and memory extensions. Think bionic woman or a man. Timeline: More than 10 years. Well I am not joking in this article; it’s all on probably at the MIT research labs.

The evolution of the human augmentation can be recorded as below:

Implants -> Tissue Engineering -> Genetic Engineering -> Exoskeletons -> Intelligent Prosthesis ->Cognitive Enhancement Drugs -> Brain-Computer Interface

In the beginning, humans had what they were born with, slowly our body parts were replaced with artificial replacements then came the Nano scale engineering with interfacing silicon chips to nerve and muscle cells and yes soon scientists expect interfacing the brain with an entire computer.

Forecasts are that human augmentation and wireless power are two emerging trends that will become USD 1 billion markets by 2020. Human augmentation, a technology that focuses on creating cognitive and physical improvements as an integral part of the human body, is slowly but steadily becoming a reality and enhancing peoples’ lives.

There is also a prediction that Human Augmentation is still in the technology trigger stage. So in more than 10 years it may reach the mainstream arena, where it needs to be.

The US Military through DARPA has been funding some interesting research on exoskeletons. The exoskeletons are a reality. They allow users to lift 200 pounds without breaking a sweat! So imagine, the last paragraph, I was just talking about memory and probably trends that could fit into the growing medical industry, but with such an exoskeleton, no human being may need to enter the battlefield.

In the year 2007, MIT had held a symposium on Humanity 2.0. Motivated by fixing disabilities, the scientists had developed technologies that were beyond their objective enabling superhuman abilities. We may have the option to buy implants that make them smarter, give them faster reactions, better eyesight, a perfect memory and so on.

I think it’s likely that with technology we can in the fairly near future create or become creatures of more than human intelligence. Such a technological singularity would revolutionize our world, ushering in a post human epoch. AI was intended to create superhuman Artificial Intelligence in Computers, but IA creates human intelligence through human computer interfaces.

However, just focusing outside of the military realm, the human augmentation movement may provide solutions to daunting issues like demographics and economic competitiveness but it will also redefine what being a human means – for better or worse.