Published!!

Yeaah.. getting published is a great feeling.. and I am truly lucky to know how it feels. My first article on Cloud Computing was published by TechRepublic last week and since then I am on cloud nine. Its great to see your efforts pay off.

For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, you may visit this article. What should manufacturers put in the cloud?

It is a great opportunity to write for the Enterprise Cloud section of TechRepublic online. I will be taking a look at the cloud based applications for various industries, every month. Yeah that kind of sounds too technical, especially, if you are from a different field, or not a tech geek! 🙂

Anyways, but this is not going to stop me from continuing to blog about my passions and the “not-so-tech” things in my life, over here in my personal space.

I Failed..?

As a kid, I was never really among those who would suffer from stage fright or public speaking. Rather, I was one of those who would go to the microphone and bare my heart out, speak really fast and in a pitch as high as possible. (That’s when I was advised to stand a few meters away from the mike 😉 ) As I grew older with a sense of self-awareness, I became more confident about my public speaking skills and really looked forward to such opportunities in school. A trait that came in very handy during my business management (MBA) days in countless presentations and till today.

Notwithstanding, even I have had my share of embarrassments and bad days in oration and elocution. At one of such instances, I had prepared well in advance for a debate contest in school. I had gone through my points and remembered my lines by heart. All my supporters – friends and some teachers – were rooting for me (Yeah! I was quite popular back then). There was no way that I could let them down and more importantly, it was a matter of pride for myself, as well. On the big day, I found myself unusually nervous about the whole thing, given the fact that it was not my first time and I had faced such occasions multiple times. I thought may be the pressure is more because of the expectations and the big event. Now when I look back at the incident, I think that I expected a lot from myself at that time. The final day came and I found myself forgetting my points and fumbling while practicing my lines, and the last take was an absolute disaster. In front of the mike, I totally freaked out seeing the huge crowd, forgot my lines, stood for nearly five minutes totally blank and just could not believe this was happening to me because I had worked too hard on it. Somehow I finished my speech and came back. Suddenly, to me it seemed like the whole world was crashing upon me. That was one of my first rendezvous with FAILURE.. and I knew what failure tasted like.

Few weeks back I was reading an article titled “The Art of Failure” in the Newyorker by the very famous Malcolm Gladwell, wherein he describes two types of failure.

Choking is a type of failure caused when pressure and situation gets the better off a person and he/she simply freaks out on account of worrying too much about his/her performance. This generally happens to people who are a pro at what they do or atleast have enough experience to know the basic rules of the game, and the particular situation is considered a big one by the performer. For instance, sporting events where huge crowds gather to witness the matches and watch every movement of their favorite players. Many performing players can just freak out due to pressure and underperform.

Panic is something else altogether. Panic is when an individual fails to perform under a given situation due to lack of sufficient prior experience of such instances. Such a person may be aware of all the rules but fails to apply them due to lack of experience.

Choking is a central part of the drama of athletic competition, because the spectators have to be there—and the ability to overcome the pressure of the spectators is part of what it means to be a champion . But the same ruthless inflexibility need not govern the rest of our lives. We have to learn that sometimes a poor performance reflects not the innate ability of the performer but the complexion of the audience; and that sometimes a poor test score is the sign not of a poor student but of a good one.

Panic, in this sense, is the opposite of choking. Choking is about thinking too much . Panic is about thinking too little. Choking is about loss of instinct Panic is reversion to instinct. They may look the same, but they are worlds apart. People who choke fail because they are good at what they do: only those who care about how well they perform ever feel the pressure of stereotype threat. ~ Malcolm Gladwell

As they say, “Nothing is impossible” and it requires strong willpower and determination to over come any type of failure – choking or panicking. In the movie Top Gun a choking-like situation occurs with Tom Cruise’s character “Maverick” after he loses his co-pilot and best friend in an accident and succumbs to pressure everytime he flies again afterwards due to the guilt of not being able to save his friend. It takes him quite a while to regain and restore his self-confidence. Even in day-to-day news we encounter choking-like instances of sportsperson who would just buckle under pressure of the event, scared due to the crowd.

In one of his recent best selling books “Outliers”, Malcolm Gladwell describes how even the extraneous factors – like place of birth, decade of birth, surrounding situations and people, etc. – are sometimes responsible for the success or failure of a person. A very simple and plain example to clarify this point – students all around the world finishing their graduation or post graduation before the recession (i.e. the boom years 2005-2008) had better chances of getting jobs than those finishing their courses post recession (2009-2010). At times no matter howsoever hard you work, failure becomes simply inevitable due to the uncontrollable forces.

Not undermining the significance of hard work but the next time you think of someone as a loser and yourself as more successful, do keep in mind whether the situations around that person are to blame, or just that you have been plain lucky!

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Delightful Bliss

Don’t you feel delighted when people would go just out of the way to do something for you. Its a grateful and joyous feeling, ain’t it? Making you feel special. Be it in personal relationships or commercial ones, its always good to know that people care for you and would walk that extra mile to make you smile.

A colleague offering to take your work load off so that you can meet a personal commitment, a friend staying awake whole night to help in finishing your project in time (during the good old MBA days 🙂 ) or a complete stranger coming to your rescue while offering change in a bus or cab when the driver isn’t budging. Its always a genuine humane feeling when incidents like these take place and you feel touched.

Likewise, it gives the same feeling when you are on the receiving end of such gestures as a customer or a client and your service provider is trying to engage in these goodwill initiatives, popularly known in marketing management as “Customer Delight”.

That complementary plate of dessert, one extra scoop of ice-cream, an exciting offer in your regular departmental store offered for being a loyal customer or just some additional discount, things like these kind of make your day and bring on that smile, after a long day’s work.

Who doesn’t like surprises and pleasant surprises like these are most welcome by anyone. Alas, like  marketing we don’t have such terminology for making people delighted in day-to-day lives. You know, something like “Person Delight”!!

Anyways, that doesn’t stop us from practicing and even experiencing such incidents. Howsoever, busy  we become in our daily lives, I think we must always remember and make it a point to give back such delightful moments to others around us and not just take them for granted. It is indeed a heavenly feeling when you make a quite serious or sad person smile. After all, happiness is a cyclical process and a smile is always contagious!!

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Gandhian Brainwave – A Chapter Revised

Now, I have not seen Mahatma Gandhi nor lived during his times to realize the effect he had on the masses. I also confess that at times I have had questions about his ideologies and principles in the neo-liberal mind of mine. And many a times, I have debated over the significance of his non-violence movement towards Indian freedom and revolution in South Africa, with my friends and peer groups.

Notwithstanding, what we witnessed during last one week in India has totally erased any doubts that I had about the man famously known as the “Father of the Nation”. A man – Anna Hazare – with a similar personality to that of Gandhi, emerged from the masses to fight for the rights of the 1.2 billion people. While we were just wondering in complete amazement thinking why was he risking his life alone for the whole nation, he was fasting unto death with strong conviction to take the scamsters head on.

This movement was truly one of its kind across the globe. While, all the other movements happening widely are against anti-democratic rulers, ours was a fight against corruption in a democratic set up. We have witnessed movements in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia which got violent during the course, with even the NATO forces attacking the regime in Libya. At this time, no one could imagine a non-violent mass movement to fight for the rights of the common man and against corruption.

For the new hero, starving till death to fight against corruption ain’t a marketing gimmick, a political move or power tactics and yet he check mated all the politicos and his critics in a one man show. At the same time, he taught our generation a huge lesson – the power of the common man! A long forgotten lesson that the politicians are still struggling to deal with.

My genre, the Generation – Y has been majorly looked upon as a bunch of highly career focused individuals who like moving around in flashy cars and are only concerned about their take home salaries. And rightly so!! Politics, parliament and national issues have been the last thing that we care to bother about.

Corruption, scandals, scams are like synonyms for “News” in Modern India. For the last few months, there has been an expose or scam every week in the headlines. Government agencies and politicians have made a mess in the country while all wonder how to tackle the situation. Everyone has grievances but don’t know how to take things in control. At this point Anna Hazare’s movement is like a magnetic compass showing direction to a rudderless ship.

We have heard since long that it takes just one voice to bring about a change but we also had doubts. If it only takes one person to change the world for the better, why hasn’t it happened yet? The answer I guess is, because no one ever tried.

Well, I am going to do what once Michael Jackson said. “I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror, I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways”.

Also Read: Anna Hazare: India’s pioneering social activist – BBC

“I am very encouraged by what’s happened in India” – Julian Assange

 


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Wonders..

Ever wondered how some songs have been lying there on your playlist for, god knows, how many years!! Well, there are a couple of them in mine, as well.

Love the song “That Thing You Do” from the soundtrack of the Tom Hanks movie by the same name. The movie plot is about a One Hit Wonder band called “The Wonders” who could never make it to their second album after having a gala time celebrating the success of their first one. Apparently, Tom Hanks also had a small role in the movie.

The film dramatically describes the rise and fall of the band and portrays the common One Hit Wonder phenomena quite effectively, where the members break up after the initial high of the success to carry on with their life.

Originally the song was performed by Mike Viola on vocals with Schlesinger on backup vocals. In the movie the song makes it among Top Ten hits in the US, however it could not reach that success in real life. Nevertheless, the song is a “must listen to”!!

The way they pronounce “”Do”” is particularly notable and catchy. 😉

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Just Did It!!

India is “Bleeding Blue” and has gone totally berserk after the historic World Cup win!!

Two hot new and superb Nike ads featuring the Indian team. And… Cricket is not just a game for us.. Mind It!! 😉

The World Champions for the next four years to come. Whoopee… 🙂

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Call of duty.. or death?

I have always admired people the nature of whose professional work is as weighty as being a matter of life and death. Of course my own work is quite run of the mill, those “staring at desktop” kind of jobs, having its relevance within the technology industry boundaries. But I have to admit that I am completely in awe of such people who have to cope with so much pressure and possess innate mental strength, knowing that any minor breakdown or malfunction on their part might prove to be fatal for them or those at the receiving end. Medics, fire fighters, national security forces and to an extent legal professionals have some intricate decisions and tasks at hand.

And that’s why like everyone else, even I am immensely touched reading the stories of the “Fukushima 50”, the group of courageous workers trying to save Japan from the worsening Nuclear crisis by putting their own lives at risk. Apparently, the total number of workers now fighting it out to control the situation which is believed to be a suicide mission by nuclear experts, is now way more than 50 and somewhere in the region of 200.

What is saddening is the fact that these workers who are struggling endlessly to control the crisis do not know the future they face even if they manage to come out alive from the mission. The radiation levels to which they are being exposed to, can affect their normal lives in many a unknown ways for the rest of their living years.

The future of the entire nation lies in the hands of these heroic Japanese being hailed as “The Nuclear Samurais”. At a time, when most of the people including Japanese and foreign nationals are moving away from the nuclear radiation affected region, these dauntless workers are fighting it out in the danger zone day and night everyday.

For preserving the life of the larger community, a minority has always had to sacrifice its own. Its a cruel law of nature and an impending paradox!!

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Hope..the biggest prayer!!

Disaster struck Japan last week and within a few hours the 3rd largest economy on the globe was in tatters. Its already six days past the day when Japan faced the largest intensity of earthquake till date and still there is no final number of the casualties. Nuclear threat looms large over the country. The horrific and terrifying images of tsunami and devastation on TV makes me shudder and now, I am scared to know the final death toll which can be somewhere in tens of thousands!!

At the same time, its remarkable to notice how some modern cities in Japan like Tokyo are able to survive an earthquake of the scale of 7, and all the buildings and monuments are intact still!! Had this earthquake taken place at any other part of the world, the devastation would have been even enormous and catastrophic. And this is only because of Japan’s preparedness for the earthquake due to the seismic zone it falls under.

Just a few weeks back I was in a discussion on the concept of “post growth economy” propagated by Japan, with a few friends of mine. Increasingly, Japanese economists and politicians were of the view that Japan should stop competing with other economies for the no. 1 spot and instead maintain the status quo – not stagnate – rather, settle into the plateau of ‘enough’. With a high literacy and  low crime rate; life expectancy better than almost anywhere on earth – 82 years (as compared to the US’ 78); trains running to the second; unemployment as low as 5%, and enviable levels of inequality. What more could the humble Japanese ask for!! Of course, all these figures of the Japanese economy are prior to the Friday’s disaster. Now, a gigantic task of re-building the economy and infrastructure lies ahead of the Japanese people, an ironically similar situation to that of post World War II, the Hiroshima bombings incident.

Japan has always been looked upon as an economy which is ahead of its time. And one thing we can be sure of is that Japan would again rise from the ashes like a phoenix and surprise the world.

Since last few days I have read first hand accounts of many fellow WordPressers sharing their experiences of the tsunami and the earthquake in Japan. Among them is an optimistic account of an American Mom posting her earthquake experience within split seconds of its occurrence in Tokyo. I am posting her blog link here with her permission.

Hey from Japan – Notes on Moving

Many thanks to her! And wish her and everyone out there in Japan, all the strength and courage they need in these trying times.

Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.  ~Christopher Reeve

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Thou shalt not Facebook..!! Holy crap??

The new idea – “Though shalt not Facebook”, (not an official commandment though) was making headlines a couple of months back, when a New Jersey pastor was propagating against Facebook. He was asking couples to delete Facebook profiles after there were multiple instances of problems in marriages, believed to be majorly caused by Facebook. However, that may be just one dimension of looking at the whole social network revolution and it would not be prudent enough to miss the bigger picture.

Had the above statement officially been among the commandments of modern day bible, 95% of you reading this write now or using internet would be sinners as per that. That tells all about the outreach of Facebook and social media networking.

Twitter and Internet being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year, signifies the depth to which social media has penetrated our day-to-day lives. (On a different note, the nomination does sound a bit bizarre!! But, on second thoughts its alright, considering Barack Obama actually won it last year which took even him by surprise. 😉 )

Some interesting Facebook facts:

>> Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months!! (500 million users in 4 years)

>> If Facebook were a country it would be the 3rd largest by population globally!! (After India & China)

>> Facebook offers more than 70 translations. (And, still counting!)

>> 83% of all companies use Facebook.

Remembering the non-Facebook days a few years back, I realize how it has impacted our lives drastically. Sometimes I wish I had a “Real-life Like button” which I could press, on every single activity happening around. Also, it would be great if we could read people’s minds in real lives the moment we saw them like Status updates. Ditto for relation ship status and about me ;). One look at a person and a mini-biography is available for your reference, enough to make your mind about the person and decide if you want to be friends.

Its incredible when one notices how easy Facebook has made networking and communication for us. One line from your beloved ones and you get to know that they are doing alright. During the recent uprisings in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, and natural calamities in New Zealand and Japan, social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook have proved to be of good service in practical situations.

The social media world full of netizens has become so overpowering that either you are on the bandwagon or you are living in the stone age!!

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” ~ Jeff Bezos, CEO at amazon.com

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