Corporate Life Lessons

Today, Sep 05, is celebrated as Teachers’ Day here in India. In appreciation of teachers and in celebrating the spirit of teaching, I am going to list out some lessons that I learnt first hand from my experience(s) at corporate environment(s). These may help you achieve success, if your definition of success is being peaceful and obscure at work. If success to you is making money or becoming wealthy, be forewarned – these points will not be helpful in anyway.

  1. Don’t hire based on the command of the language alone. Command of a language and a good communication are two different things. An English sentence with jargon and no grammatical error ≠ meaningful message.
  2. Keep your ego aside when you are hiring for a top level position. In one of my previous companies I worked with, an offer was rolled out to a candidate for a higher position. However, the candidate dropped out on the date of joining leaving a gaping hole that was highly visible. In order to fix this gap, the team hastily rolled out an offer to a misfit without thorough evaluation. This cost the team dearly.
  3. Age and experience are two different things. Don’t offer jobs based on total years of experience but based on relevant level of  experience.
  4. Idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Dumb people spend more time in gossiping and backbiting and usually are the ones who spend more efforts on conjuring up internal politics.
  5. When somebody explicitly says they do not lie, they do.
  6. When somebody explicitly says that they have conquered ego and they have absolutely zero ego, they have an ego larger than a mammoth. Run away from them.
  7. Don’t be nice to idiots. They sap your energy.
  8. When somebody says that cloud technology is his/her area of expertise and later asks you how to save the changes in a google sheet, don’t laugh. Go to your desk, create a meme and make it viral.
  9. When you are good at something, don’t do it for others. Especially, for idiots. They will expect you to spoon-feed them every single time.
  10. Play a fool to fool a fool. When you know something and you don’t want an idiot to ruin your day, just act that you don’t know that thing. Keep your pride aside. Focus on the peace that you will attain.
  11. Don’t trust the guy who whiles away time during work and calls you over the weekend to ask stupid questions not relevant to you, your job or your dog.
  12. When somebody repeatedly overstates that you did a wonderful job, get a rear-view mirror and watch your back.
  13. When somebody you want to avoid joins the table where you and your friends are discussing over lunch, continue showing the same level of enthusiasm on the face but switch the topic to weather, movies or sports.
  14. Get comfortable with long silences. It will be useful in those occasions where somebody joins the table and creepily observes what you and your friends talk without contributing anything. Unnerve them with your silence. If you can’t remain silent, try focusing on the dish. Ask yourselves whether that papaya you are having is naturally sweet or has added sugar.
  15. Headphones are your best friends. Start wearing one and zone-in on the work. If you can’t focus on the work, fake it. This will save you a lot of time.
  16. Learn to be conscious of your surroundings without moving your eyes away from your monitor. You will eventually learn when to turn your head and when not to.
  17. Sometimes, an insecure person will try to exclude you from important meetings. Don’t react. Trust their stupidity. If the person is stupid enough, you will be called back in the next meeting. Go with the flow.
  18. Practice tug-of-war. Sometimes you will have people dragging you down to their level of stupidity and trying to get you on their side. You need to resist it. As Captain Jack Sparrow says, ‘Wash your hands of this weirdness’.
  19. When somebody asks for your help, help the first time. Guide the second time. If they still don’t get it, just play along. They will learn it the hard way.
  20. Develop thick skin. You will meet people who are all hat and no cattle. You will see people in important technical leadership who would not know how to setup a meeting invite. Don’t fret over it. Have fun while it lasts. Ignore, take a deep breath and trust in Karma.

What would be your advice? Let me know in the comments.

 

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Chasing Dreams

The best way to make our dreams come true is to wake up – Paul Valery

Any normal person would have been pumped up with motivation and reeked of awesomeness for exactly two minutes after reading the above quote. Not me. It is said 90% of the dreams are forgotten. Those 90% are the pleasant ones. The remaining 10% are the unpleasant ones. The reason I am talking about this here is because my friend told me that his car stereo was stolen. What’s the link? The 100% of the unpleasant 10% of my dreams involve thieves/burglars. I have no idea why. The only encounter I had with a thief was a pick pocketer in a local bus who I caught red handed. He pushed me and ran away. It wasn’t a knee-jerking experience.

Now a little bit more about my dream. The places differed, people differed, time of the day differed, seasons differed. The things that didn’t change was myself and the act of chasing the thief. I guess I love chasing too much. Everytime I dream of chasing a thief, I chase with vigour. I chase with commitment. I chase yelling at him. The line between dream and real life blurs and I yell for real. This is the only type of dream where I blurt out anything aloud. My wife is usually a sound sleeper. She doesn’t even realize when the alarm goes off in full volume right under her ear. But every time I shout, she wakes up. First time she was really scared and worried. She thought I had a nightmare. I wouldn’t call it a night mare. It was fun chasing. Few more instances, she was genuinely worried but started realising the pattern. These days she just wakes me up and asks who was I chasing. She is ready with popcorn and all.

So going back to the opening quote – no, I don’t want to wake up and I don’t want my dream to come true.

Do you have any strange recurring dream? Please feel free to use the comment section.

Oh, a finishing quote. My favourite one.

‘Dream is not that which you see while sleeping it is something that does not let you sleep.’ – Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam

 

Migrated to the new site

This post is meant as a quick update to the new followers of my site. First of all, thank you for following this blog. Many of you had visited my site after my rant at bloggingmeetup. I made that rant prematurely. I actually had migrated all my followers to my new site which, for some brain fade of mine,  I didn’t verify before posting.

So the message is this: I had migrated to this new site https://sadagopangovindan.com . Request you to follow this new site as I won’t be posting anything here in this blog. Thanks for your support.

Cheers!

PS: Gray Whale travel 12,500 miles during their migration. They make it look easy.

 

How to lose your followers in a weekend

I was happy with my small blog hidden in some corner of the blogosphere. Obscurity was my strength. It has been existent from 2008 like my gym membership. It existed but rarely used. I only visited when I had a sudden spur of motivation.

When the new year of 2016 begun, my motivation to keep up with the new year’s resolution lasted a week longer than the usual. So, in the third week of January, I decided to sign up for a Blogging University course for two reasons – (i) I genuinely wanted to learn about blogging and (ii) It was free. I do not regret for it was a wonderful platform to get to know other bloggers thus building a community. That was the golden period of my blog’s existence. My follower count touched 100. 100 is a small number but I am proud as the count is organic. As in, it is only from blogging community and not from social media sites. I do not advertise on Twitter or Facebook much. A closet writer.

One day I got this sudden thought (Thoughts always seem to be sudden for me. I need to learn to think on a regular basis). I decided to buy a domain on my own name and host my blog there. I did a little bit of research and found the steps do migrate the portal. I spent some time over a weekend in Aug 2017 and migrated my contents successfully to my domain.

By now, things in my professional life started looking up and a truck load of work was dumped on me. In the available free time, I managed to catch up with 8 seasons of The Mentalist, 8th season of House MD, 7th season of Suits, couple of seasons of Black Mirror and 7th season of The Game of Thrones. So, as you can see, I was too occupied to write a blog post. I couldn’t squeeze 30 mins out of my busy schedule.

I logged in two days ago after a long time. You know that this is that time of the year when you dust your previous years’ resolutions and get momentary inspiration. I logged in and realized I have zero followers now. I have goofed up something during migration. I thought I will import the content that I exported during the migration. But, blessings of Murphy, my laptop had crashed, and I lost the export along with other documents.

So here I am. Starting afresh. I am working with WordPress support to see if I can recover. In the meantime, here’s my appeal like Jimmy Wales – If you had already subscribed to my blog and were checking in to see what happened to my blog, thank you! Please subscribe again!

Cheers!

Books I read in 2017

Happy New Year! Yet another year has gone and another one is born. The time wheel keeps rotating. I had been away from blogging for a while. Many a things happened in personal and professional life. Most of them good and some of them bad. But it’s a right mixture, alright.

I thought I should post something to just break the break. The simplest topic that I could immediately think was of course books that I read last year. I had set myself a target of 12 books to read last year and I completed 18 books. Which is quite astonishing given my history with reading.

Below is the list of books that I read this year. Yes, only a list. If you are looking for a review, sorry. I am too lazy. May be later.

  1. HBR Guide to Getting The Right Thing Done
  2. What the CEO wants from You
  3. The Art of Manliness – Manvotionals: Timeless Wisdom and Advice on Living the 7 Manly VirtuesWriting without Bullshit
  4. The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man
  5. The Winning Way: Learnings from sport for managers
  6. Americavil Kichcha (Tamil)
  7. The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
  8. Sujathoughts (Tamil)
  9. Faster, Smarter, Higher
  10. The On-Time, On-Target Manager
  11. How to Feel Empowered
  12. How to Take Decisions
  13. Confessions of a software techie
  14. 13 Steps to bloody good luck
  15. How to write a New York Times Bestseller
  16. Writing a Kindle book a week
  17. Writing tips

You can find the list of books on GoodReads here. The last few books have been on Writing. Interesting! Let’s wait and see how the plot unfolds.

Happy New Year, once again!

What have you become?

Imagine this. You are unhappy about the mechanical life in city and are going in search of a place where you can switch off. You found a place that is simple and serene yet useful. The place is inhabited by few who are on the same wavelength as you. Gradually the place is flocked by thousands and millions more. Everybody starts setting their own unwritten rule. They start their own propaganda. There’s always a group following a slightly vocal person. There are people who are saddened by the way the place has become. Yet there are more people who find opportunities among the crowd. There are jesters, activists, geniuses, businessmen, authors, pseudo authors, feminists, anti-feminists, leaders, managers, employed, unemployed and all sorts of people. There is always noise and commotion in that place.

Pictured that? Now lift this imaginary place and embed in the mighty internet and you get LinkedIn. Long time ago, LinkedIn used to be a simple, neat professional networking site. Professionalism was genuinely maintained. Very few people were on it. Then the user base exploded inorginacally and you can find all sorts of people now.

One set of people is genuinely looking for a job and another set genuinely helping. That is all fine. But some of the things that people do show up as being silly. I have listed some things that I have noticed.

People adding posts like “If you are a genius find the answer for this: name two cities that start with letter a and ends with n”

Posts like “7 things that extraordinary people do every day”. Followed by “11 things that extraordinary leaders dp everyday” out of which 7 will be from previous post and 4 will be from “6 things that natural leaders do everyday written by somebody else. These posts are informative in the beginning but you know right, familiarity breeds contempt.

Posts from authors. Some of them are good. Some are mere plug for their upcoming books. The advertisement about the book and the author takes more space than the original content of the article.

Hypocritical posts. There are people who write articles on leadership or company culture or promoting work life balance or gender equality or what not. When you read the posts you feel like the person is genuinely good. But when you get acquainted to the person and see from a close range, you actually find them doing the opposite of what they are preaching.

Posts like “I met this random person in the airport and ended up offering a job in my company”. One or two posts might be genuine and interesting. And when you suddenly see a surge in number of such posts it makes me wonder. If so many people are helping so many people like this is unemployment will be eradicated eventually, no? Another point is that I have not seen even one such post from the stranger in Airport who got the offer thanking the person who offered the job.

Posts that are topical. “What did Trump, Modi and Zuckerberg do to get rid of cockroaches”. Right. They have nothing to do with getting rid of cockroaches but these names drag user views at any given day. It may even start a mini keyboard battle in the comment section. En of the day, more views mean popularity.

Posts that go like “We are hiring and starting a whatsapp app group to connect with prospective candidates. Please express your interest by leaving your number or email in comment section”. LinkedIn was created for that very purpose. Use that.

Posts that tell a nice story and just when you feel like you have read it somewhere, you will find the disclaimer at the bottom that it was originally by somebody else. Sometimes people forget they have ‘Share’ button just for that. You need not copy paste content as your post and give credits at the bottom. That is sly, no? Some people don’t even give those credits. Those people are duely served by Justic League in the comment section naming and shaming them as plagiarists. There is so much fun in correcting people when they are wrong.

Worse are those forwards from Whatsapp. These are just jokes and nothing else. Sometimes you don’t even get it.  But you can’t stop it, can you?

Oh and I almost forgot the new trend. Posts that say “I received a connection request and I responded to a message from that connection requesting for help. He/She told me that they have written to thousands of people and I am the only one to respond and thanked me for the consideration. People, if you cannot respond to messages then what is the point of getting on to social platform”. Now this is very clever accusation. The point is not accusing the people who dont respond but a sly promotion of themselves helping others. We won’t know if they really helped either. But hey, I posted. So I must have helped. Do you get that? Or I will accuse you of trust issues. Point taken.

Everybody wants to be somebody that they are not. They want to project a face that others may like. Everybody seeks attention. “What others think of you is none of your business” is a good advice followed by none. No wonder image consulting is a thriving business.

If you are one of those few who is sad that LinkedIn is becoming facebook and whatsapp, what do you think about LinkedIn becoming YouTube or vine?

 

braceyourself

Me, Astrology and Data science

You may have predicted by now where am I going with this post. Hold your horses. May be you are right, may be you are not! After all prediction is only a only a hopeful choice until it becomes a fact. Just like a theory is a hypothesis until proved.

The whole IT world is like one big fashion show. Every few years there will be a new technological trend and everybody would try to hop on just to stay relevant.  Companies adapt to the technologies to show they are trendy even though it is of no use to them, developers start reskilling themselves getting ready for the next wave and the non-IT companies will be trying to pick their vendors based on who is following the current trend. Few years back it was cloud, mobile etc.,. And currently the trend is data sciene, predictive analytics, machine learning, Artificial Intelligence etc. While I agree these have tremendous applications, most of the crowd adapt just to stay relevent. This is just my thought, I may be wrong. Data science and analytics are areas of my interest too. (note: interested, not expert. Yet.) The art of analysing some data points and making adjustments to your business so as to be profitable sounds interesting. Strangely it is called a science and not an art.

What the hell does it have to do with astrology, you ask. I was thinking during my walk after lunch (No, you’re wrong. I’m still employed). My family strongly believes in astrology. I have always argued that I believe in astrology as a science and that I just do not trust the astrologer. I do not want to take my life decisions based on what an astrologer says for the reason that he may be not be an expert in the field. But astrology, as a science, is great. The simple fact that the astrologers predict the days of Solar eclipse, lunar eclipse etc without having to google is itself amazing. I could not stop thinking about how much effort would have been gone into collecting the data about stars, suns, moon, planets, their positions, distance, time, birth time, all the surrounding factors at that time, place of birth, family lineage, jatakam or kundalini (some argue that this is extensive understanding of human gene/dna behavior as a simplified coding).  There are innumerable factors to consider. The permutation and combination of these factors would have caused the outcomes, collecting and correlating which would have been pursued as a life goal by few(or many) .

If you think about it, Astrology is a data science. In the current business scenario, data science requires collecting of business transactions and other data. In astrology, our ancestors would have collected data about universe.

In data science, you build models and use statistics to identify the correlation between multitudes of data sets and entities to arrive a meaningful analysis. In astrology, they would have done the same.

In data science, you build models based on the different approaches and different entities. In astrology they built rules.

In astrology, you dont know why these rules were created. What were the analysis that led to these rules? They might have probably be lost in time. In data science, at least currently, people know why they built or how they created these models. But I am assuming it is only a matter of time before data scientists become oblivious to this and start using the models blindly. These models then will become the rules.

In data science, you are trying to predict the future behaviour using past data and try to adjust the course of the business to avoid losses. In astrology, they try to predict the future of your life using the past data and suggest rituals, ceremonies, prayers etc to nullify the evil and course correct your life.

Both in astrology and in data science, the prediction can only be indicative. It cannot be accurate.

Coming to the question why I dont trust astrologers. Data science is new. People are trying to learn in and out of the concept gathering deep knowledge and understanding. These set of people are passionate and they create things. Then the second wave of data scientists would come who would not really be passionate but good at data science. So they end up pocketing above-average salaries. Seeing this, another wave of data scientists would come who will neither be passionate nor good. But just because there will be abundant opportunites, they will be data scientists. This could have very well happened to astrology. Those who studied and compiled astrology may have been the passionate ones. But right now, with so many people insecure, placing their trust on godmen instead of god, and looking desperately for someone who can provide them solace in the form hope, the opportunity is abundant. So you find astrologers like mushrooms everywhere. I am not saying all astrologers are bad. There will be definitely good ones. I am saying I just won’t know who is good.

I am ending this with the prediction that Data Science would eventually reach that state. If someone somewhere in the future stumbles upon this post and finds it true, I would be hailed like Nostradamus. Sadly, I will not be there to know if it happened. That said, I am curious to go back to the scriptures and see what amazing things have our ancestors worked on. Why reinvent the wheel, right?

End of rant. Cheers!