Hello, people! How have you been? I am back after a while. I am being regularly irregular these days. Life has been on its usual ride – ups and downs. Work has been hectic. Sometimes good work and sometimes just meetings. Actually, the number of meetings that I am part of has exploded exponentially. It was so annoyingly more that we recently had few meetings to discuss how to stop wasting time in the meetings. Irony!
Last week I was in one of the late night calls. It was scheduled from 10 PM to 12 AM my time. The day was hectic and exhausting already. And this meeting was the icing on the cake. The meeting involved a lot of people from across different geographies. Everybody to talk about some processes. There is this one kind of meeting that I like where a bunch of people join but you are not required to give any inputs. Just mute yourselves and listen to what is being discussed. Or simply teleport yourselves to the neighboring galaxy. Or try telekinesis to move a coffee cup just by focussing intently. This meeting was not that type. This was exactly the opposite. There were many people involved. You have to give some inputs. But you don’t know when you will be asked. So you have to be attentive throughout the session.
About one hour into the meeting, my eyelids were on auto shutdown mode. My turn did not come yet. I was going through so much process improvements and excel sheets that I was mentally exhausted. I didn’t eat enough and I was famished. My telepathy seemed to have been so strong that my wife came into the room with a bowl full of watermelon pieces. Without speaking a word, I expressed my gratitude through my eyes and was staring at the bowl. I was slowly eating one piece at a time and was listening to the discussions. Somebody did a time check and said we have only five minutes more. I was not sure if I was irritated or relieved. Part of me wanted to get this over with on the same day and another part of me begged to end this call.
When somebody started summarizing, I was pretty sure this meeting was going to continue the next day. I mentally switched off. I took a mouthful of watermelon and was listening to the summary. Somebody interrupted and asked everyone if we have 10 more minutes. What? No way. But they reached a consensus to continue. So, I stuffed the remaining pieces in my mouth in frustration. That is exactly when somebody decided to call me out for my inputs. I had a mouthful of watermelon and I was struggling to push some down the throat so that I can speak. I was mumbling.
“Are you there?”
“If you are speaking we cannot hear you. You may be on mute”
“Hello? you still there?”
“I think he dropped off. No problem, we will get his inputs in the next call scheduled for tomorrow. Thank you, everyone, for your valuable inputs”
** Meeting ended **
“Noooooooooo…… I am still here!!!”
Anybody in IT world will know about POCs – Proof Of Concepts. Basically, somebody building a solution for a potential customer will do a POC to showcase the work that they can do. Usually, this POC will be very impressive. The customer then signs the contract. After signing the contract, the real work begins. The requirement changes, scope changes, complexity changes. After all the chaos, the final solution is not as elegant as POC. But you cannot get rid of it. You have paid for it and you want to continue using it. And the bugs? You get some fixed and live with the rest. You continue using it till you get completely frustrated with the solution at which point you call another solution provider for another POC.
Life is not any different at all. Some people, not all, are like these solutions. Initially, we feel good about the new acquaintances. They are well mannered, present themselves well and seem to gel well. Just like a POC. Once you spend some time and get to know more about them everything changes. The expectations change, the behavior changes, irritability increases, and the person is not so cool anymore. Just like the final solution. But you have invested your time with that person. So you try and chug along. You try and work out the pain points, point fingers and sometimes just bear the pain and keep your mouth shut. Until they cross the final line of frustration.
Disclaimer: Any resemblance to anybody living is purely purely co-incidental.
You learn things from most unexpected experiences. I learnt to say No from such a small but repeated encounters.
I usually get down at a point and walk about 2 km while coming back from work. There is a famous bookstore on the way and few eateries around it. At any given time one can see about 20, 25 people in that area.
Almost every other day one can see a young group of 4 or 5 representing various NGOs talking to people. They will be seen trying to convince them that they are not doing anything to this world and donating to the NGO they represent will help them attain salvation. Now, I am all up for charity. But I refuse to give to any random organization.
My first encounter with them was lengthy. Being a self-proclaimed polite person, I patiently heard for 15 full minutes before saying that I am not interested. I genuinely wanted to hear what they do but I support another NGO that I believe in.
The frequency of my encounters increased and it was getting a bit frustrating to talk to some NGO rep every day. Time was getting wasted for us both. Over the time, my replies became shorter and crisp. This is the evolution of my replies.
“That is so nice of you people to volunteer but I support another organization”
“Sorry, I support another organization”
“UNICEF? I talked to you guys already”
“Greenpeace.org? I talked to you already”
“Children’s relief fund? I talked to you already”
“UNICEF? I talked to you guys already. Didn’t you get enough funds yet? You have been asking people every day”
“UNICEF again? Talked to you last week”
“Lost my job”
There are some questions that keep surfacing in my mind
- Why do these organizations always need money?
- Can they eventually help all the people ever?
- How about the admin costs? Surely not all the people are volunteering?
- Can there really be an organization that is formed with volunteers only and the money collected is spent completely to the cause?
- Why do big NGOs like UNICEF ask ordinary people to contribute instead of targeting corporates or wealthy?
- Does anyone who is contributing even read the financial statement to check where the money is being spent on?
- How do we choose the organization that we can trust?
I was going through some motivational videos yesterday and was pretty pumped up to wake up early and start being productive. It is amusing that people want everything instantly. We appreciate the Japanese tea making ceremony but we drink dip tea. Because it is instant. After watching the videos, I felt like I am instantly tuned for a super productive lifestyle from that moment on. There will be no looking back. The first thing on the list was to wake up 15 mins early and do something productive. The alarm was set. The task was fixed – read a chapter in a book that I have been intending to read.
The alarm set off and I woke up without snoozing. My mornings don’t start without a cup of freshly brewed smoking hot filter coffee. So I decided to make one for myself and start reading the book. I felt like it was the first day of the rest of my life.
As I entered the kitchen, I stepped on something cold. I looked down and my irritation went from 0 to 60kmph in 3.2 seconds like a Tesla. My refrigerator had an auto-defrost feature but unfortunately, it doesn’t evaporate the water. All the melted ice was nicely covering the kitchen floor. I had to clean that mess. It was quite an effort to clean that. Finally, when I was done I looked at that clock. It had taken exactly 15 minutes to clean the mess.
Moral 1: You may plan whatever you want to do. But the universe has its own plans for you.
Moral 2: When a difficult task, like cleaning the mess, in this case, is to be done by you the universe prepares you with enough motivation the previous day.
Me – 0, Universe – 1
If you have followed my blog for a while, you would know that I am a fan of the group called The Indian Jam Project. This group of talented musicians excels in re-arranging famous international soundtracks into an Indian classical version. They recently released the tribute to James Bond Theme music. I love James Bond movies. In fact, I, my wife and my daughter bond well over Bond movies. So I was super excited to listen to this version of the theme. After all, James Bond’s Indian connection have resurfaced long after Octopussy.
It felt a bit strange when I heard it the first time. I was not sure if I liked it or not. But the more I listened, it grew on me. Has it something to do with Tushar Lall meeting the legend, A R Rahman? (For the uninitiated, it is believed that A R Rahman’s songs do not strike a chord immediately but one will start loving it when he/she listens a few more times). It sounds brilliant. Ending it with Skyfall, was the icing on the cake. I like the grayscale theme as well. Below is the video. If you do not like it the first time, I insist that you give it at least a couple of more tries.
Below are my posts about my favourites of The Indian Jam Project’s works
- Interstellar Tribute
- Inception Tribute
- Star Wars Tribute
- Game of Thrones
Check out their other works in their YouTube Channel. Enjoy the music!
Email has an ability many channels don’t: Creating valuable, personal touches – At scale -David Newman
I am going to tell you a story about three people in a corporate jungle – Tom, Dick and Harry (Cliche! I know!). Tom is a good guy trying to maintain good relationships with people almost bordering on the people-pleaser level. Tom and Dick had few healthy issues earlier which was sorted out in a professional way. Dick had an erratic behavior. His intentions were good but his actions used to put off people sometimes. There was no issue for the good part of the year with either of them. Harry works in a different department but works closely with both Tom and Dick. They had mutual respect for each other.
One day, while discussing an issue, Harry sent an email to some wider audience. Tom felt that certain parts of the email did not put his team in good light and so raised the concern through an email to Dick. His intention was to raise the concern and explain the scenario so that Dick has a clearer picture. So, Tom sent an email only to Dick as he did not want to create a big scene out of it. However, Dick looped in Harry in that email and asked everyone to discuss directly. This put Tom on a spot and he felt awkward talking to Harry about it.
Now who is at fault here? Is it Harry for sending the email to a wider audience without discussing with the concerned team? Is it Tom for raising concern about Harry’s email without keeping him in the loop? Or is it Dick who forwarded the email to Harry which was supposed to be only for his view? Everybody’s intentions seem to be genuine but somehow the relationship may have strained a little bit.
I learnt a valuable lesson from this story:
Do not write in the email what should never be forwarded
Everyone has his/her share of ups and downs. One time you are pumped up with enthusiasm and another time, you are worn out like a deflated tube. If you may have noticed carefully, when you are down on your motivation there is always something that could give you an instant boost. It could be a song, a memory of a trip you had taken, a phone call from a friend, picture of your family and children or anything else.
I have been an admirer of Elon Musk for all his work. Be it an electric car, solar power or a super-human ambition of migrating people to Mars. This guy is insane in an admirable way. Whenever I read something about him, or a see a video of him or his speech, I am in awe. It is true his personal life may not be so glorious but the mission that he has undertaken is larger than life. I have started reading his biography now. I have seen many YouTube videos about him. The one that I am going to share is the one that gives instant motivation to me. Whenever I feel a little down, I see this video. I draw inspiration from that video. It is not just about Elon Musk but every single person in the video. It tells me that the greatest happiness is in putting in soul and energy into something that others dismissed as impossible and seeing it succeed. The sheer sense of achievement and pride. This video is by Nat Geo about the launch of Falcon 9 by Space X when the first stage of the rocket landed back successfully after launching the satellite into the orbit. Had this attempt failed, it would have made the company to be shut down. As I said, I am intensely moved whenever I see the video. I hope it gives you that burst of motivation too. Cheers!