Ad: Hum Mein Hai Hero

Sometimes I watch TV just to catch on with advertisements being aired. And this particular Ad, composed and sung by A.R. Rahman caught my attention.

The lyrics catch the true emotions of all the characters shown in the video. A girl attempting gymnastics in front of the crowd, a middle-aged Sardarji overwhelmed by the number of steps in front of him, a kid starting on the dance floor and so on. Doesn’t everyone face this kind of situation in one’s life.  And don’t we feel like a Hero while going through such situations? And there are always people who look up to us irrespective of whether we fail or succeed.

I do not know how much this Ad with help Hero Motocorp in their brand building [it is already a BIG brand in India today]. But 5 stars to this video which brings out hero in every common person.

Dil se kaho hai Hum Mein Hai Hero
Khul ke kaho hai Hum Mein Hai Hero
Hum Mein Hai Hero

Good Corruption, Bad Corruption and Ugly Corruption

Corruption - Money talks
Corruption - Money talks

The whole India is shaken today. The fight between Anna Hazare and Government has taken an ugly turn. Both the parties have different perspectives to deal with corruption and no end in sight for a mutual consensus.

While watching all this action on TV and on Facebook, I tried to remember incidents when I had to pay bribes or extra money to get things done –

– To Ticket Inspector in train to get a better berth for family
– To an agent to speed up my driving license
– Again to an agent to get vehicle registration transferred

Well if you think in one way, what is the harm being done to nation by these kinds of corruption? In fact it actually helped in moving our economy faster. The berth would have gone vacant had I or someone else not paid bribe to the TTE, so system became more efficient. The TTE got extra income which he probably spent on his kids’ education. Similarly, by paying money to the agent to get things done from government agencies saved my day to spend more productively on things I am good at. Also the agent is making his living by greasing up the system. The “agent” economy in India is a big one today providing livelihood to thousands of people.

This, in my opinion, is good corruption. Corruption which speeds up our nation and makes it more efficient. There is a kind of capitalist shade to this corruption. You can buy “getting things done”.. without harming the nation / government exchequer.

Bad corruption is about –

– Influencing a judgement or criminal procedure
– Use of government power to get favorable deals  (eg. mining licenses)
– Issuing two passports or fake licenses
– Frauds in balance sheets / annual results

This kind of corruption promotes unfairness and loss to the nation, impedes the growth.  And then there is ugly corruption – systematic corruption done at higher levels by politicians and higher officers.

So my point is – bring out bills to hamper bad and ugly corruption but let the good corruption stay in place. Or may be give it some other name and make it legal. Some people might say that there is very subjective line between good and bad corruption and who is to decide this line. There are simple questions to ask
– Is this corruption creating loss to the nation?
– Is this corruption depriving someone of rightful right?
– Is my heart beating faster while doing this (does not apply for everyone)?

Is the answer is Yes – it is bad corruption. Don’t proceed. Jay Hind 🙂

What do you think? Is there anything like good corruption?

It Happened Because.. (The Art Of Rationalizing)

“Markets drop 29 points on below average monsoon prediction”

“Teddy Bear International’s Q1 profits jump 20% because of new strategy measures taken by the management”

“He failed because he did not listen to what I said”

“Katreena bagged first rank in her class because she attended TDH Tutorials”

“United Pokers Alliance lose by-elections because of anti-incumbency factors.”

“Sam G succeeded because of his x, y, z qualities”

“Great companies have BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals)”

Why do we (and newspapers and authors) have to find a reason for anything that happens? Is it because it is very easy to rationalize any outcome. Sometimes we rationalize to justify our decisions (which are already made). While other times, we rationalize in hindsight (this happened because…).

While doing so, we forget about some basic biases we, as human beings, are infected with –

1. Fooled by randomness – Not every outcome need to have a reason. 50 – 100 points here and there in the stock index can just be noise. In success and failure, there is a luck factor.

2. Silent evidence – So, Steve Jobs is successful because he did xyz, but what about thousands of others who were equally talented and who did similar things but are not successful? What about companies who had BHAGs and all qualities of great companies, but failed? What about 1000s of Warren Buffets who lost their shirts in stock markets.

3. Complexity involved – There need not be just one factor involved in the outcome. However, the universe is so complicated that not all these factors can be factored by our human mind. To make out sense in this world, we try to rationalize and simplify it.

Now, here I am also trying to rationalize why we rationalize.

Yet Another Movie Marathon

The movie marathons are getting rare because of the six-day work week and writing about them is getting even rarer. However, I was able to squeeze in some time to watch these movies few days back [* Spoiler alert *] –

1. Kung-Fu Panda 2

Kung Fu Panda 2
Kung Fu Panda 2

I had high hopes about this movie, mainly because of the great prequel which I have been watching over and over in last few years. And that is why, I chose this movie to show it to my 2-year old daughter in a cinema hall (this being her first movie out of home). I was disappointed. It is not a bad movie but failed my expectations. The story is very predictable and the movie is more about the action, which did not impress much on the 2D-screen. After getting the “secret ingredient” in the first movie, Po looks for and gets “inner peace” in this one.

2. Hangover 2

Hangover Part 2
Hangover Part 2

Again disappointed. Hangover part one was hilarious. The sequel is the same movie repackaged with some new events. There is no element of surprise, leaving nothing to guess while watching the movie. Making a sequent is inherently challenging when the first movie is good and Hangover 2 did not succeed in crossing this challenge. Bachelor party, drugging, last-minute turn up at the wedding and Mike Tyson – the first movie had it all. Well, this time there was no baby – he was replaced by a monkey.

3. Stanley ka Dabba

Stanley Ka Dabba Poster
Stanley Ka Dabba

The third movie saved the day. There are very few movies that inspire you to make movies. And this is one of them.

Why is Stanley not getting his dabba? The question keeps popping in your mind while watching the entertaining child actors going through their daily routine. Sadly, we get the answer later when Stanley gets a slap from his cruel Uncle. This is not a children’s film, i.e., not meant for kids as it seems, but for adults and carries a message about child laborers in India. More than the message, it is the Stanley’s positive attitude towards life that touches the heart.

All images via Wikipedia

5 Inspiring Movies That Teach Entrepreneurship

As I keep repeating, entrepreneurs are irrational. And they need to be so. The biased optimism keeps the confidence high and helps them keep going. However, there are times when pessimism runs high (that sinking feeling). Its time to stop working and instead pick up some movies. And start watching non-stop –

1. The Shawshank Redemption

shawshank redemption“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” Andy Dufresne kept his hope alive and kept on digging his way out of the prison. And how many days did it take him? Getting rejected by your customers and VCs? Been in business for so long but not getting rid of the red ink? Tried 50 things but nothing working out? There is no other way but to continue trying. Two very important lessons learnt from this movie – hope and perseverance

2. The Lord of the Rings – The Trilogy

The Lord of the RingsThis movie reminds that the journey is not easy. And the odds against are very high. Also there is no other option but to succeed. But if you and your team are firm and determined, you provide a solid leadership to your team, and team members trust each other blindly, it is possible to pass the test. There are innumerable lessons we can learn from this movie (and the book).

3. Dead Poets Society

dead_poets_societyStudy. Go to work. Climb corporate ladder. Keep getting pay hikes. Live easy life working 9-to-5.

That is conventional path. Entrepreneurs break out of this path somewhere. The words from O Captain my Captain –

“They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? – – Carpe – – hear it? – – Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”

4. Ice Age

Ice Age“That’s what you do in a herd: you look out for each other.” That even people like Diego change their hearts when they see trust. That all members in a team are different but are tied together with the same objective. And that you should have fun in your journey because that is where you spend most of your time.

 

5. Lagaan

lagaanA guy challenges winners to a game he has never played. He builds a team and brings out stars from ordinary men. He creates a solid plan and works with the team to execute it. All for a purpose. He was an entrepreneur. He was Bhuvan who defeated the opposite team at their own game.

A Fistful of Rice – The Wonders of Goat Economics

A Fistful of RiceEntertainment is the primary purpose when I pick a book to read. Learning from it is a by-product most of the times. I picked up this book because someone recommended it very strongly after knowing that I am working in Indian education sector.

Well, A Fistful of Rice is not about education but it ended up in educating me about Micro-Finance Industry. Putting aside current controversies around SKS (AP court order, ouster of the CEO after the IPO, falling stock price), there is no doubt that Vikram Akula has got a deep understanding of Micro-Finance Industry. In this book, he travails through his journey from being a student with a vision to do something for poor to the success of SKS serving millions of people. Akula spent many years in the villages understanding the Market he was targeting. From the very beginning he was very clear that he would take the for-profit route unlike Grameen Bank. Profitability enables scalability.

Akula also explains how he always considered other scalability factors while creating SKS. He committed $2 million for the technology platform at the time when the total business was order of magnitude lower than this commitment. Akula also walks through how they got inspired by the McDonald’s’ model and how they got into Google’s domain and grew up so aggressively.

Bill Gates asks a very valid question – What kind of business models provide enough returns to SKS customers after paying the exorbitant interest rates of 28%? Akula impresses Mr. Gates and me as well when he answers this question by explaining the Goat Economics. And this is what he explains –

“a landless agricultural worker might use a 2,000 rupee loan (about $40) to buy a goat. She continues with her daily work and takes the goat along with her to the fields. The goat eats grass and virtually anything else, so there is no investment from her end. A goat gives birth to one or two kids a year and the value of the offspring is about 50% of the mother, or about 1,000 rupees. Even if a borrower took a 28% loan, she makes a return of about 70% on invested capital.”

He adds further,

“There are four other reasons why microenterprises yield very high returns. First, borrowers tend to draw on family to help with microenterprises, which is far more productive than hiring wage laborers. Think of your classic immigrant-owned grocery story in the US where sons and daughters help out. Second, in the informal economy, the poor make too little to pay taxes (they typically make less than $2 a day when they join SKS.) Third, poor entrepreneurs have little infrastructure and overhead costs. A village grocery is a homefront shop, not a separate rental property. And fourth, for the first three reasons, capital is only a small percentage of a new micro-venture’s input. What’s far more important for a micro-entrepreneur is timely access to capital. “

And that timely access to capital is what SKS enables. Must read book, specially for people who are trying to get into Indian markets after serving western markets or people who want to get deeper understanding of rural India.

Wrong Investments

We often come across literature motivating us to work hard, always believe in oneself and never give up unless we achieve what we are working for. Such stories would then be appended with examples of how successful people have worked hard and achieved success. Working hard is good. But these stories do not tell about 99 others who keep working looking down and fail. Fallacy of silent evidence. It is important to realise that sometimes things are not just meant to be the way you are trying them to be. It might make sense to take a pause, think and decide if it would be good to change tracks and invest on something else.

Working hard is good but not enough. Look at the Opportunity cost. There might be something else you love more – working on something else, playing with your kids, spending time with family etc. Also don’t fall down for “sunk cost fallacy” making you think “I have invested so much time (and money), I cannot let it go down the drain”, even if you are stuck in the dead-end.

Realize early. Move to the right tracks. Sell the dud stocks even if it means booking losses.

[thinking out loud (after making lot of wrong investments)]

Another Movie Marathon

Someday you wake up with a plan. someday things just happen. 31st December was one such day. It started with the morning 10 o’clock show at INOX with Tron Legacy. Followed up by Richie Rich (1994) in the afternoon, animated Cars in the evening and Twilight Saga and LOTR (probably for the 25th time) in the night. Here are short reviews.

Tron Legacy – I am not too much into sci-fi movies and don’t watch many of them. In spite of that, I find them to be so similar to each other. Tron Legacy was no different. Matrix was the movie, rest many of them are just hangovers with programs and grids and users. To give some points, it had few good 3D effects.

Richie Rich – Fun movie to watch with family but gets too dragging by the time it ends. Nothing new in the story but a good timepass.

Twilight Saga – I had been holding off myself from watching vampire movies. And after watching this movie, I think I was rightly so. A girl loves a Vampire and then there are werewolves and confrontations between the three parties. The marathon was taking its toll, I dozed off in between.

LOTR – The Return of the King – My favourite of the trilogy and one of the favourites of all the movies. Wonderful story (read the book), fabulous productions, amazing war scenes and Aragorn. Enough to keep you awake even when you are watching it nth time and it is 3 o’clock of the happy new year morning.

Next movie marathon wish-list – Social Network, Wall Street 2, Dhobhi Ghat, a good war movie and a good animation movie.

Uses of an Elevator

It was a boring meeting – kind of a broadcasting where a lecturer speaks to a group of people without caring the reception of the content among listeners. So I decided I would rather do something better then sleeping. Getting an idea from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, I decided to list down the uses of an elevator. Heres the list:

1. Transportation – No brainer. An elevator is used to move either up or down.

2. Killing someone – As in like in movies. Let a 10-ton elevator fall on someone and he will not wake up ever.

3. Using Fan – So ACs are not working? No big deal. Get into an elevator and switch on the fan!

4. Privacy – No comments!

5. Experience free fall – Elevator malfunctions and u fall freely. Havent experienced it so do not know what happens in the end.

6. Playing – Only for kids

7. Scribbling – For naughty types of people who think that they are great artists.

8. Racing with it – Lets see who reaches first on the eight floor first – me on the stairs or you with the elevator.

9. Movie making – A murder mystery revolving around it.

10. Using power – If you want to waster some power. Just keep running it up and down.

12. Catching a thief – You catch a thief in your surveillance camera, switch off the power and call police.

13. Practical for mechanic and electrical engg – self explanatory

15. Learning numbers – Board the lift with your kid and keep rocking between 25th floor and ground floor staring at the LCD screen. Call out the numbers loud for better effect.

16. Know the temperature – Some elevators have temperature sensor

17. Scenery view – in the types with transparent glasses

18. Advertisement – OOH is catching up and one can earn a lot putting posters/TV in elevators

19. Notice board – It has been brought to notice that you have been (mis)using the elevator quite often. Any miscreant will be treated strictly and punished with a life sentence. And mind you, this lift can carry just 8 people. The ninth people will go to hell and take other eight along with him.

Mota Seth Aaya

A poem for Avani…. (to be sung with gestures for the best effects)

Mota Seth aaya… oh Mota Seth aaya…
chand taare laaya.. oh Mota Seth aaya..
boat se aaya… train se aaya.. or plane se bhi aaya..
oh Mota Seth aaya…

Mota Seth aaya.. oh Mota Seth aaya…
bhag ke aaya… aur daud ke bhi aaya…
aur khub khana khaya…
oh Mota Seth aaya..

Mota Seth aaya.. oh Mota Seth aaya…
khub hasaya aur khub ghumaya..
aur doston ne usko khub nachaya..
oh Mota Seth aaya..