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As if that is possible!

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My self contradicting thinking. Altercating from one side to the other side, hardly settling at equilibirium. Bhoo pendulum!

Metrics driven Parenting!

Posted by bhoo on June 10, 2007

I have this reputation – most of it self-proclaimed – but much of it very true – that I am not very organized.

Building Aspire – I have a lot to learn in terms of having metrics and driving the entire operations number-driven.  We have done ISO-9000, but are we truly metrics driven in its truest sense – I would say “no”.  Are we trying to change that?  Yes.

But, years of learning and working with Gowri and many others, has gotten me personally to a point where I have become a metric driven – parent!  Yes, it is true.

I do not know if “metrics” is the word or “a simple incentive system” is the word.   (I saw a movie by name “Employee of the Month” where I found that some corporates use this “star” system to rate employees, but believe me, I came up with this all by myself!)

Here is what happens:

§         We have a calendar stuck on the wall, that has a rectangle for each date – of 2 inches by 3 inches size.  It is a regular monthly calendar like the ones people use to write “milk accounts” in India – it is the desk calendar that I picked up from FedexKinkos..

§         We have bought 2 sticker books – one with small star and small smiley stickers and one with large “encouraging” stickers – that has wordings like fantastic, awesome, etc.

§         Every time my son does something good – like he behaves very well in a restaurant, he has a “zero-tear” day, or he brushes his teeth well, or whatever, we give him a small star or a smiley sticker.  He gets to paste that in the calendar for that date.

§         Every small star has double-rewards for him. 

1.       Chocolate award:  He can convert each small sticker into a small chocolate (like a Gems (M&M), or a peanut dots, etc.)  Or, he can accumulate 5 and convert into a mid-sized chocolate or a bowl ice-cream.

2.       In addition, each 5 small stickers earns him a large motivational sticker.  He sticks those motivational stickers on the gifts that he plans to earn.

§         Every time we buy a gift for him – we mark price for the gift in terms of number of large stickers.  For example, we bought a large Easel for him.  It is a large gift.  He worked hard through 2-3 weeks, earning stickers after stickers, and stuck large stickers one after the other and “earned” this gift – with 5 large motivational stickers – 25 small stars.  You should have seen the pleasure on his face when he actually won this.  He was so happy – he played with this new toy for hours.

§          We used to struggle with ideas for punishment (or stick against carrot) when he misbehaves.  Nowadays, a great, a non-violent and a very effective punishment is “removing the stars”.  If we warn him that we will remove stars, he immediately listens and stops mis-behaving. 

§         This has worked so wonderful.  He seems to understand the basics of this complex reward system, and understands the fundamentals – that he does not get gifts free – he needs to earn them.  He earns them by doing good.  Crowded star days or weeks are good weeks for him.  If he does not have stars in a day, that means, it is a normal day or a negative day.

§        We keep the gifts roster busy and attractive.  Right now, he has a lot more gifts to earn, including a trip to Bronx Zoo (6 large stars), a book, a few DVDs, etc. 

§         He seems to enjoy the process as well, and feels proud to see the calendar full of stars.  He values the stars, and the gifts a lot.

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Posted in Philosophical musings, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Change the side of the tables!

Posted by bhoo on June 4, 2007

I happened to meet this person in NYC!  A very successful ISV – I happened to meet the founders of the firm – operating in the financial sector – very well placed!  And, obviously very successful people.

This senior person – his initial gesture made me so comfortable with him as a person, while it was a little difficult for me to overcome the initial shock.

He was in his seat – the other side of the table.  He got up – said – “Let me come closer so we can have a more open discussion!” and actually, physically sat next to me – in the visitor chair, rather than in his chair!

Wow!  What a way to conduct a business meeting!  It was interesting and I should say that it really opened my eyes to the world of possibilities with that gesture!

I am going to copy this for sure!

Posted in B2B Marketing, ISV, Outsourced Product Development(OPD), Philosophical musings | Leave a Comment »

Perfection vs volume – the eternal conflict!

Posted by bhoo on May 18, 2007

Like many contradictory things in life – these 2 are real conflicts in life:

 Take these statements:

— When 99% is acceptable, you will never achieve 100%.

— Something is better than nothing

What a set of conflicting thoughts?  It drives me crazy! 

The corollary to point number 1 is – something is not better than nothing, if that something is not the “perfect thing”.  Or, “Nothing” is better than the “imperfect” thing.

The corollary to the second point is – you will always achieve only something, never the perfect thing…as you are constantly trying and vying for only “something” not the “perfect thing”

So, the concept of moving along without as much caution comes into picture of creating volumes and speeding forward, as opposed to doing the right thing thinking through every aspect and create lasting value….but, smaller volumes…

Both these principles are right in their own merits.  It just needs a balance in life, and everyone’s balance is different.  And, success has been achieved with any combination of balance between these 2, and hence we cannot say one is better than the other.

You have to understand your own balance and move on! 

Posted in Philosophical musings | Leave a Comment »

Crazy over vegetables

Posted by bhoo on May 13, 2007

People close to me will know why I have included this in my blog. I can hear my friends in India saying – now that Bhoo has gone to the USA, there is going to be a shortage of vegetables, and USA is going to talk about reducing “vegetable-dependency” as opposed to “oil-dependency” 🙂

Posted in Philosophical musings, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Perspectives – We are so different from each other!

Posted by bhoo on December 23, 2006

I have seen this time and again.  The perspectives are totally different from person to person.

What is wasteful for you is essential for me, what is essential for you, looks like a luxury to me.

I know my father can never spend money on taking an auto-rickshaw (3-wheeler taxicabs in India), and will spend 1 hour extra in reaching his destination through public transport.  I have always argued against that, quoting money value of my personal time.  But, recently when I reached SFO airport on Saturday the 25th November, I did precisely what would have got 100% blessing from my dad – I took a combination of BART and Caltrain – public transport – to reach my hotel at Sunnyvale, spending some 1 hour extra than taking a taxi.

I know my friend who is generally generous with his money, but when it comes to buying bottled water – he skimps – he cannot digest that we pay money for buying water.  On the other hand, I am pretty generous about buying water, but I am very calculative, when I am spending on lodging, or buy some equipment, furniture etc.

We try to unlock this mystery in several different ways.  We want to classify the whole world into 12 star signs, and try to classify the world with only 12 stamps.  How impossible can that be!  Same efforts go on with demographics, conservatives vs liberals, Indian vs American and so on and so forth, and at the best, those are highly probable characteristics.

Every single person is so different in their perspective! 

The other day, I was talking to my sister-in-law, and for her, maintaining a 4 bedroom 2.5 bath house is essential because she is having 1 kid, and the kid needs “space”.  But, buying organic food at higher pricing is “unaffordable”.  I was in loggerheads with her with a 2 hour argument as my views are 100% diagonally opposite to those – I can live in a 1 bedroom 1 bath house, and take my kid to a nearby park, if he wants space, so he gets to meet with others in addition to having space. 

But, I would absolutely want to buy organic food paying whatever premium it takes.  We both belong to same demographic.  I am sure some of the star-sign enthusiasts will find some relation to our different star-signs to explain this difference in perspective.

It is this difference and diversity of perspectives that makes life enjoyable!  And if it were predictable, life will be so boring!

Posted in Philosophical musings | 1 Comment »

Cocooned from weather!

Posted by bhoo on November 28, 2006

So, I have been traveling in NYC for the past 2 weeks.  Chennai – for the supposed monsoon and winter during this time had been still relatively warm.  Here it is freezing cold! 

How do I know?  TV weather channel tells me so!

Back in India, during April/May, temperature shot up to 100+.  How did I know?  Newspapers and TV reports told me so!

On the thanksgiving day, I want to be thankful that I have been “provided” for these statements – that I know about it only through reports, not by encountering these extreme weathers.

Wherever I am, I do not live in any rough weather.  I am sure that is the case with the majority of those who are reading this piece.  We are all amply protected from weather, and make ourselves comfortable in the 70-85 kind of a temperature, using air-conditioning and heating.

My heart goes out for those who are not provided for this, but most of who will read this do not belong there.  Unless we are willingly going out for pleasure sakes, we do not encounter the actual rough weather that much.  It possibly is a brief encounter from office to car, or from train station to office or bus to office or whatever, otherwise, we hardly encounter the actual weather.

We get to hear about the temperature outside from news reports!  One side of it feels great!  It feels like mankind has accomplished!

Other side of it – we are living so much of an unnatural life.  We are cocooned from the actual weather!  Is that good?  Questionable…

May be it contributes to global warming, may be it destroys the world for future generations, may be it is a waste of money.  I know a friend, who is well off actually, but chooses to put on jackets even at home, instead of turning on the heater.  (We all are so different in perspectives.  What is luxury for you is essential for me, what sounds essential for you is waste of money for me…)

From my perspective, we should take efforts to include more and more people to the privileged lot of “cocooned from weather”.

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Ideas – Am I Out of stock?

Posted by bhoo on November 22, 2006

When I started this Blog and wrote several articles within a short time, Satish Raman, our Manager – corporate communicatons was asking me – “Bhoo, may be you had so many ideas stocked up in your mind.  Hence you have written all of them, and will you go out of stock now?”

My 4 weeks of absence from writing articles would have probably confirmed his views for him. 

But, I do not believe that is true – my blogging is not about sounding intelligent, to be running out of ideas.  I am using this blog to express myself, and share experiences.  Experiences will never stop.  Audience or no audience, my blogging is allowing me to consolidate my own thought process. 

When you try to write down a concept, that concept becomes a lot more clear in your own minds, and with this blog, that is what I am attempting to do.

So, I will never run out of what I want to write about.  I may not find the time or energy or initiative to get down to writing – that will result in gaps.

But, I think I will come back with a vengeance, like I am coming back now!

Posted in Philosophical musings | 1 Comment »

Lost touch for 4 weeks!

Posted by bhoo on November 21, 2006

Hey, between 2 personal family events, travel to the USA, going through investment strategy for the company, and looking at office, home and school for relocating to the USA, I completely lost touch from my blog.

Here I am, and I will make myself active again.  Very interesting things I have been encountering in my pursuit of relocation from India to the USA, and also Aspire’s pursuit to evaluate additional growth strategies, and I will share many of those experiences here!

 Stay tuned!

Posted in Philosophical musings | Leave a Comment »

How do you grow your network?

Posted by bhoo on October 23, 2006

Yesterday, I went to a get-together organized by our investment consultant.  I was awed, to say the least.  It was an array of movers and shakers of the city, who attended this event.

Obviously, the interest from each of them was more from a personal/professional network perspective, rather than from a professional interest perspective, I imagined.

I set out to understand what made them all come there…I was doing a dipstick survey and found that it was sheer personal and professional network that these individuals who run the show at this “boutique” investment firm have developed over years.  I have been thinking about how they are able to build such a network, and here are some of the answers that I found:

— Keep in ardent touch with old classmates / colleagues of yours.  This is good, not just for building your network, but also to have a personally fulfilling life.  I was talking with my classmate / colleague, Subburathinam on this, and he was agreeing that the level of comfort with old friends is hardly possible to come with new contacts.
— Take the relationship beyond individuals – take it to family / your friends’ businesses.
— Meet the people without purpose.  This sounds difficult for us – the “non-networking” types.  We keep asking ourselves internally on “how can we make courtesy visits to customers again and again?  How does it become attractive for them to meet us?”.  In reality, people seem to be more interested in non-purposeful meetings than purposeful meetings, unless the “purpose” is of immediate use to their day-to-day lives.
— Keep a genuine interest on other’s agenda.  Find out the good qualities and ambitions of your contacts, and tell them that you know and recognize those.
— Network among networks.  Once you do all of the above, you know who can do what for someone in your friends’ circle.  Take pains to introduce each other, and let them transact with each other for their own benefits.

These are some of the things that I learnt.

Harvard Business Review Article says this about personal networking:

Many sensational ideas have faded away into obscurity because they failed to reach the right people. A strong personal network, however, can launch a burgeoning plan into the limelight by delivering private information, access to diverse skill sets, and power. Most executives know that they need to learn about the best ideas and that, in turn, their best ideas must be heard by the rest of the world. But strong personal networks don’t just happen around a water cooler or at reunions with old college friends. As Brian Uzzi and Shannon Dunlap explain, networks have to be carefully constructed through relatively high-stakes activities that bring you into contact with a diverse group of people. Most personal networks are highly clustered–that is, your friends are likely to be friends with one another as well. And, if you made those friends by introducing yourself to them, the chances are high that their experiences and perspectives echo your own. Because ideas generated within this type of network circulate among the same people with shared views, a potential winner can wither away and die if no one in the group has what it takes to bring that idea to fruition. But what if someone within that cluster knows someone else who belongs to a whole different group? That connection, formed by an information broker, can expose your idea to a new world, filled with fresh opportunities for success. Diversity makes the difference. Uzzi and Dunlap show you how to assess what kind of network you currently have, helping you to identify your superconnectors and demonstrating how you act as an information broker for others. They then explain how to diversify your contacts through shared activities and how to manage your new, more potent  network.
I also found this blog interesting, on the same subject, but a completely different take of “branding to build personal network“. 

“It has been said, “You are only as strong as your Rolodex”, claims John L Bennett, in his book: “The Essential Network: Success Through Personal Connections”

Posted in B2B Marketing, Philosophical musings | 1 Comment »

Jargonizing common sense!

Posted by bhoo on October 20, 2006

You have used that precise management technique all through your life, based on common sense.  Suddenly you come across a single word description (Jargon) that precisely defines the same technique, but makes it sound more authentic and intellectual.

Is the above definition confusing?  How about the term “jargonizing”? Urban dictionary defines this as “The act of making up words, either in order to make oneself sound more intelligent, or for lack of a better word”.  This word, “Jargonizing” is a perfect example of this phenomenon of Jargonizing.

We encounter this all through our life.

Some of the jargons that I have encountered that “jargonized” what I have encountered several times before I heard the jargon itself:

Dipstick survey:  Just an informal question asked with some relevant stakeholders.  You do that all the time.  Very qualitative, but can throw some light compared to even formal surveys.  You throw a party, and ask a few of your friends informally on how they liked the event or food.  You know what you just did?  When you tell your wife next time that your party was successful, and if she asks why you feel so, you tell her that you found it through a “dipstick survey”.  Sounds authentic and powerful, doesn’t it?

Soapbox:  Yes, you heard it right.  It is the jargon for raising a political or non-political issue in front of public, without being called to speak.  Wikipedia defines “A modern form of the soapbox is the blog, an internet site on which anyone can publish their thoughts, often for free.”  So, if you are a blogger, you have raised yourself on a soapbox.

Boutique firm:  Originally used only to describe legal practices that specialze in only one of the concentrations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boutique_firm), nowadays, you hear of boutique consulting firms (http://www.vault.com/articles/Boutique-Consulting-Firms-15386211.html), boutique investment consultants, even boutique real estate firms.  Essentially, smaller and non-generalized firms are called that (meaning, specifically focused on one or a few areas compared to large players in the same market.)  Of course, you have encountered boutique firms, and probably done business with them.  But, you probably did not call them that, or they did not position themselves that way!

Posted in Philosophical musings | 1 Comment »