This blog has little bit of everything...


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Wisdom Byte - Learn To Walk Before You Can Run

Wisdom Byte - Learn To Walk Before You Can Run
Inspired by a WhatsApp Forward

As a 60 year old Tom was really not able to understand how cool or silly is it to search for a Pokeman in your vicinity? While some people find it amusing, there are others who find it terrible. Sometimes Tom felt left behind because he was not that tech savvy. The bigger question however was whether he was ready to adapt and learn?

A lot has been already said about the negative impact of the mobile games and apps on our society. Technology brings these challenges along with the benefits. As humans the best we can do is to be proactive for handling such situations. 

Everything reaches its destiny at the right time. To us it may appear that certain things are happening too early or too late but nature has its own way of doing things at the right time. The Pokeman rage will soon get over and the world will move to the next cool gadget or funky app. Don't forget few years back Angry Birds was a similar rage too.

It is not just the mobile games, the whole world is changing too fast with mobile computing technology. This however makes me wonder whether I am able to keep pace with the super-fast changes? Am I too slow to realize the pace at which things around us are changing? May be yes, may be no.

While I was puzzled, I came across these examples of how things can work differently for different people:
    • Someone may be growing old, say 30+ years of age but still single. Someone else may have got married early but 'waited' 10 years before having a child. Then there is another who had a baby within a year of the marriage. All of them are doing things at their own pace, there is no right or wrong.
    • New York located on the east coast of United States is 3 hours ahead of California (West coast) but it does not mean that California is slow, or that New York is fast. Both are working based on their own "Time Zone."
    • Someone graduated at the age of 22, yet waited 5 years before securing a good job; and there is another who graduated at 27 and secured employment immediately! Both are successful.
    • Someone became CEO at 25 and died at 50 while another became a CEO at 50 and lived to 90 years. 

    There are certain things you control and there are certain things that you don't control. Everyone works at their own pace. People can have things worked out only according to their pace. Your Colleagues, friends, younger ones might "seem" to be ahead of you. May be some might "seem" behind you. Don't envy them or mock them, they are good with their pace and you are good with yours!

    There is a bit of wisdom that goes: "You need to earn to walk before you can run"

    • Don't be in a hurry to run because someone else is ahead of you. 
    • Learn at your own pace. 
    • Grow at your own pace. 
    • Walk at your own pace and run at your own pace. 

    This is true for all aspects of your life including financial know-how. Even the genius of mathematicians need to start learning math with 1+1=2. Don't rush yourself through the learning process because it is the process and the rigor that will make you rich emotionally and mentally.
      This made me realize that technology will change at its own pace. Even for tech savvy people moving from laptop culture to mobile app culture can be a big shift. So if I don't have the latest app or game on my phone I don't need to panic. I need to take time and learn because it is wise to learn to walk before I can run.

      Sunday, November 27, 2016

      Akodara - India’s 1st Digital Cashless Village Handles Post Demonetisation Situation In A Hassle-Free Manner

      A lot has been already written regarding demonetization of Indian currency. Some experts see it as a bold move while few question it as a political stunt. The government however looks firm on its decision and determined to take this forward towards cashless economy.

      I was wondering what a cashless economy is and then I saw this notification on Indian Railways website

      Government of India encourages people to move towards a Cashless Economy. This can be achieved by use of debit, credit cards, electronic payment gateway systems such Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) and Real Time Gross settlement (RTGS) in India. The advantages to citizens of a country in a Cashless Economy are: •Risk of loss of cash while carrying is avoided
      •Facilitate exact payment and reduce transaction costs
      •Convenience in payment and management of utility bills, purchases and other financial transactions.
      •It helps to authenticate financial transactions and maintain proper record facilitating better tax compliance and increasing tax base.
      •Digital payments indirectly reduces expenditure by reducing need for printing of currency notes and its transportation
      •Electronic transactions helps in curbing corruption and black money flow, thereby helping in economic growth of the country
      •Lesser use of cash prevents money laundering and better tax compliance
      •Increased tax base would result in greater revenue for public welfare activities 
      Indian Railways offers cashless ticketing option to its customer through internet ticketing on IRCTC website for booking reserved tickets. More than 58% of the train accommodation is reserved through e-ticketing . IRCTC also provide option for purchasing Season Ticket for suburban train services on Western and Central Railways. Facility for purchasing unreserved tickets through mobile phones is available at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Secunderabad. Further Automatic Ticket Vending Machines dispensing unreserved tickets using smart cards are provided at over 1000 locations over CR, ER, ECoR, NR, NER, NWR, SR, SECR, SCR, SER, SWR, WR and WCR. The smart cards can be purchased from nominated counters at the stations.
      Indian Railways seeks your cooperation and support in helping the Government and the nation in creating a cashless digital economy.
      After reading this notification, the critic inside me started to question:

      • Is India ready for this kind of a change? 
      • Do we have the infrastructure in place to make our country completely cashless? 
      • How does the Government expect Indians to use digital payments when most people don't have access to reliable electricity?
      While I was still puzzled I came across the below DD News video on youtube:

      Akodara, India’s 1st digital village handles post demonetisation situation in a hassle-free manner

      Wow, I found this amazing. A village of 1200 people is completely cashless. Government's move of cashless economy then started to make sense to me. Logic is very simple. To start with those who have electricity and internet will use digital payments others will not. And the government will work towards getting internet and electricity access to the rural and remote areas. It will take time but will happen for sure. We need to make a start somewhere.

      We cannot expect the government to kick off digitization only when all of India will have electricity and Internet access. That is not practical.
      The fact that we have so many Internet users in India reading this article is a testimony that we should kick off digitization right here, right now

      India - Let's go cashless.

      Saturday, November 12, 2016

      Are You Limiting Your Success By Being A Circus Elephant?

      Tom is extremely talented but for some reason he lacks in self confidence and always keeps a low profile. He always doubts himself and is never able to perform to his potential. I always used to wonder, Why? And recently when I attended a seminar I heard about the circus elephant syndrome, I quickly realized what is wrong with Tom. I am sure you might have heard about this elephant story too, but if not, I am summarizing it below: 

      This is the story of a baby elephant who is chained by its leg so that it can't run away from the circus. The chain is heavy and strong for the baby elephant to break, whenever the baby elephant tries to break the chain it cuts through its skin which results in severe pain. After few failed attempts to break free, the baby elephant finally gives up. Gradually the baby elephant grows up, but inspite of being a huge creature it continues to believe that the chain is strong and never makes any attempts to break free. As a result it continues to be chained at the circus for its life.

      This same concept applies to humans as well and this is exactly what is happening to Tom. By direct or indirect influence of others we tend to form our beliefs from a tender age. Our mental conditioning (by our parents, relatives, neighbors, friends, teachers etc.) puts constraints and limitations on our thought process. With the constrained thought process we achieve very limited success and never realize our own true potential. 

      Here are some signs that will help you identify if you are limiting yourself by circus elephant syndrome...

      • Your instinct tells you that you should go after a dream but your current job, situation, education, circumstances don't allow you to go after it as a result you give up and continue to be happy with what you have in hand
      • You have people around you who tell you that 'You can't do it', 'You have already got enough and you should be happy with what you have, don't be greedy'
      • You always hesitate to take the next big step even though at the back of your mind you know that you have the skill and potential to take that step
      • You admire successful people, you want to become like them but you run away from their company. You always hang up with people who are in the same boat as you are
      • You find one excuse or another to tell yourself why you can't do a certain thing

      Now that we know the signs of an elephant syndrome, let us look at some of the steps that we should take to get out of the rut:
      • Everyone has a dream, but very few are able to convert the dreams into visions and visions into reality. The first step towards breaking free is converting the dream into achievable goals. Take a paper and pen and write down what you want to achieve and by when.
      • Get rid of the negative people around you. Get into the company of positive people, who can support and motivate you to achieve your goals. You need people around you who can tell you why and how you should achieve your goals. Stay away from people who pull you down.
      • Never hesitate. Don't doubt or second guess yourself. Go and talk to people. Take the necessary steps. Stop overthinking and give no room to worry and anxiety. Throw them out of the window.
      • Don't just admire successful people but study and follow their habits. Find out how are they different from the average people and try to learn from their success stories.
      • Every time you come up with a excuse for not doing a certain thing: Stop yourself from giving up. Ask yourself that one reason why you wanted to do this thing. Remind yourself why it is so important for you to achieve this goal. Don't give in to excuses.

      So here the message is: Sky is the limit, if you break free from your own mental shackles. Try to be the best version of yourself. Remember it is not you V/S someone else, it is always you V/S you, so make sure your best version wins. Benny Bellamacina has beautifully summarized this in her quote: 'You are limited by your own imagination'.

      Wednesday, November 9, 2016

      What Should You Learn From Donald Trump's Historic Victory And Demonetization Of Indian Currency?

      November 8th 2016 will be remembered for two big happenings in the history of United States and India.

      1. Donald John Trump's upset of Hillary Clinton in the United States presidential elections
      2. Demonetization of Indian Currency as the Indian government declared the scraping of Rs.500 and Rs.1000 currency notes effective midnight of Nov 8th and Nov 9th 2016.

      There is no doubt that these events will have a long term impact, not only in United States and India but also in other global markets. Common man around the world is shell shocked and puzzled, primarily because most people didn't see it coming. 

      But when slowly the reality sinks in, you start realizing that there were cues and signals all around. It is just that we kept ignoring the cues until it became a huge reality.

      Here are those cues...

      In United States:

      • Experts thought that Trump lacked in experience but they ignored the sentiment that Common Man wanted Change. Hillary who was already a part of the Obama administration and was not seen as an agent of Change.
      • Hillary was cheered as the first female president and the experts projected her as a symbol of Women leadership but they ignored the sentiments of the working class Americans who had other ideas
      • Trump made debatable comments on H-1B visas, his plans to build a wall to avoid illegal immigrants from Mexico, countering terrorism in his own way and reforming the tax laws etc. Most people thought that his talks were not realistic but he was successful in making a connect with the common American Man. He was seen as a leader who could revive the American Dream rather than one who would focus on making America a global moral cop.

      Impact: Some people have no idea what to do, they are just in a mode of panic and looking for options to migrate to another country.

      In India:

      • In 2014, Modi Government first started with a campaign to create at least one Bank account per family
      • Linked Bank accounts with Aadhar Card, PAN Card and Income Tax Return
      • Strengthened the IT backbone with various tools for collection and data mining
      • Then they followed it by Income declaration scheme and provided an opportunity to convert black money into white money by paying taxes
      • Finally surprised everyone with a bold move and scrapped the old currency notes

      Impact: All the black money/ dirty hard cash has all of a sudden become waste paper. Those who had millions are now scratching their head. They have no idea what just hit them.

      After reading these details are you able identify what is common between these two historic incidents and what is the learning for you? The learning is in this phrase: God is in the details or Devil is in the details, if you look closely at the details you will see signs and hints of the 'BIG CHANGE' coming your way.

      Let me elaborate with one more example:
      Suppose you have an online e-commerce business and your website ranks at #1 in the first page of google search results. What else would you ask for: Thanks to the perfect SEO(Search Engine Optimization) customers and users would automatically get routed to your website through google search.

      Now imagine one morning all of a sudden google comes up with a change in its SEO algorithm, they call it Google Panda or Google Penguin or Google Pigeon and because of this algorithm change your website does not appear on the google search engine results anymore. As a result you lose all the incoming traffic from google and your revenues drops overnight.

      This has happened to many websites in the past who have failed to notice the small cues/ signals(Press releases/ Newsletters/ Bootcamps/ Policy Changes) given by Google regarding the change they are bringing in their search algorithms.

      This is an example of what could happen if are not reading the signs/ changes happening around you, be it your business or be it in your society. Over time, small waves of change turn into big tornados and cause very very severe impact on your business and your personal life.

      Keep your eyes and ears open, don't just look but observe, and don't just hear but pay attention. God is in the details.

      Tuesday, November 8, 2016

      I Need A Career Change At 35 Or 40 But Don't Know What To Do

      Have you ever felt that you have a good job but you are still not happy? 
      Have you ever felt that you are stuck at your current job? 
      Are you asking yourself: I need a career change at 35 or 40 but I don't know what to do?

      By being stuck at your job I don't mean you have a low salary or you have a bad boss. You may actually have a good salary, a very good work environment and good quality of work but still somehow from within you feel that you are burnt out and you don't want to continue with the same job anymore. You want to do something different, you desperately need a 'Career Change'.

      Let us try and understand it more with the below example based on true incident.

      Jonathan is a software engineer. For the last 8 years he has been working for a large multinational company. He earns a very good salary of over $170K per year. Everything seems perfect except that he has started to feel burnt out since last few months. He feels that programming has taken a toll on him and he doesn't feel the same passion and drive towards software development anymore. As a result Jonathan now wants to quit software industry. He wants to explore newer opportunities in other industries and domains. But his current job is so demanding that he isn't able to invest anytime to find out/ search any opportunity which would give him the same salary as his software job. This starts to frustrate Jonathan because he is not able to give his 100% at the software job and at the same time he is not able to take any action which will get him out of this rut.

      Above is an example of being stuck with a good job. After a few years of service many professionals (not just software professionals) feel the same way as Jonathan. Some people term it as mid-life career crisis. Once you are in this situation you feel miserable because you desperately want to break out but don't know exactly how to get out, whom to consult and where to go? and above all how to maintain the cash inflow while all this is happening.

      If you have felt this need for a Career Change, here are some tips that may be useful:

      Do your math: Manage your finance and make the right savings and investments before you plan to act on your career change plan. To be safe you should have at least six months of funds to take care of your day to day needs.

      Plan a career re-fuel break: Take few days off from your job. Taking a sabbatical may be a good option because that will give you some peace of mind to think and act outside your work.

      Small efforts make a huge difference: Don't underestimate the power of small efforts. If you are not able to incorporate big changes in your career/ work life then start with small changes. For example, join a weekend or online learning course which will not conflict with your working hours.

      Don't wait for one fine day when everything will be fine: There will be new problems every day, some big and some small. Don't wait and wait for all problems to be solved, create a plan and act as soon as possible.

      Don't undervalue or underestimate the value of your current job: Your current job still pays you enough to support your family and pay all your bills. Don't be in a hurry to leave your current job. Remember, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

      Network with right people: If you want to make a career change/ move from one industry to another then knowing the right and influential people is the key. Utilize the power of The Internet to create your power network of people. Social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Quora etc. may be useful in creating your power network.

      Be ready to invest time, energy and efforts: Be prepared to learn, you may also need to invest efforts and money in re-skilling or training yourself. This will be over an above your current working hours.

      Remind yourself of how far you have come: Take a look back and see how far you have come since you started working on your first job. Recollect all your memories and refresh your memory with all your past achievements. This will be your fuel and motivation to move forward towards new goals.

      Ask experts/ Research: One important aspect of career change planning is extensive research. Thanks to the Internet most information these days is available at your fingertips but asking advice from an expert or consultant may prove to be very beneficial.

      Focus on your core strengths: When you plan to switch from one industry to another it becomes all the more important that you focus on your core strengths. These may not necessarily be the technical skills but core competencies like ability to lead complex projects, quick learning, multi-tasking, fire-fighting or escalation management, team building, project management etc. Continuous focus on core strengths will ensure that you succeed even when you make a major career change hoping from one industry to another.

      Aspiring to take up a altogether new career sounds interesting and adventurous but in real world it may take more than a few days or weeks; it may actually take months or years to make it happen in reality. But if you are really desperate you need to put all the power possible to get you out of your current situation. 

      Remember: If you really want something different then you got to do something different.

      Bonus tip: If you are interested in getting better at setting goals you may want to read this recommended book for setting high goals...