Reblog: Opinionate: What I learnt from my first 709 days at work

One of my mentors always used to tell me that as a professional it is always important to be able to distance yourself from an on-going situation and be able to take a step back and observe the big picture. He emphasized the ability to play the role of an objective third party, to be mindful of one’s own actions and be aware of the consequences. Too many people go through their careers without ever realizing what is happening to them. I was glad therefore to read what my brother had to say in his blog on ‘What I learnt from my first 709 days at work’.

I am heartened to note that very early in his career he has been able to demystify the corporate world and develop strong professional ethics that will hold him in good stead over the long haul. His blog covers 8 important lessons that he has learnt over his near 2 years at Deloitte and you will do well to go through them. It was an excellent refresher for me, having spent almost 10 years behind the desk, to learn from somebody who is new and fresh in his professional career. I am sure people falling within all experience buckets will find it useful too.

So go ahead and enjoy reading (and may be learning from) my brother’s experiences! If you have the time, go through his page; you’ll find that, like me, he is well adept at both prose and poetry, but unlike me, he is far better at articulating his thoughts and much much funnier!

Ever learning!

This is the Sciolist.

Signing out!!!


Show some love! If you liked my post, hit the Like button below and share it with your friends! I write poems too. Check out a popular one here! Thank You for being awesome 🙂

April 2018 Update: What have I been up to?

It is been a while since I last wrote in January 2018. In my last post I talked about the small adjustments that I had started making to increase the free time available to me. And what have I done with those extra two hours per day? I pleasantly report that I have been up to some amazing things! Here’s a roundup of what has kept me busy:

1. Reading, more reading and then some
You may recall that I took on 2018 with the humble goal of reading 16 books. Over the past three months I have indeed upped the ante. I have gobbled 8 books since and I’m extremely optimistic of handsomely beating my goal over the next 8 months. I have read books primarily across three genres: Finance, Thriller and wherever you put Think like a Freak. Check out what I have read here!

happy-03
Because I’m Happy!

2. A tête-à-tête with Tennis
People who know me know of my on-again-off-again love affair with tennis. I recently went back to this lovely game after a gap of almost 3 years and I’m currently trying to get my game back. Tennis has been one of my biggest disappointments till date, which I am hoping will become one my biggest personal successes in the future. Somehow, I keep going back to the game, keep learning-unlearning-relearning all the different nuances, tricks, and knacks that I can. I am hoping to be back in the circuit for good this time and clawing my way to my peak one serve at a time.

3. La photographie
As surprising as this may sound, I took up photography classes in March this year, courtesy my wife. I enrolled into the foundation course of National Institute of Photography and spent over 40 hours learning things like shutter time, aperture, focal length, ISO, grains, aberration, contrast, lighting, so on and so forth. I now have bragging rights of calling myself an ‘Amateur Photographer’ having learnt some fundamentals of handling a DSLR.

So there it is! My mentor once said something to the effect of – “You have to keep running, just to be able to stand still.” It rings so true at this moment. As I head full throttle towards 30, I am focused on learning new things, be it in work or play. Hopefully my new skill is just around the corner. Till then!

This is the Sciolist.

Signing out!!!


Show some love! If you liked my post, hit the Like button below and share it with your friends! I write poems too. Check out a popular one here! Thank You for being awesome 🙂

Small changes, big difference: How I added two hours to my day?

2017 was a big year for me. As I transitioned into the new role of being a husband, the demands on my time increased and I quickly realised that I had to prioritise the things that had access to my time and cut out the clutter. I wanted to spend my time creating memories and working at my relationships, skills and character rather than helping corporations earn an extra buck from me. On some introspection, I noticed that I could drastically increase the free time available to me by making small adjustments to my daily habits. Today I share 5 things that I implemented over the last year, which rid me of my conundrum.

0_JdWow5PDa_ZvjhSN
Limited Resources, Unlimited Demand

1. Muting Notifications
The smallest step that made the biggest difference to my life was doing away with notifications. That means all phone notifications (yes, even Whatsapp!!!), laptop notifications, smart-watch notifications, the whole gamut! Probably adulting is responsible for this, but I don’t feel the urge to stay connected anymore. Limiting my accessibility to random time embezzlers like those sale promotions or those mantra preachers on office email tremendously helped me reduce the demands on my time and improve my focus on things on hand.

2. Moving to Firefox Focus on Mobile
How does changing browsers help in improving time management? Firefox Focus is a privacy-focused browser from Mozilla designed to block online trackers. Apart from ad-blocking, it also has this amazing feature where every time I exit the browser, all the web history is deleted and there are no open webpages (unlike Chrome). Since I cannot leave my browsing for later, it helped me reduce my overall browsing time and focus on the task at hand whenever I’m skimming the internet.

3. Removing Television from My Day-to-Day
Aah! Another time embezzler. Over the last 12 months, I have made a conscious effort towards eliminating TV from my day-to-day life. Nothing interesting ever runs on TV and I have lost patience to sit through various brands trying to rob my wallet. I do catch up with a few movies sometimes, but that’s a sporadic event.

4. Switching over to Physical Newspaper
Surprising right? Multi-tasking is overrated. Despite the efficiency of a smartphone, it comes with a lot of evils. One of which is the news websites trying to catch my attention to some advert or some promoted content. I feel going old school on news consumption was one of my best decisions. I have full control over what I read with nobody trying to grab my eyeballs, I have no interruptions and can completely focus on reading the newspaper.

5. Moving my Social Networking Presence to Goodreads
Being extremely cynical and selective about online data sharing, I have minimised my involvement with sites like Facebook. I have no presence on other social networking sites (except an infrequent tweet) and have started dedicating my social networking time to Goodreads. Staying updated with what others are reading keeps me motivated to complete my own ‘To-read’ section and I enjoy learning about new books and new stories. (More about what I am reading here.)

Special Mention: Keyboard shortcuts: The next thing that I am planning to take up is learning more keyboard shortcuts. I spend a lot of time on my office laptop and they work like magic – you can turn back the clock!

So there it is.

I am constantly looking out for more ways to balance the ever-increasing things that want access to me. Do you have any more life hacks that I can implement?

This is the Sciolist.

Signing out!!!


Show some love! If you liked my post hit the ‘Like’ button below and share it with your friends! I write poems too. Check out a popular one here! Thank You for being awesome 🙂

Sciolism: What am I reading in 2018?

Having got back to my reading habit in the latter half of 2017 with 8 of my targeted 12 books, I have decided to take on 2018 with a modest goal of 16 books. My ‘Wishlist’ includes books across genres like finance, investments, bios and autobios, world history, fiction and non-fiction to name a few. Today I’ve listed down 5 of the 16 books that I am sure to read at some point this year. Each of the books further some of my life goals and I am excited to read ’em all:

Books
A mind filled with books is a satiated one!

1. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
I picked up this book from my office library recently and coincidentally heard Howard Marks recommend it on one of his Talks at Google. Having gone through a few pages, this books seems to be an interesting read and related to an area of life I want to develop.

2. The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor by Howard Marks
The fact that Warren Buffett offered Howard Marks to write a foreword if he ever decided to author a book speaks volumes of how well-respected Marks is! Taking forward my goal of becoming financially independent, this is one book I’ll take up during the year to learn from the experiences of this revered investor.

3. A Song of Fire and Ice by George R R Martin
The fiction series that I am currently hooked on. I recently completed the first book in the series, A Game of Thrones. I must confess, I came to the books after watching 7 seasons, so most of the characters already have a developed existence in my mind. But just reading the book somehow gives me that sense of satisfaction I need while going through an epic fantasy novel series like this.

4. Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises by Timothy F. Geithner
Again a book on financial learning, and what better way to learn about the Financial Crisis of 2007-08 than from US Treasury Secretary of the time. Looking forward to get my hands on this one soon!

5. How Asia Works: Success and Failure in the World’s Most Dynamic Region by Joe Studwell
Life is good being an Indian in 2018. There is a buzz around my country and everybody seems to be cheerful about everything Indian. In words of one of my Uber drivers in the US, where I spent some time last quarter, “You guys are rockin’ and rollin’ out there!” It is therefore absolutely timely for me to pick up this book and understand how Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and China managed to achieve what they did. It will make my perspective about India and its policies clearer and give me a better viewing glass. Also, Bill Gates recommended it.

So there it is.

My Reading List is always expanding. Currently I have exactly 100 books in my Wishlist, which you can find here! There are 9 more books that I need to decide on and I am completely open to suggestions.  What do you think I should read?

This is the Sciolist.

Signing out!!!


Show some love! If you liked my post hit the Like button below and share it with your friends! I write poems too. Check out a popular one here! Thank You for being awesome 🙂

Chester Bennington: An Inspiration

Two weeks back, after a gap of almost 3 years, I stumbled upon my old Linkin Park playlist. Almost instantaneously I was back to listening to some of my favourite songs. What I’ve Done. In the End. Papercut. Crawling. Castle of Glass. A Place for My Head. One Step Closer. Robot Boy. Numb. From the Inside. Faint. Somewhere I Belong. My playlist was on loop. Three days on I was still ‘across this new divide‘-ing under my breath on my way to work.  So much so that I even tweeted about it!

I was excited like hell. The timing of I stumbling across my playlist could not have been better. I had recently decided on some new life goals and LP was just the boost I needed. I was screaming out verses in my head. There was this sudden surge of energy. I realised that I was back to the ‘Linkin Park’ phase of my life. The phase where I felt I could make things happen. The phase where the songs were going to carry me through to the next big thing!

I think all LP fans will relate with me when I say that somehow, their songs had a way to inspire you to do great things. Whether you were sad or low or even happy, they always had a way to help us rise above the ordinary, move beyond the usual. It was the lyrics, the music, the rap, the metal, the composition. But most of all, it was the voice of Chester Bennington synergizing all of the above. Chester channelled so many emotions through his singing, it was impossible not to have goosebumps by the end of the song. He had this raw energy about him, this piercing honesty in his voice. Like millions of LP fans, it was his voice that made me first connect to LP. Not the lyrics. Not the metal. Chester Bennington’s voice.

chester-bennington-memorial-d7af207e-605d-41e1-a6e1-ab88f0140f3c
Chester, doing what he did best!

 

 

 

So naturally I am shell-shocked to know about his suicide! It was disastrous to know that hung himself and may have been depressed. He in fact also did a video about it not too long ago which I have linked below.

The world is a poorer place bereft of him. There will be lot of tributes flowing around and social networks will be flooded with consolatory messages over the next few days. But his true loss will be felt by people like us, who used to take inspiration from his songs and his voice. For us, he will always remain the person who helped us to never give up. I am reminded of a few verses from his song ‘Easier to Run’ that sound strikingly similar to what happened. I’d like to leave you’ll with the same.

It’s easier to run
Replacing this pain with something numb
It’s so much easier to go
Than face all this pain here all alone

May his soul rest in peace.

This is the Sciolist.

Signing out!!!


Hello! If you liked this post do hit the ‘Like Button’ below and share it with your friends.

This blog was an attempt at posting at prompts via Daily Prompt: Disastrous

Writer’s Block or Not a Writer?

Leonid_Pasternak_-_The_Passion_of_creation

Why is it getting so difficult to write these days? What’s with this unending block? Where has all the inspiration vanished? Have I become old and numb? Really, at 26? Has corporate life made me duller? Why am I able to dish out work reports but not complete a single poem? Do I have too many distractions? When did watching YouTube become more fulfilling than writing on something I really feel about? Do I even feel much about anything these days? Has Whatsapp screwed up my concentration? Am I wasting time on things unimportant? Why isn’t anybody challenging my viewpoints these days? Where are my opinions? Have I gone into an endless stupor? Am I going through creative slowdown? Why do I have more Drafts than Published? Is it a writer’s block or am I not a writer? Am I even asking the right questions?

Am I still The Sciolist, signing out???

Okay wait, how the hell do I get out of this?

Intellectualism – A Modern Day Curse?

I recently read an interesting post where the author blamed television’s most popular sitcom Friends for the downfall of western civilization. In his words, “To me, Friends signals a harsh embrace of anti-intellectualism in America, where a gifted and intelligent man [Ross Geller] is persecuted by his idiot compatriots. […] In fact, any time Ross would say anything about his interests, his studies, his ideas, whenever he was mid-sentence, one of his “friends” was sure to groan and say how boring Ross was, how stupid it is to be smart, and that nobody cares. Cue the laughter of the live studio audience. This gag went on, pretty much every episode, for 10 seasons. Can you blame Ross for going crazy?”

Truth be told, I have never been much of a Friends fan; in fact, I have never been able to sit through an entire episode, so I cannot say if the author’s interpretation is the right one. But if I take it on its face value, this post somehow strikes a big chord. I have been there before, in Ross’ shoes. All through my life, I have been ridiculed for being ‘too serious’. Have I been bullied or ragged? Not really. Have I been mocked at? Hell, yes!

Back at school, I always aspired to be a good student, a good kid. I studied hard, obeyed rules, respected my professors. I came prepared for new chapters that my professors were going to teach.  I topped my class every once in a while. When I became the class monitor, I tried to maintain order and discipline. Come exam time, I outed students who cheated. I never swore (still don’t), never kept nicknames for other kids, and tried to assist other kids who needed help with studies. This doesn’t mean that I never took a bad step. I did my fair share of mischief, back answered professors, and argued with friends. But more often than not, I followed rules.

And for this, I was derided. I was nicknamed ‘pandu’ which means a ‘traffic constable’. As a 12-year-old kid, I braved threats from seniors who I exposed during exams. I faced a lot of flak for being what I was! Yes, I was the front-bencher, yes, I tried to uphold certain morals and principles. But how was I wrong?

By the end of school and start of college, I realized that the part where I was wrong was that I tried to inflict my life views on others, so I pulled back. No more being the exam time watchdog. I kept to myself and my small quartet of friends. But then came these nagging calls of friends to ‘socialize, hang out, chill!’  Friends started having problems like “Why don’t you go out so much?”, “Dude, why don’t you party?”, “Why do you lead such a boring life?”, “You have no clue how to enjoy life!”. It’s been 6 years out of college and I still get unsolicited advice like “You need to relax”, “Enjoy life dude, don’t be so serious.” “Chill out man.” My question again is, “How am I wrong?”

Maybe at this point, you’re already thinking it. So let me say it out loud. Yes, I am a nerd. Yes, I am a geek. But why do those words have negative undertones? Yes, I don’t hang out as much as the next guy, but why brand me asocial? Yes, I like to read history or fiction, but why call me boring?

It’s not that I don’t like to enjoy, it’s just that my definition of enjoyment is different. Why is it uncool to try to be an intellectual, to try to maximize your capabilities, to follow rules? Why is sitting at home watching a movie alone derided and sitting at your friend’s home watching the same movie applauded? Why is it a horror for people to know that others are thinking beyond momentary pleasures and planning to chart out a life path? Why is spending our weekends learning a new skill or increasing our knowledge base and then meeting friends to have constructive discussions a bad idea? Going out with the same friends every weekend, talking the same stuff, is that the only way to enjoy life?

Moving beyond the personal, the question that I am trying to get an answer to is that why is the world willingly moving towards a dumbed down version of itself?

World’s two biggest democracies have the most idiotic presidential / prime ministerial candidates. Ministers are getting suspended because they did not use the ‘pre-defined’ words to praise their country. Countries are threatening one another with nuclear bombs and weapons. People are killing each other. Human beings are destroying nature. I mean, come on. Doesn’t the world have enough stupidity to deal with already? Don’t you need intellectuals to step in and take stock? Don’t you need us to try and bring some morals and values and principles back to the world? Or are you going to keep rolling your eyes, sitting at that bar, with a bunch of friends, condemning  how boring and geeky we are?

This is the Sciolist.

Signing Out!

Life at 26

26 is a confused age to be in. I wanna stay a kid, but I wanna grow up as well.
Independence, financially, mentally and emotionally, is a constant target at the back of my head, yet I’m expected to be dependent, by society, on parents, friends, relatives and in some time, on spouse. So the time gap between being a child and being a ‘responsible’ adult, the phase where I’m just an adult taking his own decisions, is marginal.

Getting older won’t necessarily give me more clarity, as I’ve very clearly observed in my case. I had a lot more conviction at 15 and 18 and 21, than I have now. Probably experience has taught me to be more careful and cautious, but it’s not something I’ve yet adapted to. Probably there is still some life left to kill.There’s a want to excel, but a need to be myself, maybe a little different from others, departing from the usual meaning of excellence. But since I’m in a confused age and haven’t yet been able to clearly define my meaning of excellence, I feel like I’m following a well tread path. There is a comfort in knowing how the path goes, deriving benefits from my predecessors’ experiences, but there’s a desire to run away from this comfort. To create my own path. But while I have a silent confidence in my abilities to carve out such a road, there’s this doubt if it is the flip side of ignorance. There’s the societally embedded fear of failure since the stakes are higher every minute.

A person like me, who thrives on clarity of thought feels a little confused at 26. And since confusion is many times a precursor to great things, sometimes I start doubting my dependence on clarity.

This is the Sciolist.

Signing Out!!!

Sony and Steve: The Genius and the Whim

So I recently finished reading this awe- inspiring autobiography, Made In Japan by Akio Morita who is a pioneer of technology and who co- founded Sony Corporation with Masaru Ibuka. Fortunately, I read this novel on the back of another remarkable biography by Walter Isaacson on Steve Jobs! Being a tech- freak, it was an enriching experience to peek into the lives of two of the greatest contributors to modern technology as also two giant corporations which have transformed electronics, music, media, entertainment and information industries.
MORITA
Personally, I have been a Sony man and a Steve Jobs’ fan since a long time! After reading these novels I understood how acutely different Steve and Akio were! While one was an unwanted progeny of a young couple, the other was the oldest of four siblings in an affluent Japanese family and a successor to a thriving family business. While one dropped out of college, the other was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Navy and served in World War II! While one stole the thunder from the true creator of the first Apple computer- Steve Wozniak, the other governed Sony under the adroit guidance of Masaru Ibuka. Frankly, no two individuals could have been more different than Morita and Jobs!
Founded in 1946 under the name of ‘Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo’ (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation), Sony Corp. became one of the fastest rising electronics companies in the post- World War II open market era for Japan. Sony was at the forefront of innovations through the 1950s till 1980s. The magnetic recording tape, the tape recorder, fully transistorized pocket- sized radio, world’s first transistor television, floppy disks, Walkman, Discman, PlayStation are only a few amongst a diaspora of products. Apple on the other hand arrived on the horizon much later, in 1976. With its initial slew of Apple I and Apple II computers, Apple carved a market niche, but however, could never become the market leader. Facing tough competition from IBM and Microsoft in its formative years, Apple managed to reserve an exclusive space in their customers’ minds due to its single- minded focus on closed- source premium products. In the last decade, Apple’s name has been synonymous with innovation. The iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMac and iTunes as revolutionized today’s technology. Apple products hold a snob value like no other piece of technology does.
These two biogs made me realize how the two giant organizations have treaded down a similar path over their life cycle. Frankly, I feel Apple has picked up Sony’s thread. Sony’s decline began in mid-1980s whereas Apple Inc. rose to fame at around the same time. Apple has imbibed Sony’s traits of aesthetic design, quality products and a venery of premium market space. Also, both corporations firmly believe in end- to- end integration of all their products! Likewise, the departure of the founders had cataclysmic effect on the fortunes of the respective companies.
2015-07-17-1437155465-1424656-SteveJobs
However, as they are similar so are these two corporations poles apart! The DNA and ethos of Sony and Apple emanates from the leadership of Morita and Jobs respectively. Apple is more a capitalistic company where the ideas flow from top down, whereas Sony followed a more democratic team culture where the average employee had a firm voice the organization. Sony cultivated a cohesive, value based and harmonious framework whereas Apple thrived on individual excellence and drive from hierarchical echelons. Undoubtedly, the hemispherical divergence played a big role on their leadership styles, however, the basic difference ascends from the singularity of those individuals. Morita’s family orientation and Jobs’ adopted youth are evidence enough for the disparate directorship.
The paradoxical similarities between Morita and Jobs and Sony and Apple has brought a paradigm change in the world of technology. The detailed accounts of the condescending brilliance of Jobs  and the value oriented genius of Morita in these biographies profoundly emphasize the importance of having a vision and believing in your product. The pathway to success may be different, but keeping an assured goal and intelligently labouring toward the same is the only sure route. Made In Japan and Steve Jobs are definitely two of the best novels that I have ever read of two of the greatest visionaries that our world has ever produced! And probably shall ever! Sony and Steve: The Genius and the whim.
In reverence.
This is the Sciolist.
Signing Out!!!
(The above blog was published as an article in E-Magazine Mentor Mantra. To read the magazine version click here and flip to page 28.)

PRIVACY INFILTRATION. AN UNNERVING APP IN THIS AGE OF APP STORES.

So the other day I read this bizarre news that a lot of Apple applications access as much as your intimate contact information without the knowledge of the phone owners. Just a few days back The New York Times ran an article on how companies store your email address or credit card number and then track every time you use it so that they understand what are your purchase preferences, your tastes and your favorite stores and so on. Take the Daily Mail’s article on this whole Target Corporation pregnancy matter.  Based on the purchases a teenage girl was making, Target found out that the girl was pregnant. The astonishing part is that the girl’s father had no clue about the issue [Pun intended!! :)]. We are thus witnessing (and maybe unknowingly victimized due to) an unfortunate and inopportune upsurge in privacy invasion by the cold- hearted and ruthlessly commercial merchandisers. And all this is being done in such an incognizant manner that the user/ customer/ owner is completely unaware of their infiltration!

It is an abysmal situation where people are totally ignorant about the possible damage that this type of sabotage can lead to, let alone the sheer magnitude of the deleteriousness! I have no idea whether you know this, but everything you do on the web spider leaves a trail. And remember, someone is always tracking. For example you like something on Facebook or post it on Twitter or +1 it. Well, they know. They know what you like. They know what you read. They know what you post. And they create a sort of ‘info- store’ where a treasure trove of all your likes and dislikes are archived! Have you ever read all those ads under the head ‘Sponsored’ on your Facebook home page?? If you remove this advert then you are asked a ‘Why do you want to remove this?’  sort of question with 6-7 different option of reasons. They say this will help them provide you with better services over time. But what they do not say is that they will use this data feedback to form a data arcade and then shall come out with customized advertorial content for you. Age- specific. Taste specific. They are just like those sales- personnel knocking your door! Or those spam messages and phone calls you receive from credit card and insurance companies. Just like you don’t wish to give them your personal details, your savors etcetera, why should you give it out to a social networking site whose storage depository is more prone to a sabotage; that which is a hacker’s paradise?

My problem over here is not limited to the few brutal business barons who suck such sensitive data- keeping their consumers in dark for the sake of gaining an edge over their competitors in the name of ‘serving the consumers according to their preferences’ sort of nonsense; my problem is with the entire corporate attitude where they want to preempt what their clientele may require and then bombarding them with promotional vagaries in largesse so as to fill up their pockets with an almost monopolistic ease! These people are taking ‘customer loyalty’ to an hitherto unimaginable and socially detrimental levels where they tend to brainwash consumers by continuous advertorial pitches and blatant plagiarism! My problem is with the blissfully ignorant consumer base for whom privacy policies are still the cliched Greek and Latin! These consumers (which very naturally includes you and me) have to be more aware of their rights. And surely what is at stakes!

If what I am saying is sounding ludicrous, give this a thought. Why do you get spam in your mailbox? Because some unknown person with mala fide intentions has access to your email id. Assuming that you yourself have not given your mail id to such person, it means that they have received this information from the sites that you use!! And now imagine which accounts are attached to your e- mail id? Your bank accounts?? Your corporate data?? Your cell phone number?? Arguably, some important parts of your personal, academic and professional lives are stored on your mail box. And there are many ways in which this data can be manipulated to give you grief. And if this falls in the wrong hands it can be used to cause unbelievable levels of trepidation (which it already is!).

Who knows, in the next few months probably our text messages, our IMs and our on phone conversation may also be read into and stored by these mongrels. It is high time that we do make sure that our smart phones and tab- pads behave according to our choices. And for that we need to be aware. We need to read the privacy policies, keep ourselves updated about the latest deficiencies observed in the tech world. At least those associated with our devices or the sites on which we are registered. And it is not that difficult. Just find the right site and get a RSS Feed from there. They shall keep you constantly updated about these issues. Remember, just like you try and safeguard all your properties, the same way even your virtual property has to be shielded and armored.

Hoping that Privacy Policy and not Privacy Espionage is your new ‘App’.

This is the Sciolist.

Signing Out!!!