Showing posts from 2012

Organic Food

Am I organic? 


Regardless of the seed and how it is rolled, a cigar's burning is affected by how it is cut and how it is lit. 

The Corporation in the Early Twentieth Century

"The drawbacks of corporate life are more difficult to specify yet just as pervasive. The need to get on by pleasing others in ways that you don't quite understand, the sense of being watched to see if you are measuring up, the ludicrous yet intense jealousies over cars, furniture, and office space and pay, all contributed to a kind of enervating paranoia. In the world of the corporation there was no such thing as simply doing a job well - you must be either rising or falling within the organization. Management of companies was based on fostering low-level fear among staff, the result being a peculiar mixture of individual ambition and corporate conformity - you stayed safe and got on by second-guessing what others wanted, and by adhering to some never-quite-defined corporate code. Adherence to the corporation became a necessary part of workers' psychology, even if they disliked their jobs; conformity became the price of security." - Roger Osborne  (in the bo


Is the idea that one is somehow (religion, nation, race, money, job, looks, etc.) better than some humans necessary for individual identity? 

The Middle Class

The burden of the society is carried by the middle class. The poor are worried about survival and the rich can get away with breaking the norms. 

Love for ideas

Human love for ideas far exceeds human love for another human.  


The problem with shorting a stock is that you don't know for how long the irrationality of the market will last. 


Beauty of yoga lies in graceful transition through poses. 

Gandhi's Seven Social Sins

1. Wealth without Work  2. Pleasure without Conscience  3. Science without Humanity  4. Knowledge without Character  5. Politics without Principle  6. Commerce without Morality  7. Worship without Sacrifice 

Corporate Strategy

A company strategy that is difficult to communicate across the organization is usually ineffective. 


Why do we like stories?


Familiarity with low expectations breeds attachment. 

Things we love and talk about

Mobile phones and what they can do are a frequent part of conversation in the US. The first iPhone started this social phenomenon in 2007. The iPhone 5 comes out today and the front page news in the Wall Street Journal is that the map application on the iPhone 5 is not good enough. See what was front page news about iPhone three years ago by clicking here .  Following is a picture taken outside the Apple store on Wednesday, September 19th, evening in Palo Alto, CA. These people have been camping outside the store to buy the iPhone 5 today.  Who knew people can love a phone so much!  I find it fascinating that a phone can change the society. Let's see how long this sustains. 

Length of songs

Why most of the popular songs are 3-5 minute long? Was it always this way? Can the writer not write anything longer/shorter or the singer can not sing anything longer/shorter or can we not hear anything longer/shorter?

What should we do about the Greek debt?

The French are missing from the action and they may not like it:-) Things to note: Every minute on the clock represents a year  The AAA and the D batteries are a reference to the country's credit rating.  Pause the video towards the beginning to see what the guy is eating from the can.  Pause the video towards the end when the toast is served to see the names on the toast.  The name of the butter is bond. 


I seek a non-seeking mind.

Developing Leaders

Recently, I bought some JP Morgan  stock[NYSE: JPM]. Following my hero, Charlie Munger's advice, I did do my homework before purchasing the equity. Part of my homework was to read Jamie Dimon's letter to JPM shareholders. It is a very interesting read. I was impressed with the clarity and detail Mr. Dimon outlined how he thinks about developing leaders for a multinational corporation. I practically agree with everything he said in the letter. Following is the edited version of Mr. Dimon's thoughts on leadership:   Leadership is an honor, a privilege and a deep obligation. When leaders make mistakes, a lot of people can get hurt. Being true to oneself and avoiding self-deception are as important to a leader as having people to turn to for thoughtful, unbiased advice. Emotional Quotient [EQ] matters in management. EQ can include empathy, clarity of thought, compassion and strength of character.  Good people want to work for good leaders. Bad leaders can drive ou


Where do morals come from? Do they come from religion? Did we not have morals before religion? If the humans are  genetically  programmed to pursue survival/self-interest then why do many people don't always pursue self-interest? Is it because it is immoral in many cases? Why do some people have high morals and others don't? Some priests are molesting children and some poor people who don't have enough to eat are sharing their meals with strangers. Some  atheists  have higher morals than many religious people. Why is there so much diversity in human behavior? What do morals have to do with empathy? Are morals local in nature? I give money to the local art museum knowing that the same money can save many lives in Africa. How is art more important than saving lives? Are my morals confined to my neighborhood? Love thy neighbor and don't care about the world outside your neighborhood? What if all the money that goes into arts and culture in the developed world went to edu

Mobile Technologies

The biggest economic opportunity Mobile Computing offers is the increased conversion rate of thoughts into actions. 

Foie Gras

Today is the last day to legally buy and sell foie gras in California. Will the French stop visiting California? 


People seldom lose the ability to follow instructions from authority. 


As long as inequality in demand, ability, risk, and production is core of economics, I don't see hierarchy disappearing from organizations. 


Give me enough time and money and I can make you need things that don't exist yet. 


Cultures always  fascinate me. How do they develop? How do they change? How the meaning of an action is different in different cultures? Why people are not very good at seeing things from another perspective (influenced by another culture)?  To continue learning about cultures, I just finished reading a book -  Figuring Foreigners Out -which gives very pragmatic advice on understanding and adapting to new cultures. Thanks to my teacher, Donna Stringer , for recommending the book. Following are some edited excepts that explain fundamentals of culture:  1. Culture is the shared assumptions, values, and beliefs of a group of people which result in characteristic behaviors. And, cultural generalizations are necessarily statements of likelihood and potential, not of certainty.  2. An instance of behavior has no particular meaning other than what the people who witness that behavior assign to it. Behavior means what we decide it means - very often it means nothing at all. 

Context II

Nothing happens "in general"; things only happen in context , in specific  circumstances . - C. Storti 

Truth vs Lies

Why do humans find it easier to remember the truth vs the lies? Is it result of evolution? Does any other species lie?


I wonder how much progress the societies would have made if the leaders always acted on prevailing public opinions. 

Three Questions for Exploring Organizational Development

I just finished reading a fascinating book, One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization , by Dee Hock . The book explores three questions and tells a story how this exploration by Dee Hock led to the formation of VISA . The three questions are:  1. Why are organizations, everywhere, political, commercial, and social, increasingly unable to manage their affairs? 2. Why are individuals, everywhere, increasingly in conflict with and alienated from the organizations of which they are part? 3. Why are society and biosphere increasingly in disarray?  If you have anything to do with Organizational Development, you may enjoy the book. 

The Concerned Citizens of California


Marshall Plan

Policy making is a complex subject. The best piece of policy I have ever read is George Marshall's speech at Harvard. I read it on regular basis. It has served me well in managing businesses, thinking of strategy, and in Organization Design. Following is the speech: Marshall Plan Speech June 5, 1947, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts Mr. President, Dr. Conant, members of the Board of Overseers, Ladies and Gentlemen: I'm profoundly grateful and touched by the great distinction and honor and great compliment accorded me by the authorities of Harvard this morning. I'm overwhelmed, as a matter of fact, and I'm rather fearful of my inability to maintain such a high rating as you've been generous enough to accord to me. In these historic and lovely surroundings, this perfect day, and this very wonderful assembly, it is a tremendously impressive thing to an individual in my position. But to speak more seriously, I need not tell you that t

Business Schools Teach a lot of Nonsense and other Learnings from Munger and Buffett

Omaha, Nebraska was probably the most exciting place to be on May 5, 2012. I paid my annual homage to Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet last weekend at the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting in Omaha. Just like previous years, it was a great show which offered wisdom and humor. You can see the notes from last year's meeting here . Following are my random notes from the 2012 meeting:  35,000+ shareholders at the meeting 1. Make decisions based on opportunity cost.  2. CEO of any large organization, especially financial organization, should be the Chief Risk Officer (CRO) as well. Risk assessment is a very important capability for a CEO and is right up there with capital allocation. Buffett is the CRO at Berkshire.  3. Risk is not accessed properly by people because it is not taught properly in business schools. Use of sigmas to measure risk is stupid.  4. Ability to commit and follow through make Berkshire trustworthy. When the opportunity is rig

Four Practices and Three Behaviors for Unhappy Life

I just finished reading a fantastic book, Damn Right ! It is about the life of one of my heroes, Charlie Munger . Since the search of happiness is causing a lot of misery in the world, I am writing this post to share Munger's four simple practices for a happy life. In most cases, the best way to solve a problem is to invert it. So, looking at the problem in reverse, the four things that would ensure an unhappy life are:   1. Be unreliable  2. Learn everything from your own experience rather than learning from others 3. Give up trying after your first, second, or third reverse of fortune 4. Give in to fuzzy thinking  Munger further shares Johnny Carson's speech explaining three things a person should do to ensure a miserable life. These are:  1. Ingesting chemicals in an effort to alter mood or perception  2. Allowing oneself to indulge in envy 3. Wallow in resentment  If you just don't exhibit the Carson's three behaviors and don


Everyone looks more attractive with the sunglasses on. 


The ability of humans to entertain themselves without technology is on decline and will continue to do so. 


What you think is your problem and it is probably the biggest problem you have. 

Why do we buy things?

I often think about how to create new things and why and how people adopt new things. The core of why people acquire new things can be narrowed down to four basic human attributes (to see how adoption occurs click  here ). These attributes have been with us for centuries. And, if we really understand these attributes well then not only we can position products well in the market but also design products which have better chance of being adopted. The four attributes are:  1.  S ex (evolution)  2.  A ttachment  3.  I dentity  4.  L aziness  Let's call it the SAIL model and let's dig deeper into each SAIL attribute.  1. Sex:  Most people are genetically programed to be attracted to the opposite sex. Evolutionarily speaking, reproduction is one of the main  purposes  of life. We see how the dynamics of sex-appeal work in advertising and movies. Just think why do we have supermodels? Why don't the advertising agencies take any average girl to