Posted in Random thots..

Learnings on the Highway

The black car zoomed through the darkness, interspersed with the glare of many others moving in perfect symphony across the dark highway. And I am driving inside it within my own perfect bubble. The music blares on the car audio, with a personally curated Spotify list algorithmically doling out songs for my pleasure. I am acutely focused, my mind in sync with the vibes on the road. The gray asphalt silhouettes against a dark blue and orange horizon. Night has fallen long ago, with rebellious shards of light appearing  to replace a sun long gone. I gaze at the dashboard and the traffic ahead, unconsciously looking out for the impatient lane changers who zip across lanes as they find an opening, trying to achieve a hypothetical advantage over others.

The car noiselessly glides ahead like it has a life of its own, the needle on the speedometer at a constant seventy. The entire world shrinks down to a tiny pinpoint of light ahead of me. 

In the dark confines of this shared space , there is a strange kinship that develops with all the motorists going my way. It is almost like we are some randomly distributed molecules who have been drawn by a strong magnetic force to move together in alignment towards a common destination. 

And in that moment, there is an epiphany in my mind. In today’s fast moving world, we blame so many of our problems and stresses on speed and pace at which things need to move. This is something that impacts our family, our work and friendships.  The general advice we give ourselves is to slow down. 

What I learned today from the highway is: 

Moving fast is not a problem – misalignment is. 

The highway is a perfect example of harmony – where everyone is moving at incredibly high speeds but yet there is perfect order because there are rules of the game which are followed by all travelers on the road.. Pass from the left.. Make way for newcomers entering the road.. Stay on the left lane if you want to go faster than the rest..These elementary rules can make what seems like an impossibly dangerous commute become so simple and seamless. 

So next time you are harried with too many things moving too fast in your life – think of the Highway Analogy. Align your priorities or take the Exit.

What would you do to make Life go smooth !?

Photo by Jonas Von Werne on Unsplash



Posted in Fiction Experiments

The Pink Flats

It’s a third time today that I am opening that tempting tab in my browser to peek at this object of desire that has caught my fancy.

I find myself staring at this pair of sinfully elegant, unapologetically feminine Parisian pink flats.

Then my eyes hover over the hefty price tag – surely my overstuffed closet doesn’t need a $450 Gucci shoe. But the mind is wandering and I can imagine this pair going perfectly with that still untouched magenta super swingy skirt which I had never been confident enough to pull off.

A meeting reminder pops up on my screen and breaks me of my reverie. “Ah”, I scold myself – “The PG&E meeting is in 15 minutes and you are lusting over a pair of shoes that you don’t need. Wake up Girl!”.

To give some background, I work at BigRock – an investment management firm.  And yes – today is just another ordinary day. I have an upcoming meeting with a client and there is this lingering sense of anxiety to bat this well.

“Many eyes are on this deal, and if you nail it – the Sales Director role is yours. Just make sure they get the messages right .. and don’t make it seem too much of a hard –sell .. and hopefully, they won’t dwell too much on the terms in Section #4… ”

A constant drone of to-do lists is hammering at the back of my head.., imagining all the ways this meeting can go wrong. And every time there is a blip in this train of thoughts – I am seeking refuge in these pair of Parisian pink flats.

“You need these shoes to be successful!!”  – a chirpy voice screams inside my head.  Click .. click it would be so easy to buy.

“I’m sorry, but..”, another calm voice patiently explains. ” Remember how you had to give away those Coach boots which were in perfect shape because you realized you had two pairs which looked exactly like the same?”

“But well, you know..” – the chirpy voice pops up again – “Don’t be so hard on yourself,  you’ve been working so hard and that contract that you won last month. You deserve this!”

“So.. On Page#5, don’t forget to mention that we analyze the attractiveness of an asset not only based on its risk, but also on the return potential the asset may bring to the portfolio”  – That one is my BigRock employed thread, urgently entreating to be heard among the other two voices.

“Blah, blah, blah”.. the chirpy voice interrupts again. “Pleated Magenta skirt with a sleeveless white blouse and pink flats with a floppy bow –  now that’s a killer outfit!”…

“Nooo… Too many shoes in your closet, remember?!”. The calm voice seems all flustered and is screaming now.

“.. and the long-term performance goal for this portfolio is to achieve at least 80% of the return of the global stock market” – weakly mutters the BigRock thread again.

The calendar invite has popped up. It is time to join the PG&E call now.  I take a deep breath and flick these voices away as I begin dialing the number…

Hello Everyone, this is Anjali from BigRock Investments”, I brightly announce myself on the phone.

Like I said..  it is just another ordinary day today.

Posted in Random thots..

5 things I discovered about myself today


I’m certain Google is turning my brain into mush. Its shaping the way I think – putting ideas in my head and making me imagine that all of them were my own. So, every time I have to process a question that will take more than a few microseconds of thinking time, I’m tempted to turn to Google for answers. Now that’s an evil genius!

My laptop is now an extended part of my self.  Long periods of absence without using it make me anxious, and I see myself increasingly shoving mine in the back seat even on short trips. And yet ironically, we have a deep unfaithful relationship – wouldn’t mind leaving my current love if a better one comes by.

Solving problems helps me thrive. When I’m frustrated , I go solve a problem – clean the dishes, go fix the cracked dresser. That makes me feel better, every-time!

I have lost my capability to monotask.  Doing just one thing at one time makes me paranoid, with a voice screaming in my head that I’m missing something urgent. Even driving alone without the radio on makes me uncomfortable  – I’d rather not be left to my own thoughts. I’m certainly doomed. Sigh.

Sunday nights always make me think about what I’m doing with my life. And trigger random unrelated discoveries and existential questions.  Which are also entirely meaningless.

Thank you if you’ve read them so far though.  Have a rocking week ahead! 🙂
Posted in My World View, Random thots.., Technology Talk

Idea #5: Fail Early, Fail Fast

A few weeks ago, Apple released its Maps App with the new iOS 6 upgrade. Within hours, the internet was awash with scathing criticism of Apple Maps. It was branded a dismal failure, the L’Enfant terrible of iOS 6 upgrade portfolio. FB news feeds flooded with lamentations about awful maps after upgrading to iOS 6.

Tech bloggers lashed out at Apple, calling it a company which had become arrogant in its greatness. Doomsday predictors began asking – is this the end of Apple’s commitment to perfection and its meteoric rise?

All this brouhaha really irked me. For all those going berserk over the Map App fiasco, wouldn’t it be nicer if we could cut Apple some slack and appreciate the benefits of failing early??

I am not an Apple fanboy, but personally I felt the new Maps app was awesome. It brought in radical features like vector-based maps and breathtaking flyover 3D views (my first reaction on seeing the App was “Wow!”). Yeah, the awesome 3D feature resulted in the most terrible goof ups too. But then, online Maps are complex and you cannot perfect it unless you have millions of people sharing it and reporting back to you. Does anyone remember Google Maps when it was first launched?

The point is, with technology cycles moving so quickly, could Apple have afforded to keep the critical Map app under the hood till the next iPhone release? Absolutely not.

The fact is – if anything can go wrong, it will. And the sooner that happens, the better it is for you and your product. And the most valuable company of our times has sent the message – the future is about failing early, failing fast. And if you do make mistakes, admit them quickly and move on.

Well.. Google does it all the time! (remember Google Buzz, Froogle and Google Answers?)

Getting a minimum viable product out into the world is the best way to kick start your idea, whether it is a new book, a business venture, or a project at work. It helps you overcome the fear of failure, test your assumptions and identify constraints in your solution. So go ahead with your new creation. Get it read, experienced and used.

Because usage is like oxygen for ideas. “You can never fully anticipate how an audience is going to react to something you’ve created until it’s out there. That means every moment you’re working on something without it being in the public it’s actually dying, deprived of the oxygen of the real world.”

So fail early. Learn fast!.

And if you are an unflappable cool dude who hates to admit your mistakes or let the world know about your failures – Just fail early..   And then destroy all evidence that you tried!.. 🙂

Posted in My World View, Technology Talk

The Great Indian IT tamasha

Not very long ago, I was working on something in office that needed some simple decision making. We had to choose between Plan A and Plan B.

And, the decision wasn’t something very earth shattering like – “Should our company invest in Antarctica?” or “Is it the right time to join the post war reconstruction in Iraq?”
If you think of it – it should have taken hardly 5 minutes. Someone just had to put her foot down and say – OK, Plan B. Period.

But then, oh Boy; you should have seen the number of mails shuttling around to arrive at a decision!. Dense communications with FYIs and FYRs floating upstream, downstream, left, right, in circles, small loops, big loops. No one wanted to kick the bucket on their own, so multiple stakeholders were invited. It was a whole round-we-go-the-mulberry-bush thing!

If you’ve worked in an Indian IT services company, you can probably identify with me when I say this. The task of “decision making” here is as convoluted as the process of finding an eligible groom in the Indian arranged marriage. It is a long drawn process, with loops and hoops, coupled with mountainous processes. Too many opinions and recommendations, too much sharing of responsibilities for the decisions made.

Ok, I don’t want to criticize and say that we should make snap judgments throwing caution to the winds. But focusing too much on insignificant details just adds to the flab.
Is it that we have too much time to spend on too less stuff – “Idle brains exaggerate matters” ??

Fine. A lot of emotional rambling here – let’s cut to the chase.
Here’s what I think is wrong with the Indian IT Industry.

We don’t take risks – Isn’t that the biggest risk of all?

We think too much – Paralysis of Analysis Baby!

We care too much of what others think – Log kya kahenge??!!!

We do not want to leave our comfort zone – I’m a C++ guy, how can I talk about JAVA??

We are afraid to try out anything new – The classical its-not-done-here Syndrome

We skimp like Scrooges – And call it our “Competitive Advantage”!

Take out any book on Entrepreneurship or Creativity, and the problems I listed above would top the list of Innovation killers. Isn’t this a huge cause for concern?
Now is a time when everyone is talking about Innovation. Hailed as a game changer, innovation is destined to transform the world. Shouldn’t it be on top of our priority list?

Innovation, I agree, is not easy. Not for the faint hearted, it’s only for the risk takers who are willing to dare. Innovation, my non-vegeterian friends would say is like mutton curry. Delectable, enticing and yummy to look at; but incredibly difficult to digest!. 😉

When every company ensures to have innovation somewhere in its tagline, or have innovation splashed all over its website. My question as an insider; where is this so called innovation in Indian IT companies?

Our IT service culture breeds Innovation killers amongst us. We are afraid to stand out of the herd, we want to be innovative, but in a very non risky conventional way (what was that? ).
With Process.. Process.. Process hammered into our heads, we are genetically programmed to work like risk averse automatons the moment we enter this industry.

When the US debt is downgraded, we begin tottering like a pile of dominoes.

When will we learn to stand on our own feet?..

When will we have something new to offer to the world?..

When will we become action oriented and stop working like machines and morons?

Are we even destined to come out of this rut?

Only the Narayan Murthys, Azim Premjis and Vineet Nayars of the world can say.

Mortals like me can only pray.

Posted in My World View, Technology Talk

Shopping “Experiences”!!

You have walked into your favorite music store across the street. Just as you pick up a Justin Bieber album off the shelf, digital trackers embedded in the walls identify the album with its RFID tag. A Plasma panel at the store begins to play the latest video of the pop star. As you walk towards the screen to watch this video, sensors in the store track your movements, and a high definition Prosilica camera captures your picture, feeding it to complex algorithms that morph these images. Within seconds, you are pleasantly surprised to see yourself inside the TV screen in the video, gyrating right beside the teen pop star!

Delighted with the experience, you begin to explore the rest of the store. As you move down the aisles, biometric iris recognition software detects your digital identity, and instantly downloads your past purchase and publicly available social networking history into the store’s central database. Eye motion sensors identify which shelf you are looking at, and LCD panels display the message – You “liked” Enrique’s Insomniac on Facebook, would you like to check out his new album “Euphoria” ? Your friend Maria has already bought it, and 59 buddies flashed it on Twitter!!

Well, if you thought all this was a page out of a science fiction book, then think again. This is not a futuristic wish anymore, and sophisticated technologies like these are already being deployed in retail stores right now. With the advent of Web 2.0 and advanced digital electronics, consumer retail has morphed dramatically. Leapfrogging into the future, innovation in IT is now making the customer the center of this “Digital Universe”.

The new age consumer with deep pockets and short attention spans is now more individualistic and much harder to please. With razor thin margins and a consuming need for differentiation, retailers are increasingly pushed towards cutting-edge innovation. Retailing giants like Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco have already boarded the bandwagon, and the others have no choice but to follow. The key is to involve consumers at an emotional and sensory level, and shoppers are now spoilt for choice.

Retailers are now leveraging IT to enhance the end user experience, reduce costs, manage growth and capture multicultural markets. IT innovation is being used to have a consumer centric view to solve problems, achieve creative differentiation and provide complete solutions to task oriented shoppers. In this era of Do-It-for-me marketing, consumers demand retailers to speed up their transactions, driving changes in store concepts, and providing faster and convenient transaction processing and payment.

“Ethnography is the new core competence” remarked Andrew Jones in his book “Innovation acid test”. This has never been more true than now! . Working closely with market research, “knowledge activists” now explore the innovative aspects of any business proposition by cognizing customer intelligence. Corporations compete to identify and “Catch a wave”, creating opportunities to generate growth and fantastic financial performance. Digital immersive technologies like Augmented Reality are being used to integrate branding and entertainment with customer experiences, offering services that resonates with the target customer.

When you look for avenues of innovation in retail, the opportunities are endless. Starting from the use of RFID to measure inventory, warehousing, distribution operations and the supply chain, to providing an enhanced shopping experience for product and brand differentiation, IT can be used as an enabler at every step. All that we need is an imagination to sell the dream!

Augmented technology can be used in storefronts to entice shoppers. Interactive Ads will allow shoppers to “try out” something even before they walk into the store. Large screen kiosks installed at store entrances will empower shoppers to search or quickly browse through the product selection. Digital signage can be used to deliver personalized messages to shoppers, using RFID tags to identify which items they are carrying through the store. Brands stocked in that store can advertise in these digital signs, creating new revenue streams. Mobile coupons are already being used by Starbucks and Target to enhance repeat business. Customers are sent personalized messages alerting them of offers at the store. These services can be customized with location based services, and serve as key drivers of store traffic.

Indeed, IT will now allow us to peer into the living rooms of our customers, data mining their inner desires, and making it available on the supermarket shelves. The IT revolution captures the social entrepreneurship and individualistic spirit of these times. Bill Bryson, a best-selling American author has aptly captured the essence of this era – “We used to build civilizations. Now we build shopping malls”!!

Posted in My World View, Technology Talk

Technology: Breaking barriers and changing lives!


The distinguished science fiction author, inventor and futurist Arthur C. Clarke once remarked – “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Indeed, we live in a world of scientific wizardry where technology has drastically shrunk differences and diffused boundaries. Never before in history had innovation offered so much to us, transforming our attitudes, lifestyles, relationships and in the process – taking complete control over our lives!.

Technology has transcended the precincts of labs, and pervaded our households, becoming an inseparable part of our existence. It has altered economic and political equations across countries, and rapidly expanded frontiers for growth and development.. The Google phenomenon brought a whole universe of knowledge to our fingertips, giving rise to a new information empowered generation and creating a new paradigm for both formal and informal Global collaborations.

In today’s world, individuals can express themselves and publish their thoughts through blog sites like BlogSpot, WordPress or Typepad. They can share their imaginations and ideas, form forums and build professional relationships using online communities like Facebook, Orkut and LinkedIn. In fact, a lot of NGOs and social service organizations operate by connecting with volunteers online, and build awareness about their cause using these benefits of technology.

The quick and efficient dissemination of information through the Internet has given birth to a new era of truly global partnerships. The perfect integration of hardware and software evolved a unique blend of self managed teams seamlessly encompassed within the entire organization as a whole. Teleconference and Telepresence technologies by companies like Cisco have brought an exclusive human touch to long distance communication, giving rise to efficient global partnerships. Desktop sharing applications like Netmeeting and WebEx now assist communication across all barriers and time zones. There is a greater scope for innovation as more and more people can be efficiently involved, giving rise to greater creativity and productivity. Also, there is lesser dependency on localized resources as the concepts of geographical distances now become completely redundant.

For any partnership to be successful, it is very essential for it to be scalable and flexible. The new generation of Cloud Computing now gives businesses the flexibility to run operations from any part of the world. The concept of “Build somewhere, use anywhere” is the new buzz in computing, where technologies like SaaS (Software as a service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) allow organizations to employ software and hardware on a pay-per-use basis, leveraged by the power of high speed Internet. So, there are no huge capital costs when companies get into new partnerships, setting the stage for a truly global culture. And then, of course are data mining, predictive analysis, virtualization and SOA that make the business equivalent of a “Crystal Ball”, and can be instrumental for any company in predicting its growth linked with that of its partner collaborations.

Summing it up – our growth has been phenomenal with endless opportunities and the role of technology in building this Global culture has been nothing short of magic!