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14 May 2013

Wrong Justice?...

This time I am going for a pure blog post. I am just attaching two stories from various places in India and let you judge for yourself.

"A man and woman if left alone will always go for sexual intercourse". This is what one Judge in Kancheepuram in Tamilnadu had to say about man woman relationship.

And here is the full comment...

"A man and woman, if left alone, will always go for sexual intercourse. In this case, the accused and the deceased might have been left alone. At that time, the accused would have advanced sexual overtures towards the deceased. She might have refused. Still there might have been sexual intercourse between them. Again, the accused would have invited her for sexual intercourse, which she would have refused. This would have resulted in an ill-feeling." 

(Before you go all negative on the judge, the judge had booked a Watchman of murdering a female colleague. He made these comments while delivering the sentence of life imprisonment for the watchman. 

For those who are interested, the Madras HC acquitted the watchman. )

Here is another story from elsewhere in India. 

Like I said, U be the judges...

These two incidents show how deep rooted and widespread the negative perception about women are. India shows its 'Unity in diversity' when it comes to negative perceptions about women. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, women regularly get raped and no one gives a hoot. From Mumbai to Kolkata, women are routinely killed for dowry, and we continue to move on. 

Unless the attitudes like the ones above change, women will continue to suffer.

Of course, negative perceptions against women is not limited to India. Even in those cradle of democracies, the US, one reads about rape, domestic violence and crimes against women.

Of course, that is no justification...

12 May 2013

+2 Preparation Redux...My competitive brother...

Readers, being a blog on Personal Growth, the lesson that I want to take from the article below is about how to set extra-ordinary goals, put extra-ordinary efforts and and reach their goals. The lesson that there is not substitute for planned hard work. Don't take the message of why my bro was hyper-competitive. That message is a 'side show' and peripheral.

You know, I had written an article on my +2 Preparation in this blog three days back. I had discussed, in that article, about how my ability to day-dream helped me to do very well in my +2 exams.

This article is about another type of +2 Preparation. 

This is the story of maniacal determination, exceptional effort and extra-ordinary achievement.

This is the story of the +2 Preparation of my brother.

My brother and me are polar opposites. I am a dreamer, he is the most practical guy, I know of. I am soft, he is tough, I take life as it happens, he decides what he wants and gets it, I think world is good and helpful, he, on the other hand, thinks that the world is helpful and all that, fine, but one has to be demanding of the world..

Polar opposites, my bro and I.

My mother attributes it to the fact that I was born on a full moon day, while my bro was born on a new moon day. 

May be...

May be it is because of the fact that being the eldest son, I had stuff given to me in platter, while he being the second child had to seize the privileges.

We were competitors right from childhood. Let me put it this way, he was always competing with me. I don't think I had a sense of competition, remember, I take life as it happens. But he was highly competitive. 

He had to do everything that I did, and better. We used to go to play competitive Table Tennis. I always used to lose, he always used to win. In times of stress, he used to become tougher. At one point in time, I think he was State ranked 6 in TT, while I? well....

In my class 10 exam, I scored 454, he scored 438.

He took it quite hard. He wanted, so badly, to score more than I did.

Since I was one year older to him, he was closely following my heals, if you see what I mean.

As you know, I scored about 94% score in my Class 12 (also known as 'Plus 2' exam). He was determined that he will do better than I did in his Plus 2 exam.

Being the hard as nails, practical guy that hie is, he decided to approach this challenge the old fashioned way, by putting in solid hard work.

Unlike me, he did not need any dreams or such nonsense to motivate him. I, his elder brother had got 94%, he had to get more than that, and he set about it in the most methodical manner possible.

Since my results had come just before his first year exam, he knew exactly how much he needed to score. He was going to have none of those inspired performances. He was not going to wait for any motivation to hit him. He was going to go about it methodically. He was going to slog, day in and day out.

As a first step, he calculated the number of hours he had till the examination. Then he noted down the subjects that he needed to focus on and prioritized them. Languages were low priority, he just needed to pass them. However, he needed to get very good scores in Maths, Physics and Chemistry so he allocated more hours to them.

Next he calculated how many hours he had to attend each class to ensure that he has just enough attendance. Then he went and negotiated with each of his Professors and informed them of his plan to get 100% marks in the first year exam and that he would not be attending the classes once he has enough attendance. Since this was a college where students came to while away their time, the professors were more than happy to let my brother have whatever he wanted.

Then he went about studying.

In the story of my experience, I had mentioned that I used to study about 18 hours a day for about 2 months. In my brothers case it was like, studying 18 hours a day eternity. Remember, he was only in his first year and I think that he studied for at least 10-12 hours a day for almost more than a year. Through spring, summer, the rains....he went about studying.

All of us know that if you need to score marks, you have to study. There is not shortcut. All of us theoretically know what we need to do to get grades. We need to identify our weak  areas, identify our targets, schedule our time, take notes, read widely not just your books, do past question papers, discuss with peers, discuss with those who had 'been there, done that'....


All of this knowledge is good. But the key ingredient is to get your ass out there, take the books, read, review and revise.

The point is unless you put the requisite efforts, you are not going to get there, you aren't gonna get it.

And my brother knew it. And he put it (effort) spadesfull.

I was not at home in his second year since I had already joined Engineering college. But on my visits home, his friend used to tell me how hard my brother was working. By then I had reached a level of maturity to realize that while his action of studying hard was good and correct, his motivation to beat me was not the correct reason. But I did not tell him that. Having seen the maniacal determination in his eyes, I did not have enough maturity to tell him what I thought about his motive.

His Plus 2 results more than justified his efforts. He scored 438 / 450 marks in his exam.

Finally, he had met his objective. He had done better than me in the exam.

What do you think of his effort? Do you think that his motivation was justified? Do you think that his ends justified the means? Have you ever been in such situation?

To his credit, my brother identified the futility of his goal. He realized that challenging oneself against ones own potential is a much better approach that focusing and external, peripheral objective. Later he told me that one of the things that scare him even now is, what would have happened if he had not met with his objective of overtaking me. Probably he would  have moved into a depression.

That would have been scary. Even if he had got less marks that me in Plus 2, still he would have been one of the few in Kerala who had got marks high enough to get into Engineering and he would not have felt satisfied because he did not meet with his objective.

Fortunately, he met with his objective. Later in life he had the perspective to show the futility of focusing on any goal other than striving to actualize his potential.

Having ridden achieved the primary goal, he relaxed. Once he relaxed, he went on to enjoy his engineering college days and is currently in the US, working for a multi-national.

10 May 2013

+2 Preparation...

I did my schooling in Kerala. State Board.

When we were studying, there was no concept of Higher Secondary, also known as +2. The student completes class 10 or the Secondary School. The Secondary School exam, also known as SSLC exam (Secondary School Leaving Certificate) is the first Public Exam that the student will face. Once a student complete SSLC, she will go to Pre-degree, also known Higher Secondary or  as +2 in some places.

In Kerala, your School education ends with SSLC and then you move to College / University for Pre-degree. 

You have to spend two years in Pre-degree. We called it Pre-degree first year and Pre-degree second year. We had University exam in both the years. The sum of the marks that you received in both the years will be your Pre-degree marks.

Admission to graduate colleges start after the completion of Pre-degree. In those days, admission to graduate classes were based only on the marks obtained in the Pre-degree exam. There were no entrance exam like these days. So getting a good score in Pre-degree had a kind of 'Lasting Impression' on your life.
So you can imagine how important are marks in Pre-degree were for a Student.

For Pre-degree, I took the Maths-Physics-Chemistry group, also known as Ist Group in our parlance. In the first year, each subject had a maximum of 60 marks. In the second year, each subject had a maximum of 90 Marks. Maximum marks for all the subjects put together in both years was 450.

In the first year, I was one of the worst performers in our college. I got, I think, 37 / 60 in Maths,  about 20 / 60 in both Physics and Chemistry. I did not do well in Languages either. I was the only student to fail in Hindi (our national language!!). I remember our class teacher regretfully telling me, "I expected more from you". 

The Pre-degree first year results are announced sometime in January and it is immediately followed by Pre-degree second year exam in middle of March. So effectively we had about three months between First Year results and Second year exam. 

In Kerala, we had a facility to repeat the first year exam along with the second year exam. If you are not happy with your score in First Year exam, you can repeat the same along with the Second Year exam. The marks of the later exam will be considered for Pre-degree. 

With my first year marks being pathetic as they were, I decided to repeat MPC. I also had to repeat Hindi since I had failed it in the first year. 

So you can see that I had to write 4+5 = 9 (My math is good!!), including 6 subject papers and 3 language papers (Hindi Y1 and Y2 and English Y2). And I had only 3 months to prepare !!!

Still I was not serious. I did not do my studies. 

While I was in the second year, the Pre-degree marks of our senior batch was announced. One student in our college, George Joseph I think was his name, had scored 448 / 450 in the Pre-degree exam and he was the college hero. 

So this is the background to what I am about to tell you. 

I used to go to college and back in our Company bus. On our return, the bus passed in front of a famous Woman's college. In the year, it was 1980, the felicitation ceremony for the Rank Holders of the various exams in the University was held in this Woman's college.

While passing the college everyday, I used to dream that in the current year also, the felicitation was to be held in the same woman's college, and I was on the stage accepting the award for the University Topper. I had scored 450 / 450 in the Pre-degree exam and as I was accepting the award in front of all those wildly cheering girls !!

That was right. I had fared miserably in the first year and here I was dreaming that I became the University topper and I had scored 450 / 450 (100% marks) !!.

That was some day dream.

This happened every day. Every evening I will be sitting in the front seat and watch as the woman's college approached. As it approached, I visualized myself receiving the award for the University Topper from the Vice Chancellor.

I have a knack of day dreaming. And here, I was at my best.

In between I also used to dream my professor telling me, "After George, we never thought that anyone could break that record. And in the very next year, you have done that. After last year's performance, I had almost given up on you. But you proved all of us wrong"

I also visualized the next year students of my college looking at me with admiration. "This is Ram", they say in my dreams, "he scored 450 / 450 in the Pre-degree exam"

I was spending most of my days dreaming !.

And the second year exam was catching up fast. I had not started studying at all.

Then one day, while our bus was right in front of the bus stop and I was in the midst of my dreams, I suddenly woke up, as it were.

There was no way that my dreams will come true, if I did not study.

That thought was very, very powerful. In a moment, I saw my dreams shattering as I realized that I had so much to catch up and that if I didn't do well my career was doomed and that I hadn't started studying at all !!

How was I going to achieve my dreams?

I remember that that evening, as soon as I reached home, I threw my bags on the table, took out my book and started studying.

That is it. At 4.30 PM that day, I started studying.

Once I started, like Forrest Gump, I couldn't stop. I did not go out at all. I studied in the day, I studied in the night, I used to go to sleep at about 1.00 AM, get up at 6.30 and even without brushing my teeth, started studying. I learned pages after pages by heart. One of my heroes was an IIT guy, who, if you tell the page number and paragraph number, would recite the paragraph by heart. I wanted to be like him.

I read my Chemistry book of Y1 and Y2 by heart, I read the physics text book of Y1 and Y2 by heart, I read my Hindi text book by heart, I did all the sums in my Maths text book (Literally, I mean it, there was not a single sum in those text books that I did not do on my own !!) of Y1 and Y2.

I studied like a maniac. I studied almost 18-19 hours a day. I wanted that 450/450. I wanted it so desperately.

After some time, the study itself became the motivation. I forgot that I wanted to be in front of adulatory girls.  I wanted to achieve my potential.

Since I had done all the question papers of the previous 10 years of all subjects, the exam turned out to be cool. I was so damn relaxed that I committed some very silly errors.

I was over-prepared.

I knew I had done well. I knew that I won't get my 450.

When the results came, I got 147/150 in Maths (60/60 in Y1 and 87/90 in Y2), I don't remember my exact marks in Chemistry and Physics (they were somewhere near 140). I got a total of 424/450.

And I topped my college in Hindi !!.

I easily topped the first group. I was second in the college, the topper being a girl who went on to become a doctor.

I went on to join Mechanical Engineering in an Engineering College in Kerala.

In that year, the University conducted the felicitation in a Men's college (That's right, they have them in Kerala even now !!). So I did not miss much, I suppose.

So what are the lessons that one can learn from my story?

1. Having a dream is very important. The more big it is, the better.
2. Power of visualization is very important. I visualized that I had got 450/450, that I was the topper and I was being felicitated in the midst of all the cheering girls. I visualized myself as a University Topper.
3. Hard work, almost monomaniacal and focused hard work is very important. No amount of dream could have got me that result if it were not for extra-ordinary amount of effort that I put in.

So there you have, my recipe for success. Dream, Visualize and Work Hard. And Succeed.

All the best.

03 May 2013

There are only four jobs in the world !!!

Source: This article was published in Linkedin. Written by Lou Adler (@LouA) is the Amazon best-selling author of Hire With Your Head (Wiley, 2007) and the award-winning Nightingale-Conant audio program, Talent Rules! His latest book, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired, is now available on Amazon.

There are only four different jobs in the whole world.

Everything starts with an idea. This is the first of the four jobs – the Thinkers. Builders convert these ideas into reality. This the second job. Improvers make this reality better. This is the third job. Producers do the work over and over again, delivering quality goods and services to the company’s customers in a repeatable manner. This is the fourth job. And then the process begins again with new ideas and new ways of doing business being developed as the old ones become stale.

As a company grows and reaches maturity, more of the work gets done by the Producers and Improvers. However, without a culture of consistent improvement, the Producers soon take over and implementing change becomes slower and slower until it stops. Long before this the Thinkers and Builders have left for some new venture. Improvers soon follow to join their former co-workers and hire new Producers to add some order to the newly created chaos. The old Producers who aren’t continually evolving, learning new skills and processes, are left behind to fend for themselves. Maintaining balance across all four work types is a constant, but a necessary, struggle for a company to continue to grow, adapt, and survive.

Every job has a mix of all four work types dependent on the actual work involved, the scope and scale of the role, and the company’s growth rate. To ensure balance and flexibility, all of these four work types should be taken into account when preparing any new performance-based job description. Here’s how:

Producers: these people execute or maintain a repeatable process. This can range from simple things like working on an inbound help desk and handling some transactional process, to more complex, like auditing the performance of a big system, writing code, or producing the monthly financial reports. Producers typically require training or advanced skills to be in a position to execute the process. To determine the appropriate Producer performance objectives, ask the hiring manager to define how any required skill is used on the job and how its success would be measured, e.g., “contact 15 new customers per week and have five agree to an onsite demonstration.“ This is a lot better than saying “the person must have 3-5 years of sales experience selling to sophisticated buyers of electro-mechanical control valves.”

Improvers: these people upgrade, change or make a repeatable process better. Managers are generally required to continually monitor and improve a process under their responsibility. Building, training and developing the team to implement a process is part of an Improver’s role. Improvers can be individual contributors or managers of teams and projects, the key is the focus on improving a existing system, business or process. A performance objective for an Improver could be “conduct a comprehensive process review of the wafer fab process to determine what it would take to improve end-to-end yield by 10%.”

Builders: these people take an idea from scratch and convert it into something tangible. This could be creating a new business, designing a complex new product, or developing a new process. Entrepreneurs, inventors, turn-around executives, those in R&D, and project managers are typical jobs that emphasize the Builder component. Ask the hiring manager what big changes, new developments, big problems or major projects the person in the new job would need to address to determine the Builder component. An example might be, “lead the implementation of the new SAP supply change system over every business unit including international.” This is a lot better than saying “must have five years international logistics background and strong expertise in SAP."

Thinkers: these people are the visionaries, strategists, intellects, and creators of the world, and every new idea starts with them. Their work covers new products, new business ideas, and different ways of doing everyday things. Ask hiring managers where the job requires thinking out-of-the-box or major problems to solve to develop the Thinker performance objectives. “Develop a totally new approach for reducing water usage by 50%,” is a lot better than saying “Must have 5-10 years of environmental engineering background including 3-5 years of wastewater management with a knack for creative solutions."

Recognize that every job requires some mix of each work type. As you select people for new roles it’s important to understand the full requirements of the position, who else is on the team, and the primary objective of the department, group or company. In the rush to get work done, it’s easy to lose sight of this bigger picture, emphasizing skills and experience over performance. This is how Builders get hired instead of Improvers and Thinkers get hired when Producers are required. While there are only four work types, hiring the wrong one is often how the wrong work gets done.