Thursday, November 18, 2010

From The Silicon Valley to Social Networking - Takeaways

Yes. You guessed right, the motivation behind this post! If you haven't, then I am sure by the time you would have finished reading this post, you will understand. WORRY NOT. Read on....

It was just plain coincidence that I happened to watch both "The Social Network" and "Pirates of The Silicon Valley", recently. Both happen to be amazing movies in their own right. While "The Social Network" talks about how a very simple idea revolutionalized the face of social networking to a whole new level (Well. The movie, per se, talks about the rivalry within the "co-founders" of Facebook. But the underlying, i.e. Facebook, certainly has changed the face of social networking! So much so that I have even incorporated a similar "like" button for each and every post on this blog!), "Pirates of the Silicon Valley" talks about the intense rivalry between two very ambitions groups of people trying to get complete access to an industry that has changed the way the world works.

But in both these movies (Which are actual stories, though the story depicted in "The Social Network" has been denied by Mark Zuckerberg), there are a whole host of takeaways for you and me, the viewer, other than the fact that you may have just seen a very good movie. And had great pop corn. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of similarities in all these stories, and also in other success stories, like Youtube, Twitter, etc.

And here I am, like Lord Krishna to Arjuna, to show you the light. Hopefully, these words of wisdom will actually be what it is... words of wisdom! A Bhagwad Gita to good business, some may say!

Takeaway 1 : Nerds are my new best friends!

Let's face it. With the growing number of "enlightened" souls giving the CAT every year, and relying on the survival kit to get their coveted "jobs" in the market, there is as hell no shortage of businessmen to befriend. But, nerds who do cocky stuff and get caught hacking some computer or car or whatever? Few and far between! And all you need is some money in your pocket. Well, your post-graduate degree takes care of that! (Well, considering what I and my batch of fellow MBAs went through, I myself would beg to differ. But, to get into these B-schools in the first place, you would need lots of money. And I am pretty sure you will have enough to make your nerdy friend happy!)

All you engineering programing people who can program the complexest of codes. I AM YOUR NEW BESTEST FRIEND! The same applies to nerds in any other field/industry too.

Takeaway 2 : Never go solo.

Other than the fact that you don't have the expertise to come up with a great idea (at least I think as of now I don't, especially after my post-graduation), there is no way that you will be able to make your million billion gazillion dollar idea work, if you do it alone. In all the success cases described above, you see more than one brain behind it.

Group dynamics of the group is also very VERY important. There is always that bespectacled, freckle haired, bearded nerd grouped with the outspoken, suited up businessman. Which is why Takeaway 1 is all that more important.

Takeaway 3 : It's always in the simple ideas.

The concept. The thing that makes the mind of a nerd work. That is the thing that distinguishes a Facebook from a ...ummm.... BeOS (What in the world is THAT?! BeOS- The Wiki, for those who want to know. Apparently a disaster.) 

YouTube is a classic example of this. A simple idea. Sharing videos with everyone else. What does it fetch? A cool $1.65 billion dollars to the original founders.

WHY CAN'T ANY SUCH IDEAS COME TO ME!!! Again, I think Takeaway 1 is very important, for this takeaway to work. Let the nerds come with the ideas. As long as you have the initial money, this is something that we, the now extremely common MBA, need not worry about.

Takeaway 4 : GET INTO HARVARD!

What's Harvard got that IIM/MDI/FMS etc. ain't got? What's this with people studying in Harvard and getting these amazingly brilliant ideas? Is it that they cannot get it anywhere else? Why do these people get it ONLY AFTER GETTING INTO HARVARD? Why not before? Why am I asking so many questions? Why is there a lion standing right in front of you? (HA! If you had fallen asleep reading all those questions, then GOTCHA! If not, then.. still would have read it! HA!)

Bottom line. HARVARD ki jai ho!

Takeaway 5 : Word of mouth works!

There is a very subtle difference between gossip, and word of mouth (or word of e-mail, in this day and age of technology)

With gossip, the initial message sent will be completely different from the final message received on the other end. And with it, goes the idea behind sending the initial message in the first place. A message like "A has a crush on B", almost invariably ends up becoming "A has proposed to B and has also slept with him/her!!". 

With word of mouth, on the other hand, the exact same idea/theme/message is sent across. And this goes on and on and on, till  a whole lot of people get to know of the idea. This is exactly how Facebook/Gmail/Youtube/Kamikaze's Konundrums became famous (I keep high optimistic expectations, you see.)

Takeaway 6 : The girls come alongwith the idea.

Get the idea. Or buy the idea. Just be associated with an idea. And the girls will come flocking to you! (OK. This probably was taken just from "The Social Network". Nevertheless, a notable observation it is! Even otherwise, once you have the moolah, the women come along, no?)

YES! That everlasting non answerable Konundrum that has been screwing my head up all these years has been answered!! Well, WHOOPDEDOO!!

Only one slight problem. The idea. It still eludes me. Hence, every woman eludes me. It's akin to saying "I don't have the idea. Therefore I am single" (You know, similar to "I think. Therefore I am." Get it? No? OK then ...)

I am pretty sure that someone will copy these takeaways and come up with some big idea of their own (Again. High expectations I have of blog viewership.) And that is when I will....

Takeaway 7 : Cash in when you get the opportunity.

Suing gives you the opportunity to make millions. So what if the other party concerned is making billions? If there is something wrong, and you are involved. CASH IN! And live a life of AWE...wait for it...SOME...wait for it again...NESS.

Well, these are the takeaways that I took from these enterprising, amazing discoveries/inventions. I am sure that you would have also taken something away from these movies/stories. I would love to hear them out!

Monday, November 15, 2010

You know you have....

Played too much NFS, when you see a construction site in Mumbai, and think of just ramming it, to see it fall and crush the vehicles behind you.

Seen too much KBC, when you say in a meeting "Let's lock this meeting, computerji!"

Seen too much KBC again, when you disagree by saying "Afsos, galat jawaab...."

Watched too much football, when you accuse someone of diving when he slips and falls down on the road/floor while walking

Not done much for a long time, when you start putting benchmarks in office as "winning the champions league in FIFA 2011"

Not done much for a long time, when your milestone in office becomes "having evening coffee"

Kept your laptop unlocked for a long time, when you find the absurdest of messages sent by you on Facebook/Orkut/Gtalk

Been online on Facebook for long time, if you can exactly predict by whom the next update will come, and when

Not conveyed your message properly, when the person listening to you asks during the QnA session "What did you say after HELLO?"

Become a huge fan of Sony products, when you always try to "MAKE.BELIEVE" everyone else to use their products

OK. That's all I can think of now!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Airway from hell returns.

This is the second part of two posts. The first part is HERE.

I had thought initially that my first experience with an Air India flight would be my last, as I was going back to Mumbai by one of those private airliners that ask for exorbitant prices for a sandwich that even I would take just five minutes to prepare (It just boils my blood when they say "Veg Sandwich for Rupees one hundred ONLY") .

I had strategically booked flights to return back on Monday. It had two distinct advantages :

1) It was way cheaper than the same flights on Sunday. Everyone wanted to board a flight on Sunday!

2) I could stay home for another day! YIPPEE!

When I did book the tickets that day, it was still my honeymoon period at the place where I am working. There was only time to do extracurricular activities, like playing Uno, Rock Paper Scissors, Far Cry 2, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011, and so on. "Work" was so tiring that I had to sleep for an hour after office, just to regain some energy!

After booking the return tickets, I was the happiest man alive! I just couldn't wait to go home! Now all that was left was to get that approval from the HR. Should be easy, right?

How wrong I was!

I was rejected my Monday leave, on account of my work starting on that day. How convenient! It was the only reason for which I could not give a counter argument to! After long deliberation, it was decided that I do take a flight back on Sunday.

And lo and behold! There was only one relatively cheap flight back to Mumbai on Sunday. Guess which one it was?? YES!! You got it right! Our own, dearest Air India! Unfortunately, at the time of booking, I had not gone through THIS. So the same old "YIPPEE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT!" was the feeling that I had.

November 7th

Even before I could finish saying the word Eyjafjallajökull, my vacation had come to an end. Sadly, it was time to go back to Mumbai. This time, however, there was no Gate entering fiasco that I had encountered the last time I was on board (rather, BEFORE I was on board) an Air India flight. They kept announcing a "Pre- boarding" announcement till it was an hour after the scheduled time for take-off!

On boarding the flight, I was to find out that I was given the most uncomfortable seats of the flight. A word of advice for those people reading this. Never ever allow the ticket attendant to allot you row 6 in an Air India flight. You will end up getting cramps if you sit there! Unless you decide to sit cross legged in that seat.

By now, I had gotten used to the standard in-flight procedures followed at Air India. I managed to catch a few minutes of sleep during the flight too! There was the usual "technical issue" with the air conditioning system. But that did not stop me from forcing myself to sleep during the flight!

Unfortunately, I had to check-in some luggage, with all my extra clothing and food that I just had to take to Mumbai. (While I had gone home with just 2 small bags, I came back to Mumbai with 3!) And with that, came the next set of problems.

The flight reached Mumbai at around 11 in the night. I was totally expecting to reach home by 12, so that I could get a good nights' sleep before going to office the next day. Bur then, Air India had to have its say in postponing my sleep! Enter stage.. ummm... anywhere, another "technical snag", and "shortage of manpower". The check-in baggage doesn't start coming for another hour. And even after that, my luggage was one of the last to come (Always is the case, isn't it?)

I finally reached home at 1 in the morning. Looking back at both the flights, I guess I must have encountered some problem or the other at all stages of the flight, starting from the check-in, to finally getting the luggage!

I have learnt my lesson, and I hope whoever is reading this will do too. 

Moral of the posts : DO NOT EVER BOOK AN AIR INDIA DOMESTIC FLIGHT! (For International flights, I wouldn't know. But I would not want to take any chances either!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Airway from hell.

September 11th

I get a call from a friend of mine, who tells me that there are no tickets left to go home for Diwali. I quickly browse the net to find air tickets. The only direct flight was that of Air India. I think "WOW! International flight! Service must be world class! I will also get to see all those international chicks that usually go on all these flights! Can't wait!".

Oh Boy! Was it to be a completely different experience.....

November 4th

The flight was scheduled for one in the morning, as is the norm with all Air India flights, whether it be going from Mumbai to Kochi or to any other destination. The TV screen said that we would be boarding the flight from Gate No. 6A. So, like what any other normal traveler would do, I went and sat right next to the said gate, and waited. And waited, and waited and...... It was almost 12.50, when suddenly a guy comes from nowhere and shouts "AIR INDIA FLIGHT TO KOCHI!!! PLEASE FOLLOW ME", and just runs away, leaving us to find out where exactly he went from the body odour he left behind.

We eventually realized that we had to board the flight from another gate! It took another good ten minutes to finally catch up with the guy (BOY!! What odour he had!). The only way the flight could have been considered OK now was if a super good looking woman sat right next to me in the flight.

And guess what happened.

I was sincerely hoping this would not happen again. It did not. This time, I composed myself to start another random conversation, only to find that the woman was fast asleep! Another opportunity lost!! WHY SHOULD THESE AIR INDIA FLIGHTS FLY SO LATE IN THE NIGHT!!

It was a whole different point that I myself was feeling very sleepy. All the adrenalin, testosterone and what not, that I had mustered from having to start a completely random conversation with the woman sitting right next to me withered away, and I suddenly felt extremely tired. My eyes just screamed to close and my brain pleaded with me to reach dreamland.

As I was about to embark on my now customary "Sleep that I should have whenever I get into any vehicle/train/flight" (Although, in this case, it was actually bed time! So even a normal person would fall asleep!), I get shouted at by the air hostess. She kept on shouting "FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS! FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS! FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS!", without even bothering to note that it was late night and that everyone wanted to just SLEEP!

Well, atleast if the air hostess was good looking, I would have said "Women air hostesses! They have only looks!" and would have just laughed the whole incident off. But, alas! That was not the case with the hostesses in this flight. The less I say about them, the better it is for.. well... them.

After the seatbelt fiasco, there was a bit of a lull. Again, it being the middle of the night, I was feeling very sleepy. I was about to fall asleep when again came the barrage! "PLEASE OPEN YOUR TRAY! PLEASE OPEN YOUR TRAY!" they said, this time around. And dumped some food on the tray, and left off to wake up the next person from his/her wonderful dream.

The food, I have to say, was actually good. I gobbled it up in a matter of seconds. The woman sitting beside me was still sleeping. She had not fallen for all the tricks that the hostess used to keep us awake in the flight. "WHY ME?! WAKE UP WOMAN!" was what came to my mind at that time.

Next up, they come to serve us tea and coffee. AT 2.30 IN THE MORNING! I was reminded of my time in college, frantically trying to stay awake to read up something to write for the exam the next day. Tea played a very important role those days. If not for tea/coffee/caffine, I would not have passed Engineering/MBA!

But then, this was not one of those days. In fact, it was just the opposite. I so wanted to sleep! But no, these hostesses would not go away unless we had our cup of coffee. And thus, I ended up staying awake for the whole flight journey. And the woman next to me slept like a baby.

Thankfully, I had not put any checkin luggage. But, at that time, I had this gut feeling that it would, in the end, come back to haunt me. And it sure did. All that for a later time, though.....