Posted in My World View, Random thots..

Idea #4: Procrastination is good for you!


Fine. I’ll admit it.

Since the last two days, I was struggling with the Idea for this week. There were a few possibilities knocking in my head, but they somehow didn’t fit in. Desperate in need for a bright shiny idea, I made fanciful preparations to lure and ensnare it.

You know the regular routine… Turn off the TV. Adjust the lighting. Fix the cushions. Fill the coffee cup. Buckle down to write.

But pushing hard seemed to have the opposite effect. Nothing worked!.

So realizing the futility of it all, I let it go. Picked up a book from my to-read shelf and began reading… It’s surprising that in these moments, Idea #4 struck me.  And ironic as it may sound, it said – Procrastination is good for you!

Well… how many times have you hated yourself for procrastinating? Fussed over details and feared that the sky will fall off if you don’t act soon enough. Lamented on a time atrophied in utter lack of effort.

But then, have you noticed how you get sudden bursts of fertile inspiration after long fallow stretches of inactivity? Or have discovered surprising answers to questions that had simmered in your subconscious, in periods of idleness and solitude.

We consider procrastination to be something evil. The thief of time. The killer of productivity. The scourge of creativity.

But is it really so awful?

Maybe not. It could be a time spent thinking over, sharpening the axe, strategizing! A time getting prepared for all the wonderful things that have been locked in some precious corner of your brain, and required some catalyst to bubble out. A time to witness epiphanies, and assimilate the Eureka moments. A time to realize who you really are, apart from the needy pushy ambitious self that you keep pumping up eternally. A time to wallow in the sweetness of solitude, and the shy answers it brings to your overbearing questions.

If you think of it the other way round, “Procrastination is not the problem. It is the solution. It is the universe’s way of saying stop, slow down, you move too fast”. It is nature’s way of revealing things that you would never have unearthed yourself.

“It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top”!

So the next time you procrastinate, don’t kill yourself with guilt. Look out for those subtle clues that might have evaded your conscious mind.

Did it ignite a spark in you, the seed of the idea which had eluded you all this while? Or a key element in a new path which had always dodged you and deemed impossible. Or did it suddenly dawn that the thing you were pursuing relentlessly all this while wasn’t worth it at all??

Yes, that’s what creators call epiphany… the eureka moment which will creep up shyly to you when you are alone. When you sit down and let it go. When you filter all the noisy channels and focus.

I can hear you asking – Focus on what?

And my answer is – Nothing.

Posted in My World View, Random thots..

Idea #3: Execution is everything!


When you think of Creativity, what are the thoughts that hit you first?

Well, you might consider it as the ability to come up with shiny, jaw dropping, awe inspiring ideas.

But in my experience, the hard part about Creativity is not about coming up with new ideas at all.

And that is the thought of this week . On their own, ideas are nothing. Execution is everything!

Really !??

Well, we get ideas all the time. In the shower.. while shaving, or brushing our teeth. But it’s the guy who walks out of the shower, dries off and buckles down to work is the one who makes the difference. Writes the bestseller.  Outshines in the workplace. Makes millions.

Okay, I agree that ideas are sexy.. fascinating.. alluring – they inspire confidence in us. But they are also a bunch of dangerous, reckless, wild things. They make us overestimate our ability to execute. And that can hit you very hard – as it happened to the 3 guys here.

In early 2003, a bunch of Harvard seniors stumbled on the idea of creating a dating site for the university. They engaged a freshman to program their site. Well, it turns out that the kid they hired was smarter than they had bargained for. He improved on their idea, built a cool website and launched it himself. The new site created a storm on the Internet, and that kid went on to become one of the world’s youngest billionaires.

You guessed it right. This is the story of Facebook.

The point is, can anyone deny Mark Zuckerberg the credit for Facebook’s success?.  He might not have owned the idea, but then, ideas are tied to reality only by execution. In the movie “The Social network”, Zuckerberg famously says – “ If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.”.  Touché!

Friends. Fellows. Countrymen!

The path to success winds through mountains of pain, heartbreaks, heartburns and learning.. And there are so other many factors like vision, talent, analytical insights, passion and most importantly, luck.. An idea is just the beginning!..

That brings us to the next question. Why is understanding this life changing?

Because, if you have a brilliant idea, be sure that this not enough. Brace yourself; you have a long way to go.

And don’t be too upset if someone else stumbled on the same idea as yours.. Execution is everything.. baby!! 🙂

Posted in My World View, Random thots..

Idea #2: Everything is a Remix!


How many hours have you spent agonizing to capture that elusive original Idea for your Research project?

Or struggled to create a novel character for your book..

Have you counted the restless nights you spent pondering to figure out the pioneering Business Model which will catapult your yet-to-be-born Startup to stardom?

Yeah, I’ve been there too!

All of us dream of creating the next big thing..  

And everyone (including me) is obsessed with the myth that remarkable creations always begin with an original never-before-conceptualized idea. That makes our lives hell, filling it up with painful things like disappointment, self-doubt and procrastination. 

So, Ladies and Gentlemen..we have an inspired Idea #2, coming to rescue all of mankind. 🙂

Yes.. Everything is a remix!

“Original” stories are found, not born. “Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of the void, but out of chaos”.

Many times we get lost in search for the perfect original thing. And end up with nothing. And that is because there is no perfect original idea in this world. Ideas are like DNA; they combine and create greater stronger Ideas.. And the most successful ones are those which are tried and tested improved versions of previous successful ones.

Great stories are mash ups of awesome stories told before. High quality code is one built successfully on old code. Don’t believe me? Here is the reason:

“Old code has been used. It has been tested. Lots of bugs have been found, and they’ve been fixed. There’s nothing wrong with it. It doesn’t acquire bugs just by sitting around on your hard drive!”

Still not convinced?

All of us will agree that Apple as one of the most innovative companies of our times. And we also know that the Mac of the 1970s was inspired by the primitive GUI developed by Xerox Corporation.  In an interview, Steve Jobs himself confessed how the idea of the Mac germinated in his head after a visit to the Xerox facility. On the same note, he even quoted – “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”!  

The point is, he just saw what no-one else did. Everyone else saw a UI based computer. What Jobs saw was the awesome customer experience that it could create – a.k.a the jaw dropping, cult creating Macintosh PC.

And that’s the secret to breathtaking creations.

View ideas with different lenses. Have a different perspective –the same object inspires us in different ways.

Tinker. Remix. Restructure. Renovate.

And if you understand this truth, you will never fall short of ideas to create something – books, rain, thunder, clouds, conversations, dreams, the route to office, newspaper headlines, office gossip, chatter on the radio..

Anything can inspire you to create something great. You just have to tune in and find your Inspiration!

Posted in My World View, Random thots.., Time Machine

Idea #1: Start your day like a Rock Star!


What do you do the moment you get up from bed in the morning, and start your smartphone/laptop?

Read emails.. Check Facebook and Twitter updates.. Shoot off prompt replies to the queries of your Boss.. Make a mad dash to get ready for your office?

Well, that’s what I had been doing all this while. And I expect many of you would be doing too..

But then, do you realize that by doing all this, you lose your chance to:

  • Harness your most creative moments of the day to work on that dream personal project
  • Tap in that great idea that flit through your head just before you fell asleep last night
  • Tell yourself how this day would be a step ahead for your Goals

When you start your day with someone else’s agenda, you give away control of your life to others. You let them lead the day for you. You become a reactive automaton.

So that’s the theme of Idea#1 – Begin each day on your own terms, like a Rock star!

Yeah, it is hard – not allowing yourself to get swept with the tide… taking initiative at the beginning of every single day. But it is also very important (and critical), because if you want to build something truly awesome and dramatic, it is not going to be built in a day. You need to spend some time visualizing that great thing that will be the purpose of your life.

Yes, I agree that work related e-mail is important. But then, wouldn’t it be great if every morning you could take 15 minutes to brush it aside and figure out how this day will fit in the grand scheme of things! The point is – that urgent e-mail can wait till you get to work. But the awesome project you have been working on will never be urgent for anyone else – except you.

And is this 15 minute “Me” time critical?.  Absolutely! Because, life (and this world) is moving ahead very fast, and because proactive, not reactive work is the key to great things..

And also because –  “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” !

Posted in My World View, Random thots.., Time Machine

Resolutions 2012!


I was flipping through my Rambling journal (yes, I have one where I scribble about the humdrum of my plebian life!), and stumbled upon this post. It was written in these New Year holidays, and had somehow got lost in the abundanceof babble.

So, I guessed I might as well post it. Everybody posts New Year resolutions in January. But the good thing about posting it in Feb is that you have one less month to follow them! 😛

OK. Here are a bunch of things that I have to do his year, and the list goes like this:

Focus, focus, focus: I have always been like this. So many ideas buzzing in my head, like tiny arrows flying around – until they crash into each other and I am left with a heap of scrap!. And what is the reason?

I need to FOCUS!

I have realized the importance of this from my husband (he is a perfectionist in whatever he does). So, while he is at some task, it’s like he has been teleported to a parallel universe. So, no matter how much you coax, cajole, push or prod him –it’s like you have simply ceased to exist!. And after his work is finished, he will casually reappear and ask – “Were you saying something?”. That would infuriate me so much – I wanted to box his ears! (Don’t be so shocked, every wife wants to do that! 😛 )

The point is; that made me wonder – “Why can’t I work like that?”..  For one, I have so many other things ringing in my head. And all my energy is dissipated in trying to scare these thousand unnecessary problems away. And the pitiful truth is – they don’t even get sorted!. In the sense, even if you focus on these imps, there is no guarantee that you have solved these small recurring problems once and for all.

Hence, it is best to prioritize, realize what has value and what does not.. And then focus on the things that have value and move on. Follow the Pareto principle in your life. 80% of the shit in your life is because of 20% of things. So cut the crap, remove the chaff..Focus!.

Complete what you have started: I start on a lot of things, but end up finishing very few of them. And Dude, that is a very big problem! You have GOT TO finish off the things you’ve started..

For one, nothing has value until it is complete.

Two, you begin to lose faith in new ideas if you haven’t done very well with your old ones. That makes you begin to underestimate your potential (which is really BAD!).

Three, the feel good factor generated from finished projects is like an exhilarating drug. It gives you precious confidence and will spur a lot of new ideas too!.

I am not saying that you should run after all the things that you have started. What I am saying is that all your tasks should have a rational completion; even marking an incomplete task as an abandoned project is a logical end. Otherwise the work desk in your head is perpetually cluttered with unfinished projects and you feel dissatisfied all the time – for no real reason!

Set deadlines for yourself: Remember the time when you used to function perfectly like clockwork if there were certain deadlines for you to keep up to; maybe because you had an exam to write of a quiz to give? And notice how your productivity peaked during the last few moments of exam preparation?

Well, now that we don’t have many exams to give in life, yet it is useful to try and harness that last minute power rush by pushing yourself to work in time boxed compartments. That way, you would be doing all the things you want to do, and also ensure that other things are not neglected. I feel this is particularly useful for creative work because there is no empirical method to measure whether you have been successful in what you are doing. Also, you can carry on and on with a certain piece of work to give it the shot of perfection – but never be satisfied with it!  So, setting deadlines will help.

Don’t procrastinate: Well, this one is the biggest bug of all. Procrastinating.. Thinking.. Thinking.. And in the end doing nothing!. What is the cause of this scourge?

The number one cause would be laziness, which can then be turned into excuses like waiting for the perfect time or idea to stroll by. But mostly, it is me stuck in a mindset that I whatever I have with me right now is just not good enough. So I go round and round in a merciless loop. Low confidence leads to procrastination leading to lower productivity which lowers my confidence even more. God, I have problems!!!!

Well, what is the solution? I am reminded of a motivational SMS sent by a great friend – “You can’t cross the sea by merely staring into the water“!

So go ahead and write that prize fetching paper on “Why the Euro zone economic crisis is caused by the melting of Polar ice caps?” or crank up that Artificial Intelligence based e-commerce startup you had always been thinking about.

Stop brooding and start working; because Telepathic and telekinetic devices haven’t been invented as yet!:P

Positive thinking: Okay, let me make it clear here. When I say positive thinking, I do not mean daydreaming. I know the idea of dreaming to success is quite enticing, but unfortunately, wishful dreams rarely turn into reality. They keep floating like some intangible beautiful cumulonimbus clouds, making you gaze at them with a sense of wonder ( until you get a tight slap in the face from an irritatingly righteous fellow called Common sense, and a rude kick in the butt from that merciless guy called Reality X-( )..

Now coming to the point on why positive thinking is critical.

Because, you will always be equal or lesser of all the things that you thought and believed you were capable of. It is very rare that someone who thinks she is capable of very less actually went ahead and achieved a lot more. That is simply not possible. Whatever you achieve will always be a subset of what you think you can. So think huge, humungous, gargantuan, brobdingnagian.. Because your future ( and life ) depends on it!

So here is my list of self improvement resolutions for this year. Hope my rambling soliloquies have been useful to you.

Au Revoir for now, and cya soon!

Posted in My World View, Random thots..

Thinking about Thinking!!!



It’s been a sort of lazy unhurried day, with me doing this and that. Browsing the Internet.. Sketching idle doodles in my imagination.. Many thoughts and memories flashing in my mind!.

And then, in all weirdness pops up this question. Where do all these ideas come from?.

Is there a director sitting inside my brain, crafting a massive orchestra.. Churning out performances as “Thoughts” when I am awake and showing me “Dreams” at night? Do I host some sort of embedded freakish weirdo in my head – doling out “Ideas” according to his whims and idiosyncrasies? Or do these “Ideas” have a mind of their own, sauntering out at their own leisurely pace?.

Sometimes I feel I am a slave to them. I cannot produce them on demand. They only appear out of some fortuitous accident. I can only train my mind to welcome them. Focus on un-focusing my brain, and let the music play…..

What’s the trick? Where do all these ideas come from? Some possible answers:

Maybe it’s the time of the day:
For me, it’s usually the mornings. Sometimes on my commute to work, I can hear many voices talking to me. When sit back and listen to those voices, they give me so many suggestions. Sometimes there are arguments and angry discussions, too many people talking together. The brain is furiously trying to solve unanswered questions, making bits and pieces of a forgotten puzzle fit in together. It’s like you are blank, not thinking of anything in particular.. Some interconnections fire up to give you an entirely new idea. And you have to scramble frantically write it down before it disappears!.

Perhaps it’s in your environment:
We are a complex processed form of the environment around us. Like us, maybe our ideas are also an assimilation of all the people we have met, seen or read about.
Is it some chemical locha, some combination of genes, some sort of cellular mutation ? Or just the madcap in my head fooling around with a magical wand?! Tough question.

Maybe it’s your state of mind:
Ideas come to you only when your mind is free, with no constant drone of to-do lists hammering at the back of your head. For me, it’s very difficult to think out-of-the-box when I have loads of other stuff to do. And when there is a lot of clutter around.

Sometimes it’s in the randomness:
Ideas are like soap bubbles. One moment they are there -all gleamy and shiny, and the next instant “POP”, they disappear!.. And they come back when you least expect them to – while driving your car, taking a bath, or even in the loo! Often they suddenly appear like some phantoms of your past life. Or float in uninvited and uncalled for – like ghosts in the night!!
Maybe there is some method in the madness.Who knows ?

A sense of urgency:
Remember how many “Creative” assignments you have pushed through the door in last minute desperation to make submissions?…A sense of urgency can actually kick start your thinking process. Thinking about extreme things like your own death, or what impact you would have after you are gone can make you extraordinarily creative. If you have a nudging need, don’t abandon it. Think about it. Sit on it. If it doesn’t work out, sleep on it. You might get the solution in dreams! ( Don’t laugh, once I completed an entire chapter for the exam in my dreams, only to wake up and realize that I was asleep all the time!!)

Sometimes it’s Ignorance:
Remember how imaginative we were as kids? Always curious to understand things..Unbiased by preconceived notions, always experimenting without the fear of failure!
But then, we’ve changed. As we grow older, we learn to put things in a pattern. We get addicted to predictability. Anything out of the blue scares us. Education encourages us to organize everything around us into certain boxes, and destroys us. Blame it all on the system my friend – “We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control.”!

So, what do YOU think about thinking?? Give it a thought! 😀

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.
Amen.