Monday, October 26, 2009

Being Awesome!

During an engaging discussion with a fellow colleague, I was taken back to the memories of some wonderful motivational and self development sessions where Nick Bate advised us with clinical sharpness – ‘one way to succeed and to be happy is by being awesome in whatever you do’

The same discussion happens year after year. Nick says just be awesome. Students say, its just not possible because political correctness and ability to keep ones boss happy is of far greater consequence than just being awesome.

Nick’s absolutely right but students have a point.

Every process has a gestation period. Employees take a while before they establish their brand equity in an environment. It may be a new job, an academic cohort or just amongst friends. Till such time that this brand equity is established you have to be ‘correct’. At this point do not be tempted to assume that once the brand equity is established, you needn’t be correct.

Is it difficult to be awesome? – No it isn’t
Be a good human being.
Treat others (employees, customers, friends and relations) as you would want to be treated by others.
Assume that you are the CEO of the company and its 100% shareholder too (to ensure best intent).
Have knowledge of your domain.

It takes a while before you can establish yourself as an awesome human being (gestation period) and once you have done so, simply maintain it and don’t be bothered about anything else.

Success, brand equity, growth, money, happiness, confidence which is all so superfluously relative would then be incidental. And don’t get too busy being awesome!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Economics is quite simple really. Ask your mother who manages a home in the resources available to her. She has no problem in managing her home or saving a kitty for a rainy day. Irrespective of one’s position in the pecking order of financial freedom, the lady of the house always manages within her means.

Ben Bernanke (BB) thinks otherwise. He wants the eastern world to spend beyond their means to subsidise the imbalances caused by the western world. He says ‘progress can only be made to remove imbalances when Asians start saving ‘too little’ ’.

He wants every country to run a trillion dollar deficit. When every single country on the planet is precariously debt ridden (as bad as the US) the imbalances will wither away.

Great idea!!

In the meanwhile he needs to learn a thing or two from a prudent homemaker.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Global rant about carbon emissions

Top leaders of the world O, B, S and the likes amuse me. Their rant never stops about CO2 emissions and the impending urgency of doing something about it. And they want India and China to reduce the emissions to half.

The developed world (read G8) has enjoyed the pleasure of depleting the world of its fossils and fuels for the last 100 years and have failed to acknowledge their own contribution to the green house gases - all this while.

When suddenly they realised that they have brought the world to a precipice of destruction, they started blowing the trumpets of concern and are leaving no stone unturned to suffocate the developing world in the name of global urgency that might deprive the two most progressive nations of their share of development and growth.

The following statistic is a bit of an eye opener.

China and India are at 80th and 113th position amongst countries emitting CO2 emissions per capita.
C and I are not even amongst top 40 countries in generating CO2 per $ of GDP.
The developed countries are not even amongst the top 100 countries in terms of preserving the forest cover as a percentage of total land mass.

So is there a solution? Well practically ‘No’, which implies that the rant will continue forever.

Academically ‘Yes’ – The maximum amount of CO2 emissions happen because of heating, cooling and driving habits of a country’s population. Increase gas prices to a point that the emissions get reduced to the level that is targeted or to a level that will allegedly save the planet.

Isn’t this a simple economic principle of demand and supply (usage) curve.

Do these countries have a will – NO.
Can a structural and moral change be induced amongst the population of the developed world – NO

Developing countries have been a catalyst in retrieving the world from an abyss of severe depression recently. Let these countries develop and grow. Please do not snatch the right of these countries to their share of development.

And in the meanwhile the top environmental police party - Stop speaking and start acting.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dollar’s hay days are almost over

Saddam Hussein was a tyrant and he cannot get any sympathy for any of his actions. But he was not executed for what he did to the Kurds or the alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction. He was executed because he started selling his oil in Euros.

For a significant period of time the US of A has been an effective global policeman. And rightly so – because if not US then who?

But the world’s biggest consumer of goods and services has been brought down to its knees by its over zealous spending population and the country is running a deficit of trillions of dollars that is likely to be its waterloo.

For as long as Americans continue to be the world’s largest (and biggest) consumers, no one can take the mantle away from the US. But gradually as the spending patterns shift and wealth shifts from the west to the east, the US$ will slowly and gradually bleed itself to death as the worlds reserve currency.

History has it. This is exactly what happened to the erstwhile reserve currencies of the world - Roman Dinar, Spanish Reale and the British Pound. The reserve currency status has allowed the country and its populace to live beyond its means and eventually be displaced forever.

UN says ‘New reserve currency must be found to end dollars undue privilege’, and rightly so. Because dollar has been and is the reserve currency, Fed could afford to simply add a few zeroes to it’s balance sheet and print money. Some say and ‘couple’ of trillion dollars.

If any other country had created a financial mess that the US and its bankers created, it would have been worse off than Zimbabwe, with a billion dollar note cheaper than the intrinsic value of a toilet roll.

This cannot happen overnight for dollar. It will remain strong for a foreseeable future but small incremental deterioration in its strength is inevitable and the world is beginning to take cognisance of this fact.

Is there an alternative? - No!! No country yet has either the intellectual or financial capital to challenge the dollar. China is too autocratic (almost harmoniously dictatorial), India a bit too nascent. But these two countries are formidable forces to reckon with.

It doesn’t matter how much China rants about the US$. They have financed the American debt of over 770 billion dollars in addition to their dollar reserves of over 2 trillion. So they need to ensure that the value of their investments is maintained. But future investments by countries must be in line with simple rules of portfolio diversification.

The moral of the story – Portfolio diversification reduces the un systemic risk. Invest while the world is still sceptical or else market efficiency will eliminate potential profits.

Where to invest – Renminbi, Indian Rupee and Euro…..

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mahatma Gandhi’s (Bapu*) greatness was His simplicity

Google paid a befitting tribute to the apostle of peace Bapu, on his 140th birthday, by putting his simple picture on its mainpage. Bapu achieved through non-violence what the wars of the world have failed to achieve.

Bapu says…

I have found that life persists in the midst of destruction. Therefore there must be a higher law than that of destruction. Only under that law would well ordered society be intelligible and life worth living. If that is the law of life we must work it out in daily existence. Wherever there are wars, wherever we are confronted with an opponent, conquer by love. I have found that the certain law of love has answered in my own life as the law of destruction has never done.

In daily life, it has to be a course of discipline though one may not like it, like, for instance, the life of a soldier. But I agree that, unless there is a hearty co-operation of the mind, the mere outward observance will be simply a mask, harmful both to the man himself and to others. The perfect state is reached only when mind and body and speech are in proper co-ordination. But it is always a case of intense mental struggle. It is not that I am incapable of anger, for instance, but I succeed almost on all occasions to keep my feelings under control. Whatever may be the result, there is always in me a conscious struggle for following the Law of Non-violence deliberately and ceaselessly. Such a struggle leaves one stronger for it.

I call myself a nationalist, but my nationalism is as broad as the universe. It includes in its sweep all the nations of the earth. My nationalism includes the well-being of the whole world. I do not want my India to rise on the ashes of other nations. I do not want India to exploit a single human being. I want India to be strong in order that she can infect the other nations also with her strength. Not so with a single nation in Europe today; they do not give strength to the others.

President Wilson mentioned his beautiful fourteen points, but said: "After all, if this endeavour of ours to arrive at peace fails, we have our armaments to fall back upon." I want to reverse that position, and I say: "Our armaments have failed already. Let us now be in search of something new; let us try the force of love and God which is truth." When we have got that, we shall want nothing else.

Einstein wrote “will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth”

“Happy Birthday Bapu

* The nation calls him ‘Bapu’ (Hindi for Father of the Nation) as a mark of respect

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