Tuesday, May 27, 2008

King Kahn bids adieu

May 27, 2008 will be marked as a special day in soccer history. Oliver 'King' Kahn, famous goal keeper of Bayern Munich and Germany played his last game at Salt Lake stadium in Kolkatta, India (Link-1, Link-2, Link-3).

I have played soccer at competitive level - both in high school and in college. Although I used to play at all positions (forward, mid field, defense etc.), my favorite location was goal keeping. I picked goal keeping because of my 'better' anticipation skills and it required least movement (good for lazy people like me)!!. When I picked a knee injury while playing 'tennis ball' soccer game in a skating rink (!!!), I became a full time goal keeper.

Whenever I think of goal keeping, I remember Oliver Kahn. He was easily the best goal keeper of my times. I remember my days when I used to take goal keeping tips from him by keenly watching his moves on the field during world cup matches! As my tribute to Oliver Kahn, here are two videos of him showing his skills on the ground:

Oliver Kahn in Action:

Oliver Kahn -The Perfectionist:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What will I do if I discover that I am dying tomorrow?

I met a very interesting person yesterday at TiECon 2008 - Harold Katzenschlager. He is a from a small town near Vienna, Austria and he is a "Mental Coach" as per his business card. I met him while putting sugar in my coffee in one of the break sessions at TiECon. There was an aura of calmness around him and I think this forced me to initiate the conversation with him.

I talked to him for 30 mins and he shared his experiences of his travels all over the world, how he escaped Dec 2004 Tsunami by a whisker, his experiences with people all over the world etc.

As a part of his coaching, he asks lot of open ended questions. When  we were towards the end of our conversation, he asked me -

"What will I do if I discover that I am dying tomorrow?".

I struggled to find the answer. I thought about it for a while and tried to remember what I wrote in my graduate school essays (!!!).  But, I couldn't come with an impressive answer. I gave some random answer and the smile on his face said it all. He knew that I was not giving the answer from my heart.

I kept on thinking about this for the rest of the day - during all panel sessions, lunch, dinner etc. My 'bulb' lit up when I was driving back from Shruti's house.

Earlier in the day, I heard Mike Malone moderating the discussion with Elon Musk (founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX). He closed the discussion by saying:

'Ladies and Gentleman, Elon Musk, Entrepreneur Extraordinaire"

While driving back, I started thinking about how people should remember me after I am gone from this world. And the voice came from somewhere:

"Entrepreneur Extraordinaire"

I will become an entrepreneur if I discover that I am dying tomorrow!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Job Satisfaction vs Time

Job satisfaction is a function of how many times you check the clock on the bottom right of your computer screen.


For more index cards like the one above, please check an amazing blog by Jessica Hagy.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Didn't expect this to happen so soon!

Yesterday, I learned the biggest lesson of my life - people with authority will not appreciate your efforts if the results are not positive. Instead of providing room for innovation, they will blame you for not performing. There is only one way to avoid the blame game - produce positive results irrespective of the environment. That's it. It's so simple!

I was always under the impression that honest efforts are more important than the final results. During my two years at Stanford, I worked with three amazing teachers – Prof. William Perry (former US Defense Secretary), Prof Tina Seelig and Prof. Tom Byers. All three of them always encouraged me to put it my best efforts and to forget about the results. They believed that I would learn something from failure also.

I can not forget the first group meeting of my research group held three years ago on the fourth floor of Terman Engineering building. Tom gave me a standing ovation because I pushed my first piece of software to production. Here is a person who is a very senior faculty at Stanford and head of the research group standing and clapping for me because I wrote a small piece of code (20 lines of code).

Sadly, in corporate life, people care only about results. I wanted to innovate without worrying about the results. I wanted to build products which would delight the users. I wanted to work in an environment where merit of the idea is more important than who presents it. 

I guess life has a funny habit of teaching relevant lessons at the most opportune moment. Yesterday was that moment for me. I just didn't expect this to happen so soon!

I am glad that I learned this lesson.