Subba’s Serendipitous moments

July 26, 2008

Goodbye Randy!

Randy Paush who in the course of one lecture made thousands of people pause and reflect on their own lives passed away today.

Few people have lived a glorious life, and fewer have had a glorious death. Here is my humble tribute to the great man:

Randy, You couldn’t have done much about the length of your life. The brick wall won this time despite your heroic effort. But in your defeat you demonstrated what you could do with the limited time.

Randy, You changed the quality of the day for others, not just for the people who got in touch with you, but to the thousands of people who came to know you through the Last lecture.

Every time I have discussed your Last Lecture with others, I could discern that you have walked into the consciousness of people and given them confidence, motivation, perspective and direction. Your shining quality of goodness, your personal example of living your dreams radiated in full glory where there was self doubt. You showed what is to live life with courage and conviction in the midst of cowardice and what is to love and live life in a world of lust.

You treated the light things in life very seriously, and the serious things very lightly.

You practiced the highest of arts — the art of living, the art of life itself.

RIP Randy!

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July 12, 2008

Mandela on leadership

Filed under: Inspiration,Leadership,Learning,Perspective,Stories — Subbaraman Iyer @ 3:06 am
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Happy birthday, Madiba.

In the history of Africa, there have been only a handful of democratically elected leaders who willingly stood down from office. Mandela was determined to set a precedent for all who followed him — not only in South Africa but across the rest of the continent. He would be the anti-Mugabe, the man who gave birth to his country and refused to hold it hostage. “His job was to set the course,” says Ramaphosa, “not to steer the ship.” He knows that leaders lead as much by what they choose not to do as what they do.

Ultimately, the key to understanding Mandela is those 27 years in prison. The man who walked onto Robben Island in 1964 was emotional, headstrong, easily stung. The man who emerged was balanced and disciplined. He is not and never has been introspective. I often asked him how the man who emerged from prison differed from the willful young man who had entered it. He hated this question. Finally, in exasperation one day, he said, “I came out mature.” There is nothing so rare — or so valuable — as a mature man.

The leadership traits that he describes may seem common sense, but executing them requires sagacity, only someone who “came out mature” could do..!

Here are the key points:

Courage is not the absence of fear — it’s inspiring others to move beyond it

Lead from the front — but don’t leave your base behind

Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front

Know your enemy — and learn about his favorite sport

Keep your friends close — and your rivals even closer

Appearances matter — and remember to smile

Nothing is black or white

Quitting is leading too
Don’t be content reading just the key points. Read and reflect on how this spiritual /political leader applied it in his own life.

July 10, 2008

VMware Diane Green quits — intriguing!

Filed under: Business,Leadership — Subbaraman Iyer @ 10:56 pm
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Very few CEO exits in the tech world have been as intriguing as VMware’s CEO sudden ouster by the Board in an abrupt manner. She was instrumental in developing a completely new model for computing by defining virtualization. The VM stands for “virtual machine,” because the software tricks servers and other computers into running multiple operating systems, even though most are designed to run only one. Running virtual machines allows companies to buy fewer computers – a cost savings that accounts for VMware’s explosive growth creating the most successful IPO in recent times. In the weeks after its IPO, VMware’s shares moved as high as $125.25, though the stock is now at just 50% of its all time high.

I wonder whether it has just to do with the fact that VMware expected revenues for the full year of 2008 will be modestly below the previous guidance of 50% growth (from $1.3 to $1.9 billion) in 2007 after a 80% growth in the preceding year. I doubt few executives would get fired for a modest drop.

I wonder whether it is the impeding release of Microsoft’s release of Hyper-V and did the Board believe that Paul Maritz would be better equipped to take on Microsoft. It is unlikely that both are going to compete directly as VMware’s sweet spot is in the data centre and Microsoft is more likely to target the desktop and the server areas. For Microsoft the Hyper V is an extension of its server products and its pricing at $29 is intended for faster adoption in the SMB space. It will be another couple of years at least before they face each other directly.

Well a number of competitors (Sun, Red Hat) are now offering stripped down virtualization software for free. However that’s not much of a threat as 80% of the revenues for VMware comes from advanced features that the competition can’t match yet.

So, if it is not business issues that paved her ouster, what could else it be? My own assessment is perhaps that it could be just the relationship between Diana Green and the Board members, a majority of whom are from EMC (both current or former executives) by virtue of the fact that EMC still holds about 87% of VMware. Has the relationship been strained for some particular reason? That seems to be the most plausible way to explain the sudden departure.

With this transition, would the rules of engagement between EMC and VMware change? Would EMC now sell VMware and use that against its competition?

VMware will have lost that spark and singular passion that only CEO/founders are usually able to provide. All I can say is that this is one of the most intriguing high profile CEO exists in recent times!

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July 3, 2008

A stroke that produces an insight

“How many brain scientists have been able to study the brain from the inside out? I’ve gotten as much out of this experience of losing my left mind as I have in my entire academic career.” Jill Bolte Taylor.

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor — a brain scientist describes how she had a brain stroke and in that moment experienced Nirvana. She explains her ‘enlightenment’ experience in vivid detail that leaves you in raptures.

Her last message is profound. She says that any of us can do it and when when everyone living in the world can have this conscious control over themselves, she pictures a “world filled with beautiful, peaceful, compassionate, loving people who knew that they could come to this space at any time.”

A beautiful vision indeed!

I would strongly recommend visiting if you have not visited the site. Every video there is a deep experience and some of the videos are bound to educate you (Al Gore), enthrall you and entertain you.

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