Subba’s Serendipitous moments

July 16, 2009

Accept your true self and be happy.

A plum once said, just because a banana lover came by, I converted myself into a banana. Unfortunately, his taste changed after a few months and so I became an orange. When he said I was bitter I became an apple, but he went in search of grapes. Yielding to the opinions of so many people, I have changed so many times that I no more know who I am. How I wish I had remained a plum and waited for a plum lover.

Just because a group of people do not accept you as you are, there is no necessity for you to strip yourself of your originality. You need to think good of yourself, for the world takes you at your own estimate. Never stoop down in order to gain recognition. Never let go of your true self to win a relationship. In the long run, you will regret that you traded your greatest glory – your uniqueness, for momentary validation. Even Gandhi was not accepted by many people. The group that does not accept you as you is not your world.

There is a world for each one of you, where you shall reign as king / queen by just being yourself. Find that world… in fact, that world will find you.

What water can do, gasoline cannot and what copper can, gold cannot. The fragility of the ant enables it to move and the rigidity of the tree enables it to stay rooted. Everything and everybody has been designed with a proportion of uniqueness to serve a purpose that we can fulfill only by being our unique self. You as you alone can serve your purpose and I as I alone can serve my purpose.

You are here to be you… just you.

There was a time in this world when a Krishna was required and he was sent; a time when a Christ was required and he was sent; a time when a Mahatma was required and he was sent; a time when a Einstein was required and he was sent. There came a time when you were required on this planet and hence you were sent. Let us be the best we can be. Don’t miss yourself and let the world not miss you.

In the history of the universe, there has been nobody like you and to the infinite of time to come, there will be no one like you. Existence should have loved you so much that it broke the mould after making you, so that another of your kind will never get repeated. You are original. You are rare. You are unique. You are a wonder. You are a masterpiece. .. your Master’s piece. Celebrate your Uniqueness.

June 27, 2009

In Government spin zone

In the times we live, the quality of a first rate mind is to be able to identify spin. The only negative side effect is that in the process one gets labeled as cynical. What was once purely seen as creating an image to put a sheen on performance, has now degenerated into an orchestrated spin often to substitute performance.

The best way to do spin on a co-operating and conniving media is to use data. Since the art of spin was invented in the U.S. let’s start there:

The data dished out indicates that continuous claims for unemployment benefits dropped. The naive reader would be led to believe that job creation is happening and unemployment is declining. The reality however is that once continuous claims are made, the recipients drop out of the claims rolls. This is confirmed by my economist friend — Dr. Ananth in his column as well. So, the drop in unemployment claims has nothing to do with generating jobs. This disclaimer is not stated even in the fine print.

The US non-farm economy lost only 345,000 jobs in May though it was expected to lose 500,000. One just inflates the “expected” figures and when the real number comes it is seen as better than expected, notwithstanding the fact that even the real numbers are high.

The flurry of visits to China by important officials in the Obama administration goes beyond the apparent significance. The US Treasury Secretary’s visit and before that the U.S. Foreign Secretary’s visit reiterating their U.S. was committed to a strong U.S. dollar is laughable. This is crude spin at best.

The U.S. is the biggest debtor and China has no choice but to accumulate U.S. dollar assets and suffer erosion of value as its currency is pegged to the U.S. dollar. As long as U.S. outsources its manufacturing to China, and as long as vested interests dictate that China’s economy has to be export driven, a weak U.S. dollar serves both sides. The U.S. keeps asking China to revalue its currency is nothing but a meaningless side show. Another case of spin.

The reality is that job creation in the U.S. since 2000 has been very low, and yet to keep the economy expanding the interest rates were kept low which created the asset bubble. We saw the repercussions of the asset bubble. Despite the bubble and the meltdown, China didn’t seize the opportunity to build a domestic economy. It simply increased the export rebates and boosted manufacturing capacity. Making the shift from export driven economy (which helped China taste success) to a domestic economy is akin to making the step from a state led economy to a market led economy. The present Chinese ruling elite has chosen to postpone the inevitable.

So, to keep up with the fact that Governments are doing something and that the economy is recovering we are entering the “spin zone”. Markets have rallied sharply since March 2009 and this is often cited as saying that all the stimulus spending is working. President Obama’s stimulus may become the cause of another bubble.

However if there’s more transparency and if the governments follow the principles of Government 2.0, by sharing all data and empowering citizens, it would be hard pressed to reveal the truth and curtail the spin.

Investors like bubbles. Media, to be relevant loves them. And Governments these days are too willing to generate one. And did I say that getting firmly entrenched in the “spin zone” and expanding the zone is often the first step.

I would certainly like to hear about the other spins that the Government puts across.

March 2, 2009

Warren Buffet– An enlightened sage!

Filed under: Business,Inspiration,Leadership — Subbaraman Iyer @ 12:12 am
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The surest test of a man’s character is his behavior when he has to deal with adverse circumstances and his admission of his errors or mistakes.

Warren Buffet often referred to as the sage of Omaha and considered to be the greatest investor of all times had his worst year. Berkshire Hathaway book value per share fell 9.6% in 2008 its biggest decline ever. The company also reported its fifth year-over-year quarterly decline. The $117 million quarterly gain  in the Q4 2008 is a 96% drop from Q4 2007 $2.9 billion in fourth-quarter income.

Despite the poor results,  the company’s book-value performance in 2008 still far outpaced the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, which fell 37% last year, including dividends, as well as hedge funds, which last year averaged about an 18% decline.

The share price is actually revealing and the share price has dropped 32% in 2008 and about 19% in 2009 beating the S&P marginally.

In his characteristic humble way, Warren Buffet in his annual letter to the shareholders said:

“During 2008 I did some dumb things in investments. I made at least one major mistake of commission and several lesser ones that also hurt. … Furthermore, I made some errors of omission, sucking my thumb when new facts came in that should have caused me to re-examine my thinking and promptly take action.”

For  the richest man on the planet to admit that he was dumb should teach all of us lessons about humility and the fallibility of human judgment. I have long been an admirer of the Warren Buffet’s wisdom, but now with this humility, he truly is not just a Sage, but an Enlightened Sage.

Coming after Alan Greenspan’s admission of shock that markets didn’t work, it only goes to show the ultimate measure of one’s greatness — Admitting one’s mistakes.

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September 25, 2007

The best apprenticeship for leadership

Filed under: Business,Leadership — Subbaraman Iyer @ 8:24 pm
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I have always believed that one of the best school for developing leadership traits especially in the corporate world is surprisingly in an area which is far removed from the corporate sector — the non-profit sector.

It is not very easy to be successful there, but it provides a great opportunity to develop one’s inner compass– something that stays for a long time. My own apprenticeship came about with my stints at a drug rehabilitation counseling centre and at another counseling centre dealing with people suffering from mental distress. It was here that I learnt the art of empathetic listening, re-framing issues, being able to focus on the short term keeping a long term plan in mind and more importantly the passion to make a difference in the lives of others. All these have always served me well in the corporate world.

Hence I am really happy that companies like GE, Google and Deloitte are hiring people from Teach for America (TFA). I am happy that Business Week published this amazing story of Wendy Kopp (the founder of TFA) and a lot of what has been written in that piece resonates with me very strongly. The last line in the piece: “Vision creates energy and energy creates charisma– an essential ingredient to successful leadership communications” sums it all very well.

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