Tag Archives: musings

Are You Becoming What You Do Not Admire?

 

I was reflecting today on the movie “3 Idiots”, arguably the greatest movie hit in India (the Idiots are called so because they do not fit convention, not because they are dull or lazy).

We see one Idiot who grows up over the course of the movie to develop a spine, to get courage and confidence to do the right thing, to be honest and truthful no matter what the stakes. Continue reading Are You Becoming What You Do Not Admire?

Smart Work vs Hard Work – A New Perspective?

 

Smart Work vs Hard Work. Which is better, which should be valued?

This question haunts every workplace, and successfully confuses everyone. There are camps and devotees of either side, and convenient converts depending on situation!

It is actually quite simple, if we see some facets clearly. Continue reading Smart Work vs Hard Work – A New Perspective?

Why is Salary paid after Work is done?

Since my first job a couple decades ago, I have always been intrigued by a tradition in the world of work. It is so embedded in our minds and expectations that we don’t question it.

Salary for a month is always paid at end of that month. Sounds simple, right? But my question is: why?!? Why is salary paid after work is done? Let us look at this from various points of view.

 

Unknown Amount
In case of electricity, water, phones – you have to pay based on consumption. These have to be paid after the month, because it is not known how much you will consume during the month. Makes absolute sense. But salary for the most part is known and predictable – correct?

Trust
In real estate, you pay rent before a month begins. It may seem like the owner is trusting you with his house, so they expect pre-paid rent in exchange of that trust. In reality, it may just mean that the owner doesn’t trust you. In case of organizations and people working in those organizations, sure the organization is trusting you with its work. But aren’t people trusting the organization with their skills/energy/time? What if the organization shuts down, or willfully defaults on paying salary of people? Did that one month of work go waste? Should the organization have a larger heart in trusting people, or should people be required to trust the organization?

Risk
Sometimes, organizations delay or do not pay salary stating that customers have not paid yet. True, possible, and sad. But should business risk be transferred on to people working with the organization? Unless I am an owner, why should customer and business risk be forcibly transferred on to me? How does it matter to my effort-salary expectation, if customers have not paid?

Economics
A month’s fixed-deposit gets you about 6% annual interest, or 0.5% monthly. By paying salary at end of month, an organization gains 0.5% of the month’s salary. On a salary of Rs 40,000 a month, we are talking about Rs 200, which doesn’t sound big. But look at it two other ways. One, take 500 people, and we are looking at Rs 100,000 as the financial benefit, which doesn’t sound low any more. Second, from a person’s individual perspective, Rs 200 has tangible value. So the question is: should the organization be enjoying this economic benefit, known as the “time value of money”? Or should people be enjoying it?

Power
In business, power play dictates timing of payment. At one end, large companies put smaller vendors on net-30, net-60 days payment as a signal of power. At other end, suppliers insist on advance payment when they know their stuff is selling like hot cakes and demand is greater than supply. It is a power game. In today’s world of work, especially in industries that are people-heavy such as IT/software companies, do organizations have more power or do people? All such organizations profess a philosophy of “people first” – shouldn’t they put their money where their mouth is?

Need
Organizations need money for ongoing operations. This is known as “working capital”. Well, do people not need money for ongoing lives? Who needs it earlier, who needs it more? Who has the wherewithal to raise required finances easier? By paying for work at end of month, an organization successfully delays its need for finances (for salary) by a month, easing its working capital requirements. But whose need should have higher priority?

History, and Everyone
The human mind is trained by history. We do not question practices when “that’s how things always have been” and “that’s how everyone else does it”. We know in our gut that if there were only one way to do a thing, the Kamasutra would never have been written. And we know in our gut that if things were always done how everyone else does it, Apple and Steve Jobs would have never thought different. But both these things afford a sense of comfort, of familiarity, like an old warm blanket on a cold wintry night. Isn’t it safer to just stick around, than to stick out? Why question and rock the boat?

 

Conclusion
Someone asked George Mallory – “Why do you want to climb Mt Everest”? And he replied – “Because it’s there”. Some things don’t have rationale, you do them because you WANT to do them.

Similarly, some other things don’t have rationale, you do them because you CAN do them. I will leave you with this depressing conclusion: there is no logic or rationale. Organizations pay salary after work has been done simply because – Because they can!

Opinion
Personally, I believe that if a person is contributing his or her time and energy and effort to a greater group (the organization), the person has more at stake than the organization. And if you see my thought process on each point above, I am obviously in favor of salary being paid before work is done.

 

What do you think? Is it time to change this practice, to establish a new order? Is it time for salary to be pre-paid?

 

Celebrating Awesomeness

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Let us meet someone interesting today.

One of our software engineers at Mindfire, Tadit Dash, was recognized by Microsoft this week as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for South Asian region. His MVP profile is here. You can read about Tadit’s journey here in his own words. On tech side, Tadit does his stuff on ASP.NET and Dynamics CRM.

It is wonderful to observe Tadit’s enthusiasm and vibrant participation in the global developer community – mostly at CodeProject and also on StackOverflow. Excellent.

Tadit has done all of this while being on projects constantly, and with continuous happy delivery for all projects he has worked on. Brilliant.

When desire and direction combine, time bends to the will.

Tadit is a great example of the type of people we want and love at Mindfire.

People who love technology, people who want to connect, people who want to carve an identity for themselves, people who are responsible, people who are passionate. People who are bound to their own work and talent and reputation and identity – not within the boundaries of an organization or role, but floating on the unchained melody of the unbounded universe.

People who intuitively understand the obvious – things like companies and designation and salary and teams and projects will come and go – what stays with you for your life is the knowledge you gain, the reputation you build, the well-wishers you have, the abilities you possess.

People who see beyond, and rise above. What fate and fortune give, they multiply.

I have never met or spoken with Tadit.

His story inspires me. Coming from the small town of Nayagarh, Tadit joined Mindfire at Bhubaneswar 3 years back. After proving his worth at work, his voluntary energy led to  responsibility for “extra non-work stuff”, and subsequent awards, at Mindfire. He moved ahead to receive a CodeProject MVP award few months back, and now he has received the Microsoft MVP recognition. That’s not all.

He is not only Mindfire’s first Microsoft MVP, but also the first Microsoft MVP from Bhubaneswar, a city with 10,000 software engineers! Wonderful.

If Tadit can do it, so can you and me.

Be awesome. Be Tadit. Look beyond today – build a brilliant tomorrow using today.

Let us think about this story over what is, hopefully, a happy and inspiring weekend.

Cheers!

 

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Reflections on “Queen”


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As with every good movie, the story and characters of “Queen” have subtleties you can reflect on, in different contexts. If you have watched the movie, read on!

Right Person in the Right Place
Whether it is casting Kangana Ranaut as the innocent yet liberal Rani or Lisa Haydon as the wild yet affectionate Vijaylakshmi, or Rajkumar Rao as the suave yet creepy jerk – each actor has been hand-picked to fit their role perfectly. This meticulous job at casting does half the director’s job, with each actor naturally cut out for their character. Actors can adapt, but with natural fit one can get a sense of comfortable flow.

The Past Casts its Shadow
We come across characters whose thoughts and behavior today are driven by their past. Rani goes into her own past often, and learns about past lives of several characters. Taka’s attempts to forget, Oleksander’s desire to do his own bit, Rani’s suppressed self and the joy of new-found freedom – characters perceive and respond based on their past. The past is a prism on to the present.

People and Circumstances
While going to visit Roxette in a shady area of Amsterdam, Rani comments that this is perhaps the wrong place – obviously a little unsettled by the environment. Once she meets Rukhsar (aka Roxette), she recognizes a person making a living the best way she can. And in that moment, she understands in her liberal mind that the person and place are different. Circumstances are not the same as a person.

Life has to Go On
An individual, a family, a team, an organization, a country – every now and then each of these have to leave the past behind and move on. The plastered hostel walls are a way for residents to leave a piece of their soul behind when they vacate, so that they may move on and renew their soul without any baggage of the past. You have to respect yet bury the past when it is time to change.

Accepting Differences
Rani meets people who are very different from herself. The bohemian free-wheeling Vijayalakshmi, the pole-dancing Rukhsar, the male friends who live with her and accompany her to a kink shop – these are all new people from a very different world than hers. Yet she connects with them at a deeper level. The people she rejects are the socially acceptable superficial people she knows since years – Vijay and the rest of his clan. Shared human values triumph over language and nationality and other artificial differences.

Craftsmanship
The Italian chef, Marcello, treats his food as his creation, one that has his spirit and soul. It is work born out of love, not for money alone. Rani’s attempts to change it to suit her taste causes him to react strongly – he loves his creation so much that he cannot tolerate disrespect or disfigurement! You react only when you are emotionally invested in your work, else you are indifferent to opinions. Craftsmanship and pride go together.

Money and Value
Marcello does not want Rani’s money for food she didn’t like and didn’t eat. He tries returning it right away, unsuccessfully, but remembers and returns it next time he meets her. Money that comes without any value being delivered is just money, not worthy money. Whereas money is just money when it is used (as Roxette expresses about the money she sends home), it may or may not be worthy when received. To desire only money we are worthy of, and truly earn and deserve, is character.

Quality Speaks for Itself
When Rani’s gol-gappas become a hit, one can trace it to one individual asking for a trial. And while the immediate reaction was disappointing, he goes on to enjoy it – so much so that he asks for repeats. Quality speaks for itself, and is helped along by word-of-mouth, and soon her stall is thronged by customers. Sounds far-fetched but anyone who has had gol-gappa/puchka/gupchup) will agree whole-heartedly! Good stuff can stand its ground.

 

Now let us take our musings one more step. If you were leading an organization, a team, a mission, yourself…
How would you ensure people are in just the right role where they can bloom and flourish?
How would you appreciate people better based on their past life experience?
How would you separate your view of people from circumstances?
How would you shed the past when moving in a new direction?
How would you recognize and accept people very different from yourself?
How would you build a desire for, and a sense of, pride in work?
How would you create a sense of self-respect – money is to be earned not received?
How would you make quality stuff the world wants more of?

And if you could succeed at the above, wouldn’t you have built a superlative unit?

 

Enough said, hope you just enjoyed the movie!

 

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Aren’t we blessed ???

It was the night of 20th September 2011 and I was returning home after attending a party at a friend’s place in Saheed Nagar. My friend’s sister got a job in TCS which made him invite some of the close friends in our group for a party at their home only. My phone started ringing right from the evening.After at least 15 calls from different friends and explaining  them that I had some work to finish,finally I left office at around 8 o’clock. All of my friends already reached and were having a great time. By the time the food was ready we started gossipping and rewinding the happy college days. Finally got the call from aunty “Dinner is Ready”. The food was prepared by my friend’s mom and sister and as it was utterly delicious,all of us had a nice dinner filled up till the neck.After a small chat when we decided to leave,it started raining heavily. At the request by uncle and Manas(my friend) few of us decided to wait till the rain stopped or at least slowed down a bit.Few lwft as they used to stay nearby.

Continue reading Aren’t we blessed ???

Five Minutes can make a huge difference

In our world today, we spend so much of our time working, that sometimes we forget some of the very important duties we have to perform. At the 11th hour, we seem to recollect the lines (What-if-I-had…, I-should-have, it-could-have-been, etc.) of a person who we generally call an idiot, an idiot who missed some of the most important things he could have done or enjoyed but couldn’t. I am going to let you understand this with a better concept. Yes, A short story..

The Story:

After a long hot afternoon, Raghavan decided to take his six year old daughter to the children’s park as the evening was getting cooler and pleasant. His daughter Sintu was over joyed with the decision. Raghavan felt happy for the first time in months. Ekamra Park, he thought, there she will be happier with so many other kids. They went to the park and Sintu ran unto the slide, arms stretching out in joy and her eyes cheerfully sparkling.  While Raghavan waited for his daughter a woman clad in saree came and sat near him.

“That’s my son over there,” she said, pointing to a little boy in a red sweater who was gliding down the slide.

“He’s a handsome boy” Raghavan said. “That’s my daughter in the white dress.”

Then, looking at his watch, he called to his daughter. “What do you say we go, Sintu?”

Sintu pleaded, “Just five more minutes, Dad. Please? Just five more minutes.”

He nodded and Sintu continued to slide to her heart’s content. Minutes passed and Raghavan stood and called again to his daughter. “Time to go now?”

Again Sintu pleaded, “Five more minutes, Dad. Just five more minutes.”

Raghavan smiled and said, “OK.” This went on for a couple more times.

“My Goodness, you certainly are a patient father,” the woman responded.

Patient? He wondered how patient he was a couple of months ago. It was so vivid in his mind that he could never forget it. Never, in this life.

Raghavan was a man with short hairs (he kept them short not to waste time in brushing them). He was well built in length but there was a weird growth in terms of his health. He was termed as a man with insatiable desires because he used to work on music so much that sometimes he forgot to take his two consecutive meals at a stretch. Not to mention, sometimes he wondered if he used the washroom in the past 8 hours. His wife, Suneema died of appendicitis 2 years ago.

Venkat, who was just a child of 8 last year was very lonely after his Mom’s death. Raghavan’s little income from his music classes got him nothing more than a third-hand-purchased bicycle. Suneema had gotten it after paying Rs.300 to the second-hand bicycle owner 3 years back. Raghavan was in the middle of a Raaga when Venkat came in, “Dad can we go to the Ekamra park today?” He very well knew that it was hopeless to ask his dad for such a favor. He also knew he would now get a blast from his dad, but he couldn’t hold his desire to play out anymore. After all, he was an 8 year old. Even a Scamp could have loved that childish innocence filled eyes. But Raghavan shouted at him until he almost broke his Harmonium in anger.

“If you want to go to the useless park to play, go by yourself. Take your cycle and get lost!” He shouted with his lungs almost coming out through his mouth.

That evening late at around 8pm when Venkat had still not returned he got panicked. He respectfully and neatly kept all his belongings, which consisted of a harmonium and a stack of papers filled with Raagas and other music notes. Then took out his Grandpa-aged scooter and went out. Venkat had met with an accident on his way to the park. A drunk truck driver had run him over on his little sweet head. His body had collapsed to the side of the road.

He had never spent even 5 minutes with his children, nor his wife. She had died of such a silly reason. Appendicitis! Now, he lost cute little Venkat. He thought, what if I had given him his share of joy, I should have paid more attention to Suneema. Oh my God! It could have been so nice and easy. It must have been a wonderful evening today.

Now, he looked at the woman sitting beside him on the park bench. He said nothing more than, “I can’t bear to lose more” with tears filling his eyes.

Learning from it

I could have written a better story. This was all I could. But this does the needful. It has helped me learn, that apart from the duty to work, we have duty towards friends and family. Without which, any sort of accomplishment would look hollow. Its true that we should work, but for whom? Thats the ultimate question one should ask to himself/herself.

If we cannot share the success, its measurable with our stupidity.

Best Regards,

Satya