I, The Absolute

Archive for August, 2005

World without a laptop

Posted by itheabsolute on August 12, 2005

Life was quite different without this machine around. I felt as though I was left out on an island without a possibility of communication. Or sometimes even worse, felt that I had lost something within me. Amputated. Laptop has almost become an extension of me. The failure of the laptop coincided with the mid-term exams (two of them) making my preparation relatively difficult. But, mind always wants to find excuses and keep them ready so that tomorrow explaining becomes easy. I do not want to use this excuse of not having my laptop working as an excuse to explain my poor scores. I did better than I had expected. And after the exams were over could not fathom if the laptop would have made things better or worse.

I believe that life is about people and not things. Strangely but looks like surely, these ‘things’ come to take of some place in our lives. People always want something to feel nostalgic about. With other people, egos come in between. But with things, it is quite easy. We can claim to “own” something and even “belong” to it.

But, when I have the power to decide, I know, I will surely want to decide to get rid of these things. For instance, I would encourage people to talk to each other than send mails (sending mails makes us use the machines).


What does a Formula racer do when someone tells him to go slow or that he does not have to drive at all. With the mid-term over, we have three days of nothingness. Most of us are confused when there is nothing to do. We scramble and try to fill the time with doing all the funny and crazy things that one usually does not think of. ISB is about shrinking the time into half and expanding the work into two. Quite contrasting with the life outside.

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Notes from a borrowed laptop

Posted by itheabsolute on August 9, 2005

• The weekend was consumed by the business presentation skills workshop. We get to make about 4-5 presentations, some impromptu and some prepared ones. The presentations got videotaped and then analyzed with comments from group members and the workshop facilitator. There are good take aways. We don’t realize some of the mannerisms that we carry and don’t really know of the words we keep repeating. Did I become a better speaker/presenter after the workshop? Sure, I now know of my strengths and weaknesses and hope to manage these to make better presentations.

• I was making a chart on what I have learnt so far. I wanted to know if I had become any better after coming here and to do that I asked myself some answers to the questions/challenges I had faced during my job. Was quite pleased to realize that I indeed have learnt a lot. The frameworks and conceptual understanding will surely help me when I go back. I also realize that there are many learnings that I can directly implement back at work place and make decision making more precise and my work effective. I can contribute to potential improvements in fields such as operations, costing, pricing where I had least knowledge before.

• Some have expressed reservations about my last post. The idea of drawing an analogy between a car journey and life/career was only to highlight what is required in terms of preparation and in no means implying that they both are similar. Sometimes intuition based decision making is quite helpful. I, for one, did not do too much analysis before I came here. But I had an idea on where I wanted to end up being. If one can boil down what one is looking from a b-school to a ‘couple’ from ‘many’, then a good job is done. Even if one wants to crystallize plans after coming to b-school, it makes a lot of sense to have no more than two options on where one wants to go. One cannot learn all the subject and master them. Being clear on which subjects one wants to focus on and extract maximum will help. One can either network with a large group of people or can make a few strong friendships – some thinking before hand will help orienting oneself. Some homework on how one can get more organized will help – if required buy a Franklin planner or get trained in using outlook, etc. It would be difficult, not impossible, to do general reading at the school. It makes sense to do whatever reading possible before coming to b-school. Finally, some people come only to get grades; some come to get a holistic experience. It makes sense to have some idea on what one wants. The point is once a person comes to the campus, because of the context, which is quite powerful, the way one thinks become different. Because of pressure from day one, it may not be easy to be as planned and meticulous as one wanted to. Priorities keep fluctuating and only after a couple of terms we realize that we ended up spending time on things which never mattered to us.

PS: Yesterday evening, my laptop conked off. I am told the hard disk is no more. Have lost data and my usual convenience 😦

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Posted by itheabsolute on August 8, 2005

Would we ever get into a car or a vehicle not knowing where we want to go? Without knowing how much of gas does it take to travel to the destination, do we ever blindly get into the car and keep driving only to find that mid-way we have exhausted the gas? Do we go to a destination just because others are going or do we have our own priorities on where we want to go? Just because it coincides with preferences of a few others, does not mean that we do not go through the process of decision making. Would we want to travel alone or want to have a company? At least, a music system and a few CDs are carried along. Do we go prepared or think we can do the preparation along the way? Some of them are getting the car serviced, having first aid kit, keeping some food and sundry items.

Why should life or career be any different?

Know your destination and the path. Answer these questions – where do you want to go; what do you want to become; is it career or life or career-life balance that you look for; do you have the steam in you; have you done enough prep; do you have reasons to come to a b-school; can you do what you want to do without going to a b-school; do you really know what is taught at a b-school; did you do the NPV calculation; are your people with you in this decision, etc

Post Scriptum: Apart from giving some idea on what life is like here, I would also try and cover some topics which may help the applicants to the Class of 2007. Trying to meet the popular demand.

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Further lessons for an entrepreneur

Posted by itheabsolute on August 4, 2005

It is not capital that is central to an entrepreneurial venture. It is not even an idea because an idea cannot sustain on its own. It needs to be carried around and forward. It is social capital that appears to be a sine qua non. Network capabilities, good friendships and partners are key to converting an idea into a venture and then taking it forward to keeping the venture alive. The importance of capital, through equity from outside or debt, comes much later.

Entrepreneurship is about a particular way of thinking called effectual thinking. What we are taught at a b-school or we learn in an organization is causal thinking, which is about having a certain means to achieve pre-determined goals. This kind of thinking does not help an entrepreneurial venture, at its start up stage. Effectual thinking, in contrast, is about having various means to explore the possibility of various goals.

The entrepreneur should worry about the following more than anything else

1. Who am I
2. What do I know
3. Who do I know

Even more interesting is the following, which illustrates how an entrepreneur should start and how he can be frugal and effectively make a beginning

1. Do not buy new that you can buy used
2. Do not buy used what you can lease
3. Do not lease what you can borrow
4. Do not borrow what you can barter
5. Do not barter what you can beg (moral obligation)
6. Do not beg what you can scavenge
7. Do not scavenge what you can get free
8. Do not take for free what someone will pay you for
9. Do not take payment for something that people will bid for

Some of the cases that we discuss in class show of the above being done by the entrepreneurs.

PS: I realise that what the entrepreneurship course teaches is a way of thinking which can even be used in an organizational context to develop onself as an intrapreneur.

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Campus Update

Posted by itheabsolute on August 2, 2005

During our orientation, the last batch had made some presentations, of which one had shown the ‘enthusiasm curve’ representing the enthu levels of students during the entire course. The graph would have its peak only two times, Term I and Term VII. In between, the curve would slope down to touch nadir during Term IV and start pushing up thereafter to peak during placement time. Did not realize the graph could capture the moods and reality of all the students and of the all the batches so well. Indeed, with two terms behind, the enthusiasm levels at the campus are quite low with fatigue catching up with many a student. When I speak of enthusiasm, I refer to it with relation to studies. A few of them, however, continue to be rock solid and would not let go of books. These have IB or consulting jobs as targets and cannot afford to get lower grades or simply purely academically oriented. The rest are having fun. Entire weekend was more or less free with just one assignment. ISB had a class party. Come this Thursday, we have our Section ‘A’ party. Section ‘A ‘today had its photo sessions with the official release of its tee-shirt imprinted with logo “a” mimicking super-man logo. Imagine about 85 students wearing superman type t-shirts and paiting the campus with color blue. Some went as far as donning a underwear over their pantaloons, aka superman. Frolic.

A couple of updates – Exchange Program and Global Adventure Week.

ISB has an international student exchange tie-ups with 11 universities of which five are US b-schools. Kellogg, LBS, Darden, Thunderbird and Fuqua are some of the well known b-schools with which it has a tie up. ISB sends between 1 and 4 students to these b-schools. The duration is for three months and the tuition fee at these b-schools is waived. The rest of the expenses are to be borne by the student. Students are short-listed by ISB based on various criteria. This will be between Jan 10 – April 10.

Global Adventure Week is a one week tour of Singapore. About 30 students would tour Singapore for a week. The key take-aways are meeting up with a few banks, consulting firms, and Technology companies; interact with senior executives of these firms; visit University of Singapore; networking opportunities; understand Singapore and its economy; and of course fun. This will be during second week of October. Selections are based on submission of essays.

I am not participating in either. Instead, I plan to go to Singapore on my own during a term break to meet with a few senior bankers there, thanks to a friend who is going to arrange my meetings with them. To explore job opportunities, of course.

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Free will is king

Posted by itheabsolute on August 1, 2005

• You get what you settle for

• It is a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you often get it

• Luck is the residue of diligence

No matter what language is used to express it, the meaning is same – You decide your destiny. But what about determinism, fate, accidents, boss, etc, which/who are not under our control. Free will does not mean that all endeavors that we make are successful; life will be a bed of roses. 100 % bliss is never guaranteed in a world that is fundamentally intertwines uncertainty and relativity. If it cannot make life any better, what is free will, why not depend on the notion of fate and unexplainable as a better way of handling uncertainty in life. Free will is about making decisions to control where we want to be and owning responsibility of the decisions. For situations beyond our control, we can always control our responses to these situations and still manage them. It is not the situation per se but what it does to us is what bears more significance in our lives. By either creating a situation favorable to us or controlling our response to the situation, we can always be in control of what we want to be. Free will can thus lead one where one wants to go.

Post Scriptum: The sudden philosophical cogitation is a result of new experiences, observations and my own feelings, which have reinforced that the entire life is a result of what happens between our ears and not a whim of fate.

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