I, The Absolute

Archive for December, 2005

Literature – the highest form of art

Posted by itheabsolute on December 28, 2005

If I were to rate all the forms of art, I will rate literature as the highest form. Look at a painting, the impression will last for a moment. Maybe, it will disturb you. Will it change life? I will not agree. Performing arts are the least form of art. I cannot for the life of me understand what a dancer, a classical one or anyone, tries to achieve. I never got inspired. Never will. Come to music. Music has a great ability to inspire and to alter moods. It can engage with people like no other art. And when it rhymes with the heartbeat of the mother’s chest (which is where we first hear music), it can really be impact-ful. But, music fails in leaving a lasting impression. Motion picture is a great invention by man. A well made movie is worth many forms of art. A movie will come close to altering the way we look at things.

Literature. It is something. Wordsworth’s poetry is not just about juxtaposition of words to create beauty; it is about the wisdom that captures the intricacies and subtleties of human relationships and the relationship of the human being with the world. Shakespeare, in fact, wrote all that can ever be written about human emotions and feelings. Literature is the highest form of art and it is the only form which has the power to metamorphose our thinking.

PS: As I was reading the introduction to the book “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson, suddenly felt that my life, more importantly my thinking which drives my life, would have been completely different had I not been an avid reader of books.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

Inexorable passage of time

Posted by itheabsolute on December 24, 2005

For many, the planning and the preparation for getting into a b-school span more than a year. The excitement that a b-school admit-letter brings in is indescribable. Yet, such excitement is not unadulterated. It is punctuated by a strange feeling of collywobbles caused by uncertainty and the fear of unknown. For many people, resigning jobs, taking large loans and relocating to an entirely new place are first time events in the lives.

The excitement and fear peak when one lands at the b-school but slowly dissolve and transform into intellectual curiosity & challenge that the exposure to new concepts bring in, the amusement and the amazement that the meeting of people from diverse backgrounds causes. Much later, it transforms into fatigue that the pace of learning and sleep deprivation lead to. As the course comes closer to the placement season, the excitement and the fear climb up, this time caused by the uncertainty and opportunities that lay hidden which will unfold during the interviews. At the end of it, for most, the decision turns out to be the best ever made and the entire experience one of great transformation.

Whatever one might get a hold of, one thing that never yields but surmounts all that an individual does is ‘time’. We cannot manage it because it runs faster than we can catch up and it is ‘infinite’. There is nothing one can do better in life than manage oneself.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

ISB never sleeps

Posted by itheabsolute on December 20, 2005

At 4 am, one would expect all of ISB to be asleep as classes start at 8.30 am. I went out about ten minutes ago to put my assingment in the drop-box. I hear loud music being played out of a room. A couple standing and chatting. A lady walking into the printer room to pick up her assignment. A couple of guys walking on the road encircling our main building.

It is amazing on one side and quite amusing on the other, where we get all this energy from to sustain sleep deprivation and how we manage to procrastinte things to bring ourselves to a situation where all assignments end up being due in next 6 hours. Every time. And have not heard of anyone having defaulted on submiting assignments on time.

One thing we will never complain about when we go back to the corporate world will be overload of work.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

A new obsession

Posted by itheabsolute on December 19, 2005

As the interview season comes near, the obsession of the students is no longer academics. Everyone is discussing jobs. Uncertainty is something which most of us feel threatened about. Everyone will get a job. Surely, better one than what one had left before. But the time between now and that event is the most difficult in the life of a b-school student. Imagine this paradox – everyone had a good job, left the job to come to a world class b-school, and now is gripped with this fear of not getting a job. Fundamentally, it is not the fear of not getting a job, but that of not getting the job one wants. The fact that for many jobs the competition is much more than we have ever faced in our pre-MBA lives, makes things worse. The entire interview week will be torturous for those that don’t get placed till the end. It needs great nerve to remain calm and composed. The only way to overcome these fears is to prepare more and in a methodical fashion.

Most of the students on campus have formed themselves into various focus groups. Groups comprise 3-5 students. Focus is on preparation for the interviews. The most popular format of preparation is case interviews. Case interviews not because everyone is attending a consulting job interview, but because it improves quick thinking and problem solving orientation. Case interviews also offer a chance to do revision of course concepts. Video recording of the interviews is critical as it is an important form of receiving feedback. Watching oneself will give a lot of clues on how to change and improve.

The fillip to the efforts by students is thanks to the consulting club at ISB and its president. Consulting club has made great efforts in organizing many events and workshops to spread awareness of consulting industry. More importantly, to let the students know about the techniques required to crack a case interview, how to make a better resume, et al. It is hoped that this time the number of consulting offers will go up by a good number. We also hope to beat last year’s highest USD and INR salaries.

For now, placements are the new obsession on campus

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Management by moods

Posted by itheabsolute on December 13, 2005

As I was thinking, I realized that it is not necessarily lack of time that keeps me away from blogging during some days. It is my mood. Sometimes, however much I want to write, I cannot. Mood is a very important aspect of human behavior. There could be difference in the degree but never the absence of it. Many times I vacillate between extreme performances because of moods. My worst mistakes and failures are due less to ability and more to lack of mood to optimize the ability – situation.

Given that mood is an integral part of behavior, marketing people are increasingly realizing that categorizing people based just on their age, income profile, sex and such physical and financial aspects is no longer enough. People should be in a mood to buy or even decide to buy, for them or for others. One does not need to wait for the birthday of someone dear to buy a greeting card. Just being in a right mood is okay. Or if the loved one is in a bad mood, that also can motivate a purchase. Bombarding the audience with ads on TV every ten minutes, like the “hum hain na” bank does, may not be a good idea. Timing is very important. It is important to invest time and money to understand at what times audience can be most receptive to the message the ad is trying to convey.

Boss management also has a lot to do with moods. The answer to what you ask can depend less on ‘what’ aspect but entirely on ‘when’ aspect.

Highly sophisticated tools are available to arrive at the numbers to do valuations for Mergers and Acquisitions. But these become irrelevant many times. There are sharks in the M&A world who tire out the opponents by just not letting any decision happen. And when the other party gets mentally very weak and is mood-out, then they move to make the kill.

Management by Moods will find its place amongst Management by Objectives, Management by Walking About, Management by Technology, et al.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

My tryst with “A” grade

Posted by itheabsolute on December 10, 2005

I had this nagging fear that I may leave ISB without an A grade on my transcript. That fear ended today with my getting an A in one course. This was not an aspiration but just a fancy. Not an aspiration because to get “As” one has to have a modicum of intelligence (lots of it will also do), loads of hard work and an uncanny ability to handle the exam per se. I think I have the first. But about the second and third, I am quite bad. Relatively, that is. See, when I don’t have two of the three required attributes, there is no way I would get “As”. Hence I was quite willing to settle with one. Any other A from now on will be pure and simple fun.

Not having As can be a dangerous affair if one is aiming consulting or IB jobs. Even if one is not aiming for these jobs, it is not a good idea not to work towards As. Nor is it any good to aim at As only to get into these jobs. A good understanding of the concepts and ability to relate them with what’s happening in the market should be the real object of study. This approach will get one the required grades and also the coveted jobs.

PS: I hope that my experience in the corporate world and my extensive reading will bail me out in getting the job I want. Notwithstanding my grades.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Disappointment Psychology

Posted by itheabsolute on December 8, 2005

Assume I buy a lottery ticket with no hope of winning any money on that ticket. If I win prize money of INR 10 Million, the second prize, and lost out the first prize of INR 20 Million by just one digit, what would my reaction be? I will be happy no doubt. But I will be equally disappointed that I lost out the first prize by one single digit.

If a person applied to Mckinsey with the only ambition of just getting into Mckinsey. Did not matter what position. Assume, he got in as junior associate, but later on discovers that he could have actually gotten in as associate. Far from being happy for having made it to Mckinsey – which was the goal he had set for himself – he would be more disappointed and depressed by starting to compare the lost opportunity.

Though this may appear quite commonplace, it is only recently that research on disappointment psychology has proved that we do not necessarily judge the outcome of some of our action / some incident against our expectations which we had set before the action / incident took place. Once the action / incident happen, our mind judges the outcome against all other possible outcomes that could have been in our favor. So, it is not possible to prepare the mind to be insulated from the outcome. Even if the outcome is favorable, the lost opportunities hurt us more.

It was not without reason that Milton said, Mind is a place in itself; it can make hell out of heaven, and heaven out of hell.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

ISB Ahoy!

Posted by itheabsolute on December 6, 2005

The Head of Global Leadership Institute of UBS, who interacted with us last Friday, has sent a mail to our HR professor. Inter alia, he writes the following to our Prof.

“………………………………You can express to the students that I would rate this group of people in the top 8-10 classes globally that I have had the opportunity to address. They will certainly be great ambassadors for ISB.”

A great compliment from a person of some stature. Indeed the students posed fantastic questions as if they had seen it all. What makes ISB great is the student body, which has amidst it a rich array of experience and thoughts. I see mails in yahoo groups questioning the credentials of ISB. This comment from the UBS senior person should allay many of the apprehensions.

I will repeat what I had earlier said in one of my posts –Every institution takes time to mature. Harvards, Whartons and IIMs have decades of history behind them. Given that ISB is only four years old, what it has achieved is spectacular. Having said that, I will also close this with a caveat – everyone has to own his career. Career planning cannot and should not be outsourced – even to a fine b-school. Once this is realized, then what is learnt at a b-school like ISB can be quite fructifying.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Distance gives perspective

Posted by itheabsolute on December 4, 2005

Consulting and Investment Banking interviews are amongst the toughest. While all those that prepare for these interviews will not get through and find their dream roles, preparing for these interviews will never hurt. Because by preparing for these interviews, one is prepared for all other interviews. The preparation will also ensure that the person does a recap of the entire courses.

Yash, a colleague and consulting job aspirant, essays to profile mock case interview experiences and other must-know details to appear for consulting interviews. He has started a blog to capture these. His efforts will be supported by various others preparing for consulting interviews. Have a peek into the blog at Consulting@ISB. If you are a consulting aspirant, be sure to bookmark this page.


To continue, I am quite compelled to write about the power of the context. The reference to the topic is not the first time, nor will it be the last. Bill Gates is the richest. How much do I care? His riches do not inspire me to improve my performance. But, if my neighbor wins a lottery or gets a promotion, I will spend some time thinking about it. If a D sectioner gets all “A” grade in all core courses, I really would not care. But if my group mate gets a few marks above mine, I would start worrying. The influence of context can never be overestimated. Why do half of the students on campus wants to get into consulting? Not sure, if all of them have answers to the questions – why consulting; does your profile fit with consulting, et al. But resisting from the temptation to apply / prepare is something which is difficult to achieve. And the temptation is supplied by the context – 200 students who are applying for consulting jobs.

Let us fast forward. Six months after graduation. A person did not make it to consulting, but joined another industry. What would his priorities be? Consulting will be last on his mind. His priorities will be to benchmark with the best guy “around” and surpass him. Or something similar. Such is the power of context.

Distance gives perspective. It is quite important to distance oneself from the context to be able to make the right decision. Another of the easier said than done types.

PS: The title was drawn from a sentence in Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Books and IPR

Posted by itheabsolute on December 4, 2005

Intellectual Property Rights is a hotly debated issue, particularly so in the emerging economies. Corporations have billions of dollars of R&D budgets. After having spent such huge amounts in discovery and innovation, if they cannot recover costs and make decent returns what incentive will they have to continue with research activities. If they have no incentive to continue with research, then how will we find cure for many diseases and other problems in the world. I am a strong votary for IP protection to the companies involved in discovery and innovation, particularly to those companies that spend huge capital. IP is important in these cases because corporations exist only to improve shareholder wealth. And in the process if they do good to humanity, there is no harm in paying a premium.

I am not a person who wants to believe in something just for the sake of it. I have heard arguments concerning topics such as IPR, elementary education, that these are non-negotiable. Hardly so.

Debates on making patented drugs for epidemics such as AIDS, Bird Flu, etc available at much cheaper rates are highly relevant.

About books i am quite clear. Provide IP rights. If they are violated do not crib. Why do authors write books? To make money. Sure. But is it the only motive. Or is money the only reason why authors are remembered. No. Authors are more remembered for the ideas they generate. Any idea is not worth its place, if it is not dispersed. Ideas are not born out of vacuum. Invariably, every idea has an origination in some other idea. I know more about science than Newton knew. Does not mean I am greater than Newton. I started from where Newton ended. Since ideas are always an extension of some other idea/s, granting intellectual property rights on ideas is, after all, not a great idea. There are many great books that many people ought to read but cannot afford to buy. What is the harm in violating IP in such cases? The author has made his money. If the idea has spread wide because of pirated books, the author, sure has become poorer, but has become more popular because his books are now widely read and his ideas well appreciated.

I am not a great fan of pirated books. They are quite lousily made. But if some one is a bibliophile and cannot afford to buy,say, The World is Flat for INR 750, what is the harm in buying one for INR 100 on the footpaths of Hyderabad or Mumbai. Friedman has earned enough riches. His popularity ain’t come down, surely. And what he wrote were not his original ideas either.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »