The ANALyst

Leverage, optimise, synergise

Refrigerated!


The practical say, “do your research before you move…”, while the adventurous say, “just do it…”. I like to think that I am adventurous. Truth be told, its more to do with laziness than adventurism (is that a word?) that I didn’t do any research before I moved to the MidWest sometime last year. Had I known how bone-chillingly cold it gets here in winter, I would have rather moved to Texas. How are you meant to survive in -18 C (2 F according to the enlightened measurement scales in this country)? And not just survive, but remove the ice from your car every morning???

Its not too different from the temperatures in many parts of Canada. In fact Vancouver feels positively warm! And on top of that Canada is pretty – MidWest is not!

Which really begs the question – why are more people in the MidWest not moving to Texas???

1. Texas is warm in winter.

2. Texas has no state income tax.

3. I repeat, Texas has no state income tax.

4. Texas has pretty cities like Austin and San Antonio.

5. Texas economy is fairly decent and it has jobs too!!!

6. Cost of living is similar to the MidWest.

7. Two hub airports, Dallas and Houston.

I am sure there are more reasons, but I would really love to know why there isn’t a larger mass of people moving to the Republic of Texas!

While you think about this and send me answers, I am off to do my laundry in this absolutely, god-awfully frigid weather…

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January 17, 2011 Posted by | General Rambling, Life | Leave a comment

iPhone 4G


So the iPhone 4G (not to be confused with 4G network) was released on Monday. It was something I was eagerly looking forward to, with the idea of finding a suitable replacement for my two year old iPhone 3G. I was expecting this release to be a major step over the previous editions for a few reasons:

1. Make the iPhone 3G users upgrade.

2. Stay one-step ahead of the competition from the likes of the Droid and HTC Evo (offered on Sprint’s 4G network).

3. Having established themselves in the smart phone business (in fact having reinvented the smart phone category), define new possibilities of what maybe achieved with a cellphone. Raising the bar even higher.

So has it achieved it all that?

To be honest, I am a little underwhelmed…..

First the good points (from my perspective).

1. Multi-tasking – Thank you, Mr. Jobs. This was much needed. For me personally, I would love being able to keep the Google chat application open while I am browsing on Safari. I would also not like my browser not loading if I get a call while I am surfing. Not having multi-tasking is one of the biggest pain points for me at the moment and this will go a long way to alleviate that.

2. Camera – I do not use the camera on my iPhone 3G a lot. For one, its crap. And secondly, photography is a hobby, so I usually carry around my Canon Digital Rebel XTi wherever I go. However, there are places where a DSLR isn’t the best choice of equipment. Going out on a Saturday night for example – a good quality phone camera can be quite handy in such instances. The upgrade to a 5 megapixel camera will hopefully make it more useful.

3. HD Video – This is a useful feature. My 3G doesn’t have any form of video. So certainly a step-up.

4. Gyroscope – Personally, it won’t benefit me in anyway, but, I suppose it opens up a lot of interesting possibilities for Apps developers.

So, while there are a few good feature upgrades, there are a few things that I am not too impressed about. Basically, all the updates by Apple, while useful, just bring the iPhone up to par with competitors such as the Droid and the HTC models. I don’t see anything ground-breaking by Apple this time around. Perhaps my expectations were too high (I am a big Apple fan btw), or perhaps Apple expects the main improvements would come from the Apps developers – I am not so sure.

Will I be upgrading? Umm….not very certain. Let’s see!

Apple completely changed the game when it came out with the first iPhone. However, perhaps others are catching up. In light of the other offerings in the market, while I still think that the iPhone is a great phone to have, in my humble opinion, it is no longer THE phone to have.

June 11, 2010 Posted by | General Rambling | 3 Comments

Disambiguation


Sorry, sorry, sorry for the hibernation. Well, it is after all winter and this sloth needed its sleep. Anyway, now that I am back up and running, it is only essential that I write something.

And I promise you that will happen. A “normal” post will follow shortly. But before that I am just curious to know how well people understand the pseudonyms that I use in this blog. What for instance do I refer to when I use the following?

1. Emerging Economy

2. Best Business School (BBS)

3. New World

4. Old World

5. That Country to the East

6. Big Bully

7. Party State

Really keen to see whether people can actually guess what these mean. Some of the above may (or may not) be obvious.

March 4, 2010 Posted by | General Rambling | 4 Comments

A New Beginning


Happy 2010, ladies and gentlemen. I am back after a not so restful vacation at the Party State of the Emerging Economy. It’s back to work now, which is always a bit sad. Now, a lot of people start off a new year by making resolutions. I used to, as well, at one stage. Not anymore. Simply because today’s resolution may have absolutely no relevance tomorrow.

However, having said that, there are a few things I hope for in 2010. They are:

1. A sense of direction and purpose in my life.

2. Try to get out of debt (includes student loans, mortgages and the omnipresent credit card debts).

3. Apply for b-school (definitely need to get that one right this year).

4. Blog a lot more frequently.

5. Go to the gym regularly.

6. Travel, travel and lots of travel (nothing makes me happier than sitting at an airport and waiting for my flight and seeing new places. Yes it’s true, inspite of having been a consultant, I still love flying).

What are some of the things that you hope for?

Have a great 2010.

January 11, 2010 Posted by | General Rambling | 1 Comment

The Strange Ways of the Emerging Economy


Every country, every region, every culture in the world is different and to be able to survive and thrive in a globalized economy one has to be able to adapt to and learn the best aspects of these differences in a nimble manner.

I think the above line sums up my learnings from the Emerging Economy so far. Leading a team in the EE has proven to be very different to leading one in my former habitat. What struck me as very odd was a lack of punctuality, a lack of general professionalism towards colleagues and work, an unwillingness to question authority and general chaos. Surely, that can’t be all there is to it. You do not become one of the world’s fastest growing economies by having attributes like the ones mentioned above. What then, is the truth? Is there something I did not see at first? Does something lie beneath?

‘The truth’ is something that I am still discovering. What I have learnt is that yes there is chaos, and a lot of it, but beneath the chaos, the system somehow just works. Let me explain with a typical general example:

Deadline for Project ABC is say 10th of December and the estimated effort altogether is 400 hours over 2 months. If you were to check the status of the progress of the project on the 1st of December, you would be shocked to see that the project is not even 20% complete. When questioned, the team members will give you an ‘it will get done, why on earth are you worried’ kind of look. There is absolutely no sense of urgency whatsoever. Schedule a meeting and I can guarantee, 20% of the team members will not turn up with no explanation given and the rest will be late.

Fast forward to December 8th – the situation now is completely different. The entire team is present, usually closed up in a meeting room with expressions on their faces that you could easily mistake it for a war strategy planning room. The work will continue nonstop until the last minute and 59th second before the deadline. And guess what, by 0 hours and 0 seconds, it will be complete. How? It is something that needs to be seen to be understood. What if unexpected events or challenges turn up? They do, and the methods, innovations and ‘work arounds’ used by the team members to resolve them can only be described in one word – brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!!!

Despite all the chaos, despite the lackadaisical attitude, everything just works. And the quality of the final result is at par with any I have seen anywhere in the world. The innovation used to complete 400 hours worth of work in 48 – unparalleled. The entropy extends far beyond the workplace to every aspect of life in the Emerging Economy – roads are completely broken, road discipline is not followed, yet the traffic flows; police is corrupt, yet crimes are largely contained; facilities and staff at educational institutions are woefully inadequate, yet the Emerging Economy produces the most number of engineers in the world each year; there is no infrastructure, yet the world’s largest (and smallest) corporations are setting up shop here; the cost of labour has increased manifold since outsourcing began, yet the companies haven’t left; the government is pathetic and spineless, yet the country strives forward; there are people living on a dollar a day, yet they have a smile on their faces.

This country fascinates and intrigues me everyday. I have never seen anything like it before. It can be frustrating, annoying, painful, stuffy, chaotic yet it is beautiful and mystical. I would never recommend the Emerging Economy’s style of work anywhere else in the world – it just wouldn’t work. Yet, when I see it here it is amazing. This is what makes the Emerging Economy truly unique.

It is the differences, not just the similarities, that we see in each other that make life beautiful. It is important for us to accept, learn and understand these differences in order to create harmony.

December 2, 2009 Posted by | Emerging Economy, General Rambling, Life | 3 Comments

Sunday Afternoon


It is Sunday afternoon and I am procrastinating. In no order of priority the following are the things I need to get done

  1. Start B-school essays
  2. Start GMAT study (exam in the 2nd week of Nov)
  3. Some PM stuff for the project I am managing at work at the moment
  4. Write an article for a newsletter at work (They want to know my experience of the Emerging Economy so far…arrrrrgggghhhh!)
  5. Wash my clothes (arrrghh x2)
  6. Clean my room
  7. Eat lunch (luckily I don’t have to make it, the cost of living at the Emerging Economy allows me to outsource the cooking)

Now that’s a lot of work for a Sunday afternoon. Especially considering I’ve had three weeks of 20 hour days non-stop. Apart from the sheer intensity of the project, working in different timezones also takes its toll. And I thought I was going to have a relaxing few months here (never ever assume)!

Anyway I need to get back to my procrastination…..and a few beers….cheers!!!

October 25, 2009 Posted by | General Rambling | 4 Comments

Writing the B-School Apps


Is this process insane or what?

Why do I need to bare my soul in front of the B-schools of the world? Where do I fit the essay writing process into my 18 hour workdays? Can’t they just take a peek into my mind and figure things out for themselves (and they claim they are smart)? Oh and I haven’t even started about the GMAT. In the midst of all this you want me to….what….write an exam???

This is preposterous! How dare you ask the advisor to CEOs; the mentor to aspiring consultants; the protege to world leaders; the superman of Powerpoint; the conqueror of Excel; and the saviour of the Emerging Economy to prove his mettle in trivial algebra and punctuation? Never have I faced a bigger insult…ever!

What??? You want me to get you letters of recommendation? Don’t you ever watch CNN you imbecilic moron? If you don’t know me already, your school is not a place I want to be!

That was the ANALyst’s two minute rant on the mountain of work that lies in front of him as this bedouin tries to prepare for the next step in the journey called life.

September 30, 2009 Posted by | General Rambling | 9 Comments

Creativity


“…all progress must depend on the unreasonable man” – George Bernard Shaw

I had heard about this website called twittershouldhireme.com, but never bothered checking it out – until today. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s Jamie Varon’s unconventional attempt at getting hired by Twitter.

It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention. In tough times, when conventional methods do not yield dividends, those who manage to think out of the box and use their skills creatively, usually end up successful. This raises a question – why are we not creative in our daily lives? Why do we tend to follow established processes irrespective of whether they maybe the best way of doing things or not? Is it fear, insecurity, lack of interest, lack of time or just laziness? I don’t know. But I do know that it can change and should change – unless of course you are an auditor.

August 2, 2009 Posted by | General Rambling, Life | Leave a comment

Please Sir, may I not have anymore! Ever!


Apologies for the delay in posting. The last ten days have been abnormally busy with a major client deliverable due this morning. Last night was super busy, even by consulting standards – I finally got to leave the office at 1 am having spent a nonstop 19 hours in the office. A splitting head caused due to the work, hunger and lack of fresh air did not exactly make the situation anymore pleasurable. To compensate for the last two factors I decided to walk back to the hotel and grab some grub from any open 24 hour eatery. The first such eatery was the brand with a big golden M. So revolting is the sight of it, that inspite of my famished state, I chose to move on. A few blocks down the road I spotted a KFC. Now, I don’t normally eat fast food, haven’t in a long time, not since my college days. This is due to a variety of reasons which may (or may not) include image, both literal and metaphorical.

But today was different, somehow the sight of the big red bucket aroused an almost irresistable urge for the eleven-spiced wonder. My steps quickened; I almost cursed myself for not patronising KFC more often. After all, the KFC chain was actually created with food in mind. I walked in to the most delightful aroma. I stared at the menu for what seemed like ten minutes; reacclimatizing myself with their offerings. I decided on a family box, with a few pieces of what looked like hot heavenly chicken and chilled fizzy coke (oops I mean Pepsi).

After an eternity, my tray was handed over to me. On other days, such a sight would make me feel like someone standing on the social welfare queue. But not today. I walked to an empty table, intentionally ignoring the dirt and the grime on the floor, a couple of dead cockroaches, littered tissue paper and torn newspapers. Having sat down, I slowly opened the box, taking in the smell. I picked up a piece of chicken and slowly bit into it, hoping to savour the taste. Yuck!!! Yuck!!! Yuck!!! I spat it out. It felt like raw, cold, slimy meat wrapped in aluminium foil. Disgusting! I can barely ever remember feeling so disgusted while eating. I was about to puke but the sight of the grime on the floor did not permit that. I decided to gulp down some pepsi, after all that is a standard offering. Wrong move! I assure you water from the sewers would probably taste better. I ran out and into the nearest gas station and bought two bottles of water.

I don’t know if this was a one off or if this is a regular occurence. Something tells me it’s the latter. I can’t understand how people bear this nonsense. How do they make their money? Who buys this crap regularly? Have they never tasted real food?

The next time I get to interview prospective campus hires, this will be one of my interview questions and they better not answer they like KFC, if they know what’s good for them.

I walked back to the hotel, still fuming. I wanted redemption. I needed to cleanse my body and my soul. I ordered caviar and a bottle of Dom. Thank God for small mercies.

Moral of the story: KFC – Kentucky F**ked Chicken

April 20, 2009 Posted by | General Rambling | 5 Comments

Is compensation defined by physical effort?


Just came across this letter today in the New York Times. This is a public resignation letter from a Vice President at AIG who decided to quit because he felt betrayed by the firm’s leadership. What got me thinking, more than the letter itself, were some of the comments that were posted in response. People seem to imply that individuals involved in physical labour intensive professions such as coal mining or plumbing should be compensated as much as a Vice President at a multinational financial institution just “because they work as hard”. Clearly this is the most ridiculous statement one can make because we all know (I hope) that compensation is not necessarily a function of effort.

What, then, is it a function off? What defines how much one gets paid. One way of looking at it is that one’s salary is directly proportional to the wealth generated by the individual. Let’s take the example of the now proverbial ‘Joe the plumber’. Let’s assume he is self-employed and earns around $60,000 a year. If he is only able to sell $60k of work, that’s what he earns irrespective of the number of hours he puts in to his job. A consultant gets compensated approximately a third of the fees he or she generates for the firm. Similarly our friend at AIG made around $100m profit in a year and thus felt he was entitled to a few million in bonues – fair enough.

In some professions wealth generated or revenue earnt has no bearing on the compensation. For example, the public sector. Traffic police incomes have no relation to revenue earned through fines. (Atleast one would hope not). Similarly, government tax officers are usually not compensated based on the revenue they bring in by chasing unpaid taxes. Yet a tax accountant does get a cut of the tax dollars he saves for his clients. Weird!

How do you judge the compensation for teachers. Directly they create no wealth. Yet indirectly, the wealth created by their students as a result of the education received could run into trillions. We do not hear of them getting a cut.

It does certainly pose some interesting questions. So what should an ideal compensation model for such professions be?  Are we paying them enough or do they deserve more? Should they be completely outsourced, just because they are seen as a cost and not a creator of wealth or should we be looking at other methods to boos their compensation? Any thoughts?

April 7, 2009 Posted by | General Rambling | 2 Comments