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

SHIFT_IN_SPACE


So do you still check this blog from time to time? Waste of effort I tell you. Even I had forgotten it ever existed. I don’t think I’ve checked this site for months now. Of course I am not to blame. That would be sooooo un-consultant-like!

So for those with an unsatiable curiosity about my affairs, well, I have moved – again. Having spent eight months in the Emerging Economy and having learnt a lot about it’s culture – both the good and bad and having endured many experiences ranging from the hilarious to the downright dangerous – it was time for the bedouin to move on.

So, the bedouin has moved to the New World (f**k I need the money after having lived like a pauper for eight months) and is back in CON-SLUT-ing!

Man I missed this – the most retarded and weirdest of all professions where the ability to bull shit with confidence reigns paramount. War stories from the field coming up soon. Watch this space!

PS – In the couple of months that I have been here my airpoints and hotel points accounts have roared back in to life again and I am close to being God once again!

June 4, 2010 Posted by | Consulting, Life | 2 Comments

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

Disaster strikes


Well today was supposed to be an historic occasion. It was meant to be the day when the ANALyst conquered the obstacle called GMAT. It was the day he was meant to showcase his verbal quantitative superiority over lesser mortals. It was the day, when the first of four obstacles towards getting into the hallowed grounds of the bschool would be removed.

Only, it didn’t. The ANALyst managed to f**k up. Yes, impossible as it sounds, that is exactly what happened. The ANALyst managed to run out of time in the quantitative section without attempting the last eight questions. EIGHT questions unanswered in a GMAT is as good as dead.

Ended up with a disastrous 640, which by any stretch of my imagination isn’t going to get me admission into a top-school. Not with only two and a half years of work experience, even if one of those years was spent in the Emerging Economy.

Given, that it is already mid-November and I haven’t really started on the essays, doing the GMAT again in December would be a tad late for round 2 applications this year. So I guess, this means no b-school in ’10 :-(.

What happens to me now? Well, I frankly don’t know!!! I was pretty set on applying to b-school this year, but seems like some higher soul had other plans. If you guys have any ideas, please let me know. For once The ANALyst is listening!

November 10, 2009 Posted by | B-School, Life | 8 Comments

Venus Strikes II


A month ago, I posted about the biggest problem confronting me at the time. Well here’s an update on the same. Having not found a single useful powerpoint deck that I could use to woo the “exotic girl in foriegn land”, I decided to take ResIpsa’s advice of “Just Do It”.

“Just Do It” however does not equate to “Just Tell Her”. That would be so “unconsultant-like” . It had to be done in style, with flair, passion and enthusiasm, highlighting my core attributes and negating the rumors (so often true) spread about me by lesser mortals. The consultant had to be proposed on another project!

First, the scene had to be set. The exotic girl in foreign land had to be given a few hints. BTW, by this point we had graduated from Facebook chats to “real” conversations on Skype (thank you messrs Facebook and Skype). The perfect opportunity came during a casual conversation, which went something like this,

Me: Did you finally manage to submit that ******* corporate comms assignment?

EGIFL: Yeah, just about…had to sit up all night for it…but yeah I got it done.

Me (sounding impressed): Not bad…you deserve a chocolate!

EGIFL: yeah sure…send me some…I mean now….can you do that…c’mon send something through that silly computer screen

This is where the powers of Google, the cellphone and my credit card combine to eliminate all challenges posed by the 7904.7 kilometers of sea and earth separating me and the exotic girl.

Step 1: Open internet browser (if not already open)

Step 2: Google “Chocolate delivery in *********”

Step 3: Acquire phone number for maker of gourmet chocolates.

Step 4: Dial above number

Step 5: Make small talk with the lady picking the phone (if a guy picks the phone, hang up and repeat steps 2 to 5)

Step 6: Order chocolate, reveal credit card number

Step 7: Watch horrified look on exotic girl’s face as she watches all this happening live through Skype.

Step 8: Scene is set.

Having set the scene pretty well with actions like the above, it was time to take the next step. Now that was going to be a real challenge. While I would have preferred the Eiffel tower or Walt Disney World, the realist in me decided that they were probably a bit “out-of-scope”. Now I had been told in no uncertain terms that the telephone and IM were not acceptable means of taking the next step, irrespective of the distance. That left me with the only option of having to travel to the Old World. My commitments (aka projects) in the Emerging Economy, however, would not afford me such an opportunity until early next year. And three months is a long time to wait.

I had to introspect and dig real deep. And then it struck me – it was so simple! Two things consultants are very good at, are negotiations and compromises with the clients. This was no different. Exotic Girl was my client and I had to negotiate and get her to compromise. Did it work….hell yeah!!! After all I am a consultant…I am superman!!!

Epilogue: We agreed on a soft go-live, i.e. pilot launch, to be conducted on Facebook so that we seal the deal and create the terms of reference until I am able to travel to the Old World early next year for the more formal go-live!

November 2, 2009 Posted by | Life | 1 Comment

Venus Strikes!


Over the past month and a half, I’ve been settling in to Emerging Economy, as you very well know. The transition hasn’t been the smoothest. There have been issues to deal with, from the bureaucratic to the cultural. Having overcome all those obstacles, just when I thought I had properly settled into the Emerging Economy, another issue has arisen. See, this is that type of issue which you never budget for; usually do not plan for; and hence when it does occur you are completely and utterly lost.

Enter exotic girl in foriegn land!

I guess you are beginning to see the point – the sheer magnitude of the dilemma.

While her ancestors referred to the Emerging Economy as their homeland, the girl herself does not reside within its territorial authority. In fact she now calls the Old World her home.

It all started about eight months ago, at a casual meeting, at a friend’s place. At that point, the thought that I would ever interact with her again, let alone fall truly, madly and deeply in love with her had never crossed my mind. Being a consultant, I was taught that the word “Network” is more important than the word “Mom”. Adding acquaintances to my Facebook account then, was only natural. Facebook then (eight months is a long time in tech parlance), was merely a social networking portal, not a part of your life. That happened later, when Zuckerburg decided to add the chat feature. This was May 2009. That chat feature is the source of my troubles!

What should never have been anything more than a “Hi, remember me?” type of conversation four months ago has now turned into an obsession where I can’t sleep if I haven’t spoken to her at least twice a day. To be frank, even then I can’t sleep! My mind seems preoccupied with her thoughts all the time. You see that’s not it, weirder things have happened to me. I do not notice other girls anymore; I do not go to clubs on Friday nights anymore for the fear of getting hooked to another female; and what’s infinitely worse is that I’ve been told that I am so lost in my thoughts that Salma Hayek could walk past nude and I wouldn’t notice!

The funniest part is – She (exotic girl in foriegn land) talks to me everyday, twice a day, but has no idea that I am truly, madly and deeply in love with her. I haven’t told her yet because:

  1. I wish to do so in person.
  2. I am not sure how it is possible to fall in love long distance with a girl living 7904.7 kilometers away, on Facebook!!!! Ever heard of that???
  3. I am still not sure if it’s love. But then again, if something forces me into celibacy with every other chick, then it has to be love, hasn’t it?
  4. I haven’t yet found a powerpoint deck which tells me what to do in this situation!

So in the twenty something years of my existence, having traveled to over a 100 cities in 20 countries; having advised executives at various companies on problems that seem impossible to solve; having jumped out of aircrafts at 15,000 feet with nothing but nylon to keep me alive; having acquainted myself to exotic females in five continents; having quit my job and relocating to the other side of the world on a whim; and having survived through obstacles most people can only dream off; I fear I have now been thrown a problem that I have no idea how to solve!

Before I close this post, I shall leave you with a short incident that took place yesterday. Usually, I take all my calls at my desk – the effort required to find an empty meeting room is too discouraging. I even make personal calls from my desk phone – they aren’t more than 30 seconds long anyway. Yet when I felt the urge to talk to her last evening, the first thing I did is booked a meeting room for thirty minutes and then dialled her from my cell. Why? Because

Cost of dialling from my desk phone = $2

Cost of dialling from my cell phone = $10

Having your private space in the midst of 5000 people = Priceless!!!

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Life | 5 Comments

The Eagle has Landed


Sorry for the hiatus ladies and gentlemen, but the transition to the “emerging economy” did not go as smoothly as anticipated. Silly bureaucratic glitches have made life a tad harder for the last couple of weeks. Add to that a severe bout of flu decided to attack and decimate me. I have just about won the war with the flu though…I think!

Some initial observations from the “emerging economy”

1. This place is just buzzing with people. If you thought NY was busy, take a look here.

2. You will be completely hypnotised by the sights, smells, sounds and colors. It’s weird and beautiful at the same time.

3. This place works 24×7. That’s right – this place never sleeps – literally. Thought shift work was only for back office service centers – think again!!!

4. Decades of underinvestment in infrastructure has resulted in complete chaos. Demand is crying out for supply. Roads, airports, houses, sewers – you name it, they need it. (Hint: Buy shares in infrastructure companies in this emerging economy.)

5. It is still incredibly cheap to live here. House rent, servants to do your cooking and cleaning, all under $300 a month. Wow!!!

6. While renting in some places maybe cheap, don’t even think of buying a pad in the more expensive areas. It will make Manhattan real estate look reasonable in comparison.

7, 8, 9 and 10. Food, food, food……..

Anecdotes coming up soon. Stay tuned!

September 6, 2009 Posted by | Life | 6 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

Guilt?


The after-life was running its merry course when suddenly a friend dropped a bombshell! Seeing me indulging in Facebook at all hours, she casually asked, “How do you have so much free time?” Little did she know how devastating the effects of her question were going to be! Guilt surrounded me immediately! How could I allow myself to be free??? Time spent doing nothing is time wasted. And guess what, time wasted is time lost.

When you follow an 80 hour-a-week routine, ladies and gentlemen, every second counts. Every second needs to be optimised. Work constantly needs to be reprioritised. The only rest allowed is that required to keep working. When work suddenly stops, it feels a bit like an animal that has forever been kept in captivity and suddenly let out. At first the freedom feels refreshing, however, as time progresses a sudden feeling of loss sets in. Questions arise in your mind constantly. Doubts, second thoughts, regrets – you name it.

Does this mean, I am regretting, absolutely not! With each passing day, I feel more glad about the move I have made. But the feeling described above serves as a reminder – take your time off, but use it to get your life back on track; do not forget or alienate the bigger goal; do not get carried away.

So to my friend who asked the question – yes, I am free, but my mind is working!

July 6, 2009 Posted by | Life | 2 Comments

Contemplation


For those of you still stuck in the rat race, may I suggest a week in the sun and sands of the Carribbean! Life just comes to a standstill. No meetings, no emails to reply to, no presentations or models to be created, no bull crap to be spewed (oh yes, no cellphone either!). It’s akin to living on another planet really. A week spent befriending tranquility will also allow you to spend large periods of time contemplating – something I suspect not a lot of you have time for.

So, whats happening to me now. Well as promised, I have chosen a rather unconventional route and decided that perhaps it is time to explore an emerging economy. Not just to travel, but to actually live and work. Friends from those regions compare the mood of the people to that of the US in the 60s and 70s – where growth and development as opposed to cost cutting and efficiency is paramount, where ambition combined with grey cells and hardwork can lead to unique opportunities. An aspirational society that is determined to show the world that it belongs on the world stage. And it is there that I shall head to “seek my fortune”.

What exactly I will do I don’t really know. I am seriously considering the technology sector with a view to start something of my own within the next two years or so. I do have offers from a couple of corporations in various capacities, ranging from the corporate strategy departments of various business houses to consulting – all in the technology sector, as that was the focus of my search (apparently people from the west looking to spend a few years there are welcome with open arms). Basically, I am leaning towards something that will enable me to start out on my own soon-ish. Anyway, more updates on that will follow as I start to shape my thinking and planning.

For now, my immediate worries range from setting myself up in a new country, living with new people, getting used to different customs to understanding how business works there. It is very risky, but I’d rather take risks now especially if it means I am doing something I enjoy. I might fail miserably, but then again I may prosper. Either way it will be a good learning experience. And without risk there is no reward!

Will keep you guys posted as things move along. Aah…the joys of life after consulting!!!

June 28, 2009 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment