Excerpts from You Don’t Need A Godfather

As my roommate was going home he handed me over a copy of this book called You Don’t Need A Godfather which he ordered from Flipkart last week. I’d not heard the name of the book, but since it was a small book I thought of reading it up anyways. As I turned a few pages, I realized that this is a handbook for your everyday endeavors – personal as well as professional, but mostly professional. There is nothing new this book offers that has not already been told yet, but the way Elango R. – the author of the book – presented it is novel and worth commending.

The ladder of professional success is not an easy one to climb, but if you know the technique you will climb it up effortlessly. And this book does exactly that. It offers you the tools which make your journey to the top easy and effortless. These tools are not as easy as they look while reading. They need a lot of practice. However, once practiced well, these tools will only enhance your productivity given you have the wisdom to take right decisions.

Having read the entire book in two days, I thought of writing a post on my blog. This post is simply a list of some of the DOs and DONTs manifested in the book.

  • Learn to take responsibilities of your actions instead of playing the blame-game.
  • Never be “a victim of the circumstances”: Create your own opportunities.
  • Focus on weaknesses and not just your strengths – for how else will you know your true potential?
  • Corporate ethics were formed for a reason. Respect them.
  • Personal branding is important – what’s your brand?
  • Social networking is also important, but learn to draw a line which makes sure your brand doesn’t degrade.
  • Tune your networking ability to a natural skill, not an action item.
  • Communicate effectively keeping your audience and objective in mind.
  • If you do what you always did, you will get what you always get. Learn to do things differently but don’t diverge the focus from the objective.
  • If saying NO is important, then say it. DO NOT HESITATE.
  • Set up your own Golden rules and never break them. They are non-negotiable.
  • Learn to laugh with people and at yourself. Don’t get too bothered about your goof-ups.
  • Be the boss you want your boss to be. (Personally, the best line I’ve come across this book) πŸ™‚
  • Whenever things get comfortable and less challenging, it’s time to re-evaluate.
  • Don’t fall into the success trap.
  • Learn to manage theΒ creative tension.Β 

I liked the way Elango managed to explain the underlying concepts of corporate leadership by drawing a comparison with the real life stories of his son, Agastya.

It is indeed a wonderful book to read. Recommended.

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My first Bungee jump!

How does it feel to have no ground under your feet? I’m sure everyone would have had such kind of an experience in their dreams. But this was not a dream. It was reality.

If you watch the video closely, in the beginning you can see how nervous I was. When I was walking towards that platform, a lot of things were running in my mind viz., Will I survive? Do I have the guts to take that one extra step? Should I back out? What will happen if something goes wrong? My breath calmed down; heartbeat froze. But when I reached the edge of the platform, I asked one thing to myself: What is that one thing worth living for? Trust me, the answer to that question popped up in my mind instantly. It’s moments like these when your life is at stake you realize that the most precious thing in life is your life itself. You, your family, your friends, your memories – they are priceless.

I never thought what I shall be remembered for after my death. But it was that moment when I began to think about it: What I have achieved in my life, what I want to pursue. At that moment, I decided that I will not take things as they come to me., rather I’ll fight and give a shape to these things to fit in my life.

While all these thoughts were running in my mind, the instructor slowly whispered into my ear: “Free your hands, dear. Three.. Two.. One.. Jump”. What happened next can not be described in words. I was in the air. There was no ground under my feet. Everything that I could see was coming closer to me at a great speed. I was shouting my heart out; out of fear, out of anxiety, out of excitement. I was high on life. But before I could comprehend the notion of gravity, I was brought back to conscience by the life saver harness. Everything looked different from that point. I was hanging in between the land and the sky that too inverted. The world looks different from that position. There was a sudden change in my voice. Once I knew that I was alive and safe, I felt that death is the worse thing that could ever happen to anybody. I was really happy to be alive. Now I cried out a huge cry, it was the cry of joy, the cry of happiness. It was a victory over my fear of heights, my fear of death.

There is one thing that I have learnt from this jump: Certain things in life are beyond the comprehension of us, mere mortals. But things like these where you risk your life to overcome your fear will remind you of the celebration that your life has been till now. It will give you the inspiration to do what you have always wanted to do.

I wish to Bungy jump again in my life. And this time, I’ll jump with no fear in mind. πŸ™‚

Once sincere advice: If you have not done it yet, please do. And post about it.

Shantaram Quotes

Here’s a list of some of the best quotes I’ve come across in Gregory David Roberts’ “Shantaram”. I liked these lines very much and hence I’m trying to make a collection here so that I can refer to them whenever I want to. πŸ™‚

  • Sometimes even with the purest intentions, we make things worse when we do our best to make things better – Lin
  • It is the mark of the age in which we live that the style becomes the attitude, instead of the attitude becoming the style – Didier
  • That is how they manage to live together, a billion of them, in reasonable peace. They are not perfect, of course. They know how to fight and lie and cheat each other, and all the things that all of us do. But more than any other people in the world, the Indians know how to love one another – Didier
  • It’s a fact of life on the run that you often love more people than you trust. For people in the safe world, of course, exactly the opposite is true – Lin
  • If fate doesn’t make you laugh, then you just don’t get the joke – Karla (one of my all time favorite quotes πŸ˜‰ )
  • The worst thing about corruption as a system of governance is that it works so well – Didier
  • There is no act of faith more beautiful than the generosity of the very poor – Abdullah
  • Sometimes the lion must roar, just to remind the horse of his fear – Abdullah
  • There is no believing in God. We either know God, or we don’t – Khader Bhai
  • Shame gives exultation its purpose, and exultation gives shame its reward – Lin
  • People do not understand the truly fantastic effort required in the corruption of a simple man. And the more simple the man, the more the effort it requires – Didier
  • News tells you what people did. Gossip tells you how much they enjoyed it – Didier
  • Only a wicked man can derive benefits from good works. A good man, on the other hand, would simply be worn out and bad tempered – Didier
  • When we act, even with the best of our intentions, when we interfere with the world, we always risk a new disaster that mightn’t be our making, but that wouldn’t occur without our action – Lin
  • Some of the worst wrongs were caused by people who tried to change things – Karla
  • Fear and guilt are the dark angels that haunt rich men – Khader Bhai
  • Despair and humiliation haunt the poor – Lin
  • Trouble is the only property that poor people are allowed to own – Johnny Cigar
  • Love seldom concerns itself with what we know or with what’s true – Lin
  • The world is run by one million evil men, ten million stupid men, and a hundred million cowards – Abdul Ghani (how true!)
  • Nations neglect no men more shamefully than the heroes of their wars – Abdul Ghani
  • You are not a man until you give your love, truly and freely, to a child. And you are not a good man until you earn love, truly and freely, of a child in return – Khader Bhai
  • Optimism is the first cousin of love, and it’s exactly like love in 3 ways: it’s pushy, it has no real sense of humor, and it turns up where you least expect it – Lin
  • The sane man is simply a better liar than the insane man – Khader Bhai
  • Fate has every power over us, but two. Fate cannot control our free will and fate cannot control lie. Men lie, to themselves more than to others, and others more often than they tell the truth. But fate doesn’t lie – Khader Bhai
  • The truth is found more often in music, than it is in books of philosophy – Khader Bhai
  • Good doctors have at least three things in common: they know how to observe, they know how to listen and they are very tired – Lin
  • Suffering is the way we test our love, especially for God – Khader Bhai
  • Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears. In the end that’s all there is: love and it’s duty, sorrow and it’s truth, In the end that’s all we have – Lin
  • Friendship is also a kind of medicine, and the markets for it too are sometimes black – Lin
  • There is no reason good enough to make us fight with each other – Qasim Ali
  • Justice is a judgment that is both fair and forgiving. Justice is not done until everyone is satisfied, even those who offend us and must be punished by us. Justice is not the only way we punish those who do wrong. It is the way we try to save them – Qasim Ali
  • Poverty and pride are devoted blood brothers until one, always and inevitably, kills the other – Lin
  • Nothing grieves more deeply or pathetically than one half of a great love that isn’t meant to be – Didier
  • One of the ironies of courage, and the reason why we prize it so highly, is that we find it easier to be brave for someone else than we do for ourselves alone- Lin
  • There’s no meanness too spiteful or too cruel when we hate someone foe all the wrong reasons – Didier
  • Any Indian man will tell you that although love might not have invented in India, it was certainly perfected there.
  • We usually do, something worse than we can imagine is stalking us, and set to pounce. Fate’s way of beating us in a fair fight is to give us warnings that we hear, but never heed
  • Mistakes are like bad loves, the more you learn from them, the more you wished they’d never happened – Karla
  • Silence is the tortured man’s revenge – Lin
  • Prisons are the temples where devils learn to pray – Lin
  • In prisons, a man rations his smiles because predatory men see smiling as a weakness, weak men see it as an invitation, and prison guards see it as a provocation to some new torment – Lin
  • Every virtuous act has some dark secret in its heart and every risk that we take contains a mystery that can’t be solved – Khader Bhai
  • The only victory that counts in prison, is survival – Lin
  • Guilt is the hilt of the knife that we use on ourselves, and love is often the blade; but its worry that keeps the knife sharp, and worry that gets most of us, in the end – Lin
  • You can never tell how much badness is in a man until you see him smile (a very nice thought, indeed)
  • Despotism despises nothing so much as righteousness in its victims – Lin
  • If you turn your heart as a weapon, you always end up using it on yourself – Lin
  • Gold fires the eyes with a different kind and color of greed. Money’s almost always just a means to an end; but, for many men, gold is an end in itself, and their love for it is the kind that can give love a bad name – Lin
  • Happiness is a myth. It was invented to make us buy things – Karla
  • Redemption’s climb is steepest if the good we did is soiled with secret shame
  • The effect, no matter how skilfully achieved, is always born in the artist’s intuition. And intuition can’t be taught.
  • We can deny the past, but we can’t escape the torment. The past is a speaking shadow that keeps pace with the truth of what we are, step for step, until we die – Lin
  • It’s okay if we all learned what we should all learn, the first time round, we wouldn’t need love at all – Karla
  • Pity is the one part of love that asks for nothing in return and because of that, every act of pity is an act of prayer – Lin
  • Black money runs through the finger faster than the legal, hard-earned money. If we can’t respect the way we earn it, money has no value. If we can’t use it ti make life better for our families and loved ones, money has no purpose – Lin (again one of my fav quotes πŸ™‚ )
  • I think wisdom is over-rated. Wisdom is just cleverness with all the guts kicked out of it. I’d rather be clever than wise, any day – Didier
  • There’s a kind of luck that’s much more than being in the right place at the right time, a kind of inspiration that’s not much more that doing the right thing in the right way, and both only happen when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment.
  • The soul has no culture. The soul has no nations. The soul has no color or accent or way of life. The soul is forever. The soul is one. And when the heart has it’s moment of truth and sorrow, the soul can’t be stilled.
  • One of the reasons why we crave love, and seek for it so desperately, is that love is the only cure for loneliness, and shame, and sorrow.
  • The only force more ruthless and cynical than the business of big politics is the politics of big business – Didier.

These are some of the quotes that I have jotted down in my quote book while reading the book. However, there a few more quotes that I’ve highlighted in the book itself and I’d be writing them soon. Do comment if you like any of these quotes or come up with your own list of quotes from your fav book.

PS: I’ll be writing a review on Shantaram soon. It was an awesome read. And I urge everyone reading this post to read the book as well.

The importance of decision making in my life

Back in 10th class, I had developed a very deep interest in Mathematics and an inner intuition told me that I should choose the science stream over the medical and commerce streams.

The +2 years were the most enjoyable days of my life. My love for Mathematics just kept on increasing and I loved solving math problems than anything else in the study hours. I was also intrigued by the concepts of physics and how every small thing built around me was but an application of physics guided by the language of mathematics. I must admit here that I sucked at Chemistry. Though I loved a few chapters which were related to mathematics, in some way or the other, like “Solutions”, I hated Organic as well as Inorganic Chemistry since I’m very poor at memorizing the properties of crappy elements and their crappy reactions at crappy temperatures. I attempted AIEEE, IIT-JEE and not-to-mention explicitly, EAMCET. JEE didn’t prove out to be successful for me but I secured a very good rank in AIEEE.

Having scored AIR 1404 in AIEEE, I had two options in front of me: to spend 1 year by taking long-term in order to enter into IITs, or to join in some reputed college listed under AIEEE. I chose the latter option since I always wanted to learn new things rather than repeating the same things again and again. And thus, I decided to go to a college. At the time of joining, everybody told me that the college I had opted for has earned a lot of reputation in a very less time and that I was quite lucky to have secured a seat in an institution as prestigious as this one. I was more than flattered and I joined the college without any hesitation. This was the point of time when I had no idea what my future would be like, whether I’d get the kind of education I was looking for or whether I’d be running a rat race. But since I had made a decision, I couldn’t look back.

The very first lecture in the college made it absolutely clear that all my prior knowledge of maths and physics will have no or least application in what I was going to do in the following years to come. A few courses here and there in mathematics kept my passion for maths alive and burning. But Physics, it was gone. Completely! Phut!

Though, in the first semester we had a few classes on mechanics and other engineering applications of physics, they were not of any use to us in the years that followed. Neither the professor, nor the student raised any doubt in the class as the complex equations involving double derivatives of vectors on a complex plane were far beyond the comprehension of either of them. And if any student dared to raise a doubt in the class, the prof scorned at him/her by saying that how could one come to a prestigious institution like this without having the knowledge of such a simple subject! Simple? My ass.

Anyways, in the second semester we were taught Elementary Electronics along with the students of Electronics stream. It was an elementary course and was designed only to introduce us to a few terms which we were supposed to be conversant of. Since the course dealt with electronics and semi conductors (Physics) I was very much fascinated by its content. At one time I had seriously thought of changing the stream to Electronics. But everybody knew that ECE was a very tough stream and most of the students even sympathized with their ECE friends for having a tough time. So I consulted a few of my friends to seek their advice on finalizing my decision. Every one of them strongly condemned my idea, they even said that I was nuts and only a crack would opt Electronics. In those days, I didn’t have guts to go against the words of my friends and so I decided to stay put and run the rat race.

Year after year, I saw my grade sheet being filled up with unwanted courses and demoralizing grades.Β  Every bad grade discouraged me, decreased my morale, forced me to think from a CGPA point of view, which in turn forced me to think from placements point of view. I was demoralized to such an extent that I started hating exams, professors and especially books. I was forced into a rebellion of giving up on the grades and involving myself in other extra-curricular activities. I knew that I was intelligent enough to pass any exam with one night stand but that would only convince my inner soul that I’d passed an examination, and not that I’d excelled at it. Believe me,Β  wearing an I-don’t-really-care-about-grades smile on the face is really a difficult thing especially when a small bug inside your brain is aware of the consequences of your grades and their effect on your placements.

Every year, I used to subscribe to those courses which, according to the masses, were relatively easy and susceptible enough to fetch me a good grade.Β  Such courses were very popular among the students because the end semester question paper, which comprised 60% of the total grade, would never alter. So, if one obtains the end semester paper from any senior, one doesn’t have to study much. Knowing the answers to the questions was the only key to assure a good grade. I, on the other hand, looked upon every course with the intention of learning. I also tried to solve the problem using the conventional approach first and then by applying my knowledge of the course. I failed to write the correct answer, I failed to obtain good marks, I failed to get a good grade. Every time after coming out of the exam hall I had a lot of expectations from the result. But every time the marks disappointed me. I have seen my fellow batch mates arguing with the profs and TAs to increase at least 1 mark and in every problem and thus in the process getting their marks increased by two digit figures. I’m not saying that all of them belonged to that category; there were a few who were genuinely talented and would obtain decent marks without putting the effort of arguing with the profs. But I belonged to neither of the categories aforementioned.

In my fourth year, I took a bold decision of taking a tough course irrespective of everyones warnings. And the course was Game Theory. Traditionally, only the toppers and the rankers across the batches used to opt for that course. It was taught by the college dean who had warm feelings for toppers and rankers and he wouldn’t give a damn to the other students. I attended most of the classes sitting in the back bench making no noise. One fine day I was listening to the class with utmost attention when I noticed that the prof was struck at explaining some concept of game theory involving coordinate geometry. I knew the answer to that problem but the bad grades had such a bad effect on me that I thought everybody else too knew the answer; my futile attempt of answering it would rather go unnoticed and hence I kept silent. But when I saw that the toppers and the rankers were not able to solve it, I slowly opened my mouth and blurted out the answer. That was the first time the prof became aware of my presence. He did solve the problem but without appreciating my effort. But that day I learnt something. I learnt that the toppers and the rankers were the people who simply by-hearted the answers in order to gain maximum marks. They never saw a problem as a challenge. They’d never wanted to solve the problem, they only wanted to see the solutions and understand the procedure and write the same in exams.

Since very few students(22) opted for the course, our prof decided to abandon the examination and gave us all a big assignment instead. The assignment consisted of creating a completely new game which involved all the topics discussed in the class. I took this as an opportunity to prove it to the class that I still had the burning desire to create something different, novel and innovative. And I did come up with a game involving secondary mortgage market, bankers and debtors. My game depicted the beginning and evolution of the Sub-prime mortgage crisis. With appropriate utilities and players, I formulated the game in such an interesting manner that the prof was compelled to give me an “A” grade. Later, I learned that I was the only student in the class of 22 who secured an A grade. I was overwhelmed by this response. To me, this achievement was nothing less than winning an Academy Award.

My bold decision of taking a step against the crowd proved out to be a huge success for me. From that day onwards, I decided to make my own decisions without consulting any one. The best part of taking a decision of my own is that I don’t have to blame anybody for the consequences I face and I take the complete responsibility of my decision. πŸ™‚

Refusing to Accept Failure

Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to climb Mount Everest. On May 29, 1953 he scaled the highest mountain then known to man-29,000 feet straight up. He was knighted for his efforts. He even made American Express card commercials because of it! However, until we read his book, High Adventure, we don’t understand that Hillary had to grow into this success. You see, in 1952 he attempted to climb Mount Everest, but failed. A few weeks later a group in England asked him to address its members. Hillary walked on stage to a thunderous applause. The audience was recognizing an attempt at greatness, but Edmund Hillary saw himself as a failure. He moved away from the microphone and walked to the edge of the platform. He made a fist and pointed at a picture of the mountain. He said in a loud voice,

“Mount Everest, you beat me the first time, but I’ll beat you the next time because you’ve grown all you are going to grow… but I’m still growing!”