You Are Not Your Resume

I read through this quote from Seth Godin, and loved it:

You are not your resume, you are your work. 

This is a succinct way of saying keep your head high and focus on your work, and the resume should take care of itself.

 

On Taking Risks

Years ago, man used to live in caves. He learned to use the tools, create fire, hunt in groups, cook and preserve the hunt. Each of the these skills created us an added advantage over the other species. On each step, we were able to grow a little further only because there were enough risks taken. In order to be more secure, we learned to take risks and over time prepare ourselves to take calculated risks to create “wins.”

When a child is born, (s)he is completely unaware of risks, and tries to pursue every opportunity to find something new, to see something new or do something new – it’s not uncommon for a child to try catching fire with his hands because (s)he thinks it’s attractive. Once the same child feels the heat of the stove fire, (s)he quickly understands it’s not something I should go for.

Risk taking is an attitude. Some people are risk-takers and some are risk-averse, but most have to accept it to varying extents. When people don’t for sustained periods, they end up staying in a perceived safety area, labelled “comfort zone” and as they say, comfort zone is a great place, but nothing grows there. In life, it’s necessary to leave that zone at least a few times to be sure to be able to grow.

An issue with risk taking is that “calculated risk taking” is not so easy to define – it’s a subjective area and the right amount of calculated risk is different from person to person. Also, it can change for the same person depending on the circumstances. That being the case, almost no one can exactly guide you on what amount of risk you ought to take, and one must understand that most of the guidance will also come from a filtered view these people hold.

Another issue with it is that when you do start taking up risks, by the very characteristic of risk, you stand a chance to lose out, or fail and if that happens, people even remotely related to you would start sharing their opinions on how the idea was lousy to begin with or how they knew this was not going to work (no, that won’t change or improve anything but people have this intrinsic need to justify why things happened the way those did and also reaffirm to others they were right). Also interestingly, these psychological reaffirmations on others’ failures are common across geography and cultures. As difficult as it is, try to ignore them.

In the end you always have two choices: to do something you want to, and end up with a possibility of failure; or not do that something and definitely end up with regret for the rest of your life. I assert the latter is more painful. And suggest you go ahead with what you find right, and a little uncomfortable.

 

That’s not easy.

When you talk to people about innovative ideas, many of them listen carefully and end up with a note of caution “that’s not easy.”

I contest that it is not a very useful response for two reasons: one, almost anything worth doing is not easy and two, if a person has made up their mind on getting something done, then they would appreciate the “how’s” of the task, rather than reminding themselves that the task at hand is “not easy.” So, the next time someone comes to you with something innovative that you like to listen to, don’t say “that’s not easy” but rather point out one “how” to help them solve at least one puzzle in the myriad they might have.

If you can’t do that but you feel it’s a good cause/idea/effort/plan/prototype/invention/innovation, at least say “that’s worth a try.” If you think it’s lame and not going to work, tell them so. Simple.

 

 

On Karachi

This blog post is written as a satire, not focused on any particular individual(s), or group. All characters used in the comments are fictitious, and bear no resemblance to a person in real life. Having said that, you might find these experiences commonplace in Karachi. The purpose of the post is not to poke fun, but to have some instead.

1. Most people would never come on time, and be proud of it. They would flaunt their attitude as they did something that others should learn from:

“Dada, aaj tera bhai bus aadha ghanta late aya hai, teri mohabbat hai.. warna tou tujhe pata hee hai apna tou”

2. There will always be instances where they need to be on time, for example, to get through the government office work. Most people would feel it’s fair they pay someone speed money to get their work done faster than the fools who prefer to wait doing the right thing.

“Abay panch sau rupay nikal aur dekh filo ke paheeye kaise lagtay hain”

3. If by a stroke of chance, one of these people end up coming on time, they’ll regret it so much they’ll keep on repeating ad nauseum to almost everyone. They’ll make sure most people know he/she was on time that day/evening.

“Saleem bhai, aaj tou theek nau bajay pohanch gaye hum, dekh lein sir”

4. When you come on time, these people will be like:

“Kya baat hai Mushtaq, time pe haan bilkul.. wah.”

What they really mean, “kabhi late bhi ho jaya karo over efficient insaan” or “Isko kya masla hai… ajeeb hai – aise thori koi bilkul time per.. ”

5. When in queues, some people will act over smart, and try to come before you even if you don’t know them, but for them your only merit is that you are far closer to the counter (ticket counter, payment counter, bill counter, token counter, fee counter, any counter). These incoming individuals would have an innocent smile on their face, and most will try to pretend they were already there but nobody noticed.

“Arey bhai, hum tou aik ghantay se yaheen kharay huay hain.. ” and when things get out of control, they’ll say: “yaar aap aa jao hamaray aagay, shor mat karo” as if they are giving a favor instead.

6. At most petrol stations, motorcycles would not form a line, but gather around like bees around a beehive, hoping the filling person would put fuel in their motorcycle first.

7. When you go into a supermarket or a crowded place, you realize someone needs to tell many of the ‘burka-clad’ women, that by covering their entire body, they still can’t cover the bad body odor – they too need to take a shower after all – seriously.

8. At traffic signals, almost always you would suddenly find someone trying to clean your windscreen. Mostly, their own mops are dirtier, and they would care to ask only after messing your already clean windscreen a little.

9. At some of the traffic signals, you would find someone trying to sell you flowers, or cleaning cloth. He will only start negotiating when/if you say you don’t want it. Don’t be surprised if he goes from 3 for Rs. 100 to 6 for the same price in less than 10 seconds.

10. Most people are habitually addicted to some form of tobacco, and would not care to even bother about where they are or who is standing around before they proudly light up a cigarette or more commonly, put the red ‘gutka’ or ‘pan’ in their mouth.

11. Once these people fill their mouths, they’ll all start talking in a typical funny way, trying to balance their hedonic pleasure from chewing the pan and communicating that it’s just 3.30pm right now, even when a stranger asks them.

Stranger: “Bhai time kya hua hai”

Pan guy: “Sharray teen huay hhain”

12. You would find a photocopier on every road, but a pan shop/cabin on every street.

13. The number of pan cabins are directly proportional to the number of gutters in the street. Typically, there are much more pan shops in thin, crowded streets.

14. You realize there is no point asking the sugar cane juice vendor if the juice is fresh:

You: Bhai, tazaa hai? (pointing to the already filled juice glass)

Sugar cane vendor: “Arrey abhi nikala hai. 2 minute huay hain.” This answer would almost always be the same even if it’s been 15 minutes. After that, he’d mix some more fresh juice with the same, and hold the same response for another 15 minutes. Rinse and repeat.

15. Most people will not mind spending Rs. 800 on a “fit waali” chicken karahi, but will think twice about spending the same money on a “fit waali kitaab”.

16. In most weddings, the hosts and the invitees both know the event will start only around 10.30pm, but they will still write 8.30pm or 9pm -the logic as people would explain goes like:

“Kamran bhai, saaray aanth likhain gay tabhi tou saaray das pohanchay gay hahahaha” – Sulaiman bhai, this was really not so funny.

17. Almost every ten and twenty rupee note has been circulated through someone who makes, buys or eats pan but doesn’t use a tissue.

18. A lot of motorcyclists presume their coolness is indicated by the ‘shor wala chota silencer’.

19. You know a fuel station has CNG when there is a huge, huge queue of vehicles coming out of there.

20. ‘CNG ki line mein kisi bhi time mobile snatching ho jati hai’

21. ‘Mukka Chowrangi’ is not so much of a violent neighborhood; and there’s no boxing practice area out there either

22. “Golimar ke pull se A.O. Clinic ke baad wala pull safe zone nahee, Gari bhaga, dua karta jaa.”

23. Karachi might be the biggest city in Pakistan, but even today there’s just one “bridge” that divides it. ‘Pull ke is paar’ ya ‘us paar’ –

24. There are still many kind souls living around here.

25. Everyday brings a lot of hope and ambition for many in this city.

26. Airport taxis have a button which they’ll push some time during the journey when you’re busy with something else which will increase the number of kilometers on the trip by 2-3 km. This will happen even if you find the person is very religious, and looks honest. Only two ways to get around this are to tell them in advance you know of this trick and keep monitoring, or just pay for that damn extra travel every time you book one from Airport, even when you are paying a tip.

27. “Aaj bhi Baakra hotel mashoor hai apni 24/7 service ke liye”

28. “Super Biryani bohat aala hoti hai”

29. “Polce ki dooty hai qnoon ke dayeray mein awaam ki madad karna, wohi kartay rehtay hain. Din raat, lagataar, andha dhoond”

30. When you call someone who’s about to reach at your place, the person would say:

“Sajid, bas 10 minute mein pohanch raha hoon, raastay mein hoon” even when he’s still at home, and will not leave for another 15 minutes.

31. When Sajid gets a call from Patel, Sajid goes like:

“Allawala Chowrangi dekhi hai.

Wahan se straight aaja.

Do galian chor. Aur Insaf shoes se right maar.

Teen building-ain chor.

Left pe ik chai ka hotel hai.

Wahan pohanch ke missed call kar dena, mein lene aa jaoon ga.”

32. Many of the fun places in the city become “Families Only” during weekends. You can even find a big supermarket having that sign outside the door. Funnily, two girls become a family, guys can’t be family. Default. rules.

33. Most men are either of two types: those who only go to Cineplex, Atrium, Neuplex and those who only go to Nishat, Capri and Prince. Those who go both places are the normal people, the moderate crowd, in minority though.

33. Cricket fever is always on. Almost everyone would have an opinion on this.

34. Transport business – Khan bhai. Fruits and Vegetables business – Khan bhai. Clothes business – Memon bhai. Rice business – Hindu bhai. Hardware business – Bohri bhai. Paper business – Punjabi bhai. Collection business – Bhai.

35. Everybody respects “Quaid-e-Azam”, almost everybody.

36. A full bus means all the seats are occupied. All space between the seats is also full. The doorsteps are also full. And, the top of the bus is also full. Most people would still try to fit in. “Bhai sahab, thora sa ander hona”

37. You can have a meal at a place from anywhere between Rs. 40 to Rs. 4,000 within 5 kilometers distance from each other.

38. Trains are rarely on time. They boast, when they are.

39. Social gatherings often get past midnight. In some of these, you might get frowns for leaving as early as 2am.

40. “Jab koi TT dikhaye tou cellphone de dene ka jani” – carry another extra cell phone just to give it away when asked to.

41. “Har baat pe dharna hai, har point pe containers.”

42. “Dumthall” at WaterPump stop still has the best halwa puri in town.

43. “Do Darya” is just one “samandar” and you can’t even dip your feet there.

44. Funland rides have their own charm, but beware someone would always be watching you from a distance. Just look around. Watch out girls.

45. “Meerath” kababs are the best. “Bar-B-Q tonight” also comes close though.

46. “Paper Market mein jhando ki variety aatank hoti hai”

47. Cycle market still rents bikes to kids in half hour increments.

48. “Delhi Rabri House” has amazing “rabri”, although not always so hygienic.

49. “Hanifia” has the best hunter beef in town. Their mustard sauce was one of the original, local mustard sauces in the city.

50. Despite all odds, this city is such a melting pot of cultures, languages, customs and faiths, it lives in the hearts of all Karachites, wherever they go.

8 Noteworthy Trends in Online Space

Last few years have seen many acquisitions, buyouts, new businesses and emerging areas of discovery as far as online space is concerned. Gleaning through the numbers, acquisition motives and acquired companies, new companies coming up, there are several areas that are becoming worthy of attention in terms of the next decade in online space.

  1. Payment System Effectiveness: We’ve seen Square change how credit cards get accepted and the way virtual wallets are handled. Bitcoins came out and have become partly popular and partly controversial.
  2. Communication Design Change: People are moving to more mobile platforms now than ever before. Right now, there are roughly the same number of PCs as there are smartphone devices out there. Whilst the PCs remain a separate device used at a specific place, the latter are far more interconnected and personal – therefore, these on average have a higher share of the mind.
  3. Social Media Trend: Once you’re onto a network, the utility of the network is directly proportional to the number of relevant people on the same network. This was still difficult to achieve in Web 2.0. What it meant was that once the networks became large enough, people on that network had a larger “social” opportunity cost of moving to another network. For example, it was difficult for many people to move from mySpace to Orkut to Facebook, but with the number of people on there and the inter-connectivity it provides across different websites, it’s even more difficult to move from there. It used to be a big positive for these leading social media platforms as people usually feel it’s too much effort developing the same network again on another platform. Now, with companies like WhatsApp and Threema, this is not such a big problem. Mobile devices, being personal as they are, already have the updated contact numbers of all the “relevant” people in anyone’s network, and connecting through simply a cell phone number means all those who choose to adapt to the change can become part of the new platform more easily. This brings a promise to the newcomer with an innovative appeal to bring exponentially growing user base much faster.
  4. It’s All in the Cloud: The phrase ‘on the cloud’ is getting commonplace. Increasingly, people are beginning to understand the benefits of using the technology to get location-independent access, powerful backups, support, and flexibility. This has begun translating into distinct business models in various spheres. Companies like Dropbox, Box.net and Amazon AWS are opening possibilities to work and collaborate very differently than was the case until only few years ago.
  5. Convergence – One Big Happy Family: Internet has brought together and connected people from all over the world. With mobile internet, people have become much more used to the concept of convergence. People expect to be able to share their experiences tweeting away, instagram-ing their pics, sharing statuses, sending IMs, conducting polls & surveys, getting comments and likes and playing multi-player games. This trend will continue into eGovernment systems, collaboration tools to deliver added-value, software and hardware linking sensory perceptions of sight, sounds, and smell into the mainstream over the coming years. The focus of internet has always been creating visual enhancements, right from the days of early versions of Windows geared towards bringing GUI to the end-user, but now it is driven to create enhanced user experiences using multiple sensory perceptions. Internet will be even more interactive.
  6. Innovation Lead Time Substantially Reduced: With the high-end simulation software resources, crowd-sourced subject matter experts, cloud-based SAAS (software as a service) solutions, pool of committed talent available online, team based offshore development options, crowd-funding accessibility and options for pilot planning – shipping out innovation is faster and cheaper than ever before.
  7. Online Education: With the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) like Coursera, Udemy, Stanford’s, MIT’s and Other Online Education avenues available now, those who want to gain knowledge in a particular domain are only restricted by their own lack of will more than anything else.
  8. Big Data & Analytics: With too much information, the ability to quickly sift through heaps of data to see what’s important and define the underlying trends becomes very valuable. This will create many jobs and businesses in the future.

 The rapid pace of change would create many opportunities for those who keep their minds open to the trends and are ready for such opportunities.

Buy Call on FB

I made a buy call on FB 2 months ago at $27 – My basis for the buy call are pointed out below were:

 

Fundamentally, the asset base, now a huge $15b as against $6b last year, and the new debt of $2b more than offset by liquid cash & short term securities. The goodwill was increasing at a rapid pace too. Also, notice that amongst the peers, this company stood at a massive EBITDA of $1.1b, 24%.

On the business side, then, one has to realize that the real value of a network increases exponentially with the number of people on the network (Reed’s law/Metcalfe’s law). Although the marginal increase is slower than before, but look at the size of the network, it’s already huge. 

Practically, I saw a trend of many other leading, potential technology and related businesses allowing log-in through Facebook login, and several other features intertwined with the Social networking website. I, therefore, foresaw growth in RPU after a bit. 

Just looking at relative valuation through P/E only in this industry isn’t of course the best way to assess the potential. Just look at so many loss-making entities there, so you can’t compare well across peers anyway.

Here’s the today’s rate:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pakistan Education Fund Drive

Less than two months ago, I set out to raise funds for an education fund drive with the purpose of raising enough money to support education for at least 1 child in perpetuity. Good education should give people the ability to think through situations, reason out things, and ask the right questions; these three things together can open up a range of opportunities for the educated mind. My idea was based on the simple premise that an endowment fund be formed that could invest the raised money and support the child’s education through the profits earned. The initial capital was supposed to be kept in tact, and the funds could keep on supporting a child’s education every month.

Since I’m a firm believer in the power of education and wanted to convey why it was so important for Pakistan, I had discussions with The Citizens Foundation, an NGO working in supporting education for the under-privileged sector, and prepared a video slide documentary, and uploaded that on Vimeo. You can find that link here:

The Story of Life – A 20-minute video presentation

I started to share the video around, most amongst friends and family to raise some funds. My personal benchmark for success of the project was raising funds for educating a child for at least a year. With the grace of Almighty, only within a few weeks, I managed to raise a sum of Rs. 110,500/- enough to support education for over 9 children for an entire year. This was a great thing to have happened, although the goal of raising enough funds for sustainable educational support remained partially complete. I submitted the funds forward to The Citizens Foundation, and started working on other pursuits.

Soon thereafter, I had someone wanting to contribute to the cause and the person sent the funds too. So, I am just reopening the collection drive for a second round, hoping to raise some more money for these children. If you are interested, or know someone who might be, please feel free to share this post around.

Also, if you have any questions, or comments, or some feedback, feel free to write to me about that.

Thanks for your support!

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

On Cats and Humans

Cats are generally very calm, always bent on doing their own thing and usually take the path of least resistance, and move around doing what they want, but these creatures turn voracious and attack back at you if you corner them on 3 sides.

Moral of the story: Don’t push the seemingly calm ones just about too much that they’re left with nothing but to attack back on you.

Alternative moral of the story: Most of the people, like cats, behave very relaxed until they are left with no other alternative. Often when boats are burned, and no other alternative is left, people perform their best.

The Paradox of Our Time

Below is an abstract from Dr. Bob Moorehead that is worth a read.

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints; we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space; we’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; we’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.

We write more, but learn less; we plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait.