Lessons from Kabaddi

Kabaddi is an ancient Indian contact sport that is like no other game ever invented. The only thing needed to play this game are the players, even half a court will suffice to be able to play, and last but not the least, the points system where both offense and defense have the opportunity to earn points during the same play.

This last part is really intriguing since it is unlike most situations that one faces in life or business.

But it is also a great management lesson. Anyone who is defending turf or is struggling in life, still needs to be aggressive in his / her intent, even in the most dire of situations.That is the only way to change fortunes. Else one will lose sight of all possibilities and become a victim of circumstance.

#ProKabaddi #LePanga

The One

What is the one principle, belief, lesson, theory, advice, or whatever you call it that is the north star of your life? The one thing that you hold on to dearly while approaching and living life?

Can’ be 10, can’t be 5. I want the most important one.

For me it is the realization that

One’s present is not a prisoner of one’s past. It is the custodian of the possibilities one sees for oneself and in turn the opportunity to realize those possibilities.

At any point in life it is possible to let the past be, and not allow it to dictate the future one chooses for oneself.

This one lesson has changed my consciousness irrevocably.

What’s yours?

The Niche

I’ve had reason to have my graduate degree transcripts made recently. It has been 13 years since I earned my bachelors degree and my engineering school does not have a clear well defined process for cases like mine.

The other issue is that of time and physical proximity to the school. Both are a problem for me.

This led me to the discovery of allindiatranscripts.com. This is a niche service that does all the work for you and delivers your transcripts at your doorstep. It is pricey, but for folks who are time and mind space poor, the money is a secondary consideration. Am not sure how well this business is doing, and what kind of potential it has for growth, but my first thought was ‘Wow! What a wonderful niche to exploit.’

The Niche is critical to the success of any endeavour. Be it an organisation or an individual. I work with a corporation that has built a large part of its 17 Bn USD fortune on the Niche of ‘Mighty Muscular, Rugged, Off Road worthy’ vehicles.

Niches are important for two reasons. First, the target segment is so small to start with that there won’t be a large incumbent interested in it. This gives the business some breathing space and time to establish itself. Second, since it is a niche, it is a rare service or offering which makes it stand out from the crowd and helps generate a positive word of mouth so long as the offering is great.

Am going to spend the better part of this month looking for more Niches and making sense of / tearing them apart. Tinder for Board Games, anyone?



I spend a great deal of time trying to make things, work, interactions, and life simple for myself and everyone who is part of my life.

This book by John Maeda that I just read is a great resource and ready reckoner for anyone who wants to understand and imbibe simplicity.

The 10 Laws and 3 Keys are as follows:


  1. Reduce: The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction
  2. Organise: Organization makes a system of many appear fewer
  3. Time: Savings in time feel like simplicity
  4. Learn: Knowledge makes everything simpler
  5. Differences: Simplicity and complexity need each other
  6. Context: What lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral
  7. Emotion: More emotions are better than less
  8. Trust: In simplicity we trust
  9. Failure: Some things can never be made simpler
  10. The One: Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful


  1. Away: More appears less by simply moving it far far away
  2. Open: Openness simplifies complexity
  3. Power: Use less, gain more

The Science of Preparation

We all know the famous Benjamin Franklin quote ‘Failing to prepare is preparing to fail’. Given the ubiquitous nature of this quote, one would expect a lot of published literature about Preparation. Yet the only preparation articles / books available are for test prep exams or for job interviews (there are documents on culinary and agricultural bed preparation, but the word takes a different meaning there).

Would be great if someone could point me to a treatise or an authoritative work on this subject. The only area which talks about preparation as a science is Sports.

While I have been reading about the minds of top athletes, here is my take on why most people fail to prepare and what one can do about it.

There are 3 stages to preparation. Objective, Method, and Visualisation.

Setting the correct Objective can be the difference between success and failure. However, more often than not, it is the failure to set an objective that takes sinks the boat. While preparing for an exam it is important to know whether the objective is to top it, secure a 90 % score, or just pass. Failure to clearly define this objective will result in sub standard preparation and in turn a mismatch between expectation and reality.

Next comes the Method. This is a combination of How and How Much and what many would call the actual preparation. Bench marking, Analyzing past trends, Finding a mentor or hiring an expert, scenario planning, reading, taking an online course, MBWA (Management by Wandering Around)  and countless other techniques can be used. Is there a one size fits all? Probably not. But there are a few universal truths that everyone can use. We perform on what is measured and how frequently. Practice makes a (wo)man perfect. There is no substitute for hard work. But Hard work and smart work can sometimes mean two different things. Shu Ha Ri: Find a Master, follow the Master, become the Master.

Visualization is doing the thing before actually doing it. Part of it is visualizing the outcome, but a bigger component is mentally doing a dry run of the actual act multiple times, in different scenarios, with different possibilities, and different responses. This is where the anticipating and preparing for the worst happens. This is what keeps the hormones in check during the actual event. This is what helps one think on one’s feet.

I’d still like to see a well researched resource to support or disprove my views.







2015 in Review

I can sum up my 2015 in one word –  Fatherhood.

Being a father to a beautiful little baby girl and starting a very small business within a big business federation have kept me industriously occupied throughout the year. There a few common lessons that I’ve learnt from both these kinds of fatherhood.

  1. You will do anything to ensure the well being of your child
  2. Habits, routines, rituals, and celebrations are very important
  3. It is a team sport. Choose your mates wisely
  4. You will fuck up. Doing it fast and being careful will help you learn
  5. Focus on where the puck is going to be; and also where it is right now
  6. A good war chest always helps
  7. In the end, the experience, memories, the lives one impacts will make you wealthy; not the money

Wishing everyone a wonderful 2016 ! May our children have wealthy parents and beautiful lives.

The Last Waltz

Sometime 15 years ago, in the year 2000, I was introduced to internet at home. And ‘The Last Waltz’ was the 1st song I downloaded off Napster. Today on way to a meeting I chatted with Selvarajan, my Uber driver about how Uber has given him a better life. In between the file sharing and on demand, we’ve all gone through the entire gamut of instant messaging, social media, and e-commerce.

Big changes, one has to admit. But going forward the changes that technology will help usher will be even more tectonic. Here’s my list of 3 big areas of change to watch out for as we move into 2016.

  1. Transportation & Logistics: Autonomous vehicles in the really short term, Rapid Transit systems with autonomous vehicles in the not so short term, and teleportation in the extremely long term will be a reality. The first will be an almost pure software and hardware play, the second a combination of the first, infrastructure, and material science play , and the last will be through a profound new understanding of the laws of physics.
  2. Education and Learning: Ubiquitous connectivity & accessibility, a marked shift in the models and mediums of learning, and creation of machine consciousness will lead this change.
  3. Health & Life care: We should all aim to live to be at least a 100 if not achieve immortality. The sheer volume of information related to our personal corporal form that we will have, coupled with advances in nanotechnology and molecular medicines, and finally, a fundamental change in understanding and affecting human consciousness will get us there.
Energy and Augmented Reality are two of the other things that will change the way we live dramatically in the extremely near future.
What is your list?

The Book Hack

I hadn’t read too many books during the first half of this year. Like everything else, my hack for this malady and increase the count was to read smaller and easier to finish books. Sounds like a really lazy approach and a horrendous metric to track.

However, this very approach led me to 2 really profound books that I would not have otherwise read (Pulitzer winning Non fiction and Magical humorous fiction work best for me) and the best TED video I’ve seen this year.

The first was Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom and the second was The Laws of Medicine by the Pulitzer winning Dr. Siddhartha Mukerjee.

The first book deals with Life, Death, Acceptance, Love, Values, and an individual Culture that can be infectious and transcend many seemingly inexplicable barriers. The second deals with the art and science of navigating with limited resources a complex labyrinth littered with blind spots misleading sign posts.

You can watch the video that inspired The Laws of Medicine here:

But the most important thing and management lesson that these books and talk taught me was to change the frame of reference, and as mentioned in the talk – the mechanisms, models, and metaphors when faced with seemingly unsolvable problems or insurmountable odds.

What say?


30 day Challenges & Streaks

This TED Ed video by Matt Cutts should give you a good idea of what I am talking about.

I’ve tried many 30 day challenges. Some have been successful, like no sugar or 30 day work outs.  Many have been unsuccessful like writing stuff everyday. While the results during the successful 30 day experiments have been truly astounding, the rebound back to the original state of disrepair and inertia post the challenge period has been even more spectacular.

So this is where I’m bringing in a new pivot to the 30 day theme. The ‘Streak’.  The thing about streaks is that the longer they build, the more precious they become. Since achieving and beating it once again becomes more difficult with every successful day, the incentive to keep the streak going keeps increasing with every successful day.

So the hack, or the experiment, is to start extremely tough 30 day challenges and towards the end, convert them to a slightly easier, less stringent streaks.

Take an example of a No Sugar challenge undertaken on Dec 27th. On January 27th, convert it to an ‘only 1 or lesser sugar based item allowed per day’.

First, since you’ve already gone 30 days without sugar, psychologically this will be simpler by a magnitude of 10. Once you do the most difficult thing, doing a slightly simpler thing is exponentially simpler.

Second, you’ll be on a 30 day streak by then and the incentive to turn this into a longer streak will be much higher than the disincentive. Changing the Goal Post is fine. There is never a ‘there’. The ‘there’ always keeps dissolving once you get there.

Third, given that the month end is just 4 days away, you will have that extra drive to continue the streak for 4 more days beyond the 30 day challenge. Timing and markers are very Important. Choose them well.

What say ?