20 August 2019

Meeting up Lori in Charleston

Imagine driving 330 miles (over 500 km) in a day. Now imagine doing that 4 days in a row. Not sure how, but as a result of Sharmila not letting Natasha drive across state boundaries and Natasha wanting to spend the weekend with her friend from middle school (and somebody both Sharmila and I love) – Dani, I landed up doing daily trips between Atlanta and Charleston!

Of course, to me everything in life is about meeting a stranger or meeting somebody from my past. Using a feature in Facebook that Graham had taught me, I learnt that Lori was in Charleston these days! Missed each other on Friday (it was too late) but absolutely got to see her on Sunday!

Sharmila and I got to know Lori when she was the manager at a restaurant/bar that we used to frequent quite some time back. To the best of my knowledge that establishment does not exist any more. But after Lori left that place, I lost track of her. All I knew was that she had become the manager of a hotel somewhere in Atlanta.

The good news is that birthday calls always kept the relationship going – although only once a year! It is certainly not my fault that people’s birthdays tend to come only once a year!

“I remember you wanted to visit South Korea. Did you ever get that done?”, I asked her as we settled down in a bar by the water in beautiful, laid back Charleston.
“No. But I want to.”

Lori was born in a city south of Seoul. Well, she was found there and eventually brought to Seoul by an adoption agency who had matched her up with her adopted parents.

After 18, Lori left home and built her own career. She will tell you how she has rebelled many times and often had unresolved anger. But eventually, she found out how to use them as a source of energy to propel her rather than keep her back.

“So, after such a life – that can be called ‘interesting’ to say the least – what are the lessons you have learnt? In fact, if you were to say three things to my daughters, what would they be?”

“Slow down”, she said readily.
“Take risks”, she said after a few seconds of thinking
“And make mistakes”, she finished up after a minute.

“As you reflect on life, what are you most proud of?”
“That I am still living.”
“And what do you have as words of wisdom for somebody much older than you like me?”
“Whether you are ashes or six feet under, your impact will continue after you are gone. Focus on that impact.”

We talked a lot about our old friends (and the owners) of the old establishment we used to visit (Mark, Chris, Holli.. you were all remembered), her current work and some of the learnings she is having in her new job on the personnel front.

I never thought I was going to see Lori again. It was so great to have been proven wrong again!!

18 August 2019

From the bartender’s corner – Mezcal #9: Aztecali

This is a very different mezcal from any other mezcal that I have had till date. For starters, this is the first mezcal I had that is not from Oaxaca. In fact, this is from Zacatecas (one of the other nine states that can claim to call it mezcal).

My good friend from office – Luz Barajas was visiting her family in Mexico. She knew about my interest in Mezcals. Her husband who is from the Zacatecas area got this for me! Thank you Luz !!

The remarkable thing about this mezcal is that it has absolutely no smokiness to it. In many ways, I am surprised that they even call it mezcal. The agave is NOT simmered in fire underground – which I thought is a must for any mezcal. Also, instead of espadin (the most commonly used agave in Oaxaca), this uses the blue agave – which is what Tequila is made from.

Finally, the variety I had is Anejo – so this has been aged for 18 months in American white oak barrels unlike the Joven or Blanco mezcals that I have.

Made by Real de Jalpa, this has a different production process from traditional mezcals. Like I mentioned, it does not do the underground fire thing. Also, it uses stainless steel stills instead of copper ones. However, it does do double distillation which is a must for mezcals. At least to me, this is closer to a tequila than a mezcal.

Folks who do not like smokiness (like Sharmila) and those who would love to have keto-compliant drinks (low glycemically), this would be a great choice. I also think this will make for some great cocktails…

18 August 2019

When daughters start writing about their dads’ professions….

“Dad, do not publish anything yet”, Natasha sternly told me.
“Why not?”, I asked
“Because it has not hit the stands yet”.

That was a week back.

What she had given me a few minutes previously was the soon to be released copy of the Inc Magazine. This is the annual one where they feature the top companies in the world (by growth etc etc).

As both of us settled down at the Starbucks over a couple of cups of coffee (strictly speaking some coffee for me and some pink looking drink that I am sure Starbucks had given a fancy name to charge five dollars for her), I started leafing thru the magazine.

Of course, the piece de jure was the one about the “State of the CEO” written by her and another editor (also called Natasha). I read it up word for word. It was interesting to find that the portion they had highlighted was about the health problems of entrepreneur CEOs.

I was so excited reading about the article written by her that I forgot to pay attention to the actual details of the companies. Later, I found out that the company topping the Financial Services growth list is Yieldstreet – founded by none other than my friend and the entrepreneur with the Midas touch – Milind Mehere!

16 August 2019

The Power of Moments

I was recommended this book in a CEO gathering about six months back. Finally dusted it up and got it in my daily reading routine. Fairly light reading with some occasional bouts of great wisdom. And lots of examples that you can quote in parties to impress folks – assuming you attend those kind of parties! Definitely will recommend this book.

Some of the things that you will learn include how our past memories are not recorded in a very uniform manner. It is predominantly the peak moments, the pit moments and most importantly the transitions (often the ending). As I sat down and thought about a lot of things I remember from the past – and somehow, I remember a lot of them – most fit in that model.

In fact most of the “memorable” moments for us are major transition moments that happen within a short period of our life – perhaps from graduating from high school to having the last child. The book actually talks about how to make life more memorable by creating more “transition” moments deliberately.

Also, you will learn about the “oddball effect” when it comes to committing something to memory – how the element of surprise somehow elongates our perception of time!

There are some great pointers for business too. Especially in the area of customer service. One thing I learnt (thinking back, it makes total sense) is that businesses ought not to strive to create a completely complaint-free service – just an extraordinary service one. Makes you think about the marginal investments in product and customer service in a very different way.

Like I said before, definitely a recommendation to read.

Category: Books | LEAVE A COMMENT
13 August 2019

Meeting Chandra after nearly 2 decades

My last recollection of Chandra was in the i2 days at the turn of the century. Those were the glory days of supply chain, internet boom, nightly regression tests and C++ Templates!! I still remember him as the person coming up with all sorts of new and innovative ideas. And of a very gentle and patient demeanor.

Subsequently, our lifeline to keep in touch was the annual birthday calls. Last week, I had called him like clockwork to wish him when I realized that he actually works literally a few miles away from where I work in Chicago area! And that is how the dinner this evening happened.

He looks the same and his demeanor is the same. What was remarkable is how deep his wisdom runs now. An unapologetic entrepreneur (third successful start up now), he is brimming with stories of what all he has failed in. You can barely get him to talk about all the successes he has had. His stories of what he would do different are amazing anecdotes of true humility and sincere willingness to learn.

We spent quite some time talking thru our respective learnings from the various career phases we have had.

Chandra, let’s meet many more times. You can help me understand what I have learnt from life a lot more than I can do by myself!!