15 November 2009

Time Management

I am not going to bore you by telling you why time management is important and all that. I suspect enough books have been written on this topic. (I always have wondered though how people focused on effective time management are supposed to read up all those books on effective time management J ). Instead, let me tell you a couple of observations on some of the executives that I have learnt from.

First – and this might surprise you – what to spend time on differs vastly from executive to executive (and I have filtered the ones that I consider are very successful). Some spend lot more time on understanding the details – some prefer to drive the strategy. Some spend more time with their directs, some spend less. Some consider spending time with employees after work improper time of their work and some make it a point to do so. Regardless of the usual story of “balance” and “do both” and all that, my observation is that the successful executives – knowingly or unknowingly choose what they want to spend time on. And usually this differs from one executive to another.

Second – and this will not surprise you – they are very disciplined about managing their time with the choices that they have made above. It is very easy to fill up one’s calendar – especially as you go up the hierarchy. There is always some crisis, there is always an important customer, there is always an important presentation and so on and so forth. The ones that I admire most have struck me with their ability to say “No” and question why they are getting involved in things that they should not.  That is undoubtedly a common thread between successful executives.

Third – and this is more empirical evidence than I have taken the time to observe in detail – it seems that some amount of ability to compartmentalize your time and thoughts is important to be able to succeed. Some of the best ones had an uncanny knack of being able to switch gears yet grasp the “linking points” when they existed.

Finally – there is no correlation as I have seen between success and how much time some of the best executives spend on work. There are the ones who are absolutely obsessed with spending as much time as they can on work related items and there are the ones who draw boundaries and stick to them. While it is very difficult to compare two executives since they tend to differ so much from one another, I can definitely make the following observation thinking thru all the great executives I got close to – customers, partners and employers: In the longer term, the differences they made to their companies was very little to do with how much time was spent but a lot more to do with what they did with their time.

I am sure you will have something to share with me on this…

10 November 2009

Missed Call

“I will give you a missed call”

Here is another interesting tidbit from our India trip. First, everybody and his mother has a cellphone in India. I kid you not when I say that the porter (usually called “coolie” in Northern India) I used at Durgapur station flashed a cell phone. My guess of an average porter’s daily income is about $2 !!

However, what got my attention was some of the unique lingo in the cellphone culture in India. The most prevalent one is probably “Ekta missed call diye debo” (translated from my mother tongue – it means “I will give you a missed call”). You can understand my state of confusion in trying to find out how the heck is anybody going to give me a “missed” call? Don’t I decide whether the call was missed or not? 🙂 What if I pick up the phone when the call comes in? 🙂 How does he give me a missed call now?

Well, after some enquiring I found out that essentially this is a protocol to confirm a previously agreed upon event without paying the cellphone company. So, if I tell you that after I reach Calcutta safely, I will give you a missed call – it means upon reaching Calcutta safely, I will call you and wait for the phone to ring once and then cut it off. You don’t pick it up till it keeps ringing which presumably means I need to talk to you!!!

All this is designed to not pay the cellphone company (in India the caller pays but the receiver does not) for the call. And of course avoid the unpleasantness of actually talking to me 🙂 (who has all that time in India? 🙂 )

Maybe that is how the porters are affording their cellphones !!!!


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10 November 2009


New Element called “Governmentium”

This is very funny. Have you ever looked up “Governmentium” in Wikipedia? This is the entry that you will get…

Govermentium (Gv) has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second to take from four days to four years to complete. Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2-6 years; It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass. When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

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