Thursday, September 16, 2010

ISIS (Finishing School) Morning Walk Sessions - Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship as Disease

What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? I have heard far too many answers to this question. Everything from being a risk taker, inventor, a small business owner, to being just plain crazy or lucky. But none of these things have anything to do with entrepreneurialism, and frankly neither does much of what I have read in business books. Even the always insightful Malcolm Gladwell, in a recent New Yorker article on the subject, only got it half right.
Being an entrepreneur is something far different than what most people think. It is not about behavior (whether risk-prone or risk-averse); it is not about business type (you can run a small business, a public company, a division of a company, or be an investor); and it is not about title (you do not have to be a CEO to be an entrepreneur). Instead, I see it as a personality trait. There are plenty of small business owners and start-up founders who do exceptionally well — but are not what I would consider entrepreneurs. Just like in big business, you can be a successful general manager without being an entrepreneur or entrepreneurial.
I liken entrepreneurism to a disease. Having it myself, I am not always sure it is a good thing. That so many people wish to suffer from it just tells me they don't understand it. Entrepreneurs, as the story goes, embody the American dream. They come from nowhere to build large empires, reap huge rewards, and live a lavish lifestyle. There is Larry Ellison and his yachts; Bill Gates and his 66,000-square foot smart house; Ted Turner and his nearly 2 million acres of land; Larry Page and his 747.
But those are the outliers. Gladwell's well-received book of the same name estimated it takes nearly 10,000 hours of work to gain true expertise. Entrepreneurs are all in, all the time. Entrepreneurs love what they do and obsess over it. It is a predisposition; a path that has already been laid for you. It is a character trait, a labor of love, a zeal that cannot be trained, a condition that cannot be treated, an illness that cannot be caught. You've either got it or you don't. Here are some questions to see if you have it:
Do you wake up before your alarm goes off, hop out of bed excited to go to work? (good)
Do you race to the car, forgetting breakfast, your morning coffee, and the paper? (better)
Halfway to work, do you look down, realize you forgot to shower, shave, or get dressed? (great)
Do you pause for a second, and then decide--what the hell--and head to work anyways? (diagnosis: entrepreneurialism; cure unknown)
I have done this far too many times, without any hesitation or embarrassment (my team jokingly calls these antics "Stibel-isms" but it's really just entrepreneurism). Think of it as a very deep focus that is quite difficult to shake out of, especially when juxtaposed against life's daily activities. Most people use a calendar to remind them of meetings and events; I have on my calendar such mundane things as eating lunch! Many people mistake entrepreneurism for ADD, or obsessiveness, or risk-taking, or hyper-mania or a host of other quirks. But entrepreneurs are really just manic-manic — there is one switch and it is always turned to on.
What drives an entrepreneur is not money. That is what drives businesses and businesspeople. But for an entrepreneur, money is merely a yardstick. Frankly, entrepreneurism is a very difficult and unpredictable way to make a living. It is often binary: either you make more money than your children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren will know what to do with; or you go broke. Most entrepreneurs fail miserably. If you want to guarantee a good living — one that will offer you a successful, stable career and a nice inheritance for your kids — listen to your mother and become a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson.
What makes some entrepreneurs successful is the same thing that makes others successful: relying on strengths and avoiding weaknesses. To be sure, entrepreneurs have an upper hand (or at least I like to think so): the energy level is higher, the confidence level is higher, and with time, entrepreneurs have a higher tendency to acquire subject-matter expertise. But success comes not from those things alone, but by leveraging core competencies. What makes me successful (sometimes) is that I combine my entrepreneurism with my strengths in taking calculated risks, decision making, and building teams of people I admire.
If you are an entrepreneur, use it to your advantage. But if not, don't try to become one. (It won't work — and why try to contract a disease? You wouldn't try to get the measles). Instead, figure out what you do best and aim to do it better than anyone else. And if your organization needs an entrepreneur for it to succeed, just hire one.

Thanks to HBR and Jeffrey M. Stibel hairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. He is an entrepreneur, a brain scientist, and the author of Wired for Thought: How the Brain Is Shaping the Future of the Internet.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

ISIS (Finishing School) Morning Walk Sessions -Need for Life cover

Why do you need a life Insurance ?
During my younger days I was of the firm belief that life insurance is something that I will not take. Money cannot bring back the comforts that I would have provided. However as I started to understand the risks that I had created to my family I started creating wealth for them, still living with the theory of not having a life cover. Foolish it is however I was lucky to be blessed with wealth over a short time and created safe investments that will take care of my loved ones, thinking that I have done my bit to save them from losing out in case my systems failed.
The other day I read a story of someone who had similar thoughts. He had accumulated wealth, bought houses and land. All safe investments.
One day he met an accident and went into coma. He was admitted in the best possible hospitals and remained in that state for two years. By the time the family had sold all the investments and started borrowing from people for the treatment. One fine day he left for good and by the time family had spent everything that he earned for them.
Had he invested on a large term cover, that money would have come to the family after his death to ensure future for the family.
I am not selling insurance here.
What is a Term Policy?
Term life insurance policy is the cheapest form of life cover.
If your main objective is the financial security of your dependents, in the event of death then you should choose term insurance policy. It comes cheap and also supplemented by tax benefits and investment-related advantages. A term life insurance policy is a pure life cover.
There will be no investment benefits attached to it. This is the cheapest form of life insurance cover. However, generally insurance agents do not recommend this as the commissions from such policies are low. It comes with the advantage of low premium and flexible premium payments.
A term life insurance policy covers a person against death for a limited period or term. A term might be five, 10 or as decided by you and the insurance company selling the product. The premiums can be paid throughout the term, annually, half yearly or quarterly. In case of death of the insured person during the term, the nominee gets the sum assured. This policy is highly attractive because of the low premium and high cover it brings. The disadvantage(If you feel) is, in case the policyholder survives the tenure of the policy, there is no payout from the insurance company. The policy simply lapses after the term.
Term policies should be used as a finance planning and risk management tool. For example, if you take a housing loan for a long tenure, say 10-20 years, you can simultaneously take a term policy of corresponding value. The premium payable will be linked to the outstanding principal over a period of time and as such will decrease over the period as both the tenure as well as the insured amount decreases. In case of death of the primary earning member who is repaying the loan, the family does not lose the home as the insurance company will repay the outstanding loan amount.
Term insurance policies provide maximum cover at the lowest premium. Since the investment portion is divested, the insured is not required to pay a heavy premium. There is little to lose except the insurance cover in case you decide to discontinue the policy.
Separate the insurance and investment objectives. Term policies are also an inexpensive way of taking a short-term cover till your wealth and asset accumulation are to your satisfaction. When you are done, provide enough liquidity to you loved ones to ensure that they do not resort to desperate selling in case of an accident or suffer.
Term policies provide death benefit only for a specific period of time. If the policy expires, the cover also expires. As age increases, the premiums also increase. You must match the term with your needs. It should be ensured the dependents are covered until they can provide for themselves or the loan on a mortgage is repaid. It is advisable to start at a young age, because the premium is low in such cases.
You may wonder what I have done for me. I had ensured that I subscribe for the ex-service men’s contributory health insurance policy which I earned due to the long service rendered in Air Force for self and family to ensure sickness does not suck what I have created for them.
Created enough liquidity to least at least year for my daughter and son, till they start making things work for them.
I have taken large insurance policies, before someone educated me on term policies. Now it does not make much meaning as my wealth accumulation plan is complete.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Near Niagara- In Kerala India

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

ISIS (Finishing School) Morning Walk Sessions -Flexibility

A Fable - The Strength to Change Course

Once upon a time, there was a chemist who invented a capsule that he claimed had all the nutrients for growing practically any kind of crop. All you had to do was plant it with the seeds and it would slowly release the nutrients over time, establishing the ideal environment for growth.

Farmers saw that the little golden capsules worked, and the chemist prospered.

But as the growing seasons came and went, the chemist noticed some disturbing practices. Many of the farmers believed that the capsule had magical properties and would promote growth under any conditions. So they stopped irrigating and tending the fields. Others believed that one usage of the capsule would last for years, maybe forever. Farming would become a leisurely pursuit, not the risky, laborious process it had always been.

The chemist pleaded with them to use common sense, but most of them preferred to believe that the capsules were “the answer.”

Of course the chemist’s product wasn’t magical, and as farmers failed to follow through, crops were lost. And when that happened, they blamed their misery on the chemist. His capsules weren’t the amazing solution to farming that they had hoped for.

As his profits declined, the chemist made a crucial decision. Instead of improving his pill, he changed his business model altogether. He decided to create a different kind of nutrient system, one that would be used continuously throughout the normal cycle of agriculture. Creating something brand new meant going back to the drawing board, but eventually he delivered a system that farmers would use throughout the growing season.

His new product caused the farmers to pay attention to the realities of agriculture while giving them new tools and new methods. In the end, everyone prospered.

Takeaway for the day:

Do not rest on your success. Continue to get feedbacks and adopt changes and impose changes where real intention is misunderstood or misused. Learn to innovate

A wise man sometimes changes his mind, but a fool never.” - Arab Proverb

“No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back.” - Turkish Proverb

If we can apply the same principles to our life and workplace environment “success is not far off”

Friday, January 29, 2010

Google search TIPS

The following tips are from a post that I received from a friend Pretty useful

1. Explicit Phrases:
If you want all of the phrases to be part of search then use all of them within double quotes. For example, suppose you are searching for next marketing guru. Instead of using the next marketing guru as four separate words in the search box use “the next marketing guru”.

2. Either OR:
By default Google searches for all the terms in your search query so it basically uses AND operator. When you want to search for either of the terms then use the OR operator. Note that – you can also use pipe operator (||) in place of OR.

Example: “TNMG OR the next marketing guru”

3. Excluding Words:
Good Googling is not just searching for what you want but also avoiding what you don’t want. To avoid the unwanted results just type the minus (-) sign in front of the word you want to exclude.

Example: suppose you want to search for the content for “the next marketing guru” but you don’t want the results that contain the term “blog” then in the search box type the following: the next marketing guru –blog

4. Synonyms:
How many times you included a word in the search but thought it would have been better if Google could search for the synonyms as well. What your need to do is just place the tilde sign (~) immediately in front of your search term.

Example: “~fast cars”

5. Word Definitions:
Many a times I was searching for the definition of a word and had to first search for a dictionary website and then only could search the meaning of the word. To cut the process really short simply use the “define:” command.

Example: “define:serendipity”

6. Specify Document Type:
Imagine you have a presentation in 5 minutes and you are yet to start your PPT. It would have been just great if you could directly get a PPT to present. Believe me – you can. You just need to add the modifier “filetype:ppt”. You can use other file extensions (doc, pdf) etc as well.

Example: “the next marketing guru filetype:ppt”

7. Calculator:
Of course you have your desktop or hand calculator for the purpose. But your Google browser window which is already open is as good as or even more convenient. Just type the expression and then equal (=) sign.

Example: “4/2-1*3+5=” or “2^10” or “20% of 500”

8. Unit Conversion:
Did you know that you can convert between many different units of measurement of height, weight, and volume using Google? This is a very powerful tool and can be used for numerous other conversions like converting temperature.

Examples: “10.5 cm in inches” or “10 gallon in litres” or “100F in C”.

9. Currency Converter:
This is very similar to the unit conversion and the syntax is similar as well.

Example: “150 GBP in USD”.

10. Public Data:
How much time did you spent searching for data like population, unemployment rates and other data of some city, state or country? Now it’s easy. Type “population” or “unemployment rate” followed by a state or county name. Note that – these commands should work for all major cities, states and countries – but may be not for all.

Examples: “population Kolkata”; “unemployment rate India”; “area West Bengal”; “Chief Minister Delhi” etc.

11. Time:
Knowing the current time of a city is now so simple. And you don’t need multiple clocks installed in your room or desktop. Just type the ‘time’ and then the city name.

Example: “time Jamshedpur”

12. Weather:
Planning for a trip to India’s financial capital? You might be interested to know the weather of your destination. Just type ‘weather’ followed by the city name.

Example: “weather Mumbai”.

13. Site Specific Search:
Sometimes you want to restrict your search to one website which is relevant to you. For that use “site:” modifier.

Example: “the next marketing guru” site:

14. Number Ranges:
This might be used rarely but can be very useful in some situations. To specify a range of numbers in your search query use the format X..Y i.e. the lower limit (X) followed by two period (..) and then the upper limit (Y).

Example: Say, you want to purchase a laptop but your budget is between $100 to $150 – then you can use the following search query “Laptop $100..150”.

15. Related Websites:
If you want to search the pages which are related to a specific website then you can type the command “related:” followed by the website address.

Example: “”.

16. Plus (+) Operator:
The ‘+’ operator is used to search for exact word search. Say, you want to search an exact word and don’t want any plural or other tenses or synonyms of the word to be part of your search results. Then place the ‘+’ operator immediately before the word. A special use of this operator will be in the case of common words. As you might know, Google ignores common words and characters such as the, how, and other digits and letters that slow down your search without improving the results. In case a common word is essential for your search then Plus (+) Operator just before that word

Example: “+the next marketing guru”

17. Fill in the Blank:
You had done those ‘fill in the blank’ type questions during your school days. But not needed any more. Now, Google can do it for you. You just need to use the asterisk (*) where the blank is.

Example: “next * guru”. This search query will search for the words next and guru separated by one or more words.

The ‘*’ operator might also be used to ask a question and let Google find the answer for you.

Example: “TNMG means *”

18. I’m Feeling Lucky:
The last but not the least! Have you noticed the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button just right of the “Google Search” button and wondered what’s that? This is just to save your time – it takes you directly to first web page returned for your query.

So, that’s it! Hope these tips will be useful. The list is definitely not comprehensive. But with these you can definitely give tough competition to even the best Googlers out there. In case, you know about some more useful tips on Googling please share in comments so that others can also benefit. We would love to hear back from you. :D

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Trivia-What apparently led to the introduction of toilets on Indian Railways

Okhil Babu's letter to the Railway Department in 1909

"I am arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I am therefore went to privy. Just I doing the nuisance that guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I am running with 'lotah' in one hand and 'dhoti' in the next when I am fall over and expose all my shocking to man and female women on plateform. I am got leaved at Ahmedpur station. This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung that dam guard not wait train five minutes for him. I am therefore pray your honour to make big fine on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making big report to papers."

Okhil Chandra Sen wrote this letter to the Sahibganj divisional railway office in 1909. It is on display at the Railway Museum in New ! Delhi. It Was also reproduced under the caption "Travelers' Tales" in the Far Eastern Economic Review.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Investment-Divident Income

What is dividend income?

Dividend is the portion of profits that a company distributes among its shareholders in the form of cash. Usually it is expressed per share. In some cases it is expressed as a percentage of the share’s face value. So if your company declares a 100% dividend, you will get an amount equal to the face value of the share and not equal to its market price. When dividend is expressed in percentage terms, it is the face value that is referred to. The same holds good when it comes to dividends declared by mutual funds — it is the par value of units that is considered.

What is dividend yield?

The ratio of dividend amount per share to the prevailing market price of the share is a yardstick to identify attractively-valued stocks. Other things remaining equal, the higher the dividend yield, more attractive is the stock for investors. Some draw a parallel between dividend yield and the rate of interest quoted on a fixed deposit, the only difference being that on the latter, the amount invested is expected to be returned along with a pre-determined interest whereas in the case of stocks, neither future dividends nor prices are fixed. One can extend the logic of dividend yield of a stock to a stock index to determine if an index is quoting at a cheap valuation.

Are stocks with high dividend yield good investments?

If you come across a stock with a high dividend yield, don’t lap it up blindly. Check if the dividends are regularly paid by the company, which should have a dividend policy in place. You should also be aware of the source of the dividend, i.e., whether it is paid out of a previous year’s profits or out of profits earned from non-operating activities such as sale of assets, etc. You further need to have a good sector understanding to pick up good opportunities. Investing on the basis of dividend yield has emerged as a popular practice in developed markets. One such popular investing practice is ‘Dogs of Dow’ where investors each year pick up 10 stocks which have the highest dividend yields on the Dow Jones Industrial Average index. These stocks are held till the end of the year. This has made many invest in equities with minimum efforts on research and earn healthy returns.

How will I benefit from dividend income?

In India, equity dividends paid by listed companies are tax free in the hands of shareholders. The company declaring the dividend has to pay a dividend distribution tax to the government. Though dividend is one of the reasons that makes investors hold on to equities, capital appreciation is a more important reason. Dividend yield can be a good tool to identify an undervalued stock that may offer good appreciation. There are investors who recognise the importance of dividend yield investing.

Mutual funds have long ago identified it as a useful strategy in the Indian capital markets. There also are dedicated schemes that invest in equity and equity related instruments of companies focusing on dividend yields of companies. The schemes maintain a portfolio of stocks that are available at attractive dividend yields among a host of other factors. The strategy is known as a defensive investment strategy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Banking Fundamentals- Bill Of Lading

Bill Of Lading

What is a Bill of Lading

A Bill of lading is a contract made between the shipper of goods and the carier. A bill of lading mentions the vessel on which the goods have been in placed,its intended destination and the terms of transportation.

What are various types of Bill of Lading

There are four types of bill of lading.

An inland bill of lading is a document of contract between a shipper and a transportation company. It lays out the terms for transporting items overland(within the country) to the exporter’s international transportation company.

An ocean bill of lading is a document that provides the terms of contract for the shipment of goods overseas.

A through bill of lading covers the domestic and international transportation of export merchandise. An airway points the terms of flights for transportation both domestically and internationally.