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The best management lesson

This excerpt is taken from the speech of Former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam given at Wharton India Economic forum in Philadelphia on March 22,2008.

A Leader Should Know How to Manage Failure

Question: Could you give an example, from your own experience, of how leaders should manage failure?

Kalam: Let me tell you about my experience. In 1973 I became the project director of India's satellite launch vehicle program, commonly called the SLV-3. Our goal was to put India's "Rohini" satellite into orbit by 1980. I was given funds and human resources -- but was told clearly that by 1980 we had to launch the satellite into space. Thousands of people worked together in scientific and technical teams towards that goal.

By 1979 -- I think the month was August -- we thought we were ready. As the project director, I went to the control center for the launch. At four minutes before the satellite launch, the computer began to go through the checklist of items that needed to be checked. One minute later, the computer program put the launch on hold; the display showed that some control components were not in order. My experts -- I had four or five of them with me -- told me not to worry; they had done their calculations and there was enough reserve fuel.

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Trak.in Poll Verdict: Indians prefer female bosses, only just


I had written about ASSOCHAM survey couple of weeks back which concluded that more than 68% men and women prefer male bosses at their work. I did not really agree with this survey and decided to carry out my own small survey on Trak.in. There are about 202 trak.in readers who have participated (till this point) in the survey and it reflects exactly what I feel.


Out of 202 poll voters, 42% prefer female bosses at workplace, 37% prefer male and 21% said they have no preference.

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The new mantra of PR: Marketing through blogging and Social Networking

Indian blogging scene has grown quite a bit over last 12 to 18 months. Last year in May when I started blogging, there were hardly any blogs that one could name which were even remotely popular, other than Labnol and couple of others. However, over last year or so Indian blogging scene has grown and now we have number of blogs that command decent traffic.

I see exponential growth in Indian bloggers in coming months  , thanks to Aamir, Amitabh and host of other celebrities (latest being Salman Khan ) embracing blogging quite seriously. Yes, it is may be money making source for some, but these celebrities are bringing "blogging" into Mainstream media. Not a single day passes by without some or the other blog content being quoted in our national dailies.

With blogging becoming popular, most PR agencies are looking at bloggers as a serious marketing avenue. During early days of my blogging I used to get standard PR material mailed frequently, most of which could be termed as spam mails, as little consideration was given to who the blogger was, what subject does he write about and so on.

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Top 25 great places to work

It has been many days since I have published a top list. So here are the top 25 great companies to work for in India. This list has been published by Indian arm of Great place to work Institute.

The list has been compiled based on the responses given by company employees' to a proprietary survey developed by the Great Place to Work® Institute. In addition, materials submitted by the company are evaluated, including the company's response to the Great Place to Work® Culture Audit©, any accompanying materials submitted by the company for consideration, as well as information gathered from other reputable sources such as media stories about the company.

 List of Top 25 great companies to work for in India (only top 25 companies are ranked and others are in alphabetical order) :

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Vantagetrade.com: Simplified Technical Analysis for Stock Market trading

VantageTrade Indian Startup

2008 has not been too good for Indian stock Markets. Thousands of investors and traders have lost crores of rupees in recent bloodbath. What should investors do in such a volatile market? Should they stay away or take advantage of low stock prices? According to me, right now is the best time to put money into stock markets. The only important aspect is one has to be very careful and stock specific while investing. One needs to look at not only the fundamentals, but also do some amount of technical analysis. Most of the professional traders and investors use technical analysis to do their stock picking, but it seems to be too complex for part-time investors like you and me. Simply put, technical analysis is the examination of past price movements to forecast the future price movements based on number of factors and calculations. This is where Vantagetrade comes into picture. It does all the hard work for the investor and throws up exactly what he wants to know in a simple language. For Example: I am keen on buying L&T stock. I know the fundamentals of the company are great and they have many orders in pipeline. But I am not sure if today is the best time to buy this stock. Technical Analysis with Vantagetrade is the answer. Just enter the company name or stock symbol and it puts across the technical analysis in simple language that you and me can understand. Here is the suggestion Vantagetrade gave me for Larsen & Toubro stock:

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Indian B-School teachers lack basic awareness

This may come as a shocker to you, but nearly 90% of the faculties imparting business programs at Indian B-Schools are not aware of the basic facts about the national and the global economy such as GDP growth rate numbers.

If this is what is the intellectual plight of MBA teachers, think about the level of knowledge our MBA students will have. While Indian business institutes are increasingly getting popular internationally, this revelation by ASSOCHAM Business Barometer (ABB) Survey comes as a shocker ! The ASSOCHAM Study on “Faculty Awareness” surveyed 258 faculty members (except top 30 B-schools) of various institutes imparting Masters in Business Administration (MBA) across the country.

Here are some of the highlights of the survey carried out by ASSOCHAM Business Barometer:

  • As many as 89 per cent of the teachers were unable to tell the GDP growth rate scaled by the Indian economy in the financial year 2006-07.
  • Hardly 6 per cent of the lecturers surveyed read any business newspaper on regular basis. Moreover, persistent readers of business magazines were negligible.
  • A little less than 5 per cent of the teachers could estimate the saving and investment rate recorded during the same fiscal.
  • The proportion of teachers who knew the amount of exports and imports made during 2007-08 was almost nil.
  • Almost 92 per cent of the lecturers were not conscious of the fact that the foreign exchange reserves of the country have surpassed the USD 300 billion-mark.
  • Not even 10 per cent of the teachers were aware of the existence of financial turmoil in the USA.

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Always be careful of what you write on the web !

Orkut user Krishnakumar Vaid has learnt this the hard way ! He stands to to be imprisoned for nearly 5 years and fined upto 1 lakh rupees if found guilty.

Here is the news:

Google has issued a statement regarding sharing the user data and IP address of Krishnakumar Vaid (22), who posted vulgar content about Indian National Congress President Sonia Gandhi. The search engine major said that they complied with Indian Legal process and gave the information regarding the Orkut.com user to police.

Google spokeswoman said in a statement that Google is committed to protect user privacy, but the company complies with local laws. As the information was required to trace the user for further investigation, Google helped the police to find the user from his IP. The accused user was using Bharti Airtel’s internet services.

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Is Amitabh the highest paid blogger in the world?

Just came across this news - Amitabh Bachchan is being paid Rs. 100 crore for writing on his blog - that is nearly 25 million dollars ! Now thats a HUGE sum to be paid to write a few paragraphs daily, even if it is from an iconic figure like Amitabh Bachchan.

I have been an ardent admirer of Amitabh not only for his acting skills, but more so in the way he has conducted himself off-screen through-out his illustrious career. It is tough being in public eye constantly for more than 35 years and he has handled the media glare exceptionally well. Never has he stirred up controversy, always keeping mum and never really criticizing or putting down his fellow actors. However, since he has started blogging, things seem to have taken a total U turn. Nearly every post he has written have been controversial and widely covered by Indian media.

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The Five Most Important Things About Growth in India


This post has been written by Bruce Greenwald and reproduced here with his permission

Indian growth is going to depend overwhelmingly on what happens locally in India.

The reason India and China went from being peripheral players in the world market in 1980 to the powerful forces they are today didn’t have to do with changes in the global market. It had to do with local changes in India and China. In places where these changes haven’t taken place — in Russia for example — you see their participation in the global economy is what it always has been: just as a supplier of raw materials.

The reason so many Chinese goods now sell around the world is not because the demand for those goods has suddenly materialized, but because productivity growth in China — and it’s the same in India — enabled it to provide goods and compete successfully in global markets.

This trend is going to get more — not less — important in the future.

If there is one enormous anti-globalization trend, it is that local services — education, medical care, housing — are becoming much more important for consumption and therefore economic activity than manufacturing or other kinds of services. There is a limited demand for manufacturers — there are only so many suits of clothes you can own, in the same way there is only so much food you can eat, notwithstanding the rising weights of Americans. Manufacturing, in terms of its importance in employment and economic activity, is going to go the way of agriculture in the 20th century.

This applies also to outsourceable services. Remember, for services to be outsourceable, you have to be able to routinize them. If you can routinize them, you can automate them. If you can automate them, those jobs are ultimately going away. So local services are going become much more important in India and all over the world.

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Do you prefer a male boss over female at your workplace?

More than 68% men and women prefer male bosses at their work. This is the conclusion of recently concluded survey - "Preference of Bosses in Emerging Corporate Culture" - held by ASSOCHAM (The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India).

I am not sure whether to agree or disagree. In my 12 years of experience I have had only one female boss and I would rate her as one of my top bosses I have ever worked with. Although, it may not be the yardstick with which one can come to a conclusion, I was always under the impression that women make better bosses.

Contrary to my belief, 68% of the survey respondents expressed that "males are faster in taking decisions, quicker in disposing off their assigned jobs and much more focused and straight towards their work and at the same time passionate in awarding their subordinates with functional autonomy to completely let them enjoy their work".

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Internet Poll Verdict: Indian Broadband connections are expensive…but why ?


I had set up a poll a fortnight back on this to understand why Indian Internet penetration is lagging behind so much so that a country of size of Hong Kong beats India, even when we out number them in population by over a billion people. Obviously, one of the basic reason is that more than 70% of Indian still live in villages and are dependent on farming with no need of internet as yet what so ever. But what about urban Indians? India has more than 250 million people living in cities, then why is it that we have only 3.5 million broadband connections to show? Here is the Poll Verdict: Internet Poll Out of total of 156 poll participants around 44% felt that Internet connections are expensive. I feel so too.

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TasksEveryDay.com: On demand virtual assistants for busy professionals and Businesspeople


Most of us have heard about Elance, getafreelancer or guru where users can outsource work to freelancers on project to project basis. These services are quite popular number of individuals and small business earn their livelihood through these sites. One of the main drawback of this service is that while quite a few do a good job and leave their clients satisfied, equal number of people perform their work quite unsatisfactorily. One can frequently see complaints and disputes between the freelancer and client. TasksEveryDay Now a new India based start-up called TasksEveryDay.com gives a new twist to this freelancing and targets a particular niche of people. They provide busy professionals and Business people in U.S, Canada, U.K and Australia with virtual assistant service at a fixed low rate of $6.98 per hour.

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Advocatekhoj: Present your case, get a lawyer, Win your case


No, the last part of the title is stretching it up a bit too much. But this new startup AdvocateKhoj helps users to find well qualified lawyers to fight out your case. A good lawyer is half battle won ! Legal system in India is overloaded will millions of cases and more than 3 million cases are still pending in Indian High courts. This gives Advocate Khoj a readymade market to target. Advocate-khoj

AdvocateKhoj communication platform bridges the gap between clients and advocates by providing an avenue for talk. Anyone who needs legal assistance can present a case (answer some simple questions about their legal situation) "free of cost" on the AdvocateKhoj website without revealing his or her identity. Then, member advocates by AdvocateKhoj decide whether to respond to your legal issue after reviewing your presented case. Once you get a reply from an advocate, you are able to view the advocate's qualification and experience so that you can make an informed decision on which advocate to hire.
What I really like about Advocate Khoj is that a user does not have pay upfront for any of the services. The payment comes into picture only after the client has decided upon the lawyer to take his case forward.

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Dollar winning the battle against the rupee


I have been following the rupee dollar battle since I started this blog last year. It had been one sided battle through out last year. Last year was won by Rupee hands down. Rupee was valued at nearly 45 rupee at the start of last year and by December 07, it had reached the highs of nearly 38.5 against dollar. Importers were rejoicing and exporters were crying.

The trend seems to have reversed since start of this year. From highs of 38.5 against dollar, the rupee has had a big slide and has touched the lows of 41.77. The rupee is hitting this level for the first time since May last year.

Experts have largely blamed this slide to the sky-high global oil prices which touched a record $122 per barrel yesterday. Last year around same time when I was in US, I had filled up gas for around $1.80/1.90 per gallon whereas today the gallon prices are nearly touching four dollars.

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Are Indian blog readers comment shy ?


I came across an interesting comparison done by Saad Mohammad on his blog oodami. Saad rightly points out that very few Indian blog readers actually leave quality comments. He makes his point by mining the comment statistics from 5 different Indian blogs and compares it with RSS subscribers and post count. Here are the comparison charts. Blog-rss-readers-vs-comment blogpostvscomments A great job done by Saad to make his point !

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