Beware of your Bank!!

The word bank conveys a feeling of  safety and stability. Most people generally trust their bank more when compared to other institutions.Lately,banks in India (where I live) seem to have gone overboard in their quest to increase profitability. The calls from banks are generally about any one of these : Home loans,car loans,credit card loans,EMI offers and Close ended insurance schemes.

If you take a closer look at most of the schemes,you will notice that almost all the so-called offers are designed to keep you in a state of debt.Some offers are positioned in such a way that people with limited financial knowledge become easy prey. Consider this : when you apply for a personal loan,the procedure can be a hassle depending on whether you’ve applied at a private or a national bank. However, national banks offer a marginally lower rate of interest and fixed rate of interest but agent from private banks encourage customers to go for personal loans at “reducing rate of interest“. The word “reducing” creates a kind of psychological connection in the customer as it implies that he is paying less when in reality,the major chunk of the interest in paid upfront.The bank has no moral obligation to explain the difference.

So,the next time you get some offer from your bank, don’t jump at it. Most offers occur in cycles and it will you serve you in the long run to stop and research the pros and cons before you make a decision.When you have the temptation to make a purchase and split the cost;remember that you are paying more.

Procrastination is the best policy when arriving at a final decision about bank offers

It also helps to have a caller identification app like Truecaller,if you have problems saying no;you can block the solicitation calls or simply screen and avoid the ones that are beyond persuasive.At the end of the day,you need to be the master of your money and hence need to make the extra effort to be well-informed to avoid getting raw deals.


How to Not Give Directions!

Learning to give proper directions to a destination does not necessarily provide you an edge in any way but can certainly save a lot of time for people receiving the instructions!!
I live in Chennai where it is quite easy to get directions(not necessarily accurate) as people here are very helpful.On a couple of occasions I got directions that were really weird. I’ve decided to repeat the scenes so that you get a sense of my bewilderment :

Scenario 1:

Me : “So,How do I get to the marriage Hall?” Continue reading

Dhak Dhak Dhoni

Every person goes through moments in life where totally unrelated events,facts or occurrences form a sudden pattern in one’s mind revealing a totally new idea or concept.

I was reading Blink by Malcom Gladwell recently and something he outlined in his book suddenly gave me a totally different perspective. According to Malcom Gladwell’s research,when the heart rate of a person is between 115 beats and 145 beats even during stressful situations performance is optimal; beyond that your mind goes into overdrive and become mind-blind to reach a state of autism.This leads to “rush of blood” and foolish decisions.That is the reason why people are asked to take deep breaths during stressful situations as breathing in reduces heart rate and helps you think straight.

Okay,so now I have explained one fact. How is this relevant to the title of this article? “Dhak” is the Hindi word used to refer to heartbeat and Dhoni is the name of one of the most iconic Indian cricketers of all time.

Dhoni or MSD as he is otherwise referred to is known for his ice cool demeanor in crunch situations. After one more nail-biting run chase,he discussed his strategy to “get the heart rate down first” to then increase it near the finish line. After I read Blink,I understood the significance of what he said;when you remain calm and then up the ante suddenly, your opponent (particularly inexperienced players) is likely to lose composure and make mistakes which Dhoni could then capitalize on.

I am pretty sure that Dhoni would not have known the science behind the controlling of heart rate but nevertheless his razor sharp cricketing brain could see the connection.A valid reference point from this is that when one faces a dilemma of sorts in a pressure situation always strive to keep your heart rate down (by breathing in) to maintain mental clarity.



Is your LinkedIn user experience genuine?

LinkedIn, the most prominent online portal for networking and job search could do with a few tweaks to ensure that users have a more authentic experience. Though deciding whether an invite is from a genuine person should be the user’s prerogative,LinkedIn can go a long way to ensure that people are not duped.

Here are some of my suggestions :–

1)If a user– let’s call him John— who has over 500 connections and endorsements across various skills decides to sell his profile(yeah,people do that now); all that the new user—let’s call him Joe — has to do is login using John’s credentials and update the profile photo and name and … Voila! Joe has over 500 connections now and a shining profile thanks to the massive number of endorsements. The key to differentiating such profiles is to look at the “Recommendations” section–> Fake profiles that have been bought would rarely have recommendations as the name of the original person cannot be edited.

2)LinkedIn should also include a security check where the user is required to authenticate his profile by verifying an activation link sent to his company email address.Since LinkedIn has a fairly large number of users across thousand companies,it should not be tough for them to check if a particular email address is related to a particular company.

Let’s say for example,that I work in Tata Consultancy Services and I enter the email address for verification purposes as , LinkedIn should immediately be able to identify that I have listed a domain name that is not a relevant email address for Tata Consultancy Services (New submissions for domain names can be moderated)– This should cause a sharp drop in the number of fake recruiters and people who brainwash others (sometimes using their LinkedIn profile as resume for prospective marriage partners!!)

There are many other areas that LinkedIn can focus on such as monitoring the number of endorsements from 3rd degree connections but since this does not compromise the quality of user experience I feel that LinkedIn would be better served to focus on the first 2 points suggested.

Read my previous post on improving LinkedIn user experience: 3 LinkedIn Changes that could improve User Experience



Separating gas from substance..

Recently when I was reading the newspaper I came across an article that cited a reference to theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking who speculated that the current pollution levels would force humans into outer space in another 1000 years.

My first thought when I came across this was:

“Why quote something which cannot be verifiable in the immediate future?”.

If I make  a prediction with a time-frame included,I prove that I am authentic enough to face the music if my claims are unproven.Quoting someone as celebrated as Stephen Hawking to make a point is merely feeding the hyperbole (or someone who just saw “After Earth” wanting to believe that the line dividing imagination and reality can blur easily).Though companies like SpaceX led by Elon Musk are making serious inroads towards making space colonization a reality,mass migration cannot be tied to pollution as technological advances may drastically reduce or reverse the effects of pollution in a few hundred years,let alone a thousand years

Here is another example,Voltaire,a famous French author made another grandiose claim when he said that this : “I will go through the forest of the Scriptures and girdle all the trees and so that in one hundred years,Christianity will be but a vanishing memory!!”.Well,Christianity is still flourishing today.

If someone make a claim and does not include a time-frame as an additional caveat,it would be foolhardy to pay attention.

So the next time someone makes a claim that excites your senses or is in alignment with a particular agenda,the questions that should be asked are:

  • How soon will this happen?
  • Will this happen within the lifetime of the person making the claim?
  •  Am I just quoting this because it excites my senses?

If you don’t get convincing answers,it is just “gas”and lacks substance.

Here’s why you need a healthy dose of irreverence

More often than not to alter the status quo,one need an important additional characteristic besides an inquiring mind. This trait may be mistaken for arrogance or cockiness but I generally rate it slightly above “quiet confidence”. The trait that I am talking about is Irreverence.

Wait,did I just advocate irreverence? Yes.Irreverence does not mean that you go around mouthing off challenges to everyone who is on your supposed path to glory.You don’t have to be vulgar or abusive to showcase your irreverence.Irreverence is like a prism that splits the light into different colors without bothering too much about the process.Sometimes when we are bogged down by opinions and reputations,decision making becomes a labored process as we may end up paying too much attention to doing something “the right way” by being people-pleasers rather than just focusing on the result-yielding process.

In a team environment,individuals should be empowered to take decisions without worrying about bruising egos or bypassing protocols.In other words, Being irreverent. Sometimes cultural setups force us to behave in a certain way but organizations who understand the value and significance of irreverence are the ones that generally create an atmosphere where disruptive innovation comes to fruition.

Composure amidst Chaos in Chennai

Recently I was part of a disaster situation in Chennai– the place I have stayed for almost all my life.Torrential rains lashed continuously for a few days that resulted in many families being marooned or losing their belongings.Fortunately,I was able to come out unscathed as the roads around my place had been laid just a few months ago and the storm water drains around my house were pretty robust.

While watching various news clips,various reports revealed possible reasons that could have possibly worsened the situation:

1.Overcrowding (many unapproved real estate projects)

2.Poor Storm Water Drains Continue reading

Lessons learnt from the “The Herd”

More often than not we come across advice that warns us about having a “herd mentality” and exhorting people to be “path-breaking”and “exploring uncharted waters”. I feel this advice has its merits but is taken to extremes by people who misunderstand that following the crowd is always a time-consuming and wasteful exercise which does not produce any concrete or measurable results.I beg to differ and here are some of my observations:–

  1. People who seemingly have the herd mentality provide clues to those who want build successful products/concepts that eventually reach critical mass.
  2. In case of failures too, dissecting crowd response provides valuable inputs to help you figure out what not to do.

So,if you are someone who does not follow the crowd just for the sake of standing out, don’t just just shun the crowd as you might get some valuable lessons if you look more closely.

9 Reasons Kapil Dev is wrong about Sachin Tendulkar

Today I was shocked when I read the sports section of the newspaper to find that Kapil Dev had stated that Sachin did not realize his full potential and that he did not have the ability to score 200,300 and even 400 (lol). My conclusion is that Kapil Dev has become senile or that there was a  case of mistaken identity.

Let’s look at what the stats have to say:

  1. Sachin hold the Indian record for the highest number of Test double centuries (6)along with Dravid and Sehwag .Sachin even has a couple of scores in the 190s.
  2. Viv Richards,whom Kapil says Sachin should have emulated, has a Test best score of 291 which means that even he did not score a 300.
  3. Sachin was the first person in ODI history to hit a double hunded.
  4. Only one person,Lara has scored a 400 in Tests and that match resulted in a draw. Lara is anyway a genius and racking up huge scores was his specialty (he scored 501 in first-class cricket!).Overall,Sachin has a better Test average than Lara.
  5. One of Sachin’s contemporaries ,Ricky Ponting never scored a 300 in his career too. No one would every say Ponting did not realize his potential.
  6. Scoring a 300 requires a lot of opportunity and more often than not ,Sachin was doing the repair work. Even his highest score of 248* was scored in the company of the number 11 batsman which resulted in a record 10th wicket partnership.
  7. Sachin was a multi-faceted cricketer. He could take apart the Pakistani bowlers in 2003 World Cup and also show restraint (by not playing the cover drive at all) during a patient 241* versus Australia. This shows situational awareness and not inability to “enjoy the game”.
  8. Sachin played close to 100 matches more than Sehwag and almost 80 matches more than Viv Richards but has a better Test average (53.78) compared to Viv (50.23) or Sehwag (49.34).
  9. Kapil Dev did not realize his full potential himself. After reaching 350 wickets in his 83rd Test match,he took 48 more Tests to take another 84 wickets to achieve the then world record of highest number of Test wickets. That is less than 2 wickets per match,certainly not expected from a frontline bowler and from someone as celebrated as Kapil Dev.

What do you think about Kapil Dev’s observations? Do you think he made any sense? Do let me know.

EDIT: Kapil Dev has since released another statement explaining his point of view.Read the article here

Science does not equal Logic always

Very often,I come across conversations in platforms like Quora and Facebook where someone immediately dismissed the point of view of the other person just because it did not sound “logical” or is supported by science. Science was regarded as the sole benchmark for their microscopic analysis. Let’s take a look at how unreliable this point of view is..

Though mankind has benefited immensely from the advances in science, holding science as a benchmark for any logical argument is well… not logical 🙂

Consider this: Light was established as a phenomenon that moved in a straight line. You could see that light moved in a straight line and so it was logical. Next, Light was proved to able to propagate in waves as well and that was accepted too after sufficient proofs.Very recently,neutrinos (that were previously thought of as zero mass particles) were proved to have mass.

Almost on a yearly basis, a new scientific study comes up that disproves or provides provides reasonable amount of doubt to question the status quo.Which brings us to this question:

Why believe completely in something that keeps evolving and revealing a new facet with the passage of time?

Having an open mind and believing in something because a control group supported that evidence is normal,enjoying the benefits of something that simplifies your life and promoting its efficacy is agreeable but passionately arguing your case based on “published studies” is a mile away from being logical as you never know what the future holds or what is going to be disproved in the future.