I so felt like saying this....
...I am back.

I hope I stay here though...


Wake up call - chinese national woman soccer team

a cool commercial made by Adidas, go soccer


tiger woods trick

See what tiger can do


I visited the fringe club last evening to listen to some Jazz. The Saturday Night Jazz Orchestra plays at the club, on the last Saturday of the month.

I had a great time, there must have been 200 people packed into a room all in awe of the music they heard. While listening to Jazz (I must admit I am not much of a connoisseur) I thought to myself, why is it that music makes us happy, or sad for that matter? On researching this I realised there were a number of studies that had been done on the topic, this is what I came up with:

"Music activates the same parts of the brain and causes the same neurochemical cocktail as a lot of other pleasurable activities like eating chocolate -- Serotonin and dopamine are both involved." - Wired

Yeah, I too didn't get it. So I decided not to pursue the "why" and decided to accept the fact that music does effect our mood, just like we accept that the sun rises in the east or that we can't put tooth paste back in the tube once we have taken it out! For once I didn't feel like attaching a reason, I was happy just knowing that music can make me feel good, allows me to dream - it takes me beyond the rainbow.

Over the Rainbow - was one of the songs sung at the concert, listen to it if you have the time. I would be interested to know if you, after listening to the song, found that pot of gold called happiness (well, atleast for a brief moment).

Though you don't need to tell me why.


Racing the Planet with Nick

Nick Wai has been a good friend, recently he did something amazing. He volunteered to organise a race across the Atacama Dessert in Chile. He says that it was one of the most memorable moments of his life. He has also written of his experiences ... here.

Great Job Nick!


Biggest Pan Cake I have eaten!

I didn't realise things would pan out this good.

London Summer. Need I say more....


Bebo White

Its interesting how people distinguished in a field only comment on that field, while many ordinary people like me talk of every subject under the sun like we were distinguished in each of them.

I had the opportunity recently to listen to two such distinguished gentlemen at the University. One was Mr. Bebo White. A techi such as myself, but unlike me, a man of few yet fascinating words.

He spoke on Web 2.0, the new web, not any different from the old, “Its more of an attitude” rather than technology he explained.

New web applications he said would be built to focus on the users, like blogs and wikis. They would also be more about functionality and ease of use and less about technology. Just as well that I am studying some finance.

Here is a list of some such applications :
– For talkative people.
Eventful – like a calendar.
SaveMeSite – For all you beggars.
Ohmynews – users act like reporters.

I waited eagerly for the Q&A session, there was something I had to ask. Wasn't user acceptance the most important factor determining the success of any new application? Recently a few of us at HKU launched Chuli-TextBook exchange and sale website. We got rave reviews from class-mates, they enthusiastically congratulated us on how useful the idea was, but almost a month into the project we have 4 users!! The importance of being accepted has never seemed more important.


Managing by making mistakes!

What inhibits most companies from being innovative is the fear their employees have of making a mistake. That fear kills innovation! What we need is management (read HR) to encourage a thought process that encourages risk taking.

"Dont be afraid to make mistakes" is what they should encourage, but the risk should have been taken while trying something innovative.

At GE Jack Welch did it by setting stretch targets, targets so high that if one did not think unconventionally they would not be able to achieve it. Managers were not given disincentives for not achieving stretch targets, but were given heavy bonuses for achieving the stretch targets.

An MBA should teach students to be like this, my Strategy Professor always says, I want you all to be "real" MBAs, and I know that he is trying to tell me, "Son, don’t be afraid to make mistakes ".

“One successful internal entrepreneur told me that the secret to making things happen is not to get hit in the face in the same spot when management slams the door. You have to continue to approach an idea from different angles“- Neal Thornberry, Tapping the Internal Entrepreneur, BW


Keep Running to stay at the same place...
I have been taking the Firm strategy class quite seriously and one thing I have learnt and would like to implement is innovation. So, I thought I would get my class mates to start writing for this blog. This way it saves me time too...sinister!

There is no better way to start running than to run a marathon and kitmun my MBA classmate from Singapore ran the Hong Kong marathon.

The HK marathon took place on 12February with a record 40,000 runners taking part in various distances of the 10-year old event. Standing at the start line on that cool sunday at 8:15, the demands of the event and the fear of being able to cover the distance slowly started to sink in. You see, all the training hitherto had been on distances of 33k and below and after 3hours in a run, the thought of covering another 9-10k is quite a differnet thing altoghether.
Anyway on reflection, i have put together some of the most memorable parts of the event which I hope will make for interesting reading to those who are interested in taking up the sport or dare and sharing their own insights about running.

The most difficult part of the marathon was the training and the sacrifices that came with it. Now I know why completing a marathon is such a celebratory affair, it is because it marks the culmination of months of arduous physical and mental training,

Logging mileage was particularly difficult as I tried my best to cope with long solitary runs in the cold weather. Just the thought of the first few minutes of bone penetrating cold right now is already enough to send shivers down the spine.

Never underestimate the importance of support.
In Singapore, the communal lunacy of a bunch of hard-core runners getting up at 4am to run 30k, lended some semblance of normalcy but when you are running alone in the dark at 6.30 in Hong Kong and battling curious stares you know how much you miss your friends, and then the loneliness sets in ……., and the wild cheers that used to greet me when I returned last from a long run seemed just so far away….

Hence, it was a crazy uphill mental battle and when I stood at the start line on 12th Feb at Nathan Road, I experienced the ironic relief that it was the end of a very tough fight....

During the run
Unfamiliar territory.
I never ran the course but it was excruciatingly boring, logging miles on the open highway where roads seemed to stretch on forever....

We had to battle wind chills and harsh winds running loops over two suspension bridges (Tsing Ma and Ting Kau bridge). And then there were two tunnels (one under a mountain and one which went under the sea) where the pervading sense of claustrophobia looms like a dark cloud over you.

Crowd support was also non-existent as the course ran through closed highways and bridges and tunnels. So it was really the inner voice that pushed those legs......

Greatest moments: (actually it was finding Fatima after one and a half hours)
Chewing on a chunky kitkat given out at 30k….it was the most heavenly taste of chocolate ever and the sugar high that came from it was most comforting ….and of course finishing the race at my all-time (actually only run 2x before) personal best (i had to double check that it was indeed 4:16) !

Worst moments
The agony of confronting a long steep ascent up a highway after emerging and climbing out of the Western Tunnel at the 36k mark, and the mental battle to put one feet infront of the other to slowly climb up the highway.

The frustration with my perceived timing when I noticed volunteers removing the traffic cones off the road and preparing the ready the road for traffic again created that feeling of defeat.
(read nine rules of surviving a marathon)


Google of the Future.....

Here is an article on some scenarios of what google might be like in a few years.

The picture is created by a smart software that uses google images and makes a montage with it. If you want to know more, click on the pic.


You want Moore? You can only get half .... says Demi Moore!!

" processing power of microchips will double every 18 months." - Moore's law

The S curve is used to depict how innovative technology takes time to "take off". This can be related to an intreresting theory by Bhaskar Chakravorti, a Harvard lecturer, the theory states...

"Technology's impact in the market will most likely proceed at only half the speed predicted by Moore." - That's demi-Moore's Law'

The rate of adoption of technology lags behind the pace of the actual technological advances because players on the demand side and the supply side are sitting on the fence and waiting to see what other players will do.


Follow up on the post about my trip to China...

This is from the CIO.com site:

If you search for “Tiananmen,” you get peaceful photos of the Beijing square -- but if you search for common misspellings like "Tienanmen," "Tianenmen," or "Tiananman," you get photos of tanks.”

Now if they would just set that little “Did you mean” feature to suggest other ways not to correctly spell what you are looking for.


Our trip to Stanley...

Its amazing what one can do with technology, this was a color picture, now in retro mode.

We are pravin, anna, thomas and me.


The Land of the not so Free but the home of the Prosperous

I wish I could say that I am writing this blog entry from Shenzhen, China, but when I tried I could not open my blog page. “Blocked !!”, that’s the first thought that came to mind. And then I thought, “heyyyyy, I wanted to write something positive about China, and even then I was blocked from doing it”.

Now back in HK, and feeling empowered, I am writing my own series on China, the not so forbidden land.

Taxis and Economic growth
Traveling around Shenzhen there is a distinct grayness in the sky, but if you look past the smog you can actually smell prosperity in the air. Someone once told me about a test to measure prosperity and economic growth. No, it’s not a complex model to do with the GDP or Per capita income, but something as simple as looking into taxis and seeing if they are full. I was advised, “If you find it difficult to get a cab, you should be happy, because that means the economy is doing well”. I have come to agree, because I see that in HK and I saw it in Shenzhen. It’s amazing how theories can be simplified into something that one can actually feel in practical life.

Catapulted by Capitunism
For sometime now I have been trying to coin a term for the kind of govt. that exists in China. Undoubtedly communist, yet committed capitalists, I think the best I have come up with is Capitunist. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Capitunism is catapulting China forward and Shenzhen is a good example. Its economy is growing between 20-25% a year and has reached $35 bn. My Chinese friends tell me that this kind of development in cities is due to the govt. policy to reward mayors and the type to push for higher and higher growth. This growth then results in them being promoted sooner, even out of turn. Hmm…let me think, does this not sound like a private company - reward for results! While I was in Shenzhen I visited the largest seaport in the province, it was in a place called YanTian, literally meaning salt fields. And I was told that there were salt fields there a few years back. A board on the highway read, “This port contributes to China’s economic development”. Enterprise with Focus!

“Democracy” on Google
There was one thing I wanted to do when I went to China, type democracy into google and get blocked. I don’t know why I had that urge, but I think it’s got to do with the fact that I hail from the largest democracy on the planet, when something is taken away from you, only then do you realize the value of what you have…

…I hope we use this supposed “freedom” we have for the purpose of prosperity, because China is definitely using the supposed lack of “freedom” for sustained growth of its nation and its people.


National Geographic: Best Picture of the Year

"Reminds me of the speed with rajbir and myself started running the marathon...
... before we collapsed in a heap while exiting the stadium" - Satyajit


There is no such thing as bad publicity!

In the last few newsletters of the Economist, Mckinsey Quarterly and Knowledge at Wharton, I have noticed a number of articles that relate to India and China.
Out of curiosity, I went to the web site of each of these publications and searched for articles with keyword India and China.
The results speak for themselves:
Over the last 5 years there has been a compounded average growth of 17% and 22%, in the number of articles relating to India and and China respectively.

The graphs show the number of articles relating to China and India.

Both the countries seem to be gaining TOMA.
An increased number of articles in global and influential publications such as these, go further to demonstrate worldwide interest in this region.


Everybody was kung-fu fighting

Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightning
But they did it with expert timing

Little bit of trivia. This song was produced by an Indian called Biddu.


Who said Finance was tough!

While reading my finance book...I came across this gem.

"Buy low, Sell high, Play golf"

I like the subject even more now!


A real Life Entrepreneur

Po Chung, my Professor for the entrepreneurship and creative innovation class, is the co-founder of DHL.

What I am going to write will be useful to all the budding entrepreneurs and also for the rest of us who, though working for some one else, have that little spark to be an entrepreneur. I hope this fans the spark.

Po Chung said that entrepreneurship in about salesmanship above all else. Why?
1. A startup has nothing – “you have to convince people to buy, to believe in your dream”.
2. Get talented people to work with you, especially if the salary isn't sky high.
3. Even getting suppliers is difficult when you are new to a business.

Here are some key points a sales pitch should have..
a. Quote existing customers, in order to instantly build credibility.
b. Describe the pain that the potential customer is going through and how you can solve it.
c. Speak the language of the potential customer.

Here is an example from DHL’s initial days..
HK was the R&R base for US troops during the Vietnam War. This would mean that cheques troops wrote in HK amounted to about US$1million a day. These cheques took 10days to clear, taking about 5 days to get to the destination and 5 days back.

Which meant that banks lost:
$280 in interest costs a day -> 10 days meant $2800 and multiply this by 250 days (avg time troops were in HK) and the cost to banks amounted to $700,000 a year.
There was the pain. And Po Chung spoke the language banks understood, that of money and savings. DHL would reduce the time to clear a cheque and thus solve the pain.

The rest as they say is history.



"In Greek mythology, Mentor was the son of Alcumus and a friend of Odysseus. When Odysseus left for the Trojan War he placed Mentor in charge of his son, Telemachus, and of his palace." - wikipedia

From L: Sylvia (mentee), Michael (mentor), Me (mentee)

HKU's mentorship program is into it's 9th year, and is now an establishment in itself.

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Why $5 Gas Is Good for America.

.... and the rest of the world. A witty article about a serious issue. Trends are already moving away from oil consumption to hybrids. Toyota, Ford, GM are all producing Hybrids that guzzle less fuel. Economics is making other sources of energy viable.

Like the author suggests, "Put the pedal to the metal" towards a world of multiple energy sources.

read more about it on wired


The Last Colonial Oppressor

Chris Patten likes to call himself that.
He was at the University of Hong Kong a few weeks back and I had the pleasure of listening to a most interesting and entertaining talk.

Chris Patten is today the Chancellor of the Oxford University and finally cleared the doubt that, had for long been brewing in my mind. Why do we have Chancellors of University when they don’t seem to do much? Chris Patten explained, “How could we have Vice-Chancellor if there was no Chancellor!”

He told us how he was best known for leaving jobs rather than arriving in one. And on another occasion, while traveling in a US taxi he was told how like Chris Patten he looked.

Something that he seemed quite sure about was that the new world order had to acknowledge the rise of Asia, and especially China and India. There were suddenly a lot of fists being pumped in the Loke Yew Hall, and these included the fists of a few Indians who were there too. He spoke on how between the 15th and 18th centuries India and China collectively accounted for over 50% of the worlds GDP. He seemed confident that China would have the largest GDP in a few years. Here is something I said to a friend a few days back during our conversation about the economic rise of India and China, “You have 2.5 billion people growing economically, at an average of 8% a year”. I think this puts things into perspective.

India off-course suffers from many inherent problems; one of them being the Communist Party of India, which is part of the coalition government in India. As Mr. Patten puts it “India has a Communist party that still believes in communism”.

He went on to talk about Hong Kong, a city he has a lot of affinity towards. And the people here seem reciprocate, they have a visible liking to their “Last Oppressor”. He said that the Hong Kong community was liberal but not yet democratic. He said that Hong Kong had all the qualities of a successful democracy: an independent judiciary, clean police and a clean civil service. “When you look around Asia, HK has one of the most open societies”, he said. I second that!

Chris Patten has recently released a book called “Not quite a Diplomat”, though he did handle a lot of the questions relating to HK’s path towards democracy with diplomacy. He did answer one question un-diplomatically though; on being asked what would happen if China’s growth stutters, he said, “If China goes wrong – God bless all of us!!”
And I could imagine all the Anti-WTO protestors going – “so much for globalization”

Ahoy Matees

"Arr, why buy a house, when ye can buy a house boat."
- Captain McAllister, The Simpsons (I grew up on the simpsons)

Capt. Govind (in the middle), my batch mate, he once offered me some Fuel from a ship that he captained. The ship carried 10000 tonnes of Crude. I Should have taken up his offer! Posted by Picasa


Peter Drucker - Arguably the best management guru of all

Something interesting I picked up from a Businessweek article on peter drucker who recently expired at the age of 95.

" He taught generations of managers the importance of picking the best people, of focusing on opportunities and not problems, of getting on the same side of the desk as your customer, of the need to understand your competitive advantages, and to continue to refine them. He believed that talented people were the essential ingredient of every successful enterprise"

you can find the whole article here


True Colours!
Anupam and me showing off our team colours.

The Mighty Red Dragons !

The first module ended last friday and to celebrate the feat we were at a team building workshop at macau the next day.

These things actually work!! Made a bunch of really great friends.

This is one of our sober pictures though!


When you get the opportunity...Sleep!

The MBA course sure does teach you sleep management. Here is a log of all the places i have dozed of at.. I shall keep updating it, so watch this space..

Study room.
Yes..even when i went shooting! I have a pic to prove it.
Outside class.
Inside class.

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Fire Away!!

Sunday, the only day I get "off" these days, well technically atleast. Today was special though.

Most MBA students would come to B-school and join a finance club or a investment club, I decided to join the Weapons and Tactics club I have only one explanation for why I might have done this, I must have been influenced by Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War" !

Anyway, I took the subway, to a place called Fortress Hill. I expected a prison, but came across a shooting range in an apartment block. HK is great at making something out of nothing; I am hoping it will do the same for me.

A few quick instructions about how not to point the gun at others, and we were firing away (pellets only). There were two types of scenarios. One, where you had a set of targets, and you had to knock them down before your opponent knocks down his; almost like a duel. In the Second scenario, you had to shoot at some targets behind wooden walls and through windows.

There were times when my pistols magazine dropped out while shooting because I pressed the wrong button; or when my gun wouldn't work because I had the safety lever on; or the time when I had to change my magazine in between and the magazine wouldn’t come out of the holster. But apart from these minor mishaps, I felt like Billy the Kid.

A Sunday well spent on acquiring a skill that is sure to come in handy in the corporate battles that I might have to face in the future.

PS: pictures will soon be up.


Racing Into the Future

The races in Hong Kong, are part fo the local culture. Every wednesday trams, busses, MTR filled with people head out to Happy Valley (gee wiz!). There are the serious lot who win money, and there are people like Thomas (left most)and Me who go for fun and loose money.