Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sound wisdom from NYTimes

Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being. If you have a successful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled.

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How legends are made

As an angel investor, he’s famous for cutting a $100,000 check to Google’s founders even before they had chosen their now-famous name. In an e-mail, Bechtolsheim confirmed that the check has netted him more than $1 billion.

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Big Phrase for the day - "Human capital spillover"

Human capital spillovers can explain the overly strong metropolitan area relationship between skills and unemployment. If skilled co-workers make your company more productive, then your company will have fewer layoffs. If skilled entrepreneurs find opportunity in stormy times, then their hiring may keep unemployment rates down.

Education does indeed matter. Dr Edward L. Glaeser has a blog post that empirically proves that what your parents told you often is not just an old wives tale but a fact. Education is indeed the best tool to fight tough times.

Just to be clear, statistical models can lead us to strong correlations using regression equations such as the one mentioned in the blog post. You can and will find contradictions to this pattern. That is one of the biggest challenges of human life, a statistical model that can bring hope to hundreds of thousands might indeed also ring the death bell for hundreds who fall on the tails of the model. Pure reason cannot answer the "what if" questions in those cases, you need something more than that.

p.s doc, this post is dedicated to you :-)

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

7 truisms I perceive as a product manager (from: Carsonified)

30 March 2010

The topic is “10 Golden Principles for Building Successful Web Applications”.

1. Speed

2. Instant Utility

4. Less is More

6. Make it Personal

7. RESTful

9. Clean

10. Playful

carsonified has a great interview with Fred Wilson (click on the title to go to the actual post). It includes a video that is ~30 mins long and the full transcript of the talk.

I picked 7 of the 10 that are in my opinion are true as golden principles for all software products, web or not. If I had to narrow it down to just two, I would pick number 2 (Instant Utility) and number 10 (Playful). Instant Utility to me is at the heart of solving the problem and putting the customer first. It also fits well with the lean methodology. Playful to me is the intangible that brings a personality to your product and makes it sticky. It does not have to be restricted to software - Dyson, BMW, the new Ford Focus are all examples of products that understand this quality. It goes without saying that Apple gets this and Microsoft does not (unless this is true).

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when just "stuff" no longer does it for you.

Four-door Veyron, anyone?

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Experiential teaching of finance/economics

Planet Money Tracks Its Very Own Toxic Asset : NPR
We bought one of those things that no one wanted, one of those things that almost brought down the global economy: our very own toxic asset.

This should be a group project for a senior finance/economic course at all major universities. The best kind of learning is experiential learning. Great job planet money!

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Please tell me this is a typo

The working poor and uninsured earning up to $88,000 a year get subsidies on a sliding scale so that they can afford to buy coverage;

I am sorry but since when is earning $88,000/yr qualify one for "working poor"? Is this a typo? If one earns 88K/yr.. why would one not be able to afford coverage?

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Driving using your rear-view mirror is harmful to health

Hancock is telling clients that bond funds very rarely outperform equities over a decade, as they did in the 10 years ending in March 2009, and have never done so in consecutive 10- year periods.

Businessweek has an article that discusses the "past performance" based decision making behavior of an average investor. Of course naming Bill Gross in the caption helps with the popularity.

On a related note, I am completely fascinated by these topic because I am starting to actually understand them. Thanks goes to the accounting, economics and finance professors at the McCombs school of business.

The march 2010 investment outlook column by Bill Gross is a great primer to understanding macro-economics and finance ( Isn't it ironic that we struggle in the US at a micro level to convince companies that leverage is good (why isn't microsoft taking more debt?) BUT at the macro level we are deep doo-doo because of extreme leverage as a nation.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Do a CEO's words reflect a company's attitude?

Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison, took some stabs at competitor SAP (NYSE: SAP). "Every quarter we grab huge chunks of market share from SAP," he commented. "SAP's most recent quarter was the best quarter of their year, only down 15%, while Oracle's application sales were up 21%. But SAP is well ahead of us in the number of CEOs for this year, announcing their third and fourth, while we only had one."

If so SAP is in serious trouble because Oracle seems to be having a ton of fun beating the $#%# of SAP. They don't seem like they want to stop anytime soon.

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The Startup's Rules of Speed - The Conversation - Harvard Business Review

entrepreneurship requires different disciplines than manufacturing. Applying lean thinking to entrepreneurship requires a new definition of progress, one that is focused on measuring learning rather than measuring objects. The day-to-day process that startups build should also attempt to maximize speed of learning.

If it is on HBR then is it "mainstream"? I hope not, that would be sort of a tragedy. Not that I am against McKinMoney, Bane and other "strategic" consulting outfits get rich by coming out with a new methodology. I just hope there can be some real grass roots passion based entrepreneurship completed before "lean entrepreneurship" is turned into flow chart with 30 documents and 6 months of analysis.

If you want to dig more into this; read this succinct and very well written post by Scott Porad ( If you live in Austin, I would also highly encourage you to join the meetup group Ash Maurya has created ( Great group of people.

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My alma matter is starting to kick some serious butt!

The above is a series of videos created by the fine folks at McCombs. I love this format and the structure. It gets to the heart of why business school hold on to a cheap way for them to keep justifying their value - the lingo. By removing the magic of "lingo" :-) b-schools will be forced to focus on change of thinking type education instead of look at the all the new words i just taught you education.

I am also a BIG BIG fan of the form of animation you see here. If you are seriously interested in this, I recommend by Dan Roam.

I am extremely impressed by the quality of the faculty and the content of the syllabus so far. Btw, both Dr Brandl and Dr Leeds are teaching executive MBA courses. Two great reasons to consider an executive MBA @ UT ;-)

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Time to reconnect

I have been under water for way too long, I had to come back up for air. A lot has happened since my last post. The decision to pursue executive MBA at UT’s McCombs school of business has been incredibly rewarding so far (no hyperbole). My wife and I are excited about our family growing – our daughter will join us in late June. My company Initiate systems recently got acquired by IBM. Congratulations to all of us and the management at Initiate.

I still have another year of school left (not to mention the toughest 6 week period of my second semester coming up). So the posts will be sporadic but they will start appearing. Hope all is well with the good people out there. Happy 2010!

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