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Today I came across a reaffirmation of something I had heard even earlier. It’s all about what is valued most in aspiring/practicing engineering-leads/managers by (product) companies in US.

A is a smart young man who has made rapid strides in his professional career in the few years he is employed in a very well-known product company in the west coast. He was recently promoted as the champion of a futuristic platform slated to serve as the bedrock for the company’s flagship products in the pipeline (or maybe it’s already deployed).  

Not surprisingly laudatory messages flowed in on his promotion, coming from his team, peers and others mostly congratulating him for his achievement. The manager’s message was a little different and more insightful. I understood in gist it went something like: ‘Besides being a genuine person, compassionate in his approach and frank without being brutal in his feedback, he was recognized for being a great help to his team and its success…’

My eyes lit up. Interesting, how did/does it happen? May be there was something in here waiting to be dug up and aired for broader good.  Or, like at other times, it might throw up some ‘Drinking milk is good for health’ kind of statements. Try I did and this is what I came up with.

At this point I must point out my digging – a short exercise – was not with A directly, but with a very articulate professional close to him and in the know. In a way it was a blessing because I was being served with sum-up’s without the obfuscating details (always available if needed).

A had in his team a good number of youngsters faced with and fazed by humungous amount of code thrown at them. Much as he might have wished, there was simply no way he could sit with them one-on-one and help them in their work.

Ye huyi na baath, ab batao, batao, kya kiya A? Tell us, tell us what did A do! 

No magic, here. He would give them pointers to what, where and how, induct them into a few structured processes (and possibly tools and techniques), and leave them alone to work on the details. It made them happy they did the work on their own, boosting their self-confidence. Soon they learnt to do some part of the analysis too all by themselves. Result: faster learning, quicker ramp-up, better productivity and a happier team.

While this may work with the younger lot, how did he handle the seniors in the team?

Firstly, he quickly appraised himself of their background, their skills and strengths. He would then place before them a few questions that needed to be resolved for the job at hand and challenged their mettle. They were free to research, analyse and figure out the answers for a discussion. It included bringing their prior experience and knowledge, wherever relevant, to bear up on the problem. It was thus an interesting, useful and tedium-breaking problem-solving cum learning exercise for them and for A too. Once again, the result of having tail-up seniors on one’s side: enhanced quality of the solution, better productivity and a happier and motivated team.

While the above may not be an entirely new read to many, it’s nevertheless an interesting insight into a) how a young successful engineering-lead on the rise in a product company made it work for him and b) what product companies value and recognize in their engineering-leads/managers.    

It’s clear while individual excellence may well be a prerequisite for other pieces to fall in place, it’s not an end in itself. Enabling and empowering others in the team to perform gets far better results for the organization and for oneself in terms of recognition and reward.

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Source: Image from here.

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and you fear irrelevance, this may be for you. Take heart, you’re not alone – this is one heavily over-booked boat!

“…In sum, if your profession requires mental processing speed or significant analytic capabilities—the kind of profession most college graduates occupy—noticeable decline is inevitable and probably going to set in earlier than you imagine

Whole sections of bookstores are dedicated to becoming successful. The shelves are packed with titles like The Science of Getting Rich and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. There is no section marked “Managing Your Professional Decline

But some people have managed their declines well.

Well, what Bach did right while Darwin failed?

The answer perhaps lies in understanding what ‘fluid intelligence’ and ‘crystal intelligence’ are and when do they kick in.

 Many people of achievement suffer as they age, because they lose their abilities, gained over many years of hard work. Is this suffering inescapable, like a cosmic joke on the proud? Or is there a loophole somewhere—a way around the suffering?

The Eastern philosophy in its concept of ashrama’s seems to have structured a neat solution to address this suffering,

Wow! Is that so? Like how?

Read Arthur C. Brooks (president of the American Enterprise Institute, an American Think-Tank and a best-selling author) here for more on the affliction and how to…

For regularly receiving leads to articles like this, you may want to subscribe to Wally Bock’s blog here.

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This is about the sage Viswamitra (V) requesting King Dasharatha (D) for his young son’s (aged 12 years or less), help to conduct a sacrifice successfully – he expects two demons to disrupt the ritual with their usual fiendish antics. The sage gives the reason for his request: on the eve of performing the sacrifice, he does not want to lose control of his mind and curse the demons all the way to their hell (through such outbursts, sages often lose their power gained after enduring practice of austere tapas).

It is described essentially in Sarga 19 of Bala Kanda in Valmiki’s Ramayana.

The source used for this analysis is here.

In the 21 verses contained in this Sarga, the sage makes 13 statements (five of them are compound with two parts) as under exactly in the same sequence, reproduced verbatim from the source:

  1. Born in an illustrious lineage and initiated by sage Vasishta, this way (of speaking) befits you.
  2. Take a decision and be truthful to your promise.
  3. Rama is valiant, young and true to his prowess.
  4. (a) Protected by me and (b) by his own divine power, Rama is capable of destroying even those demons causing impediments to the sacrifice.
  5. (a) I will confer upon him, without doubt, a lot of blessings for his well-being (b) by which he will attain fame in all the three worlds.
  6. Both of them (Maricha and Subahu) will not be able to withstand Rama in any way. Rama, and Rama alone, is capable of destroying them.
  7. Proud of their strength, the two wicked demons have been noosed by Yama, the god of death. O tiger among kings they are no match for the mahathmana Rama.
  8. (a) O king, it is not proper for you to hesitate because of your paternal affection. (b) You need to know that both the rakshasas will perish. This, I assure you.
  9. (a) I know Rama who is a great soul, true to his prowess and (b) also Vasishta of great luster and these other sages who have been steadfast in asceticism also know.
  10. O king of kings, if you are seeking the benefits of righteousness, great everlasting fame in this world, it is fit and proper to give Rama to me.
  11. Kakustha, if your counselors and all other sages headed by Vasishta give their consent, then only you may relieve Rama.
  12. (a) You should spare your dear son, the lotus-eyed Rama, (b) impartial and detached, (a) for ten nights.
  13. Dasharatha, descendant of Raghu, act in such a manner that the time for my sacrifice is not delayed. Do not indulge in grief. Prosperity to you”

After speaking these words charged with dharma and artha the great sage resplendent Viswamitra fell silent. 

It’s easy to see these 13 statements fitting into a well-structured script planned by the sage V as under, set roughly in the same sequence:

  • Starts with two praises of D, (1 and 2) for him to live up?
  • Next, first mention (3) is made, rather simply, of Rama’s prowess and, not so startlingly in passing, about his divine power in 4(b) (also the word ‘mahathmana’ in 7?).
  • Follows up talking about his personal support to stand by Rama in 4(a) and 5(a).
  • Names and belittles the enemies for reassurance vis-a-vis Rama’s ability in 6, 7, 8(b) and 9(a).
  • Time to bring more pressure and ‘carrots’ for D to oblige in 5(b), 8(a), 10, 12(b) and 13.
  • Rounds up defining the duration of his demand for Rama’s assistance in 12(a) and also
  • Drawing support from other unassailable sources including his ‘arch rival’ sage Vasishta to buttress his assessment of Rama in 9(b) and 11.

Could it be better, you think?

Now for another interesting perspective: Going by the count (not by relative strengths) of the statements, it adds up to (each statement in full counts for one and part of a compound statement, half):  

  • So for D to be persuaded, there are 2 praises and 3.5 of pressures and
    ‘carrots’ for a total of 5.5 out of 13.
  • V’s personal support (‘his skin in the game’) assured for Rama makes up for 1 out of 13.
  • On Rama’s prowess, said matter-of-factly, it is 4.5 directly coming from him and another 1.5 of vouchsafing support from others for a total of 6 out of 13 on assessment of Rama’s abilities to meet the challenge.
  • Specifying duration of V’s demand is 0.5 out of 13.

Is that a good balance?

Some observations:

The sage’s assessment of Rama’s prowess is based more on his
insight than any precedent display. Nothing is said by the sage about Rama’s
equipment, no mention is made of specific astra-shastra’s
(weapons w/wo mantra’s) in Rama’s quiver – perhaps unnecessary, premature or
even inappropriate?

Rising above the family-pulls, Valmiki ends the Sarga with

‘Having listened to those auspicious words of Viswamitra, the king among kings, (Dasaratha) experienced intense grief out of fear. He became despondent.’

How could the words inducing fear and despondency in the virtuous other be considered as auspicious? Simply because the killing of those two demons – the sage had enough insight Rama would accomplish it despite being too young – was necessary (directly or otherwise) for the good of the kingdom at large, besides V himself gaining from it. Here’s a cardinal principle of well-being of a society, said not in so many words: the call of dharma is more powerful and must be heeded to than the tug of one’s heart-strings should there ever be a conflict. The same is asserted without ambiguity in different ways in statements: 8(a), 10, 12(b) and 13. This comes to us in age when the principle is made to stand on its head, when parents amass wealth brazenly thru misdeeds for themselves and, more so, their children. Or, clouded by affection, they’re guilty failing to check adharmic acts of omission and commission of their near and dear.

Interestingly the phrase ‘lotus-eyed Rama’ in statement 12(a) is unimaginably double-edged!! How? The ready explanation is: Poets often compare beautiful eyes like those of Rama to lotus flowers in bloom. No surprises there. Now to the not-so-ready: Just as a lotus folds itself up in the night and come night, the young Rama goes off to sleep peacefully. And that is exactly when the demons become hyperactive. Is it fair to the sleepy young boy to be thrown against demons when they are in their elements?

End

PS: The source is responsible for the translation of the
original verses, included here verbatim and not for the rest of the content in
the post. The interpretation of ‘lotus-eyed Rama’ comes from here.
Image from flipkart.

So you know to hurl the brickbats at whom:-}  

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Even If It’s Hard Work And An Unvarying Routine?

Check this out:

vide Rubi Navaratnam and Gopalakrishna Sunderrajan 

Go here if the clip doesn’t show.

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vide Jayanta Sen

The Nobel Laureate Prof. C. V. Raman after retirement wished to open a Research Institute in Bangalore. So he gave advertisement in the news papers for recruitment of three scientists.

Lots of eager Scientists applied thinking that even if they were not selected, they would at least get an opportunity to meet the Nobel Laureate.

In the preliminary selection, five candidates were selected and the final interview was to be taken by Prof. C V Raman himself.

Three were selected out of the five.

Next day Prof. Raman was taking a walk and found one young man waiting to meet him. He realized that it was the same man who was not selected.

The Prof. asked him what was the problem and he replied that there was no problem at all, but after finishing the interview the office had paid him ₹7 extra as compared to his claim and he wanted to return it. But because the accounts had closed, they could not take back the amount and asked him to enjoy it.

As the man was insistent that it was not right for him to accept the money which did not belong to him, Prof. Raman took the money from him himself.

After going few steps forward the Prof. looked back and asked the young man to meet him the next day at 10.30 am. The man was very happy that he would get an opportunity to meet the great man again.

When he met the Prof. next day the Nobel Laureate told the young man “Son, you failed in the Physics test but you have passed the Honesty test. 
So I have created another post for you”. 

The young man was surprised but very happy to join.

He has written a book on how the seven rupees changed his life.

Later on he too became a Nobel Laureate in 1983. This young man was *Prof. Subrahmanyan Chandrashekhar (US Citizen of Indian Origin)

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Source: astronoo.com and wiki

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Source: I am Programmer,I have no life.

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If Indian Railways can pull this off…

  • An government organization, pan-India, managing a mind-boggling 67 K+ route-miles over 144 K+ bridges, with 7300+ stations and a rolling stock of 11 K+ locos, 64 K+ passenger carriages and 277 K freight cars/wagons, not mentioning workshops, repair sheds…
  • With a much maligned, grossly underpaid, not-the- upper-class staff of 1.3 million…
  • Can keep it all going every day of the year…
  • Running on a tight budget with little flexibility to hand out carrots…

Inspires the locals to achieve this,

What is your excuse?

Read here:   

Mithila artists transform local railway station with traditional Madhubani art

The Madhubani Railway station, in Bihar just got a makeover. One of the oldest rail stations in India near Patna is now attracting tourists after hundreds of local Mithila artists adorned the walls of the station with world-famous Madhubani paintings – scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata among other things.

The excruciating work was undertaken as a Swachh Bharat mission and has been done free of cost as ‘Shramdaan’ in an attempt to promote the traditional art form besides beautifying the station, the largest of its kind and first in Bihar. At least 7,000 sqft area at this Bihar station under the East Central Railway (ECR) has been decked up in about 20 days, railways supplying paints and brushes. (Source: DRM Samastipur/ Twitter )

The colourful Madhubani painting is quite unique with its signature geometrical patterns and motifs.

Many young artists volunteered for the project who have been learning the ancient artwork since childhood, their families in this trade for generations.

A wedding ritual.

From walls at the stations to sign boards at the platforms, this is no less than a wonderland!

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Source: Indian Express, etc.

S. Mani, a senior ex-colleague and a good friend responded with the info that the railway station at Pandavapura (Karnataka) where he resides too is embellished with beautiful paintings focusing on the tourist spots around, at the initiative of the Station Master Shri Madhu hailing from Trichy. A few of the snaps sent by SM:

Thanks, SM.

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