Thursday, January 26, 2012

How HR Can Help IT Folks

Another interesting and thought provoking article published by Human Resources.

Whilst technical competencies may be important at the earlier part of your career, succeeding in the IT industry is not just about technical prowess. Rachel Goh, group general manager at Business Applications Services, explains.

Please do not get me wrong - it is a must to be conversant in skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Be it in programming, systems integration or business IT consulting. But these are table stakes. As the industry grows, companies are diversifying their capabilities and solutions to stay competitive. The resulting impact is that companies will be looking for talent that exhibits the x-factor to differentiate themselves and stay in the game.

Academic qualifications certify that you have the aptitude for a particular job, but how you approach your job and steer your career to reach the inflexion point sets you apart. Here, I would like to define "inflexion point" as the point where you would be hunted for a job role, where you will command a significant compensation premium vis-à-vis your contemporaries.

Some important x-factors would be relentless passion, ability to re-invent, a keen eye for opportunities and gamed to take on the challenge.

For example, an IT consultant may one day be asked to manage projects and people. Having an understanding of what clients need against the backdrop of technology development and how it can be applied will put the consultant in a better position to advise the client, and to motivate his or her team so that everything comes together. The same is true for any profession within the IT chain. The application of technology rather than the technology itself is important and that requires the industry and business context perceptiveness besides technical skills.

Being opportunity-aware and cognizant of "the next big thing" instead of just doing your everyday job will enable you to ride with the tide and not miss the train when building your career. Also, the appetite to take risks and accept an assignment that will allow you to push the boundaries and face some hard knocks are critical attributes to have.

In this regard here are some questions for you to ponder on:
  • What are the current disruptions in the IT industry, how is my company managing that disruption and how can I contribute?
  • What are the emerging technologies right now, for example, Web 2.0/3.0 and how can I translate into business opportunities for my organisation or my customers?
  • What critical skills do I need to acquire to make myself a more well-rounded talent and thus achieve the inflexion point of my career?
  • Am I relatively comfortable in my current job role? If the answer is yes, it is time to look for a change. My suggestion is to look for roles where you have 75% of the pre-requisites and 25% room to learn and grow
  • What assignments can I take on that will take me out of my comfort zone and push me to the next level? Is it an overseas assignment? A bigger project? A larger book of business?
The fact is IT has changed the way we go about doing things. From snail mail to emails, from one-to-one phone calls to voice over IP, IT has catalysed our evolvement. With each new development, it opens a floodgate of new possibilities of how its potential can be maximised, in turn increasing demands for new skills and new paradigms. In fast-paced industry like IT, the world whizzes by in a blur.

Being aware and deliberate will better enable you to build your IT career to the inflexion point you want. While we cannot say for sure where technology will take us, the way we interact with technology today is a good indication of where we are headed.

For the perceptive ones amongst you, be it from the standpoint of a candidate entering the industry or a seasoned veteran in the arena, the stage is set for a fulfilling career.  
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Mark Wahlberg Robin Sharma..

Another lovely piece of article from Robin Sharma

Dear Amol,

On a recent flight home from a high-performance leadership presentation in Napa Valley for the executive team of a fast-growth multinational, I flipped through the pages of the latest issue of Men's Journal (I usually buy four or five magazines for each flight. I take and rip out the few articles I'm interested in - but I'll leave that process for a future issue of this newsletter).

I reached a feature on Mark Wahlberg. The piece details his rise to fame. From tough + violent beginnings (he allegedly blinded an innocent bystander in a fight). To his brother (of New Kids on The Block fame) helping him get a record deal as rapper "Marky Mark". To a stint as a controversial underwear model for Calvin Klein. Then into the movies, first in bit roles and then up to leading man. And now - as a Hollywood producer (yes, he not only starred in the breathtakingly great film "The Fighter", he also produced it). And as an entrepreneur who has launched a hamburger chain (WahlBurgers) and a water company.

The article depicted him now as a devoted family man, an uber-fit athlete (60 minutes first thing in the morning...sound familiar?) - and as a go-getter who swiftly moves from one mountaintop to the next.

But what struck me most about Mark Wahlberg's profound evolution was not what has happened in his outer world as the years have passed. No, what intrigued me was what's been unfolding within. His personal values have transformed. His faith has awakened. And his moral compass has been completely reconfigured. And because of what's been growing on the inside of his life, big things are happening on the outside of his life. Love it.

We're still in January. You have a fresh, stain-free year ahead of you. If you silence your Saboteur for a few seconds, the reality I need to share with you is that you can pretty much write a whole new script for a whole new way to work + live right now. Yes, you really are that powerful. The question isn't "can you?". Nope. The question is "will you?" (And if not this year - then which year?).

Here are 3 powerful brain tattoos to make this a fantastic year for you:

#1. My Identity Shapes My Reality.
Neuroscience confirms your brain is like a giant spam filter - you only see what you focus on. So if your self-identity is all about being a vicitim, you'll literally spot conditions that confirm your victimhood. On the other hand, if you see yourself as a powerful creator of your conditions, you'll see opportunities to get to your goals - and dreams - all around you.

#2. Dream Big But Start Small.
Ok, you've heard me say this before but a good coach repeats the fundamentals until they become a part of the way you think and perform. As I wrote in my new book "The Secret Letters of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari" - "small daily improvements over time lead to stunning results." One of the great keys to transformation are those little daily wins that stack up into a tsunami of change over the coming months.

#3. Vague Plans Provoke Vague Results.
I strongly recommend that you write out a 12 month plan, recording at least 5 little or big projects that you commit to getting done each month to ensure this year ends in rare-air. The fact is that a plan becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy (as researchers in the emerging field of positive psychology are confirming). In other words, clarity breeds mastery. And the goals you set drive the actions you'll take.

I truly hope that this year serves as a vehicle for you to change the game. That this year is the year you do the best work of your career (a job is only a job if you choose to see it as a job). The year that you get fit like an athlete. The year to get your financial life to a place called exceptional. The year that you grow the family life of your dreams. And the year that inspired you to craft the life you've always wanted to live (and become the person you've always wished you could be).

Wishing you all green lights. Now, go change the world! :) 


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kindle Fire is launched... Will it swallow Apple

This was published in Economic Times yesterday... pretty interesting read...

NEW YORK(AFP): US online retail giant Amazon unveiled a tablet computer, the Kindle Fire, on Wednesday that costs $199, less than half the price of the cheapest iPad from market-leader Apple.

The Kindle Fire, which has a seven-inch (17.78-centimeter) screen, smaller than the iPad's 9.7 inches (24.6 cm), will be available in the United States on November 15, the Seattle-based Amazon announced at a launch event in Manhattan.

"Kindle Fire brings together all of the things we've been working on at Amazon for over 15 years into a single, fully-integrated service for customers," Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos said.

Presenting the new tablet to the press, Bezos said Amazon is hoping to sell "many millions" and touted the features of a new Web browser in the Kindle Fire called Amazon Silk.

Bezos also unveiled three new Kindle electronic book readers: a new basic Kindle for $79, a Kindle Touch for $99 and a Kindle Touch 3G for $149.

The Kindle Fire has Wi-Fi connectivity only and is powered by Google's Android software. It does not have a camera like many other leading tablets, including the latest iPad.

According to technology analysts, a low-priced Amazon tablet could pose the most serious challenge yet to the iPad, which has dominated the fast-growing market for tablet computers since it went on sale in April 2010.

"Amazon will sell millions of tablets, and the rapid fire adoption of the Kindle Fire will give app developers a reason -- finally -- to develop Android tablet apps," said Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps.

"Apple's place as market leader is secure, but Amazon will be a strong number two, and we expect no other serious tablet competitors until Windows 8 tablets launch," Rotman Epps said.

According to technology research firm Gartner, the iPad will account for 68.7 per cent of the 69.7 million tablets sold this year and will remain the top-selling device over the next few years.

At $199, Amazon is significantly undercutting Apple with the price of the Kindle Fire. Apple's cheapest iPad sells for $499.

"Amazon is competing on price, content, and commerce," Rotman Epps said.
The Kindle Fire comes with a 30-day free subscription to Amazon Prime, whose members pay $79 a year for free shipping and receive other benefits such as unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows.

It also has a pre-installed Amazon shopping application as Amazon seeks to drive Kindle Fire buyers to its online store, which features books, music, movies, TV shows and games.
"Over the past few years, Amazon's customers have gotten used to one-click purchases of books and other published content via the Kindle," independent technology analyst Carmi Levy told AFP.

"(Amazon's) goal is to drive as much business as possible to and through its online retail presence," he said. "Amazon doesn't need to maximize its profits on every tablet sold.
"It'll take thinner margins -- or even per-unit losses -- if that means getting as many Amazon tablets into consumers' hands before the all-important Christmas shopping season," the analyst said.

Technology research firm Forrester has forecast that Amazon could sell 3-5 million tablets in the fourth quarter alone.
Apple sold 9.25 million iPads last quarter and has sold nearly 30 million since launching the device in 2010.

Amazon shares were up 4.16 per cent at $233.54 in midday trading on Wall Street.

Five steps to get headhunted

This was posted at Linkedin by one  of the Headhunting companies.. 

HOW to be offered a job without applying for it. 

1. Be known

Recruiters cannot target you if they do not know who you are or what you do.

Having experience in the industry or holding a significant or well-known position will help to get your name out among potential employers.

Often these methods take time to achieve but there are many other ways to get your name recognised in your industry that require varying levels of time and effort.

These include networking among people in your industry, making professional connections on social media or joining a professional association.

Do your best at work so that when people do hear your name, they will think of you as a good worker rather than as a slacker or being incompetent.

2. Be contactable

There is no point blocking social media inboxes, email addresses or mobile phone numbers to unknown contacts if you want people to find you after they hear about you.

Spread the word by listing your professional contact details on appropriate social media or company websites.

If privacy is important to you, set up a generic email using a public provider for social media or list a general office number as a contact.

You don't need to be contacted immediately but headhunters need to be able to leave a message or get on to you easily at some point.

3. Make yourself an expert

To go beyond having your name recognised in your industry, make yourself respected as a commentator or authority on a subject or industry.

Start a blog, set up a Twitter account or get an article published in your professional magazine.

There also may be opportunities to speak at a conference.

You do not have to be in a senior position at a company or hold years of experience to become an expert just know your subject matter well and target what you have to say to a suitable audience.

Your knowledge may not be accepted by a group of senior executives but may prove invaluable to junior staff or special interest groups.

4. Be obvious

Approach headhunters and tell them you are open to being headhunted if the right position came along.

If the headhunters think you are a good prospect, they will contact you when one becomes available.

5. Know what you want

It can be flattering to be headhunted and if the proposed salary is substantially more than what you now receive, it can be hard to refuse.

Carefully consider all offers.

You may not expect or realise the opportunity that is being provided if you are not active in the job-search market.

Accepting too quickly may cause you to regret your decision later down the line.

Sleep on it and discuss the move with friends, colleagues and mentors.

Also remember if this headhunter has noticed you, others may as well.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How Raghunandan Kamath made Natural Ice Cream a 50 crore business

This article  was published on 9th Jan -ET & was interested in it since it shares about a success stories - one the Rags to Riches stories..
 Raghunandan Kamath

We were probably the first to mass produce natural ice cream in the traditional way. We also took the lead in experimenting with unconventional flavours like cucumber and turmeric. We were possibly the first to have an international celebrity like cricketer Vivian Richards to endorse the brand on television without being paid for it. That's a lot of firsts for the son of a fruit vendor from Mangalore. It just goes to show how passion and perseverance pay.

Kamaths Ourtimes Ice Creams, better known as Natural Ice Cream, has come a long way from the time I started it nearly 30 years ago. Perhaps my real journey began in school when I assisted my father in selling fruit and developed a fondness for fruit. I wasn't a bright student-I barely managed to clear the 10th standard from a Kannada-medium school in Mumbai. So when I turned 19, my family decided that I would help out my elder brother, who operated a south Indian restaurant in the city.

It was here that I first thought of serving something unique as a dessert-a blend of fruits in ice cream. Being the youngest in the family, my suggestions were often turned down, and so was this one. But I was convinced about the concept, so when I parted ways with my brother 10 years later, I decided to open my ownice cream parlour. The timing was not entirely favourable.

I had just got married and did not have the money to start a business. But my wife Annapurna supported and encouraged me, so I borrowed around Rs 4 lakh from friends and relatives. With this I bought and refurbished a 250-sq-ft outlet at Juhu, where most of the Bollywood and small-screen celebs reside. That's how the first outlet of Natural Ice Cream was launched in 1984.

There were no ice-cream outlets in those days and, unlike today, ordinary people didn't go out to have desserts; only the rich did. To form a broader customer base, I decided to serve pav bhaji and follow it up with my special ice creams. The place was very small and most of the cooking had to be done at my home. My wife managed the tedious task of grinding the masalas and making the curry. We also started blending fruits such as mangoes, custard apple, jackfruit and tender coconut. The customers lapped it up.

A year later, I stopped serving pav bhaji and dedicated all the resources to the ice cream business. Theturnover in the first year was just around Rs 1 lakh, but we did not lose hope. I employed five or six people to make ice cream in the traditional way and these staffers doubled as waiters. What worked in our favour was the word-of-mouth publicity.
Within two years, we had the top movie and television celebrities as our clients.

In 1986, I was watching The Sunny Days, a TV programme anchored by cricketer Sunil Gavaskar. During the interview, Vivian Richards, the former West Indian cricket captain, mentioned that he had been to the Natural Ice Cream outlet and liked the Sapodilla (chikoo) and custard apple ice cream. It was such a thrill, such an unexpected back-thumping for us.

However, we have faced enough challenges too. In 1994, a key staff member decided to quit and set up an ice cream unit in the same area.

I realised that unless I expanded and made my brand's presence felt, my business would end. So I took a loan of around Rs 65 lakh from Saraswat Bank and bought a 5,000-sq-ft space at Mira road, a western suburb in Mumbai.

This acted as my factory unit. I then employed 15-20 people and started making ice cream on a bigger scale. I also decided to distribute five franchises in Mumbai. My turnover in 1994 grew from a few lakhs to around Rs 3 crore.

Today, we have 100 outlets across the country and serve around 100 varieties of ice cream. We travel frequently, constantly seeking new recipes, and many of them are developed in my kitchen. Some have even been suggested by our customers. 

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