Monday, May 29, 2006

An IITian's love story

Say Cheek
Pappi and the biobull
Anything for you, ma'am: An IITian's love story
Tushar Raheja (
Meet Tejas, the hero studying industrial engineering in IIT-Delhi, very much like the author. He is deeply in love with Shreya in Chennai. He is desperate about meeting her. "I have many options," he tells her over the phone. It could be 'industrial tour' or inter-IIT meet, down South.

For the market-mangled, there seems to be hope

Book Value
Magic formula to make money
The Little Book that Beats the Market
Joel Greenblatt
Wiley (
According to Greenblatt, you don't really have to know why people are willing to buy and sell shares of most companies at wildly different prices over very short periods of time. You just have to know that they do!

Managing a business team is like coaching a team of commercial athletes

Reading Room
With will, skill is often acquired
5 Steps to Successful Business Leadership
Graham R. Little
Jaico (
"For people skilled and competent in intense tasks, the feelings of uncertainty typically reach a peak some time prior to the task, then, as they enter their preparation for the task, the feelings settle and they become calmer and focussed on what has to be done." An example that the author provides is that of the professional golfer who has 'a set routine prior to a shot.'

Workplace is too small a place for you to have enemies

Reading Room
Engage people with your 'attitude enthusiasm, and excitement'
Harry Paul and Ross Reck
Tata McGraw-Hill (
Some of the quick takeaways are: Find the strength to keep your emotions in check, especially at work. Engage people with your 'attitude, enthusiasm, and excitement.' Don't be nice to colleagues because you want something from them; 'be positive just to be positive, and watch how your life changes for the better.'

People live... in the most remarkable ways

Bill of Health
Cancer is not a form of death
It's not About the Bike
Lance Armstrong
Yellow Jersey Press (
"My previous fears, fear of not being liked, fear of being laughed at, fear of losing my money, suddenly seemed like small cowardices. Everything now stacked up differently."
It was humbling to be so scared, he recounts. "More than that, it was humanising."


Make strategic planning a continuous and collaborative exercise

Connect technology to the marketplace
CEOs on Business Success
Vision Books (
"Often in technology companies, there is interest in technology only for its own sake. The technology crowd is out in its own orbit or sphere; it's not well connected to the customers in the marketplace." Unpalatable, but that's straight-talk from John W. Loose, President and CEO of Corning.

Flash opened the doors "for creatives to fulfil their ideas and Web design dreams"

All about Flash - and flashes of insight
Web Design: Flash Sites
Ed: Julius Wiedemann
Taschen (
The book catalogues scores of concepts by narrating the essentials of sites. One example is, where the city is the playground and so the "player navigates the Web site by walk-through the city." The site provides visitors "with a first-hand look inside" of day-to-day life at AgencyNet.

Most leaders are unaware of 'the amazing power of questions'

Questions wake people up
Leading with Questions
Michael Marquardt
Wiley India (
It's not that they don't ask questions; they ask, but their questions often disempower subordinates - by blaming, engaging in manipulation, or asking in such a way that doesn't lead to 'honest and informative answers'. Other sins are: not knowing how to listen to answers to questions, and not establishing a climate that encourages questions.

As society changes, so do soft skills

Author, Author
'One is never too old to learn soft skills'

About a decade ago, I realised the need for these skills when I found that Indian software professionals were getting paid half the remuneration in comparison to professionals from the West, despite being equipped with similar skill sets. The gap was on account of soft skills, which accounted for lower productivity, and problems in fitment in a multinational environment.


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Poker has valuable lessons for winning in the markets

However big the loss, true gamblers will survive
The Poker Face of Wall Street
Aaron Brown
Wiley (
Brown lays down four rules for taking incalculable risks, which apply both to poker and trading, and also to getting married! First, do your homework. "You must avoid unnecessary risks and, just as important, avoid taking risks blindly when they can be calculated."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

There are 'two faces' of accountants

Normal accidents
Truth or Profit?
Dean Neu and Duncan Green
Fernwood Publishing (
"Instead of engaging in image advertising to convince potential students and others that accountancy is sexy, perhaps the profession needs to engage in image advertising that extols the virtues of public service, duty and calling. Perhaps with time, such apparently conservative (read boring) attributes will become sexy, much as nerdy-ness became cool."

How does one increase the financial value of brands?

Brands seen as baskets of values
Building Brands Building Meaning
Kartikeya Kompella
Viva (
Have you ever thought of documenting the heritage of your brand? Kompella says that such an effort can tell you things that consumer research may not. "A brand's heritage could reveal some of the brand's intrinsic strengths, and this knowledge could be reassuring and morale boosting during lean times when the brand is under attack."

'Writer of dictionaries' is an unhappy mortal

Hiccough is 'sob with convulsion of the stomach'
Dr Johnson's Dictionary, An Anthology
David Crystal
Penguin (
'A singularly energetick potpourri of some 4,000 of the most entertaining and historically stimulating English words and definitions from abactor to zootomy extracted from the world's foremost feat of lexicography,' announces the cover.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Can you learn SAP in a day?

Lots of SAP in this
SAP in 24 Hours (2nd edn)
George W. Anderson and Danielle Larocca
Pearson Education (
Hour 15 is devoted to system administration, and hour 16 to systems and performance management. In the latter you'd read about 'the tune summary' or 'the red swap screen' with "real time visibility into how well each SAP application server's memory and many buffers are performing."

Success comes when you are able to put others at ease

Manners in the e-age
Business Class
Jacqueline Whitmore
St Martin's Press (
"With the proliferation of cell phones, pagers, e-mail, and other technological means, our business relationships are far less social than they once were. One of the many paradoxes of modern technology is that gadgets meant to connect us also isolate us," rues the author.

A mentor can be a family member, teacher, or boss

There are mentors everywhere
Diamond Power
Barry Farber
Magna Publishing (
"A mentor can be an author whose ideas speak to you in a special way. The world is full of raw materials that we can use as mirrors to reflect positive images back on ourselves," explains Farber.

2005 Report on World Social Situation

Ignoring inequality in the pursuit of development
The Inequality Predicament
United Nations
Academic Foundation (
Between 12 million and 27 million people are trapped in forced labour or slavery today. About 6 lakh to 8 lakh people are trafficked across borders, constituting 'international trade in human beings as a commodity,' and generating $10 billion per year.

Our writing grows as we explore and express ideas

Come to your writing with a freshness
A Short Introduction to Social Research
Matt Henn, Mark Weinstein and Nick Foard
Vistaar (
"The process of writing can be quite an organic one — our writing grows as we explore and express ideas. When we are feeling creative, our arguments and discussion might flow freely and this is when the writing process can be at its most rewarding."

How the best leaders get things done

Look, act, sound like a leader
The Articulate Executive in Action
Granville N. Toogood
Tata McGraw-Hill (
"High octane for the fast track," is CVA, or communications value added. "CVA is the difference between a company that's on fire and a company that's asleep," describes the author. "If a leader with good business sense and a great idea or a solid sense of direction can talk the talk, that company will prosper."

Are fat people bullet-proof?

Why do people have eyebrows?
Does Anything Eat Wasps?
Ed: Mick O'Hare
Viva (
"The Last Word is devoted to the small questions in life." Don't expect, therefore, to find answer to the mystery behind the meaning of human existence, or if there is life in another galaxy. "But we can tell you why your tea changes colour when you add lemon juice," assures the O'Hare. "We do know how to make bubbles in your chocolate bar."

Two lasting bequests we can give our children

Tips for financial child rearing

Kids and Money

Jayne A. Pearl

Bloomberg (

The first part of the book is on 'planting financial roots,' and the second, about 'sprouting financial wings.' For, as a Hodding Carter Jr quote in the intro reads: "There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings."


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Race unfortunately still matters

Reservation through the lens of future
A Black and White Case
Greg Stohr
Bloomberg (
Litigation timeline begins from December 19, 1995, when Michigan professor Carl Cohen filed his first request under the Freedom of Information Act and asked for 'documents describing the university's affirmative action policies.' Analysing the data, Cohen found that whites with 3.00-3.24 GPAs (grade point average) and LSATs (Law School Admission Test) from 148 to 163 (out of a possible 180) were accepted 2.2 per cent of the time, while "blacks with those numbers were accepted at a 74.3 per cent rate."

Urbanisation, a solution for caste problems?

Reservation through the lens of future
Caste in Question: Identity or Hierarchy?
Ed: Dipankar Gupta
Sage (
"The identity expressions of the poorer, subaltern castes remained suppressed under the conditions of a closed village economy. Once outside such rural confines, caste identities get much greater scope to play themselves out."


Reservation through the lens of future
Reservation and Affirmative Action
Arvind Sharma
Sage Publications (
Sharma's book looks at the highly charged issue of reservation in India, and also its US counterpart, 'affirmative action.' As you know, there are arguments both for and against reservation. The 'against' group says that we can't claim nil discrimination based on sex, race, caste and so on, and at the same time ask for positive discrimination on those very grounds, thus trying "to have one's cake and overeating it too."


A study of the effectiveness of five public services

Good policy plus service delivery
Who Benefits from India's Public Services?
Samuel Paul, Suresh Balakrishnan, Gopakumar K. Thampi, Sita Sekhar, and M. Vivekananda
Academic Foundation (
PAC's audit has studied the effectiveness of five public services, viz. drinking water, healthcare, road transport, public distribution system, and primary education and childcare. Four aspects have been studied, and these are: access, usage, reliability, and satisfaction.

Who is a stakeholder?

Don't lose sight of corporate identity
Corporate Communications
Joep Cornelissen
Sage (
"Right up until the early 1900s, organisations hired publicists, press agents, promoters and propagandists," chronicles the book, tracing the historical roots of the function. "The press agents played on the credibility of the general public in its longing to be entertained, whether deceived or not, and many advertisements and press releases in those days were in fact exaggerated to the point where they were outright lies." Has the situation changed now?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Find the secret quote hidden in this piece!

Connections may be invisible but they are always there
The Da Vinci Code
Ron Howard's movie starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou
An adaptation of
Dan Brown's worldwide bestseller
"As someone who had spent his life exploring the hidden interconnectivity of disparate emblems and ideologies, Langdon viewed the world as a web of profoundly intertwined histories and events," narrates Brown. "The connections may be invisible, he often preached to his symbology classes at Harvard, but they are always there, buried just beneath the surface."
Ah, if only we could decipher likewise the wild movements of the markets and crack what lay beneath the charts! Astrology was a symbolic constant all over the world, according to Langdon. Wonder if that holds the key to the Sensitive index!

Image source

Monday, May 15, 2006

Having a firewall doesn't mean you are fully protected

Linux Firewalls (Third edition)
Steve Suehring & Robert L. Ziegler
Pearson Education (
"Having a firewall doesn't mean you are fully protected," alert the authors. "Security is a process, not a piece of hardware. For example, even with a firewall in place, it's possible to download spyware or adware or click on a maliciously crafted email, thereby opening up the computer and thus the network to the attack."
Security is a process, not a piece of hardware

Internet Phone Services Simplified
Jim Doherty and Neil Anderson
Cisco (
"The numbering system devised and eventually adopted is referred to as the 3-3-4 system," informs the book. The first 3 digits indicated the area code; then came a set of 3 digits as the exchange prefix, and the last 4 digits were the line number.
This was first used in "Wichita Falls, Texas, in 1958, nearly 11 years after the first telephone number was invented." A predecessor to this system was the one- or two-letter exchange name abbreviation along with two to five digits.
In the beginning, telephones had no numbers

Sluggishness can be "an ingrained cultural trait of the organisation"

Manage to Win
Norton Paley
Viva (
Ready to take action? "Act with speed and decisiveness," urges the author. Sluggishness can be "an ingrained cultural trait of the organisation," watch out! With speed, you can conserve "precious resources from being dissipated over prolonged and arduous campaigns."
Reinvent yourself as a successful manager

A great feature is something that makes you miss your stop on the train

Feature Writing
Susan Pape and Sue Featherstone
Sage (
"Producing a tightly written 150-word news story that is succinct and simple to read is often a lot easier than producing a 1,000-word feature on a subject that is completely new to you and for which you have had little time for research."
Good writers use language carefully

The Ultimate Selling Guide
Lloyd Allard
Magna (
What is the greatest attribute a salesperson can possess? A great personality or a glib tongue? "A glib tongue is the worst speech impediment that a salesperson can have."
Too many tongues

Translating the Gita into English is not easy

The Bhagavad Gita
Bibek Debroy
Penguin (
"The text stands by itself, complete and without interpolation, juxtaposed with the Sanskrit for easy reference; interpretation and explanation are tucked away as notes at the end."
What is thirst?

Core concepts of advertising

Add balance to ad theory
Advertising Management
Jaishri Jethwaney and Shruti Jain
Oxford (
"While teaching the subject, we found that a suitable textbook on the advertising scenario in India that includes a perspective on the client, the advertising industry, and best industry practices, was lacking..."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Investment coups
Regional Reflections
Ed: Rob Jenkins
Oxford University Press (

When federalist principles fail...

Needed, effective local govts
Political Economy of Federalism in India
M. Govinda Rao and Nirvikar Singh
Oxford University Press (

Economics and politics are strange bedfellows

Economics has a way of catching up with populist politics
The Politics of Economic Reforms in India
Ed: Jos Mooij
Sage (

Monday, May 08, 2006

'The definitive account... from the man who knew it best'

What led to the Babri Masjid demolition?
Ayodhya, December 6, 1992
P.V. Narasimha Rao

"Scalability is one of Excel's immediate drawbacks"

Accessible help on Access
Microsoft Access Data Analysis
Michael Alexander
Wiley India (

Digital games are merely commodities

The Business and Culture of Digital Games
Aphra Kerr
Sage (

Motivational communication is what stimulates employees' engagement

Build engagement
Motivational Management
Alexander Hiam
Magna Publishing (

From Change to Convergence

Sixteen types of organisational evolution
Organisational Evolution and Strategic Management
Rodolphe Durand
Sage (

"Truth is sometimes corrupted; conjecture can become mistaken for fact"

Most things you think are right are wrong
The Pedant's Revolt
Andrea Barham
Mochael O'Mara Books (

Do you make the right decisions, or do you simply copy "what seems to work for other companies"?

A call for evidence-based management
Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense
Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton
Harvard Business School Press (

Sunday, May 07, 2006