[ To Express, To Reflect, To Give Back ]

Eye glasses under $30?

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Yes, one of my colleagues recommended Zennioptical and I just placed an order with them for a rimless glass for about $30. If you have ordered eye glasses in any of the retail specialty stores, you should be freaking out with that $30 deal. Because, I paid $350 at Sears a couple of years ago! Actually, Zennioptical sells basic glasses for $8!!!

I couldn’t fathom how Zennioptical could sell stuff so cheap unless they have an undersea walkway to a Chinese manufacturing plant. From what I hear online and from my colleague, their quality is just perfect and at that price, I don’t care if I have to buy one every year! The buying process was painless. Of course, I will wait for mine to arrive before I say more.

This just tells me how retail prices in the US are inflated with hundreds of middle men and brands. While the economy might be flourishing in that model, is it in the best interest of the US consumer and the Chinese producer?

New Media is gaining momentum

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Eros International (who pretty much control most of foreign distribution of Indian films, especially with the acquisition of Ayangaran, the Eros of Tamil movies) recently announced their FY 2008 earnings numbers. Check the details here.

I noticed Eros’s new media sources alone brought in $28 million. Of course, the portfolio of film and music content they have is huge and compelling that their strategy is clear : monetize every penny out of every bit of content they have. Obviously, they want to operate as a true Hollywood studio.

Its interesting to see the source of these new media revenues : video on demand from US & other foreign cable providers, music sales for mobile phones (likely download of full songs or ringtones) through iTunes and also retail sales through Amazon and WalMart. They also signed deals with Sony Pictures and LionsGate and expect a flood load of dubbed, remade and cross0ver movies across the two continents. Last but not least, they have YouTube channel which produces revenues through advertising. I also read that they have inked deals with Joost and Jaman for online streaming licensing…How is that for milking your cow?? Way to go!

Hire a Star

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

I was intrigued by the Inc Magazine article about how Jim Thornton decided to make an offer to Mike Wigton. Jim used an unconventional approach to gauge the new hire’s fit to ProvoCraft. Beyond interviewing Mike, he interview Mike’s wife and even met their parents. How is that for hiring stars? I think thats a great approach. I am true believer in emotional appeal. And Jim sold himself and ProvoCraft to Mike and his family, not at a material or financial level but at an emotional level. The opposite is true too. Mike wouldn’t have decided to accept the offer if the entire hiring experience was conventional, which in today’s world would be very stale. The unorthodox, personal approach was dynamic enough to create an emotional experience that influenced Mike’s decision to accept the offer. Looks like both of them are still happy campers staying put in Utah, growing ProvoCraft.

Provocraft is now owned by Sorenson Capital, private equity, which puts a great new spin to running private companies. The objectives, accountability and drive to change & grow faster is extraordinary in private equity-run companies. It is potentially best place in between a startup and a large public company. I have an eye on the private equity space and small-mid size firms owned by private equity firms (which is another reason the Inc article caught my attention) as I explore my near future options and Jim and Mike have reinforced my beliefs.

Fear of Greatness

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

You know its the season for commencements so there is lots of speeches flying around the internet. Some OK, some good and some very good. As I was reading through Small Giants and the references to WholeFoodsMarket, I stumbled upon John Mackey’s Bentley College Commencement Speech. It is a well written one and from someone who has accomplished something very meaningful in life, I really think he nailed the key aspects of life.

The best part of the speech that hit the home run for me personally was the part about fear. I know I am fearless when it comes to certain things. I mean, I will do a bungee jump without much fear. I will also go down a black diamond trail even though I am not a good snowboarder (and fall head over butt, 20 times before I reach the base and I am still well and alive!!!).

But I do fear! I fear about myself and my potential and potential failures. Jack used the phrase “…sometimes even fear of our own potential greatness”, I got to beleive we all have the potential for greatness but we question it…(why? – thats a blog for another day)

“Fear doesn’t really exist outside the mind. We can dissolve it there as well. We will need to learn how to do this if we really want to be free in life and stay connected to your heart.” – Thank you! Jack! for that insight.


Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Note: Since writing the post below, I have changed my opinion about twitter. See my latest post here Twitter’s Brilliant Sweetspot. After you read my opinion below and my recent observation of Twitter, you will obviously see how ignorant (and rude too!) I was back then.

A friend of mine asked me if I twitter. I don’t. I have come across a while ago but neither did I find any need to twitter nor a need to “follow” other twitters. I actually don’t know who else I know twitters. Even if they did, I am not sure if I care to “follow” them. An email or a phone call or even a stop at their blog once a in a while would be sufficient.

info overlaod

I am a big fan of social software and there are ways to channel its power. But honestly, I think twitter is a noise in the social software arena. Apparently, its creating so much noise (causing scalability issues with its recursive messaging infrastructure!) that its founder says “We will continue hiring systems engineers, operators, and architects, as well as consultants, scientists, and other professionals to help us realize our vision”. Twitter is simply a glorified broadcast instant messaging. Or to put it in a more crude way, its a formalized version of virus that people voluntarily subscribe to! And to even suggest that people should pay $5 as service fee to use twitter makes me laugh. OK, I know I am overly critical. I know many smart investors and hardworking programmers are behind twitter (sorry dudes!). All I am saying is it has no inherent value beyond exponentially magnifying the always-connected networked zombies!

Reading “Small Giants”

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

small giants I am in the middle of reading Small Giants. This is a great find and I am so glad I stumbled upon this book. A part of me wants to be an entrepreneur badly. I really want to be in the media business producing content for children’s education and entertainment and I always search for how other successful entrepreneurs started from scratch. Small Giants not only talks about that but also talks about the principles these small private companies live by to stay small but stay great social citizens!

The book profiles a bunch of small companies and their entrepreneurs (some of them great leaders too) and how they started off and how they either resisted the temptation to grow and remained successful or gave up to the growth syndrome only to learn the lessons the hard way. Its a good read if you aspire to have your business one day. It will be of immense use to know what you will go through, once you become successful, which you will, if only after a failure or two. Good Luck!


Monday, June 16th, 2008

I am a self-reflective person; by that what I mean is, I look internally for answers as opposed to externally. This behavior doesn’t work well amongst some of my family and friends, naturally. Perhaps, it is due to my deep interests in both eastern and western philosophy. I have read many a books, spoken to wise and learned elders and in that process, learned an iota about how to live. I have to emphasize “iota”. But even with that, I know I am enjoying the fruits of living a life with a little bit deeper understanding of “soul” and “self”. I can go on with it but lets save that for another day when I am much more qualified to speak to it. There is enough said and written already by wise men of the east and west and so one must spend more time reading and most importantly, “contemplating”.

The other day, I picked up “The Art of Living” by Epictetus. epictetus

I love to pick up browse through the library book shelves, for an extended period, and eventually pick one or two at the end to read. That process in itself is very self-satisfying for some reason. It is as if I have found a treasure or something. Not only the title of this book intrigued but the name Epictetus really grabbed my attention. The back cover of the book read “Epictetus was born into slavery about 55 CE…”. If someone has said something about art of living about 2000 years ago, and we are still reading about it, it meant, it survived the test of time for at least that many years and so must be somewhat useful, if not fully relevant to today’s life. The book is in fact an interpretation by Sharon Lebell, so even the relevancy part must be taken care of.

Its a well written book with lots of insights for better, but the key message in the book is simple and already well known :

“Accept what we cannot change” – Just know that we cannot change or control most of the external events and other’s behaviors.

“Muster the courage to change the things we can” – It is absolutely certain that we can totally change one thing in this world all by ourselves; That one thing is what we think about everything around the world. However, as silly as it sounds, one needs a lot of courage to change one’s thinking!

“…and pray for the wisdom to know the difference” – This is the key because if we don’t understand what things are in our control and what is not, we will be wasting our time and energy on “wrong” things. Incredibly so, many of us are putting our time on earth not knowing this difference.

Rahman’s commitment to improve the world

Friday, June 13th, 2008

“Commitment to improve the world” is the reason world economic forum awards a select few from around the world with “Young Global Leader” award. The 2008 list is an long one with representation from many countries.

Whats more fascinating to me is that Allah Rakha Rahman, the man most Indians admire, is one among the young leaders recognized. Other notables in the list include Sabeer Bhatia and the Google founders.

Cory Booker’s saga

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Not often we encounter truly inspiring stories of men in public service. That too behind our own backyard? Such is a story of Cory Booker, City of Newark’s Mayor. Newark City, as I know it, is where chances of one getting shot is (was) pretty good, and for someone with my demographic profile has no real business to be in Newark anyway. This month’s Esquire has a very detailed and inspiring article about Cory Booker, the “renaissances” mayor of Newark. In many ways, he is waging a war. A war for social justice with lot more meaning and impact than the war for oil in Iraq. His story touches the core of my heart because he is doing what I would like to do, but never had the courage or commitment to follow through.

Cory has written in Esquire before and one of his own inspirations is Mrs. Virginia Jones. When Cory first met her and shared his desire to help the Newark community, she had told him “…So many people want to help, but few are committed. People live life with intentions. Well, the road to hell is paved with them. Are you committed?”. Ah! I felt a nail being sent through my head! “Road to hell is paved with good intentions”, how true! Just as many millions of people, I have a lot of good intentions, but I know my commitments aren’t good enough yet.

Booker tells of another lesson Mrs.Jones taught him, “Boy, you need to learn something. The world you see outside of you is a reflection of what you have inside of you. If you’re one of those people who see problems, darkness, and despair, that’s all there’s ever going to be. But if you’re one of those people who see hope, opportunity, love, and even the face of God, then you can help me…”. There goes the second nail, right through the head to the bottom of my heart! Words of true wisdom from Mrs.Jones!

We need more Cory Bookers and Mrs. Jones in this world. I am exceedingly confident (results are already proving!) Cory would turn Newark around and I am sure that is going to happen right in front of my eyes as I watch it from 35 miles away.

I am going to sleep tonite with two nails hurting deep down. I must commit to move from being inspired to doing inspiring things. Where is the cory in me?

Its India’s turn now

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

So far, it was US turn to acquire firms in India and capitalize on its growth. Not anymore! The trend is reversing. I was watching a CNBC late night show on India Rising and from the interviews of all the tycoons of business in India, I could see the spirit is high. The business leaders of Reliance, Godrej, Tata and many others are extremely upbeat about growth of India, but they are also unusually confident about India’s ability to take over the world of capitalism. Its not a question of “do we have the money to do it?” (though they do have tons of capital). It is all about the vision and courage to go for the sky and conquer the world! This reflects the attitude that was prevalent in the US years ago (perhaps, not as much now in comparison), when American leaders had the vision to be the most powerful country in the world. They didn’t look at in terms of their abilities or money, it was a shear determination to dream and the will to make it happen. I see a similar wave of aspirations in India now and especially among the rich and famous of business, media and entertainment This is likely unprecedented given the conservative history of India.

Following the Spielberg partnership with Reliance group, another group within the reliance world, Adlabs, is looking to grow in the US via partnerships and distribution. It recently made an agreement with the Newyork based ImaginAsia entertainment to oversee some of the theater chains in the east and west coast cities with large concentration of Indian diaspora. This is interesting as it captures & strengthens the distribution value chain for the reliance and media making machines in Bollywood. Last year, Indian theater chain, Pyramid Saimira acquried Texas based FunAsia’s theater properties strengthening their distribution of Indian films in the US. Not only they want to control and reach the Indians in these cities through these theater chains but also earn in $$ for what was mostly produced in Rupees! Good Deal!

A new beginning

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

On June 2nd, we had a new beginning in our life. Rishi was born. To me, it was a unique emotional and defining moment when he came to this world. I was in tears. I felt the love for the new life and at the exact same time appreciate the pain of mom delivering him. I have witnessed a miracle. It truly was, not only because it was our own child, but because I hadn’t the faintest idea what it would be like to witness a birth. One life form, taking in extraordinary, unexplainable amount of pain and suffering, giving way to another life form, all in exchange for just one thing : love