Saturday, October 30, 2010

Interview I recently did


My official job profile is an Associate Architect with QuickOffice, responsible for all architecture for future products shipping out of India Operations. What would amuse you most is that I was an Agile Project Manager for last 4 years and I am also a Scrum Master. Also, I am an evangelist for both Agile processes and Technology trends. I speak at various technical conferences in Pune. Moreover, I do a lot of counseling for people around me.

This might seem to many as sailing in more than one boat, not really

I believe in today’s fast tracked world, being technology leader, managing people and evangelizing new tracks goes hand in hand. There is no way a Small to mid size company can afford pure Architects or pure Managers. This is the new age requiring people to be Agile in Processes and Technology as well.

1. How the career journey started? Or who inspired you to enter in this field?

If you are talking about my journey into the industry, I always wanted to work in Computer. I had been taking my Computer Education from Grade 6.
However, the major change came to my journey when I had 3-4 years experience. Before this, I can say I was a mediocre Software Professional, working for Money or a Position, basically in a Rat race. This helped me understand the typical mentality what people have and helps me know how to inspire them.

My first inspiration was an Architect in Sigma Software named Sumeet. He was a person who work shipped Math and Logic. There I learned about going thorough with anything you do in life.

My second inspiration was Director of Engineering from QuickOffice named Keith Bottner. Now he is a part of Google, doing exciting work there. He was a right mix of person driving technology and understand people management.

Recently, I am inspired greatly by the VP of Engineering at QuickOffice, the legendary David Halpin. Amazingly deep in Technology plus extraordinary understanding of processes and human psyche, that is how he had been delivering successful products after products all his life.

Last I cannot go without talking about Gouri Pendse, the best people’s manager I worked with. This person was clear in terms of people’s behavior and expectations.

I think I was blessed throughout my career with great mentors both on People management and Technology, that I am where I stand today.

2. Share some info about your career graph.

  • After the first 3-4 years in industry, when the mist of confusion got cleared, I focused myself greatly to learning. Learning about Learning itself, Technical Skills, clear foundations. But also I focused on various soft skills, ways to introspect myself whenever the opportunity presented itself.
    Owing to this, at 4 years of experience I become a Project Lead and at 5 years I become a Project Manager. I carried the flagship of Agile when it was just introduced for my Company. At year 6 I was a public speaker for various Google Technologies and already talking on number of platforms in Pune. I joined Google as a Evangelist for a short time. Then joined back my pervious Organization.
    Now at year 9 I am the following
    • Associate Architect with QuickOffice
    • Hiring Manager for QuickOffice
    • Agile Evangelist at Synerzip
    • Certified Scrum Master
    • Technical Speaker in Pune
    • Corporate Trainer
    • Project Guide for various Colleges

The most important part is I enjoy everything I do in my work place. I think that is a much bigger achievement than things above.

3. What exactly you wanted to do when you started career?
I understood little when I started, like most of us. But overall, as I knew more, I was more and more inclined towards Leading an important effort in an Organization. I thought of leading a complete department both people wise and technology wise. Most important was to lead in an unconventional ways; Unconventional ways, which are logically sane, which makes people feel better about themselves. Making the people assets and treating them like one, this one thought was always on the top of my mind.

4. What kind of difficulties you had faced while entering into this career field?

Quite frankly I faced two difficulties. One within my self and one within the way companies function.

Difficulty within Myself:

I learned an important lesson in life, “Life is very fair”. It’s we who make it sound like unfair. My basic difficulty was to believe I deserve more, when I did not. It was not until I joined a class “Hope Academy”, not until I learned about mediation to see things clearly, not until I studied Psychology, I understood, my Ego came in my way to learn more and improve more.

This is something which people don’t talk about hence I do.
Once I came over the issue of “Life is not fair”, my learning and understanding took a leap beyond any bounds. This is where I was born again.

Another difficulty I faced due to ambitions and high goals, was deteriorating physical and mental health. Yes, we all know it quite common in IT. But I realized this will be a hurdle always.

Difficulty within Organizations:

Most organizations treat people like resources. By resources I mean objects. This is the first basic flaw they have. Often Processes are much more important than people. I saw this as a basic issue, which leads to “Lack of pro activeness” in all bigger organizations.

I mean the basic disregard to people was amazingly profound. I when joined such organization felt ignored, part of a crowd, with no regard to my contribution to the organization. The result was a similar feeling towards the organization from my side.

5. Share with our readers about discovery period when you were facing difficulties in your career?

Looking at my own difficulties I discovered Life is very fair, it gives you right opportunities, you just have to say “Yes” to them. The only way to grow up (instead of growing old) was to “Plan, Act and Introspect”.

I discovered that I actually loved learning (I bet it’s the same with others), but this got lost due to conflicts in my own mind.

On the career side I learned everything in the following manner

    1. Why
    2. What
    3. How

This made any big technical problem small. Now the why was more important. Given an Enterprise solution, once the Why is understood and What is understood, half the journey is done.
Amazingly, a clarity in thought came to me and when I shared the same with people around me, they too took very well to it.

I remember when I was in Persistent Systems. After a while, I stopped blaming and complaining and took to serious study of Java, Enterprise Java and the product I worked on in general. I was joined by my collegauge Aditya (a QA person that time, now a Developer in Tibco), we two studied the Why, the What and we shared ideas on the How.

Now the Work was exciting and happening!

About the discovery in Organization, I learned the only way to get respect is to give respect. World is a Mirror, What you give is what you get back.

Certain thoughts made place in my mind, I was clear I need to follow them whenever I have a say in leading a group

1. Put people over processes, they will make wonders happen for you.

2. Giving right Gratitude, earns back the right respect
3. Tell people What, they will amaze you with the How

6. Share with our readers about your experiment period after discovery period?

This was an exciting period in my life. Often in organizations there is a basic disconnect

1. What boss wants and what people do?

2. Understanding of why people are payed

3. Who is considered as a top performer?
4. Leadership and Learning is a continous process

In fact above where answers which came to me, from my experiments.

First Experiment, I did was I had a frank talk with my then mentor “Gouri Pendse”. We talked openly about what she expects and I did. Initially it started from her side, which I picked up and continued. I was surprised a number of times, to see what she often wanted, I did not think about. As this gap diminished, I made her redundant in her current role, she got promoted, so did I

Second experiment, I took to was due to my desire to earn more. I wanted to understand the secret to earn more. Here again my mentor, Gouri told me in simple terms

“If you want to earn more mooha, you need to make company earn more mooha”. I think everyone who hears this, would say “we already know so”, but really knowing and acting on it are two different things.
I took every opportunity to expand my team, working with my client and selling more ideas. The team was expanded to twice the size, my salary too bloated up.

Third experiment. I wanted to be top performer in my Company. But before I put energy I wanted to know what it means. I did understand very well, that what ever I do extra, should not affect my current work. I trained my team to be expert in that (and they did splendid good). With the extra time at hand, I started defining “Top Performer”.

I talked to the CTO of my company “Vinayak Joglekar” about my desire to be some day in his shoes. Amazingly, he revealed the great secret, he told “I reason, I am a CTO of this company is not only because I know technology, or because I know the right kind of people, but mainly due to the fact, the right kind of people know me”.

This clicked, it made sense, My Smart Work, needs to be firstly seen, then appreciated and replicated. Only then, I would be recognized as a thought leader and a Top Performer.

I got my definition of a Top Performer – “The one who not only himself/herself is Good in what he/she does, but also brings the same effectiveness in his/her team or organization”.
Believe me, this was a definition of “A” in our appraisal sheet and it still is

Fourth Experiment was very simple; it was to follow all this every day without any exception. I became a Project Manager the same year

This was about one stage in my life. In a stage not so far in past. I was effective but struggling with people I worked. It was shared with me in my appraisals, that I cannot let people work at their pace and some people cannot and will not follow mine.
First human reaction was I was taken a back with the fact, I was still not able to see the mirror. Lesson learned, it’s a process, I need to keep taking feedback from others. I consulted my Team Lead Yogesh Patel (a great guy by the way). He told me simply, you do lead by example, but you definitely need to give people space. He continued, If I pushed them further some people will go negative or go mum. And Yes that was happening with few of my team members.

Next project, I learned from my Team Lead Yogesh, lead by example and gave people space. This time, I took off my judge hat and threw it. I continued to be show gratitude to my team, as they were really working well. Amazingly, this time the results where extra ordinary. I was extremely proud of my team. All of them performed very well, everyone was an expert in one or two aspects of the product, process or technology. This was the best team I got the opportunity to work with.

“Lead by Example, Give Space”

On other experiment, more on Technology side. I kept of learning not only the technology I worked on but anything which was interesting. I saw, no two technology are disjoint, some where the same principles are followed. I had worked on Enterprise Java initially, then databases alone, then Web 2.0. Then cloud computing, now mobile applications.

Concentrating on the Why and What, but understanding the commonality in the how gave me great insight into products architected well. They all leveraged Engineering Principles. There was real engineering work done, instead of just using some apis and building a application.

I am not sure you will look at this as an experiment, but the end result is very important. Under the leadership of one of my mentors “Keith”, we delivered a software library to Google. Google was struggling with an engineering problem. We took on the engineering problem, instead of relying on third party solutions, we built everything from scratch knowing this needs to be better than anything in the world.
An Office with few people of my profile and rest 25-27 years experience people delivered a library to Google, which would become part of their backend.

Now how cool is that!

7. What are your future plans? Or now what is your vision for next five years?
Frankly, Career plans don’t work. Instead I would talk about what I would like to do wherever I work

1. Work only where my goals and my company’s goal match. “Be no 1 in market, and feel great working towards it.”

2. Understand business needs and plan how to make company become no 1 in that (yes even as an Architect or Project Manager, I can make a difference)

3. Align everyone I work with to Company’s goals.
4. Make more leaders out of people. Make a breeding ground for more thought leaders.

I see that being possible as a VP Engineering or Director of Engineering. But time will tell, as long as I do what I love to do, role and place hardly matter

8. What will be your advice/suggestion for new candidates for entering into your field?

I can talk a lot, but for new candidates just be like “Aamir” in the movie “3 Idiots”. Give more importance on how you Feel when you work than what money or status it gets you.

You must become an expert into one thing in life to be able to succeed. Plan, Act and Introspect through out the life. And most important, thank people, even those who create problems as they are giving you opportunity to grow further.

For people in IT industry, please learn, learn and learn then practice, practice and practice. Growth will happen automatically.

But most important while doing all this, I made sure did I sleep more than 8 hours a day.

Let me tell you a small story, I just heard yesterday. There was competition between lumber jacks. In the finals there where two people selected Bob and John. They had a curtain between them, so they cannot see each other. The competition was to cut maximum lumber in 4 hours.

In the first hour Bob (better build than John) chopped 6 trees, while John chopped 4. Next hours Bob was down to 5 and John was still 4. Then Bob reduced to 3 and then to 2. John was 4 constant



















While Bob just worked hard every hours and harder at the end, Bob worked smart. Every hour he took a break of 10 minutes from chopping and sharpened his axe. So he was well rested and the axe was always sharp. Bob put the same energy into his work as in the beginning but his axe was blunt.

I do what John does, I spend few hours every day studying, learning and introspecting, making my axe sharper and sharper.

If you young guys can follow this, you will get my kind of Success, “With everything like money and status coming your way, every day of life is doing what you enjoy and feeling good about it”

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

What when Anger takes control over you

How do we react when anger takes control over us? Quite frankly, we have little control on the time we have the anger.

But certainly we can be in a mind frame in the After Math of Anger. Here is how I do it.

(you must be having your own unique ways which I respect, this listing is just to me capture my experience right when I am living it)

  1. We communicated things may be not in a so pleasant manner or healthy manner. But none the less the fact that there is a irritation is communicated

  2. Post Anger/After Math, you need to be true and acknowledge good things about the person you are angry at. This is very important to be with minimum bias or prejudice. Acknowledge there is a problem with other person after you acknowledge that the other person has good qualities as well. This is quite possible in Post Math of anger, no one expects this to be present when you are under influence of rage.

  3. Understand giving a way out for the irritation is good, that rage was the worst thing, now its over. Things are out in open that there is a problem. The only thing which can happen is there can be improvement

  4. Never dilute or give away discussing why there was a rage. People, become comfortable or force other people not to talk about the ugly situation at hand. Talking about it is infact very healthy, this is sharing. Two human beings can not come close unless there is a Sharing (of course parents will love their kids irrespective of anything, but this is more about becoming friends).

  5. Talk about your expectations. In the human world, there are rarely a relationship in which expectations are not present. If expectations are not clear, problems are imminent.

Understand this rage/wraith/anger was not the last you have seen. It will come over and over, but if you understand the above, you will see a change in its frequency and your ability to handle it especially the After Math.

These worlds are coming from me, especially after I had a big fight with my wife and my mother in law. I love my wife and I have a reasonable degree of respect for my Mother in law. But what has happened was bound of happen. I decided to stay away for couple of days.

one thing I will do absolutely, is keep my self aware of all the feeling and bodily changes I am seeing. Amazingly, observing these gives you a new insight in to human behavior and naiveness.

Enjoying an Anger AfterMath

Monday, September 20, 2010

Listening is difficult, when you are biased like always

Mind seems to be rational and logical but its not!

The thing with us is that, we make decisions first based on our instincts and then give a cover of logic and rationale.

This is the probably the only reason, why "Art of Listening" is so difficult to master.

Given the fact that I enter a room to listen to a person, and I am pre biased that I am correct, cause I have reasons. How will I ever learn new things?

For being a better Listener, you need to have Doubts. Doubts to entertain, some one else point of view.

Your own growth is your own personal journey and without having a doubt within, your bias will never break and you will never learn new thing.

So what is more important
Having a Strong Believe or having a doubt?

I have believed many things in different phase of my life and I had my doubts.
I would rather live with a Doubt than a firm belief.

After the secret of my Confidence is, "I am as confused as everyone else".

Focusing on Wants over Needs

Last few days I did not sleep properly. One reason was my shoulder is hurt, but the main reason was I was weighing my "wants" being more important than my "needs".

What I need is simple 8 hour long peaceful sleep. What I want is entertainment and a sense of achievement.

We sacrifice of many things our sleep for lot of things.
1. Getting bored, watch more TV or Movies, sacrifice sleep
2. Test coming, study late night, sacrifice sleep
3. Work pressure, work late hours, sacrifice sleep
4. Emotional Situations in family, weep late night, sacrifice sleep.

I meet a man once, many years ago. I was in Canada, working for a client. And I felt very proud that I worked 24 hours straight. He simply called me and told me "If you not going home to sleep at night, Something is terribly wrong with you."

Humans, sorry Rational, Smart and especially Cosmopolitan Human beings live in a virtual world. Its a Matrix of its own, where
1. You meeting your image is very important
2. You meeting your social expectation is very important
3. You being an excellent Mom,Dad or Spouse is very important.

All and all people live in world of thoughts, not the real world.

Me by nature is ambitious and time bound person. Quite opposite to me, is my Wife, who takes life easy go lucky. No goals, no ambitions and no time bound rituals.

I changed a lot living with her, for good. The world of thoughts now doesn't take over my real world. My real world, is waking up doing a small run, getting ready for office. Come Home on time, telling my wife about how the day went and watching either a serial or a TV.

Yes at times, I go back to living in thought world, sleeping less, but the next morning I know the day is a drag.

Today was one such drag days due to me missing sleep. Had a bad office day also.

The solution is very simple and I will follow it. Go home early and Sleep for over 8 hours.

Let's all make Life simple (as in the old days), have a good 8 hours sleep, because we deserve it.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Social Remote Control - What will people say?

Social Remote Control

Most of us will deny that our there is a Social Remote Control in our lives. As we grow and become successful, yes we feel much more control in life and society.
But think deeper, some where back of our mind, we have the society having control on us.

Remember the young days, when almost all of us had a rebel inside us. Some managed to keep it caged while others let it free. But if you think of it, those where the days we had energy but also trouble being accepted.

If you tend to see it, till the age 18 almost 95% of our self esteem is determined. Determined by how we are treated by our Parents, Teachers, Relatives and Friends. Some people have a great self esteem irrespective of how the person looks, performs in sports or studies or family background. Others how ever do not have this trait. They tend to fall short some where, either confidence, speech, expressing emotions etc.

Do you see what is happening here? People with low Self Esteem are victim to the Social Remote Control.

What will happen to a child who is constantly being compared to others , being told he needs to become better, he needs to have some predefined ideals. Overall you are telling the child "You are not right the way you are, YOU NEED TO CHANGE". This is what Social remote control does, DOESN'T ALLOW YOU BE NATURAL.

Take example, two small kids playing with toys, one kid hits another, both of them flight. One kids parents scold him, abuse him for doing this. The other kids parent, accept it, kids do this.
See a small action or inaction by parents have a long term effect.
The first Kids will now always look for approval of his parents before flowing his instinct. What a Artificial Life?

This does not stop in just home or School. The best part is in College or Job when we have friends, we are grown up and have so called control on our life. This is the time we have lot of energy. But where is it channelled.
People who think friends are not one of remote control, think again. Any one who has expectations from you is a remote control. The idea here is not to run away from everyone who has expectations but to understand simply how it affect you. Once you know this, accept this, you will see how others don't have control over you.

You are a clean white board and every one wil come and write something on you.

Friends have great bond and so inherently there is either a strong attachment and sometimes expectations. Your ideas of right and wrong (set in your child hood) will now be altered by your friends. Nothing wrong in it, just be aware how much of these ideas are more experience then being borrowed. More or less same thing happens in Job.

I can't speak of future when there are kids and so on, I am still young at 30 and to be yet blessed with kids.

Right, so we know others have influence on us, but why we are talking about it so much.
Because its very important to understand this part if you want to feel content.

You can only feel content or expanded when you follow your instinct. Instinct is what is really yours, even your logic is borrowed from others. Please, my dear friends, learn to trust your instincts, your own self.

The day you start this life changes. You are born again, as YOU yourself. Your actions will be more favorable for you and others as well. Please study what you like, work in the field you like and pay what ever price is needed for it Smilingly.

If your education is over and you are working in the field, which you do not know is your passion. Simply start doing it the way you would enjoy.

Please be Self Centered. Understand the word Self Centered. A person is self Centered, when his center is with in him/her self. This person is balanced. If your center is outside you, how can you be at rest you are always struggling to avoid falling.

So watch what you do, why you do, understand the Social Remote Control.
And be SELF CENTERED, be balanced and be BORN AGAIN as YOU!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Loyalty Vs Desire in Married Life


(Photographs taken from internet - People in photograph have no relation to this blog)

Today, I was approached by a person. Who was puzzled by loyalty towards her spouse.

Apparently, she shared some intimate conversation with another person and her spouse found out. Her Spouse apparently, understood the situation and accepted this.

But she failed to get past the guilt and remorse. So much that she could not face anyone for 3-4 days.

Finally today, after talking to her for a while, I explained her a fundamental difference between Loyalty and Desire.

Here is an extract of what I told her

As a person, if you did not have a feeling where you wanted to leave your spouse or you have developed a feeling of disowning and disliking your spouse, the part of bounding is still intact. In such case, be clear in your mind that you want to grow old with your spouse and love her.

The other part is of Desire. Desire is part of Human nature. If you had an sexual desire and you watched adult content and helped yourself get past the desire, this is acceptable form. If we change it a bit to get a live person in between (say talking intimate things to him), suddenly we see ourself in a region of social taboo.

And believe me the guilt comes due to the confusion between your loyalty and dealing with a naughty desire. More over the social taboo, devastates us.

Please understand one thing, I am not supporting you blindly running and fulfilling each and every desire you have (mostly I am talking about the ones not accepted by society or family), you have to gauge the cost Vs the benefit

In the above case, the female I talked to had quite a guilt accommodated in her and it took a while to show her this difference. She was indeed loyal to her spouse, liked him and wanted to live rest of the life with him. The problem being she also had a desire, which kindda doesn't fit in her situation.

Basically, we all have desires and hence we all have secrets. The problem with few us is mistaken identity and lot of guilt.

After a life explaining that, her loyalty is intact and this trouble is caused by desires alone, I was able to give her the message - "Fulfill your desire knowing the cost." Which is this case was nothing really.

In a cosmopolitan environment acknowledging your sexuality and talking about it is well accepted. She just wanted to talk about sex and her desires around it to another person (other than her husband). Ofcourse the cost is to know how your spouse takes if he finds it. And sometimes there are unexpected costs to be paid, but that is the topic for some other discussion.

Overall, to couples around the world, the secret to continuing and fruitful married life is to understand very well your liking and commitment to stay and grow with your spouse. Also, there are incidents in married life, there it is important to understand the human side of desires.

So folks who are married and who are likely to get married, do one right thing, "ACCEPT YOUR SPOUSE THE WAY HE/SHE IS" and accept the fact that "HE/SHE IS MERELY HUMAN".

My 50 cents on being happily married.