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The Year That Was

Posted: December 31st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Blah Blah | 3 Comments »

Started new year with a resignation, ran another Half Marathon in Mumbai, birthday wasted, shifted home, changed company, found new friends, got my Royal Enfield Classic after a very long wait, shifted home, resigned once again, felt cheated, shifted base to Pune, experienced a lot of pleasant rides between Pune-Mumbai, co-founded a company (part time), new company, new colleagues, helped starting another entrepreneur, co-founded another venture (part-time), Ran Delhi Half Marathon for the first time, experienced one of the happiest moments of my life, close friends got married, planned to get married/blessed with babies, hires quitting without any notice,  got Android, momentarily closing of one of the ventures, almost lost a big contract for one of the startups, read quite a lot of books, decided to learn programing once again, had a real tough time in deciding for quitting, resigned for the last time on a Monday, on the path of being entrepreneur (full time), learned a lot, grown a bit, still single, still happy, still looking for a someone, ready to experience new life, new beginning, new challenges.

Howdy 2011! What you’ve got for me?

Khoon Chala

Posted: December 21st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Musings | 4 Comments »

It all started in 2008.

I used to read a lot of blogs and one of them happens to be Youth Curry. In Sept, 2008, her book Stay Hungry, Stay foolish was launched. I knew this phrase from Steve Job’s famous commencement speech at Stanford University of 2005. The book is about 25 stories of entrepreneurs with a common thread of IIMA alumni. I wanted to read the book as soon as it was launched but during that month I was in The Netherlands for my office assignment.

So when I came back to India in Nov, 2008, the first book I wanted to read was obviously Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish. I had heard about most of the entrepreneurs featured in book or about their companies, this made the book more interesting. I finished the book in two sittings in a single day. The stories were inspiring. interesting and fascinating. This was definitely not the first trigger for my entrepreneurship dreams because I have long been reading stuff about entrepreneurship but yes this definitely made me more ‘wannabe-entrepreneur’. After this book, I developed interests in reading books and coincidently got to know about Flipkart at the same time, ordering book was more easy now and a pleasurable experience, it translated into more books being read. I started reading a lot of stories and journeys of entrepreneurs.

I joined Twitter in Jun, 2008 and like most of the people, I also have same question ‘whom to follow’ and what to do with Twitter in the beginning. But after reading about entrepreneurs, I started following them on Twitter, got a lot more resources to read than ever before. One link led to other and got to know about initiatives like Startup Saturdays, Lpad, which further fuelled my aspirations to be an entrepreneur.

Fast forward to Dec 2010. I mustered the courage to quit the rat race. 20th December 2010, I have resigned from my day job and will be walking the aisle of entrepreneurship full time :-)

At this point, I just have these lines in my mind from the movie Udaan.

कहानी ख़त्म है या शुरुआत होने को है,
सुबह नयी है ये, या फिर रात होने को है,
आने वाला वक़्त देगा पनाहें
या फिर से मिलेगी दो राहें,
खबर क्या, क्या पता

(Very loose translation of the lyrics)

is this the end of the story or a new beginning,
Is it a new dawn or it’s going to be another night,
will the future be my shelter
or will I come across another crossroad,
nobody knows

More follows soon in next post. To be continued…

P.S. If you are just wondering what does the title of this post mean, it’s a track from the movie Rang De Basanti. Listen it on Google Music

Congratulations, You Are hired

Posted: December 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Musings | 2 Comments »

In the last decade, I have been involved in several aspects of hiring, from appearing in interview to screening candidates and interviewing them and making final decision, if the person would be a right choice. After so many years I’ve realized that there are a lot of flaws in hiring in big companies and MNCs and processes of hiring in so called ‘process driven’ companies are also not error free.

The first thing is employee referrals. I believe the employee referral schemes should be leveraged for healthy and more productive work environment because when team members know each other well then results can be real good. But we don’t live in an ideal world and in my opinion employee referrals are sometimes used as a vehicle to get your known person get a job anyhow, whether s/he deserves it or not is a different thing. I believe if the interviewer knows (by a reference or directly) the person who has referred the interviewee then there will most certainly be some prejudice involved. I don’t want to imply that every employee referred candidate is not worthy of his position but the person will enjoy some discount which non-referred candidate might not.

On the other hand, I’m aware about incidents in some companies where a referred candidate will not get an interview call from the company but as soon as the profile is forwarded through a placement agency, the person will be interviewed. I have experienced it personally.

In an another incident, when I was looking for switch last time, I received a call from a company (which claims that they deliver high performance), the very next day of uploading my resume. My interview was scheduled promptly and I did not get an interview call even after 3 months but I did receive 2-3 calls about scheduling my interview but needless to say the interview was never conducted. I do receive an email from the same company after every 3 months that my profile has been archived in their system and I can use the reference id to appear for an interview in future. My other colleagues got their interviews scheduled at least 4-5 times and then they got call for an interview, some had to appeared for interview twice/thrice in the same company.

I just wonder if there is something like non-prejudice, unbiased and uninfluenced hiring which really judge the skills of a person and how s/he can contribute to company growth rather than who does he know?

Apart from referrals, there can be other biases as well. Can I claim that I conducted interview in an unbiased manner after I knew that the interviewee hails from my home town? if the person worked with me in one of my last organization and I hated him? if the person is real good and I think he can be a threat to my position? She looks good, should I select her? I have also experienced two cases where a person was not hired because of his religion/cast.

From interviewee point of view, there is a other side, what if the interviewer doesn’t know what kind of questions to ask? what to look for in a candidate? He is not competent enough to judge a good candidate. What if he wants to show his own authority, ‘dude, see-how-much-I know-and-you-dont’ than what the candidate’s real knowledge is?

There are so many such questions/situations which bothers me and that’s why I don’t truly enjoy to get involved in hiring processes partly because sometimes I feel that I don’t do justice to the person being interviewed ( impostor syndrome?) , and partly because I feel that I cannot be ruthless to reject a person if a person has potential but doesn’t has the credibility in his resume.

In one of the Startup Saturday Pune, someone ( was it @mhegi?) suggested that look in for commonsense, adaptability and learning ability in a recruit and rest can be taken care of. But then hiring for a startup is quite different than hiring for an MNC.

What has your experience been in hiring? It would be interesting to know your experiences.

Disclaimer: I’ve been interviewed as an employee referral on two occasions and I do like to believe that it was unprejudiced on at least one occasion.

My First Delhi Half Marathon

Posted: December 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Blah Blah | 6 Comments »

After running my first Half Marathon in Mumbai in 2007, I wanted to run Delhi half marathon. The thought of running with thousands of people on Rajpath in a misty morning with India Gate in background used to give me goose bumps. But even after registering for two consecutive years, I could not participate because it did not sync with Diwali holidays. However, this year the day was in perfect sync with my holidays and I registered for it dutifully.

As compare to my last 3 half marathons, I was best prepared this time. I was comfortably running/walking 10+ kms couple of times in a week in Pune and I was expecting to complete the run in 2 hours but things always do not go as you plan :-).

After reaching Delhi, the first task was to collect Bib and goodies bag from the expo. Participants were required to submit one identity proof and the organizers made sure they get to mint some money out of this. One photocopy of the identity proof was being charged Rs. 5 (that’s 5 times the market price). The goodies bag had some interesting things like pav bhaji masala, chhole masala and maggie :-).

The Saturday evening was very chilly in Delhi and I was  sceptical about the next day run but Sunday was not that cold as compare to last day. First 1 hour in the run was pretty smooth (except for the loo break after 1 km which was forced by consumption of 1.5 litre of water before run) and Endomondo was helping me to keep my pace constant. I completed 10 kms in first hour but once the sun started rising the temperature soared and by the time I reached Rajpath it was pretty hot. After completing 14 KMs it was pretty difficult to run because of cramp but I continued jogging/walking with slower pace. As I finished my 18th Km (I think), the Delhi dream run was started and last 3 kms were the same for both runs. The enthusiastic dream runners with different kinds of fancy dresses and banners, hoardings made these last 3 kms more painful. The half marathoners were literally wading through the sea of dream runners. When I reached finish line, it was 2:43:07 since the starting gun was fired.

I have participated in 3 Half Marathons in Mumbai and had high expectations for Delhi Half Marathon but it was no match for Mumbai experience. The people’s participation is quite high in Mumbai where people will line up beside the road and cheer you up, give you biscuits, juices and fruits. Audience were completely missing in Delhi.

There were other things which were not well organized in Delhi. Baggage counter was the biggest problem. The participants had to wait for more than 1 hour to get their bags. The finishers medal distribution was not properly managed as well. Some runners even staged a small protest about this. Later, organizers promised to send the finishers medal by post. The route planning could have been better. The dream run route should have been different than half marathon route, like it happens in Mumbai.

I was surprised that how Procam which puts a great show in Mumbai Marathon can manage to have this mediocre organized Delhi run.

I enjoyed my Delhi Half Marathon run but the experience could have been more enjoyable if the things were more managed. But still I look forward to run in Delhi next year and I hope it would be another memorable experience minus the mis-management.