Cultural Differences – Food

A friend commented, while at dinner – ‘You get very stiff when you eat.. don’t worry(on the bemused look on the other companions face and mine) – you’ll get less stiff in 10-15 years when you get used to eating..ha ha)’. Well, it is true that I get very stiff when public. Well, maybe not ‘very’ stiff..but well..that’s beside the point..

Food and eating habits can be really interesting and the lack of awareness and sensitivity can cost us a lot more than dirty looks as well – so I have learnt. For instance, the region I come from – we eat our rice using our hands(yes! for all the chopstick and spoon users – thats true! :)) Now, lets imagine I’ve been playing soccer from when I was 5 years old vs a friend who is learning at 19. What are the chances that at 21- he would be a better soccer player? Well, it is similar odds with eating habits as well..

Now, its not like my mother didn’t warn me about this. Lets face it – we realize the depth of our parents constant badgering about this and that as we move out. Well, if you haven’t – I tell you – its about time! As always, I had the – ‘don’t worry! I only do this at home..’. Yeah right! Another learning that I am coming to terms with is that, while it is true that good manners begin at home, bad manners do – as well. (Home – being close circle – family, friends etc)

Anyway, there is no end to cultural differences. What is right in the east is often unthinkable in the west etc. But, it does help to know where we want to go.. because disaster at the dinner table is disaster all around..

And well.. If the price to look decent(till I actually get used to being a classy eater) is being stiff and conscious for a few years, sounds like a fair bargain!

PS: I am an insensitive brute – when it comes to environments etc and also tend to be very clumsy. So, the situation may not be all that commonplace.. but who knows? 😀

There is no right or wrong about most things..

I guess this may seem plain obvious to most but again, something that I’ve been realizing more so than ever. The more I read about people like you and me who have done great things – the more I realize that there is no specific thing that remains constant. Of course, there are the basics of hard work, grit like determination, an ability to bounce back from adversity etc – which is a common pattern, but in terms of style – well, there doesnt seem to be anything common. I mean that, you have Apple on one side and a Microsoft on the other. Thats like ‘perfection'(in the words of Steve Jobs) on one side and anything but perfection on the other but it equals to less than 4% of the world on one side and the remaining 96% on the other!

I guess..the bottom line is that there is really no ‘right’ per se except its really up to us to find out what works. What amazed me was the story of an obsessive entrepreneur by name Charles Revson – who started Revlon, which is pretty big in the cosmetics industry. This guy was crazy enough to encourage employers to unscrew lids competitor lip sticks/gloss in super markets so customers who bought them would be pissed off! And then of course, you have loads of other great examples like Warren Buffet. And this pretty much translates to all fields – and it would be like drawing a comparison between a Maradona and a Pele, a Warne and a Tendulkar among many others..

So, the biggest learning personally is really where dealing with criticism and adversity are concerned(when the going gets tough..), the good news, it seems is that we can choose to get going whichever way we want. Of course, there are underlying rules like ‘never react emotionally or get unduly pissed etc..’ which prevent you from thinking rationally. Apart from all this, we can choose to lay low or not for that matter.. as long as we are consistent in reactions of course..

Message for the day – Lose it on someone today if you have to! 😉 Quoting a great pal – ‘Its not wrong to lose your temper, except try and lose it often so people understand that you CAN lose it..’..ha ha..

Accepting responsibility..

I think – by now, I’m losing count of my previous learnings and I guess there is a definite possibility that learnings may be repeated.. if that does happen.. then I can be sure that that’s one learning thats really sunk in! ha ha..

Anyway, my learning for the day comes from a book called ‘Goals’ – by Brian Tracy. He starts the book by making a profound statement – he says(paraphrased and not exact..) – if you are to start on a journey of setting goals and achieving something in life, it has to begin by accepting responsibility. He talks about the many adults he’s met who are still blaming their life and present conditions on bad upbringing, parents who didn’t do a great job, poor teachers etc. And he said that the moment he hears that, he know that that’s the end of the story..

There are so many things that may go wrong.. lets substitute the ‘may’ with ‘will’. It is inevitable! If something goes right on one side, there is definitely going to be something wrong in the other. It is also known that it is our reaction to it that makes the difference. But, the point to understand in my limited understanding is that, it only begins when we truly accept that it is OUR fault.. and nobody elses. No parent, no teacher, no friend.. nobody!

To me, it took ages to even comprehend the meaning of this since I was someone who was perennially running to a wiser mentor when I had issues. These ranged from bad finances, bad grades to absolutely everything. And now I’m just beginning to comprehend what I’ve been doing all along.. and that there’s no point looking at the past now either – instead, to accept it and move on… and hopefully do better on all fronts..

As always..what will really count.. is the effort!

Simple? or Complex?

‘Simple’ question – refers to anything. When we talk – or explain – or in a simple case, design a system for people to use. Do we just make something extremely simple and intuitive? or try and think of every need the user might face?

What I’ve learnt is that the goal is for it to be very very simple! It so happens that it eventually does end up being complex. And by some chance, if more than a billion people are using it and it still is as simple as typing whatever you want in a plain white text box and still getting results – then you’re going to make billions – just like google!

Remembering names..

I have no idea why my memory – which usually does pretty ok in most issues but it somehow fails me when it comes to names and results in the common ‘uh – Sorry, I didn’t catch your name/I just forgot your name?’ scenario.

I do know that the only reason that this happens is that moment of lack of focus when introducing myself to the person and vice versa. Remembering and using names can change things and turn previously hostile scenarios into warmer and more personal situations. I guess I can go on reminding myself about the importance of names – however, I feel that the best reminder, as always, lies in a simple quote. A great company had a truly amazing boss and the biggest testimony the employees gave when the boss retired was –

‘He remember each and every one of our names’ ..

You must want the ball a lot more to play well..

One of the better things I do is play soccer 5 times a week. If I can keep this habit of mine up, I should be able to play soccer when am 60 – which is something I definitely want to do. It is truly amazing to see the 50+ year olds play soccer on Saturdays and Sundays – especially 3 of them who have played the game together for 44 years, and one of whose sons(25 himself) plays as well! There’s almost no need to look outside of the playing field for fitness role models..

One of these is a very cool bloke by name Jackie from whom I’ve learnt some very basic footballing lessons from time to time. I enjoy playing with him because he is a natural leader, a fantastic player who could outplay many a university student on the hard courts despite being 30+ years older! Being a natural leader, he teaches all the time and tells everyone on his team as to what he/she’s done wrong. And there was this one instance in the game yesterday when I reached for the ball but felt I couldn’t reach it and let it go and ran after to throw it to the other team’s goal keeper. That’s when Jackie said loudly, with his trademark grin -‘You got to want the ball a LOT more than that to get it – only if you WANT it can you GET it!’

Changed my performance in the game yesterday, it did…

Gave me a crucial learning for today that could change my life, he did..

Thanks Jackie!

When things go wrong..

From my rather vast experience in the field of things going wrong(;)) thanks to the unlimited number of screw ups I almost seem to generate, I have noticed that when things begin to go wrong, everything cascades into lots and lots of screw ups! Its almost a situation like when shit hits the fan, there’s just a lot of it all over the place hitting everyone around..

But it is indeed true that when things begin to go wrong, it all tends to go into this loop of self destruction(with me, atleast) and almost everything I touch ends up worse than it was before. Similar to – when it rains it pours. I guess, firstly, it is true that, when you are in a hole – stop digging! But how do you really do that?

The least I’ve figured is that if the screw ups are because of issues within yourself that have to be changed, then, the best way to look at it is that you are doing well and you have done all you can with your current set of values, good qualities etc.. but to move from this peak to the next, you are going to have to climb down and climb again as between two peaks, there is always a valley. Somehow, I find this to be refreshingly positive as I have been trying to get out of a similar loop thanks to my personal refusal to use my own brain but the thought that its just because I’ve peaked prior to this, and am just heading to a taller and better peak is heartening.. 🙂


I’ve missed 2 learning days in a row. Well, I ‘can’ blame it on long/irregular/busy days among other things but its best if I learnt from this and moved on and hopefully did continue posting a learning a day..

Sustainability – I never really understood the concept till I came across the idea in various similar forms; like consistency, dependability etc. In simple terms, I understand sustainability to be the essential difference between a pro and an amateur, a business and an idea, a billion dollar company and a million dollar company and so on..

In simple terms, the implications are immense – for instance, you would expect Fedex to deliver within a day, whether it means travelling through rain, shine or even thunderstorms. And many such basic examples. What I have further learnt is that it is not easy to think of it in simple terms but in any case, if, hypothetically, this blog had 1 reader who came back for a blog every day and found no entry even on 1 day(forget an unforgivable 2 days..), the chances that the reader would want to come back is never, and when you talk about a service that caters to a few million customers a day, there is just no choice but to be sustainable…. 😉