Importance of Failure

I am reminded of the Rich Dad-Poor Dad quote: “Most people are not rich because they are terrified of losing. I have never met a rich person who has never lost money, but have met a lot of poor people who have never lost a dime.”

In a culture so unforgiving of failure, we often force-fit people into path of mediocrity. Mediocre are insipid and are never able to realize their dreams, their full potential. As a culture, we are so obsessed with not failing, we end up not trying… and hence not achieving.

What is important is to try hard so that never again in life you regret the fact that you failed because you did not try enough. However don’t get obsessed with anything. Failure is a part of life and try to learn from it so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes again.

Frank Mondo’s famous theory of PIE (Perfomance, Image & Exposure) has recently caught my imagination. Essentially it means that there has never been a successful sales-person who has never been fired from his job. There has not been any inventor who has not had a string of failures. What is important is “Exposure”, what is it that you have experienced, learned from your past and how can you apply these learnings in your next venture.

Litmus test for morality

My high school Principal had a very simple, yet effective litmus test for morality. If there is something that you have an urge to hide or not take credit for, then most likely that deed/thought was performed for wrong reasons and with malicious intent. In life it is easy to take short-cuts but it will never give you any peace of mind. Choice is yours, do it the right way today or spend twice the energy covering your tracts in the coming days.

Lease not Buy

Everyone realize that cost of ownership of a car is probably as high as maintaining a white elephant. Not only there are regular EMIs to be paid but also weekly fueling bill, 6 monthly service workshop bills & annual insurance payments to be made apart from any additional accident or breakdown repairs. Why can’t I lease the cars rather than buy one and pay a single comprehensive payments…. eg: pay 5,000/- and drive as much as you want for a month all inclusive (except maybe gas/petrol/diesel)

Tesla’s electric cars come with a less than a $ per mile leasing and an unconditional 9 year warranty (even covering user error).

Xerox photo-copiers were available at pay per copy lease. Meaning that customer does not have to pay separately for hardware, refills, paper or repairs.

Even Rols Royce leases aircraft engines at thrust per hour, “pay per flying hour” model.

America sells state of the art defense installations to Canada at PSI (performance -based product support integrator) mode or optimised weapon system support (OWSS). NATO & UK procures arms at Through life customer support (TLCS) contracts.

So from most mundane to state of the art flight and military hardware is available on leasing then why not Cars? Earlier the argument was that people will switch off their odometer/speed gauge to hide the distance traveled, but now there are so many GPS based telematics & navigational tools that can be screwed to the car to make this difficult.

Today the manufacturer has to make many compromises to keep the initial cost low often at an expense of higher upkeep cost. Parking sensors & collision detectors are not very expensive yet most cars don’t have it. My Realtor used to say that installing double ceiling and insulation in the house would reduce the air-conditioning bill by half but nobody want to pay for installing it. Maybe a leasing model will help us get rid of this myopic view and help us make greener, more reliable and economical cars.

Impact of Indians

This week’s economist had an interesting article on Detroit. The opening line really catched my attention. ” City seems filled with people working for exciting startups, a bit like Silicon Valley but with fewer Indians.” Recently yoga pants are making a fashion statement and forcing every jeans manufacturer to rethink their sales & branding strategy.

The entire world is acknowledging the impact Indians are having world-wide but why not in India?

Living in India, I constantly get bombarded with claims about Indian IT, analytic brain, technology, engineering etc. But is it true? Name one Indian product, brand, idea (developed in the recent past) that has had a transformation impact on a global scale? The usual response is to deflect the question.

I always get reminded of my teacher’s pet phrase: “You guys can achieve anything you want… provided you have the aim, determination & right environment” Not sure which of the 3 ingredients is lacking, but surely NRI or people who have emmigrated are more successful.

PS: Yoga, Ayurveda, Buddism and all the other ancient ideas were long forgotten in mainland India and were re-invented abroad. Hence I don’t give Indians credit for it.

Mobo Money: Tap & pay

Carrying small change is always a trouble in India. Esp. Years of inflation has resulted in a user having to carry 60 One Rupee coins to buy something worth a dollar. Some of the smaller denomination coins have been smelted because the metal in them was worth more. Cash-handling in India is so cumbersome that the owner often has to work as a cashier rather than a minimum wager as in most developed countries.

All this makes India an ideal market for a tap and pay solution. Also with the country having one of the highest cellphone tower installations and one of the cheapest telecom costs the market is ideal. Digital payments also install a healthy transparency & billing volume visibility for the owner making it difficult for the employees to pilfer the cash-register.

Many companies & educational institutions have been using ID cards for the cash-less payment in their premises. The RFID chip in the card, photograph of the user & the monthly salary/settlement cycle makes it an ideal. However due to integration issues and the fact that most ids are not compatible with each other (across different organization) this solution has limited applicability outside the premises.

Mobo-Money is TechM initiative to solve this problem. They have launched a sticker which can be affixed anywhere (mobile/id cards etc.) and have received RBI’s approval as a wallet. Hence can be used as universal payment device for all petty transaction.


The product is still in its alpha launch stage and is being tested in the Tech Mahindra (TechM) premises across the nation. The few issues that I faced were:

1. Manual process: Rather than automation reducing the human effort involved in billing, there are still no self-help Kiosk for automated recharge/online recharge

2. The POS does not have a printing mechanism. This makes results in additional attention of the cashier and not saving their time.

3. Unlike the metro cards, these RFID don’t have the balance information. This creates an issue because the server connectivity (over cellphone network) has a latency similar to that seen in Credit card payments… but it is a lot more frustrating when you are waiting for a 10/- (20 cent) payment.

4. Too many sms are going around (on each loading and on discharge). This would be adding a lot to the transaction cost.

5. One of the cafeteria merchant was complaining about the delay in payment. Most vendors and food stall operators work on daily cash & carry model with working capital of 1 day only. Any delay at this end would hurt their business quite bad.

6. Lack of overdraft/credit facility would mean that there would be an additional burden of keeping track of the balance and last minute recharges.

7. Although they are talking of features like online recharge & mobile recharge, I was unable to use them. Also I faced some issue in checking my balance online.

8. Classic chicken and egg situation. The utility/value of this RFID chip increases when more merchants are integrated. Right now I doubt it has any use beyond the cafeteria but things might change by next year.

Is tor making crime easier?

I think the entire glam around crime revolves around making money fast and be the hand that can punish/destroy/kill others. Everybody loves making more money with least effort and given a choice probably 80% of the people around you would join ranks. What is stopping them?

  1. Danger/risk
  2. Lack of opportunity/intelligence on when & where to strike
  3. Mentorship/ absorbing best practices
  4. Connects and partners
  5. Know-how to cover the tracks, launder the money and actually retire safely

Some people argue it is the morals, upbringing & culture that keeps individuals straight, but I believe it is the inability to plan, organize, execute and the risk of a the fallout from a blotched job that pressurizes individuals to think straight. No wonder rise in unemployment/poverty leads to rise in crime… well they have nothing to lose and all the time in the world to plan.

Internet somehow has been able to break all these barriers and tor is even more notorious in this respect. Yes, you might get drowned in a lot of noise, but if you are patient and meticulous enough then you can unearth some real gems. Also interacting over internet while being in the cozy shelter of your own living room is a lot safer than walking in a dark alley and making friends with a suspicious looking character.

Siklroad had converted anybody who was seeking overnight riches into drug dealers. Buying recreational drugs over the internet was perceived to be much safer than going to a shady alley and scouting for a peddler. A lot of sex trade esp. for pedophiles has moved to chat-rooms where sellers from SE Asia are able to sell their kins (sometimes their own flesh and blood) for the highest bidder.

Torchat has become a magnet for all illegal scheming and criminal wannabies. People have scouting for potential partners, managed international logistics and even recruited via torchat. Many first timers have discussed in depth their schemes and invited the audience to shoot holes in the plan.

Mostly internet & chatrooms is populated by armchair dreamers who fantasize of a big heist or running a large organized crime network but there are many individuals who are on the threshold. The therapeutic anonymity of tor network might sway some people to enact their fantasies.