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Wake up XXIX - How do you judge a book?

We are taught from childhood in moral science classes, "Don't judge a book by its cover". And in the corporate world one is often told, "First impression is the best impression". 'First impression' in most cases means the book cover, the background design in the case of a presentation, the ad for a new product, the look for a new food item and the face in the case of a person.

No matter how consciously we try to follow the first saying we somehow seem hardwired with the second one. I remember reading about a research being conducted where they were testing to see if babies also differentiated based on faces - do they smile more on seeing pleasing faces? Maybe they do just like all of us do but fear not if you are one of those whose photos would not be smiled at. Even Miss MilkyWay will not be considered beautiful by every single person on Earth - there will be some who say she isn't the most beautiful on Earth itself, let alone the entire galaxy!

With the concept of designer babies coming up, maybe in future parents would literally design babies like we design websites today. Thankfully, "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder"! - Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (novelist)

Some interesting quotes about beauty:

"I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may, — light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful." - John Constable (a painter)
"For every beauty there is an eye somewhere to see it.
For every truth there is an ear somewhere to hear it.
For every love there is a heart somewhere to receive it"
- Ivan Panin
"Beauty is an ecstasy; it is as simple as hunger. There is really nothing to be said about it. It is like the perfume of a rose: you can smell it and that is all." - W. Somerset Maugham (a novelist)

Go on and be yourself...

Wake up XXX - Be prepared

There were a couple of events happened lately that drew my attention. First event was what was splashed across all Indian papers in the last couple of weeks – Jeffery Archer's trip to India.

Of course everyone reading this would know that he is a famous author and all. The interesting part was an interview where he said that he actually writes for 8 hours every day till he completes the draft. He follows a daily schedule of writing for 2 hours, taking a break for 2 hours and again writing for 2 hours and so on. Just goes to prove again that realizing your dreams or goals or fulfilling your ambition takes a lot of effort.

The next event was something that happened in the recent past; in early 2007 a large financial institution purchased a fund that was started by a group of employees who left Morgan Stanley a few years earlier. Hardly anyone expected that the next CEO for the purchasing company would be a person from this fund group. The purchasing company was the citi that never sleeps (Citigroup) and in December 2007 Vikram Pandit was appointed CEO. Just imagine being appointed CEO of such a large company quite suddenly and unexpectedly. Which brings the Scout's motto to mind: BE PREPARED. You never know what might come your way.

"Be prepared for what?", someone once asked Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting.
"Why, for any old thing", said Baden-Powell.

Wake up XXXI - The power is yours

A friend was talking about change a few days back and I was telling him how reluctant we are to change ourselves. Unless we have that external push we don't change anything; we (just like any other body), continue to remain in a state of inertia till some external force is applied. Newton's first law holds good for us just like it does for any other body (talk about universal rules!). I am reminded of the catchphrase "The power is yours" by Captain Planet; it is all in our hands and minds; it is no one but ourselves placing barriers around us and giving excuses (just like they show in the Boost ad); giving excuses to remain in our state of inertia.   On a related note, there was this snap I noticed last week of an athlete playing wheelchair tennis. Playing normal tennis is enduring enough; imagine playing it from a wheelchair with the same set of rules as regular tennis except that the ball is allowed to bounce twice - they even have their own tennis championships and the sport is part of the Paralympic games (Paralymic Games which are for athletes with disabilities are held every four years after the Olympic games).   Wheelchair tennis took off when an 18 year old American kid Brad Parks who loved sports met with an accident that left him paraplegic; he wanted to play again and with help from friend Jeff Minnenbraker the two went about developing a customized wheelchair and publicizing the sport.   Do check out the video of a semifinal match played in the Athens paralymic games. You should see it to realize the difficulties involved in motoring the wheelchair with your arms and then striking the ball.   The power and choice is yours...

Wake up XXXII - The great man who looked at minute details!

Here was a big industrialist heading one of the largest organizations in India during the independence years and he wrote a detailed feedback to the manager of the Ashoka hotel, providing feedback on what types of bulbs should be used, how the dressing tables should be arranged and what curtains should be used! People even sought his advice when their companies wanted to buy airplanes because he had vast knowledge in them.

He became famous in the world of forwards as well – I'm sure all of you must have read about the story of a lady who sent a letter to him asking why there was discrimination in his office; why the advertisement had the statement "lady candidates need not apply". The lady was later called for interview and appointed as well.

He gave feedback to his managers on the buses he took and airplanes he traveled in (he headed Air India) paying attention to fine points like the refreshments served, cups being used, magazines issued and even about air flow in an airplane.

We're talking about Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata (JRD Tata). He led the Tata group for over 50 years. He never completed university but he educated himself by studying after office hours.

"You aim for perfection, you will attain excellence", JRD Tata.

(And in case you are still wondering who that lady was, try to find it out yourself! She sure is famous and very grateful to JRD Tata).