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Friday, November 7, 2014

Piece of Paper brings Peace of Mind

Maintaining to-do list is one of the must have practise for a productive daily work.
My to-do list on Nov 6, 2014
We all think that we are super intelligent and can store our to-do's on our mind and recollect it much faster. I was also a victim of this thought for past years. As we all love to be organised in a smarter way i tried almost 20+ to-do list software both on desktop and mobile. It eventually added a new to-do task "add to-do to to-do list manager" but did not work out the way i expected.

I often use the sticky notes on my Windows 8 to write short notes and this is how it looked late.

Oops! That's not motivating me to remove any to-do task from the list, it was only growing and i could not see much improvement. I thought this is eco-friendly and would help me look at it any time and of course it was available to me at ease but did not meet the purpose. I mean did not help me much on finishing the to-do list.

It was by accident i noted Mr. Ranjith B Nambiar (My manager is previous job) was using his pen and paper note to list down his tasks every day and strike out tasks one-by-one after finishing it. First i looked at it and suggested him to use a web based tool to manage to-do but he said he is fine with it. I thought it was waste of pen and paper in this modern world.

After few days I was tempted to try this to-do list management using pen and paper, started my day with listing down my pending tasks and scheduled work. It was a long list and i found though i felt everything was on my mind, when listed on paper the list was long i realised lot to do for the day. Prioritised the list and was working one by one, struck the finished tasks. By end of the day i felt much satisfied for spending valuable time really working on the tasks rather than wasting time on remembering the to-do tasks.

The most happiest feeling was when I stick the finished tasks one after the other. When I flip back, it also helps me to see if there is any task pending for more than days. This is the moment i felt "Piece of paper brings peace of mind".

From then, I started practising to maintain my to-do list on a book with date and flip through to see backlogs. On practising this process, I also included how i spent the day and on which task with time taken, before leaving office on a corner of the page.

This is some thing i learnt and now this helps me feel good to go to bed without worrying about any to-do task to be missed.

How do you maintain your to-do and which works best for you? Please share it on the comment section,

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Going back to college as an entrepreneur after three years

The biggest advantage of going to college according to me is the alumni network. The best schools are made of strong alumni support.

About the Event
The department of Computer Science and Engineering, School of Computer Science and Technology of Karunya University (KU) conducted the second national IEEE STEP EVENT 2014 on “GROOMING ENGINEERS AS ENTREPRENEURS” on 27th October 2014. IEEE-Young Professional, Madras Section. The objective of this event is to transform budding engineers as entrepreneurs.

In this regard CSE department of KU invited Mohankumar Swaminathan, an alumnus to be the resource person for the session “Spark of Inspiration” for one hour duration to talk on "Show inspirations of start-ups; Alumni-Start-ups; Incubation Advantages".

My Preparation:
Thinking about going back to my college was early waiting moment, that too for delivering a guest session for a national level event to talk to my own juniors made me work over nights to make sure I give my best.

First, when I decided to prepare, one thing that came to my mind was NOT to make it a boring session. It's NOT about, I got a stage to proudly say what we did, instead i was very keen on take away i wanted to pass on to students.

While i was studying in college, I would start opening my text book just few hours after our study hours in night. But this time absolute opposite, spend more than days digging all my previous tweets and started to put it up in one PPT and organised.

I wanted to make sure even the photos and references i use should be from Karunyans. And when a junior listens to me his expectation would be more of brotherhood. So I need to be open minded to say real inside out, give tips and build bonding.

My Talk


My Experience:
Got up early, grabbed some breakfast at home, got into car on a drizzling climate and took a back seat to make sure I enjoy every second of my travel recollecting my college days. Its about 40 kms from my home and while i entered the college area, I still couldn't accept that it's been three years since I left this place. Smile built up itself and was measuring every step I had recollecting moments spent with friends and teachers.

My session was second in morning and with the above PPT walked them through how we lived in Karunya? and how i was able to find co-founders and build a small start-up from our own hostel rooms.

Had lunch in our hostel mess, went to my department. Had chance to interact with staffs who believed in me even when i was in college being an average student.

News coverage:

HTcampus: http://www.htcampus.com/article/workshop-grooming-engineers-entrepreneurs-karunya-university/

Being an alumni
Getting out of college with a campus placement would be a great thing for us at that moment, but the real happiness for teachers is when you go back visit them and share your industry experience with juniors. It's our responsibility to make sure we keep in touch with our college/department often and give back what ever we learnt to the juniors.

We schedule our vacation and family outing, it's equally important to visit our college every year to meet our juniors, staff and contribute as much as possible. Alumni contribution is very much important to build a strong freshers out of college.

Would like to listen to your experiences on helping or guiding your juniors after coming out of college. Lets get to know your experience in the comments section.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Come out of your comfort zone: 1st entrepreneur lesson learnt

Being first generation entrepreneur is not that easy, there is always a fight between your thought and heart, common sense and business sense.

Image Source: https://flic.kr/p/eiFJk3

The first comfort zone we break as an entrepreneur is accepting to take risk on our own. Yes, I do agree but that's just the beginning. It took nearly six months for me to understand the importance of coming out of my comfort zones.

Some of the comfort zone which i had came out are,
  • Starting up on a very new domain in my life (Recruitment)
  • Taking up a role that I always wish not to be in (Sales and marketing)
  • Compromising on living an upper middle class lifestyle
  • Travelling on most affordable mode of travel
  • Skip unnecessary spending
  • Moving from boss attitude to leader attitude (teach your team hands-on)
Mind voice: Why should I come out of comfort zone?
Bootstrapping a start-up is not that smooth process. All your contacts who used to listen to you when you were with a title "xyz" will not expect you to listen to them now. It could be easy for an outsider to think you are living on your own world and comfortable but the reality is totally different.

It's important to unlearn all those corporate things you learnt and the comfort zone we lived. The best way in start-up is to DIY (Do-It-Yourself) model which required you to break your comfort zone and do even the plumbing work for your start-up.
"The crying baby gets the milk" 
Let me know the comfort zones you had broken so far.

Learn to Unlearn

One of the best practice which most of our education system doesn’t teach us is the importance of unlearning the assumptions we carry.
Image Source: http://www.quotes.center/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/beautiful-quotes-for-share-14053562654gn8k.jpg
Mind voice: Are you a Yoda fan?
Me: Nope, I came to know Yoda is a fictional character in the Star Wars just today.
Mind voice: Don’t say me you never watched Star Wars?
Me: I swear, I didn’t yet. Used above banner as it match with my blog topic.
Over the recent days, I come to a validated result that all our assumptions stop us from thinking beyond. We always underestimate most things saying “c’mon! I knew how this works, so this won’t fit”. This is a pure laziness to unlearn our assumption.

People use to say that we are not using our brain to the extent we could. But the fact is we are unable to learn beyond certain point due to the assumptions that had created by the things we had learn so far. It’s not just enough to keep us up-to date with all that we need to learn, it’s equally important to unlearn certain things which are unnecessary.
Mind voice: Given me an example, let me see if unlearning is worth it.
Me: Okay, let me try

Why do I say unlearning is so important?

From my previous experience, I strongly believe that change is the only thing which is constant in this super fast world. If you still keep remembering unnecessary sad memories it would be your first enemy to pull your leg. Just unlearn your worries to start learn more on shaping your life much happier than before.

You would have seen many of your friends changed after few years. Your distance increases and the wave length mismatch, finally you end up getting used to his/her new life. Knowingly or unknowingly we unlearn our previous assumptions on our friends and get ready to accept the change. This seems to be a default human behavior but the fact is when you realize that unlearning is much important to learn again, we take life easy.
Mind voice: Are you trying to say “just forget” the past?
Me: For sure, NO. You need to learn lesson from your experience at the same time unlearn only the assumptions you have made.
Mind voice: You are really complicating this man. Say me clearly.
Me: Okay, Just unlearn what were i said before. Learn from lessons; unlearn your assumptions. Clear now?
All the miracles and impossibles are made possible just because someone unlearn what we all learnt. He/She had unlearnt their learning to make sure they make us learn something new.

Do you agree with “learn to unlearn” is important and it’s mandatory in this changing ecosystem?

Big Slap and Then Realized I Need to STOP Saying YES to Everything

With my personal and professional experience and from my peer network recently i understood the importance of saying NO.
Image Source : http://flic.kr/p/f9Kxp1
Mind voice: Are you kidding me by teaching to simply say NO?
Me: Saying NO is not that easy.

Why should you STOP saying YES?

  • When you want to focus on some thing then the first challenge is to boldly say NO to other things.
  • By saying YES, you are allowing others to start building an expectation from your end.
  • “Learn to say “NO”. If someone asks for your help and you don’t have the time or energy, be honest and admit you can’t offer your assistance at the moment. It can be hard to turn requests down (especially from those close to you), but the more you pile on your plate, the less productive you’ll be – and the more stressed out you’ll become.
  • More than anything some times your silence is also taken as YES often, so be bold enough to say NO.
  • If you say YES to everything; people will think you have lot of free time than them.
  • If you are used to say YES then you may loose control of what you are focusing on.
  • Don’t say YES just because others are nodding their head, you always need to think deeply.
Mind voice: Okay ok, But what is that big slap in the title of this post?
Me: Oh ya, let me brief it too.

The Big Slap

  • When I was not aware of start-up ecosystem I said YES to regular 9-6 job.
  • I also was unable to say NO because i said YES to all the challenges given to me.
  • After two years I understood, I was kept busy because i started to say YES to everything.
  • When one day I looked back I found I’m moving slow and my track is already diverted.
  • Just because my parents wanted me to learn by working, i witnessed that salary is an addiction. Once you started enjoying money getting credited to your account every month you will start getting adopted by compromising yourself. (Mrs. Iswarya Shakthi Sis, I acknowledge it now)
  • I then realize this is not my cup of tea.
The costliest learning by investing nearly three years of my youth energy is STOP saying YES to everything.
Mind voice: My HR team or my boss should not send me a memo for the below picture.
Me: No way man, you have a note below ;)

Note: All the above are my personal view it does not have any relationship with any of the organization, company or person in particular.

If you also feel one need to STOP saying YES to everything, please share the reason in comment’s section below.

Don't Improve by Adding Features, Improve by Solving Problems

The greatest lesson I learned last year during building MVP for my upcoming start-up is “Don’t improve by adding features, improve by solving problems”.

Image credit: http://flic.kr/p/ctCrKu
Right from my college days i use to spend more time in developing products rather than in regular academics. As my favorite quote says,
“Unlearn regular process to innovate!”
I kept myself out from wasting four years of engineering just by studying age old books and started to follow start-ups and how to build an internet company?.

Last year i got an idea and found that there is no unique player in the market to solve the problem. So, started working to gather more information on it and decided to reconnect with our tinywall team to build a web based product to solve the problem.

We gathered together, discussed a lot and decided on technologies to build the product. The team was so eager and enthusiastic. We listed down all the features and commit into GitHub was regular. Within two months the so called MVP was ready to show to investors on our development URL.

With lot of energy and excitement we did meet some of the angel investors in Bangalore. Almost all the investors showed interest on the idea but consider the fact we did not have the domain knowledge on the product and this is not a fully technology based start-up they asked us to come back after we have few customers.

The investors are least bothered about what are the features you have build until the product have a paying customer on-board. The core focus for them is what is the problem? and does the MVP methodology adopted by us will solve the core problem.

This is when i came across a tweet, which really asked me,
Now we are building the product with more focus to address the solution rather than concentrating on the features list.

My mission for 2014 is to start-up and cultivate entrepreneurship.

If you are an entrepreneur, an investor or a well wisher please let me know your tips in comments section below.

How I Wish to See Engineering College Practical Exams in India

Image credit: 
Mind voice: Let this blog post not be my confession (college days)
Me: No worry! This is different.
Every engineering student has a prayer to get the easiest program like Fibonacci series in their practical exam. I too had!
When I sit in fresher interview panel i wish to see their github contribution and blog rather than their well drafted resume.

Why don’t the evaluation methodology of practical exams improve?

Mind voice: First say what is the methodology you wish to propose? We will let you know whether it will improve or not.
I hate the concept of 3 hours exam to evaluate your practical skill. Instead of wasting time in reinventing the wheel and vomiting the same code on practical exam, students can contribute to open source community.
Mind voice: Sounds complicated man! Explain in simple English.
Consider the following
  • Students have 6 months for one semester, they have approximately 2 class every week for 5 months. (3 hrs * 2 classes * 4 weeks * 5 months = 120 hours)
  • There is a huge gap between industry need and academic curriculum
  • Github have more than 10 million Repositories
  • Reading resumes are boring for interviewer
Learn the open source way
  • Create an account in any revision control system like GithubGoogle CodeSourceforge etc.
  • Pick any open source project of your interest on the practical lab language
  • Fork and start understanding the application and follow the development road map.
  • Pick any module from road map or any task from the issue
  • Code it yourself and give a pull request
  • If your code meets the coding standard, quality assurance and functionality then the lead developer will accept the pull request and your code will be added to the next release.
  • Your name is also added to contributes list and you are solving a real time problem with your skill set
Advantages to student
  • Student name will be in credit list when the project is released
  • Satisfaction in contributing to the open source community
  • Social coding helps to stay connected and learn more
  • He/she will be industry ready
  • Up-to-date on technology standards
  • Experience to work on enterprise application development
  • Improve coding standard
  • Understand the importance of testing and documentation
Advantages to instructor
  • Full code control on repositories
  • No need to review the code as the code is already accepted by the industry experts.
  • Instead of reading the same old age coding, it would be interesting to see your students solve the real time problem on a open source project
  • No way for plagiarism
  • You can be the leader who “walk the talk”.
  • Students will have more respect on seeing your code contribution to the community on open source projects
Change I wish to see by this method
  • Soon India will move from being a software service provider country to a quality software product development country
  • Colleges to seed the courage to make every engineer student into an entrepreneur and start-up on their own.
I wish today’s schools and colleges adopt this type of win-win learning path. It’s time for us to realize now a days knowledge is Learning-by-doing.
Note: I studied in an engineering college so wrote to my fellow juniors knowing the process followed but the above could be applied to any degree.
Do you wish feel this way of learning makes sense? Please let me know your comments below.

New Year's Resolution (2014)

Wish you all a very happy new year 2014!

I had good fun being at MG road, Bangalore at mid night 00:00 with @karthi_govind and Kadiyala Aditya.

Fine lets come to the topic, as usual I did list down few of the habits and skills i would like to cultivate this year. After deep thoughts put in, I decided to start writing my personal blog this year.
Mind voice: Okay man cool! but what’s new?
Me: How could host a blog without paying to web server?
Mind voice: Come on man! you proclaim as the so called open source “solutions consultant”, solve this now!
Me: I had four options to choose Wordpress.com, Tumblr, Blogger or Github.

  1. Wordpress : Nope! I did not like the way wordpress.com force display ads on our blog post when its a free package.
  2. Tumblr: Nope again! Felt awesome for personal blogging but still was not happy as i would end up on a Yahoo product.
  3. Blogger: Nope please! I do not want it to happen as Google Reader (My favorite RSS reader).
  4. Github: Yeah cool! Having prior experience in hosting my website using Github Pages, felt okay let me give a try.
Then found out Jekyll is the best static website generation for Github Pages.
Mind voice: Hey hold on, its on Ruby man! Ha ha you never wrote a “hello world” other than LAMP :D
Me: So what! let me give a try. I have @kjaikeerthi who is an expert in RoR. He is just a dial away.
Some time back Vaibhav Rajput said on a facebook comment there exist a blogging framework for Github Pages called OctoPress
Meanwhile I also recollected @ArnDvd published his blog post in Github using Jekyll.
Finally decided to go with Octopress as its a blogging framework for hackers and could be deployed on Github Pages for free.
Mind voice: I don’t know why you are writing so technical when you have Tinywall.info and you said this is your personal blog.
Me: Oh yeah! let me not delete the above just go ahead writing why I choose blogging as new year resolution?
Basically for five reasons
  • Writing personal dairy are out dated; so practice personal blogging
  • Improve my writing skills
  • Open up, Express and exchange
  • Add new technology (Ruby) to my skill set
  • Test drive on SEO and SMO
  • Increase page ranking for my website
What do you feel about my this year resolution? please let me know below via comments.

Note: Github Pull request welcome!

Update:
Oct 26, 2014: Moved my blog to blogger as i was feeling lazy to keep the github repo in local and write articles. Meanwhile felt it would help in SEO much better.