Friday, March 28, 2008


I have a friend - one of the most intelligent in terms of all-round emotional and rational yin-yang - but not in the league of the geniuses I saw in IIT (I saw only one genius in my entire IIM batch).

He's running his own company and it 's always a pleasure to speak with him. What I love is that his world-view is emerging from the risks he's taken. For example, in a discussion today on firing , many of his thoughts echoed Welch's own tho' he's not read Welch. Perhaps, they went a little beyond too. I recalled a similar conversation with another friend running a startup two years ago in Bangalore. The parallel was that both of them had gone through the teething problem of doing their first firing in a market where resources for fledgling startups is very tough to get.

One of the geniuses I knew of went to Harvard after topping in the IIT. Before that he worked in Microsoft Seattle for two years. After Harvard, he moved on to McKinsey US.


But if instead of Microsoft, the top company would have been, say, I2, I know he would have gone there. In the end, he just kept hitting the topmost band of whatever he could get. There was no pursuit of passion that he was risking for. Just following his own herd - small tho' it be.

In engineering, I was obsessed with genius.

There were guys who farted it, there were guys who didn't have it.

After almost a decade, it is the latter who surprises me right now.

These are the guys out of job for two years, risking careers/lives for ideals. Not the guys converting their genetically endowed assets to the hottest currency of the day - IB, Consulting, Harvard, Mac, IIM, whatsoever. Of course, there are exceptions - guys who would work for the Microsofts and Macs even if they were not the "hottest" jobs in the market and the guys were toppers from IIM. Exceptions in the same vein as albinos, black swans, six fingers and beauty with brains.

Very funnily, a friend on this trip told me that he was looking for self-actualization this way. But the fact is that the actualization is not self driven at all! It is market driven - big moolah, rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty, hot shot, etc. Some of them might go to build their own companies - but I am not talking about just startups per se - even that is a cliche now - guy with top network putting together something with media hype or those horrible juvenalia reeking with BGOs posturing as corporate books. I am talking about self-actualization. Finding what the self is and then actualizing on that. Unfortunately, the former goes with years, if not entire life, of heart-wrenching self-doubt and swimming upstream.

Basically, guts.

I am still forming my thoughts around this and will get back on this. Coz this is basically a reevaluation of my value set. My aim is to steer my own life around this value set; that is if I have the guts to do it.

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