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Life Beyond Resumes

Having pretty much wasted my 4 years at IIT without learning much, I was determined to not repeat that mess, ever. So when I joined my MBA, I was focused and doing well academically. But it created another problem -- I became greedy for top grades and felt like only...

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Too Much is Too Much

Two decades ago, during a lunch at some government function, I first met Mr. Karunakaran, former Chief Minister of Kerala. On his plate, there was just one appam (a dosa-like item) with some vegetable stew. Seeing him eat so little, I later asked his aides, ‘He ate so...

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Hard or Easy: It’s All in the Mind

During our Civil Services training in Mussoorie, one day, our physical training (PT) instructor announced the upcoming 9-day trek to the Himalayas. For the hardest trek route that led to Roop Kund (>5,000 m), when he asked for volunteers, so many hands went up that...

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Donkey + Donkey = Horse?

In my days as a private equity investor, I learned some interesting lessons about ‘synergies’, horses, and donkeys -- here they are 🙂 Every fund has the usual mix of investments, some good, others not so much. Most investments that do badly, do so for deep underlying...

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Punctuality is the key

During my early days in the Indian Police Service, I was once accompanying a senior officer to a police station for an inspection. While on the way, in the car, this officer was talking about the importance of discipline and timeliness. But ironically, while we were...

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Real tragedies

In 2008, working in New York, every week I would hear about my friends losing their jobs. In the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, every US bank was dead or tottering. Lakhs of people had lost their jobs, houses, and bulk of their savings. I thought I...

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Hardship as a Training Ground

During my training in the Indian Police Service, we had to do a long route march in scorching sun, with a rifle and backpack. What was the point of that? Similarly, if you go for any hardcore military training such as for commandos, they won’t give you a precision...

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Unsung Heroes

When I joined the Indian Police Service, my seniors told me about a Rambo-like officer, who would be out patrolling at night, catching criminals. They told me, ‘He should be your role model.’ After all, that is the kind of officer one gets to see in movies. But years...

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Zig-Zag to Success

Once, while heading to lunch with a Wharton classmate who was a sailing expert, I asked her, 'If a boat needs to sail DIRECTLY against the wind, how would it do that?' She explained the trick: You can't sail directly against the wind. But you can sail up to 45 degrees...

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How to create real value

During my stint with the Indian Police Service, I once got an assignment with barely an hour of work daily. It was a welcome breather after a long back-breaking assignment. Naturally, I would leave the office at 6 pm. My boss, on the other hand, would sit in the...

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The value of deep work and focused effort

A few years ago, a friend volunteered to help me for a few days with my startup. He showed up at my office and after a long discussion, offered to create a detailed execution plan for me. He then left, promising to reconnect in a bit. For the next few hrs, I was...

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