Happy Diwali

Happy Diwali 2014

Happy Diwali
Happy Diwali

Some highs which makes Diwali all the more sweet for me –

  • More than a year complete at 13 Llama Studio
  • We shifted to a brand new office
  • We are going to our alma mater for summer placements
  • All’s well on the home front
  • The kids are going to be alright :-)

 

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Blogging and I

I started blogging back in 2003 when I was preparing for the Common Aptitude Test (CAT) and wanted to vent out my thoughts somewhere.

Story so far

Back then I was not aware of the multiple blogging platforms or the different CMS’es available. Thus, I ended up on Rediffblogs! I don’t think they are around anymore!

Blogger

After getting an admit from IIM Indore in 2004, life became much more hectic and the blog lapsed into a period of silence. The next time when I thought to take up blogging (and this is because second year is always a little less jam packed than the first), was in 2005. This time, I started off with Blogspot/Blogger engine by Google. To add to this, Google Analytics had already launched and as s I was keen on using this in conjunction with Google Adsense.

WordPress

Post IIM Indore, I joined a start-up based out of Hyderabad. That was the time when I started experimenting on WordPress … and the different blogging platforms made the shift from Blogger to WordPress a bit difficult. However, I realized that the jump had to be made and jump I did.

It’s been around 7 years that I am now on WordPress and over those years, I have managed to post around 600 blog posts (the last one less than an hour back – on Techies in DOTA2).

Change in Writing Style & Content

I started my blog as a place where I could articulate my thoughts, an online diary of sorts. It was also a place where I could pen down thoughts too complex or too controversial to discuss in public. Just like this post, it was more personal and was a conversation starter of sorts.

However, as I started working on Content Marketing, I realized that the world needs more informative content and useful articles as opposed to simple food for thought. People on the internet search for solutions to their problems … the how to’s and tips were written by me after that ponit.

Unfortunately, writing these type of posts does not excite me. Do not get me wrong, I love generating traffic on my blog and having a blog which has nary under 2000 visitors a month. But writing content that’s too simple or does not appeal to the writer within me slowly kills my drive to write more of such stuff.

Similarly, I shifted from random musings to all things tech and digital analytics and finally to games. I still blog about analytics and games though. I still have not settled on my sweet spot, but ever since my wife has started consistently blogging about Pathare Prabhu Recipes, it has given me inspiration to blog at a renewed pace!

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Creating a safe working place for Employees

I read about the recent Julie Horvath issue which is out there on the internet, and thought that I might share some of my experiences on this topic.

In case if you are not familiar with the Julie Horvath issue, Google it, or simply head over to TechCrunch who gave Julie’s side of the story.

tl;dr – Julie was an employee at GitHub who quit after feeling threatened at work

GitHub have tried to clean things up with a sincere and apologetic reply to Julie. They have taken some prompt action and that’s what matters.

So what went wrong?

In the entire episode, Julie must have felt threatened at work. Imagine having to battle out on multiple fronts with multiple people … and apart from that handle work as well. The nausea an employee might feel with so much politicking going on is natural. Who would not quit?

One of the most basic requirements of an employee (keep this term in mind folks) implicitly wants, is to feel secure. Be it financially, physically and mentally. These are the very basic requirements, if these are threatened, then the employee is bound to quit. If I were to use Maslow’s hierarchy as a model, then these would be the hygiene factors.

In letting a non-employee (the founder’s wife) sit within the working premises next to Julie, the physical security was in question. The mental security was being questioned by the love lost colleague and the founder in question. Add to it the way the organization reacted with radio silence and hushed tones, the financial security was also put in question. The next move should have been obvious, perhaps the reaction of the organization might have been to incite this move. The GitHub blog update suggests other wise, but we will never know that shall we?

Personal Catharsis

The reason I chose to write about this matter, is because recently we had a similar situation at work. One of our earlier employees went through this insecurity … thanks to my behaviour. It took some time for me to reflect and talk to a few other founders to understand what drove this employee in question to leave … leave at such a short notice. Do I regret this, yes. Did we lose a good player, perhaps. Can this be avoided in the future, definitely.

It’s a lesson learned for me that employees are not to be treated as co-founders. You can cross certain boundaries with co-founders … those boundaries are a strict no-no with employees … even if these are the people who help you grow your organization.

Sometimes, the founder can go to extraneous lengths to retain employees … not because the organization cannot survive without them, but because of the achievements that individual can do if properly channelled. In doing so, lines are crossed … sometimes it helps in bonding the individual closer to the organization … almost like a trial by fire. Sometimes, it backfires … and even worse spreads like wildfire on social media.

In Julie’s own words, what the founder did was to retain her at the organization … however things escalated to such an extent that the very opposite happened. This is what would happen when you mix professional relationships with personal ones. In trying to build a personal relationship with your team, you sometimes cross the boundary. Most of the times it pays off.

So what should a founder do?

A start-up would always face this issue. In order to do greater things, the team has to work outside its zone of comfort … constantly. How then do you build this sense of security within the team?

One simple approach would be to not fraternize with the team. I have seen many a good start-up founders do that … and to good effect. Reduce the fraternization only during moments of celebration.

One of my clear learning from the past episode is work towards fostering a sense of security for the employees … so that means take all conflict discussions offline. Conflicts which endanger the sense of security should not be openly discussed.

What I am saying is to clearly have two separate levels of information parity. What are the things that you have tried at work and it has paid off?

PS – I don’t have all the answers, however I am learning as I journey on.

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Happy New Year 2014

This post took some time to write, I wanted to post this much earlier … bygones.

As the world wakes up to a new year, it brings forth many opportunities to do great things … it ushers in a growth on the personal and hopefully the business front. Here’s looking at the past year and how it has panned out …

Goodbye Employment

After a decade of working in the senior management team for other businesses, I have finally launched a design and development company in Mumbai.

I have always been on the other side of the IT outsourcing business (where I represent the client). On almost all occasions (barring a few agencies), I felt that the quality of services provided were not justified for the charges. So instead of complaining, I decided to join the other side and sort things out for myself.
In the past couple of years, I had a few product ideas which never came to fruition as I was not spending enough time on them. With a services firm, I get to spend the weekends on those ideas and weekdays on sustaining these ideas. Of course this would not have been possible without the support of family, friends and even past organizations that I have worked with!
I am grateful for the opportunity that you have provided and thanks!!

The kids start school

Both Anasuya and Malhar will start schooling this year. The trials we had faced during admission had prepared for my son’s admission procedure, but it was not until the fee payment structure that was given out till we breathed a sigh of relief.
Surprising that parents face up this tension every year!!

Resolutions

Last year, I had resolved to do the following things –

  • Write more frequently on this blog – 67 posts last year
  • Stop writing about games and start writing about tech
  • Wake up early and start the day at 7am

Here is my report card for the 2nd resolution, I took the report from my blog’s Google Analytics account

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I managed to stick to these two resolutions, but failed miserably on the third. This year, the idea would be to keep working on the failed resolution.

As for the other resolutions, I frankly believe that a content driven approach even for a hobby can lead to tremendous fulfillment. I will keep writing about things that drive me and keep up the tempo. The last month has seen many ups and downs, and these keep taking me away from the writing, but as I write this post, I realize that the more I write, the easier it is to articulate my thoughts.

Here’s wishing you a Happy 2014!

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