Book Review : Catalyst: The Ultimate Strategies on How to Win at Work 

Do we learn from our experience? What differentiates an experience with a learning experience? How to ensure we learn from experience and be aware of experience as it’s happening and use it to build the knowledge base? That’s this book is all about “Catalyst”

Really a #GoodRead , Catalyst by Chandramouli.
The author, who has a 30+ year track record in Indian industry across sectors, shares his insights and experiences on how to leverage various catalysts that can accelerate your growth and performance. Some of the catalysts he discusses are: learning opportunities, experience algorithm, good bosses and mentors, first half and second half of career, and knowing when to quit. The book is written in an engaging and easy-to-follow style, with real-life examples and anecdotes.

What makes up experience different than learning? The TMRR model!

This book explains how to convert your time and activity into experience by using the TMRR model, which stands for Target, Measure, Review and Reflect.

So we have so many experiences thru out life, but how many times we learn out of it? Example we are part of so many cross functional teams, lead or part of so many projects, how much we learn apart from learning from “burning fingers”.

This TMRR model is one way to deliberately capture those learning from routine experiences.

The book also emphasizes the importance of learning opportunities, which are situations that challenge you and help you grow. It suggests that you should seek out learning opportunities, such as new projects, roles, assignments or geographies, and use the TMRR model to maximize your learning from them

Compact book full of real examples and guiding on how to navigate those challenges.

Some highlights during my book reading

that project leadership is different from thought leadership. As mentioned, major learning cycles more often than not also happen to be important initiatives and projects for organizations

How much experience you extract out of the learning cycle will be driven by how well you applied the TMRR process on the learning cycle!

“Converting time into experience is the very bedrock of real individual growth. An effective TMRR model is the key to converting the time you are spending at work into an experience algorithm that will drive your success in the future”

“Applying the TMRR algorithm on major learning cycles is an exponential way to drive real individual growth.”

“Just building the experience algorithm is not enough. You have to parallelly grow your productivity. Productivity is the means through which you can convert the experience algorithm into results. The key to growing productivity is to focus on the circle of influence and to make sure you allocate your time to the rocks and not the sand”

Day One! Amazing Philosophy of Amazon

blue printer paper
Photo by Startup Stock Photos on

Recently completed reading a #goodread “Amazon Unbound”, a book written by Brad Stone that chronicles Amazon’s journey from its inception until now. The book details how Jeff Bezos studied market trends and innovation while focusing on long-term strategies. It helps us uncover the secret of Amazon’s vitality and understand Bezos’ thought processes.

Day One is one of the most prominent philosophy, that Bezos drive till date, in-fact their head quarter is called Day-One! Its a principle, which like to keep organization dynamic, keeping the same anxiety as day one of launching the stat-up, make everyone super agile to face the challeges, which will be coming during day one on launch.

Any day in a business needs to be treated as Day 1, same excitement and same preparation to face any challenges out of Day1 execution.

Be dynamic, don’t take things for granted, and always look for new experience and learning in the process. Bezos insist to have a start-up mentality. Never get used to uncertainty, never undermine by red tapes, and always work toward end game.

Some examples of use of this principle by Bezos really gives its insight and application. When face a new challenge in existing project e.g Alexa project or Amazon India, they treated these initiatives like a Day-1, Focus on results and not process.

For example, assistance like Siri and Google, who are having huge data from users, for many years, Amazon could develop Alexa withing three years ground up, and which is now performing better than its competitors. Also, Amazon was late entrant in India, and wanted to buy FlipKart to enter in India, however the deal could not go through, rather limiting themselves, they launched the website in six months, and the whole team was working to make it better by each passing day. Such agility in one of the largest corporate in the world, is amazing.

Rather than taking long in aiming and shooting, he want people to keep on shooting and improve the aiming, which then will become consistent by following this regularly!

“The outside world can push you into Day 2 if you won’t or can’t embrace powerful trends quickly. If you fight them, you’re probably fighting the future. Embrace them and you have a tailwind”—Jeff Bezos

The Code Breaker – Book Review

“The discoveries are what endure. We are just passing on this planet for a short time. We do our job, and then we leave, and others pick up the work.” – Emmanuelle Charpentier, co-creator with Doudna

The code breaker another #goodreads from Walter Isaacson, its a Biography of Jennifer Doudna, but reading the book, its also a biography of most powerful gene editing tool CRISPR. Typically to develop a vaccine, it takes somewhere between 8-10 years, however during COVID years, we could get effective vaccine within 8-10 months. Thanks to collaboration across board, but as well as due to availability of gene editing tool CRISPR, which helped build RNA based vaccine. The book traces the history and science of genetic editing, from Darwin to COVID-19.

As they say, with power comes responsibility, the gene editing tool can also modify human DNA permanently, leading to change in germline. i.e. we can make custom babies, have smart solders etc, which is off-course one of the few ethical dilemma discussed in this book.
Got wonderful insights on the journey of getting to this power full tools, as well as advantage of such tools, not only limited to vaccines, but also tools against Cancer, Sickle Cell syndrome etc..
Scientific community are aware of the power of such tools, which can be very well misused by governments, organization and capitalist, nevertheless rather banning the research all together, they like to bring safe-guards as well, which is right approach.
One more insight, people with very less know-how can edit genes in their back yard garage, and one can buy all the needed instruments and equipment to edit gene freely on Amazon! in fact few of such enthusiast developed their own COVID vaccines and tested on their own. (Democratizing gene editing using DIY tools!)

What will happen if this tool becomes available to all? it will be a tip toe effect, suppose you are standing last in a crowded room, and to have a good view, you raise your toe, and stand on tips of the toe, helping you get better view. Now imagine, everyone also stands on tip toe, all are risen by 1~2″, making difficult for all to see the what’s happening, except guys standing in first row (elite)

With some fair reasoning behind how CRISPR can change our lives vs how if not controlled, will lead to a dystopian society.

Highly recommending this book to know the history, present and possible insights in the future.

Some References and good reads –

The LEGO Story

The LEGO Story

What I learned new about LEGO

⁃ Danish company

⁃ Started in 1930s

⁃ It started with wood furniture business

⁃ Ole Kirk took the decision to make simple toys for kids

⁃ Cars, YoYo become its key product

First Price list!

⁃ Largely driven by family values and under influence of Word war 1 and 2

⁃ Very early on tried to involve girls as one of the end consumers, but till date, its products are mostly used by boys.

Early on always questioning use of arms in toys, nevertheless the fist famous product was a wooden toy gun with moving items, portraits as “peace pistol” with ammunition!

⁃ Founder always took risk, gone for more investments in new technologies.

⁃ Founder also went to exhibitions and tried to get more insights on trends, helped him to “copy” LEGO idea.

⁃ Also worked with education community, to press use of toys for intellectual development rather than using it just as a toy. This helped LEGO long term

⁃ Second generation, founder early on got insight to decide which sibling will be taking lead post him.

⁃ Conflict between generation gaps are nicely put forward by second generation (Godtfred k and Kjed K, both mentioned their struggles with their father, unlike Goftfred 2nd generation, it’s more with Kjed, 3rd generation)

⁃ 3rd Generation decided to bring more new management, younger and western philosophy.

⁃ Nicely told story about the cultural shift in the management style, also inclusivity of women in upper management.

Key insights

  • Focus on technology and keep key theme intact during growth.
  • Diversification not only on portfolio but also on approach (physical toys to movies and theme parks)
  • How to ensure the family inheritance to continue and ensure success of LEGO, creation of “LEGO Idea Paper”, set of guidelines helping future generations to get clear vision.
  • LEGO is not the first in “self locking block”, it was Kiddicraft’s self locking block.
  • LEGO’s change in focus from toys to system. Rather creating individual toys, LEGO brought a “system” of creating anything out of blocks.
  • LEGO’s translation from “make anything from blocks” to product which are now coming with “manual” to create complex toys.
  • In 1958, the modern LEGO brick was patented, featuring tubes and studs.

LEGO, then and now!

Cars was one of the first famous toys from LEGO
The Peace Pistol!
Girls are missing LEGO
LEGO Patent

#GoodRead 10% Happier

10% Happier toes the line between being a memoir and self-help book. It focuses on self-help theories at different times within the book, but is less preachy in the way it uses knowledge gleaned from the author’s real-life experiences. The author uses his own personal story as an avenue for exploring religion, mindfulness, and meditation.

Quick Review

Book balance between humour and life lessons, and journey of one to embrace meditation as a lifelong practice

It’s interesting to see, his transformation from a sceptic to follower of a meditation practice. It’s also intriguing to see the challenge which he has faced, are so much same that I can relate to myself. And I think this is also applicable to others. The book is not about “ifs and buts” , it’s about what is it feel like to recognise the inner chatter, calm it down a bit and focus on now.

10 commandments, so to say, is real summary of why and what about meditation. Let me put this for you.

1. Don’t be a jerk

we feel, success needs competition, and it’s opposite to compassion. However, success is possible with compassion only.

2. Hide Zen

Sometimes you need to compete aggressively, plead your own case, or even have a sharp word with someone. It’s not easy, but it’s possible to do this calmly and without making the whole thing overly personal.

3. Meditate

Difficult, but do it 10-15 minute daily. It’s all about acknowledging without any judgement. Let environment tease you, you notice and acknowledge them, and keep breathing.

4. The Price of Security Is Insecurity—Until It’s Not Useful

Okie to have constructive anguish. There’s no point in being unhappy about things you can’t change, and no point being unhappy about things you can

5. Equanimity Is Not the Enemy of Creativity

Mindfulness make us more creative, it tames the mind, to make space for more useful thoughts.

6. Don’t Force It

Embrace ambiguity, take purposeful pause

7. Humility Prevents Humiliation

Put ego aside. Humility helps sanders the edges of ego. Make us more compassionate and approachable.

8. Go Easy with the Internal Cattle Prod

Don’t over do “self criticism”. Listen but don’t accept the inner chatter without a deliberate pause.

9. Nonattachment to Results

Nonattachment to results + self compassion = a supple relentlessness that is hard to match.

10. What Matters Most?

And that’s what we should able to answer. This is “what matter most” to feel anguish about any situation, where you want to react. Pause and ask

Summary in short

Book Review : Four Thousand Weeks

Nobody in the history of humanity has ever achieved “work-life balance”! That’s a powerful statement and validation of a feeling which I was carrying for many decades. I myself giving productivity seminars and coaching people to be productive and get the “work life balance”. Actually, I stopped suggesting people on “work life balance” long time, and was asking for “work life fit” , and I suppose that’s the crack in my belief in Getting Things Done.

Very recently I celebrated my 42nd Birthday, and one of my well wisher has sent me this. 🧐

And I came across this book, 4000 weeks! I lived 2200 weeks approx, and 4000 weeks is what typically a person leave at the age of 80! I just crossed my half life, And luckily this book got me into great revelation.

Master Your Time, Master Your Life

Brian Tracy (Time Management Guru)

This is what I believed, and striving so far to “manage the time”, This dream of somehow one day getting the upper hand in our relationship with time is the most forgivable of human delusions because this book made me understand the alternative, and it is so unsettling.

unfortunately, it’s the alternative that’s true: the struggle is doomed to fail. Because your quantity of time is so limited, you’ll never reach the commanding position of being able to handle every demand that might be thrown at you or pursue every ambition that feels important; you’ll be obliged to make tough choices instead. And because you can’t dictate, or even accurately predict, so much of what happens with the finite portion of time you do get, you’ll never feel that you’re securely in charge of events, immune from suffering, primed and ready for whatever comes down the pike… and that’s the “enlightening moment for me from this book”

Let’s talk about the book

By Oliver Burkeman,

lovely and short book on making us understand the concept of Finitude. The finite amount of time we have, and rather than spending this finite amount of time in struggling to manage it, how to be more effective by being in present and utilising it.

Key Take Aways

Patience become a form of power
In a world geared for hurry, the capacity to resist the urge to hurry—to allow things to take the time they take—is a way to gain purchase on the world, to do the work that counts, and to derive satisfaction from the doing itself, instead of deferring all your fulfillment to the future.

Hobbies have acquired this embarrassing reputation in an era so committed to using time instrumentally.
I’m also guilty of this feeling. Sometime hobbies become kind of mandate, pushing me to consume me time under hobby to help me be more productive. Hobbies on other hand should help me relax not make me more busy. Kind a oxymoron.

Be in present.
You’re so fixated on trying to make the best use of your time—in this case not for some later outcome, but for an enriching experience of life right now—that it obscures the experience itself. A more fruitful approach to the challenge of living more fully in the moment starts from noticing that you are, in fact, always already living in the moment anyway, whether you like it or not.

basic mistake—of treating our time as something to hoard, when it’s better approached as something to share.

What would it mean to spend the only time you ever get in a way that truly feels as though you are making it count? It’s never late to find yourself doubting the point of what you’re doing with your life, because it demonstrates that an inner shift has already occurred. we are no more preoccupied with the thoughts, ignoring the facts.

The real truth. that what you do with your life doesn’t matter all that much—and when it comes to how you’re using your finite time, the universe absolutely could not care less.

My mindmap

Book summary

Book Review: Ringtone: Story of Nokia

Ringtone: Exploring the Rise and Fall of Nokia in Mobile Phones

By Yves L. Doz and Keeley Wilson

Nokia, which easily can be termed as the most innovative company, helped bring the mobile revolution which currently we are in, adapting the need of being connected 24×7, and at its peak having more than 40% market share and a true leader. Though unnoticed many of us don’t know Nokia still exists and is the world’s largest 5G infra company and still innovating. But what touched us is the Nokia Mobile Company, and this book is about its rise and fall. Breaking general misconception and reasons behind its fall.

Against the general perception of failure due to not looking ahead or lack of innovation, the reason behind the fall of Nokia Mobile company is due to a change in business model to a matrix organisation 

That’s the summary of why Nokia mobile failed so miserably, it’s just because of poor execution of matrix organisation. And that’s what interests me, as a leader myself, justifying the use of matrix organisation for better productivity, it’s even important to understand the consequences of its poor execution. This book covers all those aspects with Nokia as a centrepiece. Whereat all the phases of it, we were touched as a consumer or as heartbroken engineers to see the fall of such a beautiful product company.

Small trivia

Before I begin the review of this book, let me share how mammoth the Nokia is. We always see it’s mobile and thinks Nokia started as a mobile company and ended as one. However, it’s surprising to know Nokia started as a Cable company in Finland in the 1800s, moved to Telecom infra in the 1900s, followed by infra for the first car telephone and diversified with the mobile decision in the late 1990s

What this book Is about

It tries to answer following questions, which generally we also want to know.

  • Could Nokia’s decline have been unavoidable—just an extreme case of Schumpeterian creative destruction?
  • Was it an instance of organizational evolution and adaptation gone astray down a dead end in the face of disruption and business model change?
  • Was this a failure of management volition—the wrong strategic decisions, poor choices of organization, inadequate management processes, weak leadership, and bad timing?

Some insights

Nokia always had the edge with its strong innovation. For example, although Sharp launched the first camera phone in 2001, it was Nokia’s camera phone released the following year which really changed the landscape, providing not only superior picture resolution but also picture-sharing applications that paved the way for multi-media communication. This product innovation came from fifteen labs around the world and a number of technical cooperation projects and partnerships.

Beyond product innovation, Nokia’s success was supported by an innovative and highly efficient supply chain system that had been built in the 1990s. Through this, Nokia was able to achieve much lower prices from suppliers than its competitors and ramp up new production lines to full capacity in a matter of days. In the 1990s it had also mastered lean production and Japanese quality processes and organized its integrated manufacturing around a few key regional hubs in Europe (Finland, Germany, Hungary), Asia (China), and North America (Mexico).

Just as success often results from many small positive steps, the roots of failure can usually be found in multiple small mistakes, which seem manageable when viewed in isolation. However following this book we can see small cracks, however, they are evident now, and could not be avoided in the actual scenario. For example communication gap between R&D and Sales and Marketing lead to ultimate failure with the Symbian operating system. Though a leader in OS development themselves, delay in adapting Android and working with Microsoft’s half-cooked mobile platform led to the last nail.

CORE principle

Author has evaluated the various ups and downs in Nokia with CORE dimensions .

  • C Cognition: this is what leader saw during that phase at Nokia, and strategise
  • O Organisation : it’s outing strategy to action
  • R Relationship : it’s about relationship with people.
  • E Emotions : Emotions are at play during various phases, this is what impacts the relatioy

My MindMap

Key Takeaway

  • Shifting from Symbian to Microsoft OS, Nokia overestimated brand loyalty and weren’t innovative enough
  • Decision made in 2001-05 made its impact in decline in 2013-15. Management need to be mindful of its long term impact.
  • Strategic foresight and intellectual leadership would have no value if not acted upon.
  • Poor management choices contributed to strategic stasis.
  • Successful past commitments leave a legacy
  • Outside parties, customers, major shareholders, strategic partners, industry pun- dits, and regulators can excessively and unduly influence one’s sense-making, particularly in adhering to a “being close to customers” logic.
  • Failure of cognition may not result from ignorance or lack of information, or even poor foresight, but from inadequate sense-making—i.e. not making effective sense of available information.
  • Management systems and processes have to acknowledge the irrepressible influ- ence of emotions, and thus leave some room for them to be legitimately expressed.

Where to buy. Available on Amazon as Kindle and Hard copy.

Book Review: Good Economics for Hard Times

Recall watching many dish tv antenna on top of very weak Jhuggi or in slum areas? Thinking, people who can’t afford food and clean drinking water, how can they afford a TV? It’s not rational right?

Wrong, my fellow reader, People knows what they want…

Television is more important than food

The book tells the story of a man in Morocco. After he made a compelling case that he and his family really did not have enough to eat, he showed us his largish television with a satellite connection. We might have suspected the television was just an impulse purchase he had subsequently regretted. But that was not at all what he said. “Television is more important than food,” he told us. His insistence made us ask how this could make sense, and once we went down that road it was not that hard to see what was behind this preference. There was not much to do in the village, and given he was not planning to emigrate, it was not clear that better nutrition would buy him much more than a fuller stomach; he was already strong enough to do the little work that was available. What the television delivered was relief from the endemic problem of boredom, in these remote villages where there was often not even a tea stall to relieve the monotony of daily life.

The book I’m about to review, gives such examples , which are so co-relatable. Let’s start the review

The Book: Good Economics for Hard Times

By Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo (Both are Nobel holders and married to each other

The book tries to answers questions like:

  • Is immigration a biggest problem, to swing our attention, political environment and really a concern?
  • Does welfare, free cash make people lazy?
  • Do we need to fear Automation? Will it take away all jobs, leading to more jobless people on ground?
  • Does inequality going to stay?
  • Is climate change really impacting productivity and poor people?

What this book do wonderfully?

The book’s greatest contribution is its methodical deconstruction of fake facts: migration, we learn, is not on the rise – indeed, at 3% of global population, it is at the level it was in 1960. Natural experiments (involving Finns expelled from the USSR in 1945, Cubans flocking to Miami in 1980 and Jews settling in Israel in the 90s) prove that migrants do not steal natives’ jobs; they just help expose the holes in public services and social housing left by austerity. As for trade liberalisation, which economists treat as super-important, Banerjee and Duflo suggest it brings relatively small benefits while doing a lot of damage to the poor in countries such as the US and India. The resulting discontent turbo-charges racism: the moment white blue-collar men lose hope and apply for disability welfare benefits, it is no longer enough for them to denigrate black people and Latinos as “welfare queens”. They must now be depicted as gang members or rapists.

My MindMap

Key topics and some insights

Impact on me

Current times, when you have more news coming on mobile than you go out and watch yourself or ask someone to validate it, and as people around loosing patience in a blink of an eye, and even knowing that the content received, has high probability of being a misinformation, we get biased and make out perceptions on surrounding and creating an irreversible situation around us. This book helps clear this muddy water, helps get clear reflection of self in clear water to know self better.

Reading this book helped me to understand my biases and basic assumption on human behaviour when it comes to subject like migrants, tax cuts or taxing riches, automation taking job away, climate change impacting once life, racist behaviour towards community either cast based or economy based.

The book clearly mentions, “We should not stop telling the truth, but it is more useful to express it in a nonjudgmental way”. And it did wonderfully well in this regards it shares data points which we can see, validate and hence accept.

Key concept like to remember

Statistical Discrimination: This concept helps why police stops and checks black driver more often, why we see more Muslims “accidentally” killed by authorities and why There are more blacks and Muslims among criminals. Why we see so less women at leadership position. And how self discrimination impacts one’s performance in a place, where there are no bias. (Self discrimination triggers once under performance thinking s/he is getting discriminated)

Where to buy? It’s Available on Amazon as Kindle or hard copy. Great for collection.

Book Review : Change by Design

Iconic Oral B Brush designed by IDEO, of which Tim Brown (author) is CEO. Till this point, we learned about ‘design thinking process’, with empathetic thinking, Defining the problem statement, Ideate the concepts, build prototype, test and launch the product.

The designer who designed it, once went to near by sea shore, and found few of colorful brushes washed over beach! the design came to its end of the life cycle, most of the part of the brush was intact.

Designer can’t prevent people from doing what they want to do with its product they own, but that doesn’t excuse them from ignoring the larger system. Often in our enthusiasm for solving problem in front of us, we fail to see the problem that we create.

Change by Design

The book is all about all round thinking while designing a product/solution for a problem. IDEO is the company, which has brought the ‘design thinking’ concept to masses. and Auther himself is known as one of the founding members of this key concept.

Key Concept/ Take away

Ideas for #Leader

  1. What is design thinking
  2. Finding interdisciplinary team members
  3. Putting people first
  4. Inspiring the birth of great ideas

Ideas for #Process

  1. Look : Look at inspiration, ideation, and implementation together to become great at design thinking.
  2. Prototype : Build the prototype of your idea and begin testing as early as possible to help you encompass all areas of innovation at once.
  3. Storytelling : If you want to make your great new idea stick, use storytelling.

About Author

Tim Brown : CEO of IDEO

  • Tim is leading IDEO, and key person to bring ‘Design Thinking’
  • He has published many books/articles for this topic including for innovation.

Tim Brown (Author of Change by Design) | Goodreads

Personal Impact

Process on ‘how to innovate’ is explained simply, with three step approach.  Innovation is an ongoing activity, its not an on/off like activity. One has to be mindful of his surrounding, get inspiration and how quickly we can bring idea to life thru rapid prototyping. Few example like complex product like google glasses the prototype was done in 30 min!

I Understand role of Empathy in design thinking, but the insight I got from this book is, empathy without action is of no use, what we need to do is act quicky and convert idea into reality by rapid prototyping.

My Mindmap

What is heatexchanger?

Yup, just a brief on this subject.

Heat exchangers are devices used to transfer heat energy from one fluid to another, gas to gas or gas to liquid. 

Typical heat exchangers are seen around in most unexpected location. From household appliances as air conditioners, refrigerator etc.  Boilers and condensers in thermal power plants are examples of large industrial heat exchangers. There are heat exchangers in our automobiles in the form of radiators and oil coolers.  Heat exchangers are also abundant in chemical and process industries.

Heatexchanger sizes varies from couple of square mm (heat sink in computer cpu) to length exceeding hundreads of square meters!

From simple study flow to complex flows.

Heat exchanges as they say “comes in all sizes and nearly for all duties”

We will, in my next post discuss about fundamental of heat exchangers.