Archive for Mentor

Noam Chomsky on learning by doing

BARSAMIAN: Let’s talk about propaganda and indoctrination. As a teacher, how do you get
people to think for themselves? Can you impart tools that will enable that?
CHOMSKY: I think you learn by doing—I’m a Deweyite from way back. You learn by doing, and
you figure out how to do things by watching other people do them. That’s the way you learn to be a
good carpenter, for example, and the way you learn to be a good physicist. Nobody can train you
on how to do physics. You don’t teach methodology courses in the natural sciences. You may in
the social sciences. In any field that has significant intellectual content, you don’t teach
methodology. You just watch people doing it and participate with them in doing it. So a typical,
say, graduate seminar in a science course would be people working together, not all that different
from an artisan picking up a craft and working with someone who’s supposedly good at it. I don’t
try to persuade people, at least not consciously. The way you do it is by trying to do it yourself, and
in particular trying to show, although it’s not all that difficult, the chasm that separates standard
versions of what goes on in the world from what the evidence and people’s inquiries will show
them. A common response that I get, even on things like chat networks, is, I can’t believe anything
you’re saying. It’s totally in conflict with what I’ve learned and always believed and I don’t have
time to look up all those footnotes. How do I know what you’re saying is true? That’s a plausible
reaction. I tell people it’s the right reaction. You shouldn’t believe what I say is true. Nobody is
going to pour truth into your brain. It’s something you have to find out for yourself.

BARSAMIAN: Let’s talk about propaganda and indoctrination. As a teacher, how do you get people to think for themselves? Can you impart tools that will enable that?

CHOMSKY: I think you learn by doing—I’m a Deweyite from way back. You learn by doing, and you figure out how to do things by watching other people do them. That’s the way you learn to be a good carpenter, for example, and the way you learn to be a good physicist. Nobody can train you on how to do physics. You don’t teach methodology courses in the natural sciences. You may in the social sciences. In any field that has significant intellectual content, you don’t teach methodology. You just watch people doing it and participate with them in doing it. So a typical, say, graduate seminar in a science course would be people working together, not all that different from an artisan picking up a craft and working with someone who’s supposedly good at it. I don’t try to persuade people, at least not consciously. The way you do it is by trying to do it yourself, and in particular trying to show, although it’s not all that difficult, the chasm that separates standard versions of what goes on in the world from what the evidence and people’s inquiries will show them. A common response that I get, even on things like chat networks, is, I can’t believe anything you’re saying. It’s totally in conflict with what I’ve learned and always believed and I don’t have time to look up all those footnotes. How do I know what you’re saying is true? That’s a plausible reaction. I tell people it’s the right reaction. You shouldn’t believe what I say is true. Nobody is going to pour truth into your brain. It’s something you have to find out for yourself.

Source:Liberating the mind from orthodoxies

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Bjarne Stroustrup’s advice for advice for young programmers — or for not-so-young programmers?

Programming is part of software development. It doesn’t matter how fancy your code is unless it solves the right problem and you can explain it to others. So, brush up on your communication skills. Learn to listen, to ask good questions, to write clearly, and to present clearly. Serious programming is a team sport, brush up on your social skills. The sloppy fat geek computer genius semi-buried in a pile of pizza boxes and cola cans is a mythical creature, best buried deep, never to be seen again.

Learn your first language well. That means trying it for difficult tasks. Don’t obsess about technical details. Focus on techniques and principles.

Learn another programming language; choose any language that’s quite different from what you are best acquainted with. You can’t be a professional in the IT world knowing only one language. No one language is the best for everyone and for everything.

Don’t just do programming. Computing is always computing something. Become acquainted with something that requires your software development skills: Mediaeval history, car engine design, rocket science, medical blood analysis, image processing, computational geometry, biological modeling, whatever seems interesting. Yes, all of these examples are real, from my personal experience.

Source: Bjarne Stroustrup on Educating Software Developers

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First Delhi OCC Meet

Delhi OCC gang

Delhi OCC gang

Last evening I attended the first meeting of Delhi open coffee club which took place in CCD ( near brista) at Connaught place.I reached there by 6 PM but it took me a while to locate the right CCD as there were around three – four CCDs and two Bristas.

The ambience was good but little noisy.We have to ask CCD guys to lower the speaker volume twice.
We were around 9 -10 peoples.When I reach CCD Rajat had all ready finished his introduction.We were a mix of startup guys ( employees),students, wannabes ( myself, Ramsagar Ravisagar ) and a hardcore entreprenuer (Rajat).

Rajat Nagpal an  ISB gradute, after working with makemytrip.com is
looking forward to start his venture travelgayan   TravelVidya which is into training
people  in ticket booking.

Shivaas is a student who self-confessed to have  burned his fingers with his venture
shoppingtadaka.But he is determined to be a entpreneur and looking forward to
keep his venture up.He venture is into retail and ecommerce  and he is looking
for experience people in retail domain.
Ramsagar is a linux expert.He is interested in Open source trainig and is developing
some modules for training in linux administration.

Ashok is with Unicef and shared his confusions with us.He is making up his mind
how to use his experience in charity work and fundraising for Unicef to make a more satisfying career move.
During intrduction round we had discussions on wide range of topics.First one was regarding
working from home vs taking some office space.Rajat was in favour of taking office space. His point was valid in case you dont have space at home oryou have family to manage. Personaly I beleive that weather  you should take office space or not depend  on both personal and professional needs.Personal in the sense you need some self discipline when you wok from home .If you have to show your office to client
or client make frequent visits to your office in that case one or two seater office wil make  good impression.What is biggest problem in having a office space is to find one withright size and price.When you are bootstraping you want to save every penny.In case you are in software development or internet bussines we can easily use our home as office.

We talked about different schemes to use SMS for marketing.I learned about GSM modem which was something new to me.

Shivaas got interesting and useful feedback from Rajat on his venture.

There was another interesting discussion on hiring people.Rajat made some pratical points regarding hiring. I really liked his idea of hriring   housewifes and retired people in same domains.
Here we had clash of opinion on HR managment issues like temp. staff and training costs.

To sum up it was great experience . If you are a freelancer,student looking for startup experience,angel investor, or a wannabee  entreprenuer I expect you tobe there next time.

 

Delhi OCC gang

Delhi OCC gang

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Dee Hock on Management

I stuble upon  on  this    interveiw with Dee HOCK.. I am really impressed with brevity,honesty and simplity of his thoughts. An interesting read.

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Bootstrap in Bangalore: A must read blog

I come across this interesting and very very practical blog today.Author of this blog Saurabh Chandra, an enterpreneur who has recently bootstrapped his company Neevtech in Bangalore.

I like every single post in this blog. I like the detail in which he explain the process of bootstraping a start-up in stepwise manner.He took great effort to explain every aspect of starting a company in India.I was looking for such eleborate understanding of starting a company in India.I am sure every aspiring enterprenuer will find somthing to learn from his blog.

Thanks to Saurabh Chandra for writing such a useful blog.

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Entrepreneurial Proverbs

Internet is such a wonderful thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Every day you find some “food for thought”, something that stimulate our mind .Today I got these pears of wisdom by Marc Hedlund.

I am going to take printout of it and paste it on my walls.

Starting

It’s good to be king — being an entrepreneur is the best job I’ve had. Every day your job is new and different; you constantly have to push yourself in new directions. You no longer have to say, “Well, I’m just an engineer, but…” — you have a great excuse to take an interest in everything. Working in an environment you shaped to your own beliefs about how a company should be run is incredible (and humbling!). And of course there are sometimes financial rewards, although it’s still a great job regardless.

Losing sucks — shutting down a company is unbelievably difficult. It affects your home life, your health, your job prospects, your financial stability. Professional investors are grown-ups, but it’s still extremely disheartening to lose the money people invested based on belief in you. If your backers include friends or family, it’s extremely difficult to have to tell them the company is closing and their money is gone. Most entrepreneurs fail several times before succeeding, too, so losing is both terrible and nearly inevitable. Fight as hard as you can against it.

Building to flip is building to flop — this is taken from Jason Fried, and he’s right. People who start out with only one goal, to sell to a big portal, will find their options are too limited. Plan as many paths to success as possible for your company, and always have a Plan B when acquisition (or whatever path you choose first) doesn’t work.

Prudence becomes procrastination — it’s great to research your market and talk to potential buyers about your ideas. It’s terrible to let an excess of this become a impediment to getting started. Too much prudence edges away from research and into procrastination.

Momentum builds on itself — just start. Do whatever you can. Draw a user interface. Write a spec. Make something, anything, that people can see and touch and try. A prototype is worth ten thousand words. Once you start moving, you will find that people start to carry you along.

Jump when you are more excited than afraid — lack of fear is irrational, and too much fear is debilitating. Make the jump into your business when you have considered the fear, and come out more excited than afraid.

The Idea

Pay attention to the idea that won’t leave you alone — this is taken from Paul Hawken’s Growing a Business. Sometimes an idea catches hold of you and you find you can’t put it down. Pay attention to that! Just start working on it. Can’t get yourself to do anything on it? Move on. Find yourself waking up out of bed to write down new ideas about it? That’s a good one to choose.

If you keep your secrets from the market, the market will keep its secrets from you — entrepreneurs too often worry about keeping their brilliant secrets locked away; we should all worry much more about springing a surprise on a disinterested market (anyone remember the Segway?). To quote Howard Aiken: “Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.”

Immediate yes is immediate no — does everyone immediately tell you your idea is great? Run away from it. If the idea is that obvious, the market will be filled with competitors, and you’ll find yourself scrambling. One good test: when the New York Times Magazine puts out its annual “Year in Ideas” issue, is your idea in it? Then don’t do it. You’re already too late.

Build what you know — this is the most basic advice of idea generation: scratch an itch you have yourself. To make a great company, stop and ensure that your need is broadly felt, and that your solution is broadly applicable — not everyone spends their life in front of a computer, remember.

Give people what they need, not what they say they need — interviews are tricky. People will swear up and down that they would buy a product you describe if only it were available, and then fail to do so as soon as it is. Likewise, in conversation an idea can sound terrible, but in actualization the idea can become a compelling product. You have to sherlock out the truth of the interest people express, and “yes/no” questions are usually less useful than “how much” or “how bad” questions.

Your ideas will get better the more you know about business — engineers hate to hear this, but you can generalize up quite far from here: the more you know about everything, the better all of your ideas will get! If you want to start a business and your strength is in development, learning about pricing, sales, marketing, finance, and yes, even HR, all of it will make your product ideas stronger and better.

People

Three is fine; two, divine — having too many co-founders makes decisions hard to reach; if you’re on your own, you have to bear all of the stress and worry about the success of the company. In my judgment, three people can do well together, but having two founders is best.

Work only with people you like and believe in — I once heard Eric Schmidt say something along the lines of, “The older I get, the more I think all that matters is working with people you like.” If you’re smart and talented, you’re probably going to like a lot of smart and talented people. Working with people you like is so much more fun, and often more productive, than fighting against someone who may be smart and talented but just isn’t a great fit for you.

Work with people who like and believe in you, just naturally — maybe you are very persuasive, and can talk people into working with you against their better instincts. Especially for co-founders and early employees, don’t try that hard. Find the people that naturally want to work with you, and nudge them into the roles where you need them. You’ll have more fun and get more done.

Great things are made by people who share a passion, not by those who have been talked into one –– a corollary of the last; you can spark a passion in someone, but you can’t do it without some fuel to catch. Better to wait, and find the person who is already inclined to believe in your cause. You may talk someone into co-founding a company with you, but will they stick with it through ups and downs if they had to be persuaded that hard?

Product

Cool ideas are useless without great needs — this is the classic engineers’ entrepreneurial mistake (or at least I’d like to think so, since I’ve made it). Techies love tech, and a new technology can produce a lot of companies that don’t really meet a need. Better to start with the need, and then see how what you know can produce a better answer to that need. (Marketers tend to have the opposite problem: real, pressing needs with completely unworkable solutions.)

Build the simplest thing possible — engineers have the hardest time with this, with not overdesigning for the need they’re addressing. Make the simplest possible product that makes a significant dent in that need, and you’ll do far better than you would addressing two or three needs at once. Simplicity leads to clarity in everything you do.

Solve problems, not potential problems — you can waste a lot of money implementing solutions for problems you don’t have yet, and may never have. Work on the biggest, most pressing problems today, and put aside everything else.

Test everything with real people — it’s unbelievable how helpful this is. Go find civilians, real people who use computers because they have to and not because they love to. Find them in Starbucks, or at the library, or in a college computer lab. Give them $20 for 20 minutes, and you’ll be paid back a hundred times over.

Money

Start with nothing, and have nothing for as long as possible — small budgets give big focus (probably another line I’m stealing from Jason Fried: it sounds like something he’d say…) Don’t go out and raise a ton of money right away. Instead, give yourself just enough to get going, and use the limits that imposes to motivate yourself.

The best investor pitches are plainspoken and entertaining (not in that order) — think about what this implies. A plainspoken pitch is the surface of a very solid business. If you have to fudge and lie to get investors interested, why is that? If you’re running a great business, it is not hard at all to lure investors into it; the worse your business, the bigger (and more odious) your fundraising task is. Entertaining implies a fun person to work with, and VCs like working with people they like as much as the rest of us do. If you don’t bring the funny, bring the person who brings the funny.

Never let on that you’re keeping a secret — telling an investor “I don’t want to talk about that” is terrible. It’s the natural converse of being plainspoken. It’s good to be aware, though, that some potential investors will listen to you and then share your information with your direct comptitors, and not always because they’re invested in those comptetitors. Knowing that, you have to keep some secrets — but be as diplomatic about that as possible. Respond to the idea behind the question, without giving away more than you feel comfortable discussing. Learn to steer the conversation in the way you want it to go. And then give up more information as you become more comfortable with the potential investor.

No means maybe and yes means maybe — you should never take a “no” from someone you want to work with. Accept the no, ask for feedback, and then just keep sending them updates on how much butt you’re kicking in the market. During one company, three of the five term sheets I collected came from VC firms that told me “no” originally. Conversely, though, the only money in the bank is actual money actually in the bank. Everything else is just a possibility, and you have to treat it as such. Don’t stop fundraising until you have a firm commitment for the funding you need, and don’t accept halfway promises like, “We’ll fund you if another firm comes in.” Keep on driving until the wire transfer is complete.

For investors, the product is nothing –– the classic engineer’s VC pitch has ten slides about the product and two about the academic achievements of the founders. That’s a terrible pitch. One slide should be about the product, while the rest cover the market, competitors, financials, funding history, and the relevant experience of the team. The product matters far less to most investors than the reactions of customers, the properties of the market, and the credibility of the team. Obsess about the product on your own time; present your business in all of its parts.

The best way to get investment is not to need it* — if you have a running business with real customers and you’re paying all your bills, you are much more likely to get a funding round than if you need the round in order to survive or succeed. The pitch that goes, “We could accelerate our growth with more money” is much more compelling than, “I need your money or our doors will close.”

I’m sure other people have their own rules of thumb; what are yours?

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Entrepreneurial Thoughts

Here are some of entrepreneurial thoughts by Joe Ollivier, First Capital Development.

It has to be a business that gives you an emotional high.

Avoid any business that is labor or inventory intensive.

Have independent market research done on the feasibility of your idea, then do test markets.

Don’t think someone is waiting to steal your idea, it’s paranoia.

Don’t get started on a real business until you have someone (wife, husband, family member) who will listen to your dreams, sympathize with your failures and applaud your successes.

Never involve yourself in any service or product that requires a consumer attitude change.

Don’t invest on home run schemes – invest in what you like and know.

Find a lifelong mentor as soon as possible. Have him continually play devil’s advocate.

Have an exit point or harvest plan to cash out of each business you start.

Do a self awareness training. You are not your business, your background or your personal financial statement.

Pick a charity (other than a religious one) or a charitable activity where you have nothing to gain, and work at it every year.

Do some charitable acts each year in secret.

Keep a notepad next to your bed at night – some of your best thoughts will come during the night.

Get a week-at-a-glance planner. Each weekend make our a 3×5 notecard of activities you want to accomplish.

You don’t need to keep 51% to control your company.

Find an aggressive banker and CPA, send them referrals and Christmas presents.

Be willing to take major risks, but be aware of risk versus reward. Don’t ever even think about taking out Bankruptcy.

Have someone else do all your serious negotiating for you.

Have the attitude that everything that happens to you in your life is your own personal responsibility; you are never a victim.

Remember that you will learn much more from your mistakes and failures than your successes.

Trust everyone, but be aware that most people shade the facts and lie part of the time.

Live in the nicest, most expensive house you can. It will alter your view of yourself and the way others view you.

Remember that with each successful venture there was a time when the entrepreneur wished he was not involved.

Expect to be sued – it’s normal – have the attitude that it’s the person who’s suing that has the problem.

Never sue unless there is real estate that can be attached.

Expect to become wealthy – do a financial statement on yourself each quarter.

Realize that money is power and can be used for great good.

Being an Entrepreneur means more than buying yourself a job. You need a salary to live, a return on your investment and a monetary reward for your risk.

In every entrepreneurial activity you enter make sure it’s: 1. Fun and Interesting, 2. You are going to learn something, and 3. You add value.

Realize that business is really just a monetary game, and the things that mean the most -your character, your family, your own values, and your beliefs- are unaffected regardless of the outcome.

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