Saturday, December 27, 2008

Apple customer service

I recently had a bittersweet experience with apple customer service.

One fine morning, I had a problem with my ipod, and went to the apple store in NYC, hoping to have it fixed. Now I expected some wait; but the guy told me that I needed an appointment, and my expected time in line was at 11 PM. That was 8 hours away! He said it was like the doctor's office! Comparing your company's customer service to America's healthcare system is not exactly flattering.

Anyhow, I went back home, and then went online to see if I could find an apple store where I was (NJ) and make an appointment. The service was amazing - it was a snap to find a store, schedule an appointment online, and I was served 5 minutes after my appointment time!

So is apple service great, or does it sucks? I would vote for great, only hope that they spend more effort educating people about how to use their service. I hope they do, so that their shares go up :)


Mobile Blogging from here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

NPR: Wait Wait don't tell me

I have become a huge fan of the NPR News Quiz Show, Wait Wait, don't tell me. I have never heard a funnier Radio show, and now subscribe to the podcast. One think though - it is not good work out music. Last week, as I was preparing to lift a 25 pound dumbell (yep, I'm down to that!) I heard a joke about Sarah Palin. And Started Laughing. And almost dropped the weight. Also people on the T seem to look at funny at you if you are laughing while listening to your ipod ....

Friday, September 12, 2008

Priorities

I woke up on September 11, 2008 worried. I had so many things to do that day - finish a spreadsheet for the Leadership Program, prepare for a demonstration, organize my upcoming appointments, answer about 100 emails, finish personal tasks. There was just so much to do!

And then we got a call - my fiancee's sister had gone into labor. I dropped everything and went to New York with my fiancee. I didn't get to do any of those things till the next day - and they didn't matter.

Simple lesson about priorities - often we give too much importance to things that are not important or urgent. If there was this one box where we could hide them for a while.....

Monday, September 8, 2008

The NetIP Conference is over - thanks to everyone



I have been resisting the urge to post anything about the conference – thanks to anyone, a job well done, or a nice meeting you. I don’t feel like it – to do it would be to admit that it is over. And I am not ready to accept that.

The end hits me with a range of emotions – pride that it went so well. A sense of relief as well - after all, now that I have so much time to concentrate on other things. But sadness – that it is over. It is now a memory (and a collection of Chaitan Bandela photographs) permanently tattooed in my brain.

More than a year ago, we started with a fuzzy vision – a logo that said “Beyond 9 to 5 :….fill in the blanks.” Our debate started with this – and will continue well past the conference. We finally settled on “Beyond 9 to 5: Explore. Dream. Discover.” I don’t even remember who came up with it. The NetIP Board of Directors asked us to consider changing it to “Explore. Dream Discover.” To whoever came up with the initial logo, and to the NetIP BOD – a big thank you.

The initial proposals for Content were crafted with ideas from Siddharth, Usha, Arindam, Sheila and Minali. We came up with weird ideas – how about an art exhibition (what does that have to do with party?). Dream – a south asian president. I mean who really has such dreams? And south Asian documentary screenings. Don’t we have enough bollywood already?

To those strange ideas, and the team that helped put these together – thank you. As an attendee came up to me and said – this time, content really mattered. Without you guys it wouldn’t have been possible.

As we started looking for speakers, Tushneem stepped forward to help me with content. To be frank, I have been helping him. He has shown himself as the tireless leader, who has ideas, dreams big and then has the courage to follow up on his ideas. Without him, we wouldn’t have such accomplished keynote speakers, or sold out panels. T, thank you.

Then came the producers – the people who did the actual work. I had no idea that people from all over the country would volunteer their time and energy in putting this conference together. So thanks to all of you (in no particular order)

Usha – you managed the highest number, and the most offbeat the panels. The acting workshop was truly amazing, and thanks for your past years with NetSAP Boston, was a breeze (though you might not agree J. The 9/11 panel was very thoughtful, and we had people up on Sunday morning. Something we thought was impossible! You did it! Finally – my favorite, and everyone else’s favorite – the Kids with Cameras exhibition. You did a great job negotiating those contracts! I am glad I lost my bet to you

Sheila – I am sorry I was not there for the Chai Chat. I just heard three hours of footage about it from Kerri. All I hear that it was amazing. Thanks for coordinating it. Also guess what – you got people up to hear a book reading! Isn’t that amazing! Thanks for your flexibility in handling the last minute changes

Yash – managing eight alliance partners wasn’t an easy task. You did it, and also helped tirelessly with logistics. Thanks for continuing to contribute to NetIP and NetSAP

Ajay Gohil – as I said, you were the most helpful person outside Boston! Thanks for tirelessly trying to help us outside your panel, and moderating your panel. I hope to see you when I am in DC next.

Arindam – thanks for coordinating 2 great events. The Social Entrepreneurship panel was packed, all thanks to your efforts

Deepa – I loved meeting your panelists the most! You had the best variety of speakers, and you acted as a true ambassador for the conference. I saw how happy the speakers were on meeting you, I am very glad that you established these relationships with them before the panels, that help it go so well. Also thanks for navigating the complex A/V requirements. And thanks for postponing your shopping trips; that means a lot to me J.

Raj Verma – Thanks for an excellent panel, and even more for getting Abhi Shah to the conference. His speech was truly inspiring, and it wouldn’t have been possible without you

Priya Kumar – I am thanking you as a producer, as you produced a gem of an event. We had given up on the community service event as being too difficult, but you made it happen in the hotel itself. This event was a lesson for all of us – we need to have more ways of meeting people in the conference, and we should continue this new tradition

Mahak – Whenever I needed help, you were there. You really were an awesome hostess for your speakers. I cannot thank you enough

Sucheta – while the CME panels went without a hitch, the Kajra Re was the real surpriseJ

Kaveri – thanks for coordinating one of the toughest, and most different panels, the Indian sounds in world music. Thanks also for reaching out to several of your personal contacts for the conference

Gita – Thanks so much for help with the CPE Panel. You really put your connections and reputations on the line for us, hope you didn’t burn any bridges

Apurv – while you could not make it to the conference, we appreciate your behind the scenes help

Vaishal – my friend, you coordinated the India in 2020 Panel through the ups and downs of getting and loosing speakers. You were awesome

Poonam and Dhara – thanks so much for help with the CLE panels

I am now going to thank the others. This in no way dimishes how grateful I am for your contribution

The logistics team aka Pallavi and the gang – AMAZING JOB. I heard that this was the best organized conference ever, and its all because of you guys. The registration, the panels setup, the wine and greet, the duck tour etc, etc, All went without a major hitch. We need to do a operations study based on this, and publish it as a model – perhaps a HBS Case Study.

And of course – the grand finale was the best ever. The GALA was the best ever, from the food, to the entertainment (the TAIKO idea was just too good) to the d├ęcor – all in the unbelievable (small) budget.

Swarupa – thanks so much for the money J I was very impressed to see how you kept the sponsors happy throughout the conference. We hope that they keep returning

Aman – awesome job with the budget. Thanks for being persistent in keeping us all fiscally responsible. P.S. Where is my check? :)

Rohit and Tanmay - thanks for keeping us technologically sound :)

Aruna – I am so glad to have you as NetIP president for next year as well. Thank you so much in really partnering with NetSAP Boston in creating this

Bhavik - thanks for managing the A/V so well, you were awesome

Sheetal & Nishith - thanks for your support and advice


Last, but not the least

Sundip & Tushneem – both of you had distinct leadership styles, but we needed leaders like you to make the conference a success. I am inspired by both of you. Your endless passion and effort for the conference paid off, and it was a pleasure working with both of you.

So what now? I think the success of us as a team, and NetIP as an organization lies in making the 2009 conference even better than 2008. So I thought I would publish the lessons I learned from this conference. From this year’s content chair to the next year’s content chair

1. Help people meet other people. Focus on relationships. This year we planned to introduce more opportunities for networking, but didn’t follow through because of other priorities. I think that was a mistake – the community service event offered one such way of meeting people while being involved in an activity that benefits others.

2. Don’t doubt the NetIP Audience – everyone is energetic, and they will get up in the morning and come for a panel, even if they were partying till 4 AM. Just make sure that the panel is worth it

3. The more offbeat the event, the better it is – this is just about the only conference where you can do that. Don’t make too many events professional – there are enough conferences for that. Focus on cultural, social, political events - this is the time for that.

4. Always start with an ice breaker on Friday night. We did not do that this year and I regret it

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Never flyin coach again

I remember one flight where I sat next to this teenager. He was supposed to fly first class, but his flight was canceled, and he was put on a later flight - in coach!


Throughout his flight he was scribbling on a pad with a pencil, scratching the writing off, then writing again. Near the end of the flight, he turned to me and read me his rap song

The hostess is rude, there's no food, I'm never flying coach again
The seat's small, the .... I'm never flying coach again


Though I have forgotten most of it, it was pretty good! Who know what he would be when he grows up, but maybe a few years down we would hear on the radio


Never flyin coach again.....

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What was that?

I went to cnn.com and heard about the news :

145 killed in temple stampede in Himachal


I went to indiatimes.com and read as the first headline

2nd Test: India beat Lanka to level series 1-1

Really? Is the test match victory more important than 145 people dying?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

IIT Bombay - 50 years

I recently attended the IIT Bombay 50 year anniversary in New York City. It was great meeting people there - some old friends, some new ones.

It is amazing how much potential the IIT Alumni network has, but I feel that we have underutilized it. The IIT network can really be as powerful as the network of top Business Schools, atleast in certains Sectors. However, unlike B Schools, we have no easy method to look up people from the institute ion different segments of industry, in different companies etc. other than doing searches on linkedin.

Enough cribbing. Time to do something about it

Friday, July 11, 2008

Graduation

I cannot believe that 9 months have passed since we started the TiE Leadership Program! As I look forward to graduation today, I began to think what I had gained from the program? Am I a different Individual than what I entered the program as? Were these merely 9 months of classes at the end of which one gets a certificate of completion, and goes on his journey, or was it a true transformational experience?
So let’s reflect on what I went through this program….
Inspiration: Our monthly meetings bring one speaker one successful entrepreneur to talk about their experiences. The 2 most memorable sessions for me were Desh Deshpande talking about lessons he learned throughout his amazing career , and David Berry talking about 6 ventures he had already created despite being under the age of 35. These talks, while providing important lessons, serve as key inspirational moments to me. Moments that will hopefully encourage and inspire me when chips are down
Branding: Anupendra Sharma, our Coordinator, guide and friend, gave a short presentation on branding, talking about how every action we do reinforces our brand. Our brand = Packaging + Messaging + Value (Substance). I remember the whole class being completely silent, and Anupendra being concerned that he had sent the whole class into some sort of depression. The presentation made us all think, as to what our brand was. Had we ever thought that we were being judged and evaluated constantly based on each and every action we take? And what was our substance? Why were we there? I still don’t know the answers to many of these questions, but at least I feel that I am on the journey to finding these answers…
Why do you want to be an entrepreneur: I invited Dr. Pravin Chaturvedi to speak at our Tie Leadership Bootcamp which we organized as the last program in June 2008. We requested him to speak on the topic “Lessons from the trenches on building and leading an entrepreneurial team.” The 45 minutes he spent talking about Entrepreneurship were amongst the most inspirational talks I ever attended. Key takeaways
o For an entrepreneur, the key is the dream. The dream must always live on – even if the entrepreneur needs to cede control to others who might be better skilled to make the dream a reality
o Building the right team is the only thing that matters. If you are capable of bringing the right team to the right idea, you have won half the battle
o Talk about your idea to everyone. Constantly. You never know where the right feedback will come from. Listen to everyone, and don’t unnecessarily defend your idea against their criticism. This is the only way you can refine and adapt your idea
o Talk to people, constantly. Email doesn’t work as a mean of communication. A key strength of an entrepreneurial venture is building relationships with your co-workers. Don’t let that chance slip away
American Idol: At our bootcamp, we had the privilege of 3 very accomplished TiE Charter Members judge our one minute pitches. The judges were Vinit Nijhawan, Entrepreneur and former president of TiE Boston, Al Kapoor, President of Millennium Ventures and current president of TiE Boston and Dr. Pravin Chaturvedi, life sciences entrepreneur and CEO of IndUS Pharmaceuticals. They provided just the right mixture of critique, encouragement and advice for our ideas.
Healthcare: I know nothing about healthcare. But Alok Sathaye, my partner in this project, did know tons! We worked together on refining the business plan of a healthcare startup (name confidential), focusing on their pricing and go to market strategies. In this process I learned a lot, not just about healthcare, but about the consulting process, about business plans, pricing and go to market strategies, and sales
Socials: Another key part of the program was all the socializing after class. Through this, I got to know several of my batch mates; which ultimately, like B-School, might be the most important part of the program! And had a great time in the process.

Enough said – the program leaves me with a lot of memories. But above all it leaves me inspired. With a much greater understanding of what I need to do to succeed as a entrepreneur. With hard and soft skills, with lessons about life.

But above all with great friends. I am sure I can call anyone in my class of 2008, our super cool program managers Tamara and Vikas, and of course Anupendra, whenever I need help. Or just friends to play beer pong with…. I am very glad I joined this program, and hope that the next class likes it as much as I did.