Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Now what should I get - Health Insurance or Credit Cards

Applying for healthcare coverage in America is a blast! Picture these scenarios:

1. Getting a new credit card - you either get pre-approved offers in the mail, or you simply enter your Social Security Number and some details on a web form, get approved in a few seconds, and there - you have your card!

2. Apply for Health Insurance - First fill in atleast 30 pages of form. All health information since you were born. Then do a verification phone call with the underwriter (which sounds like undertaker). And often get rejected for ridiculous reasons - Mono, which I have had personal experience getting rejected with (Imagine the statistic from Wiki, well over 90% of all adults are exposed to at some point in their life!) or Acne (someone from a forum reported getting rejected for THAT!).

Now why is health insurance not as easy to obtain? Why do I need to enter the same information several times. Just like a credit history, who don't I have a centralized health history? How can America, the most powerful country in the world, have such a broken health system? Something's gotta give...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Leadership Program has a new website

Check out - the new website for the Leadership Program. Originally launched 3 years ago in Boston, we are expanding to Bay Area this year, and potentially San Diego. I completed this program in 2008, and then stayed on as Program Manager for class of 2009 (read my post about it here). I see this becoming a national program in association with local TiE Chapters, and hope to take this program to Chicago next year.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I recently heard a talk by a senior officer from my company (let's call him John Doe) on his vision for our products and services. He drew a comparison to Apple, and coined a concept he called 'productization.' This is how he explained it.

A couple of years ago, he felt that he should go buy an MP3 player. He went to the obvious choice - an apple store. There was an apple associate that greeted him - not just any electronic store sales guy, but a person who had the right combination of 'geekiness' and 'likeability,' to inspire respect from the customers. John could tell that this guy had a lot of passion for Apple, and its products.

Typically, the sales guy would take the customer right to the product. But this salesperson took John over to a mac, and showed him iTunes - the store where one can buy a song for a buck, and the moment when one plugs in the ipod, it is automatically synchronized. Next, the salesperson took John to the genius area - the part of the store where you can bring in your ipod or laptop, and ask any sort of question to the experts, who know all about apple technology. And in fact, you can schedule the appointment online or over the phone, so that you have a guaranteed slot when you do come in! Next, he took him over to the accessories area for the ipod - with cases, earphones, and speakers which can be used to play the music at home, in the car etc.

Now at this point John had not seen the product - the ipod. However, he was ready to buy it there and then. He didn't care how the product looked like, or how much it cost him! This is 'productization' - adding great service and the right complimentary products, to a a solid product, which makes the value proposition of the whole ecosystem so compelling.

This experience had its impact two years down the road. John's old dell laptop crashed. All he needed to do, was to buy a low-end Dell laptop for $400. However he went to the apple store to see the Mac notebooks, and happily shelled out $1600 for a Macbook Pro. And he is very happy that he made the decision to spend four times as much for similar configuration, but superior design, service and complementary products. All's well that ends well (atleast for Apple).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hack Wall Street

I have a T Shirt which says 'Hack Wall Street,' from a company known as Tower Research Capital. The company specializes in quantitative trading and investment strategies, activity that can be argued to have contributed to the financial crisis. But when I wear this T-Shirt on 'Main Street' I get different reactions.

The other day I wore this on my flight to Atlanta. I got two compliments from 2 different women aged between 50 and 70, about how much they loved the shirt. I guess this is reflective of the mood; wall street is interpreted as a group of suit-wearing, MBA degree carrying, greedy workaholics. And my T-Shirt is interpreted as a protest - a war cry - against the stereotypical Wall street types causing the mess that main street is dealing with. While the T-Shirt is from a firm very much a part and parcel of Wall Street. As, the irony of interpretation.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Linkedin vs Facebook

I cannot help but compare the 2 social networks I spend most time on - Facebook and Linkedin. While Facebook is typically considered a more 'fun' network, and linkedin way more professional, I find that the lines are blurring. A lot of my professional network is also on facebook, and vice-versa. But in terms of level of engagement, I use facebook so much more than linkedin. Linkedin has much to learn from Facebook

1. Ease of Use - Facebook and Linkedin both ask the question - What are you doing now. But facebook has made it so much easier for me to post what I am doing - through use of Tweetdeck. Sometimes I want to post a link to an interesting article that I have read on linkedin, especially as it might be more suited to my professional network. But I don't take the effort to go to linkedin and post it.

2. Fun - no doubt Facebook is so much more fun! Understandably so, given the more professional focus on linkedin. But who says professionals cannot have fun? There need to be more easily discoverable applications on linkedin, to gain the same level of engagement. I do not expect people to start posting pictures on linkedin, but reports like conference experiences etc. would be welcome

3. Applications - While Linkedin has opened its API in response to Facebook, the kind of applications available on the site do not rival Facebook in any way. There needs to be a way to encourage developers to develop more applications, such as revenue sharing/generation opportunities.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One Dish only in this restaraunt

My wife and I ate at the Le Relais De Venise L'Entrecote restaurant on our mini-moon. I was amazed to find that it has just one dish - a delightful steak dish with their special sauce, and fries. Served with a starter walnut and wasabi salad. And this the 5th location of this restaurant. Talk about doing one thing really well!

Check out my Friend's Business

Comfort for your feet that fits in your purse. I find this is just an awesome idea, a great latent need for women which is being solved through these shoes. Just go out wearing pumps, and then when you get to class/workplace where you need comfortable shoes, get these shoes out and wear them. Now available in stores in Harvard Square