Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happiness: Flow

I recently started reading a pretty famous book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Even within the first 30 pages or so, the book has been very thought provoking, especially on one of the most complex topics in human psyche: happiness. Specifically, the book has made me think of the link between happiness and money.

Ever since I have been a student money has been tight - we have skimped on buying gadgets, going on more vacations, fancy dinners, clothes, gifts etc. But to be honest, I do not miss things as much. Even within these uses of discretionary money, there are certain things that bring more joy to me than others. Most of them being experiences; a vacation which allows me to relax and rejuvenate, a massage that fixes my back, a memorable dinner. 'Things' on the other hand bring much less joy - unless of course, the thing is a book, which is a different category altogether.

While money has been tight, learning and friends have been plentiful. Kellogg has just been an awesome place to meet new people, make friends and acquaintances, and at the same time, learn a lot from both peers and professors. I find it hard to find anything else that could replicate that experience.

So what will happen when I do go back to work? I definitely have a list of gadgets I want to buy - a kindle, an iPad , Apple/Google TV, a larger television. I am sure they will bring some element of happiness. But hopefully, I will keep this learning in mind and instead spend on other items: like on vacations, and on building a large savings balance so that I can at some point afford to start my own business. Hopefully I will not forget the lessons of the cash-crunch of student life.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

TED Talks Steven Johnson: Where good ideas come from

Ever feeling down and uninspired? Need something to energize you? For me, watching to a TED talk is often the way to re-energize me. Recently, I watched a TED talk by Steve Johnson, author of the book 'Where Good Ideas come from.' Here is a quick summary of the talk:

1. An idea is not a single item; its a network

2. Ideas are the combination of two or more 'plain old things'

3. Ideas come together in chaotic environments where people from diverse backgrounds come together. Thus your work place should be just a little chaotic, with people sitting close to each other

4. When people share their mistakes and thoughts with others (e.g., around a conference table), it is likely to generate a lot more ideas

5. While great ideas might seem to come in this one magical moment, they have long incubation periods. They have been there in your mind: you just realize it around that one moment you might think of as the 'Eureka' moment

6. Allow your hunches to connect with other people's hunches. The value of protecting Intellectual Property is overrated. We should spend more time sharing ideas than protecting them

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What makes a good teacher?

I am taking a Kellogg course called Financial Decisions, taught by Professor Artur Raviv. This course uses case studies to reinforce the fundamentals of Finance we learned through the basic finance courses. Professor Raviv is truly outstanding; I finally feel that I am understanding not just how to compute the numbers, but understand how to interpret them, and use them to make decisions.

So after one particularly great class, I started thinking about what have been the common traits of Professors that I have really learned from? A few things came to mind:

1. Entertaining: Two professors that come to mind in particular are Professor Hennessy and Professor Sawhney. Both have a knack of cracking timely jokes, and thus keep the class very engaged and energized.

2. Simplistic : Professor Raviv exemplifies this - he explains potentially complex financial concepts in a simplistic manner, helping one gauge the intuition behind the concept.

3. Enthusiastic: If you are going to try to get students interested in your subject, you better be enthusiastic yourself. Professor Busse was a prime example - she taught the Business Strategy class to my section, and I have been enthusiastic about the subject since.

4. Experts in their field: Professor Galinsky was quite the expert on organizational behavior and leadership. One typical way he used to begin sentences was "Research has shown that...."

5. Concerned about students: I remember Professor Sawhney's introductory remarks in the Technology Marketing Class. He asked "Why are you guys here for a Kellogg MBA?" We replied - to learn, to expand our way of thinking etc. He said, "You are here to get a better job, and start a better career. I don't measure how successful I am by how students rate me on evaluations. Instead, if you can tell me that you learned something here that helped you get a job, or do better in your job, I will be happy."

Monday, October 4, 2010

Television Sensitivity

Recently, I was watching a news feature on the Pakistan Floods on CNN. The report showed how much people were suffering from lack of adequate health care, and how these two brace doctors from the US had set up camp in an affected area, working practically round the clock to provide health care and help fight off chances of an epidemic.

Then the report ended. And a voice over - coming up, Lindsay Lohan gets caught again with some drugs/alcohol related stuff. Seriously? That is how you transition from such a sensitive subject to one that does not affect anyone? You had me, and possibly hundreds of thousands of viewers tuned into the Pakistan situation. How about three seconds to say, 'to donate to this cause, go to www....' (by the way, one link is here ).

Compare that to the Lifetime channel. My wife and I watch this one show every week - Project Runway. There - I embarrassed myself on my blog :) Coming back to the point - it was revealed last week that one of the contestants on the show, who actually won the last three challenges, was HIV positive. For the last ten years. And he had kept it a secret from everyone, including his parents. He finally revealed it on the show - and understandably, it was an emotional situation. The show ended with him talking about his story - but to Lifetime's credit, the bottom of the screen showed information about the AIDS Healthcare foundation, and a link to learn more and donate. I have no idea what the intention between putting that information there was - but it was the right thing to do.

CNN, time to learn from Lifetime!

P.S. I just noticed that Lifetime's website says 'Lifetime, the source for women's entertainment including games, movies, shows, full episodes, style, astrology, sweepstakes and more.' Now I am even more embarrassed :)