Work Ethic

A question I have always asked myself is what separates the top from the very top? A popular Gladwellian theory is that putting in 10,000 hours of hardwork with focused feedback should result in immense success and mastery of the chosen field/endeavour. But as I read more about it and the people behind it there are a few things I am starting to see.

The first is that the difference between average and above average is not the same as the difference between the top and the absolute best. Luck plays a factor too but a large part of is reproducible. I am still trying to understand the science behind performance and will dedicate a large part of articles to it with the tag #hardwork.

Here’s something to start with though.

mjThe thing about Michael is, he takes nothing about his game for granted. When he first came to the NBA back in 1984, he was primarily a penetrator. His outside shooting wasn’t up to pro standards. So he put in his gym time during the off-season, shooting hundreds of shots each day. Eventually, he became a deadly three-point shooter.

Playing outstanding defense didn’t come automatically to him, either. He had to study his opponents, learn their favorite moves and then dedicate himself to learning the techniques necessary to stop them. He’s worked extremely hard to perfect his footwork and his balance. – Phil Jackson on Michael Jordan.

How about a real world example because we all know Michael Jordan is legend. Indira Nooyi, the CEO of Pepsi, sleeps around midnight and is up by 4 am.

She has been up since 4 a.m., having gone to bed at midnight after watching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, which she loves. “They say sleep is a gift that God gives you,” she observes. “That’s one gift I was never given.”

When I was young, I used to indulge in WWE. I didn’t have the maturity then to realize that this was an entertainment business and a wildly successful one at that. The guy behind it is Vince McMahon. Here’s a colleague on him

This is an absolute shoot. In the five years that I worked at the WWE, I always arrived at work before the bell, and left way after its final ding-dong. I took great pride in working for one of the greatest companies in the world, let’s face it—it was my childhood dream. However, regardless of my aggressive work ethic, no matter how early I arrived, or how late I left—Vince’s car was there. This is no joke. If I got in at 7am—his car was already there. If I left at 10pm—his car was STILL there!!! In other words—the guy just never left the office!!!

A lot of the top performers spend a lot of time in really hard deep work. I am learning why and I’ll be sharing that soon here.

Also hello, I’m back to writing again.

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Entreprenuers I admire – Vijay Mallya

This is a series of Entreprenuers/CEO’s I admire. Stuff I was inspired by, stuff you could get inspired by too.

I’ll start with the King of Good Times. Vijay Mallya.
Contrary to what people know about him, here is a person who lives his company’s image day in and out. I chuckle every time he says, “I work really hard, and I party harder”, because I don’t see much of the former and the Media has enough of the latter anyway. This post is to give you an insight into the cliched title of Richard Branson of India.

Vijay Mallya. The Spirit.
He was cast into the lime light at the age of 28. He told his dad he wanted 1 Lakh (in those days a large sum.) to start up Kingfisher beer. The story goes that he saw the bird in one of his trips and thought of it to be vibrant thus wanting to rejuvenate the beer brand. If you haven’t already tasted it by now (it’s pretty decent, don’t tell mom) then you must have no doubt heard about it. They are making waves all over. He bought out his competition White and Mackay and then went on to diversify his group, United Breweries.

Fun Fact : He made his first profit by buying, re-shaping and then reselling Berger Paints out for a whopping $ 66 m profit.

He then went on to show the world the power of acquisition. He takes most of the decisions but the key here is that he’s an expert in delegation of duties. Hiring a professsional management team to run his show, he has the final call and keeps the attention.

Speaking of which. There is a reason why I don’t admonish Vijay Mallya’s excesses because he built this sprawling mansion of his because he needed a house to be built in that area. I have come to realise it’s his money, he didn’t tax the people to get it. He earned it, so he can do whatever the hell he wants with it. That being said, his house has a disco, an amphitheatre, huge halls, pool tables, swimming pools, ladies in those pools and innumerable artificats he has acquired. While this shows off his wealth, his car collection (ranging at an estimated 250). He has a yatch called the Indian Empress.

Now this comes as purely hear say. But apparently Mallya’s mansion has loads of females walking around and most of them are scantily (if at all) clad. Apparently he selects each of the air hostesses that should fly on his plane personally. Who wouldn’t want to party this hard?

Why does Vijay Mallya inspire me?
Besides his excessive wealth. There is one thing to be said about the man. That is he is a constantly competitive individual. Most thought he took a busting in the IPL (his team was shit, it had Dravid after all..) but he was a major sponsor of the event, major televised public funding and of course he was backing up Rajasthan Royals through his funding. He didn’t “lose” out all that much as people claim, if anything he showed SRK a thing or two about his jeeto bolo nonsense.

The real reason he’s amazing is the same reason I admire Richard Branson. Competition in the field. Party at home. Mallya apparently has had 2 marriages. One was with Sameera Mallya and she’s the one whose brought up their son Siddhartha (expensive show off let’s see if he has his dad’s mettle) and has another wife in the states now with 2 daughters.

I have no idea how she puts up with his excesses. I lost a couple of points of respect points in that regard, I don’t endorse this sexual flamboyance. I think it’s pretty disgraceful. Even if you have the money and power. Anyway it’s his life.

To sum this up. Things we can learn from Mallya.

a) Work Hard. Party Harder.
b) Look good no matter what your age.
c) Don’t take shit from anyone.
d) Women are hot. (Ok that you didn’t need to learn from him…)
e) There is power in acquisitions and edging out the competiton.
f) Believe in yourself and your product. Except if it’s heroin.
g) You can make money and lots of it if you inherit, so don’t squander.

Here are some nice links to read up more on the dude from Bangalore.

Vijay Mallya’s interview with CNN
Sify’s bio about Vijay Mallya
The Telegraph post about Mallya
Wikipedia Entry on Vijay Mallya

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The girl who cried for Wall-E/ Why Pixar rocks

Pixar logo on Karthick GopalThis is more a story about how important it is to connect to people. Time and again I have got emails like “Thanks this is not what you asked for but we will shovel it down your throat, these are our other boring features, and this is what you shouldn’t do but hey subscribe to this”.

I help around with PR and customer relations and I have noticed that besides not getting much feedback, people really appreciate good honest feedback. Most important, to show that you care.

It sounds corny, but it’s true. I’d rather get feedback for what I asked and maybe something courteous that’s all nothing more, no selling advertising bla bla.

And that brings to me to 2 very special mentions.
Seth Godins profile pic
Seth Godin. He’s a marketing guru and has a blog that allows for no comments ( I have one which gets none so I think i’m pretty much getting there or?). I wrote to him once and asked him a couple of questions and his replies were lightning quick and it was some early time in the U.S when he replied. Bottom line :- I was someone who has never spoken to him and yet he took the time to make me feel special (oh god you drama queen). But it’s true his personal reply was important to me.

Pixar. Now I know the company that made me love rats just had to be good at everything they do and this is something that I read and was like wow what a company! This girl called Courtney cried at the trailer and while it was weird that she posted her self crying on Youtube.. (these women.) she got the producers at pixar inspired.

How? They were wondering where they are going with the movie and then they saw this video and knew where exactly they were. And then they sent a jacket to her and invited her to the wrap up party ! ! Besides me saying wow what the F so lucky etc, I can’t help but appreciate what a great gesture that is on Pixar’s side. You guys truly rock and if you ever make shitty movies (Disney hi) I’ll still love you for this.

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Meaning Scales post by Hugh MacLeod on GapingVoid.

What really is the purpose of life? I saw a couple of people a few days back and they were like this is good stuff for a person just starting out with life, take it and enjoy (I bought some furniture), but the point was I sat and thought.

They had achieved the celebrated 60. I should have asked them how their life was , what was the purpose of their existence? Did they achieve anything they would consider dearest/unique/exemplary?

Then comes along Hugh with this post and it’s almost like an answer to what was running in my mind.

— There are 6 billion doors for everyone
— Yours is a unique door.
— and when you find it , it will be better than anything else you have ever got.

My question is what was their door?

And when I say “People don’t scale”, I’m stating the obvious: that no matter how meteoric your rise to the top [or not], you are still beholden to the day-to-day realities as any living creature.

Birth, sickness, death, falling in love, watching TV, raising families, mowing the lawn, going to the movies, taking your nephew to a ball game, drinking beer, hanging out with your buddies, playing frisbee on the beach, painting the house, tending the garden. No matter where your adventure takes you, most of what is truly meaningful is still to be found revolving around the mundane stuff you did before you embarked on your adventure. The stuff that’ll be still be going on long after you and I are both dead, long after our contribution to the world is forgotten. — Hugh MacLeod

You can read the full fantastic post on Meaning Scales here. This is by the way an addition to his amazing series of posts on How to be Creative.

Give it a read, you won’t regret it.

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