. . . He spent 15 years studying, learning, honing his skills to make a difference in people's lives. And at the age of 36, nine short months away from the end of his residency, he found himself thrust before the indifference and cruelty of cancer. And suddenly his life, his identity, his sense of purpose, all evaporated in the face of his inevitable, impending demise. And at this point in the book, you will feel sadness, regret, and horror of every shade there is as he takes you through his journey from being a doctor to a patient in his clinic. . . .
Writing is a contradicting activity if you come to think about it. It is a solitary act for certain, but it is ultimately in the service of being seen, being heard, being recognized, being understood. So, you are committing to something that involves you sitting alone in a (usually) dimly lit room, face awash with the glow of the computer screen, clicking away on a keyboard--or punching away at a typewriter with a cigar in your mouth, or hunched over scribbling on a piece of paper. You know, whatever floats your boat--in the pursuit of stringing together meaningful words that will lead to insightful sentences that will lead to a recognizable piece of work that will be, if not celebrated, understood by many people, hopefully. . . .
Over the last 25 years, a host of research studies have been carried out to try understanding why change initiatives fail to achieve what they set out to achieve! All studies show very similar results. Furthermore, little has changed in the intervening quarter of a century. What caused failure 25 years ago are the same things that create failure today. The success rate today is no different from what it was 25 years ago. About 75% of change or transformation programs fail to achieve their stated objectives. . . .
In today’s business environment, where socio-economical, political, and technological changes take place almost too rapidly to keep track of, companies must continually evolve to stay relevant, innovative and competitive. Choosing the right approach for adaptation and growth is difficult, but it has to be found. . . .
. . . In the near future, it will be increasingly difficult for any organization to attract and retain a customer. According to a report by customer intelligence consulting firm Walker, by 2020 customer experience will overtake product and price as the key brand differentiator. At the same time, the Institute of Customer Service has found that a customer’s intellectual and emotional engagement with the purchase will be the driving factor that will influence his or her future decisions. . . .
Depending on whose research you choose to rely on, mergers have a failure rate of anywhere between 50 and 85 percent. Professionals who have lived through it know that M&A are generally gruesome and traumatic experiences that make sense on paper but, more often than not, end up as very costly mistakes. So why is this the case? . . .
[Excerpt] Most books that we read idolise an exciting life, a life of adventure and purpose. Stories surrounding a destiny that has to be embraced; a quest that has to be fulfilled; a monster that has to be slain. But that is as false as the monster in those books. Life is, more often than not, drab and ordinary, with many ups and downs, many tears (born both of sadness and joy), and many meaningless happenstance and coincidences. Life doesn’t have meaning; we add meaning to life, in our own unique way. And William Stoner brought meaning to his own life, and lived a satisfactory one, even if it seemed dull, boring and eventless to outsiders. [more]
[Excerpt] ... But after witnessing the life changing, paradigm shifting, globe-spanning, epic disaster that was the 2008 financial meltdown, more and more people questioned the big banks and the regulations governing them. The much-touted corporate concept of “Too big to fail,” which was popularised during the industrial age, couldn’t find a foothold in the information age. People didn’t appreciate losing their retirement fund just because some sleazy guy in a suit thought it would be okay to sell homes to people who couldn’t even pay their apartment's rent! The whole world turned upside down.
And amidst this uproar, like in any great revolution, the landscape was slowly but surely changing. Power was being wrested bank and forth. New business models—revolving around the set-in-stone concept of lending and borrowing—were evolving, and the banks were either demonising them or trying to emulate them.
[Excerpt] I'll be honest; I expected the book to be good, but not this deeply engrossing. I suppose it's because, on a fundamental level, this book delves into a question that all of us, at some point or the other, have asked ourselves:
"What if I had done things differently?"
Because the essence of this book lies in one man wondering how things could've ended up differently for him, and going to great lengths to understand those different lives. [more]
[Excerpt] I suppose when one spends a few years in Industry and receives an MBA from a good school, they would find it relatively easy to look at business cases and pinpoint the problem after some deliberation. Revenue is up but profit is down? Most likely a cost problem. No change in Operational Expense but Working Capital is still skyrocketing? Could be an inventory issue. Not enough sales? Must be a marketing problem; maybe we are targeting the wrong segment or demographics, maybe we overestimated the demand.
But is it that simple, across the board, for all organizations? ... [more]
[Excerpt] ... "In work as in life, we must contemplate the loss of everything in order to know what we have to give; it is the essence of writing, the essence of working, the essence of living; an essence that we look for by hazarding our best gifts in the world, and in that perspective, all of us are young and have the possibilities of the young until our last breath goes out." ... [more]
[Excerpt] It was a pleasant change while they lasted, these Olympic games. It was nice to have my Facebook news feed clogged with the heroics of the athletes, their determination, and their drive to be unsurpassable, instead of watching the latest embarrassing antiques of politicians or the tragedy of another suicide bombing
Moreover, these were the first Olympic games to contain a refugee team. Perhaps due to the media coverage of the European migrant crisi ... [more]
[Excerpt] Imagine having to converse every single moment of every single day. To speak constantly, without a moment's rest. To be constantly assailed with words, never having a moment of silence. Sounds unbearable, but that is exactly how we operate - the words just come from within rather than falling on our ears from our vicinity. These words can feel louder than those blaring from a mic — our very own PA system, a relentless cacophony pestering us, admonishing us, not letting us rest. ... [more]
[excerpt] ... You see, quite a few people out there live for the moment, enjoy their milieu, no matter how fleeting, and move on without much care or thought. We all know such people. They are usually the ones at gatherings who laugh the loudest, drink the most, and indulge the most in merriment with a perpetual, goofy grin on their face. The life of the party! Everyone gravitates towards them because of their "devil may care" attitude. Good for them! We all need such people in our lives, no matter how much they may annoy us, or fill us with envy.
But for some, there is this nagging feeling of being out of place, of not feeling a sense of connection or contentment or belonging, and the source of ... [more]