N R Narayana Murthy,mentor of Infosys spoke at the New York University (Stern School of Business) on lessons he learnt from his life and career.The speech revolves around his college days,initial struggle of his career and life after foundation of Infosys.Some of the sudden and special events , which have taught him many learnings in life.

The important excerpts from the speech are given below:

Pre Infosys:
1. Sometimes advice can come from an unexpected source, and chance events can sometimes open new doors.

2. Entrepreneurship, resulting in large-scale job creation, was/is the only viable mechanism for eradicating poverty in societies.

Post Infosys:
If you want to create a great company, we should be optimistic and confident. They have more than lived up to their promise of that day.

Below are life lessons from these events,in his own words.
Note: “I” in the article refers to Narayana Murthy

1. I will begin with the importance of learning from experience. It is less important, I believe, where you start. It is more important how and what you learn. If the quality of the learning is high, the development gradient is steep, and, given time, you can find yourself in a previously unattainable place. I believe the Infosys story is living proof of this.

Learning from experience, however, can be complicated. It can be much more difficult to learn from success than from failure. If we fail, we think carefully about the precise cause. Success can indiscriminately reinforce all our prior actions.

2. A second theme concerns the power of chance events. As I think across a wide variety of settings in my life, I am struck by the incredible role played by the interplay of chance events with intentional choices. While the turning points themselves are indeed often fortuitous, how we respond to them is anything but so. It is this very quality of how we respond systematically to chance events that is crucial.

3. Of course, the mindset one works with is also quite critical. As recent work by the psychologist, Carol Dweck, has shown, it matters greatly whether one believes in ability as inherent or that it can be developed. Put simply, the former view, a fixed mindset, creates a tendency to avoid challenges, to ignore useful negative feedback and leads such people to plateau early and not achieve their full potential.

The latter view, a growth mindset, leads to a tendency to embrace challenges, to learn from criticism and such people reach ever higher levels of achievement.

4. The fourth theme is a cornerstone of the Indian spiritual tradition: self-knowledge. Indeed, the highest form of knowledge, it is said, is self-knowledge. I believe this greater awareness and knowledge of oneself is what ultimately helps develop a more grounded belief in oneself, courage, determination, and, above all, humility, all qualities which enable one to wear one’s success with dignity and grace.

Read the complete article here

Was just checking Amit Ranjan’s blog and came across a slide , which shows the funny side of blogging biggrin The presentation touches the different aspects of blogging and my favourite slide is Slide#6 , which is given below:

As per my understanding,this slide suggests : “Blogging is an addiction and this is what suggests the same.After marriage if you cannot blog(which is , if you are short of ideas) than you can have kids…”

Check out the funny presentation below:

Which is your favourite slide?

Failures seems a very familiar word to everyone.Everyone might have failed in some way or the other.Different phases of life has different failures associated with it starting from the day a person is born–>becomes a teenager–>person starts working–>gets married and so on…

Leaving the teen age aside(which is more for enjoying rather than taking things too seriously),the age when a person starts working is very important.A person looking out for a new job could be facing failures by not clearing interviews though talent/knowledge is not proportional to clearance in the interview.When a person starts to venture out,difficulties become double but the excitement is also doubled since , it is your own baby wink

But failing (again and again) leads to de-motivation and you tend to look into yourself “Are you worth it?” but the important thing what we forget is “Trying” which is more than “Failing”.With every failure you see yourself improving(which also depends on the individual whether he wants to improve or not) and the distance between you and your destination becomes lesser and lesser and one day “You are there at your desired destination”

Some of my personal failures(or ares of improvement, which I always remember):

  1. Not getting a job, after passing out from the college
  2. Crisis in my personal life (which makes you stronger day by day)
  3. Some of the technologies which I wished to learn but could not learn and many more ….
I remember an interview in Datamatics(4 years back) which I cleared only because I could answer one question(which was from the Program Manager of the company) – Who is Gururaj (Desh) Deshpande?” and my memories became fresh when I read a chapter in “How Innovators connect” which speaks about FAILURES.I would like to share “Gururaj (Desh) Despande’s story along with some of the important points revolving around “Failures and Success” and the lessons we get from them.Let me try to note down some of the interesting findings from the chapter “Connecting with failure

It is not so much that people like to fail but rather than they see “Failure” as a necessary side trip in the journey to bring great offerings to the market.

“It is very important to break away from your past in order to absorb new ideas.You should be comfortable in saying “I’m going to start something new,I better shut off the past and begin a different chapter in my life” – Umang Gupta,CEO of Keynote Systems

Never lose sight of the past (The Gururaj (Desh) Deshpande story):

Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande is the chairman of Sycamore Networks and he is on the board of directors of many IT companies.But he was not successful like this before.He has a pay cheque of $26.95 framed in his office.This cheque helps him to remember how someone can overcome failure with success.As Deshpande says: “Failures broaden your comfort zone and allow you to view risk a little differently”

He co-founded network hardware company Coral Network Corp in 1988 and “boot-strapped” th company while trying to raise $4 million in VC funding.When funding came in , it was a dream come true for him and his wife.His wife who was in IT also quit her job to take care of their two young children.
But soon,there was an ugly misunderstanding between him and his co-founder and they parted ways.When Coral Networks was sold to Synoptics,$26.95 was all that Mr Deshpande earned from the sale.

But Coral’s experience strengthened Deshpande’s belief that it is important to find things that excite you and do things you want to do and you should not be afraid of making a living.In India,culturally, people don’t want to accept failure because if you fail,you are marked for life.The irony he says is more you can deal with failure,the faster you can bounce back,whether you are an individual, a company or even a national economy.

After a (so called) failure,Deshpande was out with his new venture Cascade Communications Corp.Cascade became a huge success and very soon grew to $500 million in revenues.In 1997,Ascend Communications acquired Cascade for $3.7 billion.

From his early days,Deshpande learnt a lot: “To get things started , you have to be slightly crazy ,since if you are too thoughtful and too analytical , you would probably never pull the trigger“.These things are not so different from the critical decisions that we take in personal life like when to get married,having children or buying a house etc

Once Cascade was sold,Gururaj Deshpande went on to start his new venture Sycamore Networks.This time around he was able to finance himself and raising money for this venture took him only 15 seconds biggrin Today,along with his work with Sycamore,Deshpande also acts as a VC and is an investor in many startups in India and the US.

This is just a small story of a successful Entrepreneur who was hit by failures and bounced back well.Every Entrepreneur(or should I say person) is hit by failures but it all depends on how you come back after failure.

If you have reached so long in this post,I really appreciate it but you would ask this question “Why only Gururaj Deshpande? The reason is a. I cleared the Datamatics Interview (4 years back) but I did not join there biggrin and b. I keep his photograph on my desk in the office since,I really appreciate his effort.

Finally before I end this article,last words of success: “The successful innovators don’t let failure stop their internal quest to succeed

You can also check out “The Steve Jobs Story about failures and success” here , which is really very motivating and also also teaches you many lessons in just 14 minutes biggrin

Time to collect and put some of the interesting links for the month of May,2007.Below are some of the links which I found interesting:

  1. Ken speaks about Things to talk when meetup with a Venture Capital
  2. Professor Sadagopan speaks about Advice to graduating students (Must read for the new entrants in the industry)
  3. Udayan Bose speaks on Retaining good team members through Loosing a good team member
  4. Business Punditon What Tiger Woods can teach you about running a business

Interesting points from Professor Sadagopan’s article:

The Internet generation has lots of strengths but one major weakness. They seem to have substituted “read” with “browse”.

Interesting points from the Business Pundit article:

In business, I think we often know the things we should do, but instead we try to do the things we want to do. We like the random fun things. We want to plan, brainstorm, hold meetings, all the stuff that doesn’t require any discipline or focus. Unfortunately it’s also all the stuff that doesn’t make us better at what we are ultimately trying to do. We know we should be putting, but we want to take out the big driver and have a good time. Then we complain about our score.

It’s hard to be the best. To do it, you have to be willing to go above and beyond what everyone else is doing. You have to spend 4 hours at the range with a single club, if that’s what it takes. Is it fun? Of course not. But if you can make the short term sacrifices in order to reap those long-term successes, you’ll experience a joy that most people never do.

Related Posts:
Spawners February , 2007
Spawners April , 2007

It is around 4:30 AM and have not blogged for nearly two days cry Was very busy with my startup idea and hence,could not get time to blog but I am back again.Working part time with a full time day job,I have understood quite a few things that “life is not simple“.Also,working part time during the night time(on some working days and weekends),I have understood that time goes by very quickly and sometimes,we seem to lose our time on things which are very trivial,which does not involve your venture but something else(this could be checking your mail,your blog or any other personal activity).I guess pair programming would be a bit effective in this case wink I managed to make a few do’s and don’t’s for my idea which I strictly follow and I ensure I don’t break them(more about that would post later).Helps me to be more attentive and productive…

Also, life changes when you have two things going parallely,you need to focus on both(your day job,which earns you “bread & butter” and your part time venture) and you cannot ignore either of them.Day job is important for your living and your venture is important since,you need to take it forward with passion(which would also involve sleepless yet exciting nights).So,how to concentrate on both?Had a look at one of the presentation’s which stresses on “Working on a (part time) venture,without quitting your day job.The article mentions 5 simple ways to self-fund your venture(from your salary) and also how you can use your venture for the betterment of your organization.And guess what,it also tells “How you can make your boss a Beta tester”.

The 5 ways mentioned in the article are given below:

  1. Use your salary for funding
  2. Turn common complaints into a business plan
  3. Make your boss a Beta tester [don’t be surprised,you read it correct wink]
  4. Take advantage of your company’s reputation
  5. Convert your employer into a business partner
The complete article is given below:

You can also read the same article here

Would upload more on my do’s and dont’s later…

Infosys has taken a step ahead and formed “InfYi“, a new initiative within the company through which it will support, and in some cases fund, ideas on social entrepreneurship and convert them to viable business plans.

As stated in The Economic Times,23rd May 2007:

The initiative, called InfYi will function as the corporate chapter of the Young India initiative started by the Confederation of Indian Industry. Reflecting that charter, all its members below the age of 35 will be Infoscions.

The stress won’t be on funding but to provide guidance to the Entrepreneurs. Based on the inputs that a project or idea needs, a senior council member will contribute to it. The projects could be in youth affairs, education, healthcare, economy or any other socially-relevant area. So far, InfYi has received 13 project ideas. Three of these will be shortlisted taken from concept to execution. They will be put through the paces by a team which has worked out how to capitalise on opportunities and survive downturns.

Read the complete article here

Few days back there was a post on my blog which had raised some questions on the Web 2.0 phenomenon.May be post the dotcom-bust,Web 2.0 has been a savior for many of the companies.Was reading this week’s Business Today and found an interesting article titled “VC’s still love Dotcoms”(Page-72) , which gives an insight into dotcoms from the VC’s point of view.It has interviews by Ashish Gupta of Helion Ventures,Promod Haque of Norwest Ventures and Alok Mittal of Canaan Partners.Let me try to list down some of the important points mentioned in the article:

Last year, VCs invested $166 million in 27 internet companies,compared to $17 million and 2 dotcoms,the year before.So,VCs are quite optimistic about dotcoms

What sort of dotcoms are VCs interested in(by Ashish Gupta):

  1. It must be one that addresses a customer pain point or fills a market gap
  2. It must be differentiated and unique , and most importantly scalable
  3. As per VCs , startups in education,financial services and healthcare are some of the most attractive areas
  4. You’d better have a top-notch team that has worked together for some years,if you want to make raising money a cinch.
  5. There’s so much more to do with the internet , since the old backbone that most companies relied on will soon be redundant

Other emerging areas around internet?
Ashish Gupta says “There are lots of interesting opportunities in the hybrid areas that combine the internet with BPO or the mobile phone”.Helion Venture’s investment in JiGrahak,a Bangalore based mobile startup is an example of this trend.

As per Rajesh Jain,Managing director of Netcore solutions, there are two obvious problems:

  1. Indian entrepreneurs want to imitate the success stories in the west and VCs also feel most comfortable investing in them.
  2. However,there are not many success stories in a given vertical.There is only one YouTube,MySpace or Orkut.

Below is the statistics of the VC investments in dotcoms(from January,2005 till date):

Click here to enlarge the image

But there are other areas like Embedded market, Organized retail(though there are VCs already investing in this one), where we have lot of startups waiting for funding.It is obvious that the risk in such companies would be much higher , than in a dotcom biggrin This post on my blog focussed on two such startups in that field.May be,it is time when VCs should look beyond dotcoms since, the real innovation comes from such companies !!!

Amit Agarwal,the geek blogger from India has compiled a list “India Blogs 1.0 – The Most Widely Read Indian Bloggers” and was elated to see my name featured in the list as well biggrin

However,there is no section for “Entrepreneurship & Startups” , which is where I would have preferred my blog to be featured.Anyways,those days are not far enough!!!
I could also notice my fellow bloggers – Ashish,Vibhash, Abhishek, Mayank,Rishi, Ramanathan, Madhur , Gautam Ghosh , Ranjan in the list….Keep doing the great work guys.

You can find the list of the blogs here

Thanks Amit for noticing my blog.Also,watch that space for some pretty informative blogs in the list.