Monthly Archives: October 2013

Are your achievements being overlooked?

Are your achievements being overlooked?

  • Be present. However intensely you have worked on a project, if you are not in attendance when the outcomes are discussed, you are not likely to get full recognition for your work. Therefore, when that important meeting is organized, push to be there and represent what you contributed.
  • Establish objectives. Discuss them with your boss every quarter. Nobody will refute the credit you deserve when your completed goals are right there in black and white.
  • Promote yourself. Discover imaginative ways to communicate big wins. Have you successfully completed a project? Send a company-wide email inviting comments for the project as the leader of the project. Have you been asked to enhance the company’s public profile in the news media? Adorn your workplace with the press coverage you have acquired.
  • Outsmart saboteurs. If others try to get recognition for your effort, openly ask them in depth questions about your project and your contributions. Show them up, while coming out to have only the most excellent of intentions on benefitting the company and the project. In addition, connect with a colleague you can have faith in and be each other’s eyes and ears: look after each other and talk each other up to those that matter most.
  • Get reassigned. Change your roles, jobs, and departments every two or three years. Being on the move puts you in an instantaneous limelight and the company’s leaders will understand that you deserve the recognitions and the reward you to keep you.
  • Be noticeable. All leaders have favorite projects and initiatives. Find these pet projects and get involved.
Posted in Education and Career

Making history: The Beatles’ Abbey Road Album Iconic Cover

Conceivably, the most iconic illustration by the Beatles is the unforgettable image on album sleeve image on the album ‘Abbey Road.’ The image of the English rock band on the zebra crossing on Abbey Road, London, has become one of the most renowned and imitated in recording history. The crossing has become a popular destination for fans of the “Fab Four” as Beatlemania persists around the world.

Abbey Road Beatles Album Iconic Cover

The photograph of the “Fab Four” traversing the zebra crossing was based on the sketches and concepts by Paul McCartney. In the iconic cover, the group cross across the street in single file with John Lennon leading to the far right, followed by Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison. Not clearly visible is the fact that Paul McCartney is actually barefoot.

Not as popular is a picture taken prior to the iconic picture on the album sleeve. In this picture of the preparation, the innocence of the moment is truly remarkable. The Beatles are indeed oblivious to the significance of the iconic picture about to be captured of them crossing Abbey Road.

Making of Abbey Road Beatles

The picture of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road is frequently imitated as in this advertisement for the Volkswagen Beatle.

Abbey Road Volkswagen Beatles

Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture

Bertrand Russell’s Liberal Decalogue: Ten Commandments of Teaching

Bertrand Russell

British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic Bertrand Russell continues to be revered as one of the most influential intellectuals and philosophers of all time. Over a long career, Bertrand Russell, who was born an aristocrat, made considerable contributions, not just to logic and philosophy, but to a wide variety of subjects including teaching and learning, culture, history, political theory, and religious studies.

The third volume of Bertrand Russell’s autobiography contains an outstanding proposal called Liberal Decalogue on the responsibilities of a teacher in instruction. In the ten commandments that comprise the Liberal Decalogue, Bertrand Russell philosophizes about the very purpose of education, the significance of uncertainty and doubt in education, and the value of critical thinking. The Liberal Decalogue first appeared in the 16-Dec-1951 issue of The New York Times Magazine.

Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

  1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
  3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
  4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
  5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
  6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
  7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
  9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
  10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

Recommended reading: The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell.

Posted in Education and Career

The HP Way: Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard’s legendary management style

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, two graduates of electrical engineering from Stanford University, started Hewlett-Packard (HP) in Packard’s Palo Alto garage with an initial capital investment of US$538. Initially, the company was unfocused and worked on a wide range of electronic products for industry and agriculture. HP incorporated on August 18, 1947, and went public on November 6, 1957.

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard made the HP Way official in the year 1957 when the company went public. With the company expanding in leaps and bounds, the founders recognized the need to enlist a set of company objectives to channel the efforts of divisional managers. In forming the HP Way, Hewlett and Packard had a broader foresight of bearing in mind that profit is an enabler of various other valuable objectives, including employees and corporate citizenship.

In the words of Bill Hewlett, the HP Way is “a core ideology … which includes a deep respect for the individual, a dedication to affordable quality and reliability, a commitment to community responsibility, and a view that the company exists to make technical contributions for the advancement and welfare of humanity.”

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard’s legendary management style, which came to be known as the HP Way, has been the topic of many case studies by ivory-tower professionals, management theorists, academics, and Wall Street professionals. The tenets are as relevant today as they ever were.

  1. We have trust and respect for individuals. We approach each situation with the belief that people want to do a good job and will do so, given the proper tools and support. We attract highly capable, diverse, innovative people and recognize their efforts and contributions to the company. HP people contribute enthusiastically and share in the success that they make possible.
  2. We focus on a high level of achievement and contribution. Our customers expect HP products and services to be of the highest quality and to provide lasting value. To achieve this, all HP people, especially managers, must be leaders who generate enthusiasm and respond with extra effort to meet customer needs. Techniques and management practices which are effective today may be outdated in the future. For us to remain at the forefront in all our activities, people should always be looking for new and better ways to do their work.
  3. We conduct our business with uncompromising integrity. We expect HP people to be open and honest in their dealings to earn the trust and loyalty of others. People at every level are expected to adhere to the highest standards of business ethics and must understand that anything less is unacceptable. As a practical matter, ethical conduct cannot be assured by written HP policies and codes; it must be an integral part of the organization, a deeply ingrained tradition that is passed from one generation of employees to another.
  4. We achieve our common objectives through teamwork. We recognize that it is only through effective cooperation within and among organisations that we can achieve our goals. Our commitment is to work as a worldwide team to fulfill the expectations of our customers, shareholders and others who depend upon us. The benefits and obligations of doing business are shared among all HP people.
  5. We encourage flexibility and innovation. We create an inclusive work environment which supports the diversity of our people and stimulates innovation. We strive for overall objectives which are clearly stated and agreed upon, and allow people flexibility in working toward goals in ways that they help determine are best for the organization. HP people should personally accept responsibility and be encouraged to upgrade their skills and capabilities through ongoing training and development. This is especially important in a technical business where the rate of progress is rapid and where people are expected to adapt to change.

For Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard’s legendary management style and the history of Hewlett Packard, read ‘Bill & Dave: How Hewlett and Packard Built the World’s Greatest Company’ by Michael S. Malone and ‘The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company’ by David Packard.

Posted in Management and Leadership

Satyajit Ray, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Akira Kurosawa at the Taj Mahal

Satyajit Ray, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Akira Kurosawa at the Taj Mahal

Satyajit Ray and Akira Kurosawa at the Taj Mahal Three of the greatest auteurs of world cinema, India’s Satyajit Ray, Italy’s Michelangelo Antonioni, and Japan’s Akira Kurosawa at the Taj Mahal around the mid-1970s.

Satyajit Ray (1921–1992) was a Kolkata-born an Indian filmmaker regarded as one of the greatest auteur of world cinema. Michelangelo Antonioni (1912–2007) was an Italian film director, screenwriter, editor, and short story writer. The celebrated Akira Kurosawa (1910–1998) was a Japanese film director, screenwriter, producer, and editor. Akira Kurosawa is widely regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of world cinema.

Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture

50 Difficult Interview Questions and Suggested Responses

Difficult Interview Questions and Suggested Responses

General Questions

  1. Tell me about you!
    • Keep your answer to one or two minutes; don’t ramble.
    • Use your “positioning statement” (resume summary) as a base to start.
  2. What do you know about our company?
    • Know products, size, income, reputation, image, goals, problems,
      management talent, management style, people, skills, history, and
    • Project an informed interest, let the interviewer tell you about the company, let them define their business in their terms.
  3. Why do you want to work for us?
    • Don’t talk about what you want; first talk about their needs.
    • You wish to be part of a company project.
    • You would like to solve a company problem.
    • You can make a definite contribution to specific company goals: identify its management talent, etc.
  4. What would you do for us? What can you do for us that someone else can’t?
    • Relate past experiences which represent success in solving previous
      employer problem(s) which may be similar to those of the prospective
  5. What about our position do you find the most attractive? Least attractive?
    • List three or more attractive factors and only one minor unattractive factor.
  6. Why should we hire you?
    • Because of knowledge, experience, abilities, and skills.
  7. What do you look for in a job?
    • An opportunity to use skills, to perform and be recognized.
  8. Please give me your definition of a … (the position for which you are being interviewed).
    • Keep it brief, actions and results oriented
  9. How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm?
    • Very quickly after a little orientation and a brief period of adjustment on the learning curve.
  10. How long would you stay with us?
    • As long as we both feel I’m contributing, achieving, growing etc.

Experience and Management Questions

  1. You may be overqualified or too experienced for the position we have to offer.
    • Strong companies need strong people.
    • Experienced executives are at a premium today.
    • Emphasize your interest in a long-term association.
    • The employer will get a faster return on investment because you have more experience than required.
    • A growing, energetic company is rarely unable to use its people talents.
  2. What is your management style?
    • (If you’ve never thought about this, it’s high time you did.) Open
      door is best….but you get the job done on time or inform your
  3. Are you a good manager? Give an example. Why do you feel you have top managerial potential?
    • Keep your answer achievement and task oriented, emphasize management
      skills– planning, organizing, controlling, interpersonal, etc.
  4. What did you look for when you hired people?
    • Skills, initiative, adaptability.
  5. Did you ever fire anyone? If so, what were the reasons and how did you handle it?
    • You have had experience with this and it worked out well.
  6. What do you see as the most difficult task in being a manager?
    • Getting things planned and done on time within the budget.
  7. What do your subordinates think of you?
    • Be honest and positive…they can check your responses easily.
  8. What is your biggest weakness as a manager?
    • Be honest and end on a positive note, e.g. “I have a problem
      reprimanding people so I always begin with something positive first.”

Industry Trends Questions

  1. What important trends do you see in our industry?
    • Keep your answer to two or three trends.

If You Are Leaving A Job

  1. Why are you leaving your present job?
    • Refine your answer based on your comfort level and honesty.
    • Give a “group” answer if possible, e.g. our department was consolidated or eliminated.
  2. How do you feel about leaving all of your benefits?
    • Concerned but not panicked.
  3. Describe what you feel to be an ideal working environment.
    • Where people are treated as fairly as possible.
  4. How would you evaluate your present firm?
    • An excellent company which afforded me many fine experiences.

Quantifying Your Experience, Accomplishments

  1. Have you helped increase sales? Profits? How?
    • Describe in some detail.
  2. Have you helped reduce costs? How?
    • Same as above.
  3. How much money did you ever account for?
    • Be specific.
  4. How many people did you supervise on your last job?
    • Be specific.
  5. Do you like working with figures more than words?
    • Be honest but positive.
  6. In your current or last position, what features did you like the most? Least?
    • Same as above
  7. In your current or last position, what are or were your five most significant accomplishments?
    • You could refer to the key accomplishments already identified on resume.

Job Search Questions

  1. Why haven’t you found a new position before now?
    • Finding a job is easy but finding the right job is more difficult. (You are being “selective”)
  2. Had you thought of leaving your present position before? If yes, what do you think held you there?
    • Challenge, but it’s gone now.
  3. What do you think of your boss?
    • Be as positive as you can.
  4. Would you describe a situation in which your work was criticized?
  5. What other types of jobs or companies are you considering?
    • Keep your answer related to this company’s field

Your Work Habits and Style

  1. If I spoke with your previous boss, what would he say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
    • Emphasize skills — don’t be overly negative about your weaknesses;
      it’s always safe to identify a lack of a skill or experience as a
      shortcoming rather than a personal characteristic.
  2. Can you work under pressures, deadlines, etc.?
    • Yes. Quite simply, it is a way of life in business.
  3. How have you changed the nature of your job?
    • Improved it…of course.
  4. Do you prefer staff or line work? Why?
    • Depends on the job and its challenges.
  5. In your present position, what problems have you identified that had previously been overlooked?
    • Keep it brief and don’t brag.
  6. Don’t you feel you might be better off in a different size company? Different type company?
    • Depends on the job — elaborate slightly.
  7. How do you resolve conflict on a project team?
    • First discuss issues privately.
  8. What was the most difficult decision you ever had to make?
    • Attempt to relate your response to the prospective employment situation.

Salary Questions

  1. How much are you looking for?
    • Answer with a question, i.e., “What is the salary range for similar jobs in your company?”
    • If they don’t answer, then give a range of what you understand you are worth in the marketplace.
  2. How much do you expect, if we offer this position to you?
    • Be careful; the market value of the job may be the key answer e.g.,
      “My understanding is that a job like the one you’re describing may be in
      the range of $______.”
  3. What kind of salary are you worth?
    • Have a specific figure in mind…don’t be hesitant.

Personality Questions

  1. What was the last book you read? Movie you saw? Sporting event you attended?
    • Talk about books, sports or films to represent balance in you life.
  2. How would you describe your own personality?
    • Balanced.
  3. What are your strong points?
    • Present at least three and relate them to the interviewing company and job opening.
  4. What are your weak points?
    • Don’t say you have none.
    • Try not to cite personal characteristics as weaknesses, but be ready to have one if interviewer presses.
    • Turn a negative into a positive answer: “I am sometimes intent on
      completing an assignment and get too deeply involved when we are late.”
Posted in Education and Career

Albert Einstein on the Secret to Learning Anything

Albert Einsten on the Secret to Learning Anything

In 1915, physicist, advocate of peace, and philosopher Albert Einstein, who was living in war-torn Berlin, sent a letter to his son Hans Albert Einstein who lived with his mother Mileva and brother Eduard “Tete” Einstein in Vienna. In his letter to Hans Albert Einstein, “papa” Einsten spoke of creative absorption as the fuel for the internal engine of learning:

My dear Albert,

Yesterday I received your dear letter and was very happy with it. I was already afraid you wouldn’t write to me at all any more. You told me when I was in Zurich, that it is awkward for you when I come to Zurich. Therefore I think it is better if we get together in a different place, where nobody will interfere with our comfort. I will in any case urge that each year we spend a whole month together, so that you see that you have a father who is fond of you and who loves you. You can also learn many good and beautiful things from me, something another cannot as easily offer you. What I have achieved through such a lot of strenuous work shall not only be there for strangers but especially for my own boys. These days I have completed one of the most beautiful works of my life, when you are bigger, I will tell you about it.

I am very pleased that you find joy with the piano. This and carpentry are in my opinion for your age the best pursuits, better even than school. Because those are things which fit a young person such as you very well. Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal. . . .

Be with Tete kissed by your


Regards to Mama.

Source: Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children by editor Dorie McCullough Lawson. This book features a touching and inspiring collection of personal letters from some of the greatest American men and women. Spanning more than three centuries, this book provides keen insights into the thoughts of great Americans as they wrote to their children.

Posted in Education and Career

The First Hour is the Most Important Hour of Your Day

The First Hour is the Most Important Hour of Your Day

The attitudes that you wake up with set the tone of the rest of your day. The first part of the morning is very vital to your experience for the rest of the day for the reason that it establishes your attitude for the rest of the day.

Early birds are more proactive than evening people. Research has found that all early riders are more likely than night owls to stick to healthy routines and productive behaviors.

Other research has shown that we have a fixed amount of willpower and strength of mind that we can expend during the day. Therefore, this willpower reserve depletes during the course of the day resulting in poor motivation, difficulty in cerebral thought processes, wallowing away, and taking the path of least resistance.

Doing the most arduous tasks in the morning ensures the important things get done. Establishing a morning routine ensures that these routines keep you grounded and sane, productive, and balanced. Establish a morning routine and begin to feel more natural and less irreverent through the rest of your day.

Learn to love the morning and you may end up with a healthier, productive, and more balanced life.

Posted in Life Hacks and Productivity

How good a boss are you?

How good a boss are you

Examine your management style if you answered “yes” to any of the following questions.

  • If you went away for a week, do you think your team would fall apart?
  • Do you tend to be mechanical and robotic? Do you fail to realize that people are human and deal with them that way?
  • Do you raise your voice more than you used to?
  • Do you focus on fixing blame instead of fixing the problem? Criticizing more than being accountable?
  • Do you spend more of your time making sure employees are doing their jobs correctly — rather than developing yourself as a leader?
  • Do you avoid taking blame for your mistakes?
  • Are you giving employees more negative and less positive feedback?
  • Are you setting time aside to talk problems, pass along information — and communicate company goals to your employees?
  • Do you invent busy work?
  • Do you tend to give impracticable or contradictory orders?
  • Do you set deadlines or budget targets, and forget to follow up?
  • Are your employees avoiding eye contact with you?
  • Do you fail to focus on your task and delegate the rest?
  • Do you fail to give productive people encouragement and latitude?
  • Is the energy level dwindling in the environment you manage?
  • Do you play favorites? Do you tend to reward yes people?
  • Do you withhold information from your staff because it takes too much time to fill them in?
  • Do you act as if there is only one way to do a job?
  • Do you believe that most of your actions are worthless?
Posted in Management and Leadership

Hedge Fund Manager William Ackman’s keys to successful investing

William 'Bill' Ackman, Hedge Fund Manager

William “Bill” Ackman, the founder and CEO of New York-based hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management, recorded the following video on “Everything You Need to Know About Finance and Investing in Under an Hour.” Here are his nine keys to successful investing.

Bill Ackman is also the subject of the book “Confidence Game” by Christine S. Richard. The book explains how Bill Ackman used credit derivatives to short municipal bond insurer MBIA.

  1. Invest in public companies
  2. Understand how the companies make money
  3. Invest at a reasonable price to get a good return
  4. Invest in a business that “lasts forever”
  5. Find a company with limited debt
  6. Look for a business with high barriers to entry
  7. Invest in a company immune to extrinsic factors
  8. Invest in a company with low re-investment costs
  9. Avoid businesses with controlling shareholders

Posted in Investing and Finance