Wiring Kindness


Today has been an interesting day in our household. On my way back from work my brother called me to say his wallet had gone missing. It wasn’t the biggest surprise to me as it was in his pocket and he was in train which was packed in peak hours. And I guess it happens sometimes – Lucky he didn’t have much cash in the wallet, still he had lots of cards to block, renew and replace.

We were only just fretting over getting this done that my brother got a notification on his Instagram, that he had been tagged in a photo. Shockingly, it was picture of his wallet and he was tagged by a girl he had never heard or seen before. She said he should contact her and take the wallet off her. Turns out he had dropped his wallet while he was on the train and this kind lady had found it there and then looked for my brother on Instagram from his name and photo ID. My brother messaged her and he couldn’t have been more thankful, and later this week they will meet to have his wallet returned.

This episode gave me a reality check of how technology has changed our lives and it make me think why we talk so much about how is has made our lives complicated, occupied and inhumane – sometimes I think we lack a sense of positivity and we forget to think about all the great things it makes us capable of doing. Even if the lady had found the wallet, there was no way of her contacting my brother unless she went to his university and got his details, which would have meant so much effort and time. I think technology has amplified our habits, capabilities and it is helping us reach our potentials, while we still learn to completely and effectively incorporate it into our lives. So the people who are kind, have greater opportunities to do something good with their increased accessibility and connectivity and people who are not, they wouldn’t be any different without technology either.

Today I am proud to be born in this era of technological advancements.

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Why Recruit by Referrals?


Having graduated only a year ago and graduating soon yet again (MSc.), I am surrounded by countless number of jobseekers (including myself) and I hear about the frustration of having to ‘network’. And seeing others with more valuable ‘networks’ progress faster in their careers as compared to the ones with less valuable networks. Working with a recruitment company showed me why this happens to begin with.

 

First and foremost, the truth that many people forget is that recruiters WANT to recruit and find the best person and what keeps them doing that and makes job hunting for new graduates so hard is that the skill misfits are endemic and so many people don’t effectively communicate what they have to offer. So, naturally it is a very costly matter for the organisations to find the right people by advertising, paying commissions, interviewing, carrying out assessment centres etc. Referrals on the other hand do not need to be advertised and this makes the process not only cost effective, but quick.

 

Money is not the only matter. They say.. Recruit the character and teach the skill. And everyone would agree, judging character can be very difficult through a set of questions or activities. However, when you get referrals from people you trust, you can probably trust them for their opinion about the referred individual too. By no means do I think it is the best way of recruiting, but it has started to make sense to me why it happens so much.

 

In my personal opinion the skill and talent are just as important and networking as people want to have likable people on their teams, who would not only work efficiently but also get along with them. But networking surely helps you achieve things you are capable of earlier and easier. 

The Techno-Culture


If luddites were alive now they would be stunned by what ‘lives’ look like and mean in this day and age. That’s probably why we don’t have many luddite-likes these days. The technology has evolved at an incremental pace and by Moarse Theorum, this is only going to increase in the future, so those of us with that luddite-side to us should probably prepare for scarier times. Earlier, I had a conversation with my friend who happens to have that luddite-self to her and some very interesting things came up which made me think.

Out of everything else that shapes our world and ‘culture’, I think social media comes under most scrutiny as it affects our social lives directly in ways so obvious to us, however the technology doesn’t limit its impact on our culture there by any means. I see that we have taken a while to completely understand what social media serves for us. I hardly think it was supposed to BE our social life. It serves a greater good for impression and connections management. This opens up the never ending and never concluding debate of how good or bad this is for us and I find myself split between the two ofcourse, but not for a second doubting how technology has done wonders to make us the most progressive (in some sense) than we have ever been in our kind.

Surely, there’s trade for quantity over quality. Now we can do so much, experience so much but what we actually take away from the experience is probably now limited. Although, that makes complete sense. The more of what you have, the less you value it and ofcourse technology does consume a part of our attention all the time. For better or for worse, I think social media and technology is beyond just an innovation and has now set values and culture for the Y-generation and this is only going to increase.

My take on the matter remains less sceptical. However, the way you incorporate technology in your life does determine it all. I believe the social media is not a substitute or form of social ‘life’, infact it is only a tool to supplement your social life and a tool for ease of staying in touch and managing your impression. This ideas is not new either as fretting over aesthetics and beauty is not a new idea for anyone and neither is that of impression management. With powerful systems handling our social media, there’s only one thing that’s changed, the information. The ‘quantity’ of information. So, now you can say more, store more, show more, know more and the down side is probably that the ‘noise’ in the system takes away from the quality we experience. If we learn to make it complement, not a substitute for our social interactions, it really wouldn’t be a bad thing at all. However, the ever increasing numbers of depressed people, irresponsible use of technology and social media and society of control and spectacle, do worry me. Guess, everything comes with pros and cons & just because it seems like an efficient lifestyle, we don’t always need that in every department of our lives.

I am sharing this video because it raised some thought provoking ideas in my mind (Thanks S).

Regulatory Split: Too costly a transition?


Cry over the hefty fines issued by FCA of over £470M in 2013 alone, one after another since mid last year really doesn’t surprise. It has been happening for a while now and despite the recovery in growth and economic indicators, the fear of penalties haunts the existence of most financial institutions. Now, here’s the perspective not many seem to be taking much notice of, the fines are if anything justified – extreme for sure, but that’s the kind of attitude that’s required for a truly deterrent impact to take effect.

Second is the idea of dynamic v static effects. All colossal changes seem impossible and painful in its initial stages, there is letting go of old habits, learning new things and getting used to them. And a change so radical is ought to be painful in the beginning, but it will only lead to a system more reliable, sustainable and greater (reasonable) profitability. This profitability doesn’t only emerge from the reliable operations, but also the investors trust in the performance of these financial institutions post-regulatory enforcement. Especially, as UK seems to be the most concerned one at this point about rising of regulatory standards. This although worries at the same time! Some foreign banks have already started to face trouble adjusting to the new UK regulatory standards, especially as their home bases including the SEC have still not put the matter under such great scrutiny. The regulatory standards for sure are a painful, yet fruitful move for a more sustainable future; however the regulatory discrepancies in a global financial space could be a problem. I think the transition might be longer than expected!

Why merge, despite the divorce rates?


What are the things we look for when thinking of a successful relationship? Compatibility, appeal, attitudes, willingness to make it work…

This blog is not about relationships, it is about mergers and acquisitions and why we see so many of them despite the fact that we all know not many of them work out well in the end. Even though M & As and relationships are two different things, the dynamics are really not that different, and neither are the factors that lead to their success and failure.

About 80% of the global foreign direct investment is made in the form of M & As and out of these 90% fail, which is much higher than the divorce rates of 40% – 50%, so why is it that facebook acquired whatsapp for $19BN, HP acquired Autonomy, Chase merged with JPM and many many more?

Understanding why would become very easy if we thought of business relations under the same light as the human relations. People all over the world are getting married because if it does work out, the life could be pretty damn fulfilling and similar is the case with businesses. If the M & As do work out there is countless benefits for businesses involved. I am not going to go into the benefits and drivers for these M & As because that’s beyond the scope or relevance for this blog.

There are things you can do to make relationships work and that’s exactly how it works with businesses. There is the potential that should you get everything right, there could be a successful future, so the success really is in your control (to some extent). Successful businesses don’t invest in M & As until they are ready financially and structurally to take on another business, and the ones that do, don’t usually end up triumphant in the end, which is very similar to being ready for a relationship – you can’t complete someone else before you complete yourself.

The way you deal with your new partner firms is also key – How much autonomy to give? How much stakes does each partner have? How much price premium do you invest in the partnership? Another factor which determines the success of M & As activity is the synergies i.e. compatibility between the two firms – what can the other partner bring into the business to add value? And how could you exploit these synergies effectively?

And in the end even if it doesn’t work out, businesses are not complete losers as they have to some extent, bridged the learning curve. So when they merge or acquire next, they would know better and do better. All these dynamics are not very different from human relationships, which is why it helps to think about businesses in an organic and ‘humane’ way, because at the end of the day businesses do exist for the people in it and for those associated with it. However, there are fundamental discrepancies in what human beings and business want and do. People want to maximize utility/ happiness and businesses wish to maximize profits, but understanding how each one of them go about doing it, does not vary very much… This is something I have learnt from economics (even though it doesn’t always work, it is an amazing stand point to start thinking about things).

Wonders in Diversity


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There is no doubt that the notion of diversity in organisations, institutions and societies is the new ‘in’ thing, especially in places like London. The lessons of acceptance and humanity that diverse societies bring are invaluable and it maximizes our horizon of what is meant by cultures and values, primarily by the means of focusing on differences we see in different backgrounds. The word ‘diversity’ in itself originates from different, unique and variation.

But what I experienced of diversity today was very different from any of these mainstream ideas suggest. Undoubtedly, I do enjoy meeting people from different backgrounds which sometimes surprises you by the variation of kind of ideas people hold. But having heard story of my own limitations, values, ambitions and inhibitions from another fellow colleague from completely different background (which I never imagined to share the same problems and perks as me) made me realise how the focus of diversity only on ‘different’ is extremely unfair, biased and off-putting. In a completely diverse individuals in terms of backgrounds, I had found the exact ambitions and problems as mine, which I have to say are not very common even from the people that share the same background as mine.

It made me realise how the culturally and ethnically diverse communities not only allow us to look beyond the backgrounds and differences but also give us the chance to cherish what we have in common, the extent of which can sometimes surprise you!

While there is difficulty in adjusting with different people (along with excitement about learning from those differences), there is so much comfort in finding out so much that joins rather than what separates you. The most influential language that exists is of humanity and everything else including thoughts, values, wants, needs and desires can be built on that.

Financial Markets: Broken down to their very core


Earlier this week, one of my friends shared a thought provoking video clip, which I find very worth sharing. It breaks down the whole financial system and complex functioning of the financial securities, multipliers, economic reforms etc to something that everyone is more than capable of understanding. In essence, it is a simple, basic and amusing illustration of how the financial markets function.

It takes me back to how hundreds of years ago coinage for money was replaced with cheques against the gold coins, which later became notes and now, only a depiction of value created by the Central Banks that print currency against, nothing! However, the system really is very firm and well established, yet complex – so I don’t disregard each of its contributions (liquidity, pace, security,..) to the businesses and money management in general; it does however lay at the heart of Capitalist agendas and the system.

The very first banks (or something what could be vaguely defined as banks) was created when gold coins were used as money and it wasn’t very unusual to be looted when traveling for trade, which exposed the traders to risk and insecurity. Some people however, saw an opportunity to open ‘bank’ that would issue notes against the gold coins, which could be redeemed back for gold, allowing people to travel safe. Years of such practice meant that businessmen would just exchange the ‘notes’ against gold rather than actually redeeming that gold. The basic mechanics of financial markets can be seen to have been born in this setting, when at that point an extra charge of gold/ money was required to redeem the gold that had been deposited earlier, which is exactly the definition of interest i.e. price of money. What we have now as currency is far from what the gold or the ‘notes’ meant, but surely it represents a buying power- one that decreases every second as the currency inflates in an economy.

(Despite, the video having some strong views/ language, I think the information is rather interesting and useful!)