April 2021


“The new toolmakers do not intend to rob you of your inner life, only to surveil and exploit it. All they ask is to know more about you than you know about yourself.”

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In The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, American Harvard professor, and social psychologist, Shoshana Zuboff argue that the biggest technology companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon are exploiting our attention, modifying our behavior, and selling our data to the highest bidding advertisers.  Surveillance Capitalism is an economic system centered around the commodification of personal data with the core purpose of profit-making. 

Zuboff noted:

“Forget the cliché that if it’s free, “You are the product.” You are not the product; you are the abandoned carcass. The “product” derives from the surplus that is ripped from your life.”

Surveillance Capitalists unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioural data which] are declared as a proprietary behavioural surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence’, and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon, and later.

Favourite Takeaways – The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Swedish runner Gundar Haegg’s 4:01.4 minute time record set in Malmö in 1945 stood for nine years until British middle-distance athlete and neurologist Roger Bannister became the first human to run a sub-four-minute mile. He broke the record on 6 May 1954 at Iffley Road track in Oxford.

In 1954, Bannister set himself the target of breaking the four-minute mile barrier. At the time Bannister was a 25-year-old full-time medical student at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School. He could only train for 45 minutes a day for the event. The opportunity to break the record came on 6 May 1954, when Bannister was competing in an event for the Amateur Athletic Association against Oxford University. Bannister set a British record in the 1,500 meters at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland where he finished in fourth place.

Roger Bannister broke the record at 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds, and the record lasted for just 46 days. On 21st June 1954, the record was broken by Bannister’s Australian rival John Landy, with a time of 3 minutes 57.9 seconds. The sub-four-minute mile has since been broken by over 1,550 athletes worldwide, and it is now the standard of all male professional middle distance runners in several countries. In the 65 years since the record was broken, the sub-4 minute mile record has been lowered by almost 17 seconds, and it currently stands at 3:43:13, ran by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco, at age 24, in 1999.

Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people … or find a different room. 

Michael S. Dell, chairman and chief executive officer of Dell, the computer company he founded in 1984 with $1,000 and built into a multibillion-dollar global corporation, delivered the commencement address for the 120th spring commencement at The University of Texas at Austin on May 17 2003

 I’m talking about never measuring your success based on the success of others – because you just might set the bar too low.

Michael Dell’s 2003 University of Texas Commencement Speech Transcript

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Title: Competing in the Age of AI: Strategy and Leadership When Algorithms and Networks Run the World
Authors: Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani
Published: 2020 by Harvard Business Review
Rating: 8/10
Theme: The authors observed that a new breed of firms, characterized by digital scale, scope, and learning, is eclipsing traditional managerial methods and constraints, colliding with traditional firms and institutions, and transforming our economy. Software, analytics, and AI are reshaping the operational backbone of the firm.

In Competing in the Age of AI, Authors Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani argue that reinventing a firm around data, analytics, and AI removes traditional constraints on the scale, scope, and learning that have restricted business growth for hundreds of years. From Airbnb to Ant Financial, Microsoft to Amazon, research shows how AI-driven processes are vastly more scalable than traditional processes, allow massive scope increase, enabling companies to straddle industry boundaries, and create powerful opportunities for learning—to drive ever more accurate, complex, and sophisticated predictions.

The book describes the profound implications of artificial intelligence for business. It is transforming the very nature of companies—how they operate and how they compete. When a business is driven by AI, software instructions and algorithms make up the critical path in the way the firm delivers value. This is the “runtime”—the environment that shapes the execution of all processes.

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it’s the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it’s the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the backyard patio with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning, turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it. I turned the dial up to listen to a Saturday morning talk show I heard an older sounding gentleman, with a golden voice. You know the kind, he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whoever he was talking with something about “a thousand marbles”.

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A few weeks before the end of the fall semester in 2009, New York Times bestselling author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton M. Christensen, learned that he had cancer similar to the one that had killed his dad. He shared the news with his students at the Harvard Business school, and he also informed them that his cancer ( follicular lymphoma) might not respond to the available therapies.

 In How Will You Measure Your Life? Christensen shared insights and observations about life and business. His core message is for his students and readers to pursue purpose and meaning in their careers and relationships.

We know our friends during adversity, and our friends know us during prosperity. No one leaves a problem-free life; life is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, trials and tribulations, frowns and smiles, happiness and sadness, the yin and yang, crisis and opportunities. Adversity reveals a man to himself; although we don’t always want the tough times, it is the only way to grow; it might be through getting fired, losing a loved one, terminal illness diagnosis, divorce, failing an exam, etc.

The tough times in life have not come to stay but to help us build our character and learn the lesson the challenge has come to teach us. Do not let success get in to head and do not let failure get into your heart. This too shall pass, every wound shall heal and the sun would rise tomorrow.

David Carson was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1954; his father, a test pilot, worked on NASA’s early lunar landing program. But David preferred surfing to the skies, so he made his way to Southern California, where he studied at Fullerton College and San Diego State University, earning top marks and a sociology degree. It gave him a keen understanding of how individuals communicate with society and sharpened his research and critical evaluation skills. 

After finishing his bachelor’s degree, David taught sociology at Torrey Pines High School near Del Mar, California. He immersed himself in the regional culture—at one point, he reached the top level of the state’s pro surfing circuit—and didn’t take a graphic design course until the age of 26, when he spotted a listing for a two-week class at the University of Arizona, taught by artist and designer Jackson Boelts. The work struck a chord; David enrolled at a small art school in Oregon and, the following summer, signed up for a three-week workshop in Switzerland. 

“Before you become too entranced with gorgeous gadgets and mesmerizing video displays, let me remind you that information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all.” – Arthur C. Clarke

The Creepy Line is a 2018 American documentary exploring the influence Google and Facebook have on public opinion, and the power the companies have that is not regulated or controlled by national government legislation.

There is what I call the creepy line. The Google policy on a lot of things is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it. I would argue that implanting things in your brain is beyond the creepy line. – Eric Schmidt

Everyone knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.

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Tuesdays with Morrie is a memoir by American author Mitch Albom about a series of visits Mitch made to his former sociology professor Morrie Schwartz, as Schwartz gradually dies of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).  The book recounts the fourteen visits Mitch made, their conversations, Morrie’s lectures, and his life experiences. The book is a short philosophical book about accepting death and, in the process learning to live. It is a story about an old man who is dying and a young man who is lost, the old man (his professor) teaches him some life lessons on his dying days about what is really important in life.

The book was adapted into a 1999 television film, directed by Mick Jackson and starring Hank Azaria and Jack Lemmon.

“Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

Favourite Takeaways – Tuesdays with Morrie:

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Rumi

The greatest investment you would ever make is in yourself; to earn more, you need to learn more. American Author Jim Rohn often said, “Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job. If you work hard on your job, you can make a living, but if you work hard on yourself, you’ll make a fortune.” Thinking BIG: Books you read, Individuals you surround yourself with, and Goals you set for yourself. You can not give what you do not have, and you can not take people farther than you have gone. You can expand your imagination through the books you read, you can see the possibilities through the people you interact with, and you can go places through the vision and goal you set for yourself.

If you look at the Forbes list of the richest people in the world, you will notice a pattern or a trend. Most people on the list either inherited their wealth or solved a big societal issue through their enterprise. A lot of the entrepreneurs on the list have a certain characteristic which, among other things, includes an insatiable taste for knowledge, the ability to sell their vision to attract the brightest minds, and the ability to set Big Hairy Audacious Goals as Jim Collins would often say.

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In Working Backwards, Collin and Bill share insights. stories and the principles that drove the success of Amazon to become one of the world’s most valuable brands. The Title of the book working back is derived from amazon’s product development process: working backwards from the desired customer experience. Amazon is the largest Internet company by revenue in the world. It is the second-largest private employer in the United States and one of the world’s most valuable companies. As of 2020, Amazon has the highest global brand valuation.

The authors illuminate how Amazon’s fourteen leadership principles inform decision-making at all levels and reveal how the company’s culture has been defined by four characteristics: customer obsession, long-term thinking, eagerness to invent, and operational excellence. Bryar and Carr explain the set of ground-level practices that ensure these are translated into action and flow through all aspects of the business.

The Title of the book working back is derived from amazon’s product development process: working backwards from the desired customer experience

Working Backwards is a practical guidebook and a corporate narrative, filled with the authors’ in-the-room recollections of what “Being Amazonian” is like and how it has affected their personal and professional lives. They demonstrate that success on Amazon’s scale is not achieved by the genius of any single leader, but rather through a commitment to and execution of a set of well-defined, rigorously executed principles and practices.

Is anybody happier because you passed his way?
     Does anyone remember that you spoke to him today?
This day is almost over, and its toiling time is through;
     Is there anyone to utter now a kindly word of you?

Did you give a cheerful greeting to the friend who came along?
Or a churlish sort of “Howdy” and then vanish in the throng?
Were you selfish pure and simple as you rushed along the way,
Or is someone mighty grateful for a deed you did today?

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Former Procter & Gamble Vice President for IT and Shared Services, Tony Saldanha articulates strategies for leading a successful digital transformation and he also demonstrates how to improve the odds of digital transformation by lowering the costs and risk of change. Saldanha proposes using a five-stage model for digital transformation and a disciplined process for executing it.

The reason why digital transformations fail is that they take more discipline than one might expect. It takes a surprising amount of discipline and a positive outlook of the possibilities for digital transformations to succeed.

The book is about understanding why digital transformations fail as a means to a more important end, which is how to thrive in an industrial revolution. 70 percent of digital transformations fail, to get the 30 percent right requires discipline. The reason why digital transformations fail is that they take more discipline than one might expect. It takes a surprising amount of discipline and a positive outlook of the possibilities for digital transformations to succeed.

Favourite takeaways – Why Digital Transformations Fail