Saturday, December 28, 2019

BookMarks #65: Why I Stopped Wearing My Socks

Title: Why I Stopped Wearing My Socks
Author: Alok Kejriwal
Genre: Management, Autobiography
Published: 2018

Tells the story, in his own words, of Alok Kejriwal's business journey and the lessons he has drawn from them.

I liked the format of the book - a brief narration of events followed by a short summary of the learnings to be taken out of them.  Each anecdote providing its own lesson. 

The author has structured the chapters chronologically starting with his time in his grandfather's transport business, moving forward to his father's socks manufacturing business and finally transitioning to the internet and mobile domain. Lets say the career path has been quite interesting. The title is metaphor of his quitting the family run socks manufacturing business and starting on the internet journey.

There are a few lessons which everyone can imbibe, even if they are not the entrepreneurial type. And these are not out-of-the-ordinary. They are ones which we do know, but have been presented in a single book. e.g. connecting with the right people, being adaptable to the circumstances, trying to identify the right problem and then working on its solution, being patient, being observant, being prepared and most important communicating well.

Overall, an interesting read.

Previously on BookMarks: The Barefoot Coach

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Road To Tokyo: Episode 10

Presenting the last episode of 2019 in the “Road To Tokyo” series. Come 2020 and the Tokyo Games will seem much closer. Here is the progress since Episode 9.

Quotas Earned
Fouaad Mirza won a Quota place in Individual Eventing. The Asian Games Silver medallist is thus set to become the first Indian Equestrienne Olympian in 20 years.

India added a Quota place in the Women’s Individual through Deepika Kumari in the Asian Qualification Event. This Quota also gives India a berth in the Mixed Event with the Men’s Team having already qualified. There is a potential to add 2 more Women’s archers through the Final Qualifying Event in June, 2020 in Berlin. However, the Archery Association does need to pull up its socks. It can’t continue to remain banned ensuring that Indian archers do not get international exposure at this critical juncture.

In Other News
South Asian Games
An event held for Indian athletes to register “international” medals against their names! However, we could not get a single quota from the Games! Speaks about the standards of the meet itself. Meanwhile Pakistan earned a direct Athletics Quota for the first time in decades – a feat which was noted by Athletics India and publicized in social media. Good to see the sportsman spirit is still alive in some sections even in these increasingly polarized times. 

Russian Ban - Meanwhile Russia has been banned from all sporting events for fudging dope tests. Quotas earned by Russian athletes and teams would suddenly up to all.

India’s shooters continued their good performance in the year-end finals winning medals aplenty. There are also selection headaches in the Women’s Rifle team with Elavenil Valerian and Mehuli Ghosh outperforming the Quota winners Anjum Moudgil & Apurvi Chandela. Nice problem to have though! Mehuli Ghosh smashed through the World Record at the South Asian Games (although not ratified as an official mark!)

Men’s Team have been placed in Pool A along with Australia, Argentina, Spain, New Zealand & Japan.

Women’s Team have been placed in Pool A along with Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and South Africa.

The federation has agreed to have trials for a chance to represent India at the Olympics qualifiers. So Nikhat Zareen’s wish is fulfilled.

Rugby – Both Teams have failed to qualify for the Final Qualifiers.

Total Count – Sports - 6, Events – 24, Entries -35, Participants – 62.

Lets see what the new year will have in store for the Indian contingent. Wishing all readers a very Happy Olympics Year!

Road To Tokyo: Episode 9

Monday, December 23, 2019

BookMarks #64: The Barefoot Coach

Title: The Barefoot Coach
Author: Paddy Upton
Genre: Sports Management
Published: 2019
Setting: From 1990s to current

Management lessons from Paddy Upton’s experience of coaching different cricket teams over the past two decades.

Paddy Upton has been associated with multiple high profile and successful cricket teams in his over decades of coaching experience. In this book he presents his insights from different experiences in this journey. The coaching career has seen highs (India winning World Cup, South Africa getting to be the top-ranked Test Team, success with the franchisee teams) and lows (bottom of the table finish in the leagues, accidental scandals) etc.

The book begins at a slow pace when Upton is giving his background and sharing some coaching theories. A that point, it does feel like a tedious management read. However, the tone changes, once he starts with his coaching journey, first with the Indian team, then the Proteas and finally to the T20 franchisees. Most of the experiences shared are by Upton are not about applying management theory to a sport but more of learning to evolve with the situation. There are no hard and fast rules except to be adaptable. Many a times, he has narrated how he came with a big presentation ready but had to change his approach given the audience reaction. 

The highlight of the book are the many anecdotes which are especially more interesting for a cricket follower. (like the instance when Sehwag got out because he had forgotten the lyrics of a song). The little behind-the-scenes stories make it real fun and enable better understanding of the coaching principles. Playing to your strength as against covering your weakness, Being in the zone, mental strength, what makes an alpha leader are good theories, how to play like a team but how does one get there? Again there is no single defined way but a good coach can assist you in getting there. How does one start making the little changes which can help in the long run.

Overall, a good read and worth investing the time. 

Previously on BookMarks: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Sunday, December 22, 2019

2019 TYIL

TYIL - This Year I Learnt.
Sometime, very early in the year, decided to compile a list of "interesting" (for me at least) things which I have learnt during the course of the year. And publish it close to the end of the year. So, at least one New Year's resolution got complete. And I have my own hashtag for it as well - #TYIL. So here goes. 
  1. Michelin Star was designed to ensure people have places to go out for dinner, in their cars and wear out their tires. Thus needing more tires and increasing the revenues of Michelin. It was a part of the Michelin Guide. (Business Insider)
  2. Yellow Cane Toads are so poisonous that a python, or even a crocodile, will die if they eat the frogs. Hence that python was smart and allowed these pesky creatures a ride on its back. (Link)
  3. The phrase “Rule of Thumb” has seemingly negative origins. According to folk etymology, English Law permitted a man to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than the width of his thumb. If true, quite a bizarre origin of an everyday phrase! (Link)
  4. Zugzwang – German for Compulsion to Move – A situation in Chess where any move you make will weaken your positional advantage! (Chessdotcom)
  5. Ikigai – Japanese formula – a reason to jump out of bed each morning (Link)
  6. Nagashi Somen – Japanese system of eating flowing noodles! Catch the noodles with chopsticks before it flows away from you! (BBC)
  7. Captology – the invisible ways in which technology can persuade and influence those who use it. Coined by BJ Fogg, a behavioural scientist. Derived from “Computers As Persuasive Technology” (Stanford)
  8. DC stands for Detective Comics. Somehow for all this time never tried to figure it out! 
  9. The ‘3-6-3’ rule of Banking - borrow at 3 per cent, lend at 6 per cent, and head off to the golf course at 3 P.M. {Life was simple then}(Investopedia)
  10. The Three Comma Club – or in simple terms a Billionaire – well, that could be an aspiration (Link
  11. Eugene Shoemaker – The only person whose ashes are buried on the Moon. (NASA)
  12. Marginalia - the writing in the margins of a printed book to underlining or otherwise marking out passages with asterisks or other symbols — essentially any type of visible interaction a reader has with their book. {Something we all indulge in but didn't know there was a word for it}(Firstpost)
  13. Shampoo originates from Champi – Washing hair from head massage – an interesting leap of language! (Link
  14. Henry Cavill’s mustache was subject of a $3 Million contractual dispute between the makers of Mission Impossible: Fallout & Justice League. (Link)
  15. Gandhiji’s 3 Monkeys have their origins in Japan – Mizaru, Kikazaru, Iwazaru (Natgeo)
  16. Steiff – a German company which is the creator of children’s teddy bears. All their toys have a button tag in the ear for authenticity! (BBC)
  17. The “Traps” in the Deccan Traps comes from the Swedish word “Trappa” meaning steps (Link)
  18. Karoshi – Japanese for “death-by-overwork” {Japanese do have a lot of terms to offer} (Business Insider)
  19. Men’s Underwear Index – is an economic index which can supposedly detect the beginnings of a recovery during an economic slump. (Wikipedia
  20. Badluram Ka Badan Zameen Ke Neeche Hai – marching song of Assam Regiment, dedicated to the memory of Badluram, a soldier who had died during World War II, but his platoon still got his share of rations! (Firstpost
  21. Kessler Syndrome - The concept that collisions between objects create space debris and will cause a cascade of further collisions, making space activities and satellite use impossible. (Wikipedia
  22. Pineapples can eat your mouth while you are eating it! (Link
  23. Gibbous Moon - when the Moon is more than half full, but not quite fully illuminated, when you look at it from the perspective of Earth. (Link)
  24. Lipstick Effect – purchases of smaller and more modest consumer discretionary items tend to pick-up during uncertain economic times. (Investopedia).Mr. Ravishankar Prasad, may please take note! (ET)
  25. Anna Karenina Principle - a deficiency in any one of a number of factors dooms an endeavor to failure. Consequently, a successful endeavor (subject to this principle) is one where every possible deficiency has been avoided. (Wikipedia)
  26.  The "high" in "high tea" refers to the height of the table on which it is served. 
  27. Mosambi’s name originates from Mozambique, from where the fruit was brought by the Portuguese to India (ET).
So this was 2019. There was no specific number planned - just a list which grew with time. 

Certainly more will be added next year. After all, the more I learn, the more I realize that like Jon Snow, I know nothing!

Monday, December 02, 2019

MovieNotes: Eat.Race.Win

Wading my way through Amazon’s collection of sports documentary series, found this interesting one on Tour de France. But Eat.Race.Win breaks the embedded sports documentary format by focusing not just on a particular team but instead choosing to highlight the work done by its performance chef during the course of the race. So here we go into a 6-part series covering the nutrition aspects on 1 team in one racing tournament! Talk about a niche within a niche. 

The series is narrated from the point of view of Hannah Grant, who is the Head Chef for Team Orica Scott, an Australian based cycling team participating in the 2017 Tour de France. The team has nine riders (at the start) with their chief priority being to win the White Jersey (awarded to the best rider under the age of 26, who finishes within the Top-10 overall as well). Any stage wins are treated as a bonus. Simon Yates is the chosen contender from the team. And he achieves the objective. 

Meanwhile, Hannah Grant and her crew are tasked with feeding the riders and the support staff as they journey through the Tour. Every episode is a different culinary adventure as Hannah and her team visits the local farms and markets to get the best of French healthy taste for the team. 

The highlight of the series is the way it showcases what goes behind the scenes. The usual image of Tour de France is a big peloton of bikers racing across the French countryside with cars following them and spectators cheering them by the tracks. We get to see some of the dangers of road biking and also the team work of both the support staff and the fellow riders in creating the winner. Till I watched the series, never realized that riding is a team sport. Unlike F1, the lead identified rider has to get full support from his fellow riders to achieve the overall objective! And food as the fuel for the riders makes an interesting analogy. 

This certainly was an interesting one to watch giving a different perspective to something familiar.. 

Previously on MovieNotes: Six Dreams