2013- Experience through Wisdom and Wisdom from Experience.

Yes, I am sorry. I have not done justice to the few followers of this blog. I have not written in a while, and I am not too proud of it. This will change (hopefully). I have realized writing is more like “Chicken Soup for the Soul”.

2013 has come to a close and I must say it has been one of my best years in the United States. A lot has happened this past year. Few memorable, few spectacular and plenty to cheer for. The year started with me making the best career move in my professional life so far. FireEye (www.fireeye.com) has given me a great work experience, and more importantly amazing colleagues who I now call friends. 2013 was also a banner year for few of my closest friends who tied the knot (either marriage or noose only time will tell :D) .

There have been few key learnings in the past year from my observations that I would like to share in this brief post. My few cents :

1) Be Aggressive

No one gives you what you want in a platter. You need to go out there, grind it out and grab your opportunities. Be it in your personal life or professional, being aggressive about your passions and desires will work wonders in your life. Key thing is to make sure you do not step on anyone. Your victory does not taste sweet if you have stomped over people to get there. Karma my friend has a way to catch up to you.

2) Be Patient

I know it is tough when you are aggressive and you do not see results. Patience is the key. There have been a few instances in 2013 where I felt nothing was going right. What I realized after-the-fact was it was not the right time. Longer the wait , sweeter the fruit is what I keep telling myself if I am not getting something in the timelines I want it. All that is in our control is our own efforts. If we are diligent, committed and honest about how we work, both in our professional and personal life, success & happiness is bound to come.

3) Be Wary Aware

You need to be aware of the situation. At work or in your life, always be aware of where you are, why you are there and who to look out for. There is a saying “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me TWICE ..Shame on ME!!”. Never let anyone stomp over you. There may be cases where you are betrayed, walked over, taken advantage of or passed on for. They are all life experiences that will shape the very fabric of your being, and will allow you to better gauge situations in the future. This will help you identify your true purpose and make you a better human being one step at a time.

It is often said you get wisdom from your experiences. What is not said is if you follow certain “established wisdoms” you can better shape your experiences in the future.

Until later my friends. It is a sunny day in San Jose after all.


Acknowledgement of inadequacy is the first step of learning !!

This post has been long pending.

It has been 10 months since my move to the Silicon Valley here in California, and I must say it has been quite a ride. I came to this place with very high expectations and I have been lucky to work in a city that fuels entrepreneurial spirit in the midst of extremely talented folks, and in a region of great technological innovations. My work has been steady, and there is something new to do everyday. The prospect of gaining an understanding of a skill you do not possess motivates me to report to work everyday. Having a great set of colleagues, who are close friends outside of work, makes a lot of difference. I have had a lot of time for introspection and self-evaluation. Looking at the wealth of experience, knowledge and skill around me I feel inadequate. I feel the need to improve on a daily basis to stay relevant and to matter. This is actually a good thing. I am not saying one person can possibly learn and acquire the vast breadth of knowledge there is. I only ask to make an effort. The realization that you lack certain capabilities is the first step to actual learning. Only if you acknowledge that you are inadequate will you feel the need to take steps to correct it. I was witness to the effort I mentioned earlier in front of my very eyes. The amount of hard work a close personal friend of mine put in his job hunt had no parallel. His steadfast dedication was inspiring to say the least. Clearly there were inadequacies he identified in himself, and he was committed to burning the midnight oil in ensuring he cleared them one by one.

Working in the development of a product right from scratch fresh out of graduate school in a highly quality driven work environment among a passionate set of people sure does keeps you on your toes. Passion is something that is intrinsic to the Valley. Among my numerous interactions with youngsters (I’m 25. Can I be a youngster? :D ) and adults alike, they all seem determined to make it big. They believe in the “American Dream”. I cannot deny the fact considering I am living the dream as well. I find that passion acts as a catalyst towards the task of overcoming one’s inadequacy. The one major reason I am excited to report to work everyday is the realization that my Manager is going to throw a problem at me that would require me to learn something new. The truth that the task is challenging makes sure I learn, understand and eventually execute it successfully. Once that is done, it becomes a part of my body of knowledge that I have earned. This has not only helped me groom into a better professional but also ensured that my growth is inclusive. The team gets the benefit of mentoring their youngest member (Me :D), and I get the benefit of having a strong support system at work.

My learning has not stopped. I realize how less I know and how much harder I need to work to get satisfied professionally. However, the sad truth is that in a universe with infinite knowledge, I will never be able to know even 0.1% of it. I leave you with this memorable quote from “The Big Bang Theory” between the eccentric genius Dr.Sheldon Cooper and the lovable Penny that signifies even physicists have it tough in this world :) :

Sheldon: I’m a physicist. I have a working knowledge of the entire universe and everything it contains.
Penny: Who’s Radiohead?
Sheldon: [after twitching for a moment] I have a working knowledge of the important things.

I guess we all will say “I have a working knowledge of the important things” later in life just to make ourselves feel better :) .

iCame…iSaw…iConqured…iMMORTAL !!

There are people who lead life the way others want them to. There are people who are content with what they have and where they are in life. Then there are people who push the limits to achieve beyond human capacity. Then there is STEVE JOBS.

The legendary co-founder of Apple Incorporated breathed his last today here in the Silicon Valley. There was a fitting rainbow in the Silicon Valley horizon today ( http://instagr.am/p/PNoz7/ , Thank you Nikila for sharing that with me). Numb silence is how I reacted to Steve’s departure solely due to the fact that I have always looked up to him and found inspiration in times of great personal struggle. Steve’s life not only personified pure genius but also a moral code on how one must face adversities and “LIVE” for your own passion. His brash nature, will power and the ability to take his adversaries head-on in the industry highlighted the strength of his character and the steel in his heart. His greatest strength was his steadfast commitment for excellence in all that he pursued.

I recall watching Steve’s first introduction of the iPhone with awe ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uW-E496FXg ) in 2007 and I was literally blown away. Steve Jobs had managed to make the world go “WOW” for the past decades. It is an old adage that a team is as good as their leader, and one need not look further than Apple Incorporated as an example. The entire employee base at Apple truly shared the passion and drive of their visionary leader, and together they revolutionized industries. Be it the music industry with their iPod, or the mobile industry with the iPhone, Steve had shown that one only needs the “INNER FIRE” to change the world.

Steve , in his commencement speech at Stanford University (2005), said and I quote :

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish

This is the simple truth of life. One need not look out for inspiration. One only needs to look within oneself to find what he/she truly wants to achieve in life. Steve Jobs wanted to change the world and he did. It is just a hope (fingers crossed) that I may do the same one day.

To the rebel.. To the crazy one.. To the Mr.Out-of-the-Box… : RIP Steve Jobs. You are a legend and your legacy will live on for ever.

Change is Constant !!

A lot has happened in the past few months.

I have changed cities. I have changed jobs. I have changed my life. I moved to San Jose taking up a position in an exciting firm offering thrilling new challenges. My move here was influenced by the job role, location of the position and financial benefits. The thrill of working in the heart of Silicon Valley was too good to pass.

These were not the only changes I went through. I became financially independent. The feeling of standing on your own feet in a professional environment and leading life the way you want is a thrill that needs to be experienced by all. There is a sense of achievement that underlies that feeling of being independent, and enables you to face life with swagger and courage. Not to discount the role that many people have played in contributing to my success, I firmly believe that life’s challenges can be faced alone. You may fall. You may grovel, but when the survival instinct in every human being kicks in you will always find a way out of whatever precipice you are in.

I quote Leo Tolstoy who in his epic Russian novels mentioned ” Everyone thinks of changing the world. No one thinks of changing himself first” . I am taking my first few steps in changing few things in me for the better.

This thing called life !!

So I have finally graduated with a Masters degree in Telecommunications from the University of Colorado at Boulder. It was a great feeling to be called out in front of all students and parents by the Deputy Director of the department, and commended for the great work done during the MS program.

My parents experienced a gamut of emotions during my commencement. I saw happiness, joy, pride, tears and relief.

Happiness – that they made their son get in life what they themselves could not.

Joy – that their son had successfully completed his Masters degree.

Pride – that their son was the first Masters degree holder in her family.

Tears – that their daughter could not join them in this moment of happiness for the family. (My sister was stuck in India due to her exams)

Relief – that their son had *FINALLY* become responsible in life.

I had checked them in a hotel near my campus. I must say now looking back, checking them in a hotel surrounded by CU-Boulders’ legendary party frat houses and sorority clubs was not the right idea. I came home one day to their hotel room and the conversation went something like this :

Me: Hi Ma !!

Mum: Enna da .. Nera paaru antha payan…. Kaaalai lenthu satta illama thanni adichindey irrukaan (Look at that guy, since morning he has been drinking without his shirt on)

Me: Illa ma. Semester mudinju pochu athan celebrate pannran nenaikren. (No ma. The semester just got over so he must be celebrating)

Mum: Athu Ok da … ambanama kudikanum avasium illiye ( That is fine. But he doesn’t’ have to be in the nude to drink)

Me: (Nothing to say and I started something else to change the topic)

What my parents experienced was not the Boulder I wanted to show them . Though I did make up for it and they ended up having a great time in Boulder-Colorado. I am currently in Chicago experiencing the sights and sounds of the city with my parents.

I hope by the time they leave for India I manage to give them an experience to last a lifetime :) .

Its time to graduate, in life.

As I approach the threshold of  my Masters’ degree here in the US, I cannot help but reflect upon my investment of two years that has gone into it. Having been one of the 500,000 odd engineers that India produces on an annual basis, I was convinced that the only way to stand out was to pursue my education further.

It is not a mystery that Indian parents regard education as the single most important factor that would lead to their children’s success. A normal conversation in many an Indian household goes as below :

Father : WHATTT .. our son got only 90/100 in his board examinations ( 10th grade)

Mother: I know. We should make him go to more coaching classes.

Father : If he keeps screwing like this then not even a third rate college will accept him.

This concern is not unwarranted as if you score a 90/100 in India there are 500,000 more just like you with the same score. This level of competition leads to either extreme stress or enhanced inspiration to perform better. In some cases it’s not surprising to see both levels of emotion.

I have now realized that the pursuit to be different is a great motivating factor in a person’s life. The attitude to stand out of the crowd is present in every human being, and the way you pursue this attitude defines your success or failure in life. There are lots of cases where “follow the herd” mentality prevails but your conviction is shown if you take a stand, and eventually stand out. There is a long way  to go before I can call myself successful, but I feel I am taking baby steps in the right direction.

Now after 2 years in the US, I have had time to introspect on what has passed. Did I make the right choice ? Am I really happy with what I am doing ? Would I have been more successful in my home country ? I am a man with simple tastes. I want my family. I want my friends. I want my sambhar-vada and masala dosa (staple south Indian breakfasts) . The US has offered me quality education. It has given me a job. It has given me a chance to have an international experience and have a taste of a totally new culture. I only feel that I am sacrificing too much, because at the end of the day no matter how much you earn later in life, it is those simple things you miss the most.

However, for now my main focus lies in gaining the most of my time in the US.

My mother called me with great excitement yesterday.

She said :”Sharat beta, me and papa got 10 year multiple entry US visa. We are so excited to come for your graduation.”

I acknowledged her thoughts and silently smirked to myself saying “I doubt I will be here that long ma” :)


World Cup 2011 and Sachin Tendulkar !!

My so-called blog life is in its infancy and what better way to start it than a post dedicated to one man who more than a billion people revere.

There is a very famous line attributed to Sachin Tendulkar, which can be seen in many a placards in cricket stadiums across the world as shown below.

The God This line is not merely a reflection of his sporting genius but also his humble personality. I have admired Sachin for a long time. His endurance and dedication on the field speaks volumes for itself. His ability to bring an entire nation to a standstill is something extraordinary. More than his on field skills I adore him for the way he has carried himself off field. In the glitz and gala of the current state of Indian Cricket, he seems almost at peace and away from glamor thereby attesting to his humility. His non-controversial personality and a very gentle nature make him one of the most adored sportsmen in the world. His story from humble beginnings in Mumbai to be one of the highest paid sportsmen in the world is a success story for younger generations to look up to and learn what all can be achieved by a constant pursuit of a dream with dedication and sheer hard work.

Apart from his sporting excellence where his records will stand the test of time, his efforts in social causes off the field are something that is to be appreciated. Be it sponsoring schools and old age homes, or being a brand ambassador of social causes throughout the country, Sachin leverages on his popularity to drive down socially beneficial messages and gives a push to welfare projects. These qualities combined with an affable personality make him the most powerful and the most trusted brand in the Indian subcontinent.

Despite a near invincible personality, what I fail to understand is the way critics find a way to blame him for his inability to finish matches resulting in India’s victory despite having put his best effort on the field. People fail to realize that cricket as a game is a team sport and one man alone cannot win the game for his country. Sachin has successfully shepherded India’s cricketing journey for the better part of twenty years and the least we can do as ardent fans is to ensure he gets all the support he can get.

Ask anyone who grew up in the 1990’s and 2000’s, and one will hear a unanimous opinion stating that Sachin has been an integral part of their lives. Many a tear will be shed the day he announces his retirement.

There is no better feeling than to hear “SACHINNNNNN SACHINNNNN” reverberate the cricket grounds when he walks out to bat.

It is not a mere calling of his name. It is a nation’s love raucously expressed in two words.

PS: I strongly believe India is destined to win the World Cup :)


Sharat Ganesh