Saturday, February 22, 2020

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

Stanford University Psychologist Carol Dweck tells us about the power of mindset in this fascinating book. She figured that people use one of two basic mindsets in their lives - fixed mindset and growth mindset.

People with fixed mindset believe the abilities are largely fixed while people with growth believe that abilities can largely be developed with effort over time. If you think your capabilities are coded genetically and you can only vary to a certain degrees no matter what you try, you are applying a fixed mindset. On the other hand if you see that it's not just your gene but your environment, your overall context and how you utilize that will determine where you will end up, you are applying a growth mindset.

Do you remember the Denim aftershave ad where it says for men who don't have to try too hard? This is a perfect example of fixed mindset. People with fixed mindset put themselves into an imagined box and think that is the overall boundary within which they have to operate. They think other successful people operate within a larger box or outside of the boundary than their own. Effort can only take them to the edge of the boundary and no more.

However, Carol argues us to develop a growth mindset where failures are learning opportunities, challenges are not hardles but call for more efforts. She argues us not to put ourselves into a box, and keep pushing the boundaries, if any has been setup for them, with curiosity, focus, endurance, hard work. She asks us not to praise our children for their talents but for their efforts.

If you think deeply, it's a groundbreaking categorization of how we think of everything around us. I highly recommend everyone to read this book.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg

One of my colleague from Marqeta first told me about this book, so I put it into my top queue for to-read list. Then couple of weeks back in a company offsite, our CEO Jason Gardner mentioned this book. So as soon as I was done with How Google Works, I started this book.

I found this book very thought provoking. It's a philosophy of life that can be of practical use at any place and time. The author talks about how to build new narratives so that we get rid of blame games and instead pay attention to the needs of people and ourselves. Here are some sample ways that we can use to communicate in a nonviolent compassionate way. You may initially find it a bit difficult or unreal but with time it will become natural I hope.
  • Can I interrupt you for a moment? There's something going on in me.
    • Use it when you want to interrupt someone because you dont want to listen any more.
  • Do you have space to listen to me for like 10 minutes?
    • Use it when you want someone to listen to you.
  • How would it be for you to do this?
    • Use it instead of can you do this for me or do you want to do this for me?
  • Would you be willing to try out this strategy for X amount of time?
    • Use it when you want to request someone to do something that might be challenging for that person.
  • Can I think about it and let you know tomorrow?
    • Use it when you are not sure to say full yes and need time to think on it.
  • I would really love to find a way to get both of our needs met.
    • Use it when you are in a delicate situation, thinking you or the other person might be triggered.
  • I would prefer to do X because I have a need for Z.
    • Use it when you want to say No to someone. Instead of saying no, propose this as an alternative.

I highly recommend reading this. Here are some quotes from the book.
  • “At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled.” 
  • “Peace cannot be built on the foundations of fear.”
  • “Analyses of others are actually expressions of our own needs and values.”
  • “In this stage, which I refer to as emotional slavery, we believe ourselves responsible for the feelings of others. We think we must constantly strive to keep everyone happy. If they don’t appear happy, we feel responsible and compelled to do something about it. This can easily lead us to see the very people who are closest to us as burdens.”
  • “Blaming and punishing others are superficial expressions of anger.”
  • “Focus on clarifying what is being observed, felt, and needed rather than on diagnosing and judging,”
  • “I define judgments—both positive and negative—as life-alienating communication.”
  • “My partner wants more affection than I’m giving her, she is needy and dependent. But if I want more affection than she is giving me, then she is aloof and insensitive.”
  • “There is considerably less violence in cultures where people think in terms of human needs than in cultures where people label one another as good or bad and believe that the bad ones deserve to be punished.” 

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell

Last year I finished 2 books that told the stories of Sillicon Valley startups in ways that I liked very much - The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz and Zero to One by Peter Thiel. This April another book came up but I couldn't make time to read it until now. I just finished the audiobook - Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, Alan Eagle.

It's a great book on leadership, management and business in general based on the lessons from Bill Campbell. Bill was a former executive at Kodak and then Apple, and later became the CEO of Intuit. He was also an informal executive coach to many tech giant CEOs/COOs, including Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt, Sunder Pichai, Marissa Mayer, Dick Costolo, Dan Rosensweig, Donna Dubinsky, Sheryl Sandberg, Ben Horowitz, and many others. I am thinking of many of the lessons I am trying to internalize after reading this book. If you are a manager or are in any kind of leadership role, I highly recommend you reading it. And even if you are not, I would recommend the same.

Here are some of the quotes from the book that resonates with me.
  • Your title makes you manager, your people make you leader.
  • Pick the right players. The top characteristics to look for are smarts and hearts: the ability to learn fast, a willingness to work hard, integrity, grit, empathy, and a team-first attitude.
  • People are most effective when they can be completely themselves and bring their full identity to work.
  • Keep note of the times when they give up things, and when they are excited for someone else’s success. Sundar notes that “sometimes decisions come up and people have to give up things. I overindex on those signals when people give something up. And also when someone is excited because something else is working well in the company. It isn’t related to them, but they are excited. I watch for that. Like when you see a player on the bench cheering for someone else on the team, like Steph Curry jumping up and down when Kevin Durant hits a big shot. You can’t fake that.
  • Winning depends on having the best team, and the best teams include more women.
  • Think that everyone who works for you is like your kids,” Bill once said. “Help them course correct, make them better.
  • Because the best person to be the team’s coach is the team’s manager. Being a good coach is essential to being a good manager and leader. Coaching is no longer a specialty; you cannot be a good manager without being a good coach. The path to success in a fast-moving, highly competitive, technology-driven business world is to form high-performing teams and give them the resources and freedom to do great things. And an essential component of high-performing teams is a leader who is both a savvy manager and a caring coach.
  • It’s a manager’s job to push the team to be more courageous. Courage is hard. People are naturally afraid of taking risks for fear of failure. It’s the manager’s job to push them past their reticence.
  • Strive to win, but always win right, with commitment, teamwork, and integrity.
  • Failure is a good teacher, and Bill learned from these experiences that loyalty and commitment are easy when you are winning and much harder when you are losing. But that’s, as Dan’s story highlights, when loyalty, commitment, and integrity are even more important. When things are going badly, teams need even more of those characteristics from their leaders.
  • The world faces many challenges, and they can only be solved by teams. Those teams need coaches.
  • How do you bring people around and help them flourish in your environment? It’s not by being a dictator. It’s not by telling them what the hell to do. It’s making sure that they feel valued by being in the room with you. Listen. Pay attention. This is what great managers do.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Became 2019 US National Class Champion In Under 2000 Section

I became undefeated champion today in 19th US National Class Chess Championship organized by BayAreaChess. I played in A section (Under 2000) in 2 days format while Ahyan played in B section . (Under 1800). I won first 4 rounds and drew the final round to be champion. Ahyan didn’t get a good tournament this time as he is trying to settle in this relatively new B section. So far all my games were hard earned slow endgame wins, three times being a pawn down with slight or no compensation. I should receive $1008 first prize along with the champions trophy. 

You may find the final standings here. Also I have recorded below all the 5 games I played in this tournament.

Rohan Rajaram (1794) vs. Ashik Uzzaman (1947) 1/2-1/2
Hyatt Regency, Burlingame, California: US National Class Championship: 2019.09.29

In the final round I needed a draw while my opponent Rajaram needed to defeat me to be champion. He thought he got me in the bag after his 42. Kd2. I am going to soon loose my c2 or g6 pawn with a good chance for him to win. But my reply 42... g5! threw him out. I virtually sealed the draw there by ruining his pawn structure despite going a pawn down. I remember Tournament Director Tom (who was watching the game) asked me later, where did that g5 come from? Moves like g5 is not intuitive and easy to miss, so I was very happy when I found it!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Great Speakers and Influencers

I listen to many speakers, watch youtube lectures, follow tweets as well as posts from LinkedIn, Medium and other blogs. Over time I came to listen to some of the speakers repeatedly either for their eloquence in speech or for their insightful message. Here I am compiling a list of best of them as per my taste. Please feel free to compile your own and share with me so that I can enrich my list. One point noted, I have left political leaders including US Presidents who are usually outstanding at speaking.
  1. Shykh Yasir Qadhi - American Sunni Muslim Scholar and one of the most eloquent speakers. Check out his youtube videos.
  2. Richard Feynman - Famous Physicist. Checkout his youtube lectures, twitter quotes or read his 2 books Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think?
  3. Naval Ravikanth - A serial entrepreneur in bay area. Follow his tweets and listen to his lectures in seminars.
  4. Jordan Bernt Peterson - Clinical psychologist and writer of 12 rules For Life. Follow his youtube lectures.
  5. Reza Aslan - Scholar of religious studies and writer of No god But God. Listen to his youtube talks.
  6. Andreas M. Antonopoulos - Bitcoin and Blockchain Enthusiast. Listen to his youtube videos
  7. Carla Harris - Start with her Ted Talk and listen to her youtube videos.
  8. Robert Sweeney - Founder and CEO of Facet. He posts the most insightful LinkedIn wall updates for software engineers and engineering managers I have ever encountered. 
  9. Simon Sinek - Motivational speaker. Listen to his youtube lectures.
  10. Gary Veynercheck - Public speaker. Listen to his youtube talks.
  11. Mehdi Hasan - British political journalist. Listen to his debates, shows in Al Jazeera English along with his hosting of Richard Dawkins.
  12. Lawrence M. Miller - One of the best Leadership Coach. Check out his youtube videos and Udemy courses.
  13. Muhammad Yunus - Microcredit and microfinance pioneer, founder of Grameen Bank.
  14. Abdullah Abu Sayeed - Founder of Bishwo Shahitto Kendro (BSK).