Why I don’t want to hear about no one hiring fresh graduates.

I’ve been hiring fresh graduates for a couple of years now and it’s been a wonderful and at the same time terrible experience. We always heard everyone saying that no one in the industry gives fresh people a chance and even after 16 years of education kids find themselves working as interns for a year. Which is unfair and I really felt for it and wanted to have some of that energetic young blood in the company.

Now, the issue with hiring new people isn’t their skills or their competence but their attitude towards the interview process. For instance, if you get a 100 resumes and you tell those 100 people to write a single paragraph as a test. A maximum of 40 will ever reply you back, 10 of which after a week will apologize for not reading the email and 5 of those will have a sick mother. Now the 30 that did write something 10 of them never read what you wanted them to write And we’re down to 20.

One more thing 80% of these 30 that did write are going to be girls because us boys can’t be bothered with a company who want us to work even before hiring. How dare they! I would rather work somewhere where I’m accepting just because of my sheer manliness and my stand against non paid questions at interviews.

So our interview batch of these 30 brilliant, young, talented, enthusiastic folks is ready and we send out interview requests to all of them (if the given phone numbers are not off for the three days we call them) . After accepting the interview on the set date me and my team are all excited to meet this fresh blood and learn something from them. Guess what 50% aren’t going to show up, heck they aren’t even going to pick up your call when you ask if they are actually showing up.

Why would someone send their resume. Reply. Write a paragraph. Set up a interview time. Not come for it is just beyond me. And that is the thing reason why I hate absolutely hate the process of hiring fresh graduates.

After all of these shenanigans when someone complains to me that people don’t hire young fresh grads I want to slap them with a ‘ultay haath ki’ .

Okay, finally I have that out of my system. Having said all of that in our team the best people we have were fresh graduates and they are pure and absolute joy to work with. They pick things more quickly, they are always coming up with these amazing knew things which I have NO clue about at all. And honestly they’re running our company, we’re just at times nudging them in a particular direction rest its all them. I could not be more happier with the kids I work with.

But the process of getting them here is agonizing.

biannual Books Roundup 2016

My bookshelf at home started stacking up more and more books that I hadn’t read. Something always came up, but at the same time I had a lot of time while driving or just lazing around town. I drive around 1.5 hours on average a day.  I used that as a trigger to read books. And it’s been working so far.

I’ve read 17 books in six months which isn’t bad, that’s 4 more books than the first 6 months. The books I’ve enjoyed the most have been about human behavior, economics and psychology. It’s just fascinating when someone dissects the world by numbers or explains that little quirk of yours from an evolutionary perspective, gets me everytime.

So here’s the list with one line reviews and a link to a full review on goodreads.

Psychology / Philosophy

Freakonomics – Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner – 320 pages ★★★★★

Highly engaging, entertaining, one of the best I’ve read in 2016. This book won’t change your life but it will leave you with perhaps a cynical but more real perspective about the world. A world driven by numbers.
Read Full Review of Freakonomics

The Art of War – Sun Tzu – 273 pages ★★★★☆

It’s such a wonderful book, minimalist at its best. Every word is in it’s right place and you cannot take a single word away without losing its meaning.

It’s stripped off any frills and tells the philosophy as it is and you keep nodding your head yes master, true master.
Read full review of Art of War 

Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell – 309 pages ★★★★★

This is must read for us Pakistanis with a Jew conspiracy theory of success. We who clicks on a Rags to Riches story on a click bait website. Us who in our past time either talk about corrupt politicians or Property Dealers and how much they make.
Read full review of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Biography

Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson – 656 pages ★★★★☆

The biography for me was a battle to understand was job’s a good guy or not. I think we have to ignore that. He was a selfish guy, who did not often care for people or things, he wasn’t a humanitarian, a philanthropist nor did he want to fix the world.

What he wanted to do was to make great usable products and leave his mark on the world, in which he succeeded. And he succeeded in a way other companies never can.
Read full review of Steve Jobs Biography 

 

Elon Musk – Ashlee Vance – 392 pages ★★★★☆

Wonderful book about a super interesting man. The good thing is it’s not just about Musk it’s a lot more than that, it’s about entrepreneurship, futurology and the craziness that is silicon valley.

What elon musk is and what he’s not is a separate debate than the book. It feels like he’s portrait honestly but at times the writer does seem just a tad biased about what elon created.

Fascinating book, about a fascinating man. There is so much to learn from this not just about Einstein but his work, philosophy and political views. The Einstein’s perspective.

Business

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us – Seth Godin –  151 pages ★★★★☆

Tribes talks about some wonderful things which are very relevant not only to giant businesses but the little guy, trying to find his right footing. Some great advice in it, I like that seth never feeds you some mantras that you can repeat and be successful. He always just tells you a direction and let’s it go.Read full review of Tribes by Seth Godin

Cracking the Tech Career – Gayle Laakmann McDowell – 275 pages ★★★★☆

Wonderful for anyone who is serious about his career. its just not about tech job but any jobs in the modern world. Great detailed analysis with research from resume to interviews.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Greg McKeown – 260 pages ★★★☆☆

The books which focus on look what he did wrong and what happens feel like a chain letter. More than good examples it often focuses on things that went wrong. Personally I enjoy more how can you implement the concepts with examples.

Self Help

Mastery – Robert Greene – 318 pages ★★★★☆

I’m not sure what genre to put this book in, it’s part biography, part self help and a whole lot of great research on human behaviour to take in. But it’s a great read lets you have an in depth look at old and contemporary masters, their journey and their lessons.
Read full review of Mastery

The Millionaire Fastlane – M.J. DeMarco – 322 pages ★★★★☆

The only thing terrible about the book is it’s title. It’s a horrible one, if all self help gurus combined their power to create the cheesiest sloppiest title for a book this would be it.Read full review of Millionaire Fastlane

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie – 288 pages ★★★★★

The writer explains the simple rules and takes incidents from history of people applying them and the results that follow. These stories come from Roosevelt trying to win an election to house wife’s trying to raise their kids right. And work for both and everything in between.These are such simple rules which were true in 1939 (when it was written) and still hold true today.

Read full review of How to make friends and Influence People

Who Moved My Cheese? – Spencer Johnson – 96 pages ★★★★☆

This book is just right, short enough that you can read it in a sitting. Comprehensive and entertaining so you fully grasp the concept and enjoy it. A must read for everyone, because we all deal with changes all the time.

Science Fiction

2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke – 297 pages ★★★★★

A classic for a reason, it’s not everyday there’s a novel written just for the purpose of making a film on it. From Space Travel, AI to intelligent life forms it’s got it all one of the best sci fi I’ve read. The only regret I have is why didn’t I do it earlier.

The book on which blade runner is based. If you’re looking for a bleaker more complicated blade runner this is it.
Hyperion – Dan Simmons – 482 pages ★★★★☆
Hyperion. A story that goes beyond, religions, space and time with the right amount of wit, mystery and science.The stories expand to hundreds of years (because of inter galactic frozen space travel of course) which include aliens, androids, space portals, time travel, mysticism, poetry and so on. There’s a lot to each story and to each character and every single one is enjoyable.

The only science about the book is the fact that the man is from mars, everything is pretty much fiction. It’s an interesting take on human behavior but I’d want it in a smaller package.


Do check out Zaki’s year in books round up some great books in there. And if you’d like to read more of my ramblings, consider signing up for the email alert.

And if you’ve got any recommendations please send them over, I’m always looking for good books.

What did you read this year? This is my list from 2016

Reading time: 3 min
Summary: One line reviews of 13 books divided in philosophy, sci-fi, self help and business.

The stockpile of unread books in my room had been increasing with time. When  I did get some time my energy level was so low from reading for work all day that I did not want to read anymore. With the number of books my anxieties grew. Finally I got a solution this year, audiobooks for the win. It’s not only helped me get through books I’ve wanted to read for a while, but it has also helped me pick up physical books again.

The target was 3 books a month, which hasn’t been achieved yet. But will be inshallah but the end of the year. But hey 13 books more than last six months.

Psychology / Philosophy

Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse – 152 pages (read again) ★★★★★
Siddhartha is super short & there is a lot packed in it. It’s mystical without being a book of tips. It’s a life changer.

Road less travelled – M.S Pegg 316 pages (read again) ★★★★★
Road less travel if anything makes you understand yourself better. It’s a collection of cases from a psychologist office.

Working with Emotional Intelligence  – Daniel Colman  – 400 pages ★★★☆☆
I would recommend reading E.I the first book over working with E.I this is more of a implementation book of it.

Business

The innovators – Walter Isaacson  – 528 pages ★★★★★
Where did all this tech revolution start, the book follows the innovations to innovators from the first electronic device to Gates & Jobs. Teaches you a whole lot not only about who did it, but how & what internal & external factors make an innovation work.

Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell301 pages ★★★★★
It’s a collection of wonderful case studies & experiences from Hush Puppies, control of crime rate in new york to how sesame street is as addictive as much as it is. It’s a recipe for what makes anything tip and become a phenomenon.

Free Prize Inside – Seth Gordon – 256 pages ★★★★★
Marketing isn’t what it used to be 20 years ago. The book follows a wonderful philosophy of making products that market themselves. It’s gives a lot of marketing perspective about which Gladwell talks in the tipping point.

The hard things about hard things – Ben Horowitz – 304 pages ★★★★☆
If you’re in a decision maker which influences business & the lives that it involves, it’s a great read. It gets too specific at times, if you’re not a CEO with a VC backing it becomes a little unrelatable in some chapters. (for me personally)

Self Help

Getting things done – David Allen – 267 pages ★★★★★
If I’ve been able to do something in the last couple of months it’s because of Getting things done. A super short book a wonderful toolkit on getting things on track & getting rid of the I need to do that anxiety.

Monk who sold his Ferrari – Robin Sharma – 200 pages ★★★★☆
Some great tips in Sharma’s book a must read but too self helpy at times. Either way some great tips in there to help you in everyday life and focus on what’s important.

The 4 hour workweek – Timothy Ferriss – 308 pages ★★☆☆☆
The issue with 4 hour work week is that it sells a very modern, a very particular dream & it sells it in a tele sales borderline unethical at times illegal way. But if you want to build a lifestyle business that pays it’s a great toolkit. Has some great business tips nonetheless.

Fiction

Neuromancer – William Gibson – 271 pages  ★★★★★
Neuromancer, the original cyber punk. If you like Ghost in a shell, the matrix  it’s a must read. There’s a lot happening all the time, you might need to reread it to enjoy it fully, I did.

Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson – 470 pages ★★★★☆
Snow Crash is prediction of the future in parts, the book who introduced the concept of avatars & virtual worlds. All packed in cyber punk world. Great read.

The Mote in God’s Eye – Niven & Pournelle  – 596 pages ★★★★☆
It’s interspace travel, war and discovery. The thing that makes it tick is it makes you think about how different an alien civilization can be & still make sense and work. Really opens your horizon to a very different form of social structure and thinking.

The next target is to down 25% more books in the next 6 months, Inshallah.

Here’s my Good Reads Profile, give me a shout if you have any recommendations. I’d love to fill my list.

Thank you Zaki for introducing me to introducing me to audiobooks & the gifts. Thanks Ather Bhai for the recommendations & GTD. Thanks Izza for letting me borrow all the books.

Mediocrity the Pakistani dream

A seth sahab gets into his Mercedes and drives off to his villa-home to his wife. They Skype-chat with their two younger kids in NYC; both are art majors while their elder brother helps out his father in the factory.

The seth stands by his window, looking through the glass, as he smiles on what he has built and repeats “Alhamdulillah”. There. That’s it. That’s the Pakistani dream – to rise above the day-to-day worries, to have achieved enough to fulfill the offspring’s dreams and to have a backup plan in case the dreams turn to despair because there’s always daddy’s business to save the day.

It is not a substandard dream to build your life around and certainly no less of an achievement if you start from scratch. But if you’ve climbed, worked and achieved the position where you stand today, why not go beyond? No, it is not money that I ask you to run after – that never should be the drive or the goal of life but what I am focusing on, is a growth mindset. Why be complacent about being a big fish in a small pond why not scale up? Why not capture the world market and flourish way beyond the second-tier home products?

The fact is, we have all settled down, settled down for being mediocre without the slightest hint of disapproval of our fixed mindsets; we’re sufficiently complacent about it. Heck, we brag about it. We’re bragging about being mediocre. It’s always about how much we’ve done and never about where we want to go or need to be; it’s about the car I drive, the school I send my child to, not the dream of being the best in what I pursue. Or more importantly if I am making a difference for the rest of the people, for the underprivileged class or the needy? Or am I working towards creating jobs, getting my companies or the country’s name in the top 10 of this year or the next ten years. The conversation nearly always ends up in “Allah ka dia sab hay, bohat hay”.

We seem to be a nation of mediocrity swallowed up in our anxieties. Something our neighbors have risen above from and slowing nowhere till they have risen to the top. The Pakistani dream always has a cap and once filled, we stop. You will have no trouble jotting down names of local brands which maybe a household name for us but unknown beyond these borders. Can you name ten entrepreneurs that expanded their business from Pakistan and stepped into other countries and made a billion dollars? 10 household names that we don’t need to google to see. But we are very familiar with names like  Infosys, Tata, Bajaj and Amul.

Have we even stepped out and did an effort to push that boundary?

The seth style of governance doesn’t make it any better: a child who inherits his father’s business, often, does not go the distance. His Pakistani dream has already been handed to him in a silver spoon and well, who cares for the golden spoon? I firmly believe the people who can save Pakistan are going to be clever rich people, that’s what we need people with money and a will to go beyond set up funds, invest cleverly, start building something. It will only take one rovio, one zynga, one facebook to make it and change our mindsets and that is what we need.

And that’s the top end of the ladder. Let’s talk about us. We, the real mediocre. We get a government job and there is a celebration in the family: the safety net of a pension is a dream fulfilled. Everyone else is looked down upon.

I remember after my father passed away and how every other person’s question was why didn’t I get bharti in his bank because that would mean a permanent job, a pension and all that jazz. And I’m sure a lot of us have met that aunty once in a month – at least. Safety nets and supporting wheels is all that we want for ourselves and for the people we care about.

And then there are those who are the pride of the herd. The ones who got out of the country and ‘this system’ only to be proudly mediocre somewhere else. Getting into a company, getting the car we couldn’t afford in the Pakistani mediocrity and settle down for a gora mediocrity with a substandard 3 series.

If we were a product, our tagline would boast ‘Mediocre middle managers come and get yours today!’ – and perhaps, for a lower price than our neighbors.

We teach our children to be mediocre with our anxiety. So how many of you born and bred Pakistani men reading this took an Army entrance exam? Is it because of your profound love for the country, for protecting your Pakistani fellow men and women, for its sovereignty and progress or is it for the plot at the end of retirement? Or the chance to be brain-dead for a couple of decades so you don’t have to make hard decisions about your life to do this or to do that: a defined path followed strictly under order going straight to heaven. Let’s assume for a second that it is the right way to go and all the stars are aligned for it, how many of us get promoted beyond a colonel? I’d be interested to know how many people retire at what-post in the army even in a defined process where you go from ABC to Z like a straight arrow. But the fact of the matter is, we get tired at D but are sufficiently happy, sitting comfortably in our sarkari car and the canal in DHA.

If progress was key we wouldn’t be entering a department with no revenue or part in the GDP. We send our children to be army men because it’s safe, secure, stable and like a CMMI defined process that is aptly streamlined. It is the perfect sanctuary for a Pakistani.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying we are lazy, less talented or dufuss. We are simply scared and if we’re not, someone else will make sure that we end up scared and made to follow a traditional path leading to the dream.

There are outliers yes. There always are. We wouldn’t be a country if it wasn’t for the outliers. But look around you, isn’t mediocrity the Pakistani dream?

What is the price that you are paying to live ‘comfortably’

We live most of our lives to make things comfortable for ourselves and for the generation exceeding us. The rest however, is spent on survival.

Survival is justified but there’s another factor: comfort. How crucial is the latter for our lives? Crucial enough that I grind myself every day so that the carpet can be two inches thicker and the car a hundred horse power more? Our modern metropolitan lives conveniently trap us within it and we keep moving in circles. In return, we sell our experiences – all of those that we could have had with the time that we spent acquiring objects, the time that we spent caring for them and worrying about them being stolen from us. I wonder what if…

Is comfort really worth all that? What is the price of comfort one might ask; is it worth our whole adult lives? To flee, to be at one place; stagnant, comfortable. All the experiences we pass, all the people we could have have a significant impact on, the joy that could have been shared by many, all given up so that our lives and the lives of our children are more comfortable.

It is not our fault. Not really. We live and thrive in a (global) society where something as honorable as honor and respect is tied up with how comfortably someone lives and what other comforts they can afford. Human values, morals and all intangible things fall far behind.

It is a system that nurtures gathering and hoarding the need for more. One can escape from it in one’s head but a constant reinforcement and iron-will is prerequisite. We need to learn to be comfortable – without the comforts – to break this cycle and rise as individuals above this rat race that we’ve plunged into. We really need to rise above this rate race. Live a life

Where the label on our shoes don’t govern how good our lives are and we have more experiences to talk about, the tales of the thousand adventures we had, the lives we touched, the people we met, the things we learned rather than our latest acquisition of the finest lawn on the first presale of the season before ANYONE I mean ANYONE got it.

Why is change so hard? Why can’t we do what we know is good for us?

“Perspective” is all there is to life. It makes you and it breaks you. It is perspective that makes your life a heaven when its hell and it make you stress, crash & burn till your life is all ashes – when it really is not! It can marry you to the spouse of your dreams and it can have you hating your super model girlfriend for that one thing she does with her hair.

State of mind is all there is to it. One who controls it wins; peace & happiness and all that entails. So, basically, we have it in our hands, all we need is the will, the will to make our minds see things to get things. That too the things that really matter.

But who said each one of us comes with an iron clad will. Even when you have done all you can to align yourself in that perfect perspective and figured it all out – all it takes is a bump in the road to send it all clattering down. All the boxes in which everything was juxtaposed and prioritised comes tumbling down. Just that one small wrong slippery turn!

It would be very easy to choose the right path if you were a child with the young head laid in a white horizon. In a world where everything was levelled and you were a crisp blank page, well balanced and with no prior inclinations, kinks or bends. Sadly, that isn’t the case!

We are a collection of our memories, experiences and like the saying ‘things we’ve done repeatedly’. We are not a “crisp blank page, well balanced and with no prior inclinations, kinks or bends”. The whole supposed process of aligning ourselves is synonymous to someone waltzing in and making you learn to walk again.

Now this man comes in and wants to fix it and even if you want him to fix it you’re doomed for the rest of your life to be acutely conscious of every single step you take. Stagger, realise, understand and fix it over and over again. This re-start would continue to hammer in until the new way becomes a part of you. Your brain stops thinking about walking like it did when you were you, when you learned to walk.

But, when the time comes when you have to rush; you might jump back to your instinct, like you always ran. It would take the mind of a monk to realise at that point of the rush that you had to run in your new fixed way. And this is just running to do the deed – think of the deed itself, would we really stick to the change we painstakingly adopted!

All this is similar to brainwashing one’s self (for the good) Sadly its easier to be brainwashed by World War II propaganda films than it is to be by oneself. To  realign our perspective to see things in a brighter more understanding light.

Its perhaps not impossible but requires work, a lot of it. To understand that a change of perspective is required, is the most important step. This holds true not only for an individual but a community, a nation. To see the good we have, things we can do and things we can achieve by not waiting for someone else to fix the mess we have created but to pick up the tools and do it ourselves.

This is the way out and to get to it we need is an understanding of perspective and how to change it. Can we?

“And those who were seen dancing, were thought to be crazy, by those who could not hear the music.” –  Friedrich Nietzsche

Why motivational speeches don’t work?

Image

We all want to be productive. We all wish we could be motivated and we all want to do what no man has ever done before, or at least the 99% hasn’t. However, more often than we want to, we find ourselves in an overweight, lazy, unmotivated, working at a dead end job pit.

We watch a motivational video on the social networking website about the man who learned to play the Symphony number 2 while he cooked the best pan cakes you’ve ever tasted; all that after his horrific accident where he lost all of his limbs and an eye and
it moves our soul. We promise in the name of all that is holy and right in the world that this is the point beyond which our lives will be changed forever and I will transform myself into this six-pack beast whose everyday consists of a class act starting off with a revolutionary invention of a biofuel and ends with feeding the orphan ducklings in the local park.

Yet, after an hour we find ourselves with a bowl of fries in front of our TV watching the latest of the Kardashians. Again.

Why is it, that something so profound has no effect on us and every time we feel the burst of positive energy and then all of a sudden it is all gone?

Why is that self-help books are among the top ten best sellers yet, the number of people influenced or guided by them are less than the number of editions of that title?

The fact is this: every single person from those videos and every case study in the self-help book, everyone, before becoming that inspiration or achieving all that glory, have gone through pain and suffering of first understanding themselves, understanding what keeps them from growing, from becoming what they desire and where their inability actually lies.
It is only through the suffering of understanding ourselves and what we lack, that we can rise above it.

Embarking on that northern adventure, making a cabin in the woods, quitting your job and starting to work on your startup on a whim, that’s all going to be great for a time.  But as many things that we try to fill the little holes in our heart with, they all seem to fall; piece by piece. And we’re back to square one again.

It is because we choose not to suffer. It is because we do not choose to appreciate or rather understand that vacancy that we have right in the middle of the heart.

Like the comic says, not till we learn to run and enjoy the whooshing sound the hole makes in the wind, we cannot progress as a being. We cannot be fulfilled, motivated or be at peace.

No amount of motivational speeches and self-help books are going to fix us and no cabin in the wood is going to feel like home until we suffer and enjoy our home as a home and our current state of suffering as a reality. It is then, and only then that even a small ant carrying a load to her house can motivate us to take down a mountain.


My shitty grammer fixed by the very talented and super intelligent , Mehreen Qayas ( http://1800km.wordpress.com/ )