Am I lucky?

Luck is talked about like fate.Luck is compared to magic. Luck is often thought to be random.

But it appears like Luck is a mindset. Luck is the ability to spot opportunities. “Luck” happens to the ones that already feel “Lucky”.

Ichi-go Ichi-e

Many years ago, I visited Sri Lanka with my Spanish friend Cris. We reached Colombo late at night, went straight to our dorms and fell asleep. We were sleeping on the upper bed of a bunker bed and when we woke up we realized that our window was overlooking the beach. Also, we realized that we were sharing the room with 2 japanese women.

One of them, Nami, was travelling around the world after college and it was her last day in Colombo. She offered to take us by local bus to her favorite temple in Colombo. It was the weirdest thing – an Indian guy and a Spanish guy were following a Japanese girl to a remote temple on the outskirts of Colombo. After spending time at the temple, getting some Indian food and walking around the local market, we found our way to a small restaurant at the beach later that evening. We enjoyed the local fish and a couple of drinks, as we counted down to Nami’s flight to Moscow(I think). The three of us got along pretty well and thought this was quite the unique meeting. Nami captured the emotion best when she quoted a Japanese saying “Ichigo Ichie” – it was a fated meeting. The literal translation of “Ichigo Ichie is “One Time, One meeting” or “a once in a lifetime meeting.”

The quote originally comes from a lesson of the tea ceremony. It means that since this encounter with you might be only once and might never happen again we will make this tea ceremony the best. Nowadays, it also has an extended meaning that since every encounter with someone new might be only once in your lifetime you should treasure it. It highlights the fact that this exact moment and this exact setting will never repeat itself.

The quote stuck with me for a long time. Nami left that evening. Cris & I travelled around Sri Lanka a couple more days and had a few other such “Ichigo Ichie” moments – perhaps Nami’s spirit defined our trip.

Many years later, as fate would have it – I met Nami again. I had just travelled to Tokyo and was waiting for a friend near Harajuku station. I sent a facebook message to Nami – and well, she was just around the corner. We met again, and went to temple in Japan – the tour guide this time my Japanese friend of Indian origin. Later, the 3 of us met up with an American friend of Vietnamese origins & the 4 of us went for a Korean BBQ. Our waitress was Burmese and I greeted her – Kyeizu Tin ba de (Thank you in Burmese, I had just been to Burma 6 months earlier).

Now as I look back at these encounters – I realize that the probability of such meetings are very low. While it seems obviously hard to repeat because of the backgrounds of the people that met, it also applies to the many encounters I have everyday. I never know when the last meeting with someone will be, I never know if it will ever repeat & i never know if this moment will change my life forever. What I do know is that each of these moments are special. What I do know is that each of these moments are meant to be treasured. What I do know is… Ichi-go Ichi-e.

Art of Persuasion

You understand Chinese and I don’t. If we both went to China – everyone will probably speak to us in Chinese – but you would understand them and I wouldn’t. In that scenario, you will be able to communicate back to them and perhaps you are at an advantage.

In the world, everyone speaks one language. The language of human behaviour, psychology and motives. At the risk of a very wide generalisation, despite our varied upbringing our instincts & body language is fairly similar. Now therefore the world is speaking this language – let’s call it “Soft language”. If you understood it and I didn’t, then just like in China you are at an advantage.

The underlying language is pretty similar across the world – everyone speaks it, few understand it. Understanding it doesn’t make you a magician nor does it make you manipulative. The underlying “Soft Language” is just another language you can learn & another weapon in your armour.

Analysis is Logical, Decisions are emotional

The other day, mid-way through an intense discussion with a colleague I blurted “Analysis is logical, Decisions are emotional”. Suddenly the discussions we were having fell into place and everything seemed to make sense.

Since then, I’ve found this statement very useful in many walks of life. Any time I need persuade people to change, I can only do so if I appeal to their emotional side. Logic & analysis are a great ally that one can use to elicit emotions. These emotions then drive decisions and motion.

The fear of sharing your goals

Sharing intent, goals & dreams make so much of a difference.  When I say them out aloud my dreams become clearer to myself. When I declare my goals, people find ways to help me and the universe conspires to help me.

But I keep dreams to myself. Keeping them to myself is easy, declaring them is scary. I fear that people will judge me on my goals and judge me if i don’t achieve them. The fear stops action – though I know the benefits outweigh the fear.

I have made attempts at getting over the fear and finding logical structures to help me. The process is complex and unnecessary. Instead, that while I may never get over my fears I can learn to manage my fears. I can get used to the feeling.  I just need to face my fears and learn to manage the feeling.

Joey says it best 🙂


Quick tips, in case you are preparing for GMAT. I scored 770 and got a lot of help from friends and forums. Here are things that helped me the most.

FullSizeRender 2Decide a study method – here is mine :

  1. Quick glance through materials – Write summary notes
  2. Repeat material studied within one week – Review notes and edit
  3. Problem solving from various sources – All errors noted, and lesson from error added into the summary.

So by the end of my study period I had review notes along with an error log. The photo of some sentence correction  notes may help. Whatever method you arrive at, please ensure you have summary notes and an error log. On the last day before the exam, going through it will give loads of confidence.

Study Material that helped –

  1. Quant – I used Kaplan’s GMAT premier. Also used GMATclub’s Math book – which was very very useful!
  2. Verbal – I used Manhattan’s books. The sentence correction book was a blessing.
  3. Official Guide – I solved the OG once, marked all my errors and solved the errors again. In certain cases I was wrong again on the second attempt, then I would repeat the process.
  4. On the phone – Gmat Toolkit app was my companion for over a month. I solved over 400 questions during this period just during my commute to work. Again, mistakes were reviewed a few times.

Study Timing & Preparing for war:

  1. 4 hour sessions on weekends –  A long Reading comprehension passage at the 3.5 hour mark is really hard because you just want the test to end. I think there is just one way to prepare for that – I maximised the numbers of 4 hour study sessions.Important also to not have water/food available (unless during the breaks).
  2. Making use of travel time – This was a big win. I practiced sentence correction on my way to work and quant on my way back. ( I enjoyed quant more and could motivate myself on the way back)
  3. Really tough problems by the pool side – I used to go sit by the pool side and try the really hard problems. It made the entire drill easier. Also, there was no wifi and phone connections there.
  4. Early morning sessions – If you are working then this is your saviour. My goal was to study half hour every morning. I failed sometimes, but sometimes the half hours became slightly longer. Half hours are a simple target and no matter how much you hate it-  just get that half hour done.
  5. Practice tests – I didn’t take up as many mock exams as my friends. The exams were useful initially to point out my worry areas and then I continued working at them. I used Manhattan initially – these are harder than the actual test so don’t lose heart. I completed the official test only towards the end of my prep to get a sense of the screen formats.

On the exam day: 

There is plenty of help out there about material you should carry and how you should prepare. Here are my tips, and each of these I tried on my mock exams as well.

  1. I carried an energy bar, water and headache pills(just in case). I had already tested this combo on my mock exams – so was good with them during breaks. More energy = more will power. The optional breaks are long enough. Of course, I had arranged my locker for quick access and already tested the bathroom – no surprises 🙂
  2. Timing & Scratch paper – It is important to stick to time on the GMAT. The scratch paper was my best friend to make this happen – I adopted a version of the tips mentioned here
  3. Keep calm and carry on!  – this was the biggest lesson! It is tempting to guess if the question is hard or easy. And when you do that, you get nervous if you are not certain of the answer.  if I wasn’t sure of the answer.  But the GMAT is pretty complex to guess your score. So it is important to accept that you could get answers wrong and still get a good score. So you just need to think of the question on the screen and carry on. When I found my mind wavering, I would rub my palms & eyes to reset my mind , then I would continue one. (my usual technique was to take a sip of water, but I learnt your can’t carry water into the exam)

Good luck!

Happy at work?

It doesn’t matter – the job, the salary, winning that argument. None of that matters at all – if you compared it to health, loved ones, happiness.

Why then get stressed? Why then get angry or frustrated?

Just keep going on. Remember why you are working; For happiness – you may derive it from solving a challenge or from the pay & recognition! But be happy!

If I ran my own school

The school will have 4 principle areas and each student will be measured on these 4 principles.

1) Self Sustenance –  Provide access to a balanced diet, hygienic shelter and sufficient clothing

2) Knowledge & Curiosity – Provide access to information about the world, sciences,arts,etc along with Understanding of interests, ability to express them and ability to pursue them

3) Interpersonal (and Intra-personal) skills –  Impart understanding of meta-knowledge (knowledge about knowledge), psychological structures and promoting reflection

4) Self Worth – Provide each student with opportunities to build self-esteem and understand their potential

All subjects,topics, sports will form perhaps verticals, but across them I will ensure that every student’s need across 4 pillars are met. (For example one student may build curiosity through learning about Tennis and another may build interpersonal skills by teaching Physics)

Dreaming out aloud 🙂

Over complicating!

I used to be a chronic “snooze-er”. Alarms will ring starting 5:30am and I ll wake up at 730!

For the last couple of weeks- I ‘ve not snoozed my alarm in the morning. I decide consciously about the time to wake up and I get out of bed. If I don’t get out of bed immediately, then there is a risk that I continue sleeping for long – well sometimes I like to live dangerously.

I was talking about the experience and my friend commented- “waking up without snoozing is easy right? Just get an alarm without a snooze button! ”

Why was I overcomplicating this?

I use the iPhone alarm and it’s easy to disable the snooze when you edit your alarm. I’ve disabled all the snooze functions!

Thanks Yong Kai!