Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mails while leaving the organizations I have worked with

Thanks and goodbye!

As you might know, today is my last day at Lehman and I want to take the
opportunity to thank you all for the great cooperation and support over
the last 12 months. After a brief stint of just under a year in the
corporate world, I have decided to pursue further studies. It has been a
pleasure to work for Company and with such dedicated and talented people,
I truly hope our paths do cross again.
Below, I have enclosed my contact details.  Please stay in touch!
All the best, and take care.
Phone number

Thanks and goodbye!


As you might know, my internship ends today and I want to take the opportunity to thank you all for making the summers a great experience for me. I have learnt a lot over the last 2 months, things which would be useful throughout my career. It has been a pleasure to work for Company and with such dedicated and talented people, I truly hope our paths do cross again.

Below, I have enclosed my contact details.  Please stay in touch!

All the best and take care.

Phone number


Dear All,

As you might know, today is my last day at the firm and I want to take the opportunity to thank you all, for the great cooperation and support over the last year and a half. After a brief stint in Consulting, I have decided to make a career switch.

I have learnt a lot during my stint at the firm, things which would be useful throughout my professional life. It has been a pleasure to work for Company and with such dedicated and talented people, I truly hope our paths do cross again.

Below, I have enclosed my contact details.  Please stay in touch!

All the best and take care.

Phone number

Mail from my co-boss in my first job


You have been a phenomenal member of the team.  You had among the steepest learning curves of anyone whom I have had the pleasure of working with. You (with some help) set out some goals for the year that were a stretch to say the least.  You more than met them.  You have an ability to analyze oil markets that is superior to people with many years of experience. You have really taken to the subject matters with which we deal and they have clearly seized your imagination. 

You have an incredibly promising career before you and whether you return to Company or go elsewhere you will be able to count on my support and highest possible recommendation.

You are seeking feedback on areas where you could work harder.  There is only one that comes to my mind -- oral presentations.  You need coaching in this area to help you overcome your natural modesty and shyness.  That requires both training and experience and I hope you get the former at graduate school.  If we were in closer proximity we could help you with this as well.


Parting mail to my first boss in my career and his reply

Sometime back you had asked me for my view on the whole setup of our group and what things are working and things which required improvement. So, here are my two cents on this.
First and foremost, you are the best boss that anybody can ask for. I sometimes feel it is kind of unfortunate that you were my first boss, as I would naturally be comparing all my futures bosses with you and I seriously doubt if any of those guys would be anywhere close to you. You are the best when it comes to managing people and your commitment towards the group (supported by your actions and efforts) is unquestionable. While deciding between IIMA and my job one of the important things in my pro-Company list was that my manager was a person like you. Be it terms of publishing of names, or lead coverage from within our group, or mobility, your efforts were greatly appreciated by the group and everyone benefitted from them.
You handpicked gems from various places to make a necklace which we called Equity Research - India. The team was perfect and being managed by someone of your caliber made it amongst the best teams one can find. There was little or negligible office politics and other vices which, I suppose, are common elsewhere.
One of the good aspects of the team was that the individuals were working in different sectors. Personally, I felt that this diversity was very helpful in getting knowledge about different sectors. At the same time, it would be helpful if people belonging to the same/similar sector (as oneself) are within the group so that things relevant to one's sector could be discussed.
There was no dearth of learned people in the group. I got to learn a lot from Shuklaji and other team members and in general, everyone was approachable and ready to help. I felt that a lot of the group members were fully committed to their work and enjoyed working even if there was no sword hanging.
Now for some things which could be looked into. As you know, I do not have much work experience and so a few points may not seem as relevant to you. However, I felt I should write everything I feel and leave things for you to discard.
In general, there is a lot of transparency in terms of the policies, decisions etc. However, there is always scope for improvement when we talk of transparency. For e.g., it is inevitable that people would leave the group and new people would join. If someone is about to leave, I feel that, if possible, the team should know details about the same. I understand that this is not so simple and not always possible but whenever feasible, the group should be made aware (just as it happened in my case, though my case was slightly different as I am going for further studies).
Though within our group, things are great, the story is little different when we want to talk about other groups (with whom we have to interact). I am talking about Finance, HR, IT etc. For e.g., a person travelling is not as much concerned about his travel, accommodation as he/she is concerned about completing the T&E for the travel and submitting the documents within deadlines (a little exaggerated), which do not care if the person is still travelling and would not be able to submit the documents. A lot of effort has to be put into things which have a lot of room for simplification. I am not sure what/if we can do anything about this, but the main point is that people should be approachable, understanding and should reciprocate on issues raised, rather than ignoring things or passing the buck. I am not saying that the entire system is pathetic but there are bottlenecks (sometimes in the form of individuals) which can be removed/tackled.
Within our group, for administrative issues, things can be more streamlined if set procedures are in place. However, I believe this would happen with time and there is some lack of manpower to get this done immediately.
Finally, in terms of the weekly meetings, while the idea is good for improving presentation skills etc., people look less interested. I suppose, something like a NY morning meeting the Commodities team used to have can be better, wherein everybody speaks for a minute or so and gives the main things which happened in their field/sector and what are they working on.
I apologize for the long email, but thought I should present my point of view. I hope you will look at this mail as a constructive feedback and forgive me if you feel that I have crossed the line somewhere.
Also, it would be great if you can provide me some feedback about things which went right/wrong, things which I could have done better and aspects which I should concentrate on.
Thanks much for everything,


Ashu, thank you - it was one of the best compliments I have ever received in my job and if I'm able to make even half as much impact on people around me as you say, then I would have consider myself effective.
On you, all the feedback has been hugely positive- whether today from T via E or earlier, you have impressed all of us with your sincerity and hardwork. You were and I'm proud to say so, my handpicked hire from delhi and I am delighted by your success. Frankly, if you had not been selected for iim abd, I would have been disappointed as I had been expecting it. 
I'm sure you will come out with flying colours, do keep us posted and we would be delighted if you come back to Lehman after two years- preferably in our global offices.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Forgiveness as a business tool

Forgiveness as a business tool

Forgiveness can make us a better person but does it make a better leader? An eye for an eye for an eye for an eye…ends in making everyone blind. (Mahatma Ghandi)
The knee-jerk reaction of too many people in leadership positions when they feel wronged is righteous indignation and the urge for revenge. But one factor that sets truly transformational leaders apart from the run-of-the-mill is the ability to forgive - to let feelings of anger, resentment and blame fall away and become something constructive.
Great leaders know the art of reconciliation.
“Truly transformational leaders are acutely aware of the cost of animosity,” notes Manfred Kets de Vries, INSEAD Distinguished Professor in Leadership Development and Organisational Change. “They realise the havoc that can be created by an unforgiving attitude… holding grudges is a form of arrested development; it holds people back.”
“Many organisations today are like gulags. People are anxious, there’s a lot of paranoia. [But] what should be remembered is that people who don’t make any mistakes don’t do anything. They’re too busy covering their backs. They’re not going to try anything new.”
In organisations where you know that if you make a mistake you’re going to be fired, there is a culture of fear which stifles productivity, he notes.
“Leaders who can tolerate mistakes, who see them as learning opportunities, are those who create a great corporate culture.”
“Forgiveness offers people the chance to take risks, to be creative, to learn and to grow their own leadership capabilities,” Kets de Vries continues. “Holding onto resentment, bitterness and spite is not what transformational leadership is all about.”
Forgiveness, he claims, builds loyalty and good citizenship. People working in organisations that have been instilled with a forgiveness culture are more likely to make an extra effort, which has important consequences for the bottom line. It also helps transgressors to have a more positive outlook on the future.
Greatest example of forgiveness
Leaders today operate in settings in which strife is rife and, if left unresolved, could have severe implications for their organisation. But by walking the talk and encouraging a culture of forgiveness, leaders promote an organisation which looks to the future.
In his paper “The Art of Forgiveness: Differentiating Transformational Leaders”, Kets de Vries highlights one of the most obvious examples of transformational forgiveness with his comparison of two very different African political leaders.
“When you fly over Zimbabwe you see a wasteland, when you fly over South Africa you see something very different: two leaders with very different attitudes towards forgiveness.
“If I ask my class which living political leader do you most admire, 95 percent say Nelson Mandela. When you ask why, the answer is forgiveness.”
At the end of South African apartheid and after 27 years in prison, Nelson forgave his oppressors and encouraged many of his party’s members who clamoured for revenge to do likewise, telling them, “Forgiveness liberates the soul, it removes fear. That’s why it’s such a powerful weapon.”
In comparison, Robert Mugabe opted for bitterness, vindictiveness and hatred, against white Zimbabweans and the nation’s black citizens who opposed him. By encouraging supporters to forcibly occupy white-owned commercial farms Zimbabwe, once the bread basket of southern Africa, became the poor house. Under his rule, unemployment rose to between 70-80 percent, life expectancy fell. In mid-November 2008, Zimbabwe's peak month of inflation is estimated at 6.5 sextillion percent—making the national currency basically useless. A “clean-up campaign” targeting the slums where his most hardened opponents resided left 200,000 homeless.
Letting go of the grudge
It may seem impossible forgiving someone you believe has slighted or taken deliberate action against you. But the price for bearing a grudge can be high.
“While it may appear easier to hate than to forgive, revenge is so consuming that pretty soon hatred takes over from all other emotions, creating a life governed by endless cycles of resentment and retaliation.”
Numerous studies have shown that bitterness and hatred create stress disorders, negatively affect the immune system and are positively correlated with depression, anxiety, neuroticism and premature death.
“In comparison,” says Kets de Vries, “taking the high road of forgiveness contributes to greater spiritual and psychological well-being, lower anxiety levels, less stress, lower blood pressure and lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse. People who forgive more readily also tend to have fewer coronary health problems.”
Learning to forgive
Lives are not calm flowing rivers. Relating to others whether friends, strangers or family members is always accompanied by the risk of being hurt. And with business today relying heavily on networking and interpersonal relationships, the risk of being offended is high.
We cannot change what has happened; there is no “delete button” for the past. So the crucial questions are how we choose to deal with transgressions and how we metabolise the feelings, warns Kets de Vries.
Leaders can work on certain traits to enhance their ability to forgive but there is always a delicate equilibrium between nature and nurture.
“One element that can help is having empathy, the ability to put ourselves in others’ shoes. Why are certain things happening? Why did that person do that? Can you really imagine why, or is your mind so stuck there is no way you can?”
The other element is the degree of emotional control.
“When you get angry you can feel the anger rising in your body,” he notes.
“It’s important to recognise the feeling, to remember what happened last time it occurred, perhaps you blew up, refused to forgive and the situation got worse.”
“If you see something has happened, calm down and think about it. But don’t over-obsess. If you have harsh standards about what is right and wrong you can have a tendency to go over and over an error in judgment or perceived slight. You really add to the problem by too much rumination.
“The ability to forgive needs a certain amount of maturity,” he adds. “Think of Nelson Mandela in his prison cell for 27 years. He probably had a temper too but he learnt the need to modify it.”
Keeping it real
While true forgiveness is hard, pretending to forgive is easy. Saying “sorry” is merely a temporary measure that never really erases the permanent scar underneath.
Forgetting through repression of the problem is not the answer either. If the road to forgiveness appears to be halted or if the transgression has had such a devastating effect that it is impossible to move on, the time has come to seek professional help, says Kets de Vries.
“People struggling with forgiveness need to accept that life is a series of learning experiences and that all life’s encounters can make us wiser.”
Forgive but don’t forget
But forgiveness is not forgetting. Realistic forgiveness is about healing the memory of the harm not erasing it, he notes. “It is very different from condoning a transgression or excusing whatever unacceptable behaviour has occurred.
“Forgiving means not being a prisoner of the past. Truly transformational leaders like Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Aung San Suu Kyi seem to have figured this out. When we forgive we don’t change the past but we can change the future.”
(Manfred Kets de Vries is the INSEAD Distinguished Professor of Leadership Development & Organisational Change and also programme director of The Challenge of Leadership Executive Development programme, part of INSEAD's portfolio of executive education programmes. This article is republished courtesy of INSEAD Knowledge Copyright INSEAD 2012.)

Friday, October 05, 2012

Time spent outside tourist spot

These are some photos I clicked in London. This was near a famous tourist place and the persons who drew these had a good idea on how to get people give some money to them. Instead of just asking for money, I found people doing a lot of innovative stuff.

These guys drew flags of various countries and hoped that various tourists belonging to different countries will put money on their respective flags.

The first thing that tourists did when they came close to these flags was they started looking for the flag of their contry. If their flag is not present, they ask the concerned people to draw the flag, e.g. I saw some Taiwanese people asking for the same. The tourists then placed some money on their contry's flags and click pictures while doing that. There seem to be some competition brewing as people saw coins / money on their country's flag vs. all others.

The people who drew the flags had found a good way of making the tourists part from the chnage they had. China / Chinese were leading the way here as well. It was the only country whose flag had some currency notes, in addition to the coins.

I saw a Tibetan asking the concerned guys to draw a separate Tibetan flag, and making it a point to place a currency note on the same.

It was amazing how a simple setup like this helps identify people and their countries in the otherwise homogeneous setup. I was outside a famous tourist spot, but I finally ended up spending more time outside the tourist spot than inside the it.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Poem exchange between me and Prof. SH

Sir, I didn't knew how to say to you
From one of your acts, I took a clue
And am writing something
I hope with you, it will cling

I am grateful to God
That to LEM, I gave a nod
Had I not met you
So much in thoughts, I would not have grew 

For me, you are by far the best
Difficult even to compare with the rest
You have given me a lot
I sometimes wonder how much I have got

I knew you would inspire
A lot from you, I would acquire
But was not aware of the extent
With you was time well spent

To life, you have given a new direction
Richly, you have showered all your affection
I will not let this relationship subside
And will always look upto you to guide

I wonder how many lives a man can touch
And give to each as many as much
How fortunate it is that I am from those
That got an opportunity to come such close

I know that I cannot repay
But a message, I want to convey
If you have something  some day
I will be always ready to obey


And the river flew along
Singing along the unsung song
Who will meet him on his way
He knows not and cannot say.
But the thirsty will quench his thirst
And the faithful will have his trust
That the river will come their way
And herald another bright new day.
How many lives did the river touch ?
An answer that one need not search
what does it matter hundred or one
Even if one of them have won
Back that he had lost
And no matter at what cost
he could reach the zenith and say
My hard work at last did pay.
Dear dear student of mine
My love for you in my eyes doth shine
Each one of you is a precious stone
me, the thread  that is needed to be worn
But even if i am not there dear boy
Spread the happiness and the joy
that in LEM  i could give to you
Nurture the love that amongst us grew.
Ek guru ki aur kya hai wish
Baraste rahen tum par ashish
Sada raho tum prafullit
Khush, proactive aur prasannachit.

A view on Mahabharat

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Morning at the London Underground station

I believed London Underground train services were very sophisticated with the different lines and the interconnections and the fact that the city apparently runs on it.

So, I reached London early morning this Sunday for a business trip for 4 days. I thought let's use the train services to reach the hotel. I had traveled before and found it satisfactory. I went to the Heathrow Underground station and was expecting atleast one ticket counter to be operational (they have 3 counters there). To my disappointment none of the counters had a railway official to issue tickets.

I checked with sole official roaming around only to find that I will need to use one of those machines installed to get an Oyster card (the card you can use for train services). My mind said that I do have cash and a credit card, so the machines should serve the purpose. Sadly, the machines (3 of them) did not accept notes, but only coins. I didn't have enough to give the £5 deposit for the Oyster card, let alone topping it up for my trip to the hotel.

Cash was out of the picture now, and my mind said, use the card. The card charges might be higher (given the exchange rates offered by card companies), but I had no choice. Somehow, my card was not accepted, which was strange, given I have used it many times before in a few countries, including UK.

I had no choice but to head to the taxi terminal. Last thing I thought I should do before going on my way out of the train station was to check the timing mentioned on the ticket counter window. I just wanted to check if assistance was nearby. Timing was immaculately mentioned - (i) Mon - Fri: blah blah (ii) Sat: blah blah and (iii) Sun: 7:15 am to blah. I thought the counter should open anytime now and with that thought I checked by mobile to see the time. It was 7:46am. Again, unclear about how such things are happening in a city like London and within that the Underground services was not clear. Again, I approached the sole rail official to check when can I expect the counter to open. He said in 30 minutes or so. I told him that the board says 7:15am on Sundays. He looked at me as if I said something I should not have. The economic situation of UK was out there in the open. The official said, though the board says the time I mentioned, they don't have enough staff and so nothing can be done.

Just then I was again reminded, about how machines have been made to replace people more and more. And even then governments in the developed world are still not managing to fill positions with people, due to lack of resources.

As I was thinking this, another machine (the 4th one at the station) that seemed to be closed till then, suddenly sprang to life. It was a different looking one as compared to the first three. On top of the machine there was a LED display (this it had common with the other machines). It was reading something that I was looking forward to ... 'Notes Accepted'. I was happy that atleast now I will be able to use the train and not have to go all the way to the taxi terminal. There was a small queue already formed in front of the new machine and I decided to join it.

I was looking forward to getting my Oyster card and head to the hotel. I saw the rail official helping some of the passengers at the machines. Slowly as the queue moved and I reached the station, I asked the official if I can get a new Oyster card. And he said NO.

Back to where I started, I thought I had spent my share of time at the station. But just as I was about to move, I saw 1-2 people gathering at one of the ticket counters. I knew what that meant. Quickly rushed to the queue and got myself my well deserved Oyster card and to the train to the hotel.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I thought it was going on fine
With a lot of help from Lord Divine

Wondered why people said it will be hard
Very difficult one would regard

I agree that it required some change
Extent of which was difficult to gauge

I tried to do my best
And left to God the rest

Thought I made good progress
But many things I didn't guess

I was a fool to believe
Just plain simple naïve

The milestone in my rear view mirror
Had 'Start' written all over

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Finding great articles to read

Over the years, I have slowly developed a habit to read. But this has been more related to the online world rather than books / novels etc. May be it comes with the time spent with computers these days.

A challenging part of reading online stuff is to be able to find the right articles to read, ironically because the web has grown so large. It is easy to find a lot of articles (you can regularly visit various websites, read latest news etc.), but one will ideally like all articles to be relevant and interesting. At the same time, you will not like to miss on stuff that is 'good to know', but might not be as interesting.

I find 2 tools very useful for these purposes. One is a RSS reader that you are comfortable with. You can then subscribe to all kinds of websites that serve you the kind of articles that you want. Just subscribe to a website, and see if you have been actually opening up articles from the site once they come as a RSS feed. That will give a good sense of the usefulness of the website over a period of time. You can follow blogs and a range of stuff. You can also track news items, videos etc. about certain topics you want. For that, you can search for the topic on search engines or video sites, and add the RSS feed for that search in your reader.

You can find the complete list of the feeds I follow on the left hand side of this blog.

A very useful way of finding great articles is to subscribe to sites/ blogs of people who share links to things they have been reading. Some of the articles that I most liked have come from this kind of source.

For the sites which do not have RSS feeds, there are other websites that offer to setup feeds, so that it is easy to track them. However, somehow, I have not managed to use them well. In this case, I use our very own browser bookmarks (the 2nd tool), but then have the additional task of regularly going to my bookmarks to see if there are any updates. Hopefully, such bookmarks are not required to a large extent and are manageable.

If I find a great great article/ quote, I share it in 3 ways - 1. share it with your friends who follow you on the Reader which you use for the RSS feeds, 2. Facebook and 3. Twitter. Sometimes, I go back to these shared items and more often that not, feel what a gem it is, even now.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Interesting business opportunity

Guidance for junior folks in a team

This is a mail that one of my senior colleagues (whom I admired for his work) sent to guide the junior analysts (working in the Research Division of an I-bank). I believe many of the points can be adapted by junior folks for their specific fields

The most important challenge is to be on top of the mind of your lead analyst. He should think of you as the first person to delegate a task. As long as he keeps on giving you more work, you would enjoy the job and move ahead. If your analyst is senior and has many associates in US/UK, this will be tough to ensure.

- One nice way of keeping in touch is to send a daily news update. If the analyst concerned says "don't send", tell him that this is a nice way for you (not the analyst) to keep in touch with the sector, so keep sending anyways even when asked to not send

- Many teams also publish regular monthly reports. No body wants to work on them (because over time they become repetitive/boring). Try to take charge of that. The US team will be too glad to let you do it and you will immediately get involved in the entire work of the team (Monthly will require you to work on all the important models and key research themes)

- Some times lead analysts (the senior kind) may be too busy marketing and would not stay in touch with you even when you are sending the daily/monthly. There are two tricks to make them notice you.

(A) Search some news items that support the investment thesis of the analyst (there are always some) and try to write a small paragraph which essentially says "this is what we have been saying all along….". The boss will be too glad to use it in his marketing and will also respond with comments like "well said"/exactly....

(B) If approach A does not work: Search some news items that contradict the investment thesis of the analyst (there are always some) and come up with a well reasoned argument, which is against the team's investment thesis, is not offensive and is not directed at the analyst but is casually part of the news. If the argument is valid, you are almost sure to get a response to it.

- Keep on asking for work till your hands are full or the boss says some thing like "climb a tree, get down, climb again and get down,… keep doing till further instructions". The most stupid way to screw up in this job is to allow your boss to not give you work

- If you are given too many dead end and boring tasks, finish them anyways but try to start some other good quality assignments on your own. Do not wait for your boss to give you higher value added work, take your own initiative

- You will gain access to you team's drive. Sniff around. You will often get lots of useful information

- Read the old research of your team