We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Silicon Valley, Indian Entrepreneurs and TieCon

Stable government was awesome news. Finally I hope we would see some great bold decisions from government. Indian's are finally coming together. Awesome verdict.
I liked Rahul Gandhi's role. I wish he becomes a HRD minister in the cabinet. We need him. This election saw lot of changes in Indian politics. Awesome to read all of them and felt great to see things finally happening and Indians thinking for a better future. Long way to go. I wish the success continues.

I spent my entire day today in Santa Clara, Silicon Valley, attending the largest conference of Indian Entrepreneurs in the world. TieCon as it is called. It was an awesome learning experience and cleared lot of conceptions I had in mind about the way things happen in Silicon Valley. It brought lot of surprises. It revived memories of my commute in Silicon Valley during the summer for Internship. It was hopelessly tiring then 

Here is a link to TieCon

Around 700 Indian entrepreneurs under a single roof. White people are rare to be seen in Silicon Valley. There around 1 million Indians in Silicon Valley in all, with around 700 startups or other businesses to their credit. Every time I visit Silicon Valley I return home with new experiences. In my school there are just 8, 10 Indians and just 30 miles away in Silicon Valley all you see are only Indians. Today after staying amongst core professionals I could see how immature the crowd in Santa Cruz which mostly constitutes of students, looks like. I could observe that Santa Cruz felt like a laid back village in front of Silicon Valley. I could sense that I had a different behavior in there and as soon as I entered Santa Cruz, the behavior was changing. As soon as I entered my house it was different. It was great to observe the way my mood was changing. It was great to be present amongst real people in flesh than virtual people on Internet which I am always, in Santa Cruz. I felt blessed to be away from Internet, where I could think without disturbance. I could sense the change.

I went there to have an experience of the spirit of entrepreneurship and I was spellbound with the struggle people make. So many diverse areas, so many experiences. Listening to inspirational speeches by great entrepreneurs such as Founders of LinkedIn, Zappos and listening to lot of success stories surely builds inspiration. Networking session is something which is really worth to watch as people linger in hallways to make new contacts, exchange business deals and grow their network. Its worth an experience to see a mix of seasoned entrepreneurs ( very very few of them actually) and young entrepreneurs mingling around, sitting discussing lot of business related things. This is a crowd of mostly new aspiring entrepreneurs. So you mostly do not see established ones. Lot of learning by just watching them like how they behave and conduct themselves. Lessons of how to communicate in the professional world and network with people.

From attending lot of panel sessions right from social entrepreneurship, mobile trends, cloud computing, latest trends in technology, venture capitalist sessions to Indian economy, new Indian Government’s role and how business community feels relived of a stable government it had lot of food for thought. Well, it is a different story altogether that such conferences do not discuss how badly some startups closed and how bad the effect was overall. At the end after receiving so much information you feel tired 

Some lessons to be learnt and some experiences to be remembered. The major lesson learnt is there is always somebody with a better view of things, wiser and it is really important to keep in mind that there are always people out there with more experience, knowledge and wisdom. You will reach there some day if you take enough efforts. Do not stress out yourself. And look up to them. Do not get complacent that you know everything, and at the same time do not feel bad that you do not know many things. It will come eventually. Listen to what wise people say and share about their experiences. Always stays in a group of people wiser than you, so that you will grow always.
Well American entrepreneurs are very smart and exceptionally talented. But they are really very few, but they stand out, because they grow in the exceptional culture of Silicon Valley which nurtures entrepreneurship and the spirit. I witnessed it live today.

It is observed that great companies are born in recession and depression. Let’s wait and watch, who is the big one that emerges out of this recession.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tips for Masters students ...

Some tips for MS / PHD students for being successful in their studies while at graduate school.

1. Be open minded. Do not fall in the trap of I want to stick to this specialization. This is an Indian mentality. Get out of it. It does not work in US. Explore and get exposure to different areas and take courses accordingly.

2. Chose difficult projects, different projects, long projects. Do projects in groups. Understand the good practices that your team members are using. Observer their work methods and chose the good ones. Discuss. Chose group members such that you will end up sharing and learning things. Do not chose group members because you are his friend. Chose on the basis of knowledge. If you are less knowledgeable, go to a group which has clever people so that at the end of it you would have emerged wiser.

3. Chose the courses wisely. Do not get bogged down by the course content. Have a diverse yet related courses. Like if you are in systems, good courses are statistics(undergrad level) (this is needed for analysis of data), operating systems, storage systems, distributed systems, data mining, database systems, multimedia systems, computer networking, algorithms, logic algorithms etc. Do not fear the ones you do not know. Understand the way this system works and try to build up the context and prerequisite for the courses you are not good at by taking extra undergraduate counterpart courses. US education system is very flexible and it allows you lot of flexibility in terms of lot of things. So make most of it. Get exposed to different problems so that when similar situation arises you can have atleast some background to think on it. You need not emerge out expert.

4. Take some courses which are inter-disciplinery ie. take some course in departments other than Engineering like say Psychology? Music? depends on your interest. Understand the life other than engineering. You will be surprised to see how different it is and what attitude it carries. Be socially responsible.

5. Professors are weird people. Do not feel bad if they do not talk nicely sometimes or not reply to your mails. Each professor is different. Some are really good, some are really considerate, some are good researchers but not good lecturers, some are good lecturers but not good researchers, some are harsh with spoiled attitude, some are very humane, some are not so. Understand their behavior and analyze them.

6. Difficult courses usually have a Teaching Assistant session where students are helped with their difficulties. Make most out of it. Learn how to use this time for a better learning and understanding of the material. Do not break your head on a complex problem under ego. Take hints and help of other people. Acknowledge the hints and help in your work. Share the credit. Do not brag. Plagiarism could be dangerous.

7. Homeworks are meant for making the material covered in class better understandable. You can learn new subject only if some problem in it is given to you and you break your head thinking about it. It is only during this time that you will face more problems and then only you will explore the subject more and appreciate it more. The satisfaction of solving a complex problem could be more than satisfaction of having a beautiful / HOT girl sitting next to you :) Experience it. haha. Homeworks are meant for that. So do that. Do not try stealing others ideas and copy. Get read of the typical Indian mindset.

8. Learn the material before hand. By learn I mean before professor teaches it in class, go over it in books, wikipedia, Internet. Get into the context of the subject so that the lecture would become interesting and you could identify yourself with what the professor is teaching. After the class is over, spend some time thinking about what professor talked. You will have better chances of remembering it, if you recall it immediately after the class. Your chances of understanding things improve manifold if you spend some time beforehand in going over lecture material, which is usually posted on class website by professor. Or take a look at previous years class websites.

9. Different professors have different ways and styles of conducting lectures. Do not try to force yourself in a single style. It will not work. Observe what is needed and how it could be achieved for the current class. Observe your methods each day so that you can correct them and improve upon them. At the end of your MS you will have lot of learning styles which would make you a real fast learner.

10. Take some undergraduate level courses. Audit them, do not enroll in them. By auditing I mean, just go and listen to lectures, take notes. Do not do homeworks, or appear for exams. Undergraduate classes are taught really nicely and it would give you a comparison basis for Indian education that you learned. Understand the difference between graduate and undergraduate ways of teaching by different professors.

11. Make American friends. Understand their culture. Pick their good habits. Discuss American and Indian culture with them. Make them understand Indian culture.

12. Attend different seminars that might be conducted in the school. Keep abreast with latest happenings in your field and in engineering in general.

13. Well that is most of it. Do not enter graduate school with the sole aim of entering US job market. American education system offers lot more than that. Make most out of your stay here. Enjoy it. Get stressed, depressed. The feeling that you made through it successfully at the end on your own is immensely gratifying. Experience it.

All the best...


Saturday, May 2, 2009

American Education - Financial Aid problems

Here is a nice series of articles that I came across today while browsing TIME magazine. It gives a great insight into the way American institutes of Education be it secondary schools to elite higher education schools, manage their funds.

A nice informative read if you were always interested in how American students fund their own tutions and manages huge fees. And a current look and statistics on the financial aid problems faced by American schools.

If you analyze it carefully, you will understand what Indian education system lacks and what are the problems associated with it.