Week 29 – The myth of the bell curve

The Myth of the Bell Curve
Is this an viable alternative ?
Overcoming The Last Mile Challenge: Distributing Value To Billions
The Last mile – Fortune for Bottom of the Pyramid
A Simple Exercise to Increase Well-Being and Lower Depression from Martin Seligman, Founding Father of Positive Psychology
What went well
Leadership Lessons From Effective Acts Of Conscience: Martin Luther King And Pete Seeger
Mobilize Inclusively
Innovation–You’re Doing It Wrong: How To Put Intuition And Ideas Before Tests And Analyses
Lead with Online Execution, Analyze on the back-end

The Economics of my attempt at Self Publishing

I will begin with a disclaimer. This post is not about promoting my book that I self published. I just want to share the mechanics behind it and the economic incentive or the absolute lack of it.
I and four of my friends went on a road trip to Leh and the book was kind of an amateurish photo journal. I did not know why I wrote, but that trip was something I thought I should pen down and I wanted to relieve some kind of nostalgia ,so that when I reach some stage in life and look back, I will be nothing but some total of my experiences and I had wanted to evidence that experience.
The process was something like this
 
It is really simple and at the end of it, I liked the smell of what I had in my hand.
The content creation or the manuscript was the toughest part. I woke up at 5:00 AM in the morning from July 7th to July 31st 2012 and wrote non-stop for an hour.  After that I established contact with the publisher and this process of getting the book out take longer than expected. For my good fortune, the hard disk in which the publisher had this manuscript had crashed and I had to re-work with the publisher. I had wanted a Diwali release, then I pushed to Christmas release, then I pushed to Pongal/Sankranti release and finally the book came out in sometime in March 2013. By that time I had resigned to the fate of just getting the damned thing out. To be frank, my initial enthusiasm had waned by the time, the book came out. I am kind of summarizing the lessons learnt at the end of this post, but I did maintain a good relation with the publisher and for an amateur, the courtesy extended by the publisher was reasonable. Also, the entire transactions happened over email exchanges, without a single phone call. Oh God, I do love these kinds of transactions.
Here comes the Maths
Cost of Publishing including 35 soft bound and 5 bound hard copies for known circles and preservation for nostalgic purposes. 4 copies of book have to go to authorities for safe keeping so that they can issue an ISBN. Books printed by me on demand come at actual cost
Rs 53786.00
Cost of getting the epub and kindle formats
Rs 31200.00
Google Adwords for two months
Rs 2000.00
Total Cost of Publishing
Rs 86986.00
Next comes the real fun. Below follows the royalty report from the publisher.
Total Units Sold
23
Total Units Paid for
21
Total Units not paid for
2 (Publisher has not received the money from online distributor)
Total Author Earnings
2235
Payment Details
To be Issued J
Here comes some background
MRP of the book
Rs 990
Discounted Price from the publisher
Rs 750
Cost to print the book (Owing to the photographs)
Rs 490
Distribution cost for the publisher
Rs 150
Author earning per book
Rs 110
Rs 990 was very expensive was the feedback I got and the author earning per book goes to Rupees 5 when sold through  online book stores. I had two orders from flipkart and no one knows how to transfer rupees 10 to me yet.
I made the ipad and kindle versions of the book and offered it for $2.99 in Amazon. I have had 3 sales till now and this is a scheme in which Amazon takes 70% of the value and some holds back around 30% of the remaining amount as withholding tax under some kind of trade agreements between India and US !!. In net, it amounts to $0.61 and Amazon is having some hard time getting that $0.61 into my account.
Well anyone, who has crossed 2ndstandard maths, can figure out the return on investment on this venture. Since I have not received any cash till now, it tends towards negative infinity which probably is not all that bad 🙂.
How did I feel?
Well first things first. I did not expect to make any money and I do not have any disappointments there.
However, I was not without disappointments. I thought I will be able to reach at-least hundred people and I reached twenty five. The number of hundred came from my calculation of a term that I had discovered called ESN (Effective Social Networth). More about it in a later post.
As far as the quality of the book itself, I did not receive any adverse feedback. Since most of the copies were read by people close to me, I guess they chose not to hurt my efforts or feelings. I understand, respect and appreciate that.
I did receive some hand written and email feedback from people who were completely unrelated to me. They did have some nice things to say or in other words did not have anything bad to say.
In that sense, I just patted my back saying, Well ‘For a first timer, it is just about ok’. If my Appa was around, he would have been delighted and also kind of subtly given some actionable feedback. I was and am unlucky there.
My kind of summarized lessons are as follows
·        If you want to write, go ahead and just do it. Technology has empowered anyone to write. If I can get away with it, you too can and you can be more successful.
·       Do remember this. Take end to end ownership. At some part, I just gave up and wanted the book to come out. At hindsight, it could have been better with one more round of editing. In that sense hold on to the leash tightly and be very focused on the last mile. Focusing on the finishing is as important as the start.
·      The thread from start to finish has to be held together by you. During the iterations, do listen to good feedback, but do not get swayed too much by opinions. You do not want the integrity of your work to be taken away.
·       Find that peaceful hour and set the pace. Once you are in the zone, you would want to be in that zone and once you experience what happens in that zone, you probably want to continue to be in that zone. Looking back, the daily one hour early morning ritual that I had set for myself helped me realize two things. I can experience ‘flow’ states and though I do not do it often now, I can get back into flow states.
·      Failures are a way to keep you going. Empirically my first attempt at writing would be classified as a failure and I accept that , but emotionally it was a success for me.
Stay Tuned.
Have Fun.
Expect my second go at this shortly.
I am in a race against time.
Zunder

Reflections of a Foodie – Part I – Classification of Consumption Styles – A producer / consumer Model

I belong to the minority of people who live to eat. Sometimes I do wander aimlessly at what is the purpose of life and preach shamelessly on everything under the sun without an iota of practice, but good food awakens my senses, gets me back to my normal self and I return to my gluttonous self. I am a complete rice consumer. Morning, afternoon and night I can eat rice. This practice is questioned by people who seem to care about my wellness more than my own self, but as I grow older I have started listening to them not because I want to listen, but I have typically trained myself to follow the path of least conflict. I got so much involved in eating and I started to draw some interesting classifications and also about relationships in general. I would be sharing the below observations
·         Classification of consumption styles
·         Inferential Classification of relationship by consumption of Mixed Rice, particularly Curd Rice
If you are the type who dabble rice with a fork, spoon or associated accessory I seriously suggest that you back off now, as some of what follows may shock you or disgust you. If you do not mind being a little adventurous you can feel free to continue.
If you have never had a banana leaf meal, your chance to retreat from reading is now.
However, If you are the type who are not scared to get your hands dirty, despite what the corporate programs have thought you about how to eat rice in banana leaf, then you will have some fun and intended pun going through this.
For the context of the discussion, there are two roles. One is the ‘Producer’ which could be very well you or the person who is creating the food and the other is the ‘Consumer’. Producer takes on the additional role of serving the food as well. Also you may need to rewind back a good 10 to 20 years depending on the age group you are in to
The Hungry consumer
These folks belong to the school of thought, “Quantity is Quality”. They do not care to associate cause and effect, they will not be able to distinguish, differentiate or appreciate the nuances behind rice being hot and rasam being hot when eating rasam rice. All that matters to them is giving a look of ‘Give me more. I am done with this round’. The only key performance indicator behind this category is that their rate of consumption will be better than the rate at which you are able to serve them and they will take care to ensure that they have done justice to the food served. They generally wipe things clean and are contended till their next hunger pangs sets in. The sophisticated ones among these take care to complement and will care to say ‘sambar’ was good even though you would have silently reheated the additional sambar you got from your favourite joint like A2B or equivalent as part of your ordered morning breakfast, micro-waved it for the umpteenth time and served them. The poor things neither know nor care. Looking back, at some stages in life I go back to this category and it especially happens when I come deprived of rice from some extended overseas jaunts.
The Detached consumer
These folks belong to the school of thought,”There is a higher purpose in life that eating’ and generally scatter around the rice without a morsel getting into their mouth. They kind of draw patterns with the rice, their hand and test your patience. Well, the words are ‘Scratching the Surface’. They keep you guessing perennially and make you wonder if and when they will get through their courses of meal. They will dwell on every possible subject under planet earth, and kind of lose the immediate sense of purpose for which they are there. They neither have the speed nor the self awareness to get to speed. In this particular context they get into the quadrant of ‘I do not know that I do not know’ in the Johari Window. They may give you the impression that they are connoisseurs of food, because of their sound knowledge of theory, but it is only a matter of time before you figure them out. They will tend to taste everything, without getting the taste behind anything. No hard feelings, but this category of people simply belong to uplifting society and not bother about these smaller pleasures in life. Also they typically compliment the meal and the only trouble you really will have is figuring out the nature of the compliment they gave you. You can sense that internal feeling where you emit a deep sigh of relief, once these folks complete their courses of meal. These people get branded as ‘Poor consumers’ over a period of time.
The Conscious consumer
These folks belong to the school of thought, “Metrics driven eating” and unfortunately these are metrics not necessarily coming from their own selves. They are perpetually concerned about what others will say about their eating. Their rule sets of eating come from their various influencers, day of the week, time of the day, spouse, dietician, nutritionists, health indicators, what time they had their previous meals, and zillion other parameters. It really is a Big Data issue and they can fox any analytical model that you bring to them. For any alternative that you offer, they will come up with a counter offer that will baffle you. It is not they do not want to eat nor they cannot appreciate taste, but the reasoning they offer to you on when something is being served will make you wonder if law is their first profession.  You cannot but help feeling sorry for these folks, as they waste their potential in endless self-denial. At the end of the meal, their compliments are generally genuine, but inside they feel ‘Oh, shit I should taken more of that’! If you want to validate that you can try this question ‘Shall I pack and give’? Their first response will be ‘Yes’.
The Actualized consumer
These folks are the ‘real artists’. You could be wondering how gluttony can be classified as art, but if you have seen these folks in action, their immersion in eating is equivalent to any other performance, be it a singer at their best or any other professional when they are experiencing their moments of optimal experience. In my view, these people are the ‘Rahul Dravid’s’ of eating. If you have enjoyed the style, substance, speed and subtlety of the cover drive that Rahul Dravid so effortlessly managed time and again, you will fall in love with these kinds of consumers. Truth be told, great cooks need great consumers and every great cook recognizes a great consumer and vice versa. A kind of relationship begins to evolve between them and those memories stay. This category of people can simply smell out what is right and what is wrong with the food that is served. The way they consume indicates the quality of the food and continuous instantaneous feedback goes back to the producer. They can accurately predict when the food would have been prepared, what possible ingredients would have gone in, if it was steam cooked or micro-waved, if you were liberal or conservative in your mix of ingredients and… You may think that I have gone nuts, but next time around just venture out with this kind of person to a place where food is served(not ‘self-served’) and you will simply get the energy these individual radiate while eating or just watch this kind of person eating. It is unadulterated joy. The way in which this person eats a particular dish will give you the message that it is their favorite dish. Typically they do not give any explicit compliments nor complain, but somehow you would have got the telepathic feedback. If you are a great producer, these are the people whom you want to create for, experiment with and these are the people whom you wish come back time and again, and taste your creation.
May be there are more, but for me these are the classification.
If you want empirical proof of what I have shared, talk to someone whom you know as a great cook.
Looking back, this might look like a post out of time, as our seemingly busy lives consume us and we somehow are increasingly focused on what ‘Not to eat’ rather than the carefree style that we used to have in our earlier days. We seem to have the Hobson’s choice of ‘Eat what you like and get on the dreaded treadmill’ or ‘Exercise restrain over what you like’ so that you can avoid the feeling of getting on to the dreaded treadmill, as for me life seems to be on that dreaded treadmill and getting every morning onto that dreaded treadmill is the worst form of punishment one can inflict on one’s self. Well on the other hand self-discipline is about doing things that you do not like but you got to do anyway! So pick your choice.
To conclude this part, I would like you to reflect and take a small self-quiz and reflect upon
·         Can you identify with these classes of consumers or you have more variety of consumers?
·         If you are a producer, can you recognize your actualized consumers?
·         If you are a consumer, can you recognize your best producer?
·         Have you experienced those connected moments as a producer or consumer?
When I re-read this piece, it did seem to me like lot of absolute baloney, but I have managed to get away with baloney so far and I am sure this too shall pass.
If this sounded boring, my apologies but I promise to make amends with my upcoming piece of
Inferential Classification of relationship by consumption of Mixed Rice, particularly Curd Rice
I can guarantee that post will be more confusing and controversial than this J
Stay Tuned
Have fun

Week 28 – The Lean LaunchPad Educator’s Program


Nine Unseen Qualities That Create Exceptional Leaders
Leaders – What you do not see them do
Mindset: It’s Really a Lot More Than a Head Game
I think I can, I think I can, I think Can
The Brain Hacks Top Founders Use to Get the Job Done
Space and Time – Mental White Space
Big Thinkers on the Only Things Worth Worrying About
What Matters does not matter
The Lean LaunchPad Educator’s Program
A Wonderful Resource

Week 27 – The $80 prosthetic knee that’s changing lives


The $80 prosthetic knee that’s changing lives
Be User Obsessed
Have You Mastered This Key to Great Leadership?
Make lasting emotional bonds
Unlocking the Power of Stable Teams
Build Strong Teams First. Assign them problems later
16 Quotes That’ll Make You A Better Marketer & Storyteller
If you do not have a conflict or a challenge you don’t have a story
Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far
Trying to look good limits my life

Week 26 – You Don’t Have To Be The CEO To Make A Difference


On (Love) Leadership: Loss Creates Leaders
You cannot have a rainbow without a storm first
You Don’t Have To Be The CEO To Make A Difference
Telling people what to do will get them only so far
Mobile Money Helps Kenyans Weather Financial Storms
Informal Insurance Networks
How to Self Promote without being a jerk
Sell less and Serve more
How to launch a crowdfunding campaign when time’s not on your side
Crowdfunding isn’t just about the money