Friday, December 30, 2011

Enjoy the pictures of Joshi & Pareek family...

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Enjoy the pictures of Joshi & Pareek family Christmas gift opening ceremony!

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Words of wisdom that can help in any business

James Altucher has published a nice article on TechCrunch for first time entrepreneurs.  The wisdom in this article would be useful for any one in business.  Here is an excerpt...read the rest on Techcrunch

  • Don't hire anyone...Only hire people when you are absolutely desperate for more hands. And then start with freelancers. So you can fire them right away....
  • Keep the cash. ... keep cash in the bank. ...You don't need a secretary until you have at least five, paying, profitable customers, if ever.  
  • Get a customer. ...Don't even start your business unless you have a customer.
  • Get a customer, part II. ...Do whatever it takes to get one paying customer...
  • Over-promise and over deliver for every customer. But only the first time. ...
  • ...Followup. ...If you have a potential client, move it from the phone to the meeting, to dinner as quickly as possible. Dinner seals the deal. Pick up the tab. ...
  • Once they are a client, make them a partner. ...The best new customers are your old customers. The second best new customers are your old customers' friends.
  • In all of your spare time, do favors for your clients. ...(tap into) ... their networks...
  • Fire immediately any employee with a negative attitude. ...

Published on TechCrunch

Using the Global Brands list for investing

Interbrand Global Brands List
Interbrands has published its top Global brands list. The top brand - no surprise here - Coca Cola. The list includes... 

  1. Coca-Cola 71,861 ($m) 
  2. IBM 69,905 ($m) 
  3. Microsoft 59,087 ($m) 
  4. Google 55,317 ($m) 
  5. GE 42,808 ($m) 
  6. McDonald's 35,593 ($m) 
  7. Intel 35,217 ($m) 
  8. Apple 33,492 ($m) 
  9. Disney 29,018 ($m) 
  10. Hewlett-Packard 28,479 ($m) 
  11. Toyota 27,764 ($m) 
  12. Mercedes 27,445 ($m) 
  13. Cisco 25,409 ($m) 
  14. Nokia 25,071 ($m) 
  15. BMW 24,554 ($m) 
You can download the list and the related article at this link.

So what do we do with this data?

One way to use this list would be to use this list for investing. As Warren Buffet says, investments made in well managed companies will pay off over the long run. If you believe that the top brands list is a proxy for a list of well managed companies, then it stands to reason that investing in these companies will help your portfolio grow in the long run.

I will test this hypothesis by creating a portfolio of the top 15 brands to see how the investment in these top brands would perform over a period of one year. I will invest $1 M in these brands, distributed equally, and will see how the stocks to at the end of 2012.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

This 29-Year Old Just Got Name to Starbucksboard

If you are looking for an inspiring story, here is one for your morning ruminations.  Amazing, how Ms. Shih has been going from success to success in such a short time.  The Fermi labs connection is the icing on the proverbial cake!

As a Starbucks shareholder, I applaud Starbucks decision to invite Shih to sit on the board.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

GOOD Lite: Six DIY Alternatives to Christmas Trees, Real or Fake

Six DIY Alternatives to Christmas Trees, Real or Fake

Good magazine has some cool looking ideas for DIY Christmas tree.




Talented Terrors, "Bless Their Hearts," And Other Job Candidates You Should Avoid Like The Plague

Talented Terrors, "Bless Their Hearts," And Other Job Candidates You Should Avoid Like The Plague

Great little article on how poor attitude defines poor performers.  Author describes different kinds of poor performers, some of whom can be weeded out in the interview process

Fast Company: Malcolm Gladwell Has No Idea Why "The Tipping Point" Was A Hit

Malcolm Gladwell Has No Idea Why "The Tipping Point" Was A Hit

As part of our Leadership Hall of Fame series, we continue our fresh look at The Tipping Point with an interview of author Malcolm Gladwell. What was ...

Source: http://goo.gl/mag/9t7CM


Fast Company: You Don’t Need An Army When You Have Seal Team 6

You Don't Need An Army When You Have Seal Team 6

When I started VIA in 1993, my mother sent me a card with the famous quote from Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committe...

Source: http://goo.gl/mag/Er990




Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Environmental disaster in making in Argentina




Where Soy Is King: In Argentina, Local Health Costs Rise As Agro Booms


A soy field in San Pedro, Argentina (Irargerich)



By Christine Legrand
LE MONDE/Worldcrunch

SAN JORGE -- Located about 600 kilometers from Buenos Aires, San Jorge is a tidy town of about 25,000 in Santa Fe, one of Argentina's most agriculture-rich provinces. In the poor Urquiza neighborhood, a single dirt road separates the house of Viviana Peralta from an expanse of soy fields, where herbicides and pesticides are regularly sprayed down from small airplanes.

It took a while, but eventually the young Argentine mother connected the dots: the acute asthma attacks her baby daughter Ailen suffered were triggered each time a crop duster buzzed over her house. At a nearby hospital, a pediatrician later confirmed the presence of glyphosate in Ailen's blood.

Glyphosate is the principal active ingredient in Roundup, a herbicide developed and marketed by Monsanto, an American company. It has been widely used in Argentina since 1997. When it is sprayed on the country's soy fields, Roundup kills all of the weeds it comes in contact with, but spares the Roundup Ready (RR) soy beans, which have been genetically modified to be Roundup resistant.

In San Jorge, cancer rates have spiked 30% in the past 10 years. Residents say that following a crop dusting, their lips turn blue and their tongues swell. Chickens die. Dogs and cats shed their hair. Bees disappear and birds become scarce.

After she was ignored by municipal authorities, Peralta decided to turn to the courts. A judge agreed to hear the case that she, along with 23 other neighborhood families, presented against the Argentine government, provincial authorities and soy producers.

On March 17, 2009, the court issued a historic verdict, prohibiting airplanes from crop dusting within 1,500 meters of residences, and tractors from spraying within 800 meters of people's homes.

But this verdict, and other new regulations, are not always respected.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Preferred vs Common Stock

If you want to learn about the difference between Preferred Stock and Common Stock, check out this post. But I think the most valuable part of the post is this quote
In life you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate

And if you are looking for a good book on negotiation, the one called "Getting More" by Stuart Diamond is incomparable!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Kidnap Capital - By Elizabeth Dickinson | Foreign Policy

Kidnap Capital - By Elizabeth Dickinson | Foreign Policy
Recently, a research institute here announced that Mexico suffers from the second-highest kidnapping rate of any country in the world -- three times higher than Colombia's during its darkest period of drug violence and second only to Venezuela.


Kidnapping is a hazard for travellers to Mexico, but it seems it has become increasingly dangerous to live in Mexico even for Mexicans!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sun Pharma, Merck join hands to market diabetes drugs

India has one of the largest diabetic population in the world, and the population is going to increase dramatically in the coming years. Dominance in the Indian market place will require a large foot print, local market expertise and marketing flexibility that is uncommon in Big Pharma's "Global" marketing "one-size-fits-all" strategies. Merck understands this clearly as is demonstrated in the latest deal to market sitagliptin and its metformin combination.

Sun Pharma, Merck join hands to market diabetes drugs: "Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd and MSD in India today said they have entered into a partnership to market diabetes drugs Sitagliptin and Sitaglipitin plus Metformin in the Indian market.
Under the pact, which comes nearly two weeks after the two firms had agreed to form a joint venture, Sun will have the rights to sell the two drugs in the Indian market under different brand names.
'Through this partnership, the reach of Sitagliptin and Sitagliptin plus Metformin will be enhanced amongst doctors and patients in India, helping them efficaciously manage the disease,' Sun Pharma Chief Executive Officer Kalyanasundaram said in a joint statement issued by the two firms."


The deal with Sun Pharma ensures Merck a large foot print - Sun is one of the largest pharma companies in the Indian market place - and also "local" knowledge/expertise to make success of this important market.

Cheapest Homes in 40 Years?

Barry Ritholtz shares a new metric to determine if the home prices have come down sufficiently or not.

Cheapest Homes in 40 Years? Not Even Close… | The Big Picture: "By comparing Homes costs with buyers ability to pay for them, you develop a model with periods of over and undervaluation.....I would argue the measure of Median income to Median home price a much better gauge. It tracks people’s ability to pay for homes — something the NAR model does not. Even better, its not from a biased industry spokesperson."


According to this index, the home prices today are at a 0.5 to 0.6 point higher than in the eightees. Compared to ninetees, the index indicates that the home prices are about 0.2-0.3 points higher. Thus, homes may not be cheapest ever from histotical perspective (the point Barry is trying to make), but they have come down sufficiently from the highs in 2005-7.

If you are considering real-estate as an investment, you have to think carefully - is this the right time or will the index point downwards again? I believe it will be the latter.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Faceoff in Peru elections

My friends in Peru are probably disappointed that Pedro Pablo Kuczynski did not win the election. There was hope that Kuczynski would bring moderate policies back into Peru and continue with the economic reforms.

To some extent the election results were to be expected - the moderate vote got divided between President Toledo and Mr. Kuczynski, creating room for the extreme candidates - Ms Fujimori on the right and Mr. Humala on the left.

While Mr. Humala has a populist message, the question is, can he become the new Luiz Lula of Peru, one who had populist feathers but enough economic sense to not derail the reforms? On the other hand the question for Ms. Fujimori is, can she convince the large swath of Peruvians who have yet to benefit from the economic reforms, that she is the right candidate to ensure the distribution of economic benefits to all Peruvians.

Here is what the most famous Peruvian has to say about the election!

BBC News - Peru faces polarising election as populists face off: "Before the election, Peru's Nobel prize-winning author Mario Vargas Llosa described the possible second-round scenario between Mr Humala and Ms Fujimori as like choosing between cancer and Aids. With the option confirmed, he said Peruvians now had a choice between 'suicide and a miracle'."


The suspense continues for a couple more months!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

In Pakistan, Asher Hasan brings innovation to health-care cost, at $1.80 per month - CSMonitor.com

Finally, a diamond in the rubble of Pakistan!

In Pakistan, Asher Hasan brings innovation to health-care cost, at $1.80 per month - CSMonitor.com: "By working with insurance companies to spread risk across clusters of low-income workers, who typically earn less than $200 a month, Naya Jeevan opens up high-quality health care to a segment of the population that couldn't afford it before. Each participant pays in about $1.80 per month."

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Cisco Blog » Blog Archive » Message from John Chambers: Where Cisco is Taking the Network

It is often said that the hallmark of a good leader is their willingness to hear the bad news, and take transparent steps to address the issues. Cisco has published a memo from their CEO John Chambers about what ails Cisco. As a shareholder I must say that I am happy to see this level of transparency. Cisco stock has done poorly over the last five years and sometimes it has felt like the company has grown too big to be managed effectively.

But this memo seems to indicate that John wants to challenge the organization to become more nimble and take on the beast of bureaucracy. I hope that he succeeds because if he doesn't he will loose a lot of long time investors like me, who have vested their trust, and their investments in him.

Read on...

Cisco Blog » Blog Archive » Message from John Chambers: Where Cisco is Taking the Network: "today we face a simple truth: we have disappointed our investors and we have confused our employees.  Bottom line, we have lost some of the credibility that is foundational to Cisco’s success – and we must earn it back. Our market is in transition, and our company is in transition.  And the time is right to define this transition for ourselves and our industry.  I understand this.  It’s time for focus"

Cricket Mania @ Big Picture



Big Picture has done it again. Here is a GREAT compilation of some cricketing pictures that will tell you why Criketism is the fastest growing religion on the Indian subcontinent!

Click the picture above or click here

Woolen Coffins Offer a Green Alternative for Burials - TIME

Jack Welch famously said, "There is no such thing as a mature industry; there is only an industry to which imagination had yet to be applied". The following story published in Time Magazine online does more than justify this adage.

Woolen Coffins Offer a Green Alternative for Burials - TIME: "Thanks to a growing demand for green funerals in Britain, Hainsworth's Natural Legacy caskets — each woven from the fleece of three sheep and capable of holding 840 lb. (380 kg) — have begun to carve out a share of the U.K.'s coffin market, which typically numbers around 500,000 a year."

Green burials? I thought a wooden casket was very biodegradable. Yet the idea of a WOOLEN (as opposed to WOODEN) casket has a certain novelty factor. Add the "green" label and viola, you have renaissance in the wool industry! What about the dead? The dead could care less if they are buried in wooden or woolen - its the living who benefit from the innovation.

But it often takes an outsider to come up with innovative ideas. This one came from a marketing intern!
The idea for woolen coffins came about thanks to a bit of sheer luck. A marketing student who was interning for Adam Hainsworth discovered that in 1667, Parliament — hoping to bolster the textile industry — passed a law requiring all corpses be buried in a woolen shroud.


Read more: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,2056346,00.html#ixzz1Iesvi9qC

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japanese nuclear disaster and its impact on alternate energy strategy

The March 11th earthquake and tsunami has caused an incalculable damage to the Japanese coastal towns and villages in terms of both loss of life and loss of property. However the drama unfolding now in Fukushima nuclear power plan could have a far greater impact on Japan than any physical damage of this natural disaster. If this nuclear calamity unfolds fully, it will put into question the safety of nuclear power and wreck an enormous psychological damage on the supporters of nuclear power who want it to become a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

It is well documented Japan relies heavily on nuclear energy; close to 30% of the Japanese energy needs today are met by nuclear energy, and this is expected to rise to 40% by 2017. For a nation so heavily reliant on nuclear power, safeguarding the nuclear power facilities should have been a top priority. But the experience of Fukushima shows that the measures undertaken to protect the nuclear power plants from natural disasters are not adequate. If this is the situation in Japan, a country with the world's most advanced civilian nuclear power program, I can't help but wonder what the situation must be in countries like China, India and Pakistan where resources have been lacking and some of the nuclear power facilities are known to operate under very primitive conditions!

There is hope now that the Japanese will be able to prevent the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima complex. But if this cannot be averted, this will not only cause radiation exposure damage to the exposed locals, it will also cause a huge setback to proponents of nuclear power as our alternate source of energy. Psychologically, it will be impossible to defend nuclear power as a safe source of energy and will set the strategy back by decades.

Let's hope that this is not the case, and yet let this incidence serve as a wakeup call to the policy makers looking to develop alternate energy strategies. We need to redouble our effort to look for alternate sources of energy to oil. In this, the priority should be to improve the safety of the nuclear energy, while we are working on developing solar and wind energy technology.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Amazing Brazilian Carnival

As usual, SacBee Photoblog has a coverage of the Brazilian Carnival. I was wondering if the carnival would take place this year, because a major warehouse where the floats are usually stored had gone up in flames just a month or so ago. But the pictures suggest that the carnival not only was held per schedule, it was more beautiful than ever!

Pictures are worth a thousand words. See for yourself on the Sacbee photoblog.

Photo Credit: AP / Felipe Dana

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Down From The Mountain

If you are a lover of American BlueGrass/Country music, you are in for a treat! LionsGate Films has released a film called Down From The Mountain", a documentary that recorded the live concert held in Nashville, performed by the bands that recorded the songs of the movie "O'Brother Where Art Thou". Its available for free on Youtube.

Mystery of Daylight Saving Time

I had often wondered about this, and now this video makes it easy to understand why daylight saving time was implemented.

The Future of Education

Salman Khan of Khan Academy talks about how Khan Academy is changing the way children are and will potentially be taught in the future. Its a very interesting idea worth exploration in every class room around the world.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

A Vacation Planner

Recently, I was planning my vacation days for the year and realized that it would be nice if there were a easy vacation planning tool to look at the entire year's plan all on one page. Not finding anything suitable on the web, I turned to google docs and created a spreadsheet that essentially does this for me.

I found this tool incredibly useful, so decided to share it with anyone who is interested in it. All you have to do to use it is, click on this link which opens up the calendar view of 2011. You will need to save it as a separate document if you want to use it.

If you have a Google docs account, simply sign in, click on "File"..."Save As" and save it as your own calendar. If you do not have Google docs account and would like to download it to your computer, simply click on "File"..."Download as"..."Excel or OpenOffice". Open the document in the program of your choice and start using it.

The instructions to use the calendar are provided right in the file towards the bottom.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Inspiring Others to Financial Responsibility

Quote from an article on financial responsibility...

"quiet disappointment is far more effective as a response to someone who has let you down than a pile of rage ever will be. If someone lets you down, do everything you can to avoid exploding at them. Don’t let your emotions overwhelm the situation. Instead, calmly state that they did, in fact, let you down"


I think this is a good strategy for any situation. Too bad we see exactly the opposite most of the time.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Education is the best insurance against unemployment

I am glad the value of education was pounded in head when I was growing up! I only wish my father had shown me this chart then!


You can signup to receive interesting charts each week from the Chart of the Day site.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Making of GLIF

For those with entrepreneurial bent, or for those whose brains are spilling over with ideas and ideas, here is an inspirational story about two guys, who came up with an idea, worked on it, and made it into a reality.

On July 11th, 2010, Tom Gerhardt and I had an idea for an iPhone accessory: a tripod mount that doubled as a stand. Five months later, customers began to receive our product, the Glif, in the mail. This turnaround, from idea to market in five months by two guys with no retail or manufacturing experience, signifies a shift in the way products are made and sold — a shift only made possible in the last couple years.

This is what the product looks like... and here is where you can buy it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Worlds largest democrary celebrates "Republic Day"

Sacremento Bee has a very nice photo journal where they published some gorgeous pictures of India's Republic Day parade. Like a peacock, the Indian Armed Forces strutted their unbelievable colors! I have never seen the parade in person, but as an ameture photographer I would love to some day be able to go with my camera and take pictures of this beautiful ceremony.


Photo credit: AP / Gurinder Osan

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Reality vs Sputnik moment

Yesterday President Obama spoke of the "Sputnik" moment, referring the need to do more in education and in research to improve America's competitiveness. Today, a friend sent me a link to "The Chronicle" which has a great graphic showing adults with college degrees in the US, by county.


Unfortunately, the reality is just too discouraging. The national average for college degree holders per county is only 27%!! For the most powerful nation on the earth to have such low numbers is shocking. Here is another look at a similar statistic, this time comparing US with other countries.


Clearly, a lot more needs to be done to encourage our kids to complete their college education. You can download and read the full report of the College Board.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Holy Cow! Just look at the cost of starting a business in India!

I always knew that it is challenging to start a business in India, but these numbers just blew me away!!

By the Numbers: Small Business in the U.S. & Abroad

Obama's ally in cutting Pentagon budget!


There have been several reports in the press about Tea Partiers demanding that the Pentagon budget face the same scrutiny as the rest of the Government spending. In CSM, there is a big story on this issue.

This surprised me! Usually, the rank and file Republicans (and tea partiers are very much on the RIGHT of rank and file Republicans) who like to wear the badge of patriotism by ever increasing the defence budget, would be opposed to any Pentagon budget cuts. Thus, Defence Secretary Gates proposal to cut the military budget ....

The Defense Department cuts include shrinking the size of the Army and Marine Corps after 2014, as well as reducing the use of contractors, on whom the Pentagon has become “far too dependent,” says Gates.

... would have been expected to meet Republican opposition. But for a change, it appears that Tea Party is on his side!
“I think they’re going to have to look at defense in the same way they look at everything,” says Mark Meckler, co-founder and national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots. “If we are going to have a nation to defend in the future, then everything has to be on the table, from entitlements on the left to defense on the right – everything is going to have to be considered, and until everyone gets serious about that, we won’t have a nation to defend.”

The tea partiers, who came to power on the ticket of anti-establishments, seem to be going against the Republican establishment on this one, and so, it appears that Prez. Obama will have some friends on the "RIGHT" he can rely on! Politics makes such strange bed fellows!

Cairo Erupts

Following the unusually successful demonstrations in Tunisia that succeeded in overthrowing the long time dictator, demonstrations have now broken out in Cairo, which is due for an election in just about a month. Will Mubarak meet the fate of Ben Ali? Remains to be seen!!




This from Christian Science Monitor...
But activists, political analysts, and average people in Egypt insist that something crucial shifted for Egypt today. Egyptian political scientist Mustapha Kamel Al Sayyid predicts that now the dam has broken, protests will continue. “The reservoir of discontent is huge,” he says.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Inflation in Emerging Markets emerges as a new threat

BRIC Inflation Imperils Consumer Stocks as Food Rises - Businessweek

Impact on consumers is huge. Comment below from Business Week is quite illustrative of this...

"Economic growth and supply shortages sent a United Nations gauge of food prices to a record last month, cutting the buying power of 2.8 billion people in Brazil, Russia, India and China who spend 19 percent of their income on groceries, compared with 6 percent in the U.S., Euromonitor International data show."


This is the kind of stuff revolutions are made of. We have seen this movie played out in Tunisia; we are likely to see other dominos fall if inflation keeps its upward trend unchecked. Despots, dictators and democratic governments are all under the gun. It'll be interesting to see how the story evolves over next 8-10 months.

Bhimsen Joshi's Passes Away

The Hindu : Arts / Music : Bhimsen Joshi's death orphans music community: Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, the magical voice of Hindustani Classical music is no more.


This quote from The Hindu...
"Prabha Atre, an exponent of the Kirana Gharana, called Joshi an extraordinary man, “who was not just Bharat ratna but ‘vishwa' ratna. With his demise, the entire Indian classical music community feels orphaned. It is now a big responsibility on us, to continue the rich tradition left behind by him,” a tearful Ms. Atre said."

I was introduced to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi's golden voice at a concert held in St. Xavier's institute in Mumbai and was hooked on it immediately. Often when I wake up early around 5 am, I start my day with a cup of tea and the pure sound of Pandit Joshi.

Pandit Joshi will live forever in our hearts!