Inspiration from the 14th Dalai Lama (#331)

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso Today, we celebrate the birthday of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. Born on 6 July 1935, His Holiness is the secular leader of the Tibetan people and the leader of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. He lives in exile in Dharamsala, India, ever since the Chinese occupied Tibet in 1959. As one of the most respected men of our times, the Dalai Lama is a champion of the basic human values of compassion, love, altruism, and nonviolence.

His Holiness is the 1989 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize “for his consistent resistance to the use of violence in his people’s struggle to regain their liberty” and “in part a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi.”

Here is the Dalai Lama’s favorite prayer for your consideration. This is a verse from a translation of “Bodhicaryavatara” by Shantideva, an Indian Buddhist scholar from the 8th century.

For as long as space endures
And as long as sentient beings remain
May I too abide
To dispell the miseries of the world.

“My religion is kindness”

I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of inner peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion and elimination of ignorance, selfishness and greed.
The 14th Dalai Lama

Human happiness and human satisfaction must ultimately come from within oneself. It is wrong to expect some final satisfaction to come from money or from a computer.
The 14th Dalai Lama

Reason well from the beginning and then there will never be any need to look back with confusion and doubt.
The 14th Dalai Lama

All major religions, when understood properly, have the same potential for good.
The 14th Dalai Lama

Inner peace is the key: if you have inner peace, the external problems do not affect your deep sense of peace and tranquility.
The 14th Dalai Lama

Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.
The 14th Dalai Lama

From the moment of birth every human being wants happiness and freedom and wants to avoid suffering. In this we are all the same; and the more we care for the happiness of others the greater our own sense of each other becomes.
The 14th Dalai Lama

Because we all share this small planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. That is not just a dream, but a necessity.
The 14th Dalai Lama

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
The 14th Dalai Lama

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion.
The 14th Dalai Lama

Inspirational Quotations #129

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life is not lost by dying;
life is lost minute by minute,
day by dragging day,
in all the thousand small uncaring ways.
Stephen Vincent Benét

True wealth can not be found in your bank account.
It can only be found in those you call friends.
Those with whom you share your deepest feelings.
And those who accept you for who you really are.
Mary Vandergrift

A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.
Chinese Proverb

The great thing about experience is that you can’t
borrow it, buy it or steal it, you must earn it.
Len Scherder

Be a lamp to yourself. Be your own confidence.
Hold to the truth within yourself, as to the only truth.
Buddhist Teaching

You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.
Henry Ford

Your task is not to seek for love, but
merely to seek and find all the barriers
within yourself that you have built against it.
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.
Oscar Wilde

Inspirational Quotations #128

Your own resolution to success is more important than any other one thing.
Abraham Lincoln

You may not have perfect teeth,
or a nose to ever match,
but if you’re smiling through your heart,
that smile will be nothing less than beautiful.
Jackie Riedel

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.
Vidal Sassoon

There is nothing permanent except change.
Heraclitus

All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes & cry that it is dark.
Swami Vivekananda

The problem with communication is the illusion that it has been achieved.
George Bernard Shaw

Besides the noble art of getting things done,
there is the noble art of leaving things undone.
The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of the nonessentials.
Lin Yutang

Folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Abraham Lincoln

Next to doing a good job yourself, the greatest joy is
in having someone else do a first-class job under your direction.
William Feather

Inspirational Quotations #127

Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within.
Helen Keller

When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
The 14th Dalai Lama

A ship is safest at the harbor, but that is not where it is supposed to be.
N. R. Narayana Murthy

Be nice and smile to everyone you meet.
You don’t know what they are going through,
and they may need that smile. And treasure it.
Christine Huppert

You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers.
You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.
Naguib Mahfouz

An eye for an eye makes the whole blind.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

Courage is not the absence of fear,
but rather the judgment that something else
is more important than fear.
Ambrose Redmoon

One word frees us from the weight
and pain of life; that word is love.
Sophocles

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.
Chinese Proverb

Inspirational Quotations #126

Do not dwell in the past, do not dwell in the future,
concentrate the mind on the present moment.
Buddhist Teaching

If there is any kindness I can show, or any
good thing I can do to any fellow being, let
me do it now, and not deter or neglect it, as
I shall not pass this way again.
William Penn

You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.
James D. Miles

I had no shoes and complained,
until I met a man who had no feet.
Indian Proverb

The purpose of an education is to replace an empty mind with an open one.
Malcolm Forbes

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
Thomas Edison

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
Mohandas K. Gandhi

There’s one sad truth in life I’ve found
While journeying east and west –
The only folks we really wound
Are those we love the best.
We flatter those we scarcely know,
We please the fleeting guest,
And deal full many a thoughtless blow
To those who love us best.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Take a second look … it costs you nothing.
Chinese Proverb

Airbus A350 XWB: A Move in the Right Direction

As anticipated, Airbus announced a new A350 XWB (Xtra Wide Body) family of aircrafts at the Farnborough International Airshow on Monday. The family includes the A350-800 (270 seats in 3-class configuration), A350-900 (314 seats), ultra-long range A350-900 (314 seats), A350-900 freighter and A350-1000 (350 seats). The new aircrafts will feature a new fuselage that can accommodate nine-abreast seating and promise better operating economies than the Boeing B787 and B777 families. Illustrations released by Airbus indicate that the A350 may resemble the B787!

Airbus’ future product lineup and the competitionInterestingly, Airbus announced no aircraft for the 200 to 230 seat market. Airbus will discontinue the A310 from mid-2007 and its smallest wide-body is the popular A330-200, which can set 250 seats in 3-class configuration. So does not offer a competition for the B787-800, which has captured 281 of the 404 orders for the B787 thus far. If Airbus expects few other airlines to order aircrafts of this size in the next few years, it can shrink the A350-800 at a later date to cater to this market whenever demand arises.

Clearly, the new fuselage and cockpit sections are a break from the Airbus tradition of sub-system commonality. Towards 2010 or so, I expect Airbus to announce discontinuation of its A330 and A340 families in favor of the A350 family that will directly compete against Boeing’s B787 and B777 families. The A350 is an enhanced replacement for the twin-engine A330 and the four-engine twin-aisle market seems to have dried-up as poor sales of the A340 in the last two years have indicated.

The Skills-Attitudes Competence Model

While poking around the internet, I recently bumped into a few articles that refer to a study by either Harvard or Stanford or both that concluded that 85% of one’s success at work is due to his/her attitudes and just 15% is due to technical skills [1, 2]. While most of us agree with this statement in principle, we could question how a survey could quantify attitudes and technical skills and the contributions of these traits to professional success.

The simple skills-attitudes competence model shown below will help quantify one’s talents and understand the relative contributions of skills and attitudes to professional success. This model is a graphical indication of one’s positioning with respect to technical skills (x-axis) and attitudes and behaviors (y-axis). Every job carries a certain level of expectation for both of these disciplines. A threshold line divides this landscape into the proficient and vulnerable zones. The position of the threshold line vis-à-vis the lines of expectation signifies a lower tolerance for poor attitudes in comparison to insufficient technical skills.

The skills-attitudes competence model

Consider six people, A to F, in the landscape. ‘A’ possesses lower than expected skills, but possesses the right attitudes to learn, grow and get things done. ‘B’ and ‘C’ possess the same level of skills as ‘A’, but possess worse attitudes and risk being labeled incompetent. ‘B’ could move into the secure zone by developing skills (transitioning along the x-axis) or by developing positive attitudes (transitioning along the y-axis) or by developing on both (transitioning along an inclined line). ‘D’ and ‘E’ may be extremely skilled; their skills may be critical to the success of the organization. However, if ‘D’ fails to fails to conform to the core values of the company or exhibits behavior that is difficult to tolerate, the organization may eliminate him from his position. ‘F’ possesses the best attitudes and skills and thrives in the organization. The farther away ‘F’ is from the threshold line, the more secure he or she is.

Use this skills-attitudes competence model to define tangible attributes of skills and attitudes expected of you in the context of your current position or your desired future position. Identify your position on this chart. Under the guidance of your supervisor and mentors, identify what skills and/or attitudes you can develop towards a successful and satisfying career.

Whom do we work for? What do we work for?

One of my pet peeves is the expression ‘I work for somebody’ or being asked ‘Whom do you work for?’ These are fairly common expressions in the United States; some cultures find these expressions mildly derogatory.

Fundamentally, every person works for himself or herself and for personal gratification from a cause that he or she associates himself or herself with. The cause may be either personal or organizational, e.g. for a better future for children, to help rebuild efforts following an earthquake, to build a productive household utility, to develop an algorithm for efficient logistics, to save for a family vacation, etc.

The quest for meaning is one of life’s imperatives. Have you identified a mission, a purpose that you can work towards or go to school for? Have you then translated your objectives into a roadmap of actions towards the cause? Have you setup milestones that can help you measure your achievements? Answering these questions will help you look forward to toil towards a mission that you connect with and realize contentment in work-life.

P.S.: The next time somebody asks you whom or what you work for, tell him or her you work with your boss, you work for a mission, and you work at your organization. Watch the prepositions.

*Keyword(s): Purpose, Mission, Goals, Achievements

Home Depot: On Governance and Investors’ Interests

On the eve of Home Depot’s [HD] annual shareholders’ meeting, a front-page article in the New York Times estimated CEO Bob Nardelli’s compensation at $245 million since 2001. The article presented ties among board members and pointed to most of the compensation committee being active/former chief executives. Investors had been increasingly upset about Bob’s and other executives’ compensation vis-à-vis the poor performance of the company’s stock.

Media outlets reported that none of the directors of the company except for Bob Nardelli attended the shareholders’ meeting and that Bob did not allow for detailed comments: microphones were shut off after the one-minute restriction for investors’ comments! A follow-up article [$] in the New York Times quoted frustrated investors describing their experience as “appalling,” “disgraceful” and “arrogant.”

The company later stated that most of the company’s directors were in Atlanta (where Home Depot is headquartered) on other company business. In my opinion, the Board is essentially a group of trustees who represent shareholders’ interests and interface with the management. Given these responsibilities, what other than attending the annual shareholders’ meeting could constitute important business? As expected, the entire Board had attended last year’s shareholders’ meeting.

The company can do a better job with respect to governance. I hope Home Depot takes appropriate steps to connect executive compensation with stock performance and financial performance, better representation of investors’ concerns and requiring that the entire Board attend shareholders’ meetings.

In March, Fortune magazine ranked Home Depot 13th among America’s most admired companies; it will be interesting to see if Home Depot drops in next year’s ranking.

The eBay-Yahoo! Deal: More to Come?

Yesterday, eBay [EBAY] and Yahoo! [YHOO] announced a long-term alliance in four areas: (1) search and advertising, (2) integrated online payments using eBay’s PayPal, (3) a co-branded toolbar for browsers, and, (4) developing “click-to-call” advertising functionalities. This move was inline with speculations made by a much-cited JPMorgan research report released earlier this week.

Clearly, this tie-up has a win-win potential for both eBay and Yahoo!. However, I wonder if this is a half-baked deal.

  • eBay’s primary business stream is auctions. Here, I see plenty of opportunities to consolidate and leverage each other’s strengths: in Japan, where eBay is absent, and in Europe, where Yahoo! is weaker. eBay (through EachNet) and Yahoo! (through Alibaba-Taobao) fiercely compete in the China auctions market. A consolidation will clearly lead to a market leadership in China.
  • The payments deal expands the reach of the PayPal payment service and prepares eBay for a competition with Google Payments. However, this payment service can to be expanded beyond the United States. Again, PayPal competes with Yahoo! and Alibaba’s AliPay payment system in China.
  • The third eBay business stream is the Skype communication suite. Consolidation of Skype with Yahoo! Messenger can create opportunities for a broader customer base, efficiencies and consolidation of development efforts.
  • The search and advertising deal can be expanded to other markets outside of the United States.

Yahoo! and eBay offer largely complementary services in most markets. I speculate that Yahoo! and eBay will eventually merge by taking the above initiatives and create a stronger global e-commerce leader.