The Cartoon network display pic

I opened my facebook homepage today to find a whole bunch of friends with Cartoon network characters as their profile picture. It took me right down memory lane and I even went on youtube and bookmarked a couple of my favorite cartoons to watch (Heidi, Speed Racer, Centurions, Swat Kats – I finished Tintin, Batman, Justice League and X-Men over the few months!)

Anyway, this facebook event has grown to 6,000 odd people. So, why am I blogging about it? Turns out it was a close friend that started it by accident on Sunday night and he’s surprised at the massive reception.

So, if you are wondering why people are changing their display picture on facebook to cartoon network characters, that’s why.

I thought I should share this because it illustrates the power of social networks today. Small things we do can have massive impact and the butterfly effect just got more real!

PS: It’s also nice to see everyone going back down memory lane and remembering the ‘child’ within. It’s about being ‘child-like’ after all..

Are you unsure about your next career step/looking to make it into consulting or a top B school?

If you are thinking of any of the 3 questions –

1) What do I really want to do in life? What are my strengths? How do I know what would be an ideal career path?

2) How can I get into a top tier consulting firm?

3) How can I get into a top B school for my MBA?

The good news is that RealAcad has a solution for you. For those who haven’t had the opportunity yet to attend the full 1 week camp, RealAcad brings you a dedicated career development opportunity.

With combined experiences in BCG, Mckinsey, Goldman Sachs, IBM, private equity firms and hedge funds and armed with a passion to train and help you become successful, two of the RealAcad program advisors, Miriam and Ankur, are rolling out the RealAcad career program. This essentially means 1-on-1 sessions with them face to face or over Skype to give you an opportunity to pick their brains on how to do case interviews/write better B school essays etc.

There have been multiple successes within RealAcad of course, with RealAcaders who’ve successfully made it into the BCGs, Mck’s of the world along with admissions gained by RealAcaders into schools like Kellogg and Wharton.

The cost breakdown is here. And if you write to with a ‘Refered by Alearningaday’ as part of your message, you are entitled to a whopping 60% discount which is a part of a promotion for the 1st 2 months.

Do feel free to leave a question in the comments or write to me directly.

For newer blog readers, I am an alumnus of the RealAcad program, and a very proud one at that. If you want to know more, again, do feel free to write in and I’ll be happy to take your questions.

Don’t rush – Learning from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movie

I’m sure you’ve been to one of the Harry Potter movies. Except for probably the 1st and the 6th movies, most movies have tended to feel like a rushed, badly compiled summary of the overall plot.

The genius in the books (in my humble opinion) are the details! And the 7th book was fantastic in the sense that J.K.Rowling brilliantly tired all the loose ends from the previous 6 books. And the fact that the 1st part of the 7th movie was well-paced, spent adequate time at some of the key parts of the book was more of a relief given the overwhelming sense of disappointment I’ve felt after some of the other movies. (Particularly 5 and 3).

While the decision to split Book 7 into 2 movies might have been commercially motivated, I’ve always believed that most of the Harry Potter books could have done with the split because this movie FINALLY gives details in the book the respect they deserve. And that, to a fan, translates to true gratification and joy.

A big lesson here from the 7th book for me – Don’t rush, hurry and just try to present a snapshot when the details in the idea may really be the reason for the greatness in the idea. Slow down, enjoy the details..

Enjoy the 7th movie fellow fans!


My day yesterday was reasonably nice but for some reason, I was low energy the whole day. Maybe the thrill of being back in Singapore was beginning to wear out.

This morning seemed to start slow and reading the last 20 minutes of Guns, Germs and Steel already did wonders to my energy. And then I began reading ‘Freakonomics’ and I was already beginning to feel very good.

What energized me most was to look at a whole library of audio books and pick about 20 books that interested me for download and I haven’t been able to stop myself from peeking into my phone to check if all books are downloaded.

I’ve gotten a whole bunch of titles with many war stories, many insightful concept books etc etc. I’m looking forward to reading them and share book learnings of course.

Books single handedly turned my day from a normally ‘good’ to ‘fantastic’.

So, have you been reading lately? If not, do let me know how I can help with the process. Once you get past the initial inertia, it’s a journey that’s nothing but super positive!

Wishful thinking…

This piece of wonderful wishful thinking was the brief for the European re-launch of an iconic brand

If I had my life to live over, I’d try and make more mistakes next time.
I would relax

I would limber up

I would be sillier than I have been this trip

I know of very few things I would take seriously

I would be crazier

I would be less hygienic

I would take more chances

I would take more trips

I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers and watch more sunsets

I would eat more ice cream and less beans

I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones

You see, I am one of those people who live prophylactically and sanely and sensibly, hour after hour, day after day.

Oh, I have had my moments and, if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them.

In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead each day.

I have been one of those people who never go anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a gargle, a raincoat and a parachute.

If I had to do it over again, I would go places and do things and travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start bare-footed earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.

I would play hooky more

I wouldn’t make such good grades except by accident

I would ride on more merry-go-rounds

I’d pick more daises.

Nadine Stair, aged 87,
Lewisville KY USA

Every day of your life without a Harley-Davidson is another day wasted

Thanks Arti. This is fabulous!

Does an entrepreneur need an MBA? – From HBR

A balanced point of view – finally! Fantastic article!

I started my career as an entrepreneur at twenty-four years old, right out of college. I ultimately built and sold a $250 million global scrap metal company, an experience I wrote about in my book Starting from Scrap. HBR wrote about my experiences in the December issue.

After my book came out, I visited several U.S. business schools and met with MBA students to talk about my experiences launching a company in emerging markets. Many of the students who came to hear me speak were aspiring entrepreneurs in the process of getting MBAs. Many of them asked similar questions: “You didn’t get an MBA, nor did many other successful entrepreneurs, so if I want to start my own company, is business school a worthwhile experience? Is it worth paying all this tuition — or will my degree just be a resume-builder?”

I once had a conversation about this topic with Dr. John Yang, the dean of the Beijing International MBA program at Beijing University. Here’s what he had to say: “In my opinion, entrepreneurship is a matter of the heart, and education is a matter of the brain. It is difficult to teach a heart.”

I share his perspective. By definition, an entrepreneur is one who takes risk. It’s an attitude and an appetite, one which may be hardwired into one’s personality. Education can influence one’s attitude toward risk: for instance, understanding the principle of diversification or the long-term returns of equities versus bonds may make an investor more willing to create a “riskier” stock portfolio. But ultimately, can you teach someone to really enjoy taking risks? I don’t think you can.

When I think about the value of an MBA for aspiring entrepreneurs, I see a parallel with the military. Countries spend billions of dollars training soldiers so they’ll be ready for combat — they’re taught to fire rifles and operate in simulated high-pressure situations. But that training only goes so far. A Marine colonel once told me that he never knows how a soldier will respond — whether he’ll hide in his foxhole, run in the other direction, or stand and fight as he’s been trained #8212; until the bullets start flying. How someone reacts in times of great stress relies largely in instincts and the makeup of his or her personality — and training only takes you so far.

The same is true with entrepreneurship. Understanding strategy, finance and marketing can be very helpful. But it’s also important to possess self-confidence, a need for independence, energy and passion, curiosity, and an ability to communicate ideas. If you don’t have these natural assets, you’ll struggle as an entrepreneur.

I’m lucky, because those are personal attributes that I have. I don’t have an MBA, but I’ve picked up many of the business skills I needed during more than 15 years running a company. (My grandfather referred to me as having an MBA from the School of Hard Knocks, whose official colors are black and blue — an expensive education that makes Harvard Business School appear inexpensive by comparison). Many of the lessons I learned from those tough and painful experiences I might have learned in an MBA program — and if I’d learned them earlier, my company might have been even more successful.

As the HBR article makes clear, if I’d understood the use and importance of financial and inventory controls, I could have prevented millions of dollars in fraud. Perhaps studying cases about companies that had grown too fast and lost control of both their finances and the quality of their products would have encouraged me to expand at a more sober pace. We wasted years trying to re-organize after over-expanding and perhaps missed countless opportunities in the process. I could have saved or made a lot more money had I taken some courses in business law or venture capital financing. (We ended up getting strong armed by our investors, and they got away with it due to our early-stage naiveté.) I also would have benefited if I’d known more about human resources and the need for well-designed compensation and incentive systems. These are just a few of the tools you can get in business school — and they’re all tools I wished I’d had.

So I believe MBA programs do give future entrepreneurs valuable tools to help them mitigate risk and increase the probabilities of success. But even with those tools, only you know whether or not you have the heart to execute on the opportunities we all recognize to launch a compelling new business. That is when the real bullets start flying.

Stephen Greer is a senior advisor at Oaktree Capital and author of Starting from Scrap.