The Winners Curse

Why does #WarrenBuffet recommend you should say “no” to auctions? From Google Ad words to eBay, from auctions for telecom spectrum to submitting tenders as suppliers, #auctions are ubiquitous.

At a personal level, several studies show, we mostly end up #payingmore for goods, during an auction. Even companies are not immune to this phenomenon.

According to a #McKinsey study, mergers and acquisitions (the ultimate auction) destroy value in more than half the cases. The acquisition brings losses ultimately

The winner gets the goods but they have to #pay for it. Sometimes, much more than the true value

It’s the winner’s curse!!!

So why do we fall victim to the winner’s curse?

1.The real value of many things is uncertain. The larger the number of parties, the higher the probability of an over enthusiastic bid

2.We want to outdo competition

Take Warren Buffet’s advice on auctions. “Don’t go”. If you are in an industry, where auctions are the norm, set a maximum price on it and deduct 20% to offset the winner’s curse.

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The MARSHMALLOW experiment at Stanford

40 Years of #StanfordResearch Found That People with This One Quality Are More Likely to #Succeed. In the 1960s, a Stanford professor named Walter Mischel conducted the #MarshmallowExperiment.
Children (aged 4-9) were left in a room with 1 Marshmallow. The instructions given:

If you wait for 15 minutes, you will receive 2 Marshmallows. The researcher left the children alone in the room for 15 minutes.

Some children waited for 15 minutes to receive the 2 Marshmallows, some did not.

The #interesting part of the study came several years later The researchers conducted follow up studies for over 40 years and tracked each child’s #progress

The #results showed that the children who were willing to delay gratification and waited to receive the second marshmallow ended up with

1. Higher academic scores

2.Lower levels of substance abuse

3.Lesser marriages ending in divorce

4.Better responses to stress

5.More job stability and higher career trajectories

6.Generally better scores in a range of other life measures

Important question to ask:

1.Are we able to resist the first Marshmallow and reap the rewards of delayed gratification?

2.Do we have the patience to stay the course for the grand prize?

3.Are we resilient to the pressures of instant gratification that will often tempt us?

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Everyone is beautiful at the top

What makes an ace sports player, an expert to give us advice on mutual funds? Or an actor, to tell us which food brand is best? We are so used to seeing #celebrities promote products, we never stop to consider why their #support should make the product better suited to us.

This is the #haloeffect. We subconsciously associate the “success” of people with the “success” of products, even though there may be no correlation.

Edward Lee Thorndike discovered the halo effect, a 100 years ago. His conclusion, a single quality viz beauty, social status, age produces a positive/negative effect that #outshines everything else and the overall effect is disproportionate.

Several studies have shown, we #automatically regard good looking people as more pleasant, honest and intelligent.

Physical characteristics logically, have nothing to do with #inner behaviors. Yet, our mind believes differently.

The halo effect obstructs our view of true #characteristics. We need to go beyond the surface. #Digdeeper and then form an opinion.

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How to get others fired up and ready to get THE BARACK OBAMA WAY

I came across an old and brilliant clipping of #BarakObama. This is before he won the Democrat nomination to stand for President. Remember, here, he was a relatively unknown African American Senator from Illinois. This clipping demonstrates a brilliant #storytelling, building a #sharedvision and #passion that touches the audience.

It’s a great lesson for all of us as managers, leaders and influencers. The #principles are common. My take aways:

1.He paints a #detailedpicture of the scene. It’s like you have a ringside view of the scene

2.Extremely #specific. This allows you to feel the emotion he want you to see

3.Clear #calltoaction, without being pushy

For me, this is a must watch for all of us that use storytelling to build a common vision and shared understanding….get teams all #firedup and #readytogo

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CURIOSITICA – The first principle to be an everyday genius by Leonardo Da Vinci

How do you gauge if you are a #learner or not? Leonardo Da Vinci, a brilliant thinker and artist asked #dumbquestions. If birds can fly why can’t I? If a building has to stand up straight & not collapse, what should its proportions be? If Mona Lisa stood by the window in the morning light, would her face shine as much or lesser than at noon? Seemingly strange questions, but the pursuit of these answers gave unexpected results.

Micheal Gelbstudied the works & mind of Da Vinci. He coined 7 principles to be an #everydaygenius. Curiositica-an insatiable thirst and quest for knowledge and continuous learning is the first.

Culturally, we are discouraged from being #curious. We are reprimanded by teachers for asking too many questions. We are told, “Curiosity killed the cat” a term that is part of our subconscious, warning us of the dangers of being too curious.

Your #curiosity & ability to act on it, will define if you are a learner. Are you someone who constantly wants to know more, be a better version of yourself, find solutions to problems, understand why someone acts the way they do, find new ways of doing things? If you are, you are unlikely to be bogged down by challenging situations. Your mind has been sharpened to think in several dimensions. You will find #creativesolutions.

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The Power of Rejection

Having worked for a year on a project/an exam/a relationship for years and then it goes south Just heartbreaking. You think of the countless hours of work, the blood, sweat and tears that has gone to reach the stage and it makes you want to cry with frustration. #Learningfrom rejection is something I understood much later in my life.

#Steve Jobs, in his famous 2005 #StanfordUniversity commencement speech said something similar.

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

Steve Jobs said that this time away from #Apple was actually #beneficial.

Steve Jobs’ famously combative leadership style possibly led to him being fired from Apple, In 1985, he was fired from the company he founded when Apple’s board of directors removed him. In the interim, he launched a software company NeXT, and bought an animation studio called Pixar. In 1997, he returned to Apple and the rest is History.

I have always learnt more from my failures that my successes.

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1 quality that companies hire CEO’s for

Out of 110 mandates for #CXO positions, given to a global executive search firm, 70% were based on clear mandates given by companies for a leader who is #humble, has high #EQ and #goodpeopleskills.

I read an article a couple of months ago where a senior executive being considered for the position of a CEO was turned down because he was extremely rude to the driver that had come to pick him up for the job interview because he was running late.

Several companies may overlook senior leaders riding roughshod over the emotions of team members, however we see this trend changing. Slowly but surely, the value of control over one’s emotions, demonstrating emotional intelligence & being empathetic are slowly competencies that people hire for.

Clearly companies are no longer just looking for the archetypical “A” leader that cares only for the bottom line, with scant regard for the overall wellbeing of their team.

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Does COLLABORATION really work?

Why doesn’t Collaboration work? Why don’t teams collaborate? Collaboration is a key theme of several programs we conduct at #ShradhaHRD. Most participants agree on the need for collaboration but candidly accept, it’s hard. It means putting the organization/team/department above a narrow circle that you define as “me”

This anecdote is a brilliant example of how the spirit of #collaboration bears rich dividends.
In the olden days, it was a common custom for shopkeepers to keep a small chair outside the shop as soon as they opened the shop in the morning.

As soon as the first customer arrived, the shopkeeper lifted the chair and took it inside the shop.

When the next customer came, the shopkeeper would look around the market. Pointing to a shop with a chair still placed outside, he would say – “You will get what you need from that shop.” I have already got my bohni (the day’s first business) in the morning.”

This was because having a chair outside the shop was a sign that the shopkeeper had not received any customers yet.

Clearly putting the interest of the #community above narrow #self-interests, ensured  #prosperity #business and #growth for all. And it always works!!!

This post was shared by Dr. Jitendra Kumar Soni, IAS on FB.

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Only 3 seconds to stop the anger….

What causes rational people to lose their temper? You can blame this on your genes. During a training session we conducted on Managing your Emotions, a participant said “last week I was under a lot of work pressure. A team member walked into my room & insisted on discussing a project. I was aware the projectdidn’t have an immediate dead line. I ended up yelling at him and said he should send an email and request for a time to speak, instead of barging in unannounced”

The participant said that he felt terrible about the way he had behaved. His team member began to send him emails, every time he wanted to speak. The easy & collaborative relationship they had shared earlier morphed into a formal exchange.

We explored why this had happened.

The term “Amygdala Hijack” was coined by Daniel Goleman. He used the term to recognize that we retain an ancient structure in our brain (Amygdala) that is designed to respond swiftly to a threat.

When faced with a perceived threat, our body will react the same way as if we were faced with an actual physical threat to our life. This is responsible for us “losing it”.

How do we deal with such a situation?You have 3 seconds to calm yourself, before the hormones flood your brain. Practice watching your emotions. Take control, before its too late.

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A Screenshot of a GrowthMindset

If someone asked me to describe a #growthmindset, it might take more than a 1000 words for a somewhat satisfactory explanation. This picture explains a growth mindset in an instant… stretching your comfort zone, looking for ways to improve return on investment and learn learnlearn.

The auto driver in the picture is looking at the share price of a stock he is obviously following closely, while ferrying his passengers around.

For me, this picture is not about the growth story of the Indian stock exchange; it is the story of a human being with limited education and limited means (this is an estimation) who is looking for avenues to #betterhislife.

Undoubtedly the stock market is a double edged sword, it comes with its share of ups and downs. I look at the optimistic side, this gentleman is looking at exploring a completely “new” way of improving his productive potential…

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Can Women be gender biased?

If I had to picture people with #biases, very stereotypical images flood my brain. Then I heard an anecdote from a successful ladyventure capitalist who was talking about her experience with biases at the workplace. It changed my mental imagery.

In a previous job with a Fortune 500 company, the HR team had conducted an experiment. They sent 2 CV’s for the same #jobdescription for a fitment check. The interesting part of the experiment was that the CV actually belonged to the same person…the name on 1 CV was male and on the other was female. The fitment results for the CV which had the #male name was much higher than the CV that had the #female name.

The CV went out to both men and women working in the organization. The results reflected both their opinions. This was a surprise, even for me !!!!

Most of us are unaware of our biases. We think of ourselves as fairly #objective…until we learn otherwise.

Building Awareness of #UnconsciousBiases’ and making the Hiring process “Objective” and “Neutral” is key to promoting #GenderDiversity !!!!!

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Winning against all Odds

I have a friend from college whose life changed completely, after a car accident that left her paralyzed waist down. Life has been a constant #struggle for her. I have seen her struggle at fairly close quarters. When I read about #successstories like Avni Lekhara’s, I marvel at the inner strength this feat would require.

In 2012, at the age of 10, Avni was in a car accident that caused severe spinal cord injuries and left her wheelchair-bound. Three years later, her father encouraged her to take up shooting as a professional sport. She tried both archery and rifle shooting.

After reading Olympic Gold Medalist Abinav Bindra’s autobiography – A Shot at History, she decided to pursue rifle shooting professionally. Despite being doubtful about her decisions, Avni continued to work hard and practise regularly.

Things fell into place, Anvi participated in several states, national and World-level championships, and even won medals..

Avani Lekhara created sporting history after becoming the first Indian woman to win two medals – gold and bronze – at the Paralympics in 2021.

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How to harness creativity, the “Salvador Dali“way

Modern research in Neuroscience validates some methods Salvador Dali, the famous painter used to generate creative ideas. The same principles can be used to generate out of the box solutions at the workplace.

Dalí was constantly exploring new ways of artistic creativity. He worked through a number of ways to conceive of fantastical imagery.

Dali applied the methods of Surrealism, tapping deep into the non-rational mechanisms of his mind—dreams, the imagination, and the subconscious to draw inspiration from.

He would often place a tin plate on the floor, and sit beside a chair, holding a spoon over the plate. As soon as his body relaxed and begin to doze off, the spoon would slip from his fingers and bang on the plate. This immediately woke him. From there he was able to capture the surreal images present in his mind.

Salvador Dalí was fascinated by images that appeared to him between states of sleep and wakefulness. These images proved to be extremely vivid, colorful, and bizarre.

Often the “eureka” moment comes when we are not actively thinking about the problem. The conscious mind sometimes blocks solutions from coming to us. When we get “stuck”, it helps to “let go” and let the powerful subconscious mind discover the solution.

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How Olympic champion Tom Daley deals with STRESS

Olympic champion Tom Daley was captured knitting in the stands during the women’s 3m springboard diving final was going on. When the camera shifted its focus from the ongoing sport to the stands, the gold medalist was sitting there concentrating on stitching.

One could wonder why an Olympian was knitting, just before one of the most important events of his life.

In case you thought, this was a one off event, a Twitter user (after seeing Tom Daley’s viral video) wrote, ‘Very calming. My grandad was a mine sweeper in the Navy during World War II. All the Navy men knitted to calm their nerves.’

Research now shows that physically “doing” something is a great way to expend negative energy, relieve stress and calm the nerves. Completion of a physical task releases “dopamine”, the feel good hormone.
If I have had a stressful day at work, a walk in the park really helps me. Can’t possibly take a walk in the middle of a work day. Some possible alternatives:

1. Sort out my desk drawers

2. Clean my purse

3. Take a slow walk to the water cooler

Daley won his first Olympic gold medal at this year’s Games. The thread had another tweet that showed a video of Daley talking about how he knit a pouch for the medal he won.

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Are IQ and EQ positively correlated?

While the jury for me is still out on whether there is a positive or a negative correlation between Intelligence Quotient and Emotional Quotient. There are studies that argue both sides eloquently. People that succeed are those that are able to manage their failures better than others.

As a teenager, I saw Vinod Kambli and Sachin Tendulkar make their International debuts in 1989. While Sachin went to onto create history, Vinod did not perform to potential (his shot selection was deemed to be better than Sachin’s). Attitude was a big reason. Recently, I heard an interesting perspective from Harsha Bhogle. He said that Vinod Kambli had a flaw in his technique that bowler’s exploited. He struggled against the short pitched delivery. Till 1994, his talent had carried him. He never got over this low in his career and he played his last test match for India at 23.

Earlier as a student and now as a Leader at Shradha HRD, I have seen this theme repeated continuously. Life will bring its share of highs and lows. Team members that are able to maintain their equanimity through the tumultuous phases, keep their head down and work are inevitably those that end up with the promotion!!!!!!!!

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A hypothesis…if 100 monkeys speculated on the stock market for a week. They bought and sold stock like crazy…half would make a profit and half a loss. Then 50 continued, if we continued this iterative process, we would have a winner after 7 weeks. Lets say he’s the “success monkey”. We would look to find his “success principles”. How could the monkey get it right 7 weeks in a row?

Sounds strange, but its reality. We are often victims of the “outcome bias”.

In hindsight, if we look at the recent spurt in global oil prices, there is enough evidence to suggest, they would have. Some said they would go up and some said not. We need to examine what the predictions were based on? Was it just chance, the right answer was picked on or was there a clear rational thought behind it?

A bad result doesn’t mean a bad decision and vice versa. Instead of blaming yourself for a bad result or congratulating yourself for a coincidental success, remember…why did you choose what you did?

Were the reasons right and understandable? Then stick to your process…

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Software Engineer’s Inspirational Story of Never Giving Up On His Dreams, Join Indian Army at the Age of 39

Many of us give up on our dreams. We feel it’s too late, the task seems daunting, we feel unaccomplished….Sathish Kumar, a software engineer joined the Indian Territorial Army at 39. He shared his story on LinkedIn. Inspirational!!!!

Written Exam

Out of 1.5 lakh candidates, Satish was one of 2079 candidates selected for the personal interview. At 37, Satish was the oldest candidate to reach Pune, for the interview. Self doubt crept in. “Why would they select a much older candidate”?

Personal Interview

After being interviewed by a Major General, 2 Lt Cols, a psychologist, Sathish was selected for the Service Selection Board round.A 5-day process, toughest to get through. The process was delayed from April to July 2020 due to Covid

Service Selection Board

Out of 172 candidates that appeared on Day 1, only 16 cleared. Sathish described how tough the next 4 days were. He was one of the 4 candidates who got selected.

Medical Examination

All 4 got rejected, based on stringent Army guidelines. There was an opportunity given to appeal the rejection. Satish cleared the medical in Sept2020.


Satish finally got his offer letter in April 2021&was assigned to the 118 Infantry (TA) battalion of the Grenadiers Regiment. After 2 years he finally became a Lieutenant

Source: Indiatimes

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Why Satya Nadella doesn’t endorse Work from Home?

Is there a mental cost of#WorkfromHome? Is permanent work from home desirable?In an interview with the New York Times,Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella said that permanently working from home can be “damaging for social interaction and mental health for workers”.

This statement resonated with me.

While the current pandemic has made it necessary for us to Work from Home, communicate via video conferences, its not the same as the connect of a physical meeting.

I miss sitting around the lunch table with colleagues

I miss the “I’m glad the weekend is here” banter

I miss the 2 minute informal connect with clients before & after a meeting

I miss just the “#humanconnection” that comes with a physical workplace

Attending online classes for students is not the same as being at school or college. One of the nicest parts of growing up is being around friends at school.

Virtual classrooms are necessary in today’s times and can be a valuable tool to reach audiences at multiple locations. However, the richness of communication that emerges in a physical classroom cannot be ignored, especially while addressing competencies related to Personal transformation.

I personally feel, Work from Home is great in some situations BUT we need to balance it with the “social connect”,while deciding an optimal work mix!!

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For true #brilliance in results, you can’t make a better version of an existing product. You need #originalthought as well as a “fresh approach”. The miracle that took place at Microsoft under Satya Nadella, bears testament to this fact

Under Ballmer, Microsoft  tried to copy everything Apple did.For every iPod, there was a Zune; for every iPad, a Surface tablet; for every iOS device, a Windows Phone.It also was tied to the core product: Windows.

Nadella started by selling PCs to corporate buyers. He later oversaw engineering for Bing, the company’s search engine, before taking over Azure.

Colleagues swear they’ve never seen him get upset, raise his voice, or fire off an angry email. Shelley Bransten, a Microsoft corporate vice president, suggests that what makes Nadella #unique is that he has “no swagger.”

Equally, he has been #adamant that the firm must move to cloud, compete head-to-head with Amazon’s AWS and ditch the Windows mentality.

Under Nadella, it cut funding to Windows and built an enormous cloud computing business, putting it ahead of Google and making progress in key areas against the dominant player, Amazon Web Services. “I don’t know of any other software company in the history of technology that fell onto hard times and has recovered so well,” says Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix Inc.

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What do prolific INVENTORS have to say about INVENTION?

Leading Indian patent holders say that inventions and innovations is a mind game. “I Can” is more important than IQ says Sandeep R Patil at IBM with 307 patents to his name. He says anyone can become an inventor, not just those in labs or those with high IQ. The invention process Sandeep says is psychological in nature. The key to invention is to train your mind to question the obvious:

1. Why does the clock move clockwise?

2. Why are manholes round?

Rajiv V Joshi with 267 patents, a technical lead from IBM says for idea generation you need to have observation capabilities. It’s a mind game that you have to conquer. There will be many adversities in the process but don’t give up. You will definitely succeed.

Sarabjit Rakshit with 705 patents, a data architect from IBM says that his ideas mostly come to him when he’s reading or watching tv, not consciously thinking about them. He makes a note of the idea, starts reflecting on it and then shares it with his teams if he feels there’s merit in it.

What does it take to have more than 100 patents to your name?

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