Saw ‘All the Presidents Men’ again for the 4th or 5th time and it still gripped me in my gut. It was not so much the actors – Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, but the characters – Woodward and Bernstein, that were telling the story. I was glued to screen the entire time, chewing my nails as if it were a thriller and I did not know how the story ended. But I did and I could not help learning new things every time I saw it, sometimes with a lot of envy. Not that the actors got to play the most famous journalists of all time, but what the characters were going through and with what passion they followed on a single train of thought.
Legitimising every theory that would come up with every new piece of information that the two would, either have dug up or, with great cunning, extracted from scores of people who worked in the Nixon administration. I cannot even imagine the amount of documentation that they must have gone through, the connecting of the dots, the fear in discovering something that could endanger their lives or the lives of the people that they knew or worked with.
What is most inspiring is that the story did not begin with – getting Nixon out of the office, which happened eventually, but with the burglary and following the whys and whats of the situation. I don’t think that when they did start investigating the burglary at Watergate complex, they must have rubbed their hands in glee thinking, ‘Aha, we gotcha’. But that feeling, that gut which egged them on singularly and together to follow through on their thoughts – there is something to find.
I am a strategist by profession and for me to follow on a line of thought in the corporate world, requires that I prove my theory with data, facts, knowledge and approvals. All things that the two journalists went through perhaps, at levels that I could not even begin to comprehend. However the process of discovery and victory remains the same. And that is what is so mindblowing. To see a judgment call come through. They along with their editors must have taken a lot of them. And then the final validation, the final victory, when the indictments and resignation came. What a moment it must have been.
I bet many of us would hope that we could be part of something like this even if it is only being at that place, at that time when ‘that something phenomenal’ does happen.
Effecting control at a molecular level would perhaps be the domain of select few. But the implications would be a ‘mass’ly commercial. From targeted medicine designed to affect only the diseased cell or say reworking the base structure of materials to make them stronger than steel but lighter than aluminium or think about wearing your iphone on your body like a band. Ideas that, some would perhaps think, came straight from a scene in Star Trek. Unbelievable. But in the near future could be a sure reality. Some already are, like technology that blocks air molecules from escaping golf balls and tyres, thus increasing life span. Imagine the savings. Small is definitely the next big. The story of nanotech is definitely old but the book is a good read for those wanting to be excited with new ideas. Ignore the personality critiques though.
What surprises me is that parents are willing to pay lakhs to coaching classes. So that coaching classes inturn can offer scholarships worth crores. But if the schools demand a pay hike for the teachers, its war. In between schooling and tuition, the person who suffers the most is the child. All work no play. No childhood.
Parents need to sit with the teachers and make them more effective. Schools need to talk to parents as companies do with their shareholders. Share information on plans, problems etc. The goal of providing quality education is not just the schools job. Parents need to enable the schools so that they can provide an education as coaching classes are perceived to provide.
But who is to bell the cat??
One of the most important aspects of building a company is to trust your team. The urge to do everything perfectly will a top most priority. And the only way to satisfy that urge is to do the job your self. But you can’t do everything! So the next best thing is to train your team to perform and deliver the way you would. And if you have trained them, you then have to trust them to deliver. Every so often, you will find the urge to check whether the job is being done well. Wait. The thing is this. If there is no complaint, no one is screaming bloody murder or calling you a dozen times, then alls well. Finally you just need to firefight, once in a while. One thing to remember, mistakes happen. Everyone makes mistakes. Point is how do you tackle it, fix it and ensure that it does not happen again.
The organisation is place that can eat you alive and spit you out like you are puke. No explanations, no logic, no emotion. That is the horrible part. The beauty is that sometimes it allows you to excel beyond your wildest imagination. She takes care of you, feeds your ultimate desires, makes you famous and becomes your cash cow. We all strive to meet the latter. Many of us do. Many of us also meet the horror. And when we do meet her, the only thing that can help us tolerate her is our support system – friends, family, well wishers. If you have not met the iron lady, you will at some point. And then you will need shoulders to cry on, lots of shoulders.
So when you decide to keep this support system at the bottom of your priorities, you are in one word – screwed. Remember this when you decide to chuck your family and friends for work or don’t make it to their birthdays and other happy days. Or when you don’t have time to have fun with those who love you.
Your friends and family is your only one true asset. Your link to sanity and an acid free stomach. They will keep your heart running smoothly. Learn to get together with those who like you for who you are and not what title you have or what car you drive. Hang on to them with dear life. If you are tired, shake it off. Figure a way out to keep them in your life. Sometime you will have to literally fight the world to be with them. So fight!
Sure this is a cliché of a post. But life is better when you get together with friends just to talk junk and nonsense and sometimes a little heart talk. No world politics or the environment. Just silly stupid talk that makes you laugh and remember that there is a better life for you. That all your heartache will pass. That things will get better.
So next time when a friend calls you to get together. Go! Take a break.
Few days back I was travelling in the ac bus from Churchgate (South Mumbai) to Goregaon (North Mumbai). An hour into the journey, I noticed two bags hanging in front of me. With the multiple bomb blasts that Mumbai had witnessed in the last few years, I asked people around me as to who owned the bags. No one answered. I got a little concerned, so I asked a well dressed gentleman standing in the aisle if he could ask as well. To my surprise he just stared at me and continued conversing with his lady friend. I saw the conductor at the back and told him loudly in Marathi to enquire about the bags. He looked as if in a daze. Perhaps he was tired after a long days work. After a while two women at the back yelled back that the bags belonged to them. Matter over.
What concerned me was not that the man did not help me. What concerned me was that the employee of the government – the bus conductor seemed not at all worried. Maybe there was nothing to worry about but unowned bags lying around should be a cause for concern for all. We see signs everywhere. Do not touch unknown items, report to the nearest cop, police or someone with authority. However, in practice, those in authority seem apathetic.
The State government spends millions on security related issues. But if people in the frontline are not trained to intercept or intervene at appropriate moments then the whole thing is futile. Security consciousness needs to start at the bottom, at the front line. Now, the situation seems like the central monitoring team will see a man stealing a woman’s purse through the CCTV network. But a cop standing at that very location does nothing. Training has to be in real time and has to be ingrained within people at local touchpoints.
Fabulous book by Ms Maddox. When we think of DNA, we think of Francis Crick and James Watson. Never Rosalind Franklin, the woman whose x-rays and data actually led the two Nobel laureates to the discovery of the double helix. While Rosalind’s work was the basis on which Crick and Watson arrived at DNA structure, she herself received no credit for this work from them. None. I am sure that many people will be able to empathize with this. Its a great story of a woman passionate about science, dealing with chauvinism at work, her love for all things French and passion for travel and sports. However, if not in life, but in death, her role in one of the worlds most important discoveries has been acknowledged by many. Although it is not good enough to get her a Nobel Prize, which she should get as the process of discovery is as important as the discovery itself, as the prize is given only to the living. Must read for anyone wanting to pursue pure science or for that matter those who are passionate of what they do at work. Passion and work, who says they need to be mutually exclusive? Be not afraid being alone in pursuit of your passion. Do it with all you’ve got, for there have been others before you doing exactly the same in much tougher circumstances. Rosalind died of ovarian cancer at 37. Imagine what could have happened had she lived on.