Sep 10

What marathon training has taught me about life & leadership?

Entrepreneurship, Leadership Comments Off on What marathon training has taught me about life & leadership?

I started training for endurance events 7 years back with Team in Training. Over past 7 years I have done 4 marathons, 1 triathlon and more than 50 half marathons. I have learnt a lot about me, about life and about leadership over these years. Here are few key learnings

  1. Its a marathon not a sprint(think long term): Life is like a marathon so no need to stress out about something at mile 1 when you still have 25 more miles to go. When people stress about something going wrong or something being urgent, I always remind them it is a marathon not a sprint. If you have a long term perspective on things you tend to make better decisions. 

    Lot of times you see teams in perpetual state of emergency, everything needs to get done yesterday. Problem with this is you just burn out the teams. When you have long term view of things(like a marathon) you focus on achieving success in long term and building a healthy team and culture to be successful.
     

  2. One mile at a time: Running 26 miles is a daunting task but if you just focus on one mile at a time it seems much more achievable. Last year while running NYC marathon, my legs started cramping at mile 8, another 18 miles seemed impossible to run. I kept telling myself to just focus on next one mile and then the next one. It took me forever to finish the race but I finished. I knew, I can finish the race if I continue to move forward and just get the next mile done.
    Similarly in any effort you just have to focus on next mile or next task and make forward progress and you will get to the finish line.

  3. Great coaches and mentors enable you to achieve unthinkable success: When I started running in 2010, I could hardly walk a mile. I got introduced to Team in Training through a friend and since then I have worked with multiple coaches and mentors in the program. These folks give there most valuable resource to help others, their time. I would not have been able to complete my first half marathon or my latest full marathon without these coaches & mentors. They helped me through every aspect of running from how to pace myself to right shoes or nutrition. They are the reason of what I can do today. 
    This is no different in other part of life, finding and reaching out to right coaches and mentors is key to success. No one is good at everything, know what you need help with and reach out to people who are experts.
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  4. Have a mission/purpose bigger than just the task at hand: Team in training is endurance training arm of Leukemia and Lymphoma society. You train for endurance events but you are also raising money to fund cure for blood cancers. When things get tough over time, the inspiration that you are doing this not just for you but for a greater good keeps you going. When you are at mile 20 and ready to give up but you cannot because you just cannot give up on mission. That is what keeps you going…
    This is also the reason organizations built on higher purpose having passionate employees get lot more done.
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  5. Enjoy the journey with great team: Humans by nature are social animal; having a great team is key for us to be successful. We go for our long runs every Saturday morning and I never miss that practice. Just knowing there are other team members waiting for you to run is such a motivation to get up on every Saturday whether it is rainy, snowy or sunny to go out to run. You just don’t want to let your team down and you want to be there for others. Also remember you will run 26.2 miles on race day but you will be running 100s of miles before that to train and you want to be around people you would enjoy those miles because you will not get a medal for those miles. Smile
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  6. Compete against yourself not others: I am confident I will never win a marathon. I don’t try to compete with anyone else when I run marathons. I compete against myself, it is to prove to myself I can finish or I want to beat my last time but it is all about setting a goal that I will be proud off. Similarly in work life I don’t try to compete with others around me, it is all about setting goals and meeting them.
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  7. Getting to start line is the most difficult thing:  If you get to start line you will get to finish line. We all are capable of way more than what we think we are. Taking the first step and getting to the start line is the most important thing.

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Nowadays I focus a lot more on getting projects/initiatives to start line and I am confident a great team will get it to the finish line by focusing on one mile at a time. Smile

Feb 06

AWS re:Invent 2015 | (BDT310) Big Data Architectural Patterns and Best Practices on AWS

Big Data, Technology Comments Off on AWS re:Invent 2015 | (BDT310) Big Data Architectural Patterns and Best Practices on AWS

Good talk by Siva Raghupathy on Big Data architectural patterns.

Jan 29

How Algorithms shape our world

Innovation, Technology Comments Off on How Algorithms shape our world

Jan 07

The Secret Sneaker Market

Marketing Comments Off on The Secret Sneaker Market

Jan 03

Born to Run

Personal Comments Off on Born to Run

Jan 01

As work gets more complex, 6 rules to simplify

Leadership, Structure/HR Comments Off on As work gets more complex, 6 rules to simplify

Kicking off 2016 with good Ted talks. This is good one on organizational design and how to simplify it.

Jan 01

Design at the intersection of technology and biology

Innovation, Technology Comments Off on Design at the intersection of technology and biology

Kicking off 2016 with good Ted talks. This is great one on product design bring biology and technology together to build new products.

Sep 04

Building zulily’s big data platform

Big Data, Innovation Comments Off on Building zulily’s big data platform

If you have not already ready my post on zulily engineering blog, it is a good read on what we are building at zulily.  Send me a note if you want to learn more or if you are interested in joining our team. 

In July 2014 we started our journey to building a new data platform that would allow us to use big data to drive business decisions. I would like to start with a quote from our 2015 Q2 earnings that was highlighted in various press outlets and share how we built a data platform that allows zulily to make decisions which were near impossible to do before.

“We compared two sets of customers from 2012 that both came in through the same channel, a display ad on a major homepage, but through two different types of ads,” [Darrell] Cavens said. “The first ad featured a globally distributed well-known shoe brand, and the second was a set of uniquely styled but unbranded women’s dresses. When we analyze customers coming in through the two different ad types, the shoe ad had more than twice the rate of customer activations on day one. But 2.5 years later, the spend from customers that came in through the women dresses ad was significantly higher than the shoe ad with the difference increasing over time.” – www.bizjournals.com

Our vision is for every decision, at every level in the organization, to be driven by data. In early 2014 we realized the data platform we had which was combination of SQL server database for data warehousing primarily for structured operational data + Hadoop cluster for unstructured data was too limiting. We started with defining core principles for our new data platform (v3).

zulily Engineering Blog | Seattle’s Best Engineering Team

Sep 04

Five open source Big Data projects to watch | ZDNet

Big Data Comments Off on Five open source Big Data projects to watch | ZDNet

I need to read more about these 5.  Apache Flink, Apache Samza, Ibis, Apache Twill and Apache Mahout-samsara. Mahout is the one I have read a bit about but others were not on my radar yet. 🙂

There are a lot of open source projects out there, and keeping track of them all is next to impossible. Here are five important ones in the Big Data space that you may not know about.

Five open source Big Data projects to watch | ZDNet

Jun 07

Book Review: First Break all the Rules

Book Reviews Comments Off on Book Review: First Break all the Rules

This is one of the best books on management I have read in a while.

Authors:Marcus Buckingham , Curt W Coffman

Rating: ★★★★★

First Break All Rules cover image.jpgTheme is based on “The greatest managers in the world don’t have much in common except that they break conventional rules of wisdom concerning management style.”

There are twelve questions in first chapter that managers should focus on to attract and retain top talent which are really good. These are like “Do I know what is expected of me at work?”, “Do I have materials and equipment to do my job?”,  “Do I have opportunity o do what I do best?”, “ Have I received recognition in for good work?” etc…

According to author,

  • The role of manager is to act as catalyst by working one on one with each person to convert his talent into performance.
  • Also, there is limit to how much you can develop people hence managers should help each person to become more of who he or she already is.
  • Focus on outcomes not right steps
  • When hiring select for talent, skill and abilities
  • Talent cannot be taught, skills and knowledge can be developed
  • Each person has his own strength, focus on strengths and work around weaknesses
  • Most importantly “FIND THE RIGHT FIT” Smile

Great read, highly recommend it.