How many white males does it take to lead and support a tech cluster?

Based on 2 recent power lists – as many as you can get in!

Both the lists are packed with white males, with little to no representation from many minority-gender groups. I’m not criticising the lists here, but taking them as a reflection of the state of our tech ecosystem. We have far to go…

Business Insider’s list of coolest 50 people in UK tech [Source]

50 Coolest People in UK Tech
Click to see full image
  • 39 of the 52(!) people on the list are white males.

  • There are ZERO, by my quick calculation, black men or women on the list.
  • There are just 8 women, in total.
  • Only 2 non-white women, Eileen Burbidge and Bindi Karia, grace the list.
    There are few people – male or female – more highly deserving of their spot on the list, but I’m surprised that there are *just* 2!


Fresh Business Thinking Power 100 [Source]

Fresh business thinking power 100 2014
Click to see full image
  • 79, out of 100, people on the list are white males.

  • Only 2 non-white women – Shalini Khemka and Bindi Karia – grace the list.
  • 2 black malesChuka Umunna and Samuel Kasumu – make the list this time. No black/origin females, sadly.
  • Only 9 out of 100 people on the list are non-white.

Considering this list is more about thinkers and influencers – it has David Cameron at #1 – than about do-ers, the lack of diversity surprises me even more. I’m sure there are lots of non-white women and men leading, encouraging, and influencing fresh business thought in the UK tech and business communities.

I may be wrong. In which case, there simply need to be more. A lot more. In my humble opinion.

Continue reading Diversity

Risk – Statistics, norms & decision fatigue

They wouldn’t think of preventing many statistically riskier parenting decisions so long as those decisions jive comfortably with social norms.

Source: Working Mom Arrested for Letting Her 9-Year-Old Play Alone at Park – The Atlantic

This problem is everywhere – social behaviour decisions, government policy implementations, day-to-day corporate decision-making. The reason, hinted at in the quote above, is two-fold:

  1. Strength of ingrained social norms
  2. Mental effort required to understand statistical risk of decisions

Other potential reasons, I guess, are:

  1. Decision fatigue, or coping mechanisms for it – people avoid making decisions requiring involved thinking if they can get away without them , and
  2. Conflict avoidance – going with less controversial, more socially accepted option, even if it may be the worse/wrong choice.

What can (should) be done to overcome these hurdles? (Other than defining regulation more rigidly to take decisions out of hands of people, and/or ‘educating’ people)

Startups: On Boarding Employees

Many startups tend to keep the employees (usually devs & designers) focussed too narrow, never letting them expand to other roles, or keep them doing everything (usually non-tech employees/founders), without giving them time, resources or backing to develop expertise in one area.

I believe that there are no strict job descriptions or siloed roles in a startup – everyone does everything, at least some of their time. And it’s all for the better – of both the enterprise and the individuals. Everyone learns & grows, faster.

However, experience tells me that starting your stint with a specific role or project greatly improves the chances of a successful on-boarding. A specific project lets the new joiner do a deep dive and learn quickly about one specific area (become go-to person for that small, specific area), show some deliverables (thus earn cred in the new team), while also learning about rest of the roles (to get an idea of where they want to grow/expand).

Once a bit settled, more roles and responsibilities can, and should, be added. Not letting employees expand beyond their early roles, is just as bad as getting them to work on *everything* from the moment they step on-board. You never know, that backend dev could have evolved to become the best product manager or business development manager money could ever hire.

Continue reading Startups: On Boarding Employees

Company-watch on reddit

reddit-logoPro-tip for marketers:

Learn what people are saying about your company on @reddit with a simple URL:


Example: Track any posts on reddit mentioning/linking Europe’s leading seed investment program here:  http://www.reddit.com/domain/seedcamp.com

P.S.: If the scarcity of posts on that Seedcamp mentions page bothers you, get in touch with the program here: Wanted: Head of Content.


Ben Horowitz writes:

Most business relationships either become too tense to tolerate or not tense enough to be productive after a while. Either people challenge each other to the point where they don’t like each other or they become complacent about each other’s feedback and no longer benefit from the relationship. With Marc and me, even after 18 years, he upsets me almost every day by finding something wrong in my thinking, and I do the same for him. It works.

This has worked for me in my personal relationship over last xx years, and is one of the few things I seek in any good business relationship as well.

Not More.

A friend wrote a blog post about processing efficiency of manual toll gates versus the automated, drive-through toll gates in Gurgaon. It’s an interesting post, with a surprising conclusion to the core query – which of the two options is more efficient.

However, the last statement in that post kind of surprised me:

What we need in Gurgaon are more roads. More than five times the number of roads as there are today. That’s when people will see an improvement in our daily commutes.

Delhi has vehicle ownership rates of 85 per 1000 people. And yet a 16-lane toll gate has a 12 minute wait. If ownership rates in Delhi quintuple, still a fair bit below developed country numbers, even a 5x increase in roads won’t be anywhere close to sufficient1. More is not a solution.

The solution lies elsewhere – a huge increase in quality mass-transit public transport networks, congestion charging, strict cap on number of cars allowed on roads, alternate date car travel, others, or a combination there of.

We notice this frequently. ‘More’ is frequently provided as a solution when there is no direct cost of providing more, while finding a real, complex solution has a direct cost. More is a lazy man’s solution.

Every time that a user/customer complains of not getting sufficient throughput, the answer, more often than not, is that they need more servers, more space, or more something else. Something that will cost them more money, yet wouldn’t require much effort from us. Yes, we could’ve spent a few days tweaking the code to get out a little more throughput for them from the current servers. But that would require an effort from us. More doesn’t.

Every time the system slows down, your family IT guy will tell you that you need more RAM, or a better CPU with more processing capacity. Why? Because that’s the easy, lazy answer. She could spend a few hours with your system, removing all the crapware, running disk utilities, or (at worse) reformatting and reinstalling the operating system. But that takes effort and time. More is easy.

When that mentee, or interviewee, asks for feedback on how to improve his output, the answer given is usually work harder, spend more time, read more. To give proper feedback would require homework on part of the mentor – study appraisal reports, structure thoughts, engage2 in a discussion. But more is easy. A preserve of the lazy.

More, in these and other similar cases, is actually less. And less is more.

Continue reading Not More.

Time-zone: EST

Over the weekend, dining out with friends suffering in high-paying, corporate jobs, I had a realisation: There’s a big difference in how you measure time when you’re owning a business versus working for one.

When we work for someone else (usually something else – the money), we want the time at work to shrink. We wait for the lunch hour. We want the end of work day to arrive quickly. We look forward to the weekend all week. We want month end, and salary, to come quickly. We plan the time between vacations thinking, dreaming and planning the next vacation. We wish the clock just moved faster. A lot faster. We’ll call it Employee’s Shrinking Time. Or EST.

When we own what we are doing – our team, our firm, our idea, or our dream – we want the same time to expand. We don’t want end of month to come any time soon as that just means you’ve lost another month of critical time… even if we’ve been working 100 hour weeks all month. We want the day to have more than 24 hours, and sleep to vanish. We want the weeks to be longer and weekends shorter. In fact, we don’t just want the time to expand, we want it to just stop. Till we’re finished. (Which, if you’re good, is never.) We’ll call this Entrepreneur’s Stretching Time. Or EST.

So, which EST time-zone do you follow?

Posted from WordPress for Android

Continue reading Time-zone: EST

Farewell, Steve.

Rest in peace, Steve

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

You lived hungry. You lived foolish. And you taught us how to live.

Farewell, Steve.