Sunday, April 25, 2021


 Bob Iger in his book "The Ride of a Lifetime" rates the ability to compartmentalize the day as one of the highest leverage skills for a CEO, who has to switch context and deal with problems of different scale every hour.

Now consider the daily schedule of famed novelist Haruki Murakami. When he’s working on a novel, he starts his days at 4 am and writes for five or six continuous hours.

For simplicity sake, one can consider Iger as a Manager and Murakami as a Maker & their cases highlight a point-

"different types of work require different types of schedules"

Paul Graham in his timeless essay talks about the concept of Maker schedule and Manager schedule. An idea further expanded by Shane Parrish in his blog (Catch the summary in my sketchnote)

A manager’s day is sliced up into tiny slots, each with a specific purpose like meetings, calls, emails.
A maker’s schedule is different. It is made up of long blocks of time reserved for focusing on particular tasks, or the entire day might be devoted to one activity.

As Shane says, Awareness is the key. We need to be aware of which schedule the people around us are on so we can be considerate and let them get their best work done.

What is your preferred schedule ?

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 Clay Christensen once tried to improve the sales of milkshakes. He tried to make them sweeter,offered them in different tastes,& slightly increased the size of the cups. Nothing worked out, until he started observing the customers. He found out that the job the customers hired the milkshake for was in fact to make their morning car ride to work less boring. The big benefit a milkshake has is that it is a thick drink that lasts longer than any other drink and stuffs the stomach. This was the real problem; the customers had no idea about it. In the end Christensen came up with the solution to make the milkshake even thicker, which led to an increase in sales numbers. Source:

This story gives a glimpse into an astute product thinking mind, one attribute of which is: "Fall in love with a problem, not a specific solution“. And as Steve Jobs said: It’s not the customer’s job to know what they want“

What else does product thinking constitute ? This question is well answered by Julie Zhuo in this remarkable twitter thread Catch the summary in my sketchnote

My favorite part: The most important qualities in improving one's product thinking are:

What is your viewpoint ?

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 After scoring a skillful century against England in the 2nd test of the ongoing test series, Ravichandran Ashwin was asked about his thoughts. He replied:

"I will sleep well through the night, that is all that I am thinking."

He was focused on the next day but more than that he was focused on rest and recovering properly.

Why is it that the sportspersons value rest so much and we as a professionals undervalue it to the extent that we ignore it ? We somehow take regular late nights as a sort of badge of honour, something synonymous with working hard. Why doesn't rest and recovery feature in a professional's calendar ?

I came across this eye-opening TEDx talk by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith ~ Work-Life Integration Strategist in which she unshackles many myths about rest and looks at it in a holistic way suggesting 7 types of rest:


Catch the summary of the talk my sketchnote but would urge you to spend ~9 min to listen to it. More than ever the concept of rest needs to be understood and inculcated in today's times.

My bonus learning:
Sleep and rest are not the same thing, although many of us incorrectly confuse the two.

Will you prioritize rest today ?

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 Arne Sorenson, the CEO of Marriott, sadly passed away this week after bravely battling pancreatic cancer. Despite his illness, he braved Marriott through the pandemic time. I caught a glimpse of his extraordinarily authentic leadership when he released a public video for his employees.

His 5 minute speech is a case study in compassion & empathy. He presents himself as vulnerable yet fully in control of situation- a rare combination. Here are a few lessons for me, especially in dealing with warlike situations at work:

1.Despite his frail condition, he made it a point to speak with employees. Simple lesson,often forgotten: Talk to your team, they need to hear from you.

2.He called the pandemic situation (for hotel industry) worse than 9/11 & 2009 financial crisis combined. Lesson: Be transparent, don't sugarcoat the words. Delivering bad news is something a leader has to learn to do well.

3.He commits to forgo his full salary & his exec team by 50%. Gives a message that he & his immediate team are first in the line of fire before the impact reaches employees.

Of his 62 years of existence, most of us were exposed mostly to these 5 minutes but the manner in which he handled these 5 min left a treasure-trove of learnings.

My Sketchnote:


 Yesterday, Bill Gates announced his new book "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster" (which i hope to read!). The story behind this book- Gates never planned to focus on climate change, but while working in Africa he came to see just how vulnerable those in developing countries are to the effects of rising temperatures.

So 15 years ago Gates started educating himself via various learning sessions with experts on climate change. Gates says-
"My reading is key. and then asking questions when it doesn't make sense." (source:

So Gates' love for reading is clearly fueled by his desire to satisfy his extraordinary curiosity and his interest in solving world's hardest problems.

Why else do you read ? There are obviously many reasons and I found Vala Afshar's tweet ( just so relevant (my sketchnote included).

So how much can you read ? Here's actionable insight by Prakash Iyer :

"If you read for just half an hour everyday, you could finish a 250 page book in just two weeks' time. That's 26 books a year.A 100 books in next 4 years. Just think, what difference would that make to the quality of your mind, your career, your life ?"

What are you reading these days?

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Why did Amazon Acquire Perpule ?

What happened?

  • Amazon has acquired a startup in India that is helping offline stores go online. Perpule is a four-year-old startup. 
  • Amazon acquired retail tech startup Perpule in an all cash-deal of ₹107.6 crore to bolster its play in the kirana-tech space, according to regulatory filings.
  • Amazon is expected to pay additional remuneration to Bengaluru-based Perpule’s employees, which may bump up the overall deal value to about ₹150 crore


  1. In India, brick and mortar continue to drive more than 95% of sales.

  2. In January 2020, Amazon’s founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos had announced that the ecommerce giant will invest $1 Bn in India to support small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). He noted that the company would also help the retailers to export goods valuing over $10 Bn worldwide by 2025.

  3. Almost a year back, Amazon launched ‘Smart Stores’ to help offline retailers digitise their inventory and launch a digital storefronts on its app. The ecommerce giant has also scaled its ‘Local Shops’ programme to 50K offline sellers in March and plans to further grow to 1 Lakh by the end of 2021

How did Perpule evolve?:

  • Founded in late 2016, the Indian startup’s first product was focused on helping customers avoid queues at superchains such as Shoppers Stop, Spar Hypermarket and Big Bazaar. But the product, said Abhinav Pathak in a recent interview, wasn’t scaling, which is when Perpule pivoted.

What does Perpule actually do? What is its products?

  • Perpule is a customisable enterprise ecommerce platform that allows small retailers to venture into the digital space.
  • Perpule offers a mobile payments device (point of sale machine) to offline retailers to help them accept digital payments and also establish presence on various mini app stores including those run by Paytm, PhonePe and Google Pay in India.
  • UltraPoS, which is Perpule’s primary product is a full-fledged store management solution that helps small businesses digitally manage and automate inventory, purchase orders from distributors, and billings.

What does Amazon gain out of this acquisition? Why did they do it?

  1. The acquisition will allow Amazon to leverage Perpule’s cloud-based point-of-sale (PoS) offering, UltraPoS, for upscaling their game in India's kirana stores market.

  2. It would also enable Amazon to offer a new suite of technology products to its kirana partners, while digitising neighbourhood stores.

  3. Besides this, Perpule would also enable its network of 10K store and retail partners to understand customer demographics and purchase patterns. The company has marked its presence across India, South-east Asia and the UAE as of 2020. Close to 60% of the product’s customer base are international clients including Matahari Retail in Indonesia and Landmark Group in Malaysia.

  1. The acquisition of Perpule comes a year after Amazon launched ‘Smart Stores’ to help offline retailers digitise their inventory and launch a digital storefronts on its app. The ecommerce giant has also scaled its ‘Local Shops’ programme to 50K offline sellers in March and plans to further grow to 1 Lakh by the end of 2021. This acquisition will help elevate 'Smart Stores' and 'Local Shops' program goals.

What will investors gain?

  • The acquisition is expected to provide Perpule’s investors an exit with 4x-5x returns. The four-year old startup has raised close to $4.7 million till date from Prime Venture Partners, Kalaari Capital, Venture Highway and Taxiforsure co-founder Raghunandan G.

References and above text from:

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Why did Microsoft buy Nuance ?

I am taking this opportunity to restart my interest and passion on writing actively about tech industry trends. In the past, i was active in doing so when i was writing for, some of my prior work can be found here.

Tech acquisitions intrigue me a lot and hence my post today is about the new of recent news that Microsoft is buying Nuance for $19 billion or so. Microsoft's second largest acquisition deal after LinkedIn.

Lets peel some layers to understand this acquisition a little better.

What does Nuance do ?

Nuance is primarily in the space of Voice recognition tech and AI. It's voice recognition technology power’s Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri. Nuance also makes software for the healthcare and automotive sectors. 

What makes Microsoft interested in Nuance ?

Nuance's products are SaaS offerings and importantly, are built on Microsoft Azure. This certainly removes a major friction in Microsoft's decision (things would be different if they were on AWS) but Microsoft's real interest can be judged from it's CEO Satya Nadela's statement:

“Nuance provides the AI layer at the healthcare point of delivery and is a pioneer in the real-world application of enterprise AI,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “AI is technology’s most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application. Together, with our partner ecosystem, we will put advanced AI solutions into the hands of professionals everywhere to drive better decision-making and create more meaningful connections, as we accelerate growth of Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare and Nuance.”

The segment of interest (for Microsoft) is Healthcare. Nuance is expected to power Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare. Nuance's SaaS offerings in this area are clinical speech recognition products like Dragon Ambient eXperience, Dragon Medical One, and PowerScribe One.

Nuance's Healthcare segment play:
Nuance solutions are currently used by more than 55% of physicians and 75% of radiologists in the U.S., and used in 77% of U.S. hospitals. Nuance’s Healthcare Cloud revenue experienced 37% year-over-year growth in Nuance’s fiscal year 2020 (ended September 2020).

Microsoft and Industry specific vertical cloud focus:
Microsoft has accelerated its efforts to provide industry-specific cloud offerings to support customers and partners as they respond to disruption and new opportunities. These efforts include the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, introduced in 2020, which aims to address the comprehensive needs of the rapidly transforming and growing healthcare industry. 

Any other potential focus areas:

This analysis suggests an interesting perspective, though it has to be left as a speculation.

Though Microsoft has not made any overtures, Nuance’s offerings could be potentially combined with GPT-3. Microsoft secured the exclusive license to GPT-3 (developed by OpenAI) in September 2020. During the time of acquisition, Microsoft said GPT-3 could aid in areas such as “writing and composition, describing and summarizing large blocks of long-form data (including code), converting natural language to another language”.

However, OpenAI has warned against GPT-3’s use in high-stake healthcare processes and listed medical and psychiatric diagnosis under the ‘unsupported use’ of the model. But there are many other areas where the cross-pollination of Nuance and GPT-3 could yield remarkable results, including medical documentation and transcription. 


Note to self:
Explore more and write on the real healthcare use cases that will get enhanced with this acquisition.

Friday, April 2, 2021


 One of the books that inspired me years back was 'The Medici Effect (What Elephants and Epidemics can Teach us about Innovation)'.

Medicis were the family from Florence, Italy who brought together the professionals from various fields like Architects, Engineers, Town Planners, Doctors, Writers etc. They helped form this community of progressive people with divergent views. The resultant amalgamation of ideas by this community is credited to have formed the genesis of Renaissance.

The moot point here is that if we allow the different fields to intersect, the magic happens.

In our day to day lives, we try to seek inspiration from our surroundings, from areas like sports, our hobbies and bring them back to our work.

Utkarsh Rai in his recent video takes the notion of Medici effect to a different level where brings about his lessons from Bollywood (he was the Country head of Infinera before making an unexpected switch to Bollywood) & applies them in the professional life.

The video brings about some great learnings that inspired me to draw the Sketchnote.

Loved this quote by Dr. Kevin Eschleman-
“less relevant the activity is to the person’s profession, the greater the impact on workplace performance”.
Do you agree ?

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 A while back read this piece of #advice that Satya Nadela received in his 30s ( The advice made Satya realize that it is important to think about a deeper meaning to work.

He says-
“The technologies will all be passed in time, but the people, you behave … that’s the relationship that I think you seek out while being true to yourself,& what makes you happy.”

I am also reminded of India Cricket Captain Virat Kohli's letter to his younger self ( Entire letter is worth reading but I will call out these lines.

"You will fail. Everyone does. Just promise yourself that you will never forget to rise. And if at first, you don't, try again."

The words of wisdom we receive from different sources can have incalculable impact in our #careers, if we are open to receive & apply them.

What better source to hear the advice from the leaders who have tread the difficult path and achieved success. Sharing such nuggets of wisdom from leaders at Walmart , broadly categorized in these 4 areas:

1. Be open to change/growth
2. Be curious
3. Use others as teachers
4. Take some risks
Notes credit: Laura Berg

Read through the #sketchnote summary below.

What would be your advice to your younger self ?

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 There was a time in Sourav Ganguly's career when he couldn't play bouncers well. He heads off to Australia to take coaching tips from Greg Chappell (yes, they were friends once!). Chappell reminds Ganguly that his strength is to get on the front foot & drive and that he was overly worried about the short ball. As he was afraid of the short ball, he was getting on the backfoot & surrendering his strength, which is getting on the front foot and drive. In essence, Ganguly got the message to be positive, play to his strengths. In 2003-04 tour of Australia with this mindset and scored a 100 at Brisbane.

In his book, 'Only the Paranoid Survives' Andy Groves narrates a story of when Intel had to cannibalize its own D-RAM business & pivot to microprocessors. It was personally a hard call for Andy as he had to let go of his prior knowledge, learn & lead the transformation. He took the challenge head-on, read, tonnes of stuff & more importantly, met the right experts to re-educate himself.

I am reminded of a quote which Simon Taufel once said "Breakdowns leads to Breakthroughs".
But it happens only if in the face of adversity like Ganguly and Andy, we are:
- Positive
- Willing to take help
- are fine with unlearning, relearning

What do you think ?

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