Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Ten interesting things we read this week

Some of the most fascinating topics covered this week are: Sports (Border-Gavaskar Trophy: India's historic win), Leadership (Top 5 lessons learned over a 20-year career), Business (YO! founder talks entrepreneurship & how to follow your fear), and Health (11-minute body-weight workout is all that you need!).

Published: Jan 23, 2021 08:26:05 AM IST
Updated: Jan 22, 2021 08:06:53 PM IST

Ten interesting things we read this weekImage: Shutterstock

At Ambit, we spend a lot of time reading articles that cover a wide gamut of topics, ranging from zeitgeist to futuristic, and encapsulate them in our weekly ‘Ten Interesting Things’ product. Some of the most fascinating topics covered this week are: Sports (Border-Gavaskar Trophy: India’s historic win), Leadership (Top 5 lessons learned over a 20-year career), Business (YO! founder talks entrepreneurship & how to follow your fear), and Health (11-minute body-weight workout is all that you need!).

 Here are the ten most interesting pieces that we read this week, ended January 23, 2021.

1)     Australia vs India test: Thank you and good night, India [Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
In this article, Greg Baum, chief sports columnist and associate editor with The Age, is all praise for the Indian team. He starts by writing, “Thanks for one of the classic series. Thank you for one of the more extraordinary days.” Talking about the recently concluded Border–Gavaskar Trophy, a Test series played between India and Australia, he goes on to talk about each and every Indian player who contributed to the historic win. An injury-ravaged India beat Australia by three wickets in the series-deciding fourth Test in Brisbane to clinch the rubber 2-1 and retain the Border Gavaskar Trophy.

When an Indian team that unceremoniously sat on its backside in Adelaide a month ago and gutted by injury since inflicts Australia’s first defeat at the Gabba since 1988, what more can you say? Fortress Gabba fell to a Trojan horse. It had looked like such a gift. He thanks Shubman Gill for the jaunty 91 that made this impossible result possible. Also, Rishabh Pant, for his 89 not out that made it certain, and to think that the Australians once had him pegged as Tim Paine’s babysitter. It was Paine senior who needed bit of rocking in the cradle at the end of this day.

About this Indian team, it can truly be said that nothing changed from first Test to fourth except nearly all the names and the results. Never before can such a callow team have played such knowing cricket away from home. Never has one pulled off a feat like this. The commentary boxes were reverberating all day with rasping calls for nastiness and aggression from Australia, and Ajinkya Rahane just smiled. And won. Australia will face questions after failing twice in a week to bowl out India on the last day. Why did Cam Green not bowl more? Why did Marnus Labuschagne not bowl earlier (he began this match with more Test wickets than the entire Indian attack)? Surely, Australia will need to go back to the dressing room and discuss what went wrong.  

2)     The Kamala Harris identity debate shows how America still struggles to talk about multiracial people [Source: Vox
Kamala Harris’ barrier-breaking vice presidency is also a powerful win for representation of multiracial people in America. But, she has gone through a lot of discrimination from both communities she is a member of, South Asian and Jamaican. The South Asians said she is not South Asian enough and Black people said she might not be Black enough. In 2019, Harris described the accusations of not being Black enough as “hurtful” and “challenging,” telling journalist Jemele Hill: “For other people who can’t figure out am I ‘black enough,’ I kinda feel like that’s their problem, not mine. Maybe they need to go back to school to figure it out. And maybe they need to learn about the African diaspora and maybe they need to learn about a number of other things.”

But her multiracial identity shouldn’t have been new information. Harris has had a long career in public life: She was a San Francisco district attorney, the California attorney general, a US senator, and ran for the Democratic nomination for president last year. And yet for years, she has primarily been identified as a Black woman in the public eye, with her South Asian identity rarely mentioned in media coverage until fairly recently. In America, many Americans still don’t know how to talk about multiracial people. Americans want to be able to easily label people by race and put them into one box. Pew Research estimates that 6.9% of the adult American population is multiracial, and the Census Bureau predicts that the multiracial population in America will triple by 2060.

Diana Sanchez, a Rutgers University professor who studies multiracial identity in America, noted that research has shown that “when you have Black ancestry in your background, and this is seen as the lower-status group in society, people will tend to categorize you along those lines.” Sanchez added that Harris’s “South Asian identity might be perceived as higher status because of the way discrimination works and some of the positive stereotypes that exist for Asian American groups compared to Black American groups. So she is likely to be categorized as a Black candidate.” How Harris chooses to identify is ultimately a personal decision, and as a biracial person in America, that is undoubtedly an even more nuanced, complex issue for her to navigate.

3)     In 2021, Boomers will have 1 key advantage over other employees [Source:
As 2020 went by sitting at home, 2021 is going to be tough for most to cope up with the new working environment, especially for the “Baby Boomers”. One thing that stands out with millennials and Gen Z’s is their ability to multi-task, think outside the box, embrace technology, and their creativity. So, “Where do boomers stand in the 2021 workplace?” Is there an advantage to being a person aged 56-74 in 2021? The Baby Boomers have the leadership ability that millennials or Gen Z might not possess.

And in such uncertain times, leadership is more coveted in the workplace than ever before. Companies across the country recognize they need solid leadership to help them manage people and get things done and turn a profit! Boomers offer leadership skills, having seen countless scenarios, experiencing many changes, and having to adapt to every new trend over the years! Often, leadership and management are viewed as the same. They’re not, though. Management is telling people what to do and how to do it, regardless of whether they want to or not. They have to listen, and typically management is positional; in other words, it comes from the top down. On the other hand, leadership is empowering and, when done right, increases productivity and results.

If you are a boomer, keep in mind that while you do have a distinct advantage in experience and leadership, you will have to mold it to the current work culture to succeed. An advantage to being older is your experience comes in handy, but your commitment does too. In her instant New York Times bestseller Grit, Angela Duckworth lays out the secrets to accomplishing more through mental fortitude, determination, and effort – not talent. She describes how the most successful know how to stay mentally focused and mentally strong, even when things seem to be caving in from all sides, especially as it pertains to work. If you are a boomer, you have lived through several wars, one being Vietnam. You have seen changes politically, with society, and economically. Put another way; you have sludged through the knee-deep mud quite a few times.

4)     The top 5 leadership lessons I've learned over a 20-year career [Source:]
Being a good leader takes time, patience, experience and lots more. In this article, Bernard Coleman, Head of Employee Engagement at Gusto, shares five invaluable nuggets of wisdom that he received while growing in as a leader. 1) You're only good as your last performance: It goes without saying but people tend to remember your latest accomplishment, not that big win from two years ago. Can you even remember who won the World Series two years ago, let alone last year? It's called the recency bias and what it comes down to is that as a leader you need to consistently perform or otherwise you may be shown the door. There is not much tolerance for a 'one-hit wonder'.

2) Heroics don’t scale: As leaders, you have to figure out how to scale processes, not yourself. Rising to the moment should be the outlier, not the ordinary. Leadership calls for a macro look at the environment. You have to build capacity and competency on your team so that it decreases the reliance of heroics of just one person. 3) All you have is your reputation: Your reputation is your calling card and what you're known for. You can be principled or unethical, whatever the case reputation matters. It's important to understand that with the mantle of leadership, there is an expectation that you are in control. Just think of the leaders with notoriously bad reputations, like Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos or Billy McFarland of Fyre Festival. Holmes and McFarland are now reputationally enshrined as case studies of what terrible leadership looks like.

4) Your attitude determines your altitude: This is about mindset, staying positive in adverse situations is a must in leadership. People look to leaders for direction and inspiration. A poor attitude can be a contagious team killer. Team morale can worsen and erode team cohesion. 5) Hold fast: This means to continue to stick with your principles. As a leader, you should be principled and keep to your convictions. There will be ups and downs, but if you can anchor to your core beliefs of doing what's right and be unwavering in the face of adversity, you can withstand the challenges you face.

5)     Bringing people back to the office: Here’s what it will take [Source: Forbes
Things are slowly getting back to normal now. Many people have started going to offices. But, everything will change, and leaders have a big task of getting people back to offices and keeping them motivated. 1) What people love, and don’t love, about working from home: Globally, eight out of ten countries rank not having to commute first on their list of benefits. There are also things people miss about the office. In 10 out of 10 countries surveyed, isolation was the greatest concern from people working at home. 2) Leadership necessary to bring people back: There are plenty of reasons to bring people back to the office, from performance and career growth to engagement and social capital. In order to engage and motivate people, great leaders will have to display empathy, engage people’s sense of purpose and help connections thrive.

3) Empathy: Leaders will need to understand everyone’s work-from-home circumstances are different. The empty-nester with a dedicated home office is facing a different set of challenges compared with the couple working full time from their small apartment and facilitating learning with their two small children. Leaders will need to ask questions, listen and understand employees’ unique needs and concerns to ensure they create the conditions that will attract people back. 4) Purpose: Leaders can motivate people to return by reinforcing the broader sense of purpose for people’s work. At the office, people can feel the energy of the company’s mission in community with colleagues, and experience a clear line of sight from their work to others’ work and ultimately to the customer.

5) Connections: Work is fundamentally social and great leaders create the conditions for constructive relationships between and among their team members. While it is unfortunate people are experiencing so much social isolation, this may be one of the most powerful reasons they will want to return to the office. Leaders can contribute to effectiveness and engagement by forging connections. We’ve learned to work differently and to work from home with some measure of success. But it’s no panacea and our opportunity as individuals and leaders is to get back to work—and more—to get back to better.

6)     Simon Woodroffe: YO! Founder talks entrepreneurship & how to follow your fear to find your destiny [Source: YouTube; London Real]
Simon Woodroffe is the founder of YO! Sushi, a popular British food chain that uses conveyor-belt technology and robots to serve sushi. In this chat he touches various topics including the opportunity that the Covid pandemic presents, how education could be changed to produce more entrepreneurial thinking, future of retail and hospitality, and more. Simon Woodroffe started his entrepreneurial career in his forties. Up to that point, he had worked as a set designer for some of the biggest acts of the 60s. One of the major pieces of advice that he shares during the interview is that in times of change, and hardship, for the right person, there is a tremendous opportunity.

As an entrepreneur, he discusses how you have to embrace your own creativity to change the future. That can only happen by seeing the world through your own eyes and thinking about how you can serve people by addressing a particular problem. Mr. Woodroffe says, when you have an idea, don’t depend on market research, instead focus on developing your vision. By spending time on your vision, you can address the problems people may discuss if you presented it to them during the early stages.

On embracing fear, he says you have to challenge yourself to do something you’ve never accomplished before, and this is something that entrepreneurs excel in. Talking about finding your destiny, he says that one must be willing to keep moving forward, trust your instincts, and learn through your experiences. Simon Woodruffe is a person who has gone on to massive success in business despite his humble beginnings as a high school dropout.

7)     An 11-minute body-weight workout with proven fitness benefits [Source: The New York Times
Working from home has resulted in working longer hours. And this, in turn, has resulted in an unhealthy lifestyle for most. A study found out that even a few minutes of workouts at home can make a huge difference in the long run. Five minutes of burpees, jump squats and other calisthenics significantly improve aerobic endurance, according to one of the first randomized, controlled trials to test the effects of brief body-weight workouts. Since Covid and lockdown, people were forced to workout in their homes.

Body-weight training has been a staple of exercise since almost time immemorial, of course. Usually organized as multiple, familiar calisthenics performed one after another, this type of exercise has gone by various names, from Swedish Exercises a century ago to the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Five Basic Exercises (5BX) program in the 1960s, to today’s Scientific 7-Minute Workout and its variations. One of the hallmarks of these programs is that you perform the exercises consecutively but not continuously; that is, you complete multiple repetitions of one exercise, pause and recover, then move on to the next. Traditional interval training has plenty of scientific backing, with piles of research showing that a few minutes — or even seconds — of strenuous intervals, repeated several times, can raise aerobic fitness substantially.

A new study was recently published in the International Journal of Exercise Science by the researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. They decided to develop and test a basic body-weight routine. The ones who did were more fit, having upped their endurance by about 7%, on average; others remained unchanged. “It was good to see our expectations confirmed,” says Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University, who oversaw the new study and, with various collaborators, has published influential studies of intense interval training in the past. “It seemed obvious” that this kind of training should be effective, he says. But “we now have evidence” that brief, basic body-weight training “can make a meaningful difference” in fitness, he says.

8)     How Climbers Reached the Summit of K2 in Winter for the First Time [Source: The New York Times]
A team of 10 Nepalese climbers, led by Nirmal Purja, 37, who is known as Nimsdai, became the first to climb K2 in winter. K2 is the second-tallest mountain in the world and one never before conquered in winter. A gleaming, glacial 28,251-foot monolith that straddles the border of China and Pakistan, K2 has retained the same perfunctory name annotated on an original 19th-century British surveyor’s map of the Karakoram range. Since the 1950s, it has also been known as Savage Mountain for its deadly reputation. For every four climbers who reach its summit, one dies.

Even the professional mountain climbers know that climbing this mountain is a tough task. High-altitude pulmonary edema is the biggest threat. That’s when pulmonary blood vessels constrict, ratcheting up pressure in the lungs, causing fluid to leak into the air sacs. The only cure is to head down the mountain for more oxygen. When pulmonary edema is ignored, breathing becomes more difficult, and soon blood and fluid might leak into the brain, an often fatal syndrome known as cerebral edema. “And if your oxygen canister runs out,” said the climber and cinematographer Renan Ozturk, “you could just shut your eyes for a second, and never wake up.”

So why did these Nepali mountain climbers take up this humongous self-challenge? For generations, since Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary became the first to climb Mount Everest, in 1953, Sherpa people have worked as guides, facilitators and collaborators on countless historic mountaineering feats. Yet they have often been rendered invisible by the global lens and have seldom received their due. Hillary was knighted by Queen Elizabeth after the Everest triumph. Norgay was not. And none have been credited with first ascents in Nepal. This group was climbing for themselves. The lines they fixed weren’t for well-funded international climbers seeking fame or glory. They were for them to claim a piece of history for their country. The pandemic suspended the spring climbing season in Nepal. With no foreign climbers in the mountains and no way to make a living, the Nepalese climbing community plotted an audacious winter expedition to K2.

9)     What does the path for India’s post-pandemic economy look like? [Source: The Wire
The scars of the current Covid-19 pandemic will be left on the emerging countries for a long time to come. And that includes India as well. So, what should India do? India must look far ahead and then work backwards to solve the biggest challenges of the 21st century. The authors list three: 1) Climate change poses a grave threat to India on multiple dimensions – pollution, extreme heat, floods, droughts, and a decline in living standards for nearly half the country. A 2019 study warned that coastal cities like Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata could be submerged by 2050. Are the best minds in India working to turn the threat of climate change into an opportunity of a lifetime?

2) Modern manufacturing will play a key role. Other countries have taken a big lead in new technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and 3D printing. Many of these new technologies link up nicely with climate change targets. For instance, China, the US and Europe are dominating the electric vehicle market. Is there a coherent vision for India’s place in modern manufacturing or will 2050 be spent mourning the loss of one more opportunity?

3) The third is the human capital challenge. Can India effectively compete with more advanced nations if malnutrition is increasing in the country? Can the current systems of health and education produce workers who can make India a leader in modern manufacturing? China is the world leader in building robots… and ships, high-speed trains, chemical fibres, machine tools, computers, cellphones, etc. China didn’t get there without improved health and education. India is going nowhere without improved health and education. These are just three, there might be many such challenges for India. The Covid-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime crisis. We can’t treat it as if we can just go back to normal after the pandemic is over.

10)     Monish Munshi: Inside Freshworks’s marketing operations & analytics [Source:
In this chat, Monish Munshi, Sr. Director, Marketing Operations at Freshworks, talks about his marketing journey, learnings and how he and his team designed the Marketing Ops & Analytics function to make every marketer at Freshworks successful. He did industrial engineering and then started his career as a Supply Chain Consultant with HP. In 2008, he then joined the Digital marketing COE at HP. He was responsible for setting the entire marketing data infrastructure.

What does marketing operations at Freshworks mean, and how does it play within the larger marketing function at Freshworks? He says, “My mentor from Redhat used to quote by Louis Pasteur, and in the time of the pandemic, he becomes even more relevant. He used to say, "Chance always favours the prepared mind". So what we are doing is we are giving every marketer a chance to be more efficient and to be more successful in this journey. So if you look at marketing operations organizations, we have 1) Measurement and analytics, which essentially is going to be responsible for creating all the right metrics- leading and lagging metrics, measuring every team's performance and also running analytics which helps us scale on the longer term. 2) The data infrastructure management is the team that works very closely with the business intelligence team in setting up the right marketing data infrastructure.”

So, what are the top 3 things that he looks at from a business problem statement or marketing point of view, when hiring a data science team? He says, “For data scientists that I need to hire for marketing, I need to have a person who is coming from a liberal arts background like statistics or econometrics. I consider statistics as a liberal art. I need those people rather than people who are engineers and who just know how to run packages in R and Python because that's very easy these days. If you want to run a random forest right now you just have to ingest data, and with little understanding of R or Python, you’ll be able to run it.”

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