The Clock of Life is Wound but Once

6 Comments

Here’s an evergreen classic that makes its rounds about once a year or so, by way of email forwards or social media posts. But unlike many others, this one never ceases to inspire.

——————————–

Two Stories BOTH TRUE!!

STORY NUMBER ONE

Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago . Capone  wasn’t famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.

Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.” He was Capone’s lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time.

To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block..

Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him.

Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object.

And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.

Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn’t give his son; he couldn’t pass on a good name or a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done..

He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al “Scarface” Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. So, he testified.

Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street . But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.

The poem (extracts from a poem ‘The Clock of Life’ by Robert H. Smith) read:

“The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still.”

STORY NUMBER TWO

World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare.

He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific.

One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank.

He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship.

His flight leader told him to return to the carrier Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way toward the American fleet.

The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet.

Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber’s blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another.Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent.

Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible, rendering them unfit to fly.

Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction.

Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier.

Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft. This took place on February 20, 1942 , and for that action Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of W..W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Medal of Honor.

A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O’Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.

So, the next time you find yourself at O’Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch’s memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It’s located between Terminals 1 and 2.

SO WHAT DO THESE TWO STORIES HAVE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER?

Butch O’Hare was “Easy Eddie’s” son.

Lieutenant Commander Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare (image source)

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (Photo: Chicago Department of Aviation)

The Determining Fire

Leave a comment

ITBP - Women contingent

Image: source

Late on 15th night, I read a news piece about 500 trained women personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) being the first women contingent to be deployed in high-altitude posts along the India-China border. I was thrilled.

However, I’m also sure many may have asked, ‘would they be able to handle it’? Or, ‘can they meet the grueling job expectations, in conditions where even their physically stronger male counterparts perhaps sometimes find it tough’?

Well, there are capable people, okay ones, and damn good ones, both men and women. On the corporate side, I’ve seen a fair share of men and women who’re below average at their jobs, and those who are really exceptional too.

What makes some truly exceptional, I have come to learn, has a lot to do with the distance they’ve covered, and the resistance they’ve overcome, to get to where they are. Often, it’s also what drives them to go even further.

Distance and resistance are overcome by sacrifices. Sacrifice being the screening fire. Those who have been through it, come through on the other side with something extra. All they then need to do, is fight complacency.

An incident comes to mind. My office building has good security. Friends, clients and acquaintances who have come to meet me there have always mentioned it. From visitors needing to register at the reception, a picture taken, a gate pass issued, security at the turnstiles, and acknowledgement on the gate pass from the office you’re visiting.

As I entered the building sometime last year, I realized I’d forgotten my access card. A male and female security personnel were at the turnstiles. Many of them are on rotational shifts, and I’m not a particularly regular face there, so they don’t always remember me.

Now anyone working in India knows how we deal with things like forgotten access cards. Many people even know how to deal with breaking laws and rules the same way. Saying it’s a one-time mistake, it happens, everyone else is doing it, and so on.

Anyway, I walked right to the turnstile, and told the chap to let me pass, telling him which floor I worked on, that he could call and check, etc. He agreed without any hesitation, and was just about to swipe his card to let me pass, when the lady security personnel who was quietly watching us, stopped him. She politely expressed her reluctance to allow it, requested me to go to the reception and get a guest pass.

I was impressed to the point of beaming. Because, funny as it is, in our country, it is rare that someone sticks to a rule, a law, a process; and not because they’re scared or feel pressured, but because they understand them and their responsibility towards enforcing them. And this lady wasn’t the least bit scared or confused. I know the difference.

In many situations, people bypass such rules or even the law with a little pat on the shoulder, a little bribe here, a nonchalant ‘chalta hai yaar’ there, and so on. But not this lady, who was polite, but was in no uncertain terms, following the procedure, and expecting me to do so too.

How often do we stop at a red signal light when the streets are empty? And if we do, how often do we still jump the light if someone behind us honks, or other cars drive past without waiting? How frequently does name-dropping happen, or do we feel entitled without having earned something? How often do we throw our weight on people who stand no chance of defending against it, waiters, security, small shop employees, peons?

This security lady was one of those concerningly rare individuals we have in our country today, who isn’t afraid, or doesn’t feel awkward about being fully responsible for what she’s been entrusted with. Now all we need are more such people. Many, many more.

The ITBP women, as indicated by the news itself, are the first women contingent ever. Which means there’s a mountain of ice and glass they’ve already overcome to be where they are today. It is also why would they be just as strong, if not far stronger, and more effective than their male counterparts who’ve been guarding that region till date.

Koi shuck?

A Rural Electric Ride

Leave a comment

Hemalatha-Annamalai- Ampere Vehicles

While a lot of us are busy in our world of self-indulgence, it’s reassuring to know there are Indians like Ratan Tata, who’d go the distance with regard to businesses that positively impact to one or more segments of the population.

I’m speaking about the Nano in particular here, the world’s cheapest car that was inspired by the concern Mr. Tata had for a number of Indian families that traveled with their spouse and children on two-wheelers, and the risk that posed to their safety.

Now I’ve written a few posts mentioning the Nano, though I don’t think I’ve written enough about that business and engineering marvel.

Anyway, here’s a relatively unheard of company in the field of ‘affordable’ AND ‘electric’ cycles, scooters & load carriers from India.

Hemalatha Annamalai of Coimbatore, the founder of Ampere Vehicles Pvt. Ltd., has been making affordable electric vehicles since 2008, and she even has a focus on rural transportation. She is backed by Kris Gopalakrishnan, one of the co-founders of Infosys, and the original king of low-cost vehicles in India, Mr. Ratan Tata himself.

May there be more entrepreneurs like her.

Read more about her and her vehicles here: link

Stay in touch with Shrutin:

Connect with me on Twitter: @ShrutinShetty LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shrutinshetty

Websites: www.ateamstrategy.in & www.thinkateam.in

If you liked this post, I’d appreciate it if you’d hit the “follow” button at the top of the page so I can, from time to time, write and/or share select news and articles on great people and their ventures.

Think A-Team: For the Design & Strategy needs of Young Businesses

Leave a comment

14731307586_d66c1569c3_b

Image: link

Hi, all you enterprising entrepreneurs,

I am pleased to give to you, ‘Think A-Team’, a growth partnering service for all your business strategy needs.

By way of it, I intend to help you make your business challenges a little less challenging, and work with you on growing your business faster & better.

The chosen services are a result of nearly a decade of close working with entrepreneurs and young businesses.

While the services portfolio will evolve with time, what will remain constant is reliability, effectiveness, accessibility and affordability to young businesses that have had few, if any options as far as growth partners go.

Think A-Team

Give it a try today! And I’ll look forward to working with some of you enterprising folks on building your businesses for you.
Have an awesome weekend!!

R,
Shrutin

Look forward to connecting with y’all on LinkedIn and/or on Twitter.

Rolling Gear

Leave a comment

Last May, Indian airline companies reduced the permissible weight limit on checked-in bags [domestic sector] to 15 kgs. The international limit ranges from 23 kgs (or lower?) to the more generous likes of Emirates that allows up to 30 kgs (Economy) and 50 kgs (First Class).

The average suitcase weighs between 3-6 kilos. What remains is what you get to fill. The lightest bags in the market are quite expensive, and aren’t too rugged either. A few trips and you’ll know.

So while most of us feel restricted by the weight limit, I’m sure you’ve wished bags were light enough to allow you to carry stuff weighing exactly the permissible weight limit, if not more.

Wait. Carry more than weight limit? How’s that even possible? How could you carry over 23 kgs when the limit is 23, and yet not have to pay for it?

Before you read ahead, let me confess, I don’t have an answer for it yet, but I’m hoping this post will spark some genius in you to start working towards a solution to make bags and other things [try shoes, school bags, cars, anything] lighter. That would be useful, wouldn’t it?

Growing up, I often imagined the possibility of having bags lined with an airtight casing of a gas less dense than air, like Hydrogen or Helium. Imagine being able to carry 30 kgs of your stuff, and the Hydrogen or Helium compensating to bring the final weight back down to 23 kgs.

Simple as it sounds, here’s why it isn’t possible. Hydrogen is extremely flammable and can diffuse easily [with the tiniest crack], making it extremely difficult to carry, and dangerous too.

Then there’s Helium. Helium is unfortunately too expensive to be a viable option. And to put into perspective the quantity that would be required, it would take 974.3 liters of helium to lift 1000 grams (1kg). You’d be better of paying for excess baggage.

So, till we find a solution for it, stick to traveling light. And think of ways that bags and other things could be made lighter. You can’t imagine the things you could move around easily then, and the energy and fuel that will be saved in doing so too.

8843151-pixar-up-dual-monitor-hd

The Superior Sex

5 Comments

The timing of this post, right after the so-called ‘Women’s day’ is purely coincidental.

For one, I don’t even know what ‘Women’s day’ is supposed to mean. If we ‘full-of-ourselves-men’ don’t have a ‘men’s day’, then except for commercial businesses to make a killing, I really don’t quite get it.

Now, back to the post. I’m going to risk my neck here by stating that, usually (usually, not always!) men tend to be more savvy with machines, electronics and mobile phones, as compared to women. Agree with me on that? Now, I’m not trying to belittle women in any way. But maybe women are very specific about what they want, and they focus on the essentials. They understand those areas about machines or gadgets, without bothering much about ‘what else’ a machine is capable of doing. We men on the other hand, curious as ever, go to great lengths, often breaking and fixing gadgets, just to get answers to ‘why’ or ‘why not’. I have noticed that with things ranging from cars to computers to mobile phones, and so on.

Long story short, there’s something amazing I’ve observed. I’m not sure if it’s a local phenomenon, though I doubt it is. And that is, that despite men being more curious about gadgets, especially in their younger years, sometimes tend to grapple, often disinterestedly, at a later stage in life, with technology. Their wives on the other hand, tend to become more alert and grasp new technology better as they get older. Older men boldly declare cluelessness, while several older women tend to put in the extra effort to pace up with technology. It could be to serve a bigger purpose, like wanting to FaceTime or Skype with their children away at college, or stay in touch with friends or relatives on WhatsApp for that matter. I find that to be a really impressive trait that I’ve noticed in a lot of older women. Aren’t women way smarter then?

And I don’t think the best operations professionals could organize and schedule processes better than the average homemaker can. If you knew the number of factors they simultaneously keep track of, while making a seamless and hassle-free environment possible for family members, it’s almost unbelievable.

I say let’s march all the housewives to run our industries, and they’ll revive businesses and economies long before you and I can figure our way around the kitchen.

So I think we blokes should have one day as ‘men’s day’, and let women have the remaining days. They definitely deserve it.

insight

Insight by Helenka

Carry This

3 Comments

Last afternoon, I was lucky to chance upon some great customer service.

I was at a station in Karnataka, heading back to Bombay with my mom. The indifferent railway staff hadn’t been clear about which platform the train would arrive on. After a long wait, the platform was announced. The person at the info desk said that coach and seat numbers (which we didn’t have at the time) would be put outside the coaches 15 minutes before the train left.

We had one heavy suitcase to lug, so we asked a porter to carry it across to the third platform (it meant crossing an overhead bridge). The few porters around, were all carrying luggage across the tracks (an extremely unsafe practice) instead of using the overhead bridge.

This porter took the bag across while mom took the long route via the bridge to get there. Once she’d reached the bag, I took the overhead bridge too.

The train had just entered the station. About 15 mins before the train was to leave, the porter waved out from nearby to inform me that the charts had been put up on platform 1 (where we had just walked from) instead of on this platform. Not surprising, if you are familiar with the limitless extents of human stupidity.

While time on hand was about sufficient, it was still a walk you’d reconsider in that sweltering heat, and the fact that you had just done that stretch a few minutes ago.

I put our bag in the train and prepared to head to the other side to check the coach and seat details, unsure of when I might need to run back to make it to the train. As I started walking, the porter was there, just having crossed the tracks with someone else’s bags. He asked me to give him my ticket printout, which I did. He darted back, checked the charts, and came back, telling me both passenger names, coach and seat numbers. Impressive.

IMG_20140210_140400

Sujit, the porter, unknowingly taught me a few things about what I call customer delight at the A-Team.

There was no haggling when trying to fix a price for carrying the bag. He said we could pay him whatever we felt like (Lesson: Enjoy what you do, and focus on the work at hand, and not too much on what you’ll earn from it). When I insisted on a specific fee, he said people usually give INR 30. (Lesson: Charge reasonably). Checking tickets wasn’t part of the deal, he could have as well gone looking for the next few customers (Lesson: offer increasing value to existing customers instead of constantly looking for new customers).

When I acknowledged his assistance, the chap just smiled and said it was his job. He even wished me and mom a happy journey. Now that isn’t something you hear often. (Lesson: You can never be too polite) And once I’d paid him, he took it with a smile, not bothering to check or count, and he vanished into the crowd to find more work.

PANO_20140210_140029

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: