The Clock of Life is Wound but Once

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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.

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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)

Brick & mortar won’t be dead by 2023

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Extreme comments or views are often a huge hit or miss.

And Niti Aayog’s Mr. Kant’s futuristic sounding comment about how brick and mortar businesses in India will be dead by 2023 was a huge miss, in fact to the point of sounding immature.

Coming from a school or college student in a metro, that would have been ok, given our views are often influenced or limited by what we do and see in our immediate surroundings. And the recent explosion in the number of apps and online services would certainly give a lot of people the impression that that’s how the future will be. But not so fast.

The US has been several years, if not decades ahead of us in terms of some industries and technologies as well as innovative business models and businesses themselves.

As of December 2015 in the US, ecommerce retail formed a tiny 8.6% of total retail. The rest of it happens offline! So ~100% of businesses or only retail ones moving online by 2023 seems like a fantasy.

There are some significant differences between the Americans and us. To start with, they’re one-fourth of our population, living on a land that’s three times the size of India!! Years ago, one could have argued that that itself should’ve led to a majority of businesses serving customers online, to cut the long distances customers need to travel to buy even the basics for home. But that’s exactly the opposite of how things are happening there, as we speak. Though no doubt, technology has played a critical role in simplifying business for them, given the relatively lower manpower levels as compared to us.

Now let’s look at it from a physical store or service point of view.

In the states, a college girl working part-time can single-handedly manage a standard sized clothes store without breaking a sweat. Running between the cash counter, answering customer queries in the clothes section, to checking if the customer trying something in the trial room needs anything. Technology, be it tablets to order faster, or pager-type devices alerting you at your table that your meal is ready to be picked up at the counter, all make it for a more logical way to operate, given the light manpower models and limited manpower. Indians on the other hand, while in many ways far more capable, but perhaps given our sheer numbers, affordable manpower, efforts to reduce unemployment, etc., often find ourselves hiring more people than we need.

Driving across some of those bridges to New York, you either use an E-Z Pass device, or through coins into an automated basket at an unmanned toll crossing. Every time I drive by the Bandra-Worli sea-link in Bombay, there are around three people at every toll lane, one taking the money you hand them, the other inside the booth printing out your pass/receipt, and the third handing it to you.

A few years ago, heading a regional arm of a robotic solutions company, I remember speaking to an industry colleague of mine who worked for a mid-sized auto ancillary company. I was exploring the possibility of having a part of his company plant automated. He stopped me mid-sentence, and in no uncertain terms told me that they don’t need robots. He said, “we’ve had about 2 crores worth of robots gathering dust for over 2 years now, because our plant workers won’t allow it on the production line.” And for a progressive, carefully-run, mid-sized company to have ignored a sizable investment like that; doesn’t the idea of most companies being completely online in seven years sound like a pipe dream.

One of the youngest from the online era, Amazon, wouldn’t be opening physical stores now, if they already were one of the first people to sell online.

We in India are nearly the largest, and almost the youngest population in the world, and our country has never looked more promising from a technology, innovation and progress point of view. But I don’t see anything of the sort Mr. Kant mentioned in his comments happening ever. And it perhaps doesn’t have anything to do with technology either.

It’s probably our inherent need for human interactions, that will never make brick and mortar businesses go out of demand.

offline-retailer

Image: source

I’ll look forward to your views on this. Also, hit the ‘Follow’ button if you’d like to receive more such posts from time to time. You can also connect with me on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

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

Moral Dilemmas from the Future

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Moral Dilemmas from the Future

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I came across this extremely interesting article that not only gives us a peek into the near future, but also highlights the increasing complexity and moral high seas that businesses need to, and will have to navigate around in the years to come.

Google has been able to predict regional flu trends since 2008 or earlier. And given that most people share with her (I refer to her as Ms. Google) more than they share with close friends and family, Google has been getting increasingly good at predicting if someone may have a certain condition or illness, based on their searches and perhaps the mention of some symptoms, which ordinarily might not raise any red flags.

This article basically talks about whether, in such a situation, Google should, or is, responsible to tell the user that they might be ill, or just go about with business as usual, providing search results and nothing more.

While most of us might have a direct, personal answer to the question, either a ‘most certainly Google should tell me’, or ‘hell no!’, the problem gets more complicated with the large number of false positives (a.k.a. false alarms) and the astronomical medical costs associated with it; not to mention the number of angry users who might perhaps consider suing Google for medical expenses over the incorrect information it gave them out of a moral obligation it may have felt towards its users.

The problem (and article) doesn’t stop with Google, but also touches upon an older but extremely important topic about self-driving cars and the choices they’ll be making on our behalf. Imagine a situation where you, the owner of an autonomous car, are being driven toward a group of people who are irresponsibly standing in the middle of the road. Would you rather your car hit them, or manage to avoid them, but end up hitting a wall that kills you? Or the choice your car might one day make between one of two similar, unavoidable eventualities.

Coming back to the Google problem, while Google’s accuracy has only been getting better with time and searches, it deals with everything from user reactions to health insurance coverage, etc.; all of which makes it a very interesting and complex question to answer.

You should really read this one!

Here’s the article link.

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You can also connect with me on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

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

Job Quotas or Meritocratic Politics?

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Developed countries continue to struggle to identify industries, areas of business, skillsets and employment opportunities that will make their workforce, abilities and manufacturing resources relevant again in a world of cheap labor and low cost manufacturing from developing countries.

At such times, instead of leveraging the inherent potentials we in India have, to gain more ground in the world; we stop and think, “how can we fuck up this great opportunity for us?”

Then, we hit jackpot: “Hmm, 27% quota in the private sector should really kill it. Look at the wonders its worked in education. Yeah, let’s do that.”

Instead, imagine politicians being elected based on merit of public work done. That, might be the only missing piece in the national development puzzle.

Here’s one of the articles about the proposed quota for reservations: link

A Love Song for India

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I tried thinking of a love song for India, and couldn’t find one more appropriate than this. ABBA‘s ‘Lay all your love on me’. These four lines seem to be a perfect message from our country, to us citizens.

“Don’t go wasting your emotion
Lay all your love on me
Don’t go sharing your devotion
Lay all your love on me”

India | Independence Day | 15th August.

 

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Curiosity

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Curious-story

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If only the curiosity of children was as contagious to adults, as their smiles and laughter.

The Farmer Murders

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A farmer committed suicide at an AAP rally, and the hypocritical Mr. ‘Aam Aadmi’ Kejriwal didn’t let that stop his rally.

Policemen on scene laughed, as an AAP volunteer tried to save the farmer.

In the last year, the PM has been building foreign relations like there’s no tomorrow, while thousands of farmers back home stare blankly into what seems like a ‘no tomorrow’.

Remember that joke about a signboard at a hotel that went, ‘In case of a fire, leave the building before tweeting about it.’
That goes for Narendra Modi too. Save the farmers instead of simply tweeting your condolences and sadness.

This murder too shall pass, as the parties get busy pointing fingers at each other; while farmers will reconcile to the fact that it isn’t mother earth that failed them, but their very own countrymen.

http://www.ndtv.com/people/farmer-who-committed-suicide-at-aap-rally-had-once-contested-an-election-757355

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