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Notes from reading: “One Click” Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com

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My curiosity to find out what runs Amazon, its philosophy, vision and roots resulted me in picking  “One Click” Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com. The book provided some interesting insights, rise/fall, good/bad part of early days of Amazon and particularly Jeff Bezos vision and leadership.

These are some notes from the book I found interesting/valuable:

  1. The first step in building a company is to find good people.
  2. Always put the customer first, even if it appears to require a decision that would decrease revenues. It’s a winning strategy in the long run. By late 1996 Amazon had 110 employees, fourteen of them dedicated to answering emails from customers.
  3. Utilizing the power of word-2-mouth early days of business. In first hour Amazon, it had an order of one hundred books. Word kept spreading, despite the fact that the company did no advertising its first year—although Bezos did hire mobile billboards to cruise by Barnes & Noble stores.
  4. Pick company name wisely. Amazon was always near the top of the lists because the lists were mostly alphabetical—exactly why Bezos chose a name that began with an A.
  5. Pick right offer and be less greedy. Although Amazon might have gotten a better valuation from General Atlantic, Bezos felt that Doerr’s name was worth the extra $10 million he might have gotten in valuation.
  6. Open for feedback from almost everyone. Enabling comments reviews was one such request which became integral part of Amazon from early on, it came from one of the buyers.
  7. Discount was big reason for killing competitors and attracting customers in early days of Amazon book business.
  8.  Keen intellect, a drive to succeed, and an innate stubbornness to the point of absurdity helps. These are all signs of a born entrepreneur.
  9. To get something new done you have to be stubborn and focused, to the point that others might find unreasonable.
  10. One of the things [Jeff] learned is that there really aren’t any problems without solutions. Obstacles are only obstacles if you think they’re obstacles. Otherwise, they’re opportunities.
  11. Life’s too short to hang out with people who aren’t resourceful.
  12. Talent rather than  experience [in-hiring], when trying to do something new, and experience with legacy software could be more of a hindrance than a help.
  13. Do not re invent the wheel. Start-up executives often make the mistake of assuming no outsiders can build software as well as their own programmers. They end up wasting time and money building what they could have easily bought from a vendor that had already worked out the bugs and refined its programs.
  14. In order to keep costs down, they[Amazon] relied heavily on open source software.
  15. If you want to be successful in the short-to-medium term, you can only do things that offer incredibly strong value propositions to customers relative to the value of doing things in more traditional ways. [Bezos]
  16. Bezos’s philosophy was to get to market quickly to get a lead on the competition, and fix problems and improve the site as people started using it.  It was now a race: Whoever captured market share first would establish the pole position and would be difficult to pass. The mandate now was, “Get big fast.”
  17. Keep burn rate low: The company was strictly a cut-rate operation. Any printing or copying was done at a Print Mart shop a few blocks away. Business meetings were held at a local coffee shop—ironically, one inside a Barnes & Noble bookstore.
  18. Amazon’s Six Core Values: customer obsession, ownership, bias for action, frugality, high hiring bar and innovation.

Notes from reading: Freedom from the Known by J Krishnamurti

Continuing with my quest of reading more on J Krishnamurti  I picked up Freedom from the Known. Its a series of discourse on various aspects of life.

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These are some of my notes from the book:

  1.  If one wants to see a thing very clearly, one’s mind must be very quiet, without all the prejudices, the chattering, the dialogue, the images, the pictures – all that must be put aside to look.
  2. A living mind is a still mind, a living mind is a mind that has no centre and therefore no space and time. Such a mind is limitless and that is the only truth, that is the only reality.
  3. Thought is crooked because it can invent anything and see things that are not there. It can perform the most extraordinary tricks, and therefore it cannot be depended upon.
  4.  Sorrow is self-created, sorrow is created by thought, sorrow is the outcome of time.
  5. All our relationships are really imaginary – that is, based on an image formed by thought.
  6. We have reduced the world to its present state of chaos by our self-centred activity, by our prejudices, our hatreds, our nationalism, and when we say we cannot do anything about it, we are accepting disorder in ourselves as inevitable.
  7.  You recognize an experience as being good, bad, beautiful, holy and so on according to your conditioning, and therefore the recognition of an experience must inevitably be old.
  8. Meditation is the understanding of the totality of life in which every form of fragmentation has ceased.
  9.  Meditation is to be aware of every thought and of every feeling, never to say it is right or wrong but just to watch it and move with it.
  10. Fear is not love, dependence is not love, jealousy is not love, possessiveness and domination are not love, responsibility and duty are not love, self-pity is not love, the agony of not being loved is not love, love is not the opposite of hate any more than humility is the opposite of vanity.
  11. In this torn desert world there is no love because pleasure and desire play the greatest roles, yet without love your daily life has no meaning. And you cannot have love if there is no beauty.
  12. For most people love means comfort, security, a guarantee for the rest of their lives of continuous emotional satisfaction.
  13. Love is something that is new, fresh, alive. It has no yesterday and no tomorrow. It is beyond the turmoil of thought.
  14. THE DEMAND TO be safe in relationship inevitably breeds sorrow and fear.
  15. We have separated living from dying, and the interval between the living and the dying is fear.
  16. To live completely, wholly, every day as if it were a new loveliness, there must be dying to everything of yesterday, otherwise you live mechanically, and a mechanical mind can never know what love is or what freedom is.
  17. Most of us are frightened of dying because we don’t know what it means to live. We don’t know how to live, therefore we don’t know how to die.
  18. To die is to have a mind that is completely empty of itself, empty of its daily longings, pleasures and agonies.
  19. Time is a movement which man has divided into past, present and future, and as long as he divides it he will always be in conflict.
  20. Measuring ourselves all the time against something or someone is one of the primary causes of conflict.
  21. Man lives by time. Inventing the future has been his favourite game of escape.
  22. A mind that is confused, whatever it does, at any level, will remain confused; any action born of confusion leads to further confusion.
  23. The more we are confused and lost in life the more we chase around, searching, asking, demanding, begging.
  24. When you are alone, totally alone, not belonging to any family, any nation, any culture, any particular continent, there is that sense of being an outsider. The man who is completely alone in this way is innocent and it is this innocency that frees the mind from sorrow.
  25. Violence is not merely killing another. It is violence when we use a sharp word, when we make a gesture to brush away a person, when we obey because there is fear.
  26. A mind which is not crippled by memory has real freedom.
  27. If I am all the time measuring myself against you, struggling to be like you, then I am denying what I am myself. Therefore I am creating an illusion.

Tips for attracting contributors to Open Source project

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Empathy

One of the first thing for getting new contributors is empathy. Existing members should be kind enough to answer all kinds of basic questions. The new comer might be new to the overall ecosystem and trying the tool for the first time.

 

Appreciation

We all like being appreciated.  A thank you note, congratulation message helps for making first contribution. It can be small as fixing a spelling mistake in documentation.  It boosts the mindset of newcomer and the feeling of I am all alone here goes away. This makes contributor more comfortable.

Feedback

Open Source is more than dumping code on Github repository.  Having an open channel with contributors on adding new features, removing unwanted features etc helps.

Background: Motivation for  this  post came from Stormy’s Tweet .

 

Random Thoughts: Our insecurity

Our  society and being part various different affiliations we are insecure. We are insecure about our job, relationship, future to mention a few.

  1. Will I get appraisal this year?
  2. My Gf/Bf loves me as much i do or not?
  3. What if my competitor raise more funding than mine, will it kill my business?
  4. Will I be able to buy a house or afford US trip next year

 

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Is this present beautiful moment of our life worthy enough to be insecure? Will giving best to what we are doing or playing by our strength not help us in getting rid of our insecurity?

 

Random Thoughts: Playing by strength

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I am sure some of you have read about 10,000 hours rule.  You can be an expert in almost anything if you can practice it for 10,000 hours. It comes out to be 7 hours of practice for almost 4 years [If my maths are still in place].

If you have read Scott Adams book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life     where is talks about goals vs system

In this  era of instant gratification  where we want our satisfactions met over few minutes via a dating app to on-demand movie app to cab aggregator app. It is extremely difficult to keep/stay motivated for 4 years because of passionate to pursue interest. [It is not impossible either, you need to be super humans]  

What have we done to ourselves?

  1. I should get MBA degree after engineering, it will pay me well.
  2. I should enroll to some kind of sports as well, admission to degree college will become easy.
  3. Take online classes of machine learning because it will pay me well.

We are forcing ourself to fit in the box for our future. How about we play by our strength?

Will that not keep us happy in our present and we make best out of it in every arena?

 

Notes from reading: Total Freedom by J Krishnamurti

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I got to know about  “J Krishnamurti” long back when my sister went to study at KFI Rajghat Besant school Banaras.

But sometime back I got to know about his writing and viewpoint about life and all things Philosophy.  I am still in process of becoming a regular reader.

Total Freedom has been one of the longest reading for me so far. It feels great that I finally finished it after 20-25 days. I am hoping to finish up reading all his writings over few years time.

Big thanks to Naval Ravikant for recommending this book in one of his podcast. I will highly recommend everyone reading this this.

These are some of my notes from the book :

  1. What you are is the result of the past and what you will be tomorrow is what you are now.
  2. Time and thought are the root of fear.
  3. We depend on others so much to be helped, to be encouraged, to solve our problems; therefore, out of our confusion we create authority, the gurus, the priests.
  4. Learning implies not only observing visually, optically, but also observing without any distortion, seeing things exactly as they are.
  5. Truth is very dangerous because it brings a revolution in oneself.
  6. Where there is division there must be conflict. Conflict with all its violence is a wastage of energy. The gathering of total energy is the beginning of silence.
  7. If you want to see “heaven” you must be silent.
  8. If we apply our mind we can solve anything.
  9. Confusion arises when there is division, which is inattention.
  10. Compassion is the highest form of intelligence.
  11. Emptiness in yourself can never be filled by something else.
  12. How can there be a relationship between two people when each one is pursuing his own desires, ambitions, greeds?
  13. Man has done everything on earth possible to run away from the actuality of daily living with all its complexities.
  14. What mankind has done is quite incredible and shocking, not only toward other human beings, but also in himself.
  15. When there is no observer but merely observation then there is no conflict.
  16. Enlightenment is where you are. And where you are, you have to understand yourself.
  17. If I have cause to love you—because you give me comfort, psychologically, physically, sexually, morally—it is not love.
  18. Meditation implies a quality of mind that is absolutely silent. Not made silence, not a contrived act brought about through will, but a silence that comes naturally when you have established order, relationship, and behavior.
  19. We are the world. The world is you and me, the world is not separate from you and me. We have created this world—the world of violence, the world of wars, the world of religious divisions, sex, anxieties, the utter lack of communication with each other, with no sense of compassion, consideration for another.
  20. All human beings, radically, basically, are afraid, anxious, in sorrow, confused, unhappy, with occasional joy; psychologically it is a constant movement, wherever human beings are it is the same stream.
  21. Attachment gives a certain occupation to the mind; you constantly think about something. The brain and the mind say, “I must be occupied with something”—with my god, with my sex, with my drink; “I must be occupied”—with the kitchen, or with some social order, or commune, or whatever it is.
  22. Why is one human being attached to another? Does not attachment breed fear, fear of losing what one is attached to? Being attached, you may become jealous, frightened, anxious, which are obvious phenomena. You are attached because of your own insufficiency, loneliness. And so out of your own insufficiency, loneliness, a sense of lacking, you cling to another. So is attachment love? Where there is attachment there must be exploitation. And we use that word love to cover up all this. And is love jealousy?
  23. In attachment there is fear, there is anxiety, there is hate, all the conflicts in relationship; and where there is conflict can there be love? Where there is ambition, can there be love? When you strip yourself of ambition, anxiety, attachment, and understand deeply the meaning and the significance of pleasure and desire, then you perhaps come upon that strange thing called love.
  24. Suppose I am attached to a person. In that attachment and in the consequences of that attachment are innumerable pains, jealousy, anxiety, dependency, the whole consequence of attachment. In that attachment to the person there is division immediately. Now is that attachment, the feeling of dependence, clinging, holding on to somebody, different from me? Or I am that? I am attachment. If one realizes that, conflict ends. It is so. Not that I must get rid of it, not that I must be independent, detached; detachment is attachment; if I try to become detached I am attached to that detachment.
  25. There is only one thing. A mind that is very clear is free from all entanglements of attachment. Such a mind is a light to itself. Therefore, it does not want an experience, there is nothing to experience.
  26. When there is an ending to attachment—completely, not just to persons and ideas but the whole process of attachment, with all the consequences of that—there is a totally different state of mind.
  27. If you take a journey into yourself, empty all the content that you have collected and go very, very deeply, then there is that vast space, that so-called emptiness, that is full of energy. And in that state alone there is that which is most sacred, most holy.
  28. If you leave all the psychological memories, hurts, pains, behind, every day, then it means dying and living are together. In that there is no fear.
  29. Meditation can only be actual, truthful, honest, when there is no fear, no hurt, no anxiety, no sorrow. Meditation can only take place when there is no conscious effort made to meditate. I am afraid it goes against everything you believe.
  30. If you end all conflict, the mind naturally becomes quiet. And when the mind is absolutely silent, without any movement of thought, then perhaps you will see something, perhaps there is something sacred beyond all words. And this man has sought everlastingly, something that is beyond measure, beyond thought, which is incorruptible, unnameable, eternal. That can only take place when the mind is absolutely free and completely silent.
  31. If I live completely without psychological time, it is an extraordinary thing. Time means accumulation. Time means remembrance. Time means accumulating knowledge about oneself. But when there is no time at all, psychologically, there is nothing.
  32. When you yourself become both the teacher and the disciple—disciple being a man who is learning, learning, learning, not accumulating knowledge—then you are an extraordinary human being.

Random Thoughts: Our feelings

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I have no clue if feeling is a good thing or bad for you. I do have some idea how it originates though.

Attachment –> Expectations —> Ego is satisfied —- (Yes ) —-> Positive Feelings

                (No)  —-> Negative Feelings

Feelings can lead to daydreaming or over thinking apart from giving depression, anger, insomnia etc. This can result into affecting your present and future.  To have a great present you have to live a life free from past prejudice, learnings. A life like an empty slate which is empty and has no affect from outside world.

Make things simple

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I am writing this post after spending good 45-50 minutes in figuring out how to install CentOs Linux 7.3.

  1. Disable IPV6
  2. Configure network on boot
  3. Install net-tools to get my ifconfig command.

In real life simple things are widely accepted.

  1. Booking a cab via Uber [Past call a taxi, fight with cab drivers]
  2. Booking a hotel via Airbnb [You had no clue what you paid for and what is offered]
  3. Booking flight tickets via Cleartrip et all. [Monitor, buy instead being on mercy of offline travel agent]
  4. Ordering food via Swiggy, Zomato, Dunzo [Call to restaurant if they want they will deliver food to your door step ]
  5. Loading cash via PayTm [Go via traditional net-banking, log in/add account/wait for confirmation]
  6. Ordering book from Flipkart/Amazon [Go to shopping mall, if the book is available you are lucky else keep visiting]

As technology has evolved, so has the product/user experience. If you have a simple and beautifully explained system/interface, any first time user will be hooked to it.

If you are a product builder ask yourself will my grandparents use it without calling me or wasting hours digging inside product documentation?

Random Thoughts: What we should not do?

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From the day we are born, we are told what we should not do. Be it our teacher, friends, religion or parents.

  1. Stay away from those people, they are from inferior caste or religion.
  2. A true X keeps fast in Holi month or a true Y quits non-veg food for 10 days in year for this. [religion playing]
  3. You will not get a job taking arts/philosophy course, better go study science.
  4. Don’t fall in love, it is very painful.
  5. You are no genius to become like that signer, actor or scientist. Stick to your 9-5 job.
  6. Get married before 30 else no one will marry you & you will die lonely.

What should we do?

Simple ask yourself, what is purpose of your living and move along accordingly.

Random Thoughts: On Learn to Unlearn

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Growing up in a society has its own perk. You are fed with certain kind of ideas, ideologies, prejudice[passed on generation after generation]

What you should totally do is learn to unlearn :

  1. Bias fed by parents, society or religion.
  2. Past failures which would be stopping you for next risk taking adventure.
  3. Running for a teacher, god or hermit who will fix you.
  4. Old habits which are effecting you severely: Drinking, Smoking.
  5. Crying over past or planning for future.
  6. Blaming others for your failures.

 

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