Tag Archives: experience

Cities and Ambition – My Experience

Paul Graham wrote a nice essay titled “Cities and Ambition”. When I read it, I had already returned to Kanpur (my hometown), I took the essay in slightly different manner i.e. I challenged it and motivated myself by thinking, I can do great stuff from this city.

Just after one year or little more, I am in agreement with that essay. I realize, how a good city (and people there) matter in whatever you do.

At work, I ended spending most of time dealing with personnel issues and trying to mentor about obvious things (in development and programming).

Outside of work, I don’t feel like going out anywhere, not even walking on streets. I just don’t like the attitude, psyche and habits of people here. I have, slowly, stopped doing all activities – photography, bike-rides, blogging, participation-in-events, exercising, etc. I am trying to understand the reason, I imagine it could be because of lack of motivation or I am too busy trying to do a few things.

Another important thing, it doesn’t matter, who is holding what position, or how much rich one is, or what is someone’s background – most of them don’t know the basic etiquette and manners (traffic, talking, respecting, eating, etc). Everyone appears to be selfish, who just cares about himself and his things (house, car, job, etc). No one bothers to care about other people and city.

I don’t know, I can change others but I have kept myself the way I have been i.e. I still avoid throwing garbage on streets, spitting anywhere and doing other bad things, so common here in Kanpur.

Unfortunately, children inherit these bad habits/values from their elders, and are not able to figure out that most of inherited values are not good.

The worst thing in this city is the kind of attention a girl/woman gets from males (from 7 yrs to 80+ yrs). It’s weird to see the bad treatment given by males to females almost anywhere (roads, shops, cafe, etc). One could easily notice these things. Hard to imagine, how much a female-of-kanpur has to go through and tolerate.

It’s sad, but true, today whatever Kanpur is because of it’s people. I am not complaining here; I am just writing what I notice – Kanpur is not a good city. It could have been better or remained better (as it was some decades back), if people were better. We (Kanpurites) deserve whatever (bad culture, bad public infrastructure, etc) we have now.

The day, we start changing our attitude and habits, we would see the change.

Meanwhile, I am going to work hard to be what I am, if I can’t get better. Things said above, are trying hard to change me, directly and indirectly. Each and every moment of the day remind me of my ambition and vision, I would not let anything stop me from doing it. If It takes me to move out of the city, I am now ready to do that too.

Change management

I have been thinking to start sharing my experience as an entrepreneur through blog posts.

As someone wise once said, you can’t make everyone happy or completely happy. It’s so true, we all realize sooner or later in our personal and professional life.

The context of this blog post is, how some of changes in an organisation can upset some people, even though changes were done with good intention and bring good results after some time.

It’s just little more than an year, since I moved back to rejoin this company, where I am also co-founder.

First couple of months, I was just focused on doing some projects (as solo contributor), talking to team, helping them, sharing and observing various things around here. In little over three months time, I figured out, all aspects of this organization needed some sort of change.

Team, culture and process were three top most important things, we wanted to start fixing. When I say “fixing”, it means to make things great when things were just good enough. I wanted to have culture, I have experienced in some of the best companies like Macromedia, Yahoo!, etc.

We made a decision to move into a better facility, which is lot better than earlier one. It was critical to do it for all good reasons we know – comfort, productivity, pride, etc.

While in parallel, we were fixing thing other areas – HR, Accounting, Administration, etc.

We started to spend most of our energy on our team and clients. I wanted to have a team of individuals who are smart and passionate, better than me. I wanted a process, which is simple and solid enough to handle complex projects as well as our future products.

Internally, we were trying to help our team to get more organised and focus on right things i.e. the approach instead of just getting things done in any manner. In long term, our success comes from our learning, experience and a great team. If we don’t focus on doing things in right way, we would never learn, hence never achieve one of our visions – a great team together, a great company.

When I look back, I see we are different company now, but there is a long way to go. It’s all getting better with each passing day, however, while “fixing” – people, operating-systems, tools, development-methodology, philosophy, vision and many other things changed – we couldn’t make some people happy.

Had I bootstrapped a company from scratch last year, I would have spent half of my energy which I did “fixing” things in this company. But I learnt a lot of things, which I could have never learnt in total new company. Managing change is tough job, we did in good way, it would be better next time.

I couldn’t keep this post as short as I wanted to, in fact, I had to delete some paragraphs to keep it to this length. I would keep sharing my experiences, perhaps you can relate to some of those.

What I am up to?

I feel like posting, what I have been doing, actually a lots of things on business side – hiring, finance, business-development, etc.

We are doing good in business, I believe, it’s because of our diversified service offerings and our team of talented designers and developers, who are agile, quick and fast learner.

A great culture is an important thing, in fact, it’s very important. That’s why, we have been very focused on building the same in our office here. When I look back, I see we have achieved things but there is a long way to go.

We are not perfect, for that matter, no one is. The good thing, we are aware of our limitations and strengths, hence, we are constantly working on it. I hope, a constant effort would improve things day by day.

We are planning to have some more people in our team, so I have been interviewing developers from different parts of country. We acknowledge, it’s hard to get smart guys stay in Kanpur or get developers from outside of city. But we think, if we share our vision and what we want to do and have been doing, a lot of developers do see things differently, then location becomes secondary thing.

BTW! Kanpur is not as great place to live as Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, etc are. But it does have good things – less hectic life, earning/expenses ratio is higher here, etc.

According to Paul Graham’s essay, bad-location is/could-be one of reasons for startups’ failure. It is true, location does matter for many things (not just hiring), but we have chosen to be where we are now, and I think, we have figured out how to achieve things here, we are just getting better at it day by day. But yeah, we do miss things – events, barcamps, apple-store, crowd, talent, etc. Who knows, someday Kanpur would have all that and who knows, we might have played a good role in that process :-)

A lot of people have asked me, why I am not active lately in Adobe Flash Platform (i.e. Flash/Flex/AIR) stuff? Well, it’s different phase of life, where I am focusing on other things that would enable us to do a lot of great things that include stuff for Adobe Flash Platform.

I am also busy doing a good project, which does have some challenging work (web dev + flash platform). Also busy doing some hacking once in a while, which is trying to use technology to improve my productivity – like home media/filer server, vpn at office, boxee, etc.

We are looking for some smart guys – interaction-designers, flash-platform-developer and web-developer. If you know someone, who doesn’t not mind working from Kanpur, want to work on cool stuff, want to part of our team and help us achieving the visions/goals we have. Please let us know (abdul dot qabiz at gmail dot com). Thanks.