Friday, March 07, 2008

Warren Buffet on life and work (and the economy)

I would be foolish not to post this. This guy is amazing and yet all that he says is plain old commonsense. Just goes to prove how amazing plain ol' common sense is.
Do yourselves a favor, read these notes from a recent reception hosted by Warren Buffet for some MBA folks.

Notes from Buffet Meeting

Love him, hate him, but you can't doubt the wisdom of his words.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Get your hands dirty

One of the common Bschool misconceptions is that we will (after we graduate) spend all our time sitting behind fancy oak desks, and making strategic decisions. That our life would be like the typical Hollywood depiction of an executive. Fancy suits, ties, shiny shoes, board meetings etc etc. Some of that actually does happen, but what we miss is the grind behind all of that.

I have noticed a strange reticence to step in and actually do some of the grunge work, be it coding if this is a technology company, or operations, or something else. The common thought is, "Hey, I went to Bschool to escape all this! Why would I do this again?". However, the truth is that it is practically impossible to make the right decisions for your team/startup/product/company unless you took atleast some time out to get down and get under that hood. This tenet probably applies to those with operating roles more than the others. Services can be a different story. The only exception might be folks in Venture Capital who tend to be better if they have seen some of the mess that they invest in firsthand .

The more you come up through the grind, the more respect you have for the folks sitting across you, the more credibility you have when you are trying to influence others into buying into your vision, and finally, you are more insightful when you have to make those great strategic decisions from behind those lovely oak desks.

I spent some time last week at an operating site. For that week, I was an understudy to a great engineer who taught me the details of the product that I was supposed to be building. I worked with ground floor technicians who explained to me the intricacies of the hardware we used and the deficiencies of the software we build. Now, I am back home and have a 10x better understanding of my team, our product, and know how to optimize things much better than I could earlier.

So my learning from all this? Don't be afraid to muck around the code, get under those machines, work as a underpaid technician for day, learn the details of your business bottom up and then make decisions from the top.
"Get your hands dirty!"