Hello Stanford

Hi 👋🏽 from Menlo Park. My wife Gauri and I arrived in the Valley a week ago, several weeks before the start of classes for our one year DCI Fellowship. Some early musings penned below.

It’s been a fabulous beginning, our younger twin daughters have been here for a month. They finished a Liberal Arts undergrad in May, are interning in the Bay Area in Digital Marketing and alongside, will be dropping their parents to school. Role reversals have already started with me being ‘asked’ to do home chores, put off lights, not be politically incorrect and drive carefully. 😄

“The 100-Year Life” is one of the pre-readings we have – it is insightful and thought-provoking. It actually relates to what we are doing – going back to school to prepare for our second half of life. I see it as a Western adaptation/discovery of our ancient Hindu philosophy of the 4 stages of life. 

Our new-improved-modern Vanaprastha stage, of going away together in our early 50s, is to an ashram in the Silicon Valley! Devotion to God is virtual (AI), with our self-driving car akin to the celestial chariots of the Gods (I do need to read more of our ancient scriptures, for guidance into what the future holds!).

Financially, the longevity concept reaffirms my investment decision to hold equity and makes me feel lucky (and good) about the long-held personal portfolio of Perpetual Bonds and Equity (leveraged at near zero % interest rates).

I had my Faculty Advisor lunch introduction yesterday, he is a renowned Prof Charles Holloway who finished his PhD before many of us in this group were even born! He narrated several stories, one I loved was in a discussion relating to Innovation: Steve Jobs signed up every year (for many years) for Prof Holloway’s course on Manufacturing Processes. This was probably in the early 70s after Jobs came back from a year or so in Japan. Apparently at that stage, a near 20 year young Steve Jobs was very excited about revolutionizing Operations… that was his big thing then! Much is written about his Calligraphy course at Reed College (and the famous Mac fonts) but no one mentions his persistence and diligence in attending Operations courses and his idea that innovation and success are to be derived from Operational excellence. I find it interesting that Apple is widely considered a Marketing whiz more than an Operational winner! 

A part of our discussion was also about leadership skills taught at Business School versus learnt in life. The likes of Jobs and Gates, though famous for being school drop-outs, did spend time acquiring ‘college knowledge’ – it’s just that they didn’t take the whole package (grades et al.). My own experience (and some of my other ‘DCI batchmates’ agreed) was that an MBA enabled an industry career shift. While even case-based courses gave valuable bookish/technical knowledge, the real lessons on organisational dynamics/behaviour and leadership were learned at the workplace. Our limited work experience at that young stage did not make us appreciate the soft skills of management education.

A final unsurprising but striking observation is the preponderance of Asian faces on the Stanford Campus. Three full Basketball courts and a swimming pool with barely any Caucasian faces! Will look for the Library and report from there next. 😀

Truly a Golden Gateway to a Second Chance

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