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Notes to Myself

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June 2017

Wharton People Analytics Conference 2017: Keynote Conversation with Malcom Gladwell and Adam Grant

Here is an excellent speech by Malcolm Gladwell on one very interesting concept!
Wharton People Analytics Conference 2017: Keynote Conversation with Malcom Gladwell and Adam Grant
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Yin Yang with Cat (मनी माऊ) and More…

On Brevity, Simplicity, and Minimalism

श्री. भा.म. गोरे यांचा नवी पालवीनावाचा एक लघुकथासंग्रह वाचताना प्रास्ताविकात एक संस्कृत ओळ आली. 
 
अल्पाक्षररमणीयं यः कथयति निश्चितं स खलु वाग्मी |
त्याचा अर्थ आणि पूर्ण सुभाषित काय आहे म्हणून नेटवर बघितले तर हे पूर्ण सुभाषित मिळाले.
अल्पाक्षररमणीयं यः कथयति निश्चितं स खलु वाग्मी |
बहुवचनमल्पसारं यः कथयति विप्रलापी सः ||
 
अर्थ:
 
थोडक्यात आणि सुंदर भाषेत जो सांगतो तो खरोखर [चांगला-फर्डा] वक्ता होय. खूप बडबड करून त्यातून थोडासाच अर्थ निघत असेल तर त्याला वाचाळ म्हणावे.
 
शेक्सपिअर च्या हॅम्लेट मधील एक पात्र (पोलोनिअस) म्हणते:
 
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief…
 
मितभाषी किंवा अल्पाक्षरी असणे हे खूप अवघड असते. आणि बऱ्याचदा साहित्यिक दर्जाचे प्रमाण मानले जाते.
संत तुकाराम, संत ज्ञानेश्वर, संत रामदास यांचे अभंग, श्लोक, ओवी इ. बघितले तर दोन गोष्टी अगदी ठळक पणे जाणवतील: (१) साधेपणा (Simplicity) आणि (२) अतिशय कमी शब्दात आशयगर्भ कल्पना मांडणे (Brevity).
असे लेखन इतके प्रभावी असते की त्याचे “निरूपण” करण्यात लोकांचे आयुष्य जाते (किंवा काहींची “कारकीर्द घडते”!).
उदा: “नाही निर्मळ मन, काय करील साबण”, “सोने आणि माती, आम्हा समान हे चित्ती” वगैरे
फक्त मराठीच नाही तर कोणत्याही भाषेतल्या साहित्यामध्ये Brevity ला खूप महत्व आहे.
It is considered as a hallmark of Classic literature.
Friedrich Nietzsche said: “It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what what others say in a whole book”
ह्याबाबतीतली नोबेल पारितोषिक विजेते लेखक अर्नेस्ट हेमिंग्वे यांचा एक प्रसंग सुप्रसिद्ध आहे. हेमिंग्वे यांच्या “द ओल्ड मॅन अँड द सी” ला साहित्याचे नोबेल पारितोषिक आणि पुलित्झर पारितोषिक मिळाले. केवळ १२७ पानांची ही कादंबरी आहे. त्यावरून हेमिंग्वे यांच्यावर बरीच टीका ही झाली. पण हेमिंग्वे यांचे म्हणणे होते की “Brevity” हे खूप उच्च दर्जाच्या साहित्यिकांचे लक्षण आहे.
तेव्हा कोणीतरी हेमिंग्वे ला आव्हान दिले की फक्त ६ शब्दात काहीतरी आशयपूर्ण कथा लिहून दाखव. आणि हेमिंग्वे नी लिहिले :
“For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.”
एका वृत्तपत्रातल्या जाहिराती सारखे हे ६ शब्द, पण त्यात एक खूप करुण कथा लपलेली आहे. म्हणजे एका आईनी दिलेली ही जाहिरात आहे. त्या आईचे बाळ जन्मत:च दगावते असा मतितार्थ आहे. त्या आईने बाळासाठी बेबी शूज घेतलेले असतात – जे दुर्दैवानी कधीच वापरायची वेळ येत नाही.
हेमिंग्वे ची ही कथा खूप प्रसिद्ध झाली आणि त्यावरून “flash fiction” किंवा fiction of extreme brevity हा साहित्य प्रकार रूढ झाला आणि त्यात नवे नवे प्रयोग झाले. त्याला “6 word tale” असेही म्हणतात.
“Wired” (वायर्ड) मॅगझीन ने अशा “6 word” stories च संकलन मागे एकदा प्रसिद्ध केलं होतं (Link: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.11/sixwords.html)
असो. तर हे बराच विषयांतर झालं. पण मूळ मुद्दा होता Brevity” बद्दल. 
 
थोडा खोलवर विचार केला तर Brevity (मिताक्षरीपणा), Simplicity (साधेपणा), Less is More, Frugality (अत्यंत वाजवी खर्चात राहणे), De-clutter (पसारा टाळणे) हे सगळे एकाच Theme ची वेगवेगळी रूपे आहेत. आणि ती Theme म्हणजे Buddhism (बुद्ध धर्मात) मधले महत्वाचे तत्व – minimalism. मराठीत ह्याला “न्यूनतावाद” असा छोटा पण बोजड शब्द आहे!
 
Minimalism ची वेगवेगळी रूपे साहित्य, कला, कायदा, शास्त्र, इतकेच नव्हे तर गणित इ. विषयात सतत दिसून येतात. ह्याबद्दलचे अनेक उद्गार (Quotes) प्रसिद्ध आहेत. 
 
शास्त्र:
albert-einstein-quote
 
कायदा:
in-the-pleading-of-cases-nothing-pleases-so-much-as-brevity-quote-1
 
साहित्य:

marcustulliuscicero1

friedrich-nietzsche-sayings-about-yourself-quotes-brevity-talent

 
कला:
“A picture speaks a thousand word” ही म्हण प्रसिद्ध आहे. लिओनार्दो द विंची याने पण “Simplicity” ला सगळ्यात जास्त महत्व दिलं होतं.
 
DaVinci-quote
 
गणित:
 
नुकतेच मंजुळ भार्गव ह्या भारतीय गणितज्ञाची थोर भारतीय गणिती रामानुजन यांच्याबद्दलची एक मुलाखत पाहिली. त्यात भार्गव यांनी सांगितले की गणितज्ञ लोकांच्यात “Simple and Elegant असणे किंवा तशा स्वरूपात प्रमेय मांडणे” ह्याला फार महत्व असते. आणि त्या बाबतीत रामानुजन हे फार थोर होते. उदाहरणादाखल त्यांनी रामानुजन यांची काही प्रमेय सांगितली. उदाहरणार्थ:
o-FINAL-FORMULA-570
Ramanujan2
The extremely simple Left Hand Side makes these equations “Elegant”!
सध्याच्या सोशल मीडिया मध्ये Twitter हे इतकं लोकप्रिय व्हायचं एक कारण म्हणजे “Brevity”. ही micro-blogging site Users ना केवळ १४० शब्दात लिहायला भाग पाडते. आणि तेच अनेकांना खूप challenging वाटतं. हेमिंग्वे च्या “सिक्स वर्ड स्टोरी” सारखं.
Brevity ह्या विषयावर इतकं लिहिणं हीच खरं तर Irony (विडंबन) आहे. पण असो. मुळात ह्याची सुरुवात झाली ती एका संस्कृत सुभाषितामुळे. म्हणजे संस्कृत-कालीन लोकांनी पण “Brevity” चं महत्व जाणलं होतं! 
 
म्हणजे आता “न्यू इंडिया” वाल्या लोकांच्या, “हे सगळं भारतामध्येच सुरु झालं, आम्ही आधी केलं” ह्या लोकप्रिय गाण्यात अजून एक ओळ (किंवा कडवं) जोडले जाणार…हरी ओम!
Brevity
minimalism-is-the-pursuit-of-the-essence-of-things-not-the-appearance-quote-1
Minimalism
declutter
declutter
And finally…
DeclutterYourLife-1493660262
P.S:
Trivia: “Sasural Genda Phool / ससुराल गेंदा फूल” song from 2010 Hindi movie  “Delhi – 6” composed by Academy Award winning composer A. R. Rahman won Filmfare Award for Best Playback Singer (Female) category.
So what’s the connection here?
The song was only 2 mins and 50 seconds long (or short!). This is the shortest song to have won a Filmfare Award.
So Brevity can help you win not only reward but Award as well 🙂
Now enjoy the song!

P.S.

What would be your P.S. message?

Charlie Munger

I am not sure if you follow Charlie Munger – partner of Warren Buffett and Vice-Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. If you don’t start following right now! He is one of those living legends who continues to shine even at the age of 93!

Here are a few Youtube videos of Charlie. Will post more soon…

Video – 1

Video – 2

Video – 3

Video – 4

Video – 5

Video – 6

Video – 7

 

 

 

Thoughts…

Prof. Aswath Damodaran on “The Value of Stories in Business”

Excellent talk by Prof. Aswath Damodaran on “The Value of Stories in Business” – Talks at Google

Aswath Damodaran: “The Value of Stories in Business” | Talks at Google

 

Stock and Flow – in Economics and other areas

Stock and Flow variables are one of the basic concepts of Economics. Unfortunately, they are not covered in current MBA curriculum (at least based on the courses I attended). But I feel that the concepts are also important beyond the subject of economics and helps in analyzing various commonplace notions/ comparisons people (wrongly) make.

Stock refers to a quantity of a commodity accumulated at a point of time. The quantity of the current production of a commodity which moves from a factory to the market is called flow.

The basis of distinction is measurability at a point of time (which is stock) or over a period of time (which is flow). Note that both stocks and flows are variables. A variable is a measurable quantity which varies (changes).

Consider analogy of a flow of water into a tank, and a small hole at the bottom causing the leak. The following depiction helps in understanding stock and flow concepts.

The water flowing into a tank is a flow variable. The water stored in tank “over a period of time” is a stock variable. And the leak at the bottom of tank can be considered as “depreciation of capital” – the decay!

Stocks_and_Flows.svg

So, we must remember following points:

  • Any flow must have a time component. i.e. per hour, per day, per year etc.
  • Stock is NOT defined in terms of time. It is rather a snapshot at a given point in time (cumulative effect till then)
  • Flow adds up to a stock, and decay or depletion or depreciation reduces the stock

StockFlow

Let’s apply the concepts of stock and flow to various terms:

  • Is GDP a flow variable or a stock variable?
  • Is debt a stock or flow variable? How about Capital?
  • Is Depreciation a stock variable?
  • How about Budget deficit (flow), and Outstanding national debt (stock)
  • How about Salary (flow), and savings/ wealth (stock)
  • How about Income statement (flow), and Balance sheet (stock)?

In the context of a nation, GDP is a measure of activity per year – and hence a flow variable. So is a company’s Income Statement – economic activity during the year – and hence flow variable. And so is your monthly Salary – a flow variable.

Consequently, Balance sheet of a company (which is a snapshot on a given day) indicates stock variable. The assets and liabilities and retained earnings the company has accumulated over time. Understand how flow (Income statement) and stock (Balance sheet) are related in this case. Some of the earnings from Income statement are retained – and flow to Balance sheet in form of Retained Earnings.

Similarly, you earn some salary and you save some part of the salary – which contributes to your wealth (stock variable). You may or may not be able to save from current salary, in each period – but then you can draw upon your wealth and sustain.

GDP of a nation is a stock variable. The amount of output it produces in each year. What would be the equivalent of Stock then? There is no single answer. One approach is to consider Gross Domestic Debt or Gross National Debt. The idea is to consider ratio of Debt to GDP ratio and interpret it as “number of years to pay off all debt, if all of GDP were to be devoted for debt repayment”. Budget deficit is the “leak” – the shortfall in paying off the debt.

How about Population? Is it a stock variable or flow variable? Well, I hope by now it is clear in your head.

Birth rate is a flow variable. And population is a stock variable.

The Systems Thinker  V10N4

Just a thought. Can we consider Voltage, Current and Resistance in terms of Stock and Flow?

The relationship between voltage, current, and resistance is described by Ohm’s law. This equation, I = V/R, tells us that the current, I, flowing through a circuit is directly proportional to the voltage, V, and inversely proportional to the resistance, R.

So Voltage is analogous to Stock. The difference in Voltage levels – max at one end and zero at the other – causes current to flow. Thus Current is analogous to Flow. And the resistance, R, causes current to slow down. Not exactly equivalent to a depreciation or depletion, but somewhat similar.

Current Voltage - Ohm.gif

Well, maybe I am pushing the analogy too far, but there are parallels. And they help in understanding concepts.

Now let me comment on the wrong kind of comparisons and how the concepts of stock and flow can help point out the flaws in the comparisons.

We often hear sentences such as “XYZ person in Forbes Richest List is so rich that his wealth is more than GDP or ABC country”. Or, “Mr. X is so rich that he can use his fortune and single-handedly wipe out the country’s Budget Deficit.

Can you see the flaw? Person’s wealth is a stock variable. And GDP or Budget Deficit are flow variables.

Is it appropriate to compare the two? Maybe yes, maybe not. Depending on what the context is. However, it is important to understand the distinction between the category of things we are comparing.

Let me end this post by extending Stock and Flow concepts to philosophy and religion.

Hindu religion has concepts of पाप (sin), पुण्य (good deed), and पूर्व-संचित. I am sure the other religions would also have something similar. The activities you do and actions you take result in earning पाप or पुण्य in this life. So they are Flow variables 🙂

And your पूर्व-संचित is the things you have accumulated in your past life (or lives). So that is the Stock variable 🙂

Your destiny is shaped by पूर्व-संचित (Stock) as well as by पाप or पुण्य in this life (Flow). You cannot do much about the Stock. However, you can certainly do a lot about the Flow!

I hope you’ll understand the concepts of Stock and Flow much better if you take this perspective! 🙂

Happy learning…

You know…

Bday_Tweet

 

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