N.E.D. – The Rocking Docs

One of the wonderful benefits of blogging is the serendipitous contacts. I’ve written about cancer on this blog only twice, but because of those posts, someone wrote and asked if I would talk about a unique band. And while I’m very late, here it is.

N.E.D. is a band comprised of six board certified Gynecologic Oncologists who’ve come together to put out a really cool CD. What impresses me about these specialized doctors is that in addition to their day jobs, they have taken the effort to put out a CD where all sales goes to fund research at the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation. In addition, one of the doctors, Dr. Nimesh Nagarsheth, recently released a book called Music and Cancer: A Prescription for Healing.

The music is really wonderful – these are professional musicians and look the part.


I’ve bought the CD and I encourage you to the same. Great music and a good cause – a perfect mix.

And I absolutely love the name! N.E.D stands for No Evidence of Disease. The best words a cancer patient can hear.

Happy New Year, 2010

And happy new decade. Am I glad to be done with 2009 or what?? I think that’s true for almost everyone I know.

What a crazy decade it’s been. I still remember standing on the beach in Hawaii watching the fireworks to welcome the new decade, the new millennium. It feels like yesterday in many ways. It feels like a century ago in many ways.

It is incredible to think about how much media production and consumption has changed in the past decade. We’ve had the iPod, YouTube, Kindle, xbox, netflix all emerge and flourish in the past decade. And it really feels like just the beginning. Entertainment will continue to democratize but I believe true quality will still (and always) be valued.

Anyway my fellow adventurers – here’s being cautiously hopeful for the decade to come!


Is a really good idea. Makes one pause and be grateful for our wonderful lives. Whatever is going on, if you can read this, you are blessed compared to many in this world.

The only thing I hate about Thanksgiving is the turkey massacre. Tofurkey for the win!

Peace, love and vegetarianism to you all.

Happy Deepavalli

This Deepavalli was very mellow. Barely felt like Deepavalli.

Life has been crazy. Probably the most hectic I’ve ever seen and that’s saying a lot after the insanity of 2001 – 2003. Every day I want to blog but it’s a choice between 15 minutes to blog or 15 minutes to sleep. Sleep wins every time.

Except today!

But that’s because the plan is to make this short. And to just say that I’ll be back with more soon.

Hope everyone has a safe Deepavalli!

Defining success

What does every person on earth want? To be happy. But how people define happiness and therefore how they define success is partly the reason that so few people are, in fact, happy.

We are conditioned to accept the definition of success that society puts out there. And because our acceptance is so unquestioning, it seriously affects how we make decisions. How long do people stay in jobs that don’t make them happy but meet society’s criteria of success? Society’s criteria become personal criteria and then it gets much harder to extricate yourself.

I was so there. I had a box – a set of definitions I subscribed to that were universally accepted. And because so much of how I defined myself was tied to my job, the decision to quit and the process of adjustment afterwords was hard.

Alain de Botton has an interesting talk on this topic –

It gets better with time, but it’s still not easy. I consciously put blinkers on to exclude outside opinions when I think about my definition and how I am doing against it.

Would love to hear how do you define success…

Willing to pay

nytlogo153x23There’s some chatter about the New York Times survey to their customers on whether they’d be willing to pay $5 per month to access the content. They also asked if $2.50 would be acceptable. I didn’t get the survey, but as a long-time NYT reader, my answer would be an unequivocal “Yes, absolutely”.

What’s interesting is that this debate comes on the back of the larger debate around Wired editor Chris Anderson’s book, Free. I haven’t read his book (although I have read reviews) and I also read Malcolm Gladwell’s retort. When Chris Anderson says “free”, he means free to the consumer – but the reality is that nothing that takes time or effort to produce is ever free – someone is paying. Either the producer is paying for her own costs and giving away the end product or advertisers are supporting the product.

And that’s what is important to realize. The cost to produce something is not free (even if the cost to transmit and disseminate it may be close to free). So what happens when the producer has to get paid?

Let’s come back to the NY Times. Everyone is jumping up and down saying newspapers are dead. Agreed – I haven’t bought a printed paper in over 8 years. But journalism is not dead. Not even close. Today, I cannot go to one place and get the incredible breath and depth that the Times offers me. I can’t find exceptional political insight and funny technological coverage in a blog. If you point me to the Huffington Post (a site I was addicted to during the elections), I’d say, yep, great example of online journalism.

The journalists at the Times are fabulous at what they do. And they have to get paid to be able to continue to do what they are good at. So what’s the solution? It appears that advertising revenues online cannot cover those costs. It comes down to having the consumer pay something.

My recommendation is to allow consumers to get a certain number of articles free each month – say 10 articles. After that they get charged the $5 fee and they can read anything they want, including all the archives, for the rest of the month. For a frequent reader, like myself, I’d rather just have them autobill me. Forget the 10 free articles a month. I’ll blow through that on day 1 or 2 at the latest.

For the customer who comes to the NY Times site very rarely, their experience doesn’t change either – they can read their one or two articles and leave without feeling any pain.

The middle section – the group that reads maybe 20 articles will dither. But, $5 is about 1.25 Starbucks coffees. At $2.50 it is less than a Starbucks. Quality content written by journalists who are the best in their fields, edited by a top team of editors, across an incredibly wide range of topics for an entire month on one hand. One cup of coffee on the other. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

The issue is that we’ve been trained to expect content on the internet to be free. Retraining ourselves will be hard, but not impossible. If it is a question of not reading the NY Times or paying $5, I’d gladly pay the $5. I think they should offer a family rate too – so for something like $10, up to 5 people can read the Times.

Now for some caveats: I’m willing to pay to sustain the journalists and editors that bring me the content. I am not, however, willing to pay to sustain high-cost printing technology and all the infrastructural and organizational fat that is needed to support the print side of the business. As a consumer, I can’t really make that allocation, but I hope the Times will do the math and when paying print consumers stop supporting the cost of print, the print section gets shut down. Please do not make the eco-friendly online users support the dinosaurs’ tree-killing addiction. Oh, and while I’m at it – if I do pay, I really want the ability to embed the NY Times’ photos and videos. They are awesome and by allowing bloggers to embed them (with links back of course), the Times will actually get more traffic, not less.

Finally, the Times has to consider if someone else will fill the gap they leave with a great product that is free. The asset is the journalists. Unique individuals with unique voices. Not so easily done. And even if someone could do it free for a while, they’ll hit the same economic issues as the Times.

The Times seems to have explored a number of options – a couple of years ago, they had people pay for Times Select (and yes, I paid). I’m sure they’ve come to this after a lot of thought (I hope they have, although their decision to disable embeds gives me pause). To term paying for things online as old-school and therefore unacceptable is silly. And I, for one, am willing to pay.


A group I’m involved with was embroiled in a debate. One side contended that passion was the most important factor in a blog post – do you care enough? Do you bleed onto the page? The other side maintained that passion without quality is just… drivel.

Forget blogs for a second – let’s consider work. Can you get away with delivering a sub-par, error-filled deliverable at work if you offer that it was done with passion? Work is not the same as blogging? Really? Why – are blogs your fun/amateur activity? If you think so, read John August’s piece on professionalism. And remember in this Google world, everything lives forever. And your name is on it.

What do I think? Quality is absolute. Evaluated on an absolute basis and absolutely required. In this instance, a Hugh MacLeod cartoon says it best…


Here’s to the crazies

The crazy people will change the world for the better. The people who hear they are insane, it can’t be done, it’s silly to do it *now* and still go ahead and pursue their dreams – these are the folks that will have a positive impact on large groups of people.

The crazy people are special in many ways – most importantly, they are super-smart, very capable, confident, and almost universally acknowledged for their capabilities (unless you are an emerging crazy, in which case you have yet to be universally acknowledged)1

The people who rely on the status quo, have never earned a job or title on their own, and skate along trying to fool people might be fine now, but average is all they’ll ever be. These people look down on the crazies. They may secretly want to be one of the crazies, but only for the glory that will eventually await the crazies – they don’t want to do the hard, grinding work that it will take for the crazies to succeed. And therein lies the core reason they’ll always just aspire to mediocrity.

The truly bold ones – the ones who may fail big, the ones jump off the treadmill of safety – are the most likely to win big too.

This wonderful piece talks about how young crazies from Yale are pursuing their dreams.

it’s refreshing to know that the world keeps minting idealistic young people who are not waiting for governments to act, but are starting their own projects and driving innovation.

I know of a couple of others who had the courage and capabilities to walk away from secure, stable jobs to venture out on their own. To those crazies, whether you are in Madras, London or New York, my most sincere good wishes. May you soar. May your hard work and your idealism be rewarded. I’m rooting for you – you’re inspirational.

  1. My “crazies” are different from Hugh’s Crazy  Deranged Fools in some ways. CDFs seem to be creative or artistic, my crazies can be pure business folks although successful business folks have to be creative too. And my crazies may not pay the bills for a while – they will live without if they have to, they will adjust their lifestyle downwards. CDFs could work alone but my crazies want to start companies/ventures/projects. I am not quite a crazy, but I am a CDF.