Mathematics is Fun

I often say that I eat because of my comfort in math. It is my love and comfort with math that makes me confident and successful (sometimes), no matter what role in what organization. I was lucky to have parents who cared about math so much that I practiced and practiced, for funny money, always trying to find faster ways to accomplish my ‘practice load’. I was lucky to have a high-school math teacher who always emphasized starting from first principles, whenever in doubt. I have instilled in both our daughters the love for math.

An anecdote here. My wife was working at a Kumon center in Austin, tutoring 4-6 year old kids in English. I was then happily working at IBM. The live-wire Taiwanese-American lady owner of that Kumon center was bragging one day to her staff that not even CS professors at UT Austin can pass the G-level math test (They go from A to M levels). My wife casually said that I would pass it. Jennifer, the owner, said no way and said she would bet $100 that I won’t be able to pass. So, my wife chose to call me and told me about it. Never shy about such challenges, I drove up to the Kumon center, and took the G-level test. It is a good test that the kids have to score within a couple of errors, in a time frame of about 30 min, to pass. I was able to do it pretty quickly. Blood drained out of her face, as she went through my answers skipping many intermediate steps. She said she had never lost a bet in her life, especially around Kumon activities. We declined the $100, but she insisted on my accepting that crisp $100 note. So we organized a party for all the Kumon students. I later showed her my GRE transcript showing a perfect 800 score in math. I said she messed with the wrong guy, and she laughed.

I wonder if programmatizing anything is a kiss of death. The reason people feel bored in large organizations is because of large programs with rigid structures and limited scope for initiatives. May be the education departments should take note and teach the teachers to teach according to inside-out model, where students learn by expressing what they feel and see. That goes for teaching math, Psychology, Computer Science, Management, and everything else.

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My Data Analytics book becomes Best Seller

Today, my first book, Data Analytics Made Accessible, became a top-seller in the data mining category. It reached #2 bestseller status on the Amazon website (see picture below). I hope it will reach #1 soon. The book’s success speaks to its quality. It is an accessible overview of this vast and growing and hot topic. This book only comes in an online (Kindle) version, and is also priced very low compared to other books in the field. Thanks to those who wrote nice reviews on the book on Amazon site. I hope this books helps the readers become successful in their lives.

DAMA_Ranked_2_in_data_mining_on_Amazon - Aug23-2015.

2014: A Transformational Year

2014 was a transformational year for me. With my first book published (business intelligence and data mining), this new blog (anilmah.com), new travel (South Africa), a new talk (personal development through transcendence), and more, it was a productive year for me. The next year will surely bring its own joys!

Book: I wrote a well-received book on business intelligence and data mining. It was launched as an ebook on Amazon in May. It has consistently sold a couple of copies every day. At the end of the 2014, it was published by Business Expert Press (BEP), a NY-based publisher, in both print and e-book edition. (See the page on My Book).

Blog: This blog started in May of the year. There are quite a few posts on it. The topics range from travel to information technology to enlightenment to Vedas to good old Leadership, and more . My first post was a travelogue of my amazing trip to Kumbh Mela last year, and it was a big hit with the readers. My recent post on leadership lessons from organizing community events brought me more followers than all others previous posts combined. I continue to post from lived experiences.

Travels: I also had two major international travels this year, to South Africa and to India. The main purpose of the South African trip in June was to teach a course as part of an Executive MBA program. However, it also included visits to Gandhian monuments in Johannesburg and Durban. It also included sightseeing including the gorgeous city of Cape Town. (see my blog post on SA visit). The main purpose of my trip to India In November-December was to deliver a talk on personal development through transcendence at a conference in IIT Roorkee. After that I went to Yog gram for a week-long naturopathic detoxing retreat, and to Rajasthan to see my extended family (See my posts on the visits to Yog Gram and Pushkar).

Talks: I have delivered a talk on ‘Personal Development through Transcendental Meditation’ four times during the year 2014, three times in the US and once in India. Each time the talk was very well received. I essentially talk about how Transcendence is an orthogonal dimension to Intellect. For intellectually smart people, transcendence can open up new infinite avenues for creativity and fulfillment. I also share about how transcending using TM and TM-Sidhis over the last 2 years helped release my inner stresses and set me up for writing creatively from the heart and getting a great reception.

In addition, I led our South Asia community at our university into celebrations for six major festivals. Three of the celebrations included large bonfires. (See my blog posts on bonfires, and on leadership lessons from holding these events).

I am sure 2015 will bring its own joys!

Your Digital Self

In the digital world you are defined by the data exhaust of your many activities. From your communication and movement activities, to your purchase and sales activities, there is a digital record of your actions that can be put together to collectively constitute your digital self.

The data about you can be analyzed and mined for patterns of behavior. Who you talk to, when you talk, what you talk about, and how you communicate … all these can be deciphered from analyzing the text and time-stamps of your conversations. Your pictures and comments and Likes on FaceBook tells a lot about what you do, what you like, and who you relate to. Your tweets are a veritable record of your many proclamations, jokes, and commentary. Smartphone apps like WhatsApp contain a complete record of much sharing among half-a-billion people across the globe.

For instance, a composite profile of a person was made using only 45 days’s worth of data from WhatsApp. It showed who the person talked to, what she talked about, when she talked most, and how she communicated. Advertising companies can perfectly understand her behavior patterns, and sell her what they can. The analysis showed that the person spoke a lot about food, desserts, and weight loss. And that she was online most often at 8 pm. Thus companies could sell her more food, sugary stuff, and then also sell her dreams and products for weight loss.

Our behaviors are far more patterned, and a lot less spontaneous, than we care to believe. Modeling the data about your activities can show that. How can we be better prepared to counter those who may be using many of our unconscious behavior patterns to fleece us? One way is to understand your own digital self better.

The first step is to be open to understanding yourself in a deep data-driven way. The example above shows the value of being self-aware of our behavior patterns.

The second step will be to obtain data about our digital self. Organizations like FaceBook and Google gather all the data, analyze it and then send targeted ads on behalf of businesses. However is is not very clear right now, how an individual can gather the data from the likes of FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and hundreds of other sites. If large organizations can obtain such data, individuals should also be able to do so. I found an application called http://givememydata.com/ that helps you get back your data from FaceBook.

Data about one’s own activities should be made available free of charge to every individual. The data should be made available in a pre-processed form that is easily understandable and manageable by the individual concerned. This should be similar to how all credit-rating agencies need to offer you annually a free record of all your financial profile.

Once the data has been collected, the third step is to analyze the data, along very simple lines to generate a composite dashboard of oneself. That will be our accessible digital self, seen through the digital mirror.

For more on data mining check out my book available on Amazon.