Thursday, May 23, 2013

Is it all about money?

All of us are professionals and get paid to do what we love doing. Some of us are, however, more "successful" than others. Of course, there is the eternal debate on the definition of "success". For now, let us circumvent that debate and focus on one area, sports. Here success is clearly defined - winning the ultimate prize, the championship.

The question to ask is what is the "secret" to the success. What motivates the ones who excel. A recent interview of Rahul Dravid by Sanjay Manjrekar triggered me to ponder the question, "Is it all about money?".

Here is a link to the video of the interview after Rajasthan Royals beat Sunrisers Hyderabad in an IPL game:

The Rahul Dravid interview starts at the 3:52 mark of this post-match presentation. When talking about their next opponent, Mumbai Indians, Rahul says, "The pressure is on them". Sanjay responds with, "I like how you are playing the underdog card." Rahul brushes this off contemptuously saying, "It is the reality, Sanjay ... Look at the amount of money that they spent and CSK spent ...We are a Moneyball team."

Sanjay should have asked, "Is that why the players in your team looked for supplemental income?" (in response to the match fixing scandal involving three players from the Royals team) - but that would be hitting below the belt. I wish he had instead asked, "It is not really about the money, is it? It is about bringing out your best effort to the game. It is about who is more motivated. After all, one of the more 'expensive' teams, Royals Challengers Bangalore, are not even in the playoffs. "

I think all the teams have the raw talent to win the tournament. In any team sport, all players have a role to play. Even the "super stars" need a support cast and cannot function well without all the members fulfilling their respective responsibilities. The winning team has the right management, right coaching and training staff and a positive environment.

So, no, Rahul Dravid, it is not just about the team that spends the most. There is a reason why  MS Dhoni commands a $1.8m payday. However, that money is left at the entrance to the stadium. He needs to bring his "A" game to the match just as you need to.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Farewell, my friend

It is with immense sadness that I learned of the passing of a classmate and good friend, Rajiv Agarwal - a victim of colon cancer. Rajiv is survived by his wife Radhika and two college-age daughters Devika and Sameera. Our prayers are with the extended family as they somehow need to find the strength to see themselves through these troubled times. Rajiv's health had been deteriorating steadily over the last month. So, in a sense, his passing means that he is probably in a better place. Yet, we were all hoping and praying for a miracle that he will be able to beat this deadly disease. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case. May your soul rest in peace my friend.

Rajiv was a swash-buckling, fun loving guy. He made friends easily with his open mindedness and disarming smile. He was always fun to be around. His spirit of joy will sorely be missed as our circle of friends regroup in the future. Friends and visitors would constantly be swarming at Rajiv's house. I would often wonder how he found the energy to socialize as much as he did.

It is ironic that just yesterday there was an Op-ed in NYT by actress Angelina Jolie about the preventive measures that she took to fight breast cancer. Modern medicine certainly provides alternatives for each of us to evaluate and consider.

I would certainly like to see the day when the discussions on cancer revolve around combating it and defeating it - not just preventing it. While it will not bring Rajiv back, it will certainly stop this senseless, "why-me" disease from taking away lives of wonderful people like Rajiv.