#8 Karthish Manthiram

On Creating Fuels and Chemicals For The Next 100 Years and The Importance Of Accessible Role Models

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Karthish Manthiram is an Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering at MIT. The Manthiram Lab at MIT is focused on the molecular engineering of electrocatalysts for the synthesis of organic molecules, including pharmaceuticals, fuels, and commodity chemicals, using renewable feedstocks. Karthish’s research and teaching have been recognized with several awards, including Forbes 30 Under 30 in Science.



Our work should break us out of what we are used to, it should surprise us, disturb us –Karthish Manthiram

Apps I Find Useful

Everyday ask yourself “How am I being useful to this world”

–Madhav SBSS

Notion, a neat tool that packs a lot of things into one app. Todo lists, documents, spreadsheets, team collaboration but is it too busy? Is it trying to do too many things, is it trying to be a Swiss Army Knife?

Spark email – love your email again. I like the app, it combines good features from Gmail, Yahoo and other popular email apps into one. Their Smart View option is interesting, it bubbles up email that is more important or relevant to the top of the inbox, instead of a reverse chronological order.

SuperHuman – what’s the big deal with this email app, why is it invite only for ever? I don’t know, interesting thing is no app has been able to monetize email clients. They certainly are doing something right!

Elevate brain games app – Not a recent find, I have been playing the games for a couple of years quite regularly, it takes just a few minutes to complete a session and I enjoy the challenges and visuals.

Flipboard – news personalized for me, hyper curated. Love the ease of use and relevancy of the articles to my tastes.

raagabox – connecting humans through music. Well, this is a website and app I have been maintaining for over a decade now. It gives me so much joy to listen to the beautiful voices of many of my close friends and family.

mint – not a day goes by without checking my portfolio, networth, bills and expenses in this cool little app that has been around for over a decade and hasn’t changed much. UX could be better but I won’t complain, it’s free and it connects to all my banks, investments, real estate and does a decent job of giving me clarity on my finances. It’s time someone developed nextmint that actually personalizes financial planning, is free like mint!

Google Voice – I don’t like most of Google products, with the exception of their Search, Maps and Docs. I have to say Google Voice is a blessing for those who need to call international at cheap rates and get the reliable service. My monthly telephone bills have dropped by 5 times.

Stockpile – a cool little app that I have given to my kids so that they can learn the value of investing in stocks. The app allows them to invest in partial shares, for example, even with $100 they can own AMZN stock which is trading at $2388.55 today.

digit.co is interesting, it is kind of like Acorns. It has been around for over a decade, it connects to your checking account and pulls small amounts of money regularly into a rainy day account.

Lessons Learned From Ben and Jerry

We didn’t think of it as a business, we thought of it as a venture. We wanted to do it for a couple of years and then become cross country truck drivers.

A lot of our problems would be solved if we made the ice creams shittier.

Business is essentially “busyness”, it’s mostly commonsense and lot of work.

We ran a promotion in winter called “Penny Off Per Celsius degree Below Zero Winter Extravaganza (POPCBZWE)”.

Ben and Jerry are two great friends and amazing citizens of the world delivering happiness by the pint, under $5

Random tweet (credit: Marche’ Lawton) about Ben and Jerry, haven’t fact checked but if it is true I’m definitely buying more chunky monkeys as well

Jerry Greenfield, left, and Bennett Cohen, the founders of Ben and Jerry Homemade Inc., pose in front of their “Cowmobile” in Burlington, Vt., on June 15, 1987.
( Toby Talbot / AP Images )
Source: https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/heresthething/episodes/ben-and-jerry-warm

Notes and Links

https://www.amazon.com/Ice-Cream-Wendall-S-Arbuckle/dp/1461380677

#5 Sreekanth Vemula

On following ones curiosity, being comfortable with not fitting in and taking care of his next patient

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Dr. Sreekanth is a leading Neurologist at Apollo Hospitals Hyderabad. He received his MD from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and DM in Neurology from Institute of Medical Sciences at Chandigarh. Teaching medical students is one of his passions, he has been actively teaching and advising students over 10 years.

“Thinking clearly, unselfishly, solves most problems in this world” and “Don’t worry, you will be automatically happy” –Sreekanth
Enjoy my conversation with Sreekanth

#3 Sumona Karjee Mishra

On a mission to eliminate pregnancy related disorders in India and around the world, starting with early diagnosis of Preeclampsia.

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Sumona Karjee Mishra is a scientist turned entrepreneur. She co-founded Prantae Solutions along with her husband to disrupt treatment of pregnancy related disorders, with an initial focus on Preeclampsia which affects 5-8% of all  pregnancies worldwide. She received her PhD from the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi.

“You can’t let the pregnant women die” and “Love yourself”


#1 Ishwarya Ananthabotla

On rethinking how audio is captured, represented and retrieved in this new world of AI

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Ishwarya Ananthabotla completed her BS and MS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT. She is pursuing a PhD in the MIT Media Lab’s Responsive Environments group, exploring ways to capitalize on our knowledge of human perception, cognition, memory, and attention, to re-think traditional paradigms for audio capture, representation, and retrieval. 

“Being family is a gift from God, staying family is a choice”

Madhav's Book Notes, SWITCH by Dan Heath and Chip Heath

Recently I was introduced to this book by a friend. I had known about the book for a while as I have read Made to Stick by the same authors a few years ago and liked their lucid style of capturing complex concepts in simple metaphors. Here is some notes I made as I listened to the audiobook on Scribd –

Bigger popcorn bucket size makes people consume more popcorn and vice-versa. To reduce eating more, reduce the plate size. To reduce eating unhealthy, reduce buying unhealthy food, once they are in the pantry, chances of eating them goes up significantly.

Forcing the team to think about “Under One Roof”, people started thinking about making room for other critical departments under one roof, for example, Radiology in the same building, improving breast cancer diagnosis. A woman coming in for an exam in the morning might be able to leave that evening with the results.

We all have the Rider and the Elephant in each of us, to appeal to a person we need to think about both aspects.

Who is a Rider? Analytical self

Who is an Elephant? Emotional self. Elephant tries to paint the rosiest picture of things, creating positive illusions. “truth teller” can break these illusions to help the Elephant make progress.

Show the Rider where we are headed with charts, data analytics. Show the Elephant the big picture and vision. Both Elephant and Rider are part of the same person.

What is a B&W goal? Back and White goals are basically binary goals, the state can be either 0 or 1, like “I will not drink wine”, “I will not eat processed sugar”. Binary goals are easier to practice than trying to moderate, in other words, Analog goals 🙂

At the beginning, don’t look for the middle, look for a strong beginning and a strong ending and get going. Focus on what we can control, the next step and the next.

When parameters are well understood and things are static one can apply analysis, think and change something to improve results. However, in real life, parameters are not well understood, uncertainty reigns, not enough data is available. How can one make decisions in that situation?

See → feel → change OR 

Analyze → think → change

Problem of change is not one of lack of information but it’s one of identity and emotion. People don’t buy BMW because of the information in the Ad but the emotional appeal, identity to “this kind of person drives BMW”, same with Nike shoes, “this kind of person uses Nike shoe”

Elephant needs quick wins to get fired up.

If you want to change a behavior, give clear direction (Rider), boost motivation and determination (Elephant) alternatively remove friction, create a slope and nudge them (Path).

Shape the Path, build habits. (Atomic Habits by James Clear is a good book on this topic)

Fataki (an explosion in Swahili, someone to stay away from) – Eliminating sugar daddies in Tanzania by popularizing the term “Fataki” on radio station campaigns, like “that guy is such a Fataki”.

How do you make the Switch?

  1. Direct the Rider
    1. Find the bright spots
    2. Point to the destination (like B&W goals)
  1. Motivate the Elephant
    1. Have someone read the email and ask if any of them is worth replying to
    2. Build identity – “John you are such a controlled guy”
    3. Build the growth mindset
  1. Shape the Path
    1. Break the environment e.g. break the breakberry
    2. Tweak the environment (turn of the sound, silent mode, no buzz)

Good relationships with colleagues is not going to happen based on Myers-Briggs types, it’s built from reinforcing bright spots, look for little rays of sunshine.

The more you are exposed to something the more you like it e.g. Eiffel Tower, just an ugly metal structure.

Cognitive Dissonance – people don’t like to think in one way and act in another way. So once they start acting in one way, they will like to continue to act that way, it helps with good habits, inertia is a good thing here.

When change works, the Rider, the Elephant and the Path all are aligned. Change follows a pattern. Clear destination helps with the change.

What will you SWITCH?

Lessons From People No Smarter Than You

“I’m still young, I try to always look at what people significantly younger tan me are doing. What’s the next thing? I like to imagine the world five years from now Or imagine what I want the world yo look like five years from now”

Brain Chesky

“I have always followed my gut – and sometimes it’s been really lonely. When you look at the Forbes 400 list and take off everybody who inherited money, what’s left are people who went right when everyone else went left. Conventional wisdom leads to mediocrity.”

Sam Zell

“I’ve seen plenty of powerful women squander a chance at power simply because they waited for someone else to give them permission to have power. There is no permission slip — you just have to BE powerful.”

Shonda Rhimes

“Power is taking action in a moment that could make you feel powerless. Never let anyone define you. Only you define who you are.”

Ginni Romettey

“Politics is a powerful place, but it can and should be a place where power is used to build communities, and to model exactly the kinds of values we teach to our kids.”

Jacinda Ardern

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”

Malala Yousafzai

“Knowing what must be done does away with fear.”

Rosa Parks

“Power’s not given to you. You have to take it.”

Beyonce

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.”

Peggy O’Mara

7 Things My Dogs Beats Me In

Don’t compromise, ever! – She will never eat food that she doesn’t like even when the food is lying around in the bowl whole day and she has not eaten anything.

Don’t eat if not hungry – She won’t eat food when she is not hungry how ever much you plead or force.

Play like a dog – She always loves to play, in the middle of the night or early in the morning or middle of the day. No questions asked.

Always be cheerful (ABC) – She is happy and cheerful, never a dull moment with her around.

Always greet visitors – She is always the first one to welcome guests into the house and she greets them by playing with them for a minute or two.

Never eat while driving – When we are on a long drive, she never eats any food during the travel. She likes the “less luggage more comfort” policy.

Never get mad – Whatever you do to her, she will never get mad, it’s impossible to make her mad. I’ve had a couple of dogs before and man they get mad when you touch their food bowl, however, this girl is super cool!

Every man has his day, my turn is next. Meanwhile, I might as well enjoy some good music.

Does Everything Happen For Our Own Good?

“He washed his hands and feet, and just as he reached for his boot, an eagle snatched it away! The boot turned upside down as it lifted, and a poisonous snake dropped out. The eagle circled and brought the boot back, saying, “My helpless reverence for you made this necessary…Mohammad thanked the eagle and said, “What I thought was rudeness was really love. You took away my grief, and I was grieved! Learn from this eagle story that when misfortune comes, you must quickly praise. Others may be saying, Oh no, but you will be opening out like a rose losing itself petal by petal….The feeling of joy when sudden disappointment comes, that is Sufism…Don’t grieve for what doesn’t come. Some things that don’t happen keep disasters from happening.” –Rumi

Philosopher and poet Rumi reminds us that everything happens for ones own good. Because when **it hits the fan, it’s hard to believe that anything good can come out of that, **it is not supposed to hit the fan, isn’t it? How does one come to that understanding that everything happens for good?

That understanding comes from faith that there is something better at play than the **it we see and that faith comes from good experiences and good experiences come from a lot of bad experiences i.e. **it hitting the fan.