Book Reviews
Book Review of ‘Smartcuts’
There is a hard way and then a smart way
 
The subtitle of Smartcuts by Shane Snow, a New York-based writer and web entrepreneur, is, “How Hackers, Innovators and Icons Accelerate Success”. We know about innovators and icons but who are hackers? Welcome to a new Americanism (in case you do not know it already) that everyone working in the area of digital marketing and start-ups now uses. Terms like ‘growth hacking’ and ‘life hacking’ are products of this new usage of hack, which probably comes from computerese—hacking. It simply means cracking the code. 
 
We all know that success is about hard work, diligence and talent. But how is it that some people are more successful in cutting downtime, racing multiple steps ahead, finishing faster and so on? To quote some real-life examples, how does a start-up like Snapchat or Whatsapp go from zero to billions of users in just a few months? “How did Alexander the Great, YouTube tycoon (Michelle Phan), and Tonight Show host (Jimmy Fallon) climb to the top in less time than it takes most of us to get a promotion?” By having a hacker’s mindset and thinking laterally. 
 
The traditional route to success is to “work 100 hours a week, believe you can do it, visualize, and push yourself harder than everyone else.” This is an unnecessarily hardworking model today. The world has changed. In the 19th century, it took John D Rockefeller, the oil tycoon, 46 years to make $1 billion. Today, Internet entrepreneurs like becoming billionaires in a fraction of the time-even accounting for inflation. 
 
We are only limited by our thinking. Snow cites futurist Ray Kurzweil’s essay, “The Law of Accelerating Returns”, which argues that in the 21st century, hundreds of years of progress will be compressed in a matter of decades. Communication is faster, tools of progress are numerous.
 
However, we are all mired in the past. As Snow puts it, traditional thinking says to earn success, we have to pay our dues and take our time moving slowly up the ladder. Snow suggests that we learn from those who become United States presidents, like Barack Obama, without labouring their way through the Senate or the Congress, or web entrepreneurs, or businessmen like Elon Musk who launched his own rockets. They all “buck the norm and do incredible things in implausibly short amounts of time.” This is also why renowned physicist Freeman Dyson says six-year-old kids should be given calculators and not be forced to learn multiplication tables.
 
With youthful looks and frizzy hair, Shane Snow is instantly compared to Malcolm Gladwell especially because, like Gladwell, he blends academic research with gripping anecdotes of an astounding variety—Cuban revolutionaries to stand-up comedians to cardiac surgeons to racing car-drivers to record-holders of videogames. How do they do it? Snow thinks he has found the formula, which he divides into three sections—shorten, leverage and soar—covering nine chapters. 
 
Shorten: According to Snow, ‘shortening’ doesn’t mean replacing hard work, but eliminating cycles that were previously thought necessary. How do you shorten the course? You try to find shortcuts others have missed, you train with masters and you use rapid feedback. 
 
Leverage: ‘Leveraging’ means getting the biggest bang for your buck for your time, effort and money spent. How do you create the lever that will catapult you to record heights? You use a platform, ride the waves and ‘network’ (now a verb). 
 
Soar: Snow uses this term to describe the use of upward momentum, not experience, to dictate one’s own personal success. How do you soar over the competition? You look for an opportunity to ride the momentum, make your product or service or your appeal utterly simple and, finally, think of a change that is 10 times in magnitude from what is currently practised.
 
Smartcut is not shortcut. Shortcuts are unsustainable in the long run, whereas smartcuts are sustainable and ethical ways of getting ahead through ‘lateral thinking’, or the act of reframing problems to challenge their basic assumptions. A fascinating book.

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Nifty, Sensex struggling to rally - Thursday closing report
Nifty will remain in an uptrend, as long as, it is above 8,545
 
We had mentioned in Wednesday’s closing report that the Nifty will remain in an uptrend as long as it closes above 8,500. The major indices in the Indian stock markets were range-bound and made marginal gains during the day’s trading. 
 
 
The top gainers and losers in major indices are given in the table below:
 
 
 
A day after it gained over 150 points, a benchmark index of the Indian equity markets closed in the green and inched up to a nearly two-week high on Thursday.
 
The 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the S&P Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) closed the day's trade 75 points up at more than 28,220 points.
 
The wider 50-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) also closed in the positive territory. It was up 20.70 points or 0.24 percent at 8,588.65 points.
 
The S&P BSE Sensex, which opened at 28,291.88 points, closed at 28,298.13 points, up 75.05 points or 0.27 percent from the previous day's close at 28,223.08 points.
 
The Sensex touched a high of 28,359.96 points and a low of 28,163.69 points in the intra-day trade.
 
According to analysts, Indian markets opened positively tracking the SGX Nifty and Wednesday's data which showed healthy growth in services PMI (purchasing managers' index). Sentiment was also helped by upbeat economic data from China.
 
Markets gained due to the positive response to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor's comments on the economy. Positive sentiments surrounding Cognizant’s quarterly results supported the rally across information technology (IT) stocks. 
 
The FIIs were net buyers in the cash market segment on Wednesday. They bought shares worth Rs.447.90 crore.
 
Sector-wise, healthy buying was observed in capital goods, consumer durables, healthcare, banking and automobile stocks. However, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), metal and oil and gas sectors came under selling pressure.
 
The S&P BSE capital goods index zoomed by 306.14 points, followed by consumer durables index which augmented by 213.21 points, healthcare index gained 198.56 points, banking index edged higher by 120.30 points and automobile index rose by 110.80 points.
 
The S&P BSE FMCG index receded by 93.05 points, metal index fell by 48.51 points and the oil and gas index was lower by 25.29 points.
 
Major Sensex gainers during Thursday's trade were Larsen and Toubro (L&T), up 2.74 percent at Rs.1,827.30; Dr.Reddy, up 1.79 percent at Rs.4,270.10; Tata Motors, up 1.63 percent at Rs.382.90; Lupin, up 1.37 percent at Rs.1,703.15; and
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), up 1.28 percent at Rs.2,574.30.
 
The major Sensex losers were: ITC, down 1.70 percent at Rs.326.05; Coal India, down 1.59 percent at Rs.431.10, Reliance Industries, down 0.84 percent at Rs.979.40; Vedanta, down 0.78 percent at Rs.126.90; and NTPC, down 0.62 percent at Rs.135.65.
 
Among the Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei was up 0.24 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined by 0.57 percent. China's Shanghai Composite Index also was lower by 0.88 percent. 
 
In Europe,  the London FTSE 100 index inched up by 0.09 percent. Germany's DAX Index and French CAC 40 also gained 0.20 percent and 0.37 percent, respectively, at the closing bell here.
 
The closing values of major indices in the Asian stock markets are given in the table below:
 
 
 
Among European indices, FTSE 100 was at 6,736.28, down 0.24% and the DAX was at 11,644.23, up 0.07%. Athex Composite Share Price Index was at 666.63, up 3.64%.
 

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Adanis to withdraw from mega Australian coal mine project?
With Australia's Federal Court declaring invalid the approval of the Adani Group's $16 billion coal mine in central Queensland, there is speculation that the Gautam Adani-led Indian conglomerate may decide to walk away from the controversial project.
 
According to Australian media reports, the approval was set aside by the court after it was found that Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt had not properly considered advice about endangered species like the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.
 
The Tony Abbott-led federal government had approved the mega open-cut and underground coal mine in Queensland's Galilee Basic region in July 2014.
 
From the very beginning, the project has been dogged by a number of controversies. Various environment groups and indigenous people have been opposing what is projected to be the biggest Australian coal mine project. While the Federal Court has ruled in favour of an environment protection group, the challenge mounted by the indigenous Australians is yet to get a hearing.
 
The Mackay Conservation Group had challenged the project earlier this year over the risk to vulnerable species like the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.
 
To make the matters worse for the well-connected Indian conglomerate, Australia's Commonwealth Bank has withdrawn financial support for the project.
 
It appears the Adani Group has already made up its mind to look somewhere else for the fuel to power its energy plants. A strong hint came a few months back, when it was announced that the company had "frozen" the project because of uncertainty over various court challenges and state government delays - and that it might scuttling the mine.
 
Another strong message that the Adanis are bailing out came when a spokeperson of the Indian group denied that the Australian bank had withdrawn because of lobbying by environmentalists. 
 
The group said, on the contrary, that it had ended the relationship with the Commonwealth Bank.
 
"Adani terminated the mandate on the basis of its own concerns over ongoing delays to a now five-year-long approvals process here in Australia," Australian media outlets have quoted an Adani spokesperson as saying.
 
The "concerns" are understandable as the Adani group has already sunk about AUS$3 billion ($2 billion/Rs.140 billion) on the project. This investment includes purchase of the Abbot Point port.
 
Regarding the legal setback, a challenge to the Federal Court decision is highly unlikely as both the Adani Group and the federal government "consented", or agreed, that the ruling was correct. 
 
Instead of being embarrassed about its approval being labelled "invalid", the Liberal party government is putting up a brave face.
 
"What the department said is 'look, we have a sense that the court might find something new as a new standard and so it might be better to remake the decision'," Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt told reporters on Wednesday.
 
While environment protection groups are buoyed by the Federal Court decision, the so-called coal lobbyists are not amused over the delay in the project.
 
Legal loopholes are paving the way for anti-coal activists to delay billions of dollars in investment and impact thousands of jobs in Queensland.
 
If the social media is considered a standard, an overwhelming majority of Australians would have to be labelled "anti-coal" as Twitter and Facebook have been plastered with hundreds of messages praising the court ruling.

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