Tuesday, March 20, 2018


    Goodreads Book Giveaway


        Moments in Transition by Neerja Raman



          Moments in Transition


          by Neerja Raman


            Giveaway ends March 30, 2018.

            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.




    Enter Giveaway

Monday, February 27, 2017

India Story - numbers or percentages?

My India Railway ticket story brought me good news and bad - good because I got instant comments and so I know someone out there reads my stuff; bad because two of the comments were from folks who missed the point of the story. Remember, this blog is biased towards enabling businesses with a social mission - my India story is to highlight how in India, while 300 million people live at the speed of internet, 700 million operate at the speed of bullock carts (I agree they don't pollute). So in terms of numbers - its India shining indeed! In terms of percentages, we still have the lowest internet penetration of any country in the world - this includes African countries.

I am in India now. In Gurgaon - I have great Airtel internet service - in a tower where backup power comes in 30 seconds if grid power is lost - this morning power has cycled fifteen times already - every time that happens - internet router dies and then comes back up and then dies etc. So its taken me all morning to do one email - and one blog. Its not about being in the stone age - its recognizing that we need to help ourselves - the rest of the world sees the 300 million as competition - we need to see the other 700 and do something.
(Author note - this post was written a while back - But the point is still valid)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Hijacked by a Hair Commercial

I typically don't watch videos on Facebook (too slow to surf) but there is no avoiding the My Choice video featuring Deepika Paukone by Vogue India. So I did and my first reaction was - good thing!

Wait wait wait .. I just saw the pretty face and who can disagree with a women's empowerment message? I like it I said to myself and moved on.

But something nagged - a voice in the back of my head asked -am I being manipulated? How do I show that I chose? By flapping my hair and showing a sexy body?

How do I learn to be strong? How do I learn not be a victim? How do I have the courage to leave home if forced into marrying a man 3 times my age?

Sure it is my choice not to have acid dropped on my face - but how do I enforce the choice?

Have better hair? Be more glamorous? Choose to hurt people by loving them and leaving them?

"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose" somebody said (Pete Townsend?) and sure I am free to choose - responsibly - unless I have nothing left to lose.

But I do - I am woman yes. I am mother, wife, employer,employee, social activist and a great supported of women in technical professions. Does this video want to mold me into an image I find limiting?

Personally I like the story of the woman who gave her groom a math test at the altar and when he flunked simple addition she chose to stand up and walk away. I would share that video.

Normally I don't nit-pick but I just want to put it out there - Women's empowerment is much too important a topic to be hijacked by hair.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Better World Faster - Social Impact Challenge

Normally I do not toot the horn for superginormous companies figuring they have enough muscle already. But I want to give a shout out to Google for this one - To mark India's Independence Day this year, they launched the social Impact challenge in India - A Better World, Faster.

Copied from thier website below:

The Google Impact Challenge has launched in India in an effort to support innovators who are exploring new ways to solve the world's most pressing problems. If you’re an Indian non-profit, tell us how you would use technology and innovative approaches to tackle problems in India and around the world. Four selected non-profits will each receive a Rs 3 crore Global Impact Award and assistance from Google to help make their project a reality.
  • 5th September 2013 - Final day to apply to the Google Impact Challenge.
  • 21st October 2013 - Google announces the finalists, and the public votes online for their favourites.
  • 31st October 2013 - Each finalist team will pitch its idea to an esteemed panel of judges at an event in Delhi. Four finalists, including the non-profit chosen by the public vote, will be announced as Global Impact Award recipients.
If you missed it this year I have heard it may become annual - so watch for it next year.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Is a Yes Attitude same as Can-Do?

Lately, I have been reading about the new management buzzwords around Yes Attitude and for the longest time I really couldn't see any difference between the "Yes Attitude" and what we used to call a "can-do" attitude in the old days. Whether you have a good day or bad all depends on your attitude we would say. But then I read Guy Kawasaki's blog on the topic and decided I needed to give it one more try.

I did a test - but instead of using a work situation I tried it with my 4 year old grandson. Our disagreements usually center around meals - his standard response when offered food is "I'm not hungry" and a scoot to the opposite side of the room and I generally scoot after him with little success at least as measured by amount of food consumed. So this time I said Yes - ok. lets do something else. The difference was not just saying it while having a hidden agenda of getting him to eat later (this kid has a sixth sense you wouldn't believe). I did need to bring up the topic later again but I would say the yes attitude, i.e. delay the negotiation till the recipient is in a different frame of mind versus the can-do attitude which is lets get it done now since its a "win-win" delivered a better result.

So yeah, I decided a "Yes attitude" is different - its about aligning people; the can-do is about aligning the job at hand. What do you think?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Technology and Education: The Good and the Good

Sometimes good things happen in twos.
First, Co-hosted by MediaX and Pratham, we successfully launched the first in a series of vibrant conversations with industry change-makers and social pioneers on "Technology and Education: Creating Innovative Ways to Learn".

Second, my book chapter
Digital Provide: Education Beyond Borders published in 2011 IGI Global title, “Streaming Media Delivery in Higher Education“, was recently chosen for indexing in the Thomson Reuters Book Citation Index - i.e somebody thinks its great research and worth reading!. Here is the abstract below:

In the last ten years, the world has witnessed immense advances in media and Internet technologies. Through examination of the use of social media, virtual collaboration platforms, and live streamed access to images, graphics, and video, this chapter offers a new approach to education which calls for leaders to use technology to inform and connect teachers, students, and the community. Similar to the changes in the entertainment industry, educational institutions can adopt an interactive, collaborative, and socially aware model of knowledge creation to engage more students and encourage innovation in issues of global scope. The value of making this change is examined through curricula that stress multidisciplinary projects and provide hands on experiential learning. Lacking the market forces of the entertainment industry, being primarily supported by public funds, education institutions face more legal, political and business model barriers. However, the benefits of digital media so far outweigh the risks that the next decade will see the emergence of learning environments that provide as much of a quantum leap in pedagogy as did the advent of the printing press more than five hundred years ago. Examples of the emotional appeal of digital media combined with the relatively low cost of scaling with the Internet are provided as impetus to overcome resistance to change in creating new institutions of learning.

Monday, April 8, 2013

TIE Women's Forum- May 18, 2013

Get your views heard! Do you think technology is helping or hurting education? TiE Silicon Valley is holding a Women's Forum on May 18 and my topic is Education and Technology: Bridging the Gap. I want to know what you think - email me, comment on this blog or take a poll. In my experience more women are interested in quality education than men, yet technology use in schools lags other industries. Whether it is personal or business women can make a huge impact in this field. - I will update this blog with the results of this survey- stay tuned!

Friday, January 4, 2013

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Winter in Union Square: Cashmere History and Tips from Pashma :  link Business Improvement District, BID Blog, Union Square
Jacquard Scarf from Pashma
Are you keeping warm in cashmere this winter? The cashmere experts from Pashma want to give you some fun info and handy pointers on how to take care of your cashmere.
**Guest Blog Post by The team from Pashma on Maiden Ln.
Delicate, beautiful, luxurious cashmere is what we specialize in at Pashma, so we thought we’d share a little bit of our knowledge on this highly prized fabric with you this week. It’s a great way to keep warm and stylish during the winter months! Cashmere’s story begins in the harsh yet serene land of Ladakh in Kashmir. The Pashm goat yields the finest fiber which is gathered by combing during the molting period in the spring.
Cashmere has been made for 1000’s of years. In medieval times, European traders found a ready market for their luxury goods in India while the splendor of the Raj influenced western ideas of art, luxury and style.  Because of their fabulous wealth, the Indian princely families had the means to possess anything they fancied. With time, western brands started integrating Indian art and style into their designs.  Pashma was born with a vision to cement a place for Indian textile art forms in the global luxury sphere. Taking inspiration from the weaving traditions of India and the extraordinarily opulent lifestyle of Indian Royalty, our love affair with cashmere commenced.
All of Pashma’s products are made in our own unique workshops that are a great example of modern manufacturing technology coexisting with primitive art forms. Spinning systems from Biella sit alongside hand-looms while digital printing machines exist alongside some intricately hand-blocked wood blocks that realize some of the most exquisite lithographs. The classic Jacquard pattern has its origins in the Jamawar shawls and blankets favored by the royals of Kashmir. Pashma has recently released a limited edition all cashmere Jamawar wrap – a Jacquard weave collection where each piece is unique and hand crafted. Unbelievably soft, warm yet light, we’re excited to continue this tradition.
Unlike other fabrics, you can’t just throw cashmere in the wash – it needs special attention. You can dry clean it, but it’s better to hand wash. Here’s what to do:
1. Use gentle baby shampoo, no harsh soaps. You can even use baby conditioner to restore pH after washing.
2. Gently agitate your garment in cool or lukewarm water - do not twist or wring it out! Rinse by dipping your garment in cool soap-free water a few times.
3. Pat yur garment dry and spread flat preferably on a netted surface for even airing.
4. Make sure to be extra careful around foods – especially acidic or fatty foods. If you do happen to have a little food accident, wash your cashmere immediately using this technique.
Pashma is a luxury brand from India that is inspired by arts and crafts from around the world. It constantly flirts with the boundaries between fashion and wearable art. We are located at 29 Maiden Ln. For more info, visit us online at www.pashma.com or call (415) 738-8806.
Post by Neerja Raman: Neerja is a retired technology executive and author who currently writes the blog “From Good to Gold” on business ventures that deliver social as well as environmental benefit. Ms. Raman is at Stanford as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar. She is co-owner of Pashma, Maiden Lane and is fascinated by new opportunities at the intersection of art, technology and sustainability.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Burning Platform: Education- Business or Social?

Its so good to see one of my predictions coming to pass. You know what they say - if you are building glass houses be prepared to chew glass? Well I have been chewing glass for a while. So I was thrilled to read the article "Cable TV's Discovery enters classrooms with digital textbooks" in San Jose Mercury, Aug 21, 2012, by B. Barnes and A.Chozick. If it is finally making a headline in print media, page 1 even, Business section, it must be true. "Educational content is core to our DNA, and we're unencumbered - unlike traditional book publishers, we're not defending a dying business" they quote David Zaslav, strategist, Discovery Communications.

I have been predicting for a while that it is the media businesses not print publishers that will enable the transformation. But the problem, why this transformation is slow to the point of not happening, is that the spending on books, while huge, is a fraction of an industry that is publicly funded.

Change is often inspired using the image of a burning platform: better risk jumping off (into the unknown) than stay standing (where death is certain) on a platform on fire. High cost and limited reach are burning platforms for educational institutions. Conventional K-12 textbooks are a $3 billion industry with additional $4 billion in teacher guides. Big $$s you say, but taxpayers, fund the enormous education industry not markets. Converting personal risk into economic risk can work in the private sector where markets are quick to react but in publicly funded endeavors, like Education, where market factors play a subordinate role, for established businesses, the burning platform doesn't work - the image is closer to that of a frog in a pot of water that is slowly heated: the frog does not or doesn't want to, see the danger till it is too late and you know what happens then. Digital technology addresses both issues - cost and reach and it has transformed television, film-making and even print media. Yet change has been lagging in education. Maybe that is about to change.
(Excerpted from: Digital Provide: Education Beyond Borders by Neerja Raman, in book Streaming Media Delivery in Higher Education: Methods and Outcomes by C. Wankel, J. Sibley Law, IGI lobal 2011) 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Brick-And-Mortar meets Bits-And-Bytes

Good news for small business owners everywhere, local boutiques like mine (Pashma) and mega shopping districts like Union Square in SFO which rely on real people with real feet that wander around, shop, eat, laugh and play to create ambiance and a festive atmosphere.

Amidst all the hype around the benefits of e-retail, Bonobos, so far only an online clothing retailer, recently announced a partnership with Nordstrom, embracing the brick-and-mortar selling model. 

Nothing replaces touch and feel when it comes to the joy of shopping and this announcement is a sign of times to come; back-to-the-future you might say. Change often generates a mentality of replacement - video will replace movies in theaters, online ads will replace paper advertising or e-selling will replace brick-and-mortar. 

Well not so fast! To quote Mark Twain, "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated".