Essays


“The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.” ― Mark Twain

Data Portraits

Learning the art of interactive data-vis “The purpose of visualization is insight, not pictures.” ― Ben Shneiderman When I want to show a person, I take a picture or try to draw a portrait of them. And I have many ways...

29 November 2016


Dancing Soul

Finding the moments to let go. “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” ― Aldous Huxley, It is a cold mountain night and it has just hailed furiously. I have been in a dark and quite mood for most of the day,...

14 May 2016


On Kindness

My endeavour to rediscover kindness. “I’d say as a goal in life, you could do (no) worse than, try to be kinder… What I regret most in life are failures of kindness.” ― George Saunders In the early 1990s, I was living in Lucknow and going...

05 February 2016


Art and Code

How to learn the djembe visually. I have been learning the djembe with my friend Ashok Kumar for the last few years. I have always wondered whether we could learn the djembe not only by playing it and by listening to it, but also seeing it visually. So...

25 October 2015


Tessaract & Visualising beyond 3D

How do you visualise data beyond bars and lines? Even though exploring data visually is an integral part of the data analytic pipeline, we struggle to do so once the number of dimensions go beyond three. I get a lot of questions on...

24 July 2015


The Journey Within

Taking a trip to somewhere. “Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.” - Rumi I have always wanted to travel with no fixed agenda and...

05 February 2015


Drinking Chai and Letting Go

Of possessions, priorities, people and philosophies. “Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.” - Thich Nhat Hanh My...

14 November 2014


War Stories and Killer Charts

How to make change happen? Working as a strategy consultant in the last decade, one of the toughest question I had to answer when meeting friends and family was to explain to them ‘what do I really do?’. Without getting lost in the jargon, the best answer I could...

06 November 2014


Living Vicariously

Thinking in prose and writing in verse. I have always claimed to be a person who understands prose better than verse. Ramya on the other hand is a poet (and you can read her poetry at sharingmypoems.blogspot.in). I have always struggled to grok...

30 October 2014


The Storytelling Art

What is a story and how to tell it? “There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for...

27 October 2014


Wicked Problems and Many Truths

Three things required to work on them. I spent a large part of my working life as a management consultant and learned the hard way that most problems are ’wicked in nature’. The client would have come with a business problem or challenge which is not well defined, fuzzy...

05 October 2014


Abstractions matter

But learn to see the assumptions within them. My earliest recollection of looking at the traditional world map has been that Greenland is such a big island. And that Denmark is lucky to own such a big island because it always used to...

04 October 2014


Teaching Data Visualisation

See - Show - Tell - Engage. I have had the opportunity to teach numerous sessions as a guest faculty at IIM Bangalore over the last three years. Most of them have centered on storytelling, analytics and data visualization. Last week, I had an...

15 December 2013


Animated Storytelling

Doing an RSA Animate. I am a big fan of the RSA Animate talks. The first one I saw was about three years ago on Changing Education Paradigms by Sir Ken Robinson. Not only is Ken a very powerful speaker but also this edited version of his...

05 December 2013


Design Literacy is a Must

Data literacy is not enough alone. Last Friday, I attended ‘The Storytelling with Data Forum’ organised by Analytics Quotient in Bangalore. I enjoyed listening to all the four panelist that shared their insights in the forum, but I found Michael Dillon from Coca Cola very compelling. Not only...

17 September 2013


Bring the Right Brain @ Work

Building the skills to see, show and tell. There are three key ingredients required for telling visual stories with data. See the data: Can we see the patterns, the deltas and the outliers in the data? Show the visual: Can we show it in a way that turns...

17 September 2013


Against Conventional Wisdom

Deconstructing a talk. You gotta love the title of the talk. Vinod Khosla’s talk in Bangalore was positioned as a contrarian viewpoint on startups, creativity and entrepreneurship. Vinod was definitely sage like in his talk - sharing war-stories from his portfolio companies and giving a perspective on his...

05 September 2013


Creating Great Design

Empathy, Focus, Simplicity and Time. The Tabasco bottle has a great iconic design. It is great not only because of how it looks and feels, but also because of how it all works together. There is a harmony and coherence between the size of the bottle...

25 August 2013


Be a Gardner, Be a Sculptor

Act with Detached Engagement. Be a gardner. Sow a hundred seeds out there. Seeds of ideas (or relationships). These seeds are delicate. They need all my help to take roots. Nurturing them requires constant action and engagement. I can not leave them alone and let them...

25 August 2013


Play your own Rhythm

Why we all need to learn to listen? That’s my rhythm. Up there in the photo is the tablature of my rhythm. If you wake me up at 0300 (in the night) and ask me to pick up my djembe and play something — this is the rhythm...

14 August 2013


Subtraction can be Mindful

Allowing the (white or black) spaces in life to exist. I teach how to tell visual stories with data. One of the examples I use to illustrate the visual design principles is the picture above of a matrix of numbers....

09 August 2013


The Gutenberg Story

“How the book got its letters.” This was my first original story, which I created last year for a storytelling session. Original to the extent that the composition is mine, but the research is courtesy the excellent kindle single by Jeff Jarvis - Gutenberg the Geek. I enjoyed...

23 July 2013


Visual Sketching

First steps in sketchnoting. I have always wanted to combine the cognitive skill of listening with the visual skill of sketching. Below is my attempt to combine the two, while attending The Fifth Elephant, 2013 I believe there is a different kind of learning - when you are...

13 July 2013


Think Stories, not Slides

Thoughts on public speaking. Narrative Stories, not Bullet Slides. Try to think in prose, not in bullet points. Stories have characters, arcs, and emotions. Add them to my story. Think about my whole journey, and not only the outcome - and I...

25 June 2013


My Seven Words

Words to live by. Experiment. Have a bias for action. Learn things by doing them. Spend time reading, researching, reviewing things but aim to apply it quickly as an experiment in my own life. Avoid procrastination - aiming for perfection...

01 June 2013


Storytelling for Geeks

Thoughts on speaking. Last week, I participated and spoke at the big data conference organised in Bangalore by HasGeek called The Fifth Elephant. I really liked the overall concept of the big data conference and the event was extremely well-managed. It was one...

30 July 2012