Friday, April 27, 2007

Smile. Be Consice. No "stuff"

Yesterday I had another one of those management communication workshops where we do some communication activity on camera and then watch ourselves, get feedback and then do it for a second time.

What did was the main feedback i got this time? I need to smile more, be more concise, have a more upright posture, and stop saying "stuff".

When i came back I watched the videos from my two previous workshops. I felt i had done a wrose job in the later one! May be i am becoming more self conscious trying to change my style. Or may be it is just the mood.

Does Globalization hurt the poor?

That was the main question behind our Macro Economics class today. The direct take away was that in the short term poor countries benefit from globalization.

This result is based on the notion of comparative advantage. If the poor country is twice as productive producing product A relative to B, but rich country is three times as productive producing product A relative to B, then the poor country should produce B and rich country should produce A. They both end up with greater output and hence are better off.

However if the growth rate of productivity of A is higher than growth rate of productivity of B then the poor country is worse off on the long term and ends up slowing the growth rate of their potential output.

So the key thing is what is the level of technology involved in the jobs of poor countries relative to rich ones. If poor countries are getting more into relatively low technology jobs the gap will increase and globalization might slow their economic growth.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Islam & Peace

Does Islam promote peace? As a Muslim, my instant response is, "of course". But as evident by the 3 ex-terrorists talk at Stanford a few weeks ago some people might have a different response. Can i defend my claim? My instant response will be, "of course".

But the truth is i
can't. At least not through a solid argument. If you are a statistician you know from hypothesis testing that it matters a lot how you frame your test - what's your null hypothesis.

If you are a social scientists you r familiar with confirmation bias which makes you unconsciously bend evidence to reach the desired conclusion.
Both of these effects are in play when a Muslim tries to answer the question whether or not Islam promotes peace.

What does it take for a Muslim to get rid of these biases and objectively answer the question? To be open to either of the two conclusions, not to take a defensive position, and to be prepared to reach the conclusion that Islam is a non peaceful religion, even if you initially believe it is a peaceful one.


Too much care. Too much trust. Too much love

[Update 04/25]
Inappropriate Care. Misplaced Trust. Undeserved Love

[Update 04/26]
Thinking that someone will treat u different that they treat others not knowing that one day you will be others.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Competitive Tennis! Ohh I almost forgot.

It has been more than 10 years since i played a competitive tennis match. Here i am doing it again. But this time playing for Stanford GSB in the C4C competitions.

This is far as the good news go. I lost in a mixed doubles game to a couple from UC Berkely. The team won this match overall though. It is true that I then won another mixed game against a couple from pepperdine, but that was not an unofficial one.

I couldn't play the final match because first i was so tired after those two matches. Second i didn't want to be responsible for losing any more matches especially that the team had many other players.

One thing i decided after this game is that i want to get back in shape.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Trials of Henry Kissinger

To most people in the middle east, Henry Kissinger is best known for being the man behind the end of the Egyptian Israeli 1973 war. For me, this - accompanied by his deep and confident voice - attracted my attention whenever he's interviewed on international diplomacy.

Using the amazing stumblevideo, i stumbled upon an interesting documentary titled "The trials of Henry Kissinger". The documentary criticizes Kissinger's diplomacy and accuses him of war crimes in Vietnam, Cambodia, Timor, and Chile. The documentary was featured and probably broadcasted on BBC four.

One of its main themes is how Kissinger secretly orchestrated unauthorized US involvement in different wars and covert activities against undesirable regimes. Seymour Hirsh comments , "The dark side of Henry Kissinger is so dark".

The documentary then eludes to US not joining the international criminal court to avoid having it's formal officials stand in front of it. Kissinger comments, "the average person thinks that morality can be applied as directly to the conduct of states to each other as it can to human relations, that is not always the case because sometimes statesmen have to chose among evils"

Friday, April 20, 2007

Summer @ Yahoo!

This week i accepted my Yahoo! internship. I will be joining the connected life team and will work on mobile marketing. Although i had a big dilemma about what to do for the summer, i am quite comfortable with this decision.

I am excited about the function, the product, and the people. It's great to work in marketing as this is what i wanted when i started my job search. I am also excited about working on mobile because i always felt I need to know more about this booming area. As for people, i always felt closest to Yahoo!'s culture than other big companies.

The internship will last for 10 to 12 weeks. I am still thinking of doing a GMIX for 4 weeks but it might not be possible if I have to go back to Egypt for a couple of weeks.

Stanford gets me to volunteer for charity

After 7 months of being surrounded by so many charitable activities, yesterday I volunteered at the Special Olympics Tennis Clinic. This is the first time I do such an activity.

People can be innovative even in Charity. The primary reasons that got me to do that was completing my hours for the Challenge for Charity (C4C) weekend. The C4C is basically a competition between west coast MBA programs to volunteer and raise money for Special Olympics. It ends by a fun weekend where the schools have various sports competitions.

It was a valuable experience. It was good to leave my own world for a while and peek into another world. Taking care of such disabled kids must be a huge challenge for their parents. It must embody huge emotional stress. It is difficult to know how the kids themselves feel.

Finally, it was also nice to join other gsber's in a different context other than class or typical socializing gatherings. They were great in trying to make the kids have a nice time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Three ex-Terrorists Attack Islam @ Stanford

It was a full house at Kresge Auditorium with relatively high security measures surrounding the place. The event was publicized as a talk by three ex-terrorists who presumably had turned into peace activists. The fact was that it was more of three ex-muslims for some reason waving a huge attack on Islam and the Muslim world. The three speakers were Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem, and Zak Anani. Shoebat was the most eloquent of the three and thats probably why he's the one attracting media attention.

The three of them portray Islam as non peaceful religion that promotes violence and hatred towards Christians and Jews. They claim that Islam is a huge threat to the US. They say that there is no moderate Islam and mocked professors who make a distinction between Islam the religion and Islamic fundamentalists.

As a muslim, i saw how they manipulated Quran or Hadith to substantiate their arguments. But a non Muslim - the majority of the audience - can hardly notice that. They were focusing on specfic versus of Quran or Hadith either out of context, inaccurately, or in isolation from the whole text. Any scholar knows that the basis for Share'a (Islamic law) is to look at Quran and Hadith within context and in their totality.

Considering the one sided nature of the talk and a relatively uninformed audience it was clear how what they said appealed to the majority who stood up to applaud to them as each of them finished his piece.

Among others, I tried to use the Q&A to express as a muslim from Egypt how i find no ground to their claims. However neither the seconds we had to pose the question nor the sophistication of our background could counter their negative effect.

I was dissapointed to c such a hostile monologue take place a Stanford. I would have been happier if I had seed a dialog that fostered understanding rather than ignited hatred.

Most important, it made me think how sophisticated one should be to stand to such misleading claims and/or how active should one be in making sure the right views of Islam get their chance to be expressed.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Never Lose Hope. God is the most Forgiving and the most Merciful

In these two verses of the Qur'an from Sorat Al-Zumor God says "tell my worshipers who have transgressed against their souls, despair not of the mercy of Allah. God forgives all sins. God is the forgiving and the merciful. Turn to your Lord repentant, and surrender to Him, before there come unto you the doom, when ye cannot be helped."

I run into these verses in a time i needed them most. I am most grateful to Allah.

PS: I am neither a scholar nor a professional translator. The above is my own interpretation of these two verses.

Downward Spiral

: You're alone. :: Are u? : At least in this. :: Are u? ....What's wrong? : I don't know. Or do I??? Somethings are bad. But i am making it worse. :: Why? : I don't know. I find myself doing wrong things that make me feel worse about myself. :: What kind of things? : Things that keep me away from God and take away from my self respect. Does this make any sense? or is it just signs of pathetic weakness? :: And u need to be as close to God as u can be at these moments.
: I need this more than anything else. But i hate to keep getting in this cycle - close, distance, close ...
:: Try to stay close then. Staying distant isn't an option.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Will Endeavor Bring Entrepreneurship to Egypt?

Endeavor is one of the leading companies that focus on cultivating entrepreneurship in developing countries. Today Co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg talked at the GSB.

According to Linda, Endeavor seeks out countries where entrepreneurship is not part of the culture and tries to change that. Key to this is local buy-in from high profile investors and consultancy firms. The first step is to form a network of these investors and firms which would typically form endeavor's local board of directors. The next step would be to seek entrepreneurs who have potential for having a high impact - generating revenue and job opportunnities. Then they give them professional advice and give them access to the high level network they have formed to seek capital or further advice.

The most interesting aspect of all this is that they are coming to Egypt by the end of this year. I knew from Linda that this was lead by Naguib Sawiris. Are you surprised? I am not. Time after time, the Sawiris family is proving they bring great value to the country, not only by the impact their businesses has on the economy, but also through directly investing in development efforts.

I'll try to get in contact with the person who is in charge of Endeavor come in to Egypt. Sounds Interesting!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Greedy me. Missed the 3.

Today i wanted to attend three very interesting events.

First, there was a panel at the GSB of members from VC firms Sand Hill Angels, Charles River Ventures, and August Capital. It was about seed financing and whether to go to angels, VC, or both.

Second, there was a talk08 by Nir Ayal - one of my classmates - about his clean energy startup. I wanted to know more about the direction towards alternative energy.

Finally, there was a talk on campus by a guy called Mohsin Hamid. He is a pakastani Author. He was going to talk about his book "The Reluctant Fundamentalist". I always find it interesting to attend such talks and see people's perspective about these topics in the US.

I had them in my schedule but i attended non of them. I ended up doing grocery shopping instead.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Fortunes We Might Not Notice

Only today i realized how great it is to be at this BIG sporting club.

When i was in Alexandria, I used to love going to ASC - the biggest sporting club there - especially when it wasn't crowded. However, not being a paying member held me from fully enjoying it. I didn't feel ownership. And lack of ownership means lack of belonging. It is ironic that this is the case despite the fact that I spent most of my childhood and teenage year at ASC.

Today the weather was beautiful, so i decide to go for a workout. I went to the
Arrillaga Sports Center(above), a big fitness center. I ran for ten minutes on the treadmill and then did some chest and biceps workouts. After i finished the gym, i thought of running some more outdoors. The sun was beautiful. I went to the track field were there were very few people. I took off my shirt to enjoy this sun. I ran for 20 minutes and then headed home. Ooh! I didn't go home. I was home... I was at Stanford.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I am too Slow

It's 10:30 pm and i've been working for 3 hours now. All i did is read a 12-page class note and less than half a case on Southwest for an HR case. I still have to read two more papers for this HR class and 2 chapters and a case for the accounting class for tomorrow.

I was hoping to do some job search work and to work on the facebook case, but that was just wishful thinking :(

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sorry Everyone

Two of the saddest days. I was cruel, i was mean. I felt deceived and betrayed. Smashed a door. Shattered hope. Shouted out loud and ended with a cry.
What died probably was never alive. Tomorrow people will continue to shine.
Sorry everyone. Forgive me God.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

3 Books I want to read

Start by Trust. Peace would Follow. Or Else?

I think at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict is huge mis-trust. To overcome this, someone must show considerable good will. I propose that the Arabs take the lead by doing the following:

Give Israel all the
recognition in accordance to UN resolutions, treat Israel as a welcomed member of the middle east, and normalize all relations - diplomatic, economic, and social.

Require that Israel abides to
all UN resolutions within a period of 10 years with specific well defined milestones. If Israel doesn't meet a milestone, revert some aspect of the benefits provided earlier.

This should be designed in a way that if Israel doesn't completely comply with UN resolutions, the Arab's should end up
terminating all relations with it and publicly declaring it as their enemy.

This might seem
crazy. It is also not easy to implement. It requires that the Arab countries remain (1) strong and (2) united for a period of time.

2 Smart Men Debating American Imperialism in 1969

This is a 1969 debate between Noam Chomsky and William F. Buckley around US imperialism. Regardless which side u take both u'll find it interesting and insightful.