The Hunt – Part 5

The Wild Card…

I want to be a movie star.  What do I need to fulfil my dream?  A ton of things looks, youth, self-belief, intelligence, communication, passion, ambition, hard work, street smartness etc. But that’s not enough.  I also need some outside help contacts, godfather, family support, good luck, deep pockets etc.  Only when I have a reasonable balance of these attributes, does my dream have a good shot at gratification! 

Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it?  Except I have overlooked one tiny detail.  The core strength required to become a movie star is the ability to ACT!  Without this core domain expertise, all the prerequisites are meaningless.  And even if, somehow, my basic acting skills and supporting attributes land me a lucky break, my career will crumble unless I am able to add some versatility to my silver screen characters.  Without the continuous ‘depth/ width’ enrichment of my subject matter expertise, I may survive as an actor but will never achieve the ‘stardom’ I always dreamt of! 

To capture an unbiased perspective, I requested one of my oldest and closest friends, John Oberon, to pen down his observations on “The Hunt” blog series.  But before we proceed, let’s review the credentials of the contributor:

John Oberon

Who is John?  ‘VP Engineering’ – Mashery, now a subsidiary of Intel (2012-Present); ‘Director of Product Development’ – Intuit (2010-12); ‘Senior Director’ – Microsoft (1998-2012); ‘Director of Systems Engineering’ – IMSI (1993-98).  Education: BS Computer Science, California State University – Chico (1990-93).

Why is John so fond of Cybage?  In his words, “The biggest challenge for an organization is the perpetual balancing act between three main stakeholders: The Customer, The Employee, and The Shareholder.  Only the rarest of rare organizations is able to avoid an overly biased stand in favor of one of the above stakeholders and strike a seamless balance that accommodates each entity’s vested aspiration.  Cybage stands tall amongst such rare organizations.”

Why pick John here?  You see, Mr. Oberon is our wild-card musketeer ! Coming from a modest academic beginning, today John has left a trail of cutting-edge technology patents and is so successful that he no longer needs to work for money!   But it is not his ability to generate patents or wealth, rather his knack to look ‘beyond’ that makes him an authority to unveil the ‘universal’ secret of professional success.

Golfing with Deepak Nathani, Cybage COO

John Oberon:  In some ways I make my life more challenging. If my goal was simply to generate as much wealth as possible, and have no regard for anything else, then the goal, process, and journey would be straight-forward and the knowledge + luck equation would play itself out. What I found was that what I was looking for was more than just a means to an end, but rather the desire to excel in how I do things, what type of impact I will impress upon society, and the fortune of experiencing life with my friends and family. 

How does one balance art and science?  ‘Hard knowledge of data with soft understanding of an unbiased viewpoint!’ To me, this comes down to passion in everything one does, enjoying every moment as if all seemingly disparate elements of life are joined in a unique manner for the beholder to revel in. Passion is the key, but still it is just an ingredient to become the best in whatever we have cherry-picked for ourselves.

So, if a person washes bottles, do so with the same level of vigor as if one had to construct a linear optimization patent, while keeping in mind the end goal, that is to become  the planet’s finest ‘subject matter expert’ in the chosen area of strength. Remember, complacency equates to a slow death.  So, “Be passionate. Be paranoid. Be the best you can be.”

Profound thoughts indeed, I will encourage browsing them a couple of times to appreciate the context.  It was easier for me because I can ‘read’ John very well.  He is the coolest geek I know .  For instance, once he was over at my place for dinner when my wife, Ritu, complained about issues with our Apple TV.  The next hour saw John, with his shirt sleeves rolled-up, sorting out every signal-receiving gadget in our home, including synchronization of all of our smart phones with the TV set!  Then, more recently, I was having dinner with John and his lovely wife Melina in San Francisco (on Valentine’s evening!), when I casually mentioned a network issue with my smartphone.  I didn’t even notice at which point during the dinner John hijacked my phone, fidgeted around, fixed and optimized a lot more than the network issue!   Of course, there is no rocket-science here in John’s actions, but that’s not the point. The narration is merely to illustrate John’s immense fascination and deftness of the emerging technologies that are shaping the world around us.  And that’s what makes him a Rockstar of his chosen field!!

In the end, it boils down to an honest self-assessment—am I striving to become (within my known universe) the best ‘subject matter expert’ in the chosen area of my core strength?  The expertise can be slim or broad, vertical or horizontal!  For Navendu, it’s the ‘slim-horizontal’ of Marketing; for KRC, it’s the ‘slim-vertical’ of Aricent; for AK, it’s the ‘broad-vertical’ of Manufacturing; and for John, it’s the ‘board-horizontal’ of Technology.

Sure, the ‘fruits’ of our professional success may reside in the far-off destination we are pursuing.  But, interestingly, the ‘secret’ doesn’t lie in any distant horizon—rather it resides very close, within us – it’s our inner core strength that only we are aware of!   You see, the secret of professional success is only one, and it’s for each one of us to decide which one it is!

With that bold pointer, it’s time to close this blogathon.  But not before sharing a delightful picture of the winners at my home this Saturday night.

The “House” Winners: (from left): Deepa R, Aniruddha A, (me), Vinod B, DK Singh, Rakesh R

The one clearly ahead of the pack was Vinod Singh Bist (Hunt 2 & Hunt 3)! The other five fared reasonably well too (PB couldn’t make it to dinner).  Thank you folks, for an amazing evening!  Of course, I must also thank and congratulate all the commenters and readers.  After all, the entire concept of this blog is that we get to “choose” that one thing which works for us!  So, technically speaking, anybody who has decided his own secret formula and intends to master it with knowledge – is bang on!  As one of our commenters (PB) aptly summarized in the words of 3 Idiots’ Aamir Khan, “Kamyab nahi kaabil hone ke liye padho…. kamyabi jhak maarke pichhe ayegi”!

Original, Skills, Strength, Style


  1. Thanks for the Hospitality and Laying down the path to understand what we overlook most of the time “Our self”.

  2. Once again, a point well driven…a learning embossed so beautifully in our minds!
    I have come to understand why we have just one key ingredient in the recipe for professional success. It is our inner core strength, our inner self which has the immense potential to succeed. The other contributors and ingredients just help provide the right environment for us to grow and prosper.
    As rightfully said, only we are aware of it, but we tend to camouflage and misguide it with the various lucrative, uncomplicated, obvious pathways ahead of us which eventually fizzle out.
    I surely did miss out on the wonderful opportunity of gathering some more wisdom from you, which you have rightfully earned through your years of hard work and dedication. Hoping to make up for it sometime!

  3. Thanks for such a wonderful evening. I got to learn so many things with personal experiences of each individual.

  4. Thank you for the wonderful evening and hospitality. It was an evening laced with interesting and thought provoking conversations. John’s take on professional success is very interesting and you have aptly summed up the thoroughly enjoyable blog series. Indeed when you strive to be the best in your area of strength, there is an inherent confidence that is built. An environment that recognizes individuality and encourages innovation / talent (whether social, home, work) often leads to confident and successful individuals. Thanks once again, look forward to your next blog.

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The Hunt – Part 5 - Arun Nathani Blog