Training Engineering Graduates: Encourage Giving

“The employees of Borders Company suddenly showed the most significant increase in their commitment to Borders. The employees were given an opportunity to contribute to an employee-beneficiary fund, which was created to help the employees in their need. Through interviews and questionnaires, it is revealed that the increase in employees’ commitment is the result of their gratitude towards the company for giving them the opportunity to affirm a valued aspect of their identities, thus they developed stronger affective commitment to the company.”

Adam Grant, a professor of organizational psychology, has given the above example in his book “Give and Take” to show benefits of prosocial behavior in corporate American world. According to Grant “The greatest untapped source of motivation is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other people’s lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.” Other than passion, hard work, talent and luck Grant introduced a new trait for achieving success. He argues that altruistic giving is the factor that increases the productivity of an individual. Grant mentioned three kinds of people i.e. takers, matchers and givers. He explains that “takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.” By altruistic giving you can feel good about your work and get more of it done. And in addition you can enjoy the appreciation. This will motivate you to do more. On the other hand takers exploit every situation for their advantage. Therefore, they loss their credibility and failed to achieve success in long run.

But the “giving” is conditioned by strategy. Grant says, “The most successful givers are those who rate high in concern for others but also in self-interest. And they are strategic in their giving — they give to other givers and matchers, so that their work has the maximum desired effect; they are cautious about giving to takers; they give in ways that reinforce their social ties; and they consolidate their giving into chunks, so that the impact is intense enough to be gratifying.”

Besides being an asset of a successful personality, giving gives satisfaction and pleasure. It works as a motivating agent and helps in accomplishing the task successfully.

Thus in program HiSpark, we try to build a cooperative atmosphere and encourage people to be ready to help others as far as possible. To know more, visit

Author: Neha Vashishtha, Ph.d in Linguistics. She can be reached at

Sow well to Harvest Well: A Primer on Talent Development Program of German Football

In EURO 2000, defending champion Germany crashed out of the tournament in first round with just one goal from 3 games. This performance wasn’t rare but a follow-up of their humiliating 3-0 thrashing by first-timers Croatians, such loss not felt by any German team since 1954.

Currently, in 2014 FIFA World Cup, Germany is set to play its third consecutive semi-final, topping their group on way to semi-finals. In FIFA WC 2010 and EURO 2013 German team finished third. In 2013, for the first time, an all-German final was played between Bayern Munich, who lost 2012 final to Chelsea, and Borussia Dortmund, for UEFA Champions League.

During these 14 years things changed, fundamentally in German football to take them from dying football nation to a football powerhouse, especially of young talents. At EURO 2012, Germany had 9 players, younger than 23, compared to 1 in EURO 2000.

After their exit from EURO 2000, Germany changed its football management fundamentally. With a new football board, DFB, focus changed completely to talent development at younger levels, led by high number of professional coaches. Every club playing in Bundesliga, Germany’s football league, division 1 and 2 needs to maintain a youth academy audited regularly by DFB. Investment in youth programs, between 2002 & 2010 nearly doubled from 47.85 million euros to 85.70 million euros. Over the same period, average age of players in Bundesliga decreased from 27.09 to 25.77, with more than 50% players coming from youth academies.

Apart from investment, young players need opportunity to play at competitive level. Not only in National team, but also at club levels, younger players are given chances to play at highest level of competition. In an interview Frank Wormuth, Head Coach of Germany U20 National team, stressed on the philosophy “sow well, harvest well”. In his opinion, younger players should be given opportunity to play at competitive level along with training with senior teams. Besides football training, all players under 17 years go through mandatory schooling, 35 hours per week, so that those who can’t make it to professional football can pursue higher education and explore other avenues.

Developing younger talent and giving them opportunity to excel requires large population as an input. The recruitment process must have a wider reach to find prospective talent from a larger pool. Dr. Reinhard Rauball, President of the League Association, in a 2011 report stressed on the seriousness of player education by the selection of qualified management staff which can provide training to thousands of children across hundreds of schools. FA, England’s football association, in its review of Germany’s youth program success, identified providing increased opportunity to all German players as a significant factor.

This investment, seeds of which were sown in 2000, is reaping big rewards for not only Germany’s national football team but also for their football league, that has become Europe’s most profitable football league in 2012-13, with ever increasing turnovers. This profitability stems from continuous stream of home-grown talent that costs much less, as German clubs spend much less on player’s salary compared to European counterparts. Clearly, this is a smart investment with wider benefits accrued to every stakeholder including football fans.

Author: Gaurav Tiwari, Program Owner, HiSpark (

Training Engineering Graduates: Focus on Empathy

In today’s competitive world where staying ahead or having an early lead often separates winners and losers, where competitiveness is not absolute but relative, where your skills depends on quartile you belong to, does empathy, as a skill, has relevance? Is it required for success in career?

Psychologist Daniel Goleman explains that empathy is “understanding, feeling and helping other with their emotions ”. But how does understanding others emotions helps?

Empathy is important for this very reason that it helps us to understand others better. Most of us have family, colleagues at office, neighbors with whom we share civic amenities and as psychologist Dan Ariley mentions, we take actions because of our emotions. Empathy gives us advantage in variety of fields like building better relations with co-workers, adapting to workplace with people from diverse background and gender, gaining edge in sales roles and in understanding customers better. As explained here, here & here, empathy can provide strategic advantages to business. As this article by design pioneer company, IDEO, outlines, incorporating empathy in design can deliver wider benefits to both companies and consumers.

Empathy skills can be improved as explained here. Developing good listening skills plays an important role in improving empathy. Scientists have linked empathy with oxytocin, which can be released by a simple hug. Another study has suggested a link between reading literary fiction and empathy.

Easiest way to improve empathy is to bring people in a group and get them to talk to each other. Encourage them to understand other’s perspective. In a company, this should start at the early stages of training. We, in HiSpark, make students work in team when in college. For more, visit

Neha Vashishtha, Ph.d in Linguistics. She can be reached at
Gaurav Tiwari, Program Owner, HiSpark. He can be reached at

Hiring Graduates: Hire for honesty


When we interview a college graduate for a job opening, what are the essential qualities that we look for? As this article outlines, none of the top 10 hiring qualities directly relates to honesty. Yet, losses due to employee theft, a direct consequence of dishonesty, are staggering. As per the report by The Association by Certified Fraud Examiners, a typical organization losses 5% revenues to fraud each year. JP Morgan had to suffer a loss of 7 billion including regulatory penalties and losses because of employee frauds. Historically, companies have even gone bankrupt because of employee fraud.

As the leading psychologist Dan Ariely, explains that even though dishonesty is very common at companies, big cheaters are still not common. In his research, interacting with many big cheaters, he found a clear pattern that most of them were cases of slippery slopes. In slippery slopes, we start with doing small acts of dishonesty, often out of desperation or under pressure. Slowly, we make such small acts part of our working model and this gradually leads us to big acts of cheating or stealing. Such small acts of dishonesty often get accepted within an organization and they set up the ground for future deterioration and decline. For example, employees who deliberately stay late to avail cab drop and night dinners often get praised for their hard work. Another example is employees not applying for leaves even though they are not coming to office as compensation for extra hours of work.

Even though companies suffer huge losses because of individual acts of dishonesty, environment plays an important role. As Wharton psychologist, Adam Grant explains that we genealogical inheritance accounts for 50% of our values and this leaves a wide scope for improvements by environment. Dan Ariel, also finds that environmental influences significantly effects acts of honesty or dishonesty. Entrepreneur & fellow at Stanford University, Vivek Wadhwa shares his own experiences of starting and sustaining multiple successful companies following the strong ethical values and importance of company culture in building an ethical and successful company.

In setting up the culture of honesty, allowing colleagues to speak up, even for their mistakes and praising them for owning mistakes has a big impact. Interestingly, as this article tells, even start-ups are opening up about their difficulties instead of posing a facade of a successful startup. Consistently communicating the importance of honesty and its virtues stimulates building an ethical environment.

In an ancient Chinese story a king chose his successor based on seed test. He gave burnt seeds and asked everyone to put in effort to grow a plant from these seeds, and come back after few months. Many retuned with beautiful plants but the only guy who returned with an empty pot, as plants can’t grow from burnt seeds, was rewarded and announced as the next king. In practice, we also need to recognize and reward honesty at the earliest stage of hiring. Asking simple questions about honesty can lead us to have honest employees who can build and maintain a strong foundation.

In HiSpark, we try to motivate the students to be open and forthcoming in communication, allow them to do mistakes and appreciate when they own their mistakes. We communicate incessantly about importance of honesty and advantages of working with honest and ethical colleagues. To know more, please visit

Neha Vashishtha, Ph.d in Linguistics. She can be reached at
Gaurav Tiwari, Program Owner, HiSpark. He can be reached at

Intensifying Competition for Talent in Mobile Technology

Matt Yglesias, blogger on economics & business, in his recent post outlines the changing trends in technology and media. Current trends clearly point towards the domination of mobile phones over other mediums for user engagement. Far larger number of users now use mobile phones for services that previously, they used to consume over web or TV.

In another report, Boston Consulting Group suggests that industries rely more on software today than ever. And with this increased reliance, the need to work with the right talent is much more pertinent. Supply vs Demand of Employees in Technology Industry

It is quiet clear that demand for talent specializing in mobile application development is going to increase with time, and with this the vagaries of hiring the right talent. Considering the low infrastructure requirements for mobile application development and growing presence of free online courses, engaging early with college graduates may be a viable solution, especially for IT services companies.

Training Engineering Graduates: Improve team bonding by embracing vulnerability




In an experiment, a group of students were divided into 2 sets. Each set was given a set of questions to ask each other. One group was given factual questions and other was given questions that required them to open up to each other. The final question of this second set was, “Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find the most disturbing?”

After 45 minutes, researcher asked the participants about the closeness they felt for other members in their group. People belonging to the group that asked personal questions, felt much closer to each other and many of these students formed lasting relationships with each other.


According to Brene Brown,a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, as well as the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling book, our ability to be vulnerable requires courage and forms the basis for our connection with others, a connection that is critical if we are to inspire others. Every human being has some aspect of his or her personality that they are afraid to reveal. The fear of rejection compels them to do so. In order to fit in society we numb our real selves and change according to the norms of our society. Brene Brown opines that this numbness kills the joy and connection that we are fully capable of and thus hinders our potential in establishing rapport among employees in a group activity.

“Vulnerability is not weakness. I define vulnerability as emotional risk, exposure and uncertainty. It fuels our daily lives. Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. To create is to make something that has never existed before. There’s nothing more vulnerable than that. Adaptability to change is all about vulnerability.”(Brene Brown, TEDtalk).

In HiSpark we encourage to adapt this vulnerability to enhance the leadership qualities and overall personality of our students. To know more, visit .

Neha Vashishtha, Ph.d in Linguistics. She can be
Gaurav Tiwari, Program Owner, HiSpark. He can be reached at

Training Engineering Graduates: Inculcating habits for Future Success

Richard St. John in his motivating TEDtalk lists down following 8 secrets of Success:

A deaf and blind girl astonished the world by conquering her adversity and rise as a symbol of courage and determination. It’s not a miracle but passion that acts behind the success of Helen Keller. Article lists down exercises to find your passion.

If we found fun in our work then the hard work doesn’t bother us. If we manage to engross fun in work then eventually it leads to success. In this article, Guy Kawasaki explains how adding joy can improve workplace.

Be Good or Perfect
By incorporating deep practice one can achieve excellence. And this mastery over the skill makes you successful. As Daniel Coyle in his famous book, The Talent code, mentions the result of deep practice in turning Brazil into the best soccer-playing nation.

Focus is the foundation on which you can create the building of success. It’s the clear sense of purpose that motivates you to proceed until the goal is achieved. As Alexander Graham Bell said “concentrate all your thought upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus”. Psychologist Dan Goleman argues that improving focus leads to excellence and outlines the steps to improve focus.

Push Yourself
Push yourself beyond your limit. That is the fifth key to success. According to Richard St. John, “you gotta push through shyness and self-doubt.” This pushing can be of two kinds external i.e. motivation that comes from outside and internal that is motivation from inside. In this HBR article, Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, explains that testing our limits will make us better at whatever we are doing.

Service is another asset that results in success. Adam Grant, Psychologist and Professor at Wharton Business School, explains how helping others improves our chances of success.

Bill Gates claims that his company at first was only an idea. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of bestseller novel ‘Eat, Pray & Love’, in this inspiring Ted talk, shares the idea that all of us “have” a genius.

“You gotta persist through failure. You gotta persist through crap! Which of course means “criticism, rejection, assholes and pressure.”(Richard St. John). Surviving through hardships and difficulties, and persisting in a given task leads to successful accomplishment.

At HiSpark program, we strive hard to build such an environment that helps engineering graduates march towards career success. To know more about the program, visit

Neha Vashishtha, Ph.d in Linguistics. She can be reached
Gaurav Tiwari, Program Owner, HiSpark. He can be reached at

Training Engineering Graduates: Encourage Deliberate Practice

In a zen story, once a small boy was playing near the river when he saw an old man with a long beard seated in the sand. The boy moved closer and watched as the old man drew a perfect circle into the sand.

“Hey, old man, how did you draw such a perfect circle?” asked the boy.
The old man looked at the boy and said, “I don’t know, I just tried, and tried again…here, you try.”
The old man handed the stick to the boy and walked away. The boy began drawing circles in the sand. At first his circles came out too wide, or too long, or too crooked. But as time went by the circles began to look better and better.
He kept trying and then, one bright morning, he drew a perfect circle into the sand. Then he heard a small voice behind him.
“Hey old man, how did you draw such a perfect circle?”

Deliberate practice, with a continuous feedback cycle that can be used to measure progress has transformed novices into geniuses.

Psychologist Anders Ericsson, in his research, summarized that the highest level of expert performance is displayed by individuals with more than 10 years of experience. The maximal level of performance is not attained automatically as function of extended experience but it can be increased even by highly experienced individuals as a result of deliberate effort to improve.

Malcolm Gladwell, NewYorker columnist & author of many bestsellers, argued in his article argues that as a society we overemphasize innate talent in geniuses. He cites example of Ben Fountain, Cezanne who achieved excellence late in their life. They spent years perfecting their art through continuous and deliberate practice.

When looked closely at the lives of different pioneers of their fields, the commonalities that emerge in their success pattern point towards early start and deliberate practice. Author & Journalist Geoffrey Colvin, narrates here, how painful and demanding practice and hard work is secret to success.

But, as explained in this article, deliberate practice also requires constantly performing challenging tasks under environment that fosters competitiveness and provides expert guidance.

In HiSpark program, engineering graduates in their final year, develop commercially viable applications, challenge themselves gradually in 3 separate phases of increasing complexity. They learn to achieve autonomy by picking tasks that are slightly more complex then their current skill set and are guided and helped all along by experiences professionals. To know more, visit

Authors: Neha Vashishtha, Ph.d in Linguistics. She can be reached
Gaurav Tiwari, Program Owner, HiSpark. He can be reached at