My first TED Fellow is a good friend and a man of distinction. Satyabrata Dam is the only Indian to have climbed Mt.Everest (twice) and reached North Pole and South Pole..not to mention that he’s climbed the highest peak in every continent in the World.
(Photo :Arun Nair)
The first time I heard about Satya was when I was scouting for great achievers to invite for Cerebrate, a FooCamp like event that brings achievers together. Rajesh Lalwani, a fellow social media practitioner recommenced Satya and I knew why. His profile was not only stupendous but added a completely different variety to the gang. Since the event, we’ve become good friends . He is a great conversationalist and a fun company to have.
And so here goes my set of questions to him as part of the TED Fellows project.
Reaching the two poles and climbing Mt.Everest (what you refer as the 3 poles) are great achievements. One is vertical and other is horizontal. Both gruelingly challenging. I know its unfair to compare but talk to us how one complements the other.
Like you said, one is in the horizontal plane and the other is in the vertical plane so each has its own peculiarities and also similarities. If we compare the two then the following emerges:
(a) Skiing to poles do not involve any high altitude related problems, like rarefied atmosphere, lack of pressure
(b) While in the Poles the constant temperature is less than -30 C (average) on Everest the temperature is not so constant and we only reach such extreme low temperatures above 22000 ft and not lower
(c) Both are equally grueling, life threatening and exhausting
(d) Though some of the clothing, equipment are similar, the stuff used for skiing is vastly different from those used for climbing
(e) The entire logistics and execution of the two are also totally different and can’t be compared at any level
(f) Both happen in extremely harsh and unforgiving weather conditions where it can change rapidly without warning and it is weather that often decides the outcome of the expedition
(g) Being different kind of activities, the food planning is different for each, though there are similarities
(h) The particular body muscle groups required for the two are different, therefore it also needs different kind of specialized training and pre expedition preparations
(i) The mental focus and attitude needed is also different for the two to a large extent
there are many more ways (the major ones are listed above) of comparing the two. But to summarize the above, I can say that climbing Everest was the most difficult in all possible ways (physically exhausting, fatal, etc), then North Pole and then South Pole in the order of difficulty
What has been your most challenging climb so far?
If by climb you mean reaching the summit of a peak, then I guess, I would put three climbs on the top side by side: Cerro Tore in South Patagonias, Argentina and Grandes Jorasses North Face in Chamonix France and the winter ascent of Khan Tengri North Face in Kazakhstan, closely followed by my attempt on Eigar North face, Switzerland and climb of Mt Thor in Arctic Canada.
Extreme mountaineering is a dangerous sport. You yourself said 70% of your friends in the climbing world are dead. What is it that makes you want to go back?
By the way, two more of my friends died just two days ago, I got the news today. Well, for me the mountains are my life, my passion and my addiction. I know sooner or later they will kill me but I cannot escape their fatal charm. I do it because only when I face death eye to eye do I feel really alive. When I hold my own life in my own hands and my skills and there is nothing else who is responsible or attributable to my situation only then I start feeling really in my elements. It’s a strange addiction
Tell us about your biggest achievements in life that you look back with pride.
I would sight three biggest achievements: (a) Learning to climb mountains when I was 10 (b) Carrying the naval flag on top of Everest in 2004 with a team of novices and returning without any casualties or major mishaps (c) Adopting a child and seeing her grow and ensuring that she got a good family to live in
What has been your biggest mistake and what lessons did you learn from it?
I must have made million mistakes, but to sight one, or a few, whenever someone died in my expeditions due to the consequences of my decisions I have found that mistake as unforgiving. Each of their deaths lie very heavily on my conscience and will do so I guess till I live. But what I learnt out of them was that though we can shape our fate we cannot change our destiny and that to achieve anything in life, one must first begin with acceptance of certain fundamental facts
After 22 years at the Navy, you’ve decided to pursue management studies at IIMA. Explain.
Well, academically I have no achievements so to speak (this has been a sore point with me all my life, since I admire people with academic excellence) and since I was on the verge of leaving the Navy and it offered me this course from IIM, A, I decided to do it so that I have a respectable degree. This is a special scheme for defense officers on the verge of retirement. And since I am still on Navy’s pay this is a good way to do a course. Once out I don’t think I would really have the drive to do a course of this stature. To tell you a secret, though it is extremely difficult to get into IIM A through normal selection process, for us, there is no such thing. And what really clinched the deal was that during these 24 weeks of the course I did not have any major expeditions planned. So I will end up with a decent degree, some amount of new knowledge and a great amount of self-satisfaction.
Name one person you admire most and why?
I have always admired Swami Vivekananda… need I say more. His photo stands next to Lord Shiva on my study table
Talk to us about your other interests that you are passionate about.
I am passionate about traveling and exploring places that are not on the map, all sorts of extreme sports (more life threatening the better) acquiring all sorts of diverse knowledge in an autodidactic fashion, writing, putting a smile on every face, magic, music and dreaming
Today at 3PM, we will have the privilege of having Rajan Anandan, Managing Director of Microsoft India, as the guest at ‘The Kiruba Show’.
‘The Kiruba Show’ is a podcast interview series with CEOs and top brass of Indian and international companies. The show follows a friendly conversational tone. You can find the old podcasts here and the new site will soon be launched with the fresh set of podcasts, which includes interviews with SAP MD, Jeffrey Archer and many.
I’m a firm believer that the collective knowledge of the audience is far higher than just any one individual. The show extensively uses Social Media to have the readers actively be part of the program. You have the chance to ask questions and we will pass it on to the CEO on your behalf. Due credit will be given. While asking the questions, your name and your profile will be mentioned. When the interview eventually gets published, your blog, twitter and LinkedIn profiles will be linked to.
Quite honestly, I’ve been meaning to give due credit to people who contributed with your questions and I plead guilty for not giving enough credit. That’s one area that I really will be working on correcting it.
If you had the chance to meet the MD of Microsoft India, what is the one question you would like to ask him? Here is how you can pass on your questions.
Twitter: Please send in your questions as Tweets with @Kiruba.
Comment on this blog post: Just drop your question to Rajan in the comment section below this blog post.
Facebook: Here is my facebook profile. Just write your question on my wall or send a private message to me.
Email : The simplest and most effective method. Send your question to Kiruba @ Kiruba.com.
SMS: Another effective method. Send your question to +91 98415 97744.
Look forward to your questions.
I’m passionate about Social Media and even more interested in knowing how Companies leverage the Net effectively. I’ve been closely following how some of the leading companies globally use social media. One company in the list is SAP,the World’s biggest business application software company. I’ve been impressed with them specifically with the way they have built their communities both amongst developers and business professional.
There are over 1 million members in SAP community and they have used both online Enterprise 2.0 strategies and real world events to actively engage them.
When I was invited to attend SAP TechEd, it was just the opportunity I needed to meet Mark Yolton, the key person behind SAP communities. Mark comes with over 20 years of experiece and has held senior management profiles at Oracle, PeopleSoft and Sun Microsystems. Watch the interview.
After ages, its good to be podcasting again. The news of the tie up with Business Standard was the boost I needed to get back into play.
This morning I got to have a converation with Benjamin Wegg Prosser, who is Director of Corporate Development of SUP, (“pronounced as Soup, as in Tomato Soup”), better known as the owners of LiveJournal. You can listen to the podcast here.
Live Journal, for those who don’t know, is one of the earliest blogging services started way back in 1999 and still continues to be a significant player. The intro was done by Rajesh Lalwani, founder of BlogWorks and who handles LiveJournal’s account in India.
Ben has an intereting profile. In his earier job, Ben served as director of strategic communications at Tony Blair’s cabinet, Yup, the ex-prime minister of UK. Here, he oversaw a series of innovations including the launch of e-petitions service and the first YouTube channel for any head of government in 2007. Take that Obama!
Prior to Downing Street, Benjamin worked at The Guardian where he held positions as publisher and General Manager of The Guardian’s website, handling diferent sections.
Tomorrow, the Diya hall at Hotel Leela Palace, Bangalore will have the highest concentration of Intelligence and wealth per square inch. Thankfully, the Law of Averages in the form of my presence, will ensure that it’s brought down by half!
A select panel of 10 CEOs have been invited by NASSCOM for an exclusive round table with Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect. Or better known as the man who took Bill Gates’ place when he retired.
The invitees are:
1. Sharad Sharma, CEO Yahoo! R&D who is also the Session Chair & Moderator.
2. Ramalinga Raju, Founder & Chairman, Satyam Computers
3. Biren Ghosh, CEO Kahani World Inc.
4. Ashish Gupta, CoFounder and Managing Partner, Helion VC
5. Rajiv Mody, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Sasken Communications
6. Anand Deshpande, Founder Chairman and Managing Director, Persistent Technologies
7. Kiruba Shankar, Blogger, Columnist, CEO, Business Blogging, Founder, F5ive Tech.
8. Mohan C M, Chief Scientist, IBM India
9. Ravi Venkatesan, Chairman and Managing Director, Microsoft India
10. Ram Narayanan, Vice President, Yahoo! R & D
The discussion is going to be on the topic, ‘Is the Rise of SaaS an Opportunity for India?’ To me, the coincidence couldn’t have been any higher. Exactly the day before I got the invite (which was two weeks ago), I had scheduled ‘SaaS’ as the subject for my column in Business Standard for next week. I’ll just advance it now. I shouldn’t have any problem getting the best quotes!
Being a blogger, I’m the natural choice for being the guy who documents the meeting discussion. With such brilliant minds around, I’m going to be one busy ‘note taker’.
The round-table with Ray brings up my memories of a similar meeting with Kevin Turner, the COO of Microsoft. It took place almost exactly one year ago.
One of the big reason why I’m eagerly looking forward to the meeting is because I’ll get to meet 8 of the 10 people for the first time. The only people who I’ve met before are Sharad and Ravi Venkatesan. It’s always interesting connecing up with new people who have accomplished a lot in their life. (which has been the motivating factor for me to start Cerebrate.)