Harper Lee – The Who, What, and Why.

Harper lee
A few of you must be wondering what the whole fuss about, Harper Lee is? You must have picked up a few facts from all the obituaries you have read. Just in case you have missed it, Harper Lee is the author of one of the most famous novels of Modern American Literature – To kill a Mocking Bird. She is probably, one of the very few authors who were world famous with just one book to her credit. Yes, she was a woman, in case you did not get that straight. Harper Lee is her pen name. She was born Nelle Harper Lee on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama, USA.

The novel gained immediate acclaim. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in the year 1961. The novel is based on autobiographical incidents and anecdotes from Ms. Lee’s childhood spent living in Monroeville, Alabama, USA.

Storyline

It is based on an incident that happened near her small town, where two African American men (a father and son) were falsely convicted of killing a white store-keeper. The main character in the novel, Atticus Finch, a lawyer is based on her own father who defended the accused in the court of law. The novel was liked very much for its delicate portrayal of racial prejudice among adults through the eyes of two children Scout and Dill (based on Ms. Lee and her childhood friend Truman Capote).

Why is the book important?

The book gained a lot of attention for its portrayal of racial prejudice and bias among the adult population and the judiciary, especially in small-town southern United States. It was published at the height of the American Civil Rights Movement of 1954-68, whose goal it was to end racial segregation and discrimination of African Americans. The Civil rights Movement also strove to secure legal recognition and federal protection of the citizenship rights of the African American people as enumerated in the Constitution and federal law. The novel is a great way to understand the social underpinnings of small-town southern USA during the period of the Civil Rights Movement. It was and is still used as a book to open conversation about civil rights among teenage students in American schools.

It is not too late, if you have not read it yet. Harper Lee’s sole claim to fame could well be your starting point, on a journey of reading, learning and improving your English. It could just be the first step towards discovering many more classics!

Read More

6 Kinds of People you’ll find at LearnSocial

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is Success.

Welcome back! Before I start writing this week’s post, I hope that you now have a clear idea about the culture that we’ve been setting up and other things that we’re working on, to optimize our employee’s performance. In honor of LearnSocial and its launch recently, I decided to break down the different types of teams that I’ve built and worked along with till now that have made us what we are as a whole entity. And as a bonus, I’ll throw in some cheesy football analogies, seeing that it’s the FIFA World Cup 2014….

GENERALISTS:

BOOM!!! These people are jack of all trades. Whether picking up new code or new technologies, they’ll be the vastly useful resources/team. Just give them a task, an idea or a problem that we are facing-they’ll have a solution in a JIFFY. In case they don’t, they’ll find a definite resolution the next day. Having these Generalists in a startup where things move rapidly has become an essential factor. WHY? Well, I have an answer that would never make you seek out any other explanation. EVER. Imagine a person wearing a smile that never complains about a task at the work place. How many people really do that?? We have a team that possess those typical coding skills & who would love to learn just for the heck of it and help us wherever it is needed. Where do we get this CREAM of talent in the present market, where everything is haywire and getting a proper, probable resource is the biggest challenge? Let me introduce you to #HackSocial, a Hackathon contest.  This event goes on for one complete day at the LearnSocial office from morning to evening, and coders have to build their products using the skills that we specify. If someone completes the process, then we offer them career opportunities with us. In summary, they just THINK.CODE.BUILD!

IN FOOTBALL:Tight End

WORKHORSES:

These people have that competency of keeping the flow, crafting the code and getting the job done, no matter how much time, iterations & executions it takes. What keeps them so patient? What makes their commitment level so consistent? The answer lies in 3 E’s: EXPERIENCE, EXPERTISE & ENGAGEMENT. We’ve built this team after conducting thorough research, and have set clear benchmarks which would tell us if he’s THE ONE that we’re looking for. Getting this kind of highly talented, engaged, committed & self-driven people who have that hands-on experience in technical areas is a time-consuming process. But yes, sometimes a long shot pays off the biggest.

IN FOOTBALL: Running Back

FABRICATORS:

Getting something unique and a pinch of overall flavour to the table is their passion. These kind of people work continuously on adding up interesting skills to a common project and get that creative edge completely. To name a few, our designers and the data junkies fall into this category.

IN FOOTBALL: Placekicker

EXPERTS:

Our Experts know everything. Any query you meet them with, you’ll have a well-defined, precise and thorough answer. They’re well known for codebases, troubleshooting and diagnosing the flaws that are encountered during assignments. In short, they’re the one-stop destination for every kind of solution you need. What makes them such experts? Simply experience and focus. Our Experts are always ready to share tantalizing knowledge, and often approached by other people on the LearnSocial floor for any kind of help here and there.

IN FOOTBALL: Quarterback

MASTERMIND:

No matter what, there should be someone who always inspires everyone & their respective teams towards a common goal. They might not be a good coder, fabricator etc. but the contribution they make is always significant through their leadership and prowess. I have seen such entrepreneurial and collaborative kind of people in here who keep the team effective.

IN FOOTBALL: Head Coach

INTERPRETERS:

Being Social! I should say. They have the desire to change the world, & in reality that’s what they do…They’re our hard-core Societals who act as intermediaries & drive the product into the Society. They get us all kinds of strategic relationships. In my experience, as I see them proving their ability to collaborate with others, these people act as strong team players. What kind of results do they deliver? Surely, the WOW kind of one.

That’s all for now guys. It’s been an exhilarating ride for me as I’m keeping my experiences and thoughts into words. At the same time, I would love to have your opinions, suggestions and anything that you think will make us better and be the best. So, drop a mail to hr@learnsocial.com until then and keep in touch.

– Aditya GV, Human capital

Read More

Startup or Giant? Experience the Best of Both @LearnSocial

There has been abundant discussion on the startup versus giant debate. While working in a successful and established company gives you widespread exposure to the corporate world and adds brand value to your resume, working in a startup offers a chance to experience cross-functional work, inculcating a deeper sense of ownership in you as an employee. There is a gradual learning curve for a large company’s employees, unlike their startup counterparts whose learning curves are in sync with the organization’s growth from Day 1 itself. Although the level of responsibility and commitment required from startup employees might be relatively higher than their giant equivalents, there is also much lesser resources that startups have access to that can help their employees achieve their goals. However, at LearnSocial, an e-learning startup, I can safely assure you that all these characteristics can be found within the company.

Working in LearnSocial, I have discovered the unique ideology of this organization: we work like a startup, but think like a giant! All LS employees have access to world-class technologies and resources to help deliver their goals; as Societals, we have the liberty to work whichever way we want, as long as the work is done in the time it should be. If there’s any assistance that we require, ranging from office equipment or online resource access to a coffee machine for the cafeteria, a quick notification to the concerned department is all it takes. The organization follows a flat structure where everyone is accessible at any time, even the CEO. The culture at LS is open – the interns enjoy a light conversation with the Product Head over lunch, and the CEO interacts with all employees on a daily basis. Although office timings are fixed, we really don’t mind working late in our cozy office. One might think that leaving late from office many days a week means that our social lives are getting impacted, but at LS, we follow a simple quote: “The startups that do well are the ones that are working all the time.” We are given cross-functional assignments to help us get exposed to the diverse departments of the company and get a hang of how processes work. While working on a task like identifying the market opportunities for a particular online course might seem miniscule in comparison to analyzing the quarterly results for a big company, the pride and satisfaction that we Societals achieve when we see our small tasks combining and amalgamating into LearnSocial’s vision is nothing short of tremendous. At LearnSocial, we get new opportunities every day to experience the best of both worlds and in turn deliver our best to the company.

There is no denying the fact that working for either a giant or a startup will have its share of pros and cons, but in my opinion, it’s better to be a big asset for a small company than a small asset for a big company.

 

-Aakanksha Khanna, Community Developer

LS_logo_big

Read More

Stop Planning Great Culture. Start Living It

Great cultures don’t just happen. And if it’s a startup, you have to make it happen, and it’s worth the effort to start on that first. What kind of culture are we establishing? What makes us so different from other startups? Before I dive-in and answer these questions, let me introduce myself.

I am Aditya G.V, handling the Human Capital at LearnSocial.

I always wanted to do something interesting and be someone who constantly works on culture. Here, it’s the people and everything they do that defines the culture, in turn building the kind of company I want it to be. A widely held myth is that successful organizations are built of stars with a supporting cast, like a sports team. In reality, this model constrains the company from fully leveraging the real contribution and potential of all team members, with less collaboration and more conflict. We wanted to change the way organizations typically work and also the thought process of people related to building great companies. So, from the hiring stage itself we look at the person and see whether he is a proper culture fit in our company. And if someone is not, we don’t hesitate to keep the position open for a longer time. This is because all the Societals, as we call them, are cross-functional and also have that zeal to work inside LS as a team that would deliver path-breaking results, from building products to driving the business.

I believe that accountability, appreciation, productivity, transparency, predictability, progress, and trust between team members and managers mark the best culture. These things not only build a better culture but also allow for a better sense of morale within the employees. On a regular basis, we measure the performance of each and every employee, review them & offer perks in many ways. It is never an objective or subjective evaluation but pure PERFORMANCE only. We’re always testing ways to optimize our people, both in terms of happiness and performance. We never let people be in the same shell or work on the same project. All these things clearly indicate that we maintain the open culture, in which everyone is a hands-on contributor and feels comfortable sharing ideas and opinions. We also designed a session called Knowledge Melt with the CEO, where all the Societals have to do some knowledge sharing in the areas of….Technology? Arts? Business? Well, about anything. Yeah you read it right and we really do that as it increases the Engagement between them to a greater extent. The office and everything else has been designed in a well-structured way that conversations and meetings related to work or play can happen then and there.

Whatever I have written until now is regarding the hiring practices and other work related aspects. Apart from work, we have Friday15 sessions being practiced which make all the Societals to take a break from the regular work and tackle a challenge as a team in a creative way. Workation is something that we want to implement at LearnSocial. Now what does this mean?? It’s a vacation where you are working. Same hours, same responsibilities as in the office, but they’ll get to do it all from an exotic destination. Like these, we will be having many other things like Vacation Tax where employee has to get exotic food for everyone from office after vacation/trip which would increase the bonding levels in a more personal way. Similarly, State-of-the-company, Starter-kits, Ring the bell, Group Movie Nights, Company Huddles, Lunch and Learn etc.

That’s all for now. Like what we are doing? Like the way we work? Want to know more about how it happens? Keep watching this space as we execute and build a different company. And feel free to write to me on hr@learnsocial.com about anything you want to suggest us on. We will appreciate and implement your best ideas.

-Aditya GV, Human Capital

Read More

@LearnSocial, ‘It’s all about exploring something new each day’

Joining LearnSocial is not just ‘real work experience’; it’s way more than that. My expedition at LearnSocial started three months back when I befitted myself in this dynamic, fun-loving and amazing family.

Before diving into my experiences at LearnSocial, I would like to introduce myself.
Hi Readers! I am Nirbhay Taneja, working as a Community Developer @ LearnSocial.

My first day at LearnSocial started with introductions and ice breaking sessions where our HR walked us through different departments of the organization. Everyone, I literally means every person, was incredibly welcoming and encouraging as they had smile on their face when I shook hands with them. By the end of first week, I had a crystal clear view in my mind about my roles and responsibilities. Thanks to Raju (Founder of LearnSocial). By the next week, I kick started my work and everyday seemed to be more and more exciting as I started learning new skills.

The best part @LearnSocial is that I naturally have a smile on my face while entering and leaving my office. There is no lethargic feeling, dullness or monotonousness in my day to day work. Vibes of dynamism and creativity that surrounds our office helps every employee to be more productive and effective in their work. One another amazing fact is that no one @LearnSocial is restricted to wear formal suits and business dresses. We’re allowed to wear anything we want and switch our workstation too if we feel bored sitting at the same place. At our office, we have ‘Open Door Policy’; where an employee can reach out anyone without any prior permission. The open culture at our organization embraces all kinds of employees, irrespective of their background.

LearnSocial is an objective driven company and there is a diverse pool of talent here where fresh ideas, new perspectives, views, opinions and suggestions broach the table. LearnSocial lives by the policy of relationship building with its stakeholders to maintain mutual trust and confidence amongst each other. To foster competitiveness and productivity in each employee, we have weekly review meetings. My company’s philosophy/core values are embodied in such a fashion that it covers every aspect of the organization.

CORE VALUES @LearnSocial

  • Commitment to Excellence
  • Sense of Ownership
  • Do More with Less
  • Continuous Learning & Growth
  • Deliver “Wow” kind of Experience

Finally, I would like to conclude by saying, “I am proud to be part of LearnSocial family which has been a value addition to me in each and every aspect of my professional life. It has helped me develop my skills and has given me a chance to put my academic knowledge into practice”.

Read More