‘You are as good as yesterday’

August 20, 2014

I came across this quote once again, after a long time.

“ IT industry is very strange, it doesn’t care what you did or what you were in the past, you are as good as yesterday”.

It is so true. Our industry is so fast moving that we can not continue the journey on our past laurels, we have to constantly keep doing better and better if we want to succeed. This is applicable in every field – coding, product designing, sales, marketing or back office work. Gone are the days when one would continue to be hero based on one master stroke delivered once upon a time. We have to push ourselves, we have to re-invent ourselves to move forward successfully. And this means we have to learn new things by keeping our minds open, by making conscious efforts.

I am totally connected and in sync with this thought.

And this is so true in our personal life as well, isn’t it? We need to constantly learn, absorb and grow if we want to be a better person. We can not afford to be a good person just once, we have to be better every time. And how can we do it without constantly improving when world, people, relationships around us are constantly evolving.

I feel life is a journey and only if we continue to learn do we get permission to go to next destination and enjoy the places, the moment we stop learning, life passes by without taking us.

 


Eavesdropping… on our own mind

June 6, 2014

Have you ever paused and read / listen the thoughts that pop up in your subconscious mind? Most of the time we are not even aware that something is happening in our mind that is much deeper than we think. But if we train ourselves, we can listen to the thoughts that pop up in our deeper mind. In a simplistic way it needs us to look at ourselves like a third person and almost act like eavesdropping on our our own mind.

Once we get used to listening to it, it is fun. At times it is scary, at times it is entertaining. But it requires real courage to assimilate those thoughts, analyse and channelise our mind, for thoughts leads to action. Many times it happens that we don’t let some thoughts come to the surface because we don’t want them to influence our actions. But it is important that we acknowledge these deep thoughts and do something about it – either take some action or work towards totally removing these thoughts.

Many times these thoughts are motivating but we are afraid of their influence on our life. We don’t want to break the status quo, we don’t want to come out of our mould.

Some times these thoughts are depressing, at times they are totally unacceptable. And we simply brush them aside. Actually they don’t go away, they remain somewhere or even if they go away what is the guarantee they won’t come back?  If we really want them to go away and never to come closer to our mind we need to acknowledge them and then understand why did they come in first place. If we can identify the root cause and act upon it, we would never have to spend our energies in pushing away negativities.

There is another very interesting game we can play with our mind i.e. to train our mind to generate positive thoughts naturally, without having to work for it. As we learn to listen to our thoughts, understand how they occur, it is not difficult to create our own system of making our mind a factory of positive / stimulating thoughts.


“How to use social media” For early teenagers

April 9, 2014

In April 2011, I gave this presentation in my son’s school in Singapore for the children of 13 to 15 years old.

When I look back at it, I feel now this presentation or message should be given to 10 to 13 years old children.

In this presentation I spent good amount of time in giving context and making children ready to accept the message about how to use social media. What I have seen is that teenager children don’t accept things just because some one is telling them to do it. They want to know why, they are ready to question everything. But at the same time if we take them into confidence and share our thought process they appreciate it ( may not necessarily agree with it, but at least their readiness to listen is much higher).

There are three steps in this presentation before the actual message :

1. Quiz : This is just to make the learning fun. Make them relax and enjoy

2. “There can be different views about same thing” ( basically telling them that don’t have to look at any message  as ‘one is right and other is wrong’). Hence I have given two examples – count the number of squares. You always get so many different answers. And you achieve your objective of conveying that there are different views about the same thing hence they should listen to parents / elders instead of taking ‘I am right/ you are wrong’ stand.

The second is a picture of old woman / young woman, it is to reinforce the above message.

3. In the third step I have tried to give them the context as to why they are being told or cautioned repeatedly about the use of social media. Whey parents / teachers are constantly reminding them to be careful. Most children tend to discard the message when told many times, they simple ignore you, hence I wanted to share with them concerns of parents and teachers.

For this purpose, I wanted to impress upon them that social media is a very new concept – less than 20 years old and compare that with all other means of communication which have been there for hundreds of year. There are well established norms of the society over these years. But with social media no one knows what are the norms, what is correct or what is acceptable. So obviously everyone in the society is anxious, at times apprehensive about this new form of the social life. So I wanted them to understand this perspective – when parents / teachers are telling you something there is a reason behind it, they are not there to stop you from doing something just for the sake of it.

By this time, I did find that children were ready to listen what I had to say.

At this stage, I did not take “Dos and Don’t” approach.

I wanted to share with them the impact of social media on our lives and how it is shaping our personal, professional and social life. I believe if we tell them more about the possible results, teenage children are able to take appropriate action to large extent.

My key message was to use 3T approach to decide if you are doing right thing or not. You would read about 3T in the slides.

Then I wrapped up the presentation with some good examples of social media where it is useful. Most often children are told about bad things that are happening because of the social media, I wanted to make sure that children understand that it can be used for betterment as well.

Hope you would like it. Would be happy to get your feedback.


“When you can not change things in a hurry, change the context”

April 3, 2014

Imagine this :

You were the world champion in a particular sport for over 6 years, you lost that title to someone almost half of your age, your performance declines further and people have started writing you off. There are comments with a near cetainity that you were finished and your days were over. Next year you enter into the tournament, winner of the which would be challenging the world champion. Before the event you are not even amongst top 3 favourites. And you emerge as a winner with a thumping victory.

Stop imagining.

This is the real story of Vishwanathan Anand who just won the candidates tournament, undefeated, earning the right to challenge the current world champion – who defeated him in 2013, in November 2014.

On his return to Chennai on April 2, in an interview on NDTV among other thing, Vishwanathan Anand talked about “what it felt like playing with his young son, Akhil” The response to that question had a great insight and a message. I have enclosed the audio clip of that response here. For me it had three insights :

 

1. Change of context : When you can not control what has happened or what is happening, you need to find a way out by changing the context or getting into another situation – mentally or physically. This is what he said he did when it was a tough time to accept that he was no longer a world champion. He spent time playing with his son. Which basically relaxed him, helped him forget what had happened and most importantly helped him prepare for the next phase.

2. Playing with your son (or kids) : This is another important aspect. Spending time with your son is so much relaxing, it is such a stress buster. It gives so much happiness that it makes us mentally strong to face the world.

3.  When I was listening to the interview, I thought his son might be 8 or 9 years old, old enough to play chess with world champion dad. But when I googled, I found that he is just 3 years old. And if a world champion dad feels good about playing a 3 years old boy, he must be really really good, another world champion in the making? Lets wait and watch.

 


My take on Twitter IPO : Keep doing the right thing, you will invariably find the commercial model.

September 25, 2013

Twitter IPOOn 12th September, Twitter twitted “We’ve confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO. This Tweet does not constitute an offer of any securities for sale.” 

For many reasons it was an important announcement. In its 7 years of journey, it has seen huge challenges – technical challenges as well business model challenges. So called pundits have questioned very existence of Twitter on commercial scale. It was dwarfed by the two towering giants – Google and Facebook. Even today it is not very big in terms of revenue it generates – between $500 million to $600 million by some estimates.

Given that Twitter had started off as a side project in early 2006, it could have died easily, specially when it did not have predictable revenue model till very recent times. I remember reading many articles when people wondered whether Twitter would remain relevant to the consumers. There were lot of uncertainties when third party apps like TweetDeck, Tweetie etc had threatened to gain more consumer traction than Twitter itself. After all company revenue ( specially Ad revenue) entirely depends on the extent of consumer interaction you have and insights you gain.

Despite these challenges Twitter has survived, flourished and is reaching an important milestone on the journey of successful companies – through this IPO it is being valued at around $12Billion company.  Today it is one of the most important platforms for the politicians, the civic societies, the celebrities and all the influencers to directly engage with their followers. You can not imagine some of the great events of the century – without Twitter being used as a tool – President Obama’s election and re-election, Arab spring movements etc.

My take on this success is that Twitter kept doing what was right for its users. It started off small, but improvised, improved and delivered what users wanted – great engagement platform, search and ability to influence.  As an outsider I believe Twitter was able to achieve this because it did not succumb to the pressures of to go after commercial model first. It apparently pursued what was right for its users and did not clutter the platform with ads. I believe that if it had only focussed on doing the ad and ad revenue, it might have distorted the user experience and acceptance and might not have got this tremendous user engagement – which is a real reason for its success so far. I believe that Twitter, continued to deliver what users were looking for, it became relevant and sticky and eventually found a way to monetize it. And I think thats the way it should be.

I hope it continues its journey and I wish it all the success.


What I learnt from Amanda Palmer’s Ted Talk

March 23, 2013

Ask pic_sLong after I delivered my talk on “Psychology and Science of selling” various issues are still ringing in my head. While watching this Ted Talk by Amanda Palmer I could instantly connect it with the job of a sales person.

I didn’t know about Amanda Palmer till I watched the Ted Talks and then I briefly read about her.

Her Ted Talk about ‘The art of Asking’ took me back to my thoughts on ‘Psychology and Science of selling’.  I wanted to address the question on why people are afraid of selling, what are those fears and how can I help people become better at sales. Among the things that I had heard from people who are afraid of selling was this huge resistance to ‘asking something’ from people.

I could instantly connect with Amanda’s view that if we ask we get it. I realized how effectively she has leveraged crowdsourcing. How she is able to organize gigs in less than 24 hours ( read about it on her blog here) just by asking.

It is so important in sales role to be asking – asking for information, asking for purchase order, asking for referrals.  At the same time we have to approach it very confidently. We need to remove the notion that asking is akin to begging. We need to be clear that we are also giving something in return so it is absolutely fair – the point Amanda has highlighted in her experience with the family in Miami neighborhood. Same thing in sales cycle – as a sales person we are brining something valuable to the table and we are asking their money in return, so it is absolutely a fair thing to do.

I found people are more comfortable when they have this feeling of ‘giving’ (at least in Asian culture). We need to realized that sales is not just about asking we are also giving something in return but unless we ask we will not get an opportunity to ‘give’.


Why it is so difficult to measure the impact of social media

December 23, 2012

My interest in social media and its impact on business has led me to dabble into social media for a fair amount of time. It is quite a new medium but has made significant impact on businesses, politics, opinion making, brands and what not. I consider the channels like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Pinterest, blogging, Youtube, Slideshare, Instagram as form of social media tools. There are many more being added.

However there is a great deal of debate happening among the marketers about measurement of its impact on business – sales, revenue etc.; for example  this  article in HBR .

“If you think pageviews, unique visitors, registered members, conversion rates, email-newsletter open rates, number of Twitter followers, or Facebook likes are important by themselves, you probably have no idea what you’re doing. Those metrics are the most common false idols of analytics.”….

Likewise there are many views about which metrices are right or wrong.

In my opinion, social media is one of the channels of reaching out to the customers. Depending on what you are offering you can leverage this channel to achieve any or all of the objectives, namely : direct sales, message dissemination, improve speed of communication, brand enhancement, reputation management, create engagement etc. Eg.Personalities, political parties, social activists, news channels are using Twitter for giving out information/ opinion; restaurants, consumer goods are using Facebook to reach out with promotions.

We need to make use of the social media and its impact in the similar way as we use AAA approach – Awareness, Appreciation and Adoption cycle. But social media has added few additional dimensions that makes it interesting to use for direct engagement (not just communication) with the stakeholders at lower cost, provide response and enable experimentation with offerings at more targeted audience in less time. There are many examples of brands, personalities, services that have leveraged the media successfully. Business like  restaurants, shoe brands etc are able to get their audience’s opinion, create offering suited to range of audience or even let their audience create an offering based on their products ( eg. paintings / hand decoration using their material).

Thus every business has to create its own metrics depending on what it expect from social media in the given period of time. We work with our clients by first talking about business objectives and challenges they are facing in growing the business. Then we identify who are potential customers ( are they new ones or we need to tap into new ones). Then map them where these potential customers are spending more time ( which social media). And make a plan to reach out to them.  Based on that we create a metrics for different phases of time.

There are no right or wrong rules. Unless you take a plunge you can not experience it and hence can not correct it. If you are a newcomer at trying out social media do your basic home work and get going.


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