Google+ Consumer Psyche: September 2009

Leader

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quantum leap

From Robin Sharma's blog...

What makes the best performers better?

He met a European karate champion who trains more than most athletes in his field. And his commitment to preparation drives his spectacular results. But what was most interesting was that he said sometimes he'd be practicing consistently for 3 years straight with no apparent improvement. He just stays focused. Puts in the work. And stays on course.

Then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, his whole game transforms. It just leaps to a new level.

It's so easy to think that just because we're not seeing any immediate results, we're not improving. Not true. Personal change and leadership transformation happens INVISIBLY AND INCREMENTALLY. So just because you can't see your little daily shifts doesn't mean you're not progressing. And those small tiny improvements, when done with care and dedication, will lead to a remarkable shift in time. Your quantum leap.

Angels ahoy!

A ransomed earth breaks forth in song,

Her sin-stained ages over-past;

Her yearning, Lord, how long, how long?

Exchanged for joy at last-at last.

Angels, carry the royal commands;

Peace beams forth throughout all the lands:

The trees of the field shall clap their hands-

What will it be when the King comes!

(Emily E.S. Elliot, 1836-1897)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ink vs memory


The weakest ink is stronger than the greatest memory. So write down what you want to do today, this week, this month. This would push you to reach there and achieve it.

Good luck.

Img credit

Monday, September 28, 2009

Branding online

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times. “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” Tell me when you bought a book that had a cover you didn't like? Yes... we all do it. Judging someone else using non-verbal cues to determine another person’s confidence, professionalism, honesty, attitude and success is part of human nature. And like people, similar cues are used by customers visiting your people, office, website to determine the quality of your products and services and professionalism of your business.

Customers use non-verbal, less-tangible, emotional symbols to asses your business, your brand image. So online branding and Web site branding is important to build the image of your business you want customers to have. Whether you want to be viewed as high quality or low cost or ultra luxurious, visually “dress” your business to reach that goal.

A good looking web site builds trust in your business and helps in starting a relationship with potential customers. Considering the average visitor to your Web site will judge you on your professionalism, honesty, and the success of your business in just three to four seconds ensuring that you score on the first look is important.

Much to be done

K. Seetha Prabhu examines Financial Inclusion as a path to rural recovery in WSJ... read on...

To be sure, the global financial crisis and related emerging issues such as the large scale return of migrants who have lost their jobs in towns, prospects of a drought in many parts of the country due to insufficient and irregular rainfall, and the continuing rise in the prices of commodities for daily consumption have cast a shadow on prospects of rapid growth that is difficult to ignore.

In these times of distress, what could have offered succor is a well-established and functioning financial sector that offers a range of products suited for the rural clientele and enables and supports those with meager incomes to tide them over tough times and secure their livelihood. The crisis may offer just the incentive needed to forge a much more active financial sector that will lead a resurgence of the rural sector and, in turn, the entire economy.

There is much to be done. While India aggressively pursued bank nationalization way back in 1969 to widen the reach of banks leading to a network of around 70,000 bank branches, the country continues to flounder on all the indicators of financial inclusion - ease of access, availability and usage of the formal financial system. The overall reach of the banking system has been unsatisfactory. The latest report of the Reserve Bank of India, released last month, indicates that only 59% of the adult population has bank accounts. For the insurance sector the picture is dismal. The insurance density ratio -- defined as the volume of premiums to population -- was only 33.2 in India in 2006. In Europe, it is over 30 times higher.

In rural India, the picture is even grimmer. The RBI study shows that among the 89.3 million farmer households in the country, more that half do not access credit either from institutional or non-institutional sources. Only 27% of farm households borrow from formal sources of credit. Despite several measures to expand banking services to rural areas, rural branches of banks continue to be avenues for deposit collection rather than the active deployment of credit for productive use. The cooperative banking system is also in a state of disarray which limits its reach. In 2006, around half of the Primary Agricultural Credit System, which comprises grass-root-level institutions catering to the credit needs of farmers, was loss-making and the situation has only deteriorated further since. The situation in the poorer states with larger rural populations is even worse.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Happy B'day Avril Lavigne

You're not alone
Together we stand
I'll be by your side, you know I'll take your hand
When it gets cold
And it feels like the end
There's no place to go
You know I won't give in
No I won't give in

Keep holding on
'Cause you know we'll make it through, we'll make it through
Just stay strong
'Cause you know I'm here for you, I'm here for you
There's nothing you could say
Nothing you could do
There's no other way when it comes to the truth
So keep holding on
'Cause you know we'll make it through, we'll make it through

--- Keep holding on

Lifelong love affair

A life without adventure isn't a life worth living. Up's definition of adventure is not limited to attaching hundreds of helium-filled balloons to one's house and riding it like a Zeppelin to remote South American waterfalls. A masterpiece that depicts near-silent as Carl was when he was smitten as a child by Ellie after the screening celebrating Muntz's travels and banishment from the world.

Up's opening montage is a sentimental recounting of a lifelong love affair, a poetic view on the manner in which dreams are shared, and a bittersweet acknowledgment of how such desires can sour over time or are deferred by the demands of modern living. Old and alone, Carl has hardened by regret, but after the twin intrusions of a noisy construction site surrounding the perimeter of his house and an adorably chunky Asian boy, Russel, hankering to fulfill a merit badge requirement, the old man takes to the skies, his first step in understanding life as something more than a short period of time in which we are alive, but as a short period of time worth living to its fullest and to its absolute grandest.

Up is not just an animated movie. It challenges you to think about what you are, your dreams, priorities in life and gives you chance to fly away... in a fairy tale way to romance the skies, fulfill your dreams. Loved the song sequence and how Carl & Ellie meet, their courtship and marriage, and—in a startlingly somber turn—her illness and off-screen death. In fact it moved me to tears. Up works out adult ideas about our notions of self, our sense of disappointment and complacency, and the hopes—like the people and animals that surround Carl—we're always choosing to either look up or down to. You got to watch this.

Rating: 8/10.

Pics are from here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Living on the edge

Aerosmith croons from my lappie...

There's somethin' wrong with the world today
The light bulb's gettin' dim
There's meltdown in the sky

If you can judge a wise man
By the color of his skin
Then mister you're a better man that I

We're livin' on the edge
You can't help yourself from fallin'
Livin' on the edge
You can't help yourself at all
Livin' on the edge
You can't stop yourself from fallin'
Livin' on the edge

Tell me what you think about your sit-u-a-tion
Complication - aggravation
Is getting to you

If chicken little tells you that the sky is fallin'
Even if it wasn't would you still come crawlin'
Back again?
I bet you would my friend
Again & again & again & again & again

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Women save!

From Business Standard: The campaign is an attempt by Kotak Mahindra Bank to break the clutter by invoking the housewife’s natural instinct to save and curb the profligate ways of the husband. In all their campaigns so far, state-owned as well as private banks have either talked of technology (and hence convenience), branch networks or special offers for target groups. Some have even roped in celebrities in the past. This is the first time a campaign has targeted the good sense of the housewife. It also acknowledges the wife’s important role in planning the finances of the household.

With this in mind, the brief given to the bank’s agency of one year, McCann Erickson, included two things. One was to increase the bank’s top-of-the-mind recall. The second but equally important part stemmed from the research findings, which indicated that while people had begun to take stock of their situation, they weren’t prepared to regress. “Between 2000 and 2007, consumers had extended themselves and now they are taking stock and seeking help,” says Kotak Mahindra Group head of retail liabilities K V S Manian.

The result was the “Let’s make money simple” campaign. Kotak has on its crosshairs the big category called “mass affluent” with an annual household income of above Rs 450,000. The focus, of course, is on urban and semi-urban markets. The television advertisements will be followed by a 360-degree campaign with on-ground, outdoor, radio and internet activities.

Personal vs public

When consumers not satisfied with one product, they opt for another. Some products are strong in quality not fervent enough in brand appeal, whereas others are aflame in brand appeal but weak in quality. Mostly this choice is made based on the usage of the product. The products with less brand appeal but good quality are the ones that go for personal usage while the other ones go for public usage. For example you may like eating dosa or having coffee at a particular restaurant but when you opt for a different place when going out with others. This applies to things which are primarily for personal consumption. Therefore several consumers tend to hold dual loyalty, one to a well-structured brand and the other in a more regular one. Is it a problem?

What to chose and what not to is primarily a personal choice. So there is absolutely no problem in a consumer making that choice. But for a brand it is. To break that mould of being a public brand to a personal brand of choice is a huge step. The brand has two choices. One is to provide what the consumer looks at in his personal brand like quality, specific usage, benefit, etc. The other is to maintain exclusivity and stay a permanent public brand of choice. In either case you are competing with two different segments or reaching out to two different needs.

If you don't fit into both, then it is a good time for you to panic.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why not?

“You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'”

George Bernard Shaw

Monday, September 21, 2009

Supermarket innovations part 1

Every business has its good and bad days. That can't be an excuse for the service provided. But sometimes things just go wrong. There are many customers who are shouting, want specific color of dupatta to go with the dress, insist there was a discount, the card reader doesn't work which forces the cashier to type in each code of the item and so on. When the whole set up goes wrong what do you do?

The best thing you can do is pool in more effort to help things sort out. Cool out the situation and help your team sort out things they have to do and can do. Finish the have to first and then move to the can do.

What should have been done is that you are ready for the emergency. How do you ensure this?
  1. Training to work without technology and in a crisis is a must. This ensures sore experiences are reduced and help the cause. Handle things without the usage of machines once a month when there is a lean. You can do this for an hour on a regular day too
  2. Keep the place less cluttery at the counter as this is the place I am going to stand and wouldn't want to get irritated. Ensure there is proper space for me to move on and relax. Don't herd this queue like a cattle. Leave enough space and ventilation/ac to keep my irritation low
  3. ATM logic can be used to ensure many customers don't expect to be served at a time. This would ensure that the other customer waits till the one before him is served. The best part is he expects to wait
  4. Shouting never helps. Don't shout at your team, eachother or customer. It only rises deteorates the situation. Stay calm and concentrate on getting the things going
  5. Best guy first! Remember the defining moment from Troy? Put your best man to clear the pending queue. Start another queue, shift to a smaller queue and so on
Help the customer to keep his temper down and get out of there. The billing line is what he hates to spend time. So make this a sweet admirable process. It is this cramped billing he would remember than the spacious, gracious stalls you have. Isn't it logical to close with a bang that deserves an applause?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hope

A better day is coming, a morning promised long,
When girded Right, with holy Might, will overthrow the Wrong;

(Robert Lowry, 1826-1899)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mentally ill? Who?

What is mental illness? What is peace? The definitions would vary from person to person. Sometimes we don't know who is ill/well. Well this is one just like that. Read on...

It was a sunny morning in 2003 when I first noticed her on my way to work. Her unkempt hair, scornful face and multiples soiled dresses said she is a social outcast but there was certain emotion on her face that adjectives failed to express. She lives in Hyderabad, on the footpath, sitting under a tree with a small sack of clothes, items she picked up from her sojourns perhaps. She is silent and doesn't even beg from the passers-by. Each time I looked at her I knew there was something different in her from others. I wanted to talk to her to find out, but didn't. Few days passed and one day I just stopped and went to speak to her. She didn't like that and shooed me away. I gave her some money, food and kept doing it regularly till she started to consider speaking to me. After many days of bribing, a sweater, fruits, money, food, etc., she opens up. She no longer has that crooked look when I give her something. One day she started speaking. It is 7 AM and the first rays of sun are hitting us. The city is just waking up. She takes one banana from the bunch I gave her and hides the remaining in her sack.

"You are a very stubborn kid," she tells me before settling down. This is a very censored version of her story. I had to change few details, but the essence is till the same.

She is a postgraduate in English literature, used to work as a teacher in a school in Hyderabad till the late 90s. She had a Titan watch, Sunny(two-wheeler), a portable color TV, a small but beautiful house small garden with a swing in it and some jewelery. Her husband used to work in a clerical cadre at the district magistrate's office and she used to compensate by teaching neighborhood kids at home. They made a lot of compromises to fit in all the fancies the kids needed and saw them through schools, engineering college, marriages, bikes and what not. All they did was think about the kids and thought once they get old they will be taken care of by the kids.

She stops peeling the banana, carefully puts the peel in a paper, glances at it and then starts to eat. There is no hurried munching. There is a stylish, cool, calm way she eats it. Once she is finished she washes her hand and wipes it on a dark cloth.

She has 3 sons and a daughter, all well settled. One of them stays in Hyderabad in a well-to-do locality. The other two are in Bangalore. Her daughter is a homeopathic doctor in Mumbai. Don't think they have left her like this. She left them. She walked out as she couldn't see how her husband was treated in his sunset days when all her children would make it a point to split his medical expenses and then quarrel insulting him and her. Then they wanted him to divide his pension, gratuity, their house and settle everything before he died. But the old guy had become smart and had changed his will in his wife's favor. After he passed away they found the new will which made the situation worse. They made her change the will in their favor. When forced she complied. Then it became hell. She was seen as a burden and was hated. One of her daughter-in-laws slapped her for borrowing money from a neighbor for medicine. That's when she decided to move out. She started living in the railway station, bus-stand, parks and later ended up in an ashram where she found there were more horrific tales than her own. Then she faced the hypocrisy of the caretakers and decided the street is the best place to try living. And hence the street life and her designated footpath.

She barely speaks to anyone now and has her own world to worry about. What does she eat? Anything that she is given, usually stale food she picks up from a prominent hotel's bin nearby. Once in a while she buys idlies with sambhar from roadside vendors but that's rare.

"I am a regular here. I even get credit from the idly-walah. The police here recognize me and don't chase me away."

"What's your wish?" I ask her to check if I could do something.
"Do a movie with Nagarjuna!"
"No. Tell me something that I can do."

I look at her eyes to see if she is sad. She is not! There is a glow in her eyes, a glint that tells me there is a wicked twist.

"Do they visit you anytime?"
"No!"
"Do you visit them?"
"NO!"
"To them, I am dead and so they are to me."

"Tell me something..." this is the first time she looks at me eye-to-eye, "Why is your generation so selfish?" That look burns my insides and my mouth goes dry even when I know I am not in the wrong.
"I don't know."
"Forget it. You seem to be a nice kid."

"You know I am very neat," she smiles. "I wash my clothes and take bath everyday." I smile back.

"It is getting late. You should go now. All other neighbors would come and literally seize your money and gold away. Worse they will throw me out from here. Leave now." I nod and got up and as I reach to my purse she smiles and tells me she doesn't need any money. She has a bank account and gets her pension. "That is more than enough."

"Moreover, this city takes care of me now. I will be fine. And thanks for your time." She looks away. I smell moistness in her eyes.

I still give her some money and start my bike. I some how carry a lot of weight in me now. I want to do something but don't know what to. I tell myself I will do something for sure.

"Munna! You want to know what I did with my money?" That is the first time she calls me that. And that's the last. I stop my vehicle and look at her blankly.

"I donated everything to the ashram I used to live. It is a small amount, but my children would never get it."

That wicked smile comes back to her face again. Only this time it is not wicked but the joy and satisfaction. I feel a lot lighter and confusingly happy. While I was recovering from this jab she lifts her sacks and walks away into the park opposite to her spot. I look at her disappear into the shadows.

The next day I see her she has her 'mentally ill' look and antics back again and acts as if she doesn't recognize me. She refuses to take the food or money I gave and starts yelling. I try a few more times and then I decide to leave her alone. For her I represent the truth, pain and suffering that she had to face from my generation.

Back in my own life I couldn't taker her off my mind as to why she was calm. Now I know. She is at peace with herself. I'm not.

Pic: Old Age

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

They know...

I literally mean it. They know. They just know. You got to be watching what you speak. I don't know if I am thinking too much but definitely seeing things that you should be worried about. By you I mean all of us consumers. Let me explain...

During the last few months I have moved across 4 states in Southern India and have been using 5 different mobile service providers and I have seen it everywhere. I think the privacy of my conversation or sms is being compromised! That worries me. I guess this is common across service providers.

I speak to someone on my mobile about eating a pizza and next moment I get sms offering me a pizza at a particular outlet, I talk about doing a PG course in psychology and the next sms is about a distance program in psychology! This just gets better... talk about marriage, paying bills, changing a job, buying a flat, car or whatever and there are high chances that you end up getting offers on you mobile. Now is this common? I don't know if we have that kind of technology being used by service providers now or if it is legal, but you can easily make out certain words and then sell it to a 3rd party who might be interested. That's MY privacy... sold!

Try this and check for yourself. Oh... the rules of the game are loosely like this:
  • You got to have a post paid connection
  • Avg. bill amt is more than a particular limit(I don't get offers for a BMW)
  • Splurging age(20-35yrs)
  • Working
  • In a metro
I am sure you should have seen this and dismissed it but just think. They just know what you need next. Isn't that haunting?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'll Be There for You

So no one told you life was going to be this way.
Your job's a joke, you're broke, you're love life's DOA.
It's like you're always stuck in second gear,
Well, it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.

But, I'll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour.
I'll be there for you, like I've been there before.
I'll be there for you, cause you're there for me too.

You're still in bed at ten, the work began at eight.
You've burned your breakfast, so far, things are going great.
Your mother warned you there'd be days like these,
But she didn't tell you when the world has brought you down to your knees.

That, I'll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour.
I'll be there for you, like I've been there before.
I'll be there for you, cause you're there for me too.

No one could ever know me, no one could ever see me.
Seems like you're the only one who knows what it's like to be me.
Someone to face the day with, make it through all the rest with,
Someone I'll always laugh with, even at my worst, I'm best with you.

It's like you're always stuck in second gear,
Well, it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.

But, I'll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour.
I'll be there for you, like I've been there before.
I'll be there for you, cause you're there for me too.

--- Rembrandts - Friends Lyrics

Monday, September 14, 2009

Help!

The best definition of business I have heard is that it creates a culture of value creation. Every thing in business boils down to one main focus: to help customers get to where they've dreamed(dreamt is correct too, only it is British).Too many people have got this wrong and have complex explanations about what business is and how it should be done but the ultimate objective is to help your customers to get what they want by providing your products/services. Once you are clear about this, you know what to pitch and how to win customers over.

Same applies to employees as well. As a manager you are helping your employees achieve what they want. This may be a need anywhere on Maslow's pyramid but that is what you are helping them achieve. While doing that you help yourself achieve yours. So the customer/employee becomes the first priority and you stay back. Now you know who is the focus here. So today.. go help! You would end up helping yourself.

Friday, September 11, 2009

911 & God... A thought

From Stanley...

On the 11th of September 2001 my wife and I were to visit New York and Washington. Sitting before the television after breakfast we were suddenly thrown into a pool of tears to think of what happened to thousands at 9 am and how God spared us.

Almost all the evangelical Christian leaders of America would agree that God is angry with their nation. A country which was founded on God and the Bible has drifted away from Him. God says, " My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters; and hewn themselves cisterns-broken cisterns-that can hold no water" (Jer 2:13). America has invented new gods. The attack on the World Trade Centre is God's rebuke against the god of materialism. The goddess of entertainment received her rebuke when the antenna on the tower fell. The attack on Pentagon is a rebuke on the reliance on military strength. The hijacking of airplanes tells us that we cannot boast of our technological advance. It's time that what's inscribed on the American coin-IN GOD WE TRUST-be transcribed on the hearts of people. King Solomon, the wisest and the wealthiest man who ever lived, said, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding" (Prov 3:5).

By letting such a tragedy happen in the only super power nation in the world, God tells all the inhabitants of the earth, "Everything that can be shaken must be shaken so that only that which cannot be shaken may remain" (See Heb 12:27). It is not the super power but the supernatural power that will stand for ever.

The city of Chennai (India) experienced a tremor measuring 5.9 in the Ritcher Scale on the 25th the same month. Chennai is the Jerusalem of India. Are we heading towards a World War? This is a question that haunts every heart. We don't know anything at the moment for sure. Christ predicted of "wars and rumours of wars" as the "beginning of sorrows" (Mt 24:6-8). We are however admonished to pray for all leaders that we may lead "a quiet and peaceable life" (1 Tim 2:1,2). There is no security in the military strength or monetary power. No place on earth is absolutely safe.

Let's resound the immortal words of the hymnologist Edward Mote (1797-1874)-

On Christ the solid Rock I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

So?

Bravery is not an asset of a few. Many times in life you face with this question whether to be brave or to just let it go. Things like responsibilities, duties hold you down. I don't mean you need to show your bravery but wouldn't you love it?

Now coming to this pic, loved it. I stole it from a friend's Orkut profile. Isn't it awesome? Now who all wants to be the penguin? Got to be a good runner though.

Friday, September 4, 2009

RIP Rajasekhara

Its painful to see someone you know die. More so if the death is unnatural. The whole state of AP across genres, parties and sections are mourning the untimely death of CM Y S Rajasekhara Reddy who died in a chopper crash yesterday. The clip of his family members crying will remain etched for long in our minds as the feeling of how feeble human life is and how stupid materialistic life can be crosses all our minds. This is a black day for all of us here.

A visionary and a people's leader as he is known and a well respected parliamentarian who in his trademark style became friendly to rural folks as well as corporates... YSR will be missed for long. He led the state of Ap to great heights, planned huge developmental projects, gave Arogya to the poor, walked a record 1400 kms and won not just the elections but also the hearts of people. With his trademark Ayya Adhyaksha made many pointers which sent opposition realing as well as handled many a pressure with ease. If there is a take away it is that though he was ignored for 20 yrs in a field where if you are not in news for a week you are outdated he came back with a vengance and is at present the most valuable asset for the UPA being in power. Consistency, hardwork, sincerity and patience are his decoration.

RIP Rajasekhara.

Adapt