Google+ Consumer Psyche: 2011

Leader

Sunday, December 18, 2011

In Christ alone

All depends on which side of the counter you are in


When I was a young boy, my father often used to ask me to buy some postcards on my way back from school. We lived in a small dusty town in West Bengal. The man behind the counter in the post office was the slowest human I have ever seen in my life. There would be no flicker of expression on his face on seeing me coming to the other side of his table, obviously asking for postcards. He would talk to the woman in the next table about Sunil Gavaskar's dazzling performance and how Bengali cricketers were discriminated and politically excluded from the team. After a straight 10 minutes, he would see me, open his table drawer and fish out, not the postcard, but a betel nut and paan, elaborately design it with buntings and put it in his mouth. Only after the full taste of paan had reached his central nervous system would he look at me and ask ummm?

Invariably he would not have small change, and would tell me how bad government made such problems before I was permitted to leave.

On Saturday evenings, I used to accompany my mother to the ration shop for our quota of sugar and rice. It would be a long queue. Once, the post office man was just behind us. He was so perturbed by the process that he was venting his anger by telling people close to him in the line about the problems of the rationing system, till he was loud enough to be heard by the ration assistant who made it clear that anyone not liking to stand in the queue could go home. After all, he never asked us to come and queue up. It was funny. It all depends on which side of counter you are — in life, in post-office or in the ration shop. The Congress tries to pass a bill and the BJP is against it. The CPI (M) government tries to set up industry and the Trinamool fights tooth and nail. I think it all boils down to which side of the counter you are.

That, according to me is the first law of counter. Your authority depends on which side of counter you are. And that obviously leads you to the second law. The subject continues to be on the same side of counter till disturbed by an extraneous force like retirement or election, as the case may be. But once you are pushed out to the other side of counter, life changes, often drastically.

I know of a police officer who became depressed, needing psychiatry support and finally committed suicide. Not lack of money, not family problems, but he could not do with the lack of power, the absence of police car, the missing uniformed driver and the salutes. All that comes as long as you are on the inside of the counter.

And one last thing. It may not be logical and always true, cannot be put forward as a law, but just a belief I have. Every action, done when you are on the inside of the counter, has an equal and opposite reaction once you are out on the other side, today or tomorrow. The laws have been proven and validated umpteen number of times. Well, why is it then that they are not in the textbooks? It took decades before my predecessor's laws were accepted. And if Newton could wait, why not me?

(Open Page: The writer is Head of the Department of Cardiology, PRS Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram. His email id is: tinynair@gmail.com)

The perils and peculiarities of perfectionists


Perfectionists are a breed by themselves, not ready to fit into the ordinary mould and mode of life easily. They are a species apart, courting controversies at times, and, recoiling shyly into a shell the next moment.

Practice makes perfect, goes the adage. Unfortunately, one who is perfect normally finds the going tough. Leading life turns irksome for perfectionists. Being sensitive, they suffer for myriads of reasons. They are normally stamped as argumentative, uncompromising, complainants, weeping aunties, doubting Thomases, pessimists, party spoilers, rule-minded and what not. Persons not so well-organised generally find others tough nuts and stumbling blocks.

The other day, I was travelling by train in a 3-tier AC coach. I have no false claims or qualms of being a perfectionist except that I held a bona fide ticket. No sooner I settled into my berth quietly than a youngster appeared on the scene and asked me whether I would mind shifting to an adjacent coach (Thank God, not to the next train) as one of his friends (out of a party of six) was (sinned? and) allotted berth in the next compartment. He almost swooped to shift my luggage arbitrarily from the leg space, taking my coercive nod for granted. A man of fragile frame, I could not have resisted him physically though.

I did not wish to contaminate their bonhomie. I checked with him whether the one he was offering me was also a lower berth, as I had to alight at a mid-point station during unearthly hours. He said it was a side-upper berth. I said it would be inconvenient for me as I was six feet tall. (Not that I would have ungrudgingly hopped to that berth if I had grown a foot less). Half smilingly and twisting his body uncomfortably, he very humbly queried what I could have done had I been originally allotted a side-upper berth in the first place. He had a logic, quaint and queer, nevertheless. I did not wish to prolong the ordeal for him. (Anyway, at 59, I was also an odd man out in their company) I obliged him (though not merrily) as it meant buying peace (I could also simultaneously dread how turbulent and troubled my journey would be if I did not pay heed).

As the berth exchange was settled for good, I thought I could steal a pretty nap which I badly needed. It was not to be so. While I was about to mount and lodge myself in the newly acquired (cabinet?) berth, a middle aged woman resting on the side-lower berth below asked me whether I would barter mine for the opposite upper berth assigned for her son as the child tended to roll over and fall while asleep. (I learnt the rudiments of railway dynamics for the first time that falling from a side-upper berth was safer than tumbling down from a regular upper berth.) I did not ask her, out of civility, what if I darted on to the coach floor in my slumber from the upper berth she was offering.

I acceded to her request. As the train moved out of the platform and the commotion inside the compartment subsided, I found to my dismay, in the middle of the night, that both child and mother were sharing the same side-lower berth, leaving the side-upper berth vacant but for their luggage positioned there. (Did she perceive me as a potential nocturnal threat that she shifted me to an opposite one? My ego suffered a mild bruise).

I had a boss in the bank where I served. He was principled and also a strict disciplinarian. He never tolerated anyone using wrong words. He once asked me whether I could switch on the “artificial wind blower.” I looked frantically for such a hitherto unheard-of equipment existing in his cabin. He chided me for not even knowing the correct phrase for a “fan.” (According to him, “fan” is too general a term to be used for an electrically operated ceiling fan.) He always called a spade a spade. (Of course, a spade cannot be called a goat unless when one is mentally deranged).

Once when he wanted me to go out and meet a client I told him politely that “It was raining heavily outside.” He admonished me that it should rain only outside and it was enough if I conveyed, “It was raining.” He always corrected me whenever I said “concerned department.” He would say, “Department concerned.”

A young visitor once knocked at his cabin door and asked, “Can I come in, Sir” My boss retorted: “Try, if you can.” The visitor disappeared into thin air instantly.

My father-in-law was also one such perfectionist who found the going arduous. Even at home, whenever he volunteered to help the womenfolk with family chores during festivals and ceremonies, they would make fun of his perfectionist attitude. When he was allowed to cut vegetables rarely during occasions, he would, of course, bring an old geometry box and measure the length of each vegetable so that it was cut into uniform pieces to counter and balance any possible uneven frying or boiling. My mother-in-law would simply snatch away the vegetables and the cutting apparatus from him, pungently remarking that at his pace of precision-vegetable-surgery, food would be ready only the succeeding year. Poor man used to abandon his mission and switch to other tasks not relevant to the kitchen.

My father-in-law once hired a worker to climb the coconut trees in the backyard of his house and pluck ripe nuts. The labourer crawled up the tree and started plucking unripe ones. My father-in-law lost his cool at the sight and yelled at the man from below, “Don't you have brains? Didn't I tell you to pluck the ripe ones?” The workman got wild at this rebuke and murmured inaudibly, “If I had brains, you would be here on the top of this tree and I would be in your place, lording from below.”

A man in his forties once happened to meet my father-in-law during a train journey and befriended him. Asked what he was doing, the man replied, “To be honest, Sir, I am unemployed.” My father-in-law turned to me and asked, “What has honesty to do with his unemployment?” My mother-in-law always dreaded and trembled at the prospect of fist fights that might follow as her husband would not take idiocies in his stride during his outings. She would take the lead in hiring and negotiating with autodrivers and porters and also buy things from vendors en route to scuttle grammar wars and contradictions.

Perfectionists are a breed by themselves, not ready to fit into the ordinary mould and mode of life easily. They are a species apart, courting controversies at times, and, recoiling shyly into a shell the next moment. Their art of living is peculiar though it may appear odd and eccentric to other specimens.

(Open Page: The writer's email ID is pushpasaran@yahoo.co.in)

The silly side of facebook


Call it the FB mania or FBism, the “in-thing” today. Every other person surely has an FB ID whether or not has a Pan ID, Voter ID, Smart Card ID or Passport ID. Be it teenagers, youngsters, the middle aged and now even senior citizens (out of compulsion to be in touch with their NRI children) are all falling into this culture called FB.


I believe what attracts them about Facebook are : F: free; A: advertising of oneself; C: campaigning for one's ideas, with E: entertainment on a B: big scale, giving O: opinions, O: opposing at times and K: knitting strangers.

Facebook provides the free opportunity to advertise oneself by uploading hundreds of photographs; I wonder if any friend would have the time and patience to see all these photos and comment on the same. The most common comments are, “How sweet”, “Awesome pic”, “Excellent pic”, “Soooo sweet” or “Lovely pics”, with hardly even 10 per cent of sincerity and truth in the comment. The sole intention is — I commented on yours, now you comment on mine.

Facebook allows campaigning for one's ideologies through posting uninvited, unsolicited comments, emphasising views and thoughts vehemently and ending up in a war of words between absolute strangers.

But what excites me is the daily status updates. Anything is posted in the name of updating status. Following are some of these: “feeling low today”, “I am having a running nose”, “had idly, vada, sambar and icecream yesterday”, “want to go for a movie”, “made potato curry today.”

Sometimes, the status updates have a picture as well, specially during festivals. A proud display of home made diwali sweets, krishna jayanti sweets and, at times, the daily cooked meals, sometimes accompanied with recipes. And the comments for these are, “I wish I could eat it now”, “looks delicious” (wonder what would happen if the friend really tasted it), “please send it across.”(so that they could skip cooking on that day.)

The most amazing one was the status update of a woman with the ultrasound scan picture of her foetus, posted as her profile picture.What a pity even the unborn is forced to be a part of the facebook!

Last but not the least, the number race for having the highest number of friends lures them into accepting and sending friend requests for and from aliens; however, they may avoid their own relatives fearing breach of privacy. Also, such people have trouble saying “hello” to their neighbours, but the irony is the same neighbours who live just a few yards away are the best of friends on facebook and are found commenting on each other's pictures and perhaps chatting.

God save these jerks! Not excluding myself — a victim of this FB fanaticism. Why this FB veri di?

(The writer's email id is: deepusekhu@gmail.com)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Can't wait to see this

Image is from here.

Flavored air with potato chips

Sarah and me bought a pack of the family/party pack of chips today and she was wondering why they need such a big pack for so few chips and I mentioned this article. Am sure you would love reading it too.


Mumbai. Lay’s, the premium producers of packaged flavored air, faced a major crisis today when a production glitch resulted in far more potato chips being put into every pack of air than the “normal” level. Potato chips normally fill around 5% of the packet volume and they are helpful in adding flavor to “packaged air”, which is the flagship product of the company.

The production glitch caused this level to go up to 75%, sending the top management of the company in a tizzy. Before the Quality Control supervisor could detect it, hundreds of thousands of packaged air with “Magic Masala” flavor were already in the market and the news about the production glitch spread like wildfire.

“It was unbelievable!” 15-year-old Ravish Kumar exclaimed as he munched a handful of chips, “I bought the packet, slipped it in my school bag, and waited for my friend to go away before opening it, so that I don’t have to share those 12 chips with him. When I opened the packet I saw that it was full of potato chips! I immediately went back to the shop and bought five packets more, yes, can you believe it? Packets full of chips!”

People couldn’t believe their eyes when dozens of potato chips came falling out as soon as they opened the bulging packets.

Ravish claimed that it was the first time when he tried putting more than two wafers in his mouth in one go.

“I would normally put one at a time as I wanted to enjoy each one of those 12 valuable chips. But sometimes I’d put in two, as no one can eat just one. But boy, the human mouth is capable of taking in at least 12 chips in one go, see!” said Ravish as he enthusiastically crushed a bunch of 12 chips with his 32 teeth.

Hundreds others like Ravish too found out about the high amount of chips level in Lay’s flavored air packets and soon every general store was besieged by hordes of customers and chips enthusiasts, forcing police to resort to a mild lathicharge to disperse the crowd.

“Well, yeah, we always knew that they were packets of flavored air, but we bought them for those little chips,” claimed Ankit, a customer with lathi bruises on his left foot and 20 units of “defective” flavored air packets in his hands, “You know, it’s like some people buying eggs only for the egg white.”

Realizing that a high level of chips in a packet meant for flavored air could have adverse impact on consumers’ health, Lay’s has decided to recall all the defective packets of flavored air. The company has also issued a public apology.

“It has always been our goal to provide people with the finest flavored air that is becoming rare due to urban pollution. This is an aberration and we promise that such mistakes will not be repeated again,” Kareena, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Lay’s told Faking News.

Sources suggest that the production glitch happened when an employee accidentally changed the “Chips in Packet” (CIP) setting from “Commercially Available” to “For Advertisement Only”.

Lay’s PRO dismissed rumors that the top management had beaten up the erring employee because of whom Lay’s profit margins risked being wafer-thin.

“The official position of the company is that we treat our employees well. That particular employee fell down a flight of stairs after he had slipped off on a banana peel in the section where we are coming up with a banana flavored air,” Kareena clarified the “truth” in a press statement.

“There has been a mistake and the company will learn from it, No one will be Lay’d off! We do not give up so easily when the chips are down!” she added.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Aakhir dil hai Hindustani


Ranjith's guest post. Despite his tough schedule he could come out with something this wonderful :) Hail consumergiri!

Sundays are a great way to spend one seventh of your life.

So as I sit here at Costa Coffee CMH road, sipping on a chilled peach-passion-fruit-cooler and feasting on a warm fig-and-walnut cake, looking at the babes that walk by from behind my big black sunglasses (specially bought for this exclusive purpose :), I’m thinking quite hard of what to write for Tiger’s blog.

Tiger and I have a strange history together – we’re fellow bloggers who had come together for the Indiblogger Bangalore bloggers meet and the subsequent newspaper report covering the event had our pictures together for a article humbly titled ‘Superstars of Blogosphere’(yes, seriously! :). And as is the norm in the world today, we fb friended each other and then later, we pretty much went back to our individual worlds. Till he gave me the honor of guest posting in his blog last week.

So, what do I write?..........hmmm…..

I look at Tiger’s blog and see the words ‘consumer’, ‘sales’, ‘service’ and the sorts… hmmm.. interesting,...... So, what do I write?..........

And I take another nibble of the warm cake….

It is quite yum actually…. And I realize that it’s my first time here at Costa. I’ve always been a CCD guy and have been a regular at the CCD on 100 feet road, Indiranagar, Bangalore and have been a sucker for its amazing location – it’s surrounded by huge green trees, overlooks the classy 100ft road, is at a good viewing distance away from all the traffic and the food was good too - I’ve probably had a hundred and one chocolate fantasy cakes and cappuccinos there with friends, family and favorites. But of late, I’ve been quite disillusioned by CCD’s service (or rather, the total lack of).

And that is the consumer in me talking. I’ve been a consumer to CCD for a while but now have happily changed loyalties to somebody else who gives me better bang for my buck. And come to think of it, we’re all infected with the same syndrome – we’re all consumers every day. And we are very careful about whom we choose to hand over our hard earned money. In the shining version of India today, brand loyalty has become a shaky concept considering the flood of brands we’re exposed to. Brands that do not get their act together will be rejected outright, no matter how big they may be elsewhere in the world. Even the world’s most favorite brand, the mighty Apple did not find many takers for its latest iPhone 4S in India recently, mainly because we did not find it worthy enough at such costs.

We Indians are a peculiar lot – we want the best but we won’t pay the best. And that’s not really a bad thing at all. But mind you, we’re not after cheap products- we still look down upon the ‘made-in-china’ ware – we Indians seek value, not cheap. And brands, that have identified this quirk of ours as an opportunity, have succeeded. Cases in point –
  • In the Indian automobile sector of today, almost every player has realized the importance of India-centric cars. Gone are the days when India was just a dumping ground for foreign also-rans. Today global players like Hyundai make cars for the discerning Indian consumer and if it clicks here, it’s then also exported to foreign shores. Almost every player has brought out a made-for-India-car: Ford’s greatest success in India is its India car, Figo; Toyota too gave an Indian grill to its cars with the successful Etios; Honda responded to the Indian challenge by slashing the price of its Jazz and bringing out its pocket friendly Brio. To satiate the Indian consumer’s search for value, cars have also started coming out with their diesel versions much faster than before.
  • Telecom – One of the biggest drivers for value is open competition and the best Indian example for this is Indian telecom. I can’t even tell you how consumer centric the Indian telecom market has become once it was opened to open competition – Indian telecom has today one of the lowest rates in the world and to cater to this market dynamic, telcos have turned themselves into much more efficient versions by fine tuning their operations. And in response to their troubles, we have rewarded the telcos by becoming one of the fastest growing telecom markets in the world and stand today as the country with second largest number of mobile users in the world. Indian telcos like Airtel are taking their rich experience of profitably catering to the value conscious Indians to strike gold in other markets like Africa. Vodaphone’s India arm is considered as one of its best performing units. Next year, a new set of rules are slated to make the telecom industry even more competitive and thereby, even more consumer centric (are the FDI-in-retail opponents listening?).
  • Apna fmcg market is rife with examples of companies constantly evolving their value proposition. The shampoo categories got revolutionized with the low cost sachets, driven by desi brand Chik. Firangs companies that got this right later extended the concept to the detergent segment and now also to food: categories like biscuits and chocolates have started offering products at the ever declining price points. Retailers like Walmart and Tesco are feared from entering India for the awesome value play that they can bring to the consumer that will squeeze the politically connected middle men out of business, hence explaining their opposition to the consumer centric FDI in retail.

Consumergiri. Well, few instances of our consumergiri that I could think about, embedded deep within the dil of the hindustani consumer are:
  • Show me the value and I’ll show u the money: We already have an idea what value is. Some companies cut down on quality/size/both to reduce price in their quest for value– and it does work in many cases but is never a sustainable solution – in fact, it’s also one of the best ways to kill a brand – remember Akai TV. Similarly, I know a lot of people who refuse to buy electronics from EZone, because of the owner’s focus on being sabse sastha (maybe a totally untrue belief). But brands that have mastered the art of justifying their high price with value have been phenomenally successful. For example, P&G’s flagship products, Whisper and Pampers, are the undisputed leaders in their respective categories in spite of their higher prices. The operating word in the Indian side of life has always been value, which is not just a reduced price tag; and brands that understand and respect this have had valuable experiences in India.
  • I’m smart, in case you still haven’t noticed: Some great dude once said that ‘the consumer is not an idiot – she is your wife’. And many brands and services think they can outsmart us to a royal ride by serving shoddiness. Think of auto drivers – why is Rajnikanth from Baasha the only auto driver we ever liked? – but seriously, auto guys have never really been a liked bunch out here (in Bangalore at least). Cos we already know how much it really costs to get us there – really! Mantri mall in Bangalore has started a pre-paid auto service and the rates that have been printed on the sheet are mostly inflated by at least 30-40 bucks. You think we did not know? So what do we do? We just walk outside the mall for a little while and get another auto who charges us more reasonably. Or better yet, we get the red a/c bus. We still get home while the auto guys pay the exorbitant mall parking charges – so who’s the real loser out here for the over smartness? We are the land of the jugaad – defined as the gutsy Indian art of finding opportunities in the most adverse circumstances – we will find another way; it’s in our blood to do so. Respect our intellect and we’ll give you your chance, you savvy?
  • Mere paas social media hai: There’s this interesting story that when Farah Khan did not find Pampers at her neighborhood, she tweeted about the shortage and the resulting backlash prompted P&G to send her a month’s supply of diapers within a day. Similarly, facebook has as much a role in damaging brand equity as much as making it too – remember the recent story when most admired telecom brand Vodafone got enmeshed in a whole episode of negative publicity when V decided to slap legal charges against a customer who posted about its pathetic network on fb (yup, “he’s always on facebook”..;)) – the resultant negative publicity that grew on fb against the brand was something Vodafone could really have done without. And today as we speak, Kapil Sibal’s anti-democratic directives to websites have met with widespread uproar from the junta on social media. Moral of the story: In the inter connected world of today, news of bad service as well as good, travels at the speed of net.
So ultimately, the one word that sums the coziest brand-consumer relations anywhere is just one simple word – respect; respect me and I’ll respect you back. And this is what makes up brands like Tata, Infosys, Amul tick – they respect the hindustani in us, they respect our consumergiri, they respect us as we are – they make us a promise and deliver it.

So let’s go back to the Costa – CCD face off with which we started this post with. Why do you think they’re both doing what they are right now?

Well, here’s my take –

Most people don't realize it, but the world’s largest restaurant chain, McDonald's is not just a restaurant chain; it is one of the world's best real estate companies -> franchisees make the burgers while McDonald's gets to own the best commercial property all over the world. CCD has probably realized that their real worth is not only the money it makes by selling coffee but the valuable real estate it keeps buying all across. Bangaloreans will know that CCD joints have come up at prime properties on MG road, and it’s actually a good thing cos ur favorite coffee is just a tad closer to your favorite hangouts. But me thinks that all this just made CCD lazy on its USP. At the crux of all this is that the once amazing experience they used to provide with great location, great food and drinks –their USP – got lost somewhere along the way. Also another thing I’ve noticed is that CCD is now focusing on their premier outfits like the CCD Lounge and the CCD Square, where I’ve found the prices quite high but the service great. Maybe (just maybe), CCD is just busy buying land and upping their service quotient only at their higher priced new formats in the hope of upgrading their consumers to these higher priced ware, overlooking their earlier format.

But what CCD did not account for is that the gap that CCD created was simply taken up by Costa. And Costa today reminds you of what CCD used to be when it started off – a great place with great food. I sincerely hope that CCD does something to bring back the magic in their joints, especially at my once favorite one at 100feet, Indiranagar, Bangalore. And ironically, even if they don’t pull up their socks, I know I won’t be bothered at all as there’s always Costa… or Barista…or Gloria Jeans .. or Java….or a whiff of news of something called Starbucks coming along…. so on guard, CCD!

And I take another nibble of the warm yummy cake…. and a sip of the superb chilled peach-passion-fruit-cooler…

Aaah… Sundays …..

Pure Bliss…

:)

Monday, December 12, 2011

How Good A Boss Are You?

Mostly forwarded but rarely practiced.

As we discovered in 7 Signs You May Be a Bad Manager, bosses aren’t usually aware that they are bad bosses. The fact is that nobody wants to believe they’re the problem. Nevertheless, there’s a bell curve for all things involving people, which means there are few really bad bosses, few really good bosses, and most of you fall somewhere in the middle.

To me that says, for the vast majority of you, there’s lots of room for improvement.

So, if you’re not exhibiting any of the 7 Signs, that’s great, pat yourself on the back. Still, if you really want to up your management game, maybe even vault into the executive or ownership ranks someday, you’d better start doing at least a few of these 10 Things That Good Bosses Do.

Incidentally, this isn’t from some academic study. These are real attributes of real bosses, culled from decades of observation, which motivate and inspire employees to perform at their best.

1. Pay people what they’re worth, not what you can get away with. What you lose in expense you gain back several-fold in performance.

2. Take the time to share your experiences and insights.Labels like mentor and coach are overused. Let’s be specific here. Employees learn from those generous enough to share their experiences and insights. They don’t need a best friend or a shoulder to cry on.

3. Tell it to employees straight, even when it’s bad news. To me, the single most important thing any boss can do is to man up and tell it to people straight. No BS, no sugarcoating, especially when it’s bad news or corrective feedback.

4. Manage up … effectively. Good bosses keep management off employee’s backs. Most people don’t get this, but the most important aspect of that is giving management what they need to do their jobs. That’s what keeps management away.

5. Take the heat and share the praise. It takes courage to take the heat and humility to share the praise. That comes naturally to great bosses; the rest of us have to pick it up as we go.

6. Delegate responsibility, not tasks. Every boss delegates, but the crappy ones think that means dumping tasks they hate on workers, i.e. s**t rolls downhill. Good bosses delegate responsibility and hold people accountable. That’s fulfilling and fosters professional growth.

7. Encourage employees to hone their natural abilities and challenge them to overcome their issues. That’s called getting people to perform at their best.

8. Build team spirit. As we learned before, great groups outperform great individuals. And great leaders build great teams.

9. Treat employees the way they deserve to be treated. You always hear people say they deserve respect and to be treated as equals. Well, some may not want to hear this, but a) respect must be earned, and b) most workers are not their boss’s equals.

10. Inspire your people. All the above motivate people, but few bosses have the ability to truly inspire their employees. How? Bysharing their passion for the business. By knowing just what to say and do at just the right time to take the edge off or turn a tough situation around. Genuine anecdotes help a lot. So does a good sense of humor.

All this adds up to an environment where people feel appreciated, recognized, challenged, and appropriately compensated. So what do you think? How do you measure up on the good boss scale?

Monday Blues: Spend some time with your family


Keeping the Monday blues away and making sure all the deliverables are on time is tough especially after a good weekend. Here is how you can motivate yourself and finish your work on time and get going. Get yourself to spend some time with your family. It can be your children, partner parents, friends, your dog or just yourself. Get out there and have some fun with once you are back home. Am not talking some home-based, couch bound fun on TV or your lappie. Get out and get some fresh air, sweat out and relax. Why should we be sad on a Monday?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Consumer Psyche: Feed an orphan initiative


Thank you for the wonderful response to our Feed an orphan initiative. I have received some mails and text messages asking as how and why we are doing this. Let me explain.

I was looking for a logo to be designed for my blog and some marketing to be done and allocated a budget for the same. Then I started scouting for people who can do the logo and design it in a better way so that I would stop using the free templates. It was a modest budget as I never try to make money from this blog and never will for myself. That is when we realized that we were ready to spend thousands on rupees on a logo and seo which could be very useful for some other reason which is much more worthy.

That is when we decided to come up with a campaign to help an orphanage. I was searching for a good orphanage which actually does some work and then found one in Puttenahalli, Bangalore. There are about 85 girls there. These girls aged between 2 and 19 (with majority being 3-7yrs) are all either orphans or street kids picked up and are being provided food, shelter, education and good care. So every like on our facebook page: Consumer Psyche earns a good meal to these kids.


Thank you once again for your support and we are happy with the 46 likes we got in three days and counting to 200!


I don't remember the where I had downloaded this picture to credit.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How to survive the next decade

A looming market downturn and changing focuses from the field isn't a good sign for any of us. This is a good time to check our focus and see how we can survive the next decade. Here are a few thoughts.
  1. Increase sales of existing products
  2. Improve existing products
  3. Go Green/Eco Friendly
  4. Develop new products
  5. Keep manufacturing at a state of the art level, lean and effective
  6. Evaluate and adapt new and innovative process technologies
  7. Save at least 12% of your present income
Can you add more?

R.I.P Dev Anand


Dev Anand also had a success mantra that today's actor can follow. "I read somewhere yesterday in the media where he was talking on his life to an eminent senior journalist that to remain a star you needed never to change your style and manner. Do not surprise your audiences and fans too much. Keep within the range that they identify you with. I doubt people went to see his films to discover a character change. They went to see Dev Anand and they got what they wanted all the time," shared Amitabh.

Bollywood ki aasmaan se kho gaya chand. R.I.P Dev Anand.

Consumer Psyche: Handicrafts Exports up by about 32%

Indian handicrafts market got a boost this year, especially in October with an increase in orders from new markets like Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. The exports jumped by about 32 percent year-on-year to USD 55 million in October on the back of rising demand from emerging markets like Latin America and the Middle East. The country's handicrafts exports stood at USD 41 million in October last year, according to the data provided by the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH). However, demand was sluggish in Western markets like the US and Europe due to fragile economic growth, he said. The US and Europe together account for about 60 percent of the country's total handicrafts shipments.

During April-October, 2011-12, handicraft exports grew by 20 percent year-on-year to USD 1.2 billion. Among the items that registered the maximum growth in overseas shipments, woodwares exports increased by 46 percent in October, while handprinted textiles and scarves exports grew by 44 percent, artmetal ware exports by about 33 percent, shawls as artware exports by 30 percent and imitation jewellery exports by 29 percent.

The council expects handicrafts exports to touch USD 2.7 billion in the current fiscal. During April-March, 2010-11, handicrafts shipments jumped by about 26 percent to USD 2.3 billion in comparison to the previous fiscal. Moradabad, Jaipur, Saharanpur, Jodhpur and Narsapur are the major handicraft hubs in the country catering to world markets, employing one million people.

There could be several reasons why this is happening. While the major reason could be the quality and cost effectiveness when compared to the competition, it is also the reach of the handicrafts to the buyer across the borders. With more manufacturers increasingly willing to push their wares online and soliciting trade, it is easier to be spotted and provides a wider choice.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Defy logic, define trend

Sometimes you need to take away all the logic and think differently to come up with a good marketing idea. It is not so easy as it seems to think out of the box. Many people have a difficulty to think within the box, if there is a box.

What triggers creativity? What impresses the consumer? Most of the times it can be an outlandish theory and need that the consumer hasn't even thought of or knew he wanted. That is where great minds come to work and great brands have been brought out. Consumers appreciate all the efforts if the product is outlandishly cool. Most of the times you may fail but then isn't it worth trying?

There can be only one brand as wonderful as Rajni. Rajni probably doesn't fit the marketing corners but could easily encompass the whole. I love this video as it tells me that to think differently is sometimes normal.

Nothing new would have been invented if everyone thought within the box.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Blues: Be amazing



Often we excel at being a moron and a tough-guy act and get away being that. There is absolutely no need to be that today. Why don't you take it easy and be amazing instead? Can you? I guess you can. So try and make things comfortable to your team, your customers and yourself.

Mondays are very amazing. They are the ones to denote you have a job and get going :)

Pic is from CoffeeTicks.

Deciphering Kolaveri


Sometimes nonsense is more sensible than sense itself. And you have more followers for the nonsense than sense. Yes, you can relate this to the mob behaviour and how fire catches on. Yes, I am talking about the Kolaveri effect and how it might be different from a regular viral. All pundits and people I spoke to have said that this would die down and cease to exist and it has already seen its best times. I would have agreed but for this is a different case altogether. Kolaveri shouldn't be categorized as a normal viral. There are several offspring versions to it and a multitude of languages, forms, lyrics and situations can be ascribed and the tune can carry. Though their life can be lesser than the original, they will still be there with a reminder about the original song.

How did this happen? There are practically no lyrics in the song. So you can fill whatever you want. There is no sense, so you can decipher as you want. There is a silly/stupid attitude which is welcome. It is like a blank canvas with outlines for you to fill in.

As a marketer I would love to create an effect like this and get it done to my brand. But guess what? It is not going to be an orchestrated one. It has to happen. If you want a hit on web, I have a question you might like. Which one of the following videos would get maximum hits? A video with a nice guy doing something normal or a guy being punched in the face?

Here is a good analysis of Kolaveri you should read.

Pic is from here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Someone is listening to you. ALWAYS!


Today's headline and open ed pages in The Hindu, a leading newspaper in India caught everyone's attention. After reading the article its déjà vu!

Now that you know the government is listening to you for your security or at least to help you, what if the technology falls in to the wrong hands? Scary. Such technology should be kept very very safe and out of the hands of miscreants and marketers ;) But given that you are already giving out a lot of information yourself, I might not need to listen to you all the time after all.

Here is a post I wrote in April this year and here is the bit you might like.

Did u get text messages and mails asking you to buy a site, car, loan, camera, etc.? Try talking about buying something on phone and you get these messages. Try speaking about eating out and you will get messages about dining and restaurants. Try speaking about parties, birthdays and you will get offers about gold, etc. You get the drift? Technology intrusion can be appalling.


This information allows me to see when you would feel low and have ice cream or down yourself in booze or call that particular friend, watch that movie, shop! I can understand your profile, your behavior, your psyche and us it to my advantage. I, the marketer, would be glad to shell out greens to have access to that information.


Scary? I feel so. Careful what you type on your Facebook status!

Where's my privacy? It ends where the next person's starts!

Pic is from The Hindu.

Consumer Psyche: Feed an orphan initiative

God has been good to me, my family and I am sure to you as well over the last year. This Christmas, it is good to give something back as a thanksgiving to God and share your happiness with people who weren't so blessed. From Consumer Psyche, we have decided to share some love with orphans and by feeding them with a good hearty meal. As a part of this initiative, we would love to have you play an important role.

What should you do?
Now you can feed an orphan with every new Like on http://www.facebook.com/consumerpsyche
[While I want to feed as many children as I can, this initiative is valid for the first 200 Likes only]
Feel free to share with your friends.

Pic courtesy: Thornybrown

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mineral Water vs Tap water

Harsha sent me this. I love the concept of self-sufficient communities. Clean water is our right and should be so. Plastic is a huge waste that takes innumerable years to degenerate and should be treated with diligence.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tell me its done

A post from November 30, 2008. God I miss being a student.


Being a student is never easy.

Especially when you play cricket every single night, watch movies, blog, Orkut, check mails, eat, do assignments, exams, fights, pranks, birthday parties, watch TV, have serious enlightening debates about life, terrorists, rain, try to read on the bed (sorry all other stuff like mags, novels are at the table) and then sleep when all the civilized world is waking up around 4 AM. So its not a big deal when you don't sleep, I mean in the night.

Its OK until you go to class and try to concentrate your sleep deprived brain, stressing on what the faculty is trying to say, read the alphabets on your book, scribble something on the paper. And after what seems to be at least 4 hours of non-stop logic, you want to see if the prof has exceeded the class time and try to give a quick look at the watch.. Its then that its hits you. Its hardly 15 mts since the class started. So what you do is pull up your chair stop leaning back on the featherlite chair and look at the prof as if you have some magical laser in your eye that would drill a hole in the prof or may be make him catch fire or disappear in to thin air with a whiff of smoke and you are left alone to doze off happily. By this your eyes are strained so much from the last nights movie that you cant hold your eyelids up any more and they act like they are made of wax and exposed to fire. They come slowly down, like a rain a blessing.

Ah! the feeling can't be expressed or explained. You need to FEEL it. Its so relieving, so soothing and beautiful that you seem to have reached such heights that you forget everything. All the world around you comes to a standstill and it becomes so silent and don't want to disturb you. Some rude push/punch/thud/elbow jerk wakes you up. Some people even pinch and you can't even yell. You are back to square one.

This time you try something different. You try to look at the prof who looks at you directly. No he looks through you and you don't know what is being discussed. You could be pulled up and questioned as to what was being discussed. The prof gives you the Do-you-want-me-to-pull-you-up-and-mess-your-life look and you give the look of a puppy that just spilt the coffee on your new blazer on the day of your interview. But the problem is that there is no where to run or hide. May be you could just disappear. Wow, isn't it a great idea. Disappearing. Puff and you are gone. Gone without a trace or may be you could leave a small smoke behind just to show you are gone or may be a dazzling flash of light. Light would be brilliant. It would be surprising and no one would know what happened. It would be sudden and fast like what Batman does in the movie. Hmm.. I remember the scene. Katie Holmes was looking too good in the movie. The dark background, her dove like eyes and what was the color of the dress? Need to re-watch the part when I get back to my room. Did you see Phonebooth? Oh! How I wish I was in my room, on the soft bed, hidden under the warm blanket where no one could disturb me, with my lappie, my iPod headphones plugged into my ears, going through the ppts, google and sleeping without realizing it. After all you need to be updated and stay ahead of the competition. Some one reduce the speed of the fan please. PINCH. Oh! did I sleep? No I didn't. I was just thinking as to what color would the smoke be when I disappear!

NO nonsense this time. Its hardly 30 mts since the class started and look at me! I need to concentrate and listen. I have a feeling that all the profs in common have something magical in them, some technologically advanced version of time-stopping-device or technique that makes 10 minutes like eternity and forget the full class of 105 mts! Its scientifically prove that the human concentration span is just 20-40 mts but still no one cares. So now how many more minutes before I leave this room That's 105-30, sorry 105-32 mts. Some 73 mts. Or is it 71? Who cares my mind has stopped working and demands rest right now and can wait no longer and the slides on the screen are Purple, Dark Purple. Hmm.. sounds like Bond, James Bond. How come they didn't use this phrase in the new bond movie Quantum of Solace? Is it a strategic decision or just a gimmic to attract attention? What a movie that was? The print I saw was bad but it was not exciting. What stupid story? Did I blog about this? I think I did. Ouch! Somebody pushed me! I swear I wasn't sleeping. "Not sleeping? You were snoring", comes the reply.

Oh! So I am think-sleeping (reached the advanced stages of insomnia like Al Pacino!) now. I should blog about this and should do some nice blogging and concentrate on management topics like Prof. Ray and Prof. Mark J Perry. Hey did we do the assignment that we were supposed to submit today? Who was doing it? Let me ask my team mates. Where are they? I give a quick glance at the prof who is explaining some concept to the class (Oops! Even I am a part of this...) What is he talking about? His hands are drawing something in thin air! Its a four-dimensional figure and I have missed the starting so I cannot understand the rest. Ok lets find the team.

Sitting in the first bench has its own advantages. You can sleep off, dream and with one turn look at the whole class. The disadvantage is that the whole class stares back at you as if you are some exhibition item which fell and broke off. There they are, the team, sitting in 7 separate locations like shattered glass and we are all united in not doing the assignment. I signal about the ppt and the report and they don't get a word. By this time half the class is looking at you and the prof, who gave you up, invariably looks at you and you nod your head in assertion as if you are agreeing with whatever he has just said and try to scribble in the paper. Oh! Where is the paper? And the pen? the paper is missing, the pen fell off long ago when you were dreaming about Katie's eyes and you try to pick it up. Look back at the prof and then the watch. Hmm.. 45 mts! Yes only 60 more to go. I know only doesn't make it any more easier. The thought alone sickens you. By the way it took just 1/100th of a second for you to calculate the remaining time.

I think I should SMS them and find out. There is no network. No one follows you here. Where is the pug? and Rahman? Lets see about the assignment later. There is a pause the lecture. Some one raised a point or may be its an objection and it is being discussed. May be I would understand if I start listening from here so that I can get the conclusion of the concept. 38 seconds later I get the feeling that the lecture is boring. Will I stick to the concepts and framework in the book or will I write creatively? You are expected to tread the text book, reference books, and gather all the information you could to have an in depth knowledge.

This is the time you are should learn and fill yourself with concepts, knowledge, information that would be useful to face the harsh world. Make good use of it.

And be thankful



Gratitude is a positive emotion. Well, you knew that part already. For years psychologists have tried to read what goes in your mind when you are thankful or givig thanks. Some interesting results have come up and it is in tune with what you think - giving thanks can change your mood and stop the emotional train from going in the wrong direction. Not just that being thankful can even reset the life button and change yoru attitude to being positive. Even when you think things aren't going your way. Especially when things are bad.

Being thankful works wonders in taking your brain from the junk place to a happy place. Away from the chaos that is gaining on you and your emotions. Stopping and giving thanks can help you stop the vicious cycle and help you come up with a potent positive emotion that will stimulate victorious and incredible joyous feeling. Your thinking gets clearer and better.

Heartfelt thanksgiving would not just reduce whinig but cut down on your complaint-flags your brain would raise and help you look at the warm light beam in the clouded valley of sorrow.

Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California and feels that it is more important to focus on people you are grateful for like parents, spouses, siblings or even your dog!

This will not just help you feel more alive, alert and interested but also help you be more enthusiastic. Gratitude is often called the most-neglected emotion and there is a huge impact of gratitude in your social, personal and developmental behaviour.

It's important to remind ourselves that the world doesn't always suck. Also remember the people who make you feel precious, happy, confortable and cared for as those are the people who actually love you and help you perform better in whatever you are doing.

If being grateful actually helps you to be a better performer, a better leader, a better sudent and a better person, then why not be grateful?

As St. Paul writes in Colossians 3:15: Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Your text messages = the real you!


Show me your phone inbox and I will tell what kind of a person you really are. And I don't need to be a rocket scientist to do that. Anyone can. Texting is wonderful area to study and helps in understanding what a person is doing or can be doing. I know about some researchers who are interested in this phenomena and that proper studies are being done about the texting habits and how it can influence a person and his/her behaviour but here are certain points that you might find useful and see if it is the same in your life as well. If you are a parent or want to watch out younger ones in your family falling into this trap, think about these.
  • We love love love love and love our text messages
  • Texting is often used as an alibi to look busy, to ward off boredom or to just look cool
  • You tend to say more direct, curt and personal stuff while texting, most of what you would never say in person
  • More people use texts or bullying, sexting and undesired not-so-great things
  • According to a study, 13% of the kids engage in sexting sending suggestive messages and almost the same number have taken part in exchanging nude or explicit photos
  • The same study also showed that sexting can be fun but almost always leads to not so positive experience for those involved
  • Texting can be really addictive and become twice more tough to quit than smoking!
So how can you tame this addiction and get out of situations where you send out a text and feel bad?

Do not send out a hate text or mail in the first place. Save it to drafts and revisit it later. Edit, delete and rephrase all the hate content if you actually want to send. A call is always better than a text. It saves a lot of time and emotional baggage.

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." -- Oscar Wilde.

Camera found under water: Is SanDisk listening?


That’s right, you read the headline is correct. Over the weekend a diver, Markus Thompson, found a camera at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, just off the coast of British Colubmia. He salvaged the camera, poked around a little bit (determining that the camera had been dropped into the water in August 2010), recovered the data off the card and, using Google+, found the owner.

Markus’ original post and updates here. The social web doing some good, a photographer getting back some property along with some thought-to-be-long-lost images… But… I’m guessing that all you really want to know is the brand of the card, right?

Funny, although I don’t blame you. Apparently this was a SanDisk Extreme III but, not that it overly matters…regardless what type of card you use, it’s true that many cards/types/brands can survive total submersion in water… now we just know that at least some of them can hang out in salt water for year(s). What an excellent opportunity for SanDisk to come out with a good campaign!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Blues: Sow more than you reap

 


"To really lead is to "judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant."

- Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday Blues: 5 Quick Productivity Tactics


From Robin Sharma's notes.
  1. Work in 90 minute bursts of productivity then take 20 minutes to recover and renew. Then work 90 minutes. Then renew. The clients I've helped to install this practice have reported off-the-chart results.
  2. Take a full day off from technology every week. Non-stop stimulation prevents you from doing your deepest thinking and achieving your greatest results.
  3. Block out negative influences so you stay at your best in uncertain times
  4. Learn to elegantly and politely say no (to unimportant activities)
  5. Exercise first thing in the morning for a day of peak energy and fierce stamina

Friday, November 25, 2011

Education is fun... if you want it to be

7 Traits Managers Find Irresistible by Steve Tobak

Sarah sent me this and it applies.

1. You do what it takes to get the job done. This is, or should be, number one on every manager’s list of things they value most in employees. This was one of the first lessons I learned early on and it made a huge difference in my career.

2. You meet your commitments. When you say you’re going to do something by a certain date, you’ll find a way. When you say it’ll cost $x, your boss can take that to the bank. You hold yourself accountable so your boss doesn’t have to. Just knowing you’re there reduces your boss’s stress.

3. You’re brave. You realize that business is a full-contact sport and you’re going to take some body blows. You can take some punishment. Competition doesn’t freak you out. Confrontation doesn’t scare you. You don’t shy away from visibility. Rather, you get a charge out of it.

4. You challenge the status quo. You’re genuine, direct, confident, and comfortable in your own skin. You tell it like it is and say what’s on your mind. You don’t drink the Kool-Aid or sugarcoat the truth. You don’t BS; when you don’t know, you say so. Authority doesn’t scare you so you don’t treat your boss or the CEO like some demon from the underworld.

5. You’re an innovative problem solver. You look at things from different angles and turn problems on their side to come up with unique solutions. The harder the problem, the greater the challenge, the more you dig in to find the answer. You live to solve problems.

6. Your razor-like focus. You don’t lose it at the first sign of trouble or complexity. Instead, you’re calm and steady. You stay focused when everyone else is running around like chickens with their heads cut off. You’re an island of order in an ocean of chaos.

7. You’re low maintenance. You don’t whine and complain. You don’t need to have your hand held for every little thing. You don’t take things personally. You’ve got reasonably thick skin. Folks don’t have to walk on eggshells around you and worry about offending you.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Have you shared too much?

With ever increasing global presence and growing population base that chooses to be online, it is important to stand up and take notice of what you have posted and what you really want to post. Not that I assume someone would stalk me but it is good to be diligent. What do you think?

Customer Service: Do It from the Inside Out

The sun beat down on the back of my neck. It was a scorching heat most people in Brazil have learned to accept, but I couldn’t bare it. I had just finished making a presentation to a room full of executives at an annual retreat. I couldn’t wait to jump into a taxi, rip off my coat, and breathe some cool air conditioning. A line of taxis were waiting; some looked new, others a little worse. One stood out like a beacon of pure refreshment—a shiny coat of sparkling blue paint made it appear perfectly maintained.

I jumped into the taxi and asked the driver to crank the air conditioning full blast. He did, but only hot air and dust came blowing through the vents. Then the engine sputtered and clunked as warning lights flashed on the dashboard. The driver explained the air conditioning didn’t work, and he nervously turned off the fan. I had been wooed by a shiny coat of paint.

Now let me ask about your company’s service. Is it just a shiny coat of paint that looks good on the outside but sputters and clunks when you really need it?

TIDYING UP THE SURFACE

Ask any doctor to cure a disease with a bandage. Ask any accountant to make bad numbers look good. Or ask an advertising agency to create beautiful packaging for a horrible product. It seems silly, a waste of time, a false and futile effort. Yet, as I travel the world meeting with some of the largest companies, I find that many approach their service with a shiny coat of paint.

They seem to be thinking only on the surface. Isn’t service what the customers see—the smiley faces and polite gestures? Can’t we just tell the front lines to do a better job and raise their level of service? Or can’t we simply hang some big posters with slogans that tell everyone we’re really committed to service? The answer is no.

Many organizations want to be service leaders. They want to turn their customers into evangelists. They want people to tell legendary stories about their service. They want referrals, recommendations, repeat orders, bigger market share. Yet too many of these would-be leaders try to fix their service problems or build a service culture by simply slapping on a fresh coat of paint or placing a meager bandage of advertising over the truth. Well, that’s not going to work, and that’s not how the companies recognized for outstanding service got there in the first place.

Consider this. Amid a crushing economic recession, while many famous names in finance collapsed, a client of mine in Singapore became the largest insurer in the country for life, motor, and health insurance. How did they do it? They transformed their approach to service starting from the inside of the organization and working out. Before asking their agents, brokers, and distributors to give customers and prospects better service, they built a stronger service culture inside the organization.

How do you boost your service from the inside out?

1. Declare Service a Top Priority: A business has many objectives: Sell more, cut costs, go faster, ship now, beat the competition. But all these can be sustained only if you satisfy those you serve and they come back for more. You must declare service a top priority and keep it there, especially when it might be forgotten. Make your declaration publicly to those you lead and keep it at the forefront in all that you do.
2. Everyone Serves Someone: It doesn’t matter if you lead a front-facing sales team, a back office operation, or a shared services function. Your purpose is to serve someone else. If you don’t make that clear to everyone on your team, you’re enabling a breakdown in service. All employees must understand who they serve and how to create value for colleagues or paying customers.
3. Enable Service Leadership from All Levels: If you’re going to ask people to give better service, you must empower them to become service leaders. Leading service from all levels means every employee takes personal responsibility for providing better service in every situation the position empowers him or her to reach. Service leadership must come from the top—but it can also be embraced at the bottom and encouraged and enabled everywhere in between.
4. Don’t Be Wooed By Shiny Things That Don’t Work: Building an uplifting service culture from the inside out is not an easy or overnight task. And although you may find it alluring, especially in the heat of the moment, to leap into a short-term solution, jump on a new mantra, or approve a new advertising campaign, you must do the real work of educating yourself and those around you, ensuring you have the tools to build a successful service strategy for the long haul. Otherwise, you’ll end up like I did, asking the taxi driver to turn around so I could start the process all over again.

Ron Kaufman is a global consultant who specializes in building service cultures. He is the author of UP! Your Service and 14 other books. His firm, UP! Your Service, has offices in Singapore and the U.S.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lessons In Forgetting: A book review



What happens is that if she a woman starts asserting her individuality then the transition (from something else to her own identity) is easy. But someone who subsumes herself into the identity of her husband and allows her other roles to contain her will find it difficult and wouldn't even know how and where to begin.

I know so many women in their mid-30's and sometimes even in their late-20's who start getting this restless feeling and think 'what have I done with myself and where do I begin?' Some of them are even forced to start afresh, alone, like Meera.

I want to be honest with you here. I was knocked out of my slumber when I read Lessons in Forgetting and once I finished reading, I felt I was in the same room as Meera. Never in the recent times have I been touched, amazed, met not imagined as strong a character who remains to be cheerful. I had to re-read certain passages to actually understand if what I felt was true or not.

Anita Nair has a charm for writing and am very impressed with the range of topics she chooses to write about like female infanticide, widow remarriage, empowering women which are a strict no-no for the modernized Indian who loves to stay out of the so called avoidable areas. It takes guts to stand out and write such topics and address them to the audience and yet be commercially successful. It takes a tremendous commitment to come out with such a wonderful rendition to make the characters acceptable in all their blemishes and past and yet be endearing.

Lessons in Forgetting starts with Meera and how her life is set to a timetable, a calender that involves a methodic phase of setting to and how it revolves around the characters in her life her mother, granny, her daughter and son and husband who seem to take her for granted. Now if you think the character of Meera is very similar to a typical housewife whose life is resigned to socialite principles, then you are mistaken. Meera is like the sea - calm, composed and proud but just like the sea, there is a huge chaos of emotions and commotion that is concealed in herself. All hell breaks loose when her husband leaves her for another younger woman and her children start blaming her for it.

At another junction is Jak or J.A. Krishnamoorthy, a professor and expert in cyclones who is in search of some answers about his paralysed daughter who is just a shadow of the cheerful Smriti who met with a near fatal accident. All that JAK knows is that his daughter met with a freak accident in a remote coastal town in Tamil Nadu called Minjikapuram. Police and doctor’s investigations all point fingers at Smriti.A determined JAK decides to trace his daughter’s path on the days that lead to her accident.


Thus starts JAK’s journey to know his daughter which leads him to three of her best friends, friends with their own confused understanding of this girl who outwardly looked confused yet had her own stand on everything. Smriti comes across as an very strong opinionated individual who joins a small theatre group and in all her naivete looks towards changing society and its mores which her friends could never come to terms with. But then, at one point JAK’s search for truth reaches a dead end.

If you are strong enough to realise life isn't as rosy as it looks and can get turbulent in a jiffy just like the sea, then you got to read Lessons In Forgetting. May be you would be able to look at the warnings and predict the cyclone and be better prepared if not prevent it. Or is it all just a myth and you cannot do anything? Lessons in forgetting is not a sad story. It celebrates human spirit and shows how you can be victorious even in life's worst cyclones. All you need is just a cajoling support, few kind words and a determination not to let yourself give up. Life may not always be as colorful as you dreamt of but all you need is just a tinge of white hope to paint on a dark canvas.

Rating: 4/5.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why this kolaveri kolaveri kolaveri di?


Tamil music directors amaze me time and again and I have to agree the world is dancing to their tunes or at least humming in sync. Ever since RA.ONE decided to go the Tamil way it is quite obvious that the Tamil music industry has a lot of sympathizers to its dance and fast numbers across the world. Here is another gem. Even before the film 3 is released, this song is a rage on Youtube and other social media sites.


Releasing it on Youtube is an excellent marketing game and having Danush sing the catchy tune with some excellent screenplay and mixing the song seeps in to the viewers and have them humming. Did they anticipate this? Don't know. But this was a good try and if it is a hit then why not! Having a good product is the least of your strategy. Having a great marketing plan is the ace. The combination always manages to hit the chord.

Don't listen


That is a negative title to start with and the post if very positive :)


Click on the image to enlarge and it is from Dr. Dave's site.

Done is better than perfect

Done is better than perfect.

Think about it. Done is better than perfect. Most of the times I see work being postponed is because people tend to say that they would come back to it later as they aren't satisfied with what is there. I realize the need for accuracy and perfection in what I do and I would always love to be proud of what I goes out of my inbox. I have seen meetings get postponed because the designs aren't as perfect as they should be. But the fact that deadlines are to be met and seeking perfection, if it delays and stretches the deadlines, is defeatist. There are several things that might lead you to believe you need to relook at the work, but I suggest meeting the deadlines as more important. For if I don't meet a deadline, the beauty and perfect piece of work I create is of no use! A medicine packed however well is of no use if the patient passes away as the doctor was busy to create a great effect while forgetting the basic need of the medicine itself. Not though that is just a analogy I am talking about the presentations and mails that you read and re-read and make alterations before you send it out. Before you look at the mails, ppts, etc., and some times to an audience that just needs to get an update, just think if all the editing you are going to do is of any value to the content in the message.

Now I will take it one step further.

Perfection is the enemy of completion! Now ponder.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Let your light shine


Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine,
we consciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

Let your light shine by Marianne Williamson

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thomas Suarez & funding local schools


Found this via MJ and it is worth a watch. I like his spirit and motives. Making a change isn't easy. But the first step is the will to do.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What is the real value of service education?


From UP Your Service.

Richard Whiteley’s blog post – ‘Six reasons why ‘customer centricity’ initiatives fail’ – highlights how often initiatives fail due to inadequate education.

He wrote: “While mindset matters, great service needs great skillsets too… Proper training is required”

This stirred up memories of my early experiences working in a retail company.

Most new frontline staff joined the company with a very positive mindset and uplifting attitude – but as they regularly encountered situations they were not prepared for, their enthusiasm started fading.

They got stressed and frustrated when they were caught unprepared and uneducated in new situations.
Confidence levels dipped.  It was hard to ‘feel good’ about a job when they didn’t know how to do it well.
I vividly remember one particular young lady I hired and trained – let’s call her May.  She did not have any prior retail experience and seemed very quiet and shy. My colleagues didn’t think she would last more than a few weeks. But I felt she was more like a rough gem waiting to be polished – and I believed the right education would help.

However, when May was in my product and service training class, I wondered if I had made a mistake in recruiting her after all. I asked her if she thought she was a good fit for a frontline position in a retail outlet. She was not sure herself. She told me she just desperately needed the job for financial reasons. She was then sent to an outlet where further training would be done on-the-job with the store manager.

When I walked into this outlet two months later, I wasn’t expecting to see her there.

Yet, there she was – attending to customers, speaking confidently, demonstrating products, etc. There was no semblance of what I remembered her to be. The store manager told me he was very pleased with May’s performance – sales had gone up and customers regularly complimented her.

I congratulated May and reminded her of our last meeting. She shared how her store manager had played a big role in coaching her, developing her skills and appreciating her achievements. She said she had been well-educated, and the more she learned the more assured and confident she felt. She even sent notes of appreciation to everyone who had trained her, sharing how their attention and support helped her discover an aptitude she didn’t think she had – to be of service to others.

Many such examples remind me daily of the uplifting value of service education. It is myopic to view training and education as ‘nice-to-have’ or a cost-center with no clear Return on Investment. Of course it is important to measure and ensure a strong ROI, but the benefits of continuous education, and the value of developing life-long learners in your organization, are beyond mere financial calculations.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What can cat videos do for your business?


The title of this post says 'your' business because they can't sell my products. Given that some of the products I help sell include sexual enhancers and weight loss supplements. Looking at the loops of Catvertise on Youtube last night I couldn't stop but watching the videos and some of the brands have made their way to my mind. Looks like a good idea to me as of now. At least the early brands ones to come out with ads should benefit. What do you think?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Are you hungry?

There are good ads. Then there are ads. Then there are worse. It doesn't matter which ad you are going to make until it manages to grab my attention and convey the brand or message you want me to remember. Here is one that stretches your imagination to a different level altogether.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Me and MY kids


(I write this on the recommendation of Vamshi Krishna and am indebted to him. It didn't occur to me that I should simply pen my feelings regarding this but when I did, it felt very nice)

"Didiiiii, Didiiiiiii.......hum aa jayein?" [Sister, sister....can we come?]

Every Saturday and Sunday, the doorbell of my home starts ringing since 4:00 PM. The time when I teach these kids is 5, but they are always so high on energy and excitement that it doesn't really matter what the needles in the clock say. Probably coz they feel, if they get that extra time with me, I can show them some videos on my laptop or talk to them about their careers.

Before I start, let me introduce these kids to you. They are (starting from the eldest) Pooja, Soni, Anshu, Komal, Shikha, Nisha, Anu, Amit, Shivam, Mukesh and Bitto. The 7 sisters (pooja to anu) belong to the same family (yeah, we all know why). Their father is a tailor and mother works as a maidservant. while Shivam to Bitto belong to another family. Their father is the Chowkidar (colony security guard). Amit belongs to a different family. I don't know what his father does because his occupation keeps changing. Amit works at a shop from 10 in the morning to 4 in the evening (7 days a week). And yes, Amit is mere 9 year old. So basically, I teach 3 families.

So how did I meet these kids?

There is a huge tree outside our home on which these kids had put a Jhoola (swing). They used to play on it when I used to come back, they would smile at me and I used to smile back. One day, while I was returning, I randomly asked one kid..."Padhai karoge? Agar main padhaaon to?" (will you study, if I teach you?) And in 10 mins there were 8 kids at my door.

So, did I have to convince my parents?

A big YES. The sentences I got to hear were" You can't teach", "they will get attached to you", "Don't act too benevolent, you anyway have no time for home", you leave at 7:30 in the morning and come back at 9:30..when will you teach?"...followed by a big NO. My mother was still soft but papa and dadi were very clear. Do you know what melted their hearts? The smile of these kids.

As I went back to the gate to shoo them away, my father and grandmother saw them from our balcony. The kids looked up and said "unclejee, namaste...hum padhne aayein hain". And the job was done (btw, my father is like a coconut...harsh on the outside and too soft inside)

So, how do I feel?

I don't feel anything....but I just looooove spending time with them. As I teach them on the blackboard, they randomly get up to write something on it. Not because they want to show their knowledge but they want to hold the chalk and write on the blackboard. Komal is always standing next to the blackboard. When I scold her to get back to her seat she says..."Didi..pleeeeeez. Mujhe yahaan acha samajh aata hai" :D:D

My class is dominated by girls, and Oh! they DO dominate the boys big way. There are some stories (which are too odd/painful to narrate here) I have heard from their innocent mouths which make me shiver. But all in all, my class has recitation and currently we are studying division. It's a hard task to teach them multiplication tables but they oh-so-love watching animated nursery rhymes on my laptop. They once showed me the dance on desh rangeela. The song describes India with its various colors and watching them dance on that song made me feel nice (when was the last time you danced on a patriotic song? :D:D )

Every weekend, when they come and go, they enthuse me with such energy that my mother tells me calm down. I am jumping around with them, laughing like them and telling mom what all the kids taught me today. (like having "OM" sign tattooed on your hand saves you from evil spirits) :P:P

So, why exactly am I doing this?

Frankly speaking, I got tired. Tired of so much of artificiality, competition, comparison. I wanted to be happy... just happy. Not the happy where my neighbours think I am happy or my mother thinks I am happy. Not the happy who shops for branded clothes and then grins at the mirror (though on second thoughts I wont mind that). And not the happy which you get sitting in a big car thinking about the job you've bagged. Tomorrow, if everything is taken from me.... My job, my branded stuff, my status.... I will still remain. My beliefs, ideals, thoughts, experiences will still remain. Me and my kids love each other. There are so many times when Nisha or Shikha have held my hand and said "Didi....aap humein bahut ache lagte ho" (Didi, we really like you). Trust me, when a 7 year old tells you this, your day gets made. And I am lucky to hear this every weekend. I have given them books, pencils, erasers and sharpeners. My boyfriend (and soon to be fiance) encourages me a lot and has also provided financial help and I respect him for this.

I don't know what will happen when I leave from here. Who will teach them and whether they will become a doctor or pilot like they want to become. They had once asked me, when will I get married...and when I get married, will I keep coming on weekends to teach them. I had no answer. All I could say was, keep your spirits high and don't let anyone tell you that you're inferior. If you work very hard and study hard, you can become anything you want to. All I hope is, they do achieve their dreams. Amen.

Adapt