Sunday, September 13, 2009

The power of Perceptions

I was just flipping over my book of finance when an idea sparked in my mind and in no time, I am here, putting it down. I was thinking about perceptions. How important they are. It’s all about how you think, you look at a situation. A winner finds a solution in every problem and a loser finds a problem with every solution, as the cliché goes but it holds true. If an intern is expecting a PPO from a company, he would look for every possible signs of his Guide, and would consider them as an indication of his positive chances. On the other hand a pessimistic would always find a reason to convince him, why he will not be offered the same. When we set out to do something big, you are sure to have a majority saying “this can’t be done”, but there would be few who would give their heart and soul to make it work. It’s about how much you can hold on. Narendra Modi, the Gujraat Chief Minister had the whole party against him in the last assembly elections. They did not want him to see him victorious. But he did not give up. Fought the election all alone without any help from the center and when the party emerged victorious, the newspaper headlines read “Modi Wins Gujrat” instead of the conventional “BJP wins”. If a single man can steer his party to a landslide majority in a state like Gujraat, imagine what we all can do.

Perseverance is the word. I have seen people who are almost as adamant as “The Great wall of China” when it comes to pursuing their dreams. The journey from dreams to reality is usually completed by those who are either very lucky or have a strong will and determination backing their commitment. A journey of thousand miles begins with a single step, but there would be many who would leave this journey at 100,200,300 miles etc. And the worst are those who leave after covering over 900 miles, failing to realize how close they were to victory.

So before setting out to achieve big, see the goal, focus on it, and get on with all your might and victory will be yours.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Nescafe : The Unsolved mystery

After a fairly long time I was back at my favorite place in my college, the reading room. Don't mistake me for a nerd, but thats the place I have spent most of my time in my P.G college. The magic of this place along with studies is meeting classmates, gossips, chats, watching beautiful girls, debating world issues, criticizing the administration, and yes last but not the least "The Nescafe".

Now the Nescafe is a chain of outlets which serve coffee and Nestle items across India. In my college it had two out lets, near boys and girls hostel respectively. No prizes for guessing which was the more crowded one. Apart from the hot spot for night outing it was also a place where there were informal gathering, birthdays were celebrated and above all you met people, who were never seen in class. Though the mandatory criterion for attending exam is a 75 % attendance in class barely 50% students satisfy it, but when it comes to nescafe, a majority can boast of greater than 100% (taking into account multiple visits in a day). The place was a heaven for couples who could spend hours, holding hands, oblivious of the surroundings, lost in each others eyes.

On the last day of my 1st year, as we were leaving for our summer internship, my group was unanimous over the thing which they would miss the most in Holidays (Nescafe). But suddenly one fine day, the shop was shut, they had packed their bags and left the campus, leaving the student hangout committee in a lurch. Now the only place left is an IRCTC canteen which provides food till 1:00 a.m. Yes after that if you feel hungry only water can help you. The place is an absolute hell with food prices defeating rising Indian inflation and quality as dismal as that of chinese goods. The long queues at the token counter gives an impression that some freebies are being distributed. Couples do not prefer it as it faces one of the most notorious boys hostel. The waiting time reminds you of average litigation period of cases pending in Indian courts. All in all a pathetic place to eat, sit or chat.

On the reasons why the counter was removed from the college there are several conspiracy theories doing rounds in the campus. If I post all of them, they can definitely would make it to the unsolved mysteries of the world. Though none of these appear cogent enough, still they all have their own USPs. The theories also reflect the background of the students in terms of their department. Lets have a look at some of these.

A student from chemical engineering department suggested that Nescafe was caught adding a chemical "spoil brain acid" to its coffee to lower the intelligence of the geniuses bred here. This was a plot by the CIA under the anti immigration policies of OBAMA. Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) exposed this scandal and the counter was shut.
The civil engineering students claimed that high FSI claimed by nescafe for renewing their contract was responsible for this.
The management students (considered outcast and misfit in this institute) as usual decided to crack this case. They first formed a 10 member team to study the possible cause of this incident. Then for the next 5 days they structured the hierarchy and appointed a coordinator, 2 junior coordinators, 3 analysts and 5 data collectors. This was followed by a 15 day deliberation of the research methodology to be used for it. This was followed by a series of meetings at locations like TGIF, Barista and 38 FM lounge for discussing the data gathered. The progress of the case very well imitated the growth of manufacturing companies in recessionary times. This was followed by the coordinator firing 3 data collectors. Every meeting had just a single agends, "discuss the time and place for the next meeting". Finally with the deadline for the project nearing, they all sat on google, and copied all data related to closure of any outlet in an educational institution. The report was compiled and submitted to the institute after 120 days. The report had everything except the reason for the closure of "NESCAFE".

Sunday, August 30, 2009

10 Deadly Sins of Negative Thinking

10 Deadly Sins of Negative Thinking

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The way to overcome negative thoughts and destructive emotions is to develop opposing, positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful. - Dalai Lama

Life could be so much better for many people, if they would just spot their negative thinking habits and replace them with positive ones.

Negative thinking, in all its many-splendored forms, has a way of creeping into conversations and our thinking without our noticing them. The key to success, in my humble opinion, is learning to spot these thoughts and squash them like little bugs. Then replace them with positive ones. You'll notice a huge difference in everything you do.

Let's take a look at 10 common ways that negative thinking emerges get good at spotting these patterns, and practice replacing them with positive thinking patterns. It has made all the difference in the world for me.

10 Deadly Sins of Negative Thinking

1. I will be happy once I have _____ (or once I earn X).

Problem: If you think you can't be happy until you reach a certain point, or until you reach a certain income, or have a certain type of house or car or computer setup, you'll never be happy. That elusive goal is always just out of reach. Once we reach those goals, we are not satisfied we want more.

Solution: Learn to be happy with what you have, where you are, and who you are, right at this moment. Happiness doesn't have to be some state that we want to get to eventually it can be found right now. Learn to count your blessings, and see the positive in your situation. This might sound simplistic, but it works.

2. I wish I were as ____ as (a celebrity, friend, co-worker).

Problem: We'll never be as pretty, as talented, as rich, as sculpted, as cool, as everyone else. There will always be someone better, if you look hard enough. Therefore, if we compare ourselves to others like this, we will always pale, and will always fail, and will always feel bad about ourselves. This is no way to be happy.

Solution: Stop comparing yourself to others, and look instead at yourself what are your strengths, your accomplishments, your successes, however small? What do you love about yourself? Learn to love who you are, right now, not who you want to become. There is good in each of us, love in each of us, and a wonderful human spirit in every one of us.

3. Seeing others becoming successful makes me jealous and resentful.

Problem: First, this assumes that only a small number of people can be successful. In truth, many, many people can be successful in different ways.

Solution: Learn to admire the success of others, and learn from it, and be happy for them, by empathizing with them and understanding what it must be like to be them. And then turn away from them, and look at yourself you can be successful too, in whatever you choose to do. And even more, you already are successful. Look not at those above you in the social ladder, but those below you there are always millions of people worse off than you, people who couldn't even read this article or afford a computer. In that light, you are a huge success.

4. I am a miserable failure I can't seem to do anything right.

Problem: Everyone is a failure, if you look at it in certain ways. Everyone has failed, many times, at different things. I have certainly failed so many times I cannot count them and I continue to fail, daily. However, looking at your failures as failures only makes you feel bad about yourself. By thinking in this way, we will have a negative self-image and never move on from here.

Solution: See your successes and ignore your failures. Look back on your life, in the last month, or year, or 5 years. And try to remember your successes. If you have trouble with this, start documenting them keep a success journal, either in a notebook or online. Document your success each day, or each week. When you look back at what you've accomplished, over a year, you will be amazed. It's an incredibly positive feeling.

5. I'm going to beat so-and-so no matter what I'm better than him.
And there's no way I'll help him succeed he might beat me.

Problem: Competitiveness assumes that there is a small amount of gold to be had, and I need to get it before he does. It makes us into greedy, back-stabbing, hurtful people. We try to claw our way over people to get to success, because of our competitive feelings. For example, if a blogger wants to have more subscribers than another blogger, he may never link to or mention that other blogger. However, who is to say that my subscribers can't also be yours? People can read and subscribe to more than one blog.

Solution: Learn to see success as something that can be shared, and learn that if we help each other out, we can each have a better chance to be successful. Two people working towards a common goal are better than two people trying to beat each other up to get to that goal. There is more than enough success to go around. Learn to think in terms of abundance rather than scarcity.

6. Dammit! Why do these bad things always happen to me?

Problem: Bad things happen to everybody. If we dwell on them, they will frustrate us and bring us down.

Solution: See bad things as a part of the ebb and flow of life. Suffering is a part of the human condition but it passes. All pain goes away, eventually. Meanwhile, don't let it hold you back. Don't dwell on bad things, but look forward towards something good in your future. And learn to take the bad things in stride, and learn from them. Bad things are actually opportunities to grow and learn and get stronger, in disguise.

7. You can't do anything right! Why can't you be like ____ ?

Problem: This can be said to your child or your subordinate or your sibling. The problem? Comparing two people, first of all, is always a fallacy. People are different, with different ways of doing things, different strengths and weaknesses, different human characteristics. If we were all the same, we'd be robots. Second, saying negative things like this to another person never helps the situation. It might make you feel better, and more powerful, but in truth, it hurts your relationship, it will actually make you feel negative, and it will certainly make the other person feel negative and more likely to continue negative behavior. Everyone loses.

Solution: Take the mistakes or bad behavior of others as an opportunity to teach. Show them how to do something. Second, praise them for their positive behavior, and encourage their success. Last, and most important, love them for who they are, and celebrate their differences.

8. Your work sucks. It's super lame. You are a moron and I hope you never reproduce.

Problem: I've actually gotten this comment before. It feels wonderful. However, let's look at it not from the perspective of the person receiving this kind of comment but from the perspective of the person giving it. How does saying something negative like this help you? I guess it might feel good to vent if you feel like your time has been wasted. But really, how much of your time has been wasted? A few minutes? And whose fault is that? The bloggers or yours? In truth, making negative comments just keeps you in a negative mindset. It's also not a good way to make friends.

Solution: Learn to offer constructive solutions, first of all. Instead of telling someone their blog sucks, or that a post is lame, offer some specific suggestions for improvement. Help them get better. If you are going to take the time to make a comment, make it worth your time. Second, learn to interact with people in a more positive way it makes others feel good and it makes you feel better about yourself. And you can make some great friends this way. That's a good thing.

9. Insulting People Back

Problem: If someone insults you or angers you in some way, insulting them back and continuing your anger only transfers their problem to you. This person was probably having a bad day (or a bad year) and took it out on you for some reason. If you reciprocate, you are now having a bad day too. His problem has become yours. Not only that, but the cycle of insults can get worse and worse until it results in violence or other negative consequences for both of you.

Solution: Let the insults or negative comments of others slide off you like Teflon. Don't let their problem become yours. In fact, try to understand their problem more why would someone say something like that? What problems are they going through? Having a little empathy for someone not only makes you understand that their comment is not about you, but it can make you feel and act in a positive manner towards them and make you feel better about yourself in the process.

10. I don't think I can do this I don't have enough discipline. Maybe some other time.

Problem: If you don't think you can do something, you probably won't. Especially for the big stuff. Discipline has nothing to do with it motivation and focus has everything to do with it. And if you put stuff off for “some other time”, you'll never get it done. Negative thinking like this inhibits us from accomplishing anything.

Solution: Turn your thinking around: you can do this! You don't need discipline. Find ways to make yourself a success at your goal. If you fail, learn from your mistakes, and try again. Instead of putting a goal off for later, start now. And focus on one goal at a time, putting all of your energy into it, and getting as much help from others as you can. You can really move mountains if you start with positive thinking.

P.S: Sourced from an email on gurlzgroup of yahoo. Just liked the content so posted it here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Customer Care In India

Customer care, the word stands for all except its literal meaning. I own an Airtel prepaid mobile connection and sent an SMS to them for activating Free SMS Pack for me. Immediately I received an SMS on my cell that the pack you have asked for will be activated on your number in 48 hours. As time passes and deadline crossed I decided to register a complaint. But I did not know that I would have to travel in a sea of IVRS options.

For English Press 1, For Hindi press 2, for this press this, for that press that. Menu after menu and submenu after sub menu, the customer can very well forget what he actually called for. No customer care executive option comes. I was puzzled how to register my complaint. I felt like shouting, but to a computer, that would not have mattered. I have talked to several people about this and the response has always been the same. Private organizations display their toll free help line number, but actually when you dial it, you come to know the futility and how all your attempts to reach the concerned person go in vain.

Apart from this I am also frustrated from the continuous recorded calls for activating caller tune on my number. I once decided to store the number from which they call and stopped picking it. But the marketers are way ahead of us. They now call me from a new number every time.

Anyways this menace does not seem to end soon and Customer care quality in India will continue to be abysmally low.

News headlines and the Media

Three newspapers and two magazines, that’s what get delivered to my room the latter once being weekly. It’s really hard to find time to even glance through all of them, due to time constraints. They have so much content that I believe I will have to sacrifice my menial 6 hours of sleep if I want to just skim through them. While I continue running out of time, they do not seem to match me by running out of content.

So I decided to ponder over certain issues which are continuously making headlines and try to analyze them in my own way. First let’s take up the feud between the Ambani brothers. Well it could very well form a plot of Deewar part 2 directed by Vishal Bharadwaj. Two brothers engaged in spat of insinuations and accusations taking down business as well as politics with them. “The WAR of the Giants” is hurting the reputation of Indian industry which has not yet recovered from the Satyam saga. The advertisement campaign carried out by the junior brother indicates the seriousness with which he is taking this issue and why not. After all, 30,000 crore is at stake. It not often that a businessman comes out so openly against a cabinet minister (read Murli Deora) in office. I mean he is not afraid of the ramifications it can have for him and his business empire. But what I have concluded in all this is that it’s not the losses of the government which are his concern, rather the super normal profits of RIL, of which, he wants a share forms the bottom line. I am waiting to see who pulls this one off.

Then the case of Shahruk Khan being held at Newark Airport of US for questioning is one other news which painted the front pages of all top news papers. King Khan used to getting princely treatment at home could not tolerate the realities of the world and was hurt being treated like a normal muslim (as the US treats them). The Raj of DDLJ who has won countless hearts with his portrayal of characters who are epitome of lover boy was short of wits to convince the US authorities. The VIP syndrome in India is one of the worst in the world. Actually India has a habit of making it to the top on all negative parameters. We are the best in corruption, population, casteism, crime etc. Name the problem and we have it. India is a country where more people are exempted from frisking many countries combined. The day is not far when the number of VIPs in this country would cross the number of ordinary citizens.

BJP is another case of “LIFE CYCLE OF A PRODUCT”, and it is in a dying state. There is no internal control in the party and the succession planning which the best corporations in the world lay great stress on has been completely ignored by it. Soon Rajnath Singh will have to keep ready made expulsion letters ready with the names column left blank, so that he can throw out more and more party member, followed by complete state units, until the party has just one member that is him as the president.

Newspapers have the habit of blowing up issues and troubles in magnifying proportions but this time they are not to blame. In face the spice in the issues is reducing effort required on their part. I can only pray for some good news for this country but till then the media will continue to have a gala time…

Friday, August 28, 2009

Seminars in a B-School

I just received a mail which gave the schedule of tomorrow’s seminar in college. To my horror the last line said “ITS COMPULSORY FOR ALL TO ATTEND”. This line itself indicates the importance of seminars in a B School. Their compulsory nature speaks volume about the enthusiasm shown by us.

Now I will do what I have done in the previous seminars. Catch on sleep while the speakers deliver long speeches, verbose and full of management jargon. In fact sleeping is an infectious disease in these seminars. One after another students keep falling asleep and the vigilant ones keep waking them up. Sometimes it has happened that the entire row is asleep and the “wake up your neighbor cycle” goes in chain. To this extent also the college bears with us. The real trouble comes up when someone starts snoring. Imagine a speaker, VP of a company speaking in a silent hall, being interrupted by snoring noise. He would definitely think that had the student been an employee of his organization it would not have taken him even a second to deliver a pink slip, and that too in times of recession. But being guest of college they have to bear with it. What we need to keep in mind is how it would feel speaking in front of audience which is snoring and napping. But it’s not only students who are responsible. A good speaker is a one who can create an aura and mesmerize the audience with his words. For whom people leave their cigarettes and return to the hall to listen. But good talent is hard to find and so are good speakers. Till the time this happens seminar halls will continue sleeping.