Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The World Of Exceptions...!

(Photo Credit: UNC Humor)
Texas trip I made during the weekend that went pass by was fantastic by all means. Nice time spent at Dallas Zoo, Museum of Science, Plano Downtown, the yum food at Caffe Chat & ofcourse the fondness showered to me by Nisheet, Nikhil & Pooja (Isn't English language cool - you can get around with heavier terms of addresses - bhabhi etc ;)) made my trip way too special. And while I was cokking yday, my room mate made a pasing statement - "Hey ur batteries seem to be charged up again !" - which is certainly a Feel Good Factor!

Anyways, as I was waiting for my flight at DFW Airport I observed the fellow passengers and what I spotted was a true Brownian Motion amidst the waiting lobby. Everyone or most of the folks seemed to be in such a restless state - flipping magazines just for the sake of staying busy , making tons of phone calls one after another, punching in keys of their blackberries or gazing at their watches every now and then. I was tempted to pick one of those activites since my flight was an hour and half later but then - I observed this lady and was instantly amazed to spot the confident look on her face - like the one you spot on Sportsmen winning Gold Medals at the Olympics ! With plenty of time on my side and inertia to take my laptop out of my Checking Bag, I decided to have a havea chat with this lady who caught my attention right away(Everyone else seemed so busy & tensed !). Anyways, our conversation (It lasted for good 30-45 mins) turned out to be quite memorable for me. After exchanging the usual pleasantries of "Hey, How are you today?", we talked abt our respective professions. I learnt that she was an erstwhile Delta Flight Stewardess who was now visiting Yale for a Campus Tour - she intends to get enrolled in MBA Course there eventually. Flight Attendant and MBA - now that was quite a contrast I wondered. Curious, I asked about how relevant she feels her work ex with Delta is and in return she bombarded me with tons of points which for a moment led me to believe that Delta is THE AIRLINE to work for if one's is in aviation business. Here are few seemingly normal yet different things she utterred which were in total contrast to my erstwhile viewpoints :( Here they go:

  • Passenger Comfort: In any flight (she said) you get to meet a wide variety of people (not so happy me/me/happy me) who have different perceptions about the airline and since most of them assess flying experience on scale of OK/bad/worse/gross, this leaves you with limited options, And thus you've to ensure that every passenger is taken care of properly.
And I thought, offering Peanut crackers & Soft Drinks was quite simple !

  • Demonstrations: Few years ago, they had to do a safety demonstration for all passengers and situation kinda turns strange when your audience feel making that last phone call to their acquaintences is more important than hearing you out or worst still some folks stare you down - and still you should adorn a nice smile. But now, thanks to pre-flight Video Demostrations, attendants can focus on monitoring passenger safety belts, upright seats etc!

And I thought, those demos are so easy than giving a Seminar !

  • Passenger Safety: Well, this she said is the primary responsibility of a flight attendant. They need to verify the boarding particulars (passengers with special needs like handicapsor or minors etc), assist passengers with loading of carry-on baggage, smoke detectors check, emergency equipment check, cockpit check etc.
And I thought, Technology takes care of Safety !
  • Turbulence CrossCheck: This seemingly simple tasks proves to be super effective she said. During those moments when you spot ur plane wobbling from left to right and before you deduce than you are in a Roller Coaster Ride, in consultation with the Pilots - flight attendants have to politely ask the pasengers to keep their seat belts fastened and thats about it - the idea (she emphasized) was to make passengers feel completely safe and it works !

And I thought, Flight Crew relaxes or listens to music when plane is at 30,000 ft !

  • Presentation: Before landing, it is imperative for the flight crew to thank passengers for choosing the airline and ask for candid feedback. She stressed that the situation gets real interesting when say the flight gets delayed due to Technical Problems and you are 99% sure that passengers won't reciprocate warmly to you as they get off the plane towards Baggage Claim.

And I thought, their presentation was all abt nicely pressed bright colored dresses !

The conversation was simply superb and as we headed for grabbing some Coffee, she mapped all these points and lots more very clearly to her reasons for doing a MBA from an Ivy League School and she was near 99% sure(have never spotted such a confident lady) that she'll do well in the days to come. While sipping coffee, she suddenly had this thought that I was being a diligent listener since quite some time & asked about my work , passions etc. -- eeks now that sounded a lil' uncomfortable to me at first (for obvious reasons). But during these testing times, enthusiasm works wonders! I started with the describing the thrill I experience penning down blog posts or better still drawing sketches about the experiences that amaze me on a scale "Wow/Awesome/Brilliant" (I think I like this scale analogy:)) and eventually talked about Technology & DBA Stuff - all this while she was very very attentive which was good (may be). And from the email she sent out early this morning - looks like I made a decent impression too :-). But you know - Good things don't last that long, soon we heard the announcement about boarding flight DL930 to Atlanta. As I wished her "It's very nice meeting you today" - I sincerely felt so !
On board, I realised that exuding passion in what we are doing everyday isn't that tough and honestly each one of us can make make a visible & positive difference in our respective professions - I bet this lady was superb on every flight she was in during her tenure at Delta ! I wish Scinthia all the very best for her upcoming endeavors at the reverred Yale SOM!

"Are we doing things that create ripple & are worth talking about?"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Reason to Smile...!

(Photo Credit: Tanya @ Flickr)

Yesterday, there was a power outage at our place. Though it lasted for a mere 20 mins but it seemed like it was hours (if not days!). For the first time in several months - I felt so bored and what followed next was an eerie silence...wish I had accompanied my room mates to the Health Club in evening :( Anyways long story cut short, I was wondering about this week and realised that inspite of few highs (Watched many movies) and lows (Had Sambhar 4 times-ewww) it was quite amazing indeed. I decided to list down few things / news that made me genuinely happy this week. You are permitted to assume that I went real crazy this time but what else you'll do when you suddenly find FREE time (No Internet I mean ;)) and company of zero living beings around :D. Anyways, here's the list:

  • Fireworks : Bejing Olympics Inaugration Ceremony.
  • Accomplishments : Abhinav Bindra's Gold Medal Saga.
  • Records : Michael Phelps smashed record after record - looks like he read my erstwhile post ;)
  • Product Launches : Our Team's indigenous 'STARS' Enterprise Sales Reporting System was blessed by CF's President at last. (Post 3 months feasibility testing)
  • New Ventures : I cooked Suji-Halwa (an Indian Sweet Delicacy) all by myself. (Was kinda edible)
  • Pleasant Surprise : The 'Water Taxi' snap was published at You made us all very proud Tanya - Gd luck for ur next Shutterbug Venture !
  • News News: Nidhi - my distinguished cousin (who by the way never stops amazing me) got promoted at Amex ! Congratulations Di...!

Now that sure sounds like a time for celebration. I thus treated myself with an double scoop 'OREO Overload' (It was splendid) post Lunch today & headed back to my lil' playground (some call it 'cubicle') for grabbing some more fun ! I wish everyday was like today :)

"Without a doubt, people around you are absolutely true most of the time."

Friday, August 08, 2008

Go Michael Go...!

(Photo Credit: Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

I have always admired people (my amazingly talented friends & cousins) who make it a point to leave their STAMP on their respective ventures - teaching, consultancy, design, medicine, law, Software development, professional coaching etc. Conversation with such acquaintances is always Fun - the talks centre around keywords like : Phenomenal, Talent, Cool Concept, Customer Delight, Differentiation and my favorite "Record Setting". (Call up one of your distinguished friend over this weekend and I bet you might find an analogy there).

Anyways speaking of records, there's something very very special about them which is why I love watching Olympic Events so much :) At a certain instant we perceive a world record in a sport like Gymnastics / 100m Race as the near perfect & invincible one...only to learn 4 years later that that very record was broken quite easily by a younger sporst(wo)man. Amazed, I started reading about the way such atheletes prepare for Olympics today morning and what I learnt was by far impressive.
Here's some so called secrets (most of us know 'em already but lets just recapitulate 'em again):

  • Peak: The sole goal of achieving Peak Performance at the shortest possible timeframe is drilled deep in minds of such world class sportspersons.
  • Thrill: They make their sports look as exciting as a Roller Coaster Ride. (Ever wondered which is why we spent hours watching a Tennis or Soccer Game?)
  • Willpower: All young athletes start their training / preparations with the knowledge that there are a dozen (if not more) players out there in the world who are better than them and have been training for years ! A strong Willpower & Self Belief comes for rescue here.
  • Realisation: Training and playing with smarter opponents makes one aware about one's strengths & weaknesses. This realisation forms the true basis for improvement.
  • Pressure: The world in general gauges you by how you perform under pressure. The way sportsmen utilise their strengths in tough and close games differentiates a world class player from a normal one. Remember how most of us leaned forward on our chairs during the memorable Federer-Nadal Winbeldon Match....and you thought getting Gold Medal in college was an immense pressure-cooker situation :-)
  • Value: Winning is one thing but delivering exceptional value to a game by playing great moves and being the role model for youngsters serves to be the biggest motivation for great players.
  • Transform: Everyone loves winning but learning from defeats is a skill I feel sportsmen ace at - which is why they are able to move on so well and transform themselves for the upcoming events.
  • Rhythms: The preparations / training routine certainly pushes 'em beyond the limits pf normal physical strain/stress and slowly their bodies tune themselves to operate at a higher performance levels - lets say Rhthyms (I love this word !)
Well, that sure was an eye-opener for me in ways more than one for it reminded me about the High School days when our gang strived to set individual records in Mathematics Olympiads- in retrospect that was quite an interesting time indeed ! Anyways, as I saw Michael Phelps giving the world yet another surprise by winning the gold medal in the Men's 400m individual medley breaking his very own world record by 1.42 seconds my advise to him for upcoming events is "Go Michael Go...!!"

That said I feel that we can all strive to seek thrill in our lives just by pushing ourselves a little everyday - you never know when you become a distinguished human being !! Being referred to as "Peak Performer" or a "TrendSetter" by those around you certainly sounds good :-)
"Are you doing stuff or just imagining it?"