Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Quick Exercise...!

Whoaaaa-its just 3 more hours before the year 2008 bids us all a warm farewell. At this very moment-I am sure that most of us are busy celebrating with our loved ones in the most treasured manner or joining others in the mega celebrations in case we stay away from our families (Yeah-these are the times you miss them a lot!). I had this sudden thought minutes ago that this is a good time to look back and list one's salient achievements of the year. Grab a pen and a paper, give yourself 5 minutes and very quickly list down things that made you exceptionally happy in the year 2008. If you find the following activities in this list of yours-congratulate yourself and keep up the momentum for the days to come.
  • Spent quality time with family.
  • Acquired a new skill.
  • Touched life of a person (or assisted someone with a selfless motive).
  • Received genuine praise from a stranger.
  • Connected with more than 10 happier folks on Internet or otherwise.
  • Worked sincerely towards realising your "Goal" in life.
  • Met two inspiring people who said "You can do it !".

This small exercise did bring a smile on my face and I felt so good inside (I am sure it would do the same for anyone as well!). And for those who feel burdened by regrets/disappointments for they were unable to realise their last year's super difficult resolutions (losing weight, getting into National Swimming Team, changing perceptions of your best friend, climbing Mt. Everest, visiting Amazon rainforests, reading 365 books etc)-all I have to say is this is not an opportune occasion to dampen your spirits or do a causal analysis of your life-c'mmon clock is ticking real fast and the need of the hour is to count your blessings and stay cheerful !

And yes, as you try to list down your resolutions for 2009-try being realistic (thing big but act rational) and kind (take it easy) to yourself. (I took 54 and 75 resolutions respectively in the last two years and lets not discuss how I felt during last days in December of 2006 & 2007 :D). Have a look at this thought provoking post by Rajesh in case you find yourself in Catch-22 with "Resolutions". As you transition from this year to the next and harness your energy and creativity to realise your true ambitions-I wish you all the very best !

Enjoy this amazing track by YellowCard - the lyrics are simply amazing ...

I'll run in the dark looking for some light,

And how will we know if we just don't try,

We won't ever know

Let me light up the sky Light it up for you ...

Stay Healthy, Savvy, Kind and Cool in 2009 !

"The road to a friend's house is never too long!"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Paradox Of Choice...!

[My fav Juice Shop at Nariman Point, Mumbai, India]
[In India, in addition to Coffee Shops, choices (L/M/S) are offered in Juice Corners too]

Ever felt puzzled while buying the perfect present for that "special" friend of yours or while finding your true calling (dream job/startups/writing/drawing/dancing...) for that matter? Well, let me assure you that you are not alone in this world where there are always bazillion choices for just about everything. As I visited the local Blockbuster Store yesterday to procure a DVD for a friend of mine (Christmas is a great time to exchange gifts!), selecting the right movie wasn't a breeze at all. It took me over 30 minutes to choose the right movie and when I finally got it gift wrapped and walked out of the store-I felt relieved ! While my intuitive response to this sudden burst of anxiety was that-I had a long day at work and my mind wasn't at its best, deep inside I knew something else was at work! What I couldn't figure out was whether it was my mind, my emotions or just my mood?

While I normally hit Google Search in emergency situations like these (Yupp-it shook me that much :)), this time I preferred calling a friend instead-afterall she's supposed to know why we behave in a specific manner in certain situations? First she comforted me (actually she kinda scolded me) saying that this time of the the year should rather be spent planning Christmas get togethers, singing Chistmas Carols and basically indulging in the euphoric spirit of the festive season. Then she said that its a proven fact in psychology [Choice Theory]-that choices do create unhappiness and stress. Before she could steer the conversation to shopping and stuff she prefers talking about (and I don't ;)), I requested her for a quick 5-6 pointers that can serve handy when I feel inundated with way too many choices now on. And here are the tips she offered:
  • Think Emotions - While most of the time we weigh options in the luminosity of logic, we should rather make choices based on the experience (we suppose) it would provide us with ! She reinforced the statement by giving an example that if buying a FOSSIL Watch genuinely leaves you with feel good experience inside-go for it. I know exactly why this example was quoted (I have always reverred FOSSIL watches) but yes point taken bud.
  • Be Focussed - While following a set and proven path in career/life is sure a safe option, in case you strive to venture out - have an Acute sense of focus since beggining. Focus, she said helps in filtering out the unwanted choices (psychologists call it Noise) from the useful ones.
  • Sense Opportunities - Most of us spent phenomenal of time thinking or talking about the missed opportunites (I would have done this only if I had this....or If I were brilliant I could...or Only if work was fun I would be happy...etc). And when we keep playing such incidents over and over again in our minds, it influences our decision making ability as well. If we rather divert our attention to spotting potential in the new opportunities/ventures, we can become quick thinkers and coming up with crazier and unconventional ideas can actually become a habit.
  • Buy this bestseller or grab a copy from the local library ! :-D

While I try to demystify the paradox of choice over the next few days and finish the year on a memorablenote, I wish you all Happy Holidays! And in case you wish to spend time reading some good stuff-check out the links posted here.

"The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time! ~James Taylor"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Satisfaction Guranteed...!

There's this cool thing about Competition-it can do (or make you do) wonders. While I have mentioned this before, I was pushed into my "thinking zone" yet again when I received two consecutive phone calls late evening yesterday. The history first-the calls emanated from Reliance and Airtel Customer Care respectively and agents from both companies voiced their unhappiness for spotting the rock like presence of my name in their records of Inactive customers. Before I could congratulate myself for being savvy (I switched to Gtalk/Skype sometime back & I love 'em both) or finding myself as a special customer amongst millions (I like such revelations!) , the first rep asked if all's well back in India and very proudly mentioned the timestamps and durations of the calls (Isn't Business Intelligence amazing?) I made few months ago (perhaps the last ones)-this sure wasn't the best way to talk to a customer! He perhaps sensed my vibes & reiterated that I have been a very distinguised customer.

A little analysis tells me that with Auto-Recharge enabled, the trasanctions between my credit card and payment gateway system of these companies had become quite smooth and that sure classified me as a valuable customer :D. Anyways, he really went overboard with company's offerings and cited numerous reasons (least cost, superb call quality, near zero call drops, 24/7 Assistance etc) to convince me to start using their services again. While I said that I'll think about it to bring the conversation to a harmonious end, I wondered if such efforts by companies are worth the energy spent !

Now, for my local friends here - Reliance and Airtel are real BIG cellular service providers in India who keep striving hard to provide excellent customer service to Indians (in India or abroad) on a continual basis. Ask any of your Indian friend and you'll learn how important their offerings (subsidized international calls) are to him/her! I have always felt that together both these firms make a significant contribution to the Indian Economy-they provide employment to many, world class wireless, telephone and broadband services and help us stay connected. A quick internet search tells you the executives leading the firms are always on the lookout for opportunities, adopt unconventional approaches, partner with global players to outdo their erstwhile performances in stock market and never stop evolving! So in this picture perfect world-how do you distinguish your company (or yourself)? Well here are some thoughts:

  • Running Our Own Races: Evolution has shaped us to focus on our competitors and try hard to outsmart them. Won't it be better if we direct our focus to ourselves and try competing with our former selves instead? [Google]
  • Distinct Value Proposition: There's got to be something unique that only & only we (as a company or as inviduals) can offer. Agreed-finding that might take time but once you do find it - life can be more than fantastic. [One]
  • Gauging Ourselves: While on one hand you can position yourself in your illusionary world where things are the way they are or you can push yourself out of your comfort zones more than once and see what life has to offer. What's important when you do venture out is - the measurements you make of your progress towards your set goals. The adage "What gets measured gets done" turns out to be true majority of times! [Sun]
  • Leaving a Footprint: When you make an offering (Service/Product), leave a lasting impression (it better be a good one:)). I love iPod not 'coz its cool to have one but 'coz the product was a genuine effort by many engineers, marketers and towards creating an indelible experience in minds of customers.[Apple]

And far as connecting with friends or loved ones in India I am sure you'll agree that in this age of social networking there are zillion ways to communicate and phone has become a passé! For now lets shift our focus to more important tasks at hand like Christmas shopping :)

"Everything is sweetened by risk! ~ Alexander Smith"

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Quantum Mechanics...!

After back to back attempts of persuasion (ranging from "Its festive time Chinmay!", "Its a Bond Movie!", "You've got to see the action & the plot", "The theatre has a luxurious Lux Level seating" and the best temptation she offered was-"There's Ben & Jerry store in there too!") , a dear friend convinced me (finally) to go for evening show of "Quantum Of Solace" at the Showcase Cinema Theatre next to the magnificent Gilette Stadium at Foxboro, MA yesterday. And what a splendid evening it was! Later, on our way back I thanked her for the super-special evening for I thought as if I just attended a rock concert (Yes it was that amazing!). What she said next has remained etched in my memory since - "Chinmay always remember that you are not the only person who looks for the best choice in anything-As a matter of fact everyone does; And if you keep that in mind you can make everyday super-fantastic !". She sure has been an aficionado of movies, concerts and anything to do with Art (Galleries, Paintings, Illustrations, Rangolis et all) since high school days and as she said goodbye - she said (rather demanded;)) she would love to see my thoughts on the movie on my blog. Now, knowing that I usually think in extremes about movies (0% this/100% that)-this felt like a herculian task and I thus dozed off to sleep. Today morning however, yesterday's unfinished "To-Do" kept buzzing again & again & again in my mind. So here I am sipping my coffee, logged in to blogger and lets see...

Honestly while they were showing Trailers of upcoming releases, I was trying to ascertain what the movie would be about-from its title. And considering that I haven't watched any other bond flick yet(Yeah I know thats a surprise!)-all I could think was Planck's constant (used to describe quanta) from high school physics :( And I decided not to share my thoughts with my friend for atleast the next 2.2 hours (what a wise decision it was - I bet;)).

My other friends (who are sure shot movie buffs) tell me that this movie wasn't appreciated much across the globe when compared to the erstwhile Bond films. Now that comes as quite a surprise to me 'coz a little research tells me that the blockbuster did made a killing at the Box Office. Here's I think why:

  • Highly Torqued Action Sequences (M's trusted bodyguard Chase by bond)
  • Extreme Rendition of Stunts (Bond's Aston Martin Car Chase)
  • Depiction of Abundance (Dominic Greene's zillionaire Lifestyle)
  • Nail Biting Suspense (What would happen next keeps you glued till the movie ends)
  • Common Motto (Inconsolable rage & vengeance of the leads-Camille[Olga Kurylenko] & Bond[Daniel Craig] against )
  • Sophisticated Gadgets with an amazing appeal (C'mmon we all love 'em - don't we?)
In a nutshell, I would say that the movie rocked and left me feeling exhilarated. What an amazing Brand Equity 007 has-hats off to Ian Fleming !
"To win without risk is to triumph without glory ~ Pierre Corneille"

Monday, December 01, 2008

Dancing With The Stars...!

Before presuming that I am writing about ABC's super famous reality show-my sincere rather urgent advice to you is to step-outside of your cubicles right away and look southwest-Yes NOW !! (its 5PM EST). The reason I am emphasizing so much is 'coz the phenomenon that held me spellbound few minutes ago may not be visible for another 40 years (until 2052). An office colleague tipped me about the rare celestial event during Lunch and believe me I have kept my fingers crossed for clear sky since afternoon.

Yes, I am talking about the much talked about "Conjunction 2008" - the amazing triumvirate of the three brightest objects in the sky - the Moon, Venus and the Jupiter. Watching these majestic heavenly bodies orbiting millions of miles away yet present in each other's proximity (as of now) is an awe-inspiring experience indeed. While the astronomers term this as "lunar occultation", to me the spectacle appeared like a "Happy Face" painted in the heart of the night sky symbolizing harmony, peace and spirited times ahead. So head out - dazzle your eyes, boggle your brains, amaze yourself and have a nice evening ahead !

"At times, delusions of grandeur can make us feel a lot better about ourselves."