Connected, yet drained!


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In the current digital era, the highly networked age, everyone you know or do not know has a connected device at hand. Mobile phones, tablets, laptops and personal computers are everywhere around us. You have them at home, at work and everywhere in between. You can reach anyone across the world at the speed of thought! You can call, leave a message, email, text, and chat or get on social networking sites and apps and share. Boy, are you connected! You have the reach at your fingertips that, a couple of decades ago was only dreamt of.

But, do you really connect? The human mind is so flirtatious that it cannot afford to stay put on one interaction for longer than a few seconds to perhaps, a couple of minutes. It has to keep moving, has to find new interests and fleet to the next as the previous one starts to wane away. That is what the rapid and overwhelming influx of information and our highly networked times has done to us. How many times have you glanced at your mobile phone today? Checked that Facebook app, that LinkedIn page, those Twitter tweets for the nth time yet?

There is no denying the fact that what technology has enabled is highly valuable. To reach someone on the other side of the planet in real time is immense. It has brought us all together in various aspects of life, personal and professional, and made the world smaller. It has made us one people and erased boundaries and other demarcations that once divided us. And, in every sense of what it set out to do, it has enabled us to make progress as better educated, aware, enlightened and open-minded humans that care about, not just what’s around us, but across the world.

And, this ability, in the larger scheme of things is highly efficient and valuable. However, what it has also done is, robbed us of what we once cherished and valued. True social interactions, in person meetings where we greeted each other and shared bonhomie, family and friends get-togethers where we cherished knowing each other and encouraged finer aspects of our personalities, social events where we met, talked, shared opinions and thoughts, all those are not as frequent or as rich as they once were. Perhaps, it is now that we reminisce the value of what we are continuing to lose. Think about it, you live in the same home, but communicate with your spouse and kids via devices. The family room conversations, the dinner table chitchat, the long ride interactions and coming together to participate in events that enriched us and strengthened our bonds are becoming rare; perhaps only on special occasions do these occur, if at all. Its in our best interest to save these and cultivate them, not just in ourselves but in future generations for they enriched us and defined our very existence, as people, as those who loved each other for what we were and strived to excel.

Technology has to be leveraged and used to enrich our lives, but we shouldn’t become a slave to it. It takes a conscious effort to do that and it’s in the best interest of us, humans to let it not rule our lives. And who better to begin this reversal than you. Take up the challenge and bring life back to you and those around you.

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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To Err is Human, To Forgive Divine!


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Boy, it’s been almost a year since I last published. Sincere apologies for being such a procrastinator. I know, I had said I would keep up with my blogging before & yet, slipped. To err is human and to forgive divine. Well, please be divine for I am human. I shall try not to err again.

With that taken care of, let’s jump into our discussion for today. I would like to talk about the aspect of us being human and what that means; probably more so for myself than you.

From ages, the being human aspect has been passed onto us as some sort of weakness. We are only humans; mere humans, etc. are things that we hear frequently. As though, that entitles us to err, slip, fall and fail, time and again. Being human doesn’t make it okay to err or fail. Its time humanity is representative of strength, resilience and domineering spirit. A glimpse of this new human spirit is seen in our frequent achievements; our innovation, our growing technology, space research, health, education, sports etc. But, this is not treated as representative of human spirit in its completeness, as second nature & fostered for being more frequent. Such achievements are glorified as something outside human reach and when reached should mean so much more to us, mere humans that they should be celebrated. I think we should celebrate everything we do, everything we achieve, for that should be what being human should be representative of.

This self-deprecating attitude is exactly what I think needs to change; the mere humans syndrome. So long as we pity ourselves, generations to come will see new achievements, as insurmountable tasks that happen only one in several and which, when happen should be celebrated. We have made such immense strides in various fields over the decades. The frequency of our achievements has also kept up. Time we regard them as the new thresholds and expect more from ourselves. Time being human is synonymous with strength, resilience, achievement, higher expectations and stronger integrity than with weakness, occasional success and trepidation.

What keeps you awake at night? Not an issue, I hope!


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What does your daily life comprise of?

A regular scheduled work week, chaperoning the kids to their after school activities, a family dinner night, a date night, drinks out with friends, some TV time, a weekend movie perhaps, so on and so forth.

But in between these regulars that we call “life”, is there anything else you do that actually excites you? Most people may find their calendars full and their strength & resolve exhausted just keeping up with the daily rigmarole. It may sound daunting but you can actually find rejuvenated energy by pursuing some exciting moments during your daily schedule that eventually will provide you with the excitement, the fuel and as a result renewed strength to refresh yourself and truly “live” unbounded. If you have heard the old adage of adding life to years and not years to your life, this is exactly what it is.

It could be gardening, golfing or spending time discovering the world with your loved ones. It could be doing service, reading, writing or singing and it could also be something totally unrelated to what you do daily. Perhaps a hobby,a project to the side or anything that piques your interest. Something, that takes your mind off your daily life, keeps you highly engrossed where you hardly notice the time spent and are not so much focused on results as you are in the act of pursuing it. And you do it, for the sheer joy of doing it. Some of us are lucky whose regular work is their passion too. For those pursuing an interest outside of your regular work, you will find renewed energy and zeal for your regular work as well resulting in better influence in that sphere. Not just your hobby or work, your life in general will be holistically vigourous.

Excitement, adrenalin pumping and pure joy are to be experienced. When I say that life is to be lived, this is exactly it, this rush of excitement is to be experienced and it only comes from your pursuing something for the pleasure of it. When work is not really work anymore, it is exciting, you want to pursue it further and this interest leads to your perfection and mastery in this pursuit of your choice. All of this sprouts from your interest in the pursuit and without you even knowing it, you excel in your choice. While you enjoy the pursuit, it further fetches you success unimaginable without your asking for it.

What is unique about us humans is that we are all wired so differently that we share a variety of interests. Imagine all of us pursuing our own excitement and as a result, we have every field flourishing due to the passion each one shares for their pursuits.

As I always say, seek & do things exciting enough to either give you a great night’s sleep or rob you of it, that’s when you know you are living!

Mind over Matter…


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I woke up this morning and read about the 4 year old little girl in Syria who was hit by a “stray” bullet while playing in her mother’s lap at home and didn’t survive the next day. Felt a pang of pain and frustration for the little one and her family, hope they all find peace. This is one piece of news we may read or hear about; there is so much we may never hear about….

The human mind never fails to amp up my fascination each time I learn a bit more. The way it is structured to hold long term and short term memories, accepts and absorbs shock, has varying capacity for such absorption from person to person is all very fascinating.

Today, there is a constant influx and onslaught of information through various media – on-line, offline, audio, visual, etc. We tend to use the media we prefer and we follow a path to filter & comprehend; a path traversing; along with the rest of the world, the more populous of news and then, our own realm of likes and interests.

And the news we consume tends to have an impact on us, sometimes minimal and at other times, pretty dramatic. The media it’s consumed in also contributes to the level of impact. A tragedy we come across may have a gloomy impact forcing us to retrospect in its background and a triumph brings us together in celebration, solidarity and brightens the future horizon.

There is so much that happens in the world that doesn’t even hit the visibility angle. What we view, hear or experience is only a subset of what transpires daily in our world, our lives. We simply do not have the capacity to process all that happens, whether known or unknown. But, the least we can do is to judge and react to what we come across and know.

It’s one thing to be a spectator and a totally different thing to decide and act on it; it may just impact ourselves or others we know or an entire community. But, it’s important to react to ensure that what has been processed has an impact and for that matter, a positive one. No matter how insignificant it may seem, any action can play a defining role in minimizing the impact of bad news while significantly contribute to the strength of a good piece of news.

In order to sustain the quality of life we desire and the nature of surroundings we aspire, the people, atmosphere and vibes we surround ourselves with become important. Be in the midst of wise men, you will be wise. Be in the midst of inspiration and goodwill, you will be inspired and will be able to do well. It’s crucial that we attract and comprehend information complementary to our aspired demeanor. This is not to say that you should totally shut out the troubled information. But, with an inspired demeanor that we cherish, non motivating news will not have its gloomy impact on us or our surroundings. In fact, some of our inner happiness and drive will rub off on it and its dark impact may diminish. When a whole community, city or society imbibes this culture of feeling and doing well, the impact of such harsh news will significantly diminish; infact, such news itself may be hard to come by. You might think, I am preaching utopia here. Hey, no one said dreaming of one is wrong and when you are out there to wish well, why not wish for the best!

A little self-restraint can save you some precious “Ahs” and “Ohs”!


                                           

One would think that one can be a free soul in certain scenarios; be yourself in the midst of your loved ones, primarily your family. Well, sure. But, every situation has its own rules and tenets. After all, we are humans. How did you ever think there would be a situation or scenario where all rules could just be blown away?

In any case, what we are discussing today is about self-restraint. Every person has a unique temperament. I know “spur of the moment; say it on your face” folks as well as “duh, were you talking to me?” folks. There are those that just absorb a situation and do not react to it at all versus those that absorb, analyze and then, come out with a self validated reaction based on their experience. And, then there are those that first react and then, go on to analyze what just happened.

There are several situations you tackle every day, be it at home, at work, in a social circle or even, in your virtual world, you know what I mean, social networks on the web, your e-mail etc. With the rapid exchanges these days and a horrendous influx of information to assimilate and analyze, it somehow seems that impromptu reactions are the best way to keep on top of such daunting interactions. As tempting as it might seem, it is in your best interest to exercise some self-restraint. If an interaction is important to you, take a moment, pause, think and store your reaction away to come back to later. That “later” might be a few minutes away, a few hours away or if possible, a few days away depending on the urgency of the matter at hand. When you come back to react at this later time, you will be amazed at your self and the vast difference in your reaction then, and now. Time is a great healer and brings about the balance in your reactions, the right balance that just probably saved you a job, a relationship, a life.

I am not saying that there should not be instant reactions at all. There are situations that definitely need these to save the day or cherish a moment, but judge those and react accordingly. But, if you feel hurried before reacting or feel that your urge has gotten the better of you, STOP! And follow the wait and react approach. You will never have to cry over spilt milk!

Have you failed enough?


As an old familiar saying goes, “Failure is the stepping stone to success.”

Everyone fears failure. Yet, it is an integral part of our lives, be it personal or professional. And failure gives way to frustration, despair, doubt and so many other emotions; more, from the perception the world around has of it than from the failure itself.

Failure is not something to fear or abhor. Failure teaches important lessons in life; lessons around what doesn’t work, what not to do and also who to truly trust and partner with. You do not come out of a failure with nothing, but with invaluable lessons which if applied on the next attempt, take you closer to your goal of success.

In order to succeed, it is not a must to fail every step of the way before you reach your goal. Lessons from failure do not necessarily need to be your own. You can learn from others’ experiences too. This will keep you on the fast track to success.

When faced with failure, it’s crucial to not give up as well as not to worry and get anxious. What is important is to stay calm, remain stable and have a coherent thought process to analyze the failure. Learn from the mistakes, take lessons from the experience as to what not to do and how to alter path to achieve success.

Taking risks is vital in the competitive times we live in. As another old saying goes, “No pain, no gain!” In order to grow and excel in your personal and professional lives, there is a need to take calculated risks. Else, stagnancy breeds in and one tends to lose the zest in living. Another important prerogative of growth and excellence is innovation. And again, in order to innovate, one needs to be open to risks and failures.

Not all failures are worthy. There are some that can be just termed as foolish and probably should not have happened at all. Then, there are those that are intelligent failures, those that occurred in spite of prior planning and execution per plan. These intelligent failures occur early enough in the process and provide new insights to alter course and continue towards success. Failures are truly valuable when they have a lesson to convey, are not repeated after the lesson is learnt and take you closer to success. Once you have faced failures, you are a much more valuable professional and a better human being.

Plan your work and work your plan. Do not fear failure. If it crosses your path, analyze it, learn from it and apply these lessons to change course and continue towards success until you achieve it. Once you succeed no failures matter at all!

Work Smart, not hard…


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Every time I strike up a conversation with someone, either in a professional environment or in a social setting, the conversation invariably moves towards how it’s been on the work front. Most of the time, what I hear is, “It’s been busy!” Then, the conversation meanders into how there is no time to even catch a breath, so on and so forth. Sound familiar?

And, I invariably start thinking that this has become an unconscious reaction of almost anyone, whether they are truly swamped or not. After all, work is such an integral part of anyone’s life. But, in the modern world as we know it, is any work truly “hard”. Well, most of it is not and whatever is, there are several innovations in place to make it easier to perform.

Today, it is not as much about working hard as it is about working smart. We live in a time where it’s your resourcefulness and acumen that plays a vital part in your success than sheer hard toil.

For every aspect of work where true muscle power is needed, machinery and computers have proven their mettle. When it comes to true productivity, burning themidnightoil has shown to be futile. The most productive contribution from a human is limited to about 8-9 hours a day. After that, a change in scene is required to ensure that you do not burn yourself out. There is a need to recharge and replenish for continuing your productive pursuit the next day.

It also helps to pause a moment and relook at the task ahead with a fresh perspective. Often times, you will see a different light on some other end of the dark tunnel. The modern workforce is distributed across the globe, some working virtually and some enjoying flexible schedules. These allowances have actually brought down stress levels and increased productivity. Imagine being tied to your desk working on a task while worrying about how your kids will be picked up at daycare if you can’t go. Who wins in this situation? Now, if you were able to take off for an hour to get your kids home and come back to work or if you were to take off early, get your kids home and then, continue to work from home, isn’t that a true win-win situation all around.

Coming back to the 8-9 hours you have available on a daily basis to tackle work, I think that is plenty of time to be truly productive without complaining about being swamped. It boils down to planning your work and then, working the plan. It also builds upon being accountable for what you do and showing responsibility. This will actually rub off on those that you work with. If you plan right and perform right, you should never be truly swamped or overwhelmed by work.

Today’s economy has created unique situations where many employees have taken on more than their due at work and are thankful to be employed. But, this also creates situations where they may be overwhelmed causing burnout. By nature, we try to pack as much as possible in a day. Working smart is prioritizing based on importance and urgency, planning workable chunks, setting yourself up to succeed, being flexible to accommodate your work/life balance without losing focus on either.

Now, take a moment and reflect on your own situation….

Are you working hard…..or working smart?

Do you support smart work within your team/your organization?

Where does the world’s “keeping in touch” platform go from here?


With the recent Facebook IPO, the internet’s latest phenomenon is front and center.

The world is wondering on various topics. What will the newly minted billionaires & millionaires do with all their monies? Has the free publicity by the media over the years turned FB into the household name it is today? Is the company really worth $100 billion with only about $4 billion in revenues and $1 billion in profits? What kind of person is Mark Zuckerberg? Will his focus now shift to catering to his shareholders and making more money for them? Will he now start selling your and my information to companies looking to leverage the data for various reasons including selling us what we may or may not want? How much information should we make public on social networking sites? Is anything ever private? What is the future of Facebook (FB)? What modes will FB adopt to grow its revenues and what controversies will that cause? Do I still want to continue on FB? Is spending a few minutes to an hour daily on FB a waste of my time? As a user, how is it that I am not making a single penny while my data is worth something to someone out there? So on and so forth……

True, there are a lot of questions and a lot more new ones may evolve over time. But, let’s take a step back. Eight years ago, when 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg was building “TheFacebook” product, even he wasn’t aware that it would grow to be what it is today and perhaps much bigger in the future. He probably didn’t envision building a social networking site just to benefit mankind but had thoughts of making money off of it, as any youngster venturing out at that age would. It’s an undeniable fact that Facebook, as it is today is the result of investments and hard work from all those in line to gain from its IPO. There have been and are other companies in the same space that have not tasted similar success. Well deserved, indeed. And of course, scores of people like you and me are the reason FB is such a big success today.

At its core, FB is a connector, a platform for connecting, networking and relationship building, both at personal and professional levels. That is where the draw is for businesses to reach out to people through FB. Earlier, personal and professional spaces were clearly defined and segregated. With FB, that line no longer exists. A company can pitch its products and services right to you and in your face and that too very quickly. Now, that is immense power and reach, if you have something to sell.

Today, we live in the age of instant gratification. Success and failure can happen overnight. You do not have to wait a lifetime to become a success and attribute all that you did over time to it.  You put your case in front of the audience and the verdict is instant. In one way, it’s good since that allows you the time to step back and act on your next endeavor before a lifetime has passed away.

Well, back to our initial discussion. FB has thrived as a result of the team’s focus on the product and maturing it over time; and, people’s affinity to interact. It’s basic human nature to interact, share, build and nurture relationships and here is the ideal platform to do so in today’s age. When the platform showed up, people jumped at it. There are those who say that I’d rather meet and talk than use FB. True, face to face interaction or talking over the phone trumps over using a screen in between but, it’s not possible in all cases. FB has let us find relatives and friends living across the world and lost over time. It has become a valuable medium to reconnect and cherish these relations.

Talking about the impact of the IPO on the company’s future, the FB team had to cater to the stakeholders before the IPO and it will continue to do so in the future too. Earlier, they were a very product focused team whose sole aim was to evolve the product while finding ways and means of making money. About 85% of the FB revenues come from the sponsored ads you see on the right hand side of your FB page. Of course, there may be a very small percentage of people who actually click on them. Nevertheless, these are sponsored ads. There is talk that each FB user’s data may be sold to buyers for about $120.00 per head. This has been portrayed as another way the company will make money. Concerns over what is being sold, user privacy and user consent have arisen. These are valid concerns and over time, we will hear more about them. But the bottom line is that FB succeeded because of its product and that’s where the focus should lie. The product needs to be evolved and related innovations need to occur to ensure user stickiness and to find new realms of revenue.

Of the 845 million member base that FB enjoys, over 80% is international with India attributing  to 46%. The US membership base has trimmed by about 15% over the past year. Now, those are serious things to consider. International growth is good but domestic membership has to be healthy too to attract and sustain national advertisers. Loss in membership has to be researched to determine causes and to act on them. One thing to remember, in the internet world, if membership numbers can grow overnight, they can drop overnight too. Hence, it becomes all the more important that product innovation and customer service (whether direct or indirect) are prime considerations in the future FB growth strategy.

Here’s to the continued growth of the world’s beloved “keeping in touch” platform…..