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Talk to yourself

No other sector has experienced the same explosive growth as the computer and video game industry.

The animation and gaming industry has shown resilience in the face of the current economic downturn, growing by over 20 per cent during 2008. According to a forecast by Gartner, mobile games are the fastest-growing segment in the global markets, with revenue set to nearly double between 2013 and 2015 from USD 13.2 Bn to USD 22 Bn. In India too, a few months back, the research conducted by KPMG-FICCI has also predicted that from the current INR 560 crore, the mobile gaming segment size will become more than triple to INR 1,800 crore by 2017.

But, what begs attention is the reason for the growth. Has this gaming caught the fancy of people, have they albeit late discovered a latent talent which is now finding a way out to express itself.

I feel, it is more to do with boredom. Boredom from the events, the surroundings, the people, and above all, themselves.

Before the advent of devices that allow you to fiddle with them instead of twiddling your thumbs, people faced similar situations of finding themselves all by themselves. Some grudgingly, some silently, and some enthusiastically found ways of ‘passing time’ in such situations when you have to be by your lonely self.

This tolerance has gradually seen a downward spiral and has reached a point of desperation. Today a moment to yourself seems like a severe punishment of solitary confinement rather than a golden opportunity of spending time with yourself.

A familiar sight is people calling colleagues and friends on reaching the destination ahead of others. ‘Where are you? How long will you take? But I am on course. But don’t you realize I have reached before you and I am all alone. What do I do?

In situations like waiting at a doctor’s clinic or to emplane at the airport, it is interesting to see the emotions of people. Some are edgy, to a point of visible discomfort, waiting impatiently to be released from this discomfort jail, some are reconciled to the situation, trying to find ways to pass their jail time.

And there are others who relish the opportunity to spend time with themselves.

My father used to tell me, that a person who is bored in his own company cannot be an interesting companion. Talking to the creative, the successful and the intellectual, I have found they find their best ideas while talking. Talking to no one, but themselves. They cherish these opportunities as they have a reservoir of thoughts, ideas, and work-in-progress concepts that need these times to take them forward.

Technological advancements notwithstanding, there will always be situations when you will have to wait, bide your time, or pause between activities. And these situations can be whiled away or put to good use. But the use is not what is the concern, it is the lack of the bundle inside which encourages you to open, unravel and explore.

There will never be a time when one will not be left alone. There will be times you will be alone even in the company of people. There will be times when you will feel the stark loneliness of life, which reminds you that eventually, you are all by yourself, and fight your own battle.

Rather than complain, brood, or while away, talk to a companion who has your interest at the bottom of the heart. And will never desert you.

Talk to yourself.

Posted in: Entrepreneur, Focus on Solutions, Motivational, Work Culture

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Teachers Everywhere

When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Festivals come once in a year but festivities are round the year.

Teachers Day comes once a year but teachers are with you, throughout the year.

Is learning the essence of life?

Not to everyone.

There are some who believe, and rightly so, that action is all that matters. Learning is the fuel, action is what puts it into motion.

There are others who have a cordial relationship with learning. They open their doors to learning once in a while- to let in some guests who are otherwise unwelcome generally.

And there are others who consider learning as an intruder and keep their senses on full alert to thwart any attempts from this unwanted intrusion in their zone of comfort.

To each his own. And we can rarely find fault with the different approaches. After all each of us has a right to decide how we wish to lead our lives, our priorities, our interests, grow, or evolve.

Gautam Buddha too was living in a blissful state of ignorance, in the lap of luxury, till he decided to explore and discover himself. This reveals two things – one, you can change course in life at any time, and two, it’s never too late.

Is learning self-realisation? Is it education? Is it discovery?

Does learning happen, or is it delivered by a teacher?

Can one learn without a teacher?

What role does a teacher have?

Teachers are not labelled. They may not necessarily be human. They may not be physically present. You can learn from a story, an anecdote, an observation, a thought.

You can stay untouched though surrounded by teachers, and you can learn despite the absence of teachers. The essence of learning is not what is being taught, but what is being learnt. And for that it is not the teacher in front of you, but the learner in you that seeks the teacher.

For those who seek teachers, they keep looking. For those who seek learning – teachers are everywhere.

Posted in: Celebrations, Festival, Festivals, India, Motivational, Work Culture

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Through to excellence

Once I received a beautiful birthday gift from my team. It was a small Ganesha idol. Like most of them, this one too was also beautifully crafted.

I recall what was told to me as I took the gift, “Like Ganesha, may you master as many arts as you can.”

I was perplexed. I inquired what that meant. Lord Ganesha was a master of sixty four arts, I was informed and hence the inspiration.

With the Lord of auspicious and good beginnings due to grace us this week, my mind wanders to that conversation and the meaning it has in our lives.

You are acknowledged as a master when you achieve excellence. You do well what you do; you perform well consistently; you raise the bar; and excellence pours out of you as naturally as perspiration after a workout, without sweating. You don’t have to extract excellence out of yourself, it oozes from you as if that’s all that it can draw from you.

So, is excellence a natural by-product or is it a dish prepared with an excellent recipe from outstanding ingredients?

A difficult question to answer, and even more unappetizing to digest.

If excellence is a by-product then what is it that you are working to produce? If it is just a recipe of ingredients and procedures, then why can’t everyone program excellence into their performances?

There is truth in both.

Yes it is true that those who get it as a by-product are not chasing excellence as a product or a destination. For them excellence is a manner. It is a way. It is a discipline. They want to do things well and in that quest, excellence becomes a constant companion. They don’t take excellence along, it chooses to ride in the company of such people.

Yes, excellence can be a dish. Have you seen those who consistently dish out good performances? Check their menu.

They have nothing else on their cards except excellence. They choose well in what they pursue; who they partner with; and they plan well. They believe good roadmaps are essential to beautiful destinations. They study in depth what it takes to dish out a great performance, and then put it in to make it one.

At each stage, from the aroma they can judge whether the dish is roasting as per their book. The book that is a compilation of carefully collected choice of ingredients and how they have to be cooked together. Every opportunity to them is a mouth-watering prospect to present a great dish on the table. For them excellence is what goes in and what comes out is no surprise.

So, is there something different about these two routes? One aims to perform well, and the other to deliver a good performance.

The first method aims at internal development. You develop yourself to a point that excellence, and nothing else flows out effortlessly from you. You build a pipeline of excellence. You don’t gather, it flows.

The second is about outlook. It is the way they look at things. You see through the lenses of excellence. You see clearly what you want; what it takes; and you put that in. You don’t waver from the path, and in doing this consistently it becomes second nature to you. It becomes your standard.

So is there anything common? Yes. It is the approach. You set out to be excellent, but you don’t seek it, you master it.

You imbibe it inside you. You don’t go to shop for it each time. You get it free with the way you go about. Your dedication, perseverance and untiring effort ensure that the excellence is a by-product of your every endeavour. When you go about doing anything, your planning, attention to detail, and adhering to your constantly updated recipe book ensures that the dish is always a lip-smacking one. There is a method to the madness.

So, what would you like? To be excellent, or to put excellence in your performances.

Whichever way you take to excellence, you can’t get to it, till you go through it.

Posted in: Festival, Festivals, India, Motivational

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Teaming Up

People are seeking to learn all the time. They read books, listen to thought leaders, get coached, and of course learn from experience. Those with a keen eye find that every observation and interaction offers an opportunity for learning to a fertile mind which is ready to absorb the knowledge overflowing in life.

Every interaction is a learning experience and any group activity offers a rich cluster of lessons.

Any group activity needs purpose, planning and execution. And all these within a framework of teamwork which can make the difference between winning and losing.

Purpose: It almost seems absurd that you can have a team engaged without a purpose. However we have seen two key areas of deficiency. One is clarity of purpose and the other is lack of communication. You may come across groups which are feverishly committed to be together but have little idea why they have come together. They fail to achieve anything significant other than being a social interaction platform. Some groups start with a well-defined purpose but the lack of proper communication or the continued communication of purpose gradually erases the primary reason of their association.

Leadership: Whether the group is made of two or two hundred, leadership or the lack of it makes its presence or absence felt. Good leaders will be communicative, assertive, encouraging, inspiring, guiding, selfless, and lead from the front. Weak leaders will be poor in communication, unsure, wavering, self-centred, and play favourites. Leadership has something unique about it. The leader may be visible or invisible, but leadership is always omnipresent in any group.

Execution: The success of any venture or group’s purpose is measured by its execution. It is the team the members, the way they perform individually and in tandem, and the team spirit is what determines the outcome. Good leaders and passionate team members still follow the proverbial rule of a rotten apple and keep the team free of one. Purpose and Leadership ensures the team is on track and meets its goals.

Teams are a collection of individuals and individuals performing well collectively make a great team which achieve great results. So it boils down to individuals: how they see their role and how they contribute.

Some want to do it, from some you have to get it done. Some want to do it well, while some need others to get out the best from them. Some want to win, and some want to participate. Some look at what they have to do, while some see what the team needs to do collectively to win.

Great team performances are a result of a combination of the three key factors and the team players who make the final difference. Team members committed to give their best do not wait to be summoned or reminded of what they are expected to do. They in fact are constantly looking at how they can improve their contribution towards the team cause. And it is this approach and attitude from each of them that makes the team unbeatable.

So ask yourself the key question: Do you voluntarily give your best or has it to be extracted out of you?

Posted in: Motivational, Team Work, Work Culture

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Taming the Enemies

The biggest enemies we face are not outside, but within – Jim Rohn

We are not born with courage, but neither are we born with fear. Maybe some of our fears are brought on by our own experiences, by what someone has told us, by what we’ve read in the papers.

Some fears are valid, like walking alone in a bad part of town at two o’clock in the morning. But once we learn to avoid that situation, we won’t need to live in fear of it. Fears, even the most basic ones, can totally destroy our ambitions. Fear can destroy fortunes. Fear can destroy relationships. Fear, if left unchecked, can destroy our lives. Fear is one of the many enemies lurking inside us.

Let me tell you about five of the other enemies we face from within.

Indifference

The first enemy that we’ve got to destroy before it destroys us is INDIFFERENCE.

What a tragic disease this is. “Ho-hum, let it slide. I’ll just drift along.” Here’s one problem with drifting: we can’t drift our way to the top of the mountain.

Indecision

The second enemy we face is INDECISION.

It is the thief of opportunity and enterprise. It will steal our chances for a better future. Take a sword to this enemy.

Doubt

The third enemy inside is DOUBT.

Sure, there’s room for healthy skepticism. We can’t believe everything. But we also can’t let doubt take over. Many people doubt the past, doubt the future, doubt each other, doubt the government, doubt the possibilities and doubt the opportunities. Worse of all, they doubt themselves. I’m telling you, doubt will destroy our life and our chances of success. It will empty both our bank account and our heart. Doubt is an enemy Go after it. Get rid of it.

Worry

The fourth enemy within is WORRY.

Just don’t let it conquer us. Instead, let it alarm us. Worry can be useful. If we step off the curb in New York City and a taxi is coming, we’ve got to worry. But we can’t let worry loose like a mad dog that drives us into a small corner. Here’s what we’ve got to do with our worries: drive them into a small corner. Whatever is out to get us, we’ve got to get it.

Over Caution

The fifth interior enemy is OVER CAUTION.

It is the timid approach to life. Timidity is not a virtue; it’s an illness. If we let it go, it’ll conquer us. Timid people don’t get promoted. They don’t advance and grow and become powerful in the marketplace. We’ve got to avoid over-caution.

Do battle with the enemy. Do battle with our fears. Build our courage to fight what’s holding us back, what’s keeping us from our goals and dreams.

Be courageous in our life and in our pursuit of the things we want and the person we want to become.

We will be facing the toughest opponent today in our life.

We have to make thing work, if it doesn’t work- we don’t leave but keep on firing our bullets of self belief.

Posted in: Motivational

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Take It or Get It

Can you get something without wanting it? If you do manage to get it, what will you do with it? Will it mean anything to you or will you start looking at it differently once you get it.

Knowledge, learning, mentoring, direction, and development are some things that people expect to get from a Master or a Guru. The question however remains, ‘Do you have to take it?’ or ‘Do you have to get it?’

Knowledge is ubiquitous. People looking for it have found it from the most unsuspecting sources. Some have sought it and some have stumbled upon it. The key has been the desire, the hunger or the absolute need that has driven people. Yes, many people have become what they are all by themselves.

Self-suggestion makes you master of yourself. – W. Clement Stone

The essence of self-development lies in the two words that define it. Self and Development. You take it upon yourself to develop yourself and do everything you can towards that purpose.

However, a lifetime may not be enough to achieve what lies inside you if you were to work all by yourself. So in the journey you discover many people who help you discover more of yourself and achieve more.

A slave has but one master. An ambition man has as many, as there are people who helped him get his fortune. – Wilson Mizner

As the journey progresses one realizes that life is all about learning from others. And while there’s a lot to learn you do need someone to guide you, show you the path and bring light in the areas of darkness.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. – Buddha

So, we are back to the same question. Do you take it? or Do you get it?

Liberation is not anywhere outside you. It is only within. If a man is anxious for deliverance, the internal Guru (Master) pulls him in and the external Guru pushes him into the Self. This is the grace of the Guru. – Ramana Maharshi

A true master can at the most only inspire you to live your being…live in your light – Swami Rajneesh

We teachers can only help the work going on, as servants wait upon a master. – Maria Montessori

The guru cannot awaken you; all that he can do is to point out what is. – Jiddu Krishnamurti

I hope all these words of the masters are a testimony that you have to take it. I hope we get it.

Posted in: Motivational, Work Culture

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Two Choices

Two Choices

You can choose to focus on the Problems or the Solutions

The difference between focusing on Problems and focusing on Solutions:

Case # 1 : When NASA began the launch of astronauts into space, they found out that the pens would not work at zero gravity (ink will not flow down to the writing surface).

Solution # 1 : To solve this problem, it took them one decade and $12 million. They developed a pen that worked at zero gravity, upside down, underwater, in practically any surface including crystal and in a temperature range from below freezing to over 300 degrees C.

Solution # 2 : And what did the Russians do…?? They used a pencil.

Case # 2 : One of the most memorable case studies on Japanese management was the case of the empty soapbox, which happened in one of Japan ‘s biggest cosmetics companies. The company received a complaint that a consumer had bought a soapbox that was empty.

Immediately the authorities isolated the problem to the assembly Line, which transported all the packaged boxes of soap to the delivery department. For some reason, one soapbox went through the assembly line empty. Management asked its engineers to solve the problem.

Solution # 1 : Post-haste, the engineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high-resolution monitors manned by two people to watch all  the soapboxes that passed through the line to make sure they were not empty. No doubt, they worked hard and they worked fast but they spent whoopee amount to do so.

Solution # 2 : But when a rank-and-file employee in a small company was posed with the same problem, he did not get into complications of X-rays, etc., but instead came out with another solution. He bought a strong industrial electric fan and pointed it at the assembly line. He switched the fan on, and as each soapbox passed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line.

Moral

Always look for simple solutions

Devise the simplest possible solution that solves the problems

Always focus on solutions and not on problems

“If you look at what you do not have in life, you don’t have anything. If you look at what you have in life, you have everything” 

Posted in: Focus on Solutions, Motivational

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Talent

The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind
Barbara Strauch

“Can I still compete?”

It’s a question many of us increasingly ask as we reach middle age.

We watch younger colleagues master new computer systems with ease or pull all-nighters with nary a hair out of place and — quite naturally — we’re concerned.

Luckily, recent research in brain science suggests that perhaps we should fret less.

Over the past few years, neuroscientists have begun to zero in on the brain’s changes in middle age, and what they’ve found is encouraging. Results of long-term studies show that — contrary to stereotypes — we actually grow smarter in key areas in middle age which, with longer life spans, now stretches from our mid 40s to our mid to late 60s.

In areas as diverse as vocabulary and inductive reasoning, our brains function better than they did in our 20s. As we age, we more easily get the “gist” of arguments. Even our judgment of others improves. Often, we simply “know” if someone — or some idea — is to be trusted. We also get better at knowing what to ignore and when to hold our tongues.

Not long ago, a mid-level executive told me how he’d recently changed the way he deals with younger colleagues. When gathered to discuss a problem, he keeps his “mouth shut” and listens. Even though — more often than not — he has a good solution, he waits. He does not speak.

“I find it works best if I let the younger workers talk first, wrestle with the problem in their own way,” he told me. “Then after a while, I say what I think might work. I’m not sure why, but this seems to work best and to help us all learn and solve the problem better.”

In fact, though he did not realize it, the executive was using the best parts of his calmer and more experienced middle-aged brain to help him manage his situation — and get better results.

It’s true that by midlife our brains can show some fraying. Brain processing speed slows down. Faced with new information, we often cannot master it as quickly as our younger peers. And there’s little question that our short-term memories suffer. It’s easy to panic when you find you can’t remember the name of that person you know in the elevator, or even the movie you saw last week.

But it turns out that such skills don’t really matter that much. By midlife our brains have developed a whole host of talents that are, in the end, just as well suited to navigating the modern, complex workplace. As we age, we get better at seeing the possible. Younger brains, predictably, are set up to focus on the negative and potential trouble. Older brains, studies show, often reach solutions faster, in part, because they focus on what can be done.

By the time we reach middle age, millions of patterns have been established in our brains, and these connected pathways provide invaluable perspective — even when it’s subconscious. For instance, some middle-aged managers I’ve spoken with talked about how solutions seem to “pop” into their heads “like magic.”

It doesn’t come from magic, of course, but from the very real — and often unappreciated — talents of our middle-aged brains.

Posted in: Motivational, Work Culture

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Theory of Work Culture

Demystifying the complexity of team behavior

Based on an actual experiment conducted in U.K.

Put eight monkeys in a room. In the middle of the room is a ladder, leading to a bunch of bananas hanging from a hook on the ceiling.

Each time a monkey tries to climb the ladder all the monkeys are sprayed with ice water, which makes them miserable. Soon enough, whenever a monkey attempts to climb the ladder, all of the other monkeys, not wanting to be sprayed, set upon him and beat him up.

Soon, none of the eight monkeys ever attempts to climb the ladder. One of the original monkeys is then removed, and a new monkey is put in the room. Seeing the bananas and the ladder, he wonders why none of the other monkeys are doing the obvious. But undaunted, he immediately begins to climb the ladder. All the other monkeys fall upon him and beat him silly. He has no idea why. However, he no longer attempts to climb the ladder.

A second original monkey is removed and replaced. The newcomer again attempts to climb the ladder, but all the other monkeys hammer the crap out of him. This includes the previous new monkey, who, grateful that he’s not on the receiving end this time, participates in the beating because all the other monkeys are doing it. However, he has no idea why he’s attacking the new monkey.

One by one, all the original monkeys are replaced. Eight new monkeys are now in the room. None of them have ever been sprayed by ice water. None of them attempt to climb the ladder. All of them will enthusiastically beat up any new monkey who tries, without having any idea why.

This is how any company’s work culture gets established.

Posted in: Motivational, Work Culture

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Truth or Lies?

The op-ed article of Greg Smith who served Goldman Sachs till the day of the article opened a can of worms. Let’s face it; this episode has raised a storm in every tea cup wherever it has been consumed.

A corporation which takes years to create a brand and has thirty thousand employees finds itself at the wrong end, facing the music.

Some thoughts on the episode:

  • David and Goliath: Increasingly people are looking at David’s view of Goliath. When confronted with the reality that Goliath was too big to hit, David’s view was, it was too big to miss. Large organizations and people who are known or popular run the risk of being hit. If an employee of a non-descript organizations has such revelations, it will hardly have any ears. If a husband gets slapped with a shoe by his wife at home, or a neighbor features in a fight, it doesn’t constitute as news. But slapping a well-known politician will surely get you column centimeters, tweets and eye balls.
  • Insider Credibility: When an intern at Washington House, a wife of a famous personality, or a disgruntled employee reveals some juicy inside information, people are drawn to the bites as bees to honey. Due to the insider status, a healthy claim of credibility is established and usually the onus of proving otherwise falls on the accused.
  • Damage: Genuine or not, unless outrageously ridiculous, the damage is caused by the accuser. The defense strategy that the person or the corporation adopts is also tricky. You start defending and you get dragged into a war of words, which could be the intention in the first place. And when the accuser is an unknown entity, he has nothing to lose and can exit at his option. If the accused stays quiet, your silence adds credibility to the claims. In this case, the Goldman Sachs PR machine tried to blunt some of the damage by stating Smith was just one of over 30,000 employees, but its defense, thus far, has been tepid at best.
  • Truth or Lies: The acceptance of the allegations depends on the reputation of the organization and the type of allegations that are leveled. If the allegations are in total variance of the public opinion and reputation, the facts claimed by the offender need to be backed with a lot of concrete evidence to lend credibility. However, if there have been some doubts, this salvo serves as the nail in the coffin. It serves as an important piece to complete the jig saw puzzle in the minds of the doubters.
  • Objectives: History has shown that this strategy is used many a times as a bargaining tactic. You open your mouth, show the extent of damage you can cause which gets the opponent to the bargaining table. Or it could be a last ditch effort by a disgruntled soul to inflict whatever damage he can when all doors seem to have been closed.
  • Social Media Vulnerability: With social media becoming an integral part of our lives and the cascading effect of its bombardment across the globe – genuine, malicious and innocent barrages have a telling effect. Social media strategies towards such situations are in its nascent stage. With few case studies or precedents in the wisdom bank of what works and what doesn’t, people have yet to crystalize the best strategies to such issues.
  • Motivation or Opportunism: Was Greg smart or dumb to make such a spectacle of his departure. Did he genuinely want to correct a system which he thought was unfair and unjust? Or did he aim at instant stardom? Few of us knew Greg’s name before March 14th, he is now the toast of Wall Street and has gained instant worldwide recognition. Reports suggest that he is now in talks with leading publishers for a book deal. This may be better than a 9 to 5 job at Goldman Sachs for the next decade. Sounds like a neat strategy, if that was the purpose.
  • Larger Picture: With the advent of internet and social media, news travels across the globe in nano seconds. There was a time when rumours could be suppressed before they assumed dangerous proportions. But not today. The tweets, Facebook walls, the instant messengers, and the like transmit the news instantly across the world. People pass on anything without verifying and in many cases verification, as in this case, is difficult. So the damage is done. This causes the risk to grow exponentially.

Brands will have to work harder to protect themselves from this assault. They will have to create the bond, proximity and emotion quotient with their customers to make them look at such barrage as trash rather than give it credibility.

Posted in: Branding, Motivational

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