Posted by: Madhavi CN | May 2, 2016

Chugging through India by Train

When we travel, we get to meet lot of interesting people; when we take the Indian trains, we have the microcosm of India awaiting to be explored and experienced. If you love Nature, you can soak on the changing landscape, if you enjoy chatting you have people around to get introduced to, if you are one of those introverts who are happy by themselves, just throw an eye and ear to people around and enjoy the fun.

IMG_20160430_131738The subjects to observe keep changing as a new destination may take away some and bring forth some new ones. The best view is often from the general compartment and as we move higher to the sleeper or AC classes, we realize that we get secluded and need finer observation skills to enjoy the panorama. However colorful and boisterous the crowd is, for the summers and long distance journeys, I try to stick to the AC to avoid getting exposed
to the tropical heat.

Here is the peep into the people I came across as I travelled from Secunderabad to New Aliporedaur by the Sec’bad-Guwahati Holiday Special:

A newly-wed couple going for their honeymoon to Gangtok: Their relationship was gaining a strong foundation on singdas, biscuits, groundnuts, savories, sweets and

2

The Red & Blue Love Bag

some exotic stuff, the names of which I know not. Every once in a while the guy pulls out a large red and blue bag from below the berth and takes a handful of eatables for his dear wife. She first gives a nonchalant look followed by a puckered face and a heavy head swing to say that she does not want them. He cajoles her prodding the food item into her face. Finally she relents, picks the piece gingerly, gives him a giggle and both munch happily ever after.

 

An Energy conservationist: This mountain of a man slowly lumbered up with his relatively tiny satchel and took his seat on the side-berth. There is no escaping the bulk of this man. As the train started, he sluggishly laid himself sideways on the berth with his head supported by his right hand. He bundled the pillow, bedsheets and the rug messily near his belly. He slept for most of the time with well-spaced out snores that were not irritating but rather funny. They were more like a little girl giving a cry of joy as her baby brother responded to her attention! Whenever he woke up from his slumber, he bought a packet of potato chips from the hawkers and chomped them away fast and furiously. He was not brand-specific, drank no water, spoke little and moved minimal until he got down at Kharagpur, leaving a pile of empty packets.

The Lord of Rings: The Lord of Rings wore a crisp cotton dhoti, had a large vermilion bottu and looked totally chilled out.  The dhoti with the simple brocade border made me wonder if this would be the perfect wear for the South Indian summer. He declared with pride that he was the expert on precious stones and had a ‘doublu doublu doublu’ on the Internet! He saw a man with three stone rings and went into an impromptu singsong style lecture on the properties of precious stones. I felt that people were trying to hide their rings to avoid his attention. His other amusing trait was that he was guessing the profession of every man around. None of the guesses turned right but then he did not stop. He guessed that my husband was from the Police Department. I had to suppress my smile and thank god that he left the women out.

1

The Jolly Couple

The jolly ride couple: Train journeys are soporific. This elderly couple took that saying a notch higher. When they slept, it was as if they were on the operation table on anesthesia, waiting for surgery. I don’t know if people on operation tables made biological noises owing to the gases in their belly, but these two did. Freedom to let out was their birthright. The man could also make guttural noises. It was disgusting to all but we could do nothing but to let the elderly have a jolly ride.

The chatter-box: I do not feel like calling this guy a chatter-box, perhaps you may help me with the right term. He talked continuously and with all. He had wit and the heart to help people around. He helped move heavy luggage, get water bottles for the elderly, give political views, discuss the swachh-Bharath tax that was getting included in hotel tariff, explore ways to run railways and a lot more topics – some useful and some totally unnecessary. He even invited his friends from other compartments to come and join him in the AC one. When he took rest, it felt that the whole train was on silent mode.

The Mobile Marriage Bureau: A heavy gold chain with an ‘om’ pendant, around his neck and enough gold rings on his fingers, he was the well-combed and well-dressed man who was on the phone for most of the time. He was loud, cheerful and upbeat in his conversations. He seemed to be helping people get married, rather helping their children to get married! He was the quintessential marriage broker in the Indian matrimonial setting but for me he looked like a full-fledged wedding agency that gave bharatmatrimony.com a tough competition! I got to know that middle men take 1.5 lakhs for ‘match-fixing’ 😉 That girls’ side objective is to bring down the wedding expenses while the boys’ side aims to push them up. There is a lot to change and I hope it does, even if it means that marriage bureaus may need to close or change their business model.

IMG_20160430_131702

The Indian Panorama

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Posted by: Madhavi CN | February 26, 2016

Understanding Change

Untitled‘Change’ is a key word when it comes to the health of interpersonal relationships. If I can risk facing a heated debate here, I would have said, ‘change’ is the bone of contention in marriage. I am going to leave the heated debates for Barkha Dutt and Arnab Goswami to handle while I stick to discussing change in any relationship per se.

We love/hate it because the other person has changed! We love/hate it because the other person has not changed!!

The other day my friend offered to return the library books that I borrowed and were due for return (so typical of him and how I love it). But instead of saving me from paying the overdue, he left my books to languish in his car for a whole week (so unlike him and how I hate it!). This does not mean that I hate change; it is only the context that makes me love or loathe it. I celebrate when my team throws a surprise party for me instead of following the routine of cajoling me into hosting one.

How does the change work for us? Does it give us a benefit – materialistic or otherwise? Or does it leave an uneasy after- taste? This equation is quite simple to follow. But what about those changes that do not matter much to us and yet we take a strong stand on them? Things like Facebook changing its layout or Google changing its color scheme or the changed logo of a company. These do not impact our usage at all, yet we are either thrilled or killed with the change. Is this our acute sense of aesthetics that makes us react so? Or is it our personality’s predisposition towards the concept of change?

Wait for the next one about:

Top 5 changes that people Love and Top 5 changes the people Hate!  Any guesses about what makes it to the list?

Posted by: Madhavi CN | February 25, 2016

Inspiring Innovation

Businesses have heard the clarion call for innovation and are attempting ways to make innovation part of their culture and routine. Innovation starts with ideas and hence enterprises are working on institutionalizing idea generation. Companies are setting up formal training programs and workshops to enable their people with the right tools and processes for creative thinking and making them as idea generation machines.  Idea factories are being built by creating systems for gathering, sharing and funneling ideas from people across the organization.

These efforts to raise organizational creativity for idea potential may result in a huge database of ideas or at its best, it may lead to big data analytics on ideas. But all the creativity and idea generation might in no way make any significant contribution to actual innovation.

Ideas do not automatically nurture innovation. They need to be backed by the passion and energy of people. More importantly, new ideas need a champion who not only promotes the idea but enrolls others to maximize it.

There is no element that can compensate for the lack of human drive, enthusiasm and commitment. It is this vital aspect that needs to be recognized by organizations before driving innovation for excellence. This journey often requires breaking through years of conditioning and embracing disruptive change.

Posted by: Madhavi CN | February 23, 2016

Sharpen the Saw, Strategically

Often businesses face some of the toughest challenges but routinely categorize them as high competition, insufficient market intelligence or insufficient sales efforts. Companies that were once successful start struggling as they invest into intensifying their efforts instead of taking strategic initiatives that lead to real advantages.

Check out if your company is facing any of these challenges that need a strategic approach:

Mature Markets: Are you in a mature market where the growth rates are stagnated? Have you reached a plateau and attempting a fresh burst of growth?

Customer Base: Is your product/ service liked by customers/clients once they tried it? Are you trying gimmicks to get a larger customer base to try your offering?

New Market: Are you entering a new market which is dominated by a biggie? Are you looking to be a David who can convert Goliath’s advantage to a disadvantage?

Changing Regulations: Are you struggling to leverage the shifts in the industry practices or Government regulations?

New Concept: Is your offering centered on a radically new concept that requires a mind-shift change in the customer?

A conventional approach in dealing with the above challenges gives no benefit whatsoever.  Businesses that are driven by efficiency might have been successful so far with their well-tuned efforts in achieving incremental goals. But what is needed to stay ahead, be it business or personal success, is to continue building the resources (‘sharpen the saw’ as Steven Covey puts it) that enable quantum leaps. At the core of the resource building efforts is INNOVATION.

Posted by: Madhavi CN | September 25, 2015

Success: Knowing just Enough

An idea is born but we don’t know everything about the business that our idea generates. But, we know something about it and that is just enough to be geared to start the initiative.

When are we ready?

Waiting to completely know about something before acting on it often kills the opportunity through the time dimension. It is good to launch your idea with passion that gives the necessary impetus to overcome the hurdles, create solutions when needed
and most of all, fulfill Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest.

Now is the age of analytics. The best decisions are made using data analytics, social media and a smart KM of blogosphere and expert forums. If you have just enough knowledge that helps you comprehend ‘when’ and ‘how’ to act on the data, you are well set to make your path. Remember, data guides decisions but the passion that goes into the action drives towards successful goals.

Posted by: Madhavi CN | June 19, 2014

13 Reasons Why to Say NO to the Rat Race

Oh-I-should've-said-NO

Oh-I-should’ve-said-NO

You got to say NO to the rat race because..

1. You participate in the race and you risk being labelled a racist
2. You don’t want copycats chasing you
3. It may be a race into a lab
4. It gets lonely on the top and rats thrive on companionship
5. Cheese is not exactly what you want to win when you are watching your weight
6. Rats have excellent memories and you are smart enough not to rub your brethren in the wrong way
7. You cannot rat out midway
8. Someone may rat on you about your involvement in doping
9. You do not like to rat around such frivolous activities
11. There is no fun in competing with rug rats
12. You already smell a rat

and

13. Even if all goes well and you win, you are still a rat!

Posted by: Madhavi CN | May 2, 2014

5 Things We can Definitely Lose…

…when we want to improvise anything!

1. I don’t know where to start.

2. It is going to fail again.

3. I am not finding time for it.

4. I do not know how to do it.

5 I tried before and failed.

Image

Posted by: Madhavi CN | March 10, 2014

Twitter Etiquette – 12 Simple, Short, Significant Tips

  1. Don’t fret for Followers.
  2. Don’t use more than 3 hashtags
  3. Avoid starting a tweet with hashtag
  4. Post content that is engaging
  5. Create a nice twitter handle
  6. Report spam accounts
  7. Have a description about yourself
  8. Don’t spam
  9. Use 120 characters to give space for people to RT you
  10. Replace egg profile with a real picture
  11. Keep your tweets brief, relevant and interesting
  12. Tweet often with engaging content
Posted by: Madhavi CN | February 26, 2014

Top 10 Countries with Highest Active Monthly Users of Twitter

Saudi has the world’s largest active Twitter base. But India, Nigeria and Germany have nothing much to Tweet!

Top 10 Countries with Highest Active Monthly Users of Twitter:

Saudi Arabia

Indonesia

Spain

Venezuela

Argentina

U.K.

Netherlands

U.S.

Japan

Colombia

Source: The Hindu, November 18, 2013

Wonder how China would have fared on the usage, had there been no ban on Twitter there?!

Posted by: Madhavi CN | February 26, 2014

Why and How Tweeple Lead?

UntitledSocial analytics companies are choosing Twitter for understanding the hot content, key influencers and customer sentiment. The reason for this importance and attention is that Twitter has become the key spot for sharing content through short links. The traffic to individual or company’s websites can grow significantly, the moment the tweet with the content hyperlink content gets noticed and spreads through retweets and responses. People who might have never visited the site are found in the list of visitors that would have grown multi-fold.Keeping them on the site and having them visit again and again is a different game strategy. Our focus now is on making Twitter work for you.

Quality Tweets

The quality of the content you post is what does the trick every time – be it the website, Facebook or Twitter. Readers are frustrated looking at the rehashed fare they end up with in their searches. People want value, readability and brevity.

Others’ Tweets

Make others’ tweets work for you. Sharing content from other Tweeple helps in building your Twitter audience. Your editorial judgment in choosing quality and relevant tweets here makes people value the content that you generate on your own to post.

Hot Headlines

What clicks is what gets the click! 😉 With content reduced to a short hyperlink, Twitter is a place where it is all about the Headlines. The value of the content is defined by its viewership and the retweetability. Most of the time, people retweet based only on the headline. They hardly get to the actual page. A smart headline does the trick in generating audience attention and giving you the favorites, mentions, sharing and retweets. Treat the headline as a promise that the content fulfills.

Competitors galore

Your competition for the shortlink you post comes in the forms of quips, pointers, conversations, anecdotes and observations of everyday living. They may not belong to the topic that you chose, but they compete with the same audience’s attention.

Here is the checklist that helps you create a great headline:

  • Is it useful to the audience?
  • Does it project the urgency and value?
  • Is it uniquely responding to a specific problem/concern?

Short, Shorter & Shortest

The tweet should present the reward for reading in the shortest possible way. Don’t extend yourself till the 140-character limit when you can do it in lesser characters with a little bit of creativity. If you are expecting people to spread the message, you need to give them some room to retweet.

Twitter Culture

Give credit with a HT (Hat Tip) when someone brought your attention to a tweet that you rate as high valued. Leave some space in your tweets that will permit others to do the same regarding your tweets.

Watch out for what you retweet. Some are excellent at their headlines, but fail at the content quality. Retweeting useless information will bring down your reputation.

Rewrite for retweets when you find the content great but the headline crappy.

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