Digital Marketing, Life

Doubt #Day 27

The serrated landscape of Dubai become an array of visual splendor at night. Bright yellow dots neatly arranged in rhythmical lines, appear as a mammoth inescapable labyrinth when the flight descends to one of the busiest airports in the world. What is find so fascinating about Dubai is the strangeness of life. It delivers surprise in every inch. Paranoia about the infrastructure and architectural perfection is evident in every tower built in the middle of this spectacular desert city. These buildings are massive, sometime gazing many hundreds of feet above your head, looking down upon your minuscule existence. As a runner, I have seen yet a different Dubai. When a runner cuts through the streets and covers the serpentine alleys, Dubai reveals a new face, a discovery akin to diver hunting for treasure at sea. Unexplored spacial scenarios appear, while you try to cope with the exasperated existence in a hot and humid environment. I met Vijay during one of these runs while preparing for Dubai Marathon in 2016.

Vijay is from Hyderabad and has been living in Dubai since 2005; 13 years of stay in Dubai will make him a veteran. He is also one of the most unassuming person that I have met and my reasoning would concur with most of others. Always ready to offer help in every possible way. When we were away with my father-in-law and my niece alone for few days, I had given them Vijay’s number in case of any help needed. Vijay used to be very fat, he shows me a few old unrecognizable pictures in support and also used to smoke profusely. He is now a reformed man, a runner and a very fine one. When I met Vijay for the first time, he was to run his first marathon in Dubai in 2016. A day before the marathon, he had fever and still ran the full distance (42.2 kms), medicines keeping his temperature in control. Since then, he has never looked back and has excelled in each new marathon and bettered his timing. What differentiates Vijay is his will and determination. He is doubt-less. His soft interior hides this side of him.

It was one of the usual Friday mornings, during one of our runs that I got an invaluable gift. We were on our way to the Club runs and we were late. The banters of the weekend Thursdays in Dubai had got better of us. I was driving, and had recently got my driving license. As a new driver in a foreign land, I built a rule that I couldn’t compromise with. When the green traffic light blinks, I had to stop. To the wrath of many around me, I follow this rule religiously. In Dubai, you should pray that I’m not ahead of you because even in the most urgent of situations, I would not go further, while you go on honking behind me. I’m shamelessly proud of my callous honest adherence. However this specific morning, my rule was to be put to a test. Vijay & I were late for our Dubai Creek Striders Club run. In the wee hours of the morning, if we didn’t reach the meeting point on time and we would be left to wonder where did the pack go. Thankfully, Vijay and I kept ourselves busy debating the choice of final destination and therefore the thoughts didn’t reach unwarranted conclusions. We were 3 minutes away from the start, and therefore I increase the speed of my Ford Explorer, the vehicle grunts and picks up the throttle and at the same time I can see the approaching green light. We are at a confusing distance; my mental calculation says that because it has been green for sometime now, it would start blinking any minute. As I come closer to the traffic signal, it does happen. The green light starts blinking, though I’m still away, I don’t stop. But this time, the ghost of the green light doesn’t bother me, I keep going on, crossing it in the nick of time.

In normal day and sane circumstance, I would have stopped. That was truly my first reaction. But I jammed on the accelerator. This was first exception of my holy rule to stop. Why? Vijay told something to me that made a lot of sense. Not just in this one instance, but I would refer to it in many more such scenarios. The words became like a flash card which I would use again and again.

When the lights were blinking and Vijay saw my confusion, he said, “If you doubt, you are done.”

Precisely, in the moment of crucial importance, the doubt impedes judgement, reasoning and could be greatest folly that you can commit. It doesn’t let you act and negates movement. Doubt is an ill that ails the will and determination. In most defining moments, I would reflect these words and the instance. Never to be at the cross roads on indecision and doubt. Else you are doomed to be in the limbo perpetually. Truth disguised as plain sight and beckons you unannounced.

We did try hard, but the pack had left the moment we arrived. Fortunately, we could catch them and the efforts didn’t go in vain. As the delicate atmospheric effect of sunlight permeated the early hours of the day, Dubai reveled in yet another glorious day. Wisdom illuminated like the bright sunlight for me, while my exhausted self was screaming inside to stop. Vijay went on and on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Digital Marketing

Choices #Day 25

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I had a very eventful childhood, the vivid memories of places far and wide that I have lived in have not yet banished from my mind.

I was born in Dhanbad, earlier a part of Bihar, but now in Jharkhand. The closest reference to the city were the coals mines depicted in movies Kala Patthar & Gangs of Wasseypur. When I look back, I feel blessed because my life was predictable and simple; I didn’t have to go to a fortuneteller.

Starting with education, I had two choices of schools- missionary or convent school and Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV). Since my father changed city every three years, Kendriya Vidyalaya was a convenient option. The CBSE board was standard across the country and had elaborate syllabus. However, during my early years, I went to convent schools such as St. Joseph’s in Allahabad, Bishop Conrad in Bareilly & Good Shepherd School in Siliguri. In those days, there was an emphasis on learning and conversing in English and convent schools were visibly better at making students more proficient in the colonial language. Such grounding helped me in making the transition to Kendriya Vidyalaya. I had best of both worlds during my school days. Selecting a school was never a problem, making new friends every 3 years was. Unlike my wife, I don’t have friends that I have grown up with.

My summer breaks were in Patna, where both of my grandparents lived. My brother and I generously shared the two month holidays with our cousins, many of whom didn’t have the pleasure of moving across the cities. As far as I remember, the city remained largely the same, only at times road became better or the traffic became worse. We had the same set of shops to buy articles from, same store to pick up books, same place we would visit to eat at least once once during our 2 month holiday. However our experiences differed in every visit. As we grew up, tried different activities. I have fond memory of listening  to Pink Floyd on the ghat of Ganga river near the university and having Golden Ice Cream Orange bar after our visit to Patna Zoo.

The only option available for us was to travel by train. We had to change two trains, when we were in Siliguri, a halt of almost 8 hours. My father would roll out a type of luggage called Holdall, which had a soft mattress and a pillow. It was offered only to my mother. In those days we would use the station floor to roll out Holdall to take rest, while my father watched out for the train. The train tickets was to be purchased in advance, since many people traveled through trains. Going to Patna was filled with excitement, while coming back was sad. I loved meeting my grandparents and enjoyed time with the cousins. In fact for a very long time, I didn’t know the definition of cousins, I always thought we belonged a one big large family of brothers and sisters.

Though I didn’t realise how much we relished food, however the flavor is still fresh in my mind. Both my grandparents had very distinct flavors. My Dadaji, paternal grandparents were larger family, 3 sons and 3 daughters. The food preparation had to reflect the tastes of each and during holidays, the grandsons and grand daughters. The gathering on the table were in shifts, first for our parents and then for the rest of us. Lunch was mostly dal, rice, vegetables and cut onions. We eagerly awaited the day mutton was made, which was mostly Sunday, because it took a long time to cook. My grand mother used garam masala and ghee very liberally. Night was roti and vegetables. The big gathering on the table was filled with discussions, while we played in the courtyard outside.

My Nanaji, maternal side grandparents had smaller family and therefore were more experimental with food. The lunch had an elaborate spread of chutney, mashed potatoes, papad, tilori (made of urad dal), vegetable, fries, and dal. We ate rotis first followed by rice. Saturdays were special, because my Nani (grandmother) made Khichadi, a preparation where rice and dal with spices is cooked together. Evening snacks was another delight. We were offered a range of snacks such as fried potatoes, chops, chana etc. Here too we ate mostly at home. Our Nanaji always insisted to eat with his grand children.

We did all this religiously every day of our holiday, until we visited one of our cousins, where the food taste would change, but the offering would remain same.

My father was in a transferable job, which was rare in those days. Government job was preferable to private, since stability, perks and retirement benefits compared to private was better. The epitome of success was getting through an engineering examination or Indian civil services exam (read as IAS). A large number of my cousins were rank holders in civil services exam and now advise the government on how to better run the country. Fortunately liberalization opened new avenues and I never took any government service exam.

If I reflect on my lives today, I have plenty of choice. With the advent of technology and internet, I have the information that I need to find out solution for my need. Sometimes the most difficult decision is make is to which restaurant to go to. Or which hotel to take while on a holiday, which earlier was provided by a travel agent, which my father knew of. Technology and internet have given us scale and right to information, but have they made our lives more easy?

Do choices restrict us or liberate us? Are we more happier with choices or without it?

Image & Layout Courtesy: https://www.canva.com/

 

Digital Marketing, Life

Apollonian & Dionysian #Day 26

Homes have uncommon aesthetic power and reflect the material and spiritual splendor of people who inhabit it. Few homes that I have seen reflect riot of creative and visually captivating designs and are surprisingly beautiful. However say very little about people who live in those enclosed space. “Classic question of convenience vs time. You cannot have both.” Priya’s response for those who fit aptly in favor of this logic. Irrespective, I belong to the school which proposes that the design ensemble, of bits and part of self and the experiences, creates rhythm.

Apollo and Dionysus are both sons of Zeus. Apollo is the God of sun, of rational thinking and order, and appeals to logic, prudence and purity. (Shamelessly quoted from Wikipedia). Dionysus is the God of wine and dance, of irrationality and chaos, and appeals to emotions and instincts. Although contrasting in nature, the Greeks never considered the two Gods to be opposites or rivals. The two reflect the duality of life, a harmonious form cannot be without chaotic artistic sensibility. A captivating home is never divorced from interestingly layered chaos. Or maybe inspires it.

Very few close friends have been honest enough to provide a stellate outline of my appearance. None of the accolades have anything memorable that I can boast about. Understandably, I have 3 pairs of jeans with the latest 5 months old, my t-shirts 4-5 months old (Priya has gifted most of them). Also all wedding occasion that I have attended have my photograph in the same suit (dark grey & shiny maroon shirt). I don’t give up on my clothes easily or get bored with them, unless in dire circumstances they get torn. So, what is common to my inordinate appearance and the place that I inhabit? None of the shine, glitz, or the art in my contribution. I’m Apollo from every perspective. Also because the Dionysian, king of good times, is my wife Priya’s forte.

Priya’s passion for design and art reflect in her sensibilities and appearance, quite contrary to that of mine. She is like a teacher, who knows where to put the comma so that the words display true meaning. At the same time, she is like a CEO, who has a participative approach towards management. Put the options on the table, before making the choice. Each choice is carefully evaluated, screened and dismissed for lack of purpose. Many treasures in this world won’t be able to allure her, each choice has to have a reason and a motive for it’s existence. Getting to talk about the house had all the makings of a thriller.

From the start I was never in favor of giving our house to an interior designer; I’m quite stingy that ways. I figured out, the fee could easy fetch me an article more material and real. My hard earned money, why should I gamble with it? Priya had a different line of thinking. She wanted a part of us in the house where we live, our child to see where we came from and what we believed in. She wanted it to be an extension of us. Easier said than done. My only demand was it should be easy on pocket. We don’t make rushed and immature decisions and end up regretting, as if there were less things to fight about in our daily lives. So, I wanted less things in the house and things which could be multi-tasked, and therefore more return on our investment.

A compromise, and the result was quite spectacular.

For 6 months after moving into the house, there was nothing in the house, except for our bar. I loved the spartan look, dazzling marble flooring, nothingness created the vast empty space, the lightly colored walls amplified it further. We would get ample sun light in the house and it lit every corner of our living room. Dhriti, our daughter loved it, she had recently started walking and for her, it was a playground. As pieces came together bit by bit, each corner and furniture, our home looked more complete. In the 6 months roughly, we saw through our new home as a little child, being very careful about each and every element it imbibed, and watched it grow.

It was beautiful. And I never had a sweat over the spends.

There is a certain reluctance in appreciating “wildness” as it being opposed to the “orderly” nature, that we are, or at least I am, more likely used to. The Apollonian is the basis of all analytic rationale. Everything that is part of the unique individuality of man or thing is Apollonian in character;  Rational thought is also Apollonian since it is structured and makes distinctions. And is that complete? Charles Lindberg, who made the first non stop flight from New York to Paris quotes and reflects an aspect of truth…

If we combine our knowledge of science with the wisdom of wildness, if we can nurture the civilization, through roots in the primitive, man’s potentialities appear to be unbounded…, he can merge with the miraculous – to which we can attach what better name than ‘God’? And in this merging, as long sense by intuition, but still only vaguely perceived by rationality, experience may travel even without the need to accompany life.    

Such is the conflict between Apollo and Dionysus. The motive for “intuition” in our lives is not discerned readily, “chaos” cannot be good and “wildness” not a a part of natural order. In this duality, there is a compromise, a balance that I’m happy to live for, while still searching its meaning.

Maybe the most irrational thoughts are the most sanest ones.

 

Digital Marketing

Farmer #Day 24

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All fathers will find their child’s notions often well expressed, and very interesting. The conversations are overwhelmed by specificity, mindful carelessness and genuine curiosity. These moments will come unannounced, for a brief flash of time. All you know that you are in it. Now. These questions are many and trivial. I would have ignored them because it never made sense to me. Yet, for these little ones it is a matter of great awe. I’m also amazed at the observation skills, and after listening to the questions, I would wonder why didn’t I think of it before or Hmm, this is also possible. The common element across all such questions is honesty of ignorance and determination to know the why.

When Dhriti was 5 years old, in her school, she was taught about professions. Her school, Shree Ram stressed on values and included many from real life. I didn’t know about this till Priya pointed out an observation. It was a honest answer and noble purpose.

Dhriti, what do you want to become when you are older?

I want to become a farmer.

Why?

So that I can grow trees and make oxygen.

Dhriti is 8 years this year and has still maintained her ambition of becoming a farmer, though this time she also said that she wants to become a Rockstar at night.

There are only two professions, a man is either a hunter or a farmer. Yuval Noah Hariri’s book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, marks the agricultural revolution, which started in about 10,000 b.c. as one of the milestones in our evolution. Increasing number converted from foraging (hunting and gathering) to farming. Harari writes, “Before this, they (humans) were insignificant animals with no more impact on the environment that gorillas, fireflies, or jellyfish.” Now we had more time to think and plan because now food such as grains could be stored. Therefore, everyday hunting for survival was not required. Humans became more interested in studying all the patterns responsible in detail to become better such as, knowledge about soil, seasons and water, so that output could be similar or better. We became more settled, protecting the land and our produce. However, according to Harari, the agricultural revolution did more damage, “A faustian bargain between humans and grains” in which our species “cast off its intimate symbiosis with nature and sprinted towards greed and alienation”. It was a bad bargain: “the agricultural revolution was history’s biggest fraud”. A bit sensational, but it would do. I could finish Sapiens in 10 days, because it was very entertaining and well expressed.

Not just Dhriti’s answers, but also Yuval Noah Harari, poses fundamental questions about happiness for us as a race. Were we happier being farmers or as hunter gatherers chasing the game and feeling accomplished for the day? Or it is our quest to seek beyond the unknown, such as fathom death. Some of these questions will encourage you to think more about us and our future.

While I pondered over these questions about farmers and existential questions on happiness, few events hinted at harsh truth. A boy approached my car, while I was waiting at the red light. He was carrying books, including Sapiens. The boy was not tall, about 3.5 feet in height. Thin structure, determined to sell, sharp eyes. His prominent jawline defined his face. My book of choice “Elon Musk” was wrapped in plastic and would cost only Rs.350. I negotiated and the deal was struck for Rs. 160. “What if pages are missing?” Priya asked him as he delivered the book. Proudly, the boy took the plastic cover off and said very confidently, “I would replace the book if any pages are missing”.

I probably bought the book, not because of the title, but because of the boy and his accent. I was also intrigued to find a small boy selling books, which I’m sure he couldn’t read. The boy looked very young and from my home state in India, Bihar.

Because of the long queue, I was not able to get through the red light and met the boy again. This time he came to check if we found any pages missing. Instead, he had to face Priya’s questions, ranging from where he came from to whether he studied or not.

The boy was not amused with the questions. He came from a village near Patna, the capital of Bihar and had ran away from home. He didn’t like staying in his village because they were poor. He came to Delhi to earn money. He also said that there were many people who offered him opportunity to study, but he has no inclination. He only wants to earn to make a good living.

No matter how much we debate about the sensation aspect of Sapiens, the reality is different. When I look around Gurgaon, place I used to live, I can see only tall building. Farmers are selling land, because their crop doesn’t earn them enough to sustain. Farms could be found in patches, more likely it would be because of short term interest than for actual reasons.

Trading land for cash isn’t a bad bargain. If it helps you survive.

“Mr. Cooper, we need more farmers today than Doctors or Engineers.” (From Interstellar)

Digital Marketing, Life, Transformation

Money #Day 10

FLOW (4)

“Money isn’t the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen on the “gotta have it” scale.” Zig Ziglar

Money ranks high up in the priority list of basic necessities. It’s vacuum can spell catastrophe. This post is not about its excessive preoccupation, but about not disregarding the importance of money; contrary to the thought of infinite write ups available, which propose that the intent is supreme. If there is no commercial viability, the idea dies its own death, and so does the intent.

Money is important, and the earlier we learn it, the better it would for us to respect it and put it to good use.

Rule no.1 that would be universally true is that managing money, is a function of behavior and not statistics, budget or maths. This would be the most fundamental change that you would have to make. Behavior mandates that you strictly have few guideline rules for yourself, such as the one that I follow, inspired by Mr. Dave Ramsey: no debt. This is the rule that you would live or die for. Therefore, if it means junking your credit card, do be it. If it means carrying more cash in hand, I would do so. There should be one guiding principle for this behavior which is sacrosanct.

I have seen that you fundamentally need a shake-up if you want to change to a new habit or change behavior; easily would be the most difficult job in the world. I would not wake up on one side of the bed one day and find myself to be a changed person. There are rigors to be followed to instill this discipline. The benchmark is 66 days, which is the essence of my 66 days rigor. Changes at fundamental level change the lifestyle, which one should be ready for. This is on an average, however may take more or less depending on individuals.

Rule no.2 is that you should be able to know where your money is going. Mr. Dave Ramsey proposes budgeting as a great way to achieve this. He has been fanatical about budget, so much so that he takes this as a counseling tactics to get husband and wife on the same plane. And that is true, improper financial planning is reason no.1 for the couple to separate. And if they are aligned, it will restore understanding and financial success. Again, this is a function of behavior, where the husband and wife need to be transparent to each other, get committed and follow the budget. Budgeting also gives the picture, where the money is going and therefore your ability to control it. I would recommend that you also keep and expense tracking app and note the tiniest of spends that you are incurring. I feel that not just us, such deep discipline should be inculcated in our children as well. A good financial well being amounts to success and confidence.

Rule no.3 are goals, therefore one should have a set of goals. The most important goal is to save. Starting with at least 20% of your income and depending on your expenses. But by and large the thumb rule for saving should be 20%. This should be going first from your income to any instrument of your choice. And then one should put in the expenses, starting with the most essential ones to the least. Such as you would want to mandate are Food, House (rent) and maintenance essentials such as electricity, water etc. Mr. Ramsey proposes baby steps, which I would highly recommend, no matter in which part of the world you are in. His process are unique and if you follow them, you can expect results. The other part of the goals are life ambitions and essentials such as buying a house, kids education.

Rule no.4 is not to be emotional in making a financial decision. Impulsive decisions are recipe for disaster. You are much better off delaying gratification, thinking more about it, discussion with your spouse before making the decision. This is hard exercise, especially when it concerns the loved one, your kids or an immediate family. One needs to very rational in money matters.

Lastly, Rule no.5 is continuity. Like any other habit, if one leaves any of the plan midway, you will not get the benefits. Continuity in the long run multiplies and compounds and gives you superior results. This is the real key to financial success to be regular with your belief and practices. It would definitely require rigor.

Money requires a hard taskmaster to manage it.

I hope that you start your financial/money management behavior when you finish reading. And when you would look back, you may reflect this as the most important step that you would have taken towards securing success.

Layout courtesy: Canva.com 

PS: If you are interested in a budgeting sheet, please do leave your comment or subscribe to the mail.

 

 

Digital Marketing, Leadership, Life

Momentum #Day 2

A Rolling Stone...Gathers Momentum

Few words caught my attention today. And since we are talking about our habits and 66 days, my theory is that I’m naturally getting attracted to these words as is my subconscious.

The first word is,

Focus

and the second word is,

Intensity

I picked it up from Dave Ramsey’s book “Entrepreneur”, a classic book and I highly recommend that everyone get a copy of it. I have been reading and hearing Mr. Dave a lot these day and he’s a great voice to echo at least early morning. His debt free philosophy is remarkable, which I’m following these days. But more revolutionary is how he lives this philosophy every day of his life, encouraging a number of people to experience this freedom. And it is a powerful state to be in. I’m planning to gift “Total Money Makeover” to both my brother and brother-in-law. Though, if you call Dave in America, you might get it for free (if you’re are a business owner) however, I would rather pay Dave royalty for the book as a tribute to the wonderful work that he is doing. The tenets of book “Entrepreneur” is universally applicable and doesn’t limit to a business owner. It exudes his passion on every page, and if you have heard Dave Ramsey on podcast (or his youtube channel), you will love it even more.

I always knew “focus”. Since I’m an introvert, I can focus more than the average on any subject. I could understand later that my focus comes from my nature of unravelling the mystery. Like a hunter waiting for the prey, I would wait till I find it easy and drag the kill. I also find it very spiritual to be focused and concentrate. However, the part I have been missing all this while was intensity. With both these what you would discover, as I have, is momentum.

But I missed out the most crucial point.

Continuity

The single most important factor in any day life, be it your family, finance, habit or work is continuity. This is the single most underrated, un discovered word in the universe. Continuity is why the tortoise prevailed over the hare, not because the tortoise was hard working. Continuity is magical. One small thing, done continuously over a period of time, persistently, delivers miracles. Small amount of money, invested continuously over a period of time becomes millions. You may equate this to 66 days of habit formation or 10,000 hours to achieve mastery, but if you are not consistent, you don’t reach anywhere.

So, we want to be very careful what we want to do on an everyday basis, thoughts or actions. We are a creature of our habits.

One small action, repeated over a period of time becomes a habit.

It is my firm belief that consistency is the single most important measurement of success. If one breaks continuity, one breaks momentum and moves further away from goals.

Dear God, I pray that I’m consistent with my actions and goals.

My night audit on day 1 went well and as I was relishing the feat with a amazing chocolates gifted by a dear friend and from Vivel Patisserie (http://vivel.com/), I was caught red handed by Priya. This particular experience went to my “I could have avoided section”. I was happy that I had a list of 12 in my “Good” list, significantly higher than a list of 7 in my “Bad” list and a list of 4 in my “I could have avoided list”. It was also good to rue over some of these points as I was dozing off to sleep. Maybe some of these have started to work already, within the realm of me that I have not connected to yet. Too surreal to think about it as of now.

Good feeling to have hit the bed with more gratitudes than regrets.

Digital Marketing

Unconference

unconference

Last Thursday was my “Unconference” day, through Meetup. My first opportunity to interact with Dubai’s startup community. The subject is a part of Lean Marketing principles.

It was great.

The venue was a boutique villa in Dubai knowledge village. The place is owned by Tecom  and provided to promising startup ups at a subsidised cost, even the license  comes subsided if the pitch goes through.

The organisers were consultants: Jorge Castellote & Francisco Lafuente. Though there were few participants, all actively partipated.

And thankfully we didn’t have pitches, which is usually the case with most of such conferences.

It is to be seen how this theme of “Unconference” and “Lean Marketing” shapes up. This region which strives for perfection, will it adopt lean marketing principles?

Decision is to meet every month. I will extend the next invite when I get an update from the organisers. Fill the contact form if you want to be on the list (For Dubai only)…