To see change…be the change

Few days ago I was reading an interesting article about patriotism by one of my colleagues. He talked about us having a very low bar for testing our patriotism –> standing for national anthem@ theatres and so on…The thought seemed to have stuck to me somehow.

We all keep talking about issues in our country- litter, illiteracy, wanting a better governance, corruption levels , pollution… actually an endless list of things which we keep ranting about all the time. But how many of us do anything about it? Now one could say as an individual what can I really do. Everything is not in my hands but imagine if all of us did everything right then suddenly we will see a big change. Somehow when it comes to changing things around us all of us have an inertia.

Most our responses to issues are either in form of social media post or verbal dialogues. But when it comes to action we simply lack. How many is us will stop bribing traffic police when we jump signals and pay legit fine for it? Or how many of us will actually stop giving donations for medical and engineering seats if we lack merit to get it? Not many….moreover today we encourage our children to study and get in medicine, engineering…how many of us would encourage them to get into politics?

I was talking to my 6 year old couple days back …who is appalled at air and sound pollution in India. We had been in Europe for 5-6 years before we moved to India and he keeps finding the honking he hears on roads quite silly. So while having a conversation I asked him what would he do to stop pollution instead of just cribbing about it and out comes his response why don’t people use trains and buses here like in Europe or even cycle down instead of a car. He said why can’t we have electric cars which do not pollute. This is a solution by a 6- year old and I am sure we as adults can come up with better solutions. It is all about changing the way you live in a small way.

Though one might argue that single person changing is not going to change the world…it takes one to start a ripple of change. Every small step leads to a bigger one…So many of changes which we see now in present day have been started by strong minded individuals who strongly believed in seeing a better world around them. Sarojini Naidu who championed “Women’s education” which is why here I am today writing this article. If each one of us changes in a small way then I am sure changes which we keep ranting about will follow automatically.

If you want to see a change then please be the change…….

 

 

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I wish……

I wish we lived in a world without any sorrow

No dark clouds looming over bright tomorrow

I wish we lived in a world pollution free

Skyling dotted with cloulds and lush green trees

I wish we lived a world free of heinous crimes

Humanity tirumphed over evil all the time

I wish no one went without food any day

No one has to see days dull and grey

I wish world became a better place

Evils and sorrows vanish without a trace

But wishing would not be enough I know

All of us need to work for it steady and slow

Hope we all strive to make world beauitful for our kids

Before all that we value from our hand slips

 

Education with caution

Recently we had a houseparty at our place and while we were all chatting- comes an interesting topic of kid’s education. It all started with one of our friends expressing his dissatisfaction at his daughter wanting to drop maths and science because she was not sure she liked it. Many of our friends thought that this was surely not a wise idea since most of the mainstream career options in India involved maths and science. Now this is where it all started from. Given the sensitivity of the topic there was a passionate debate about the topic with many interesting views emerging about education, career choice and raising kids at large.

Now I have some really strong views on educational system we follow. Our current education system has its foundation in the 19th century when there was need to mass produce workforce which could follow instructions. So we had a teacher (instructor) who guided us and then doled out various facts which we sat and heard and reproduced in exams. Anything out of the box was not acceptable because very question in the exam had set answers. But in this current day and age doesn’t this system seem a little out dated? By having a teacher / few people decide what we should learn at a particular age and what topic we should get interested in aren’t we squashing individuality of a person? Every person is unique and might like different things. I might be good at languages but might not be good at science and maths- then why am I tested on all subjects and not allowed to advance in subjects I am good it while maintaining basic knowledge in others?

As we grow and enter work life everywhere I am supposed to be responsible for my own learning. I am supposed to have a proactive approach to learning at my work place then why not have it at school? Why should a teacher decide my syllabus? My progress at work is based on how quickly I learn skills and upgarde them and same approach should be at school where I progress basis my grasping and learning abilities. Why is it necessary to be clubbed basis age groups? In real life we deal and gel with people basis our intellectually compatibility more than age compatibility. Then why should schools not do the same?

Moreover many schools claim that they prepare you for life. When I was schooling there was no technology in our lives. Nothing could have prepared us for this technology invasion we have right now. We neither knew how to operate smart phones and neither knew how to operate laptops…the only way we managed is by adapting. Isn’t that the most important skill set to teach our kids? Adapting to the changing world?

In my opinion parents needs to be guides who steer their children to find their passions and interest rather than enforcing set career choices. Parents need to teach kids life skills which will make them survive the changing world and adapt to it easily. And last but not the least parents need to work hard on developing brains rather than trying to find fitting education. Intellegence will find its own way to success.

We all want the best for our kids but sometimes we need to question if the best available option is really the best for them.

 

 

Bossy Business

“Work occupies about 70-80% of our time in the day. Given that, its important to like who you are working with and being able to look up to people you work for. Getting a good boss is almost similar to being married….takes time to adjust and understand each other but once you do the team work is amazing.

Being a working professional for more than a decade now, had an opportunity to work under quite a few interesting and amazing people. Also had multiple opportunities to observe leading styles of many and of course getting feedback on my own. I am still not sure which category do I fit in. Here’s a broad list of categories most of the bosses fall into. I think most of us will fit in one dominant category and have traces of others.

  1. Delegators– They love to delegate work to their subordinates and get hands off. In fact they take pride in delegating their work and give their subordinates a lot of freedom and flexibility and at times very limited instructions and directions to work with. One key to dealing with them is good communication. You need to ask for help when you need it and communicate issues if you have any. Good part of working with such bosses is that you get a lot of freedom and flexibility while working on any projects
  2. Nitpickers- They have an eye for details and they can see flaws even in the most perfect work. They take you to task for minutest errors that might have slipped your notice. With these bosses you are always on your toes to produce most perfect output. Working with such people ensures that you work to perfection. You get to learn a lot from such bosses. But of course there is a downside that you are always under pressure and worried before presenting your work to such a boss
  3. Micro managers– They can’t seem to let go of the project and want to get into details of how to do a task. These ones are the most difficult to manage. You might have a different way of approaching a task but they simply won’t hear and will want to do it their way. Trying to build trust in such bosses helps allaying their anxieties and letting you handle things.
  4. Buddy- They will be your best friends at workplace. They are totally cool and you can communicate with them very openly. However when it comes to feedback they are not very critical. They are soft and do not want to hurt you by giving a critical feedback. Sometimes in fact they do not give any feedback at all. It is important to seek active feedback from such bosses. You might need to take a lead in setting goals and bringing discipline when it comes to feedback.
  5. Visionary- These guys love chasing big goals and big dreams. They are creative thinkers who might not necessarily have all details at the same time.They will keep trying new paths and new ways of doing things. They will work along with team to discover new things. Its fun working with such people if you are fond of unstructured work environment.
  6. Non appreciator- Everyone works towards being recognized apart from monetary gains which the job brings. These guys forget to appreciate exemplary work done by their team members. Neither do they show case hard work of their team members to others.
  7. Credit Seekers – These bosses have a goal of climbing the corporate ladder maybe even at cost of others. They will make you work hard and not be afraid to take credit for your hard work entirely. Its important to make sure you document and publish your hard work to ensure that you are not sidelined
  8. Coach – They are perfect bosses and you would be lucky if you encounter one of them in your work life. As a boss everyone aspires to be a coach. Someone who gives you flexibility to work your own way but guides you to the best practices. Gives you critical feedback to make you grow and helps you achieve the best in yourself.

As I mentioned I believe all of us have few shades of all these styles. Good or bad , bosses are an integral part of our jobs…and all of them shape our personalities for good or bad.

Persistence

Clear blue skies beckon to me fly

To float free in the skies I want to try

But when I attempt I fall down in a heap

Despondency in me starts to creep

I decide to give it one more try

But bitterness of my failure makes me cry

Clear blue skies beckon me to fly

To float free in the skies I want to try

I keep flapping my wings in attempts to fly

I dream of soaring heights as in my bed I lie

Every attempt I make seems to fail

Story of my failures will make a sorry tale

Clear blue skies beckon me to fly

To float free in skies I want to try

Despite of this I don’t stop flapping my wings

Hope to soar high within me is still lingering

Today again I decide to give it a try

And here I am flying free and high

Clear blue skies beckon me to fly

And here I am because I never stopped giving it a try

 

Finding your soulmate

It’s been more than a decade that I have known my husband now and despite of the fights we keep having we are still going strong. Even after decade he is the only one with whom I can talk to  hours for without getting bored and he still is the only one with whom I can drop all my masks and be assured that I won’t be judged. All around me I see so many relationships crumbling and people living dissatisfied lives – not interested in their partners. So recently when one of my younger unmarried colleagues asked me what do you look for in your partner , it got me thinking. So here it goes….my list of things to look out while seeking that perfect someone:-

  1. Same values and basics in life: This is very important for a long term relationship. If your basic value systems are different the relationship is surely headed for a disaster. For eg: You believe in honesty and your partner think its ok to lie and cheat. This is  a non-starter.
  2. Similar aspirations & ambitions in life as such: If you need to grow into the relationship, you need to have same aspirations in life. You both need to seek similar things from life to have a harmonious journey
  3. Sense of humour: Life can throw some real tough ones at you as you  go along and without someone who can make you smile through this, life will be even tougher.
  4. Strong friendship: It’s important that to have strong friendship as a base for relationship. Once the romance settles down you need to be comfortable to share your worst fears with your best friend
  5. Honesty: If you can’t be honest with your partner then the relationship is doomed. If I have to hide small things about yourself from your partner then life will be really difficult to handle.
  6. Sexual attraction: Needless to say having strong sexual chemistry is what gets people together in the first place. As relationship grows older its important to keep the spark alive.
  7. Ability to make compromises: For a successful relationship partners need to be willing to adjust and make compromises and that can happen only if you understand and trust each other. There will be many times in life when you will be forced to make choices which you might not necessarily want to but then you need to trust your partner at times….This is crucial to successful relationship

Having a partner is important but having a right one is crucial. Finding someone with whom you can tick all the boxes above won’t be easy but rest assured that it will be worth the wait.

“Insight” business

Met a colleague today and he asked us a simple question- “What business do you think we are in?” It really got me thinking. Traditionally market research company has always been viewed as data mining company or company conducting survey. In fact dictionary definition is market research is “the action or activity of gathering information about consumers’ needs and preferences”

But is that what we really do?  If that’s all market research firms really did then given the advent of technology I guess we would have simply been replaced by computers. I am sure computers would be much better at assessing data patterns more accurately than human beings or whats app and emails would replace humans in taking surveys. So what’s the value we bring to the table. I would like to think that this industry is driven by providing “insights”.

So what is an insight? Found a few definitions of insights:-

Merriam-Webster: the power or act of seeing into a situation

Oxford:capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something

Cambridge:a clear, deep, and sometimes sudden understanding of a complicated problem or situation:

In fact there are many many more….the list can go on. But despite of the fact that we live in a world where we have enormous data at our finger tips, very few companies have an ability to convert that data into a genuine insight. Like “innovation” or “lateral thinking” “insight” is another misused word. Most of the people confuse insights with facts or observations. So let’s start with what is not an insight:-

  1. Insight is not data : Data will definitely help you arrive at an insight but data in itself is not an insight. For eg: 60% people like feeding their pets –> This is data and not an insight. This data combined with some other data sets might lead to a genuine insight
  2. Observation is not an insight: Again observations are important to gain insights but they are not insights in themselves. For eg: It is observed that people tend to feed their pets at breakfast tables or at dinner time. This is an observation but not an insight
  3. Customer wish or want is not an insight: Often companies tend to consumer customer “wish” or ‘want” as insight.Most often insights are latent and require a little digging to uncover the truth. Though it might be one of the essential building blocks for uncovering an insight. For eg: I want to lose weight fast. This is merely a customer wish or a statement and not an insight

But one can convert a fact and observation to uncover a good insight. For eg:-

Fact: 60% households in metros are dual earning families

Observation: Game zones and toy shops tend to be full on weekends

Insight: Maybe parents are guilty of not spending time with kids and tend to buy toys or take kids to gaming zone on weekends to make up for lack of time

It is easy to get caught in data while synthesizing the findings and crafting insight statements. So it’s important to keep in mind the macro perspective. It is good to remember that insights are only the beginning, not the end. Moreover insight needs to be linked with actionable & tangible goals for it to really make an impact.

I would like to think of myself as someone who belongs to an industry which  can convert knowledge into actionable and tangible insights.