Archive for June, 2007

Cell Phone nags

June 28, 2007

The first time when I heard about the expression `Cell Phone’, I thought it’s meant for use between people who are doing time. My analogy was that of Car Phone and bingo; it seemed to make sense – the only sense.

I was rudely corrected the next day when I saw my colleague walking in with a black brick with buttons having a stick on top. The first Motorola looked more of a fashionable paper weight with a blinker. Soon I realized the immensity of the insult I had meted out to the more utilitarian (and a lot quieter) paper weight.

But its ubiquity was deafening. Phone conversations till then restricted to phone booths and cozy indoors started filling all outdoors as holding the gadget became a status symbol. Even libraries and court rooms were not spared of ring tone shrills. Even as talk time was costing a bomb (initially), people never stopped talking. Then tariffs were lowered and all hell broke loose.  If you loved peace and quiet, you simply had nowhere to go.

Last week I had the worst experience.  I was waiting to board the Mumbai flight at Bangalore airport when the passenger just behind me was screaming over the phone cockily about some deal that he’d just closed.  He was asking the guy at the other end to take down his number and report back in a while. He rattled out his number so loudly, over and over that made several heads turn. Annoyed at the noise riot within my earshot,  I stepped aside briefly to salvage my eardrum – his number still ringing in my ears.

After making sure he had finished his conversation, I resumed.  As if by rote, he took out his phone again and I feared for my life.  Resolving to deal with it than escaping it, I quietly texted a message to his number – “This is your Cell Phone Operator. We just found out you’re too dumb to use your phone, so please put it on ground and start jumping on it. Thank you.”

That worked. The jerk never used his phone and we had a safe touch down !



Tune your perception and humor the world

June 24, 2007

Perception dictates the way we ultimately see the world. In my world, everything and everyone has infinite potential. I treat people with respect and dignity because in my reality, those qualities matter most.

Lewis Grizzard, the writer/philosopher said – “when you are writing humor, you really only have to look at the world from the front of your eyelids forward, and pretty soon you will see something funny to write about”. That statement will stay with me forever for its starkness. It has helped me see a lighter side of even the most demure occasions that otherwise would have passed unnoticed.

Gordon Kirkland is another personality that I admire for this very aspect. He says “there is so much humor all around us in our daily lives that I really don’t find much need to make things up. It just takes practice to learn to focus on spotting that humor, especially the stuff that so many people miss because they are too busy thinking or worrying about other things”.

Why then is quality humor so rare?

Being judgmental distorts our perceptive power. Cathryn Doyle, the relationship coach and communications counselor blames it on what she calls as `rules’ that we are taught while we were growing up.  I think that sometimes makes us humor-proof and murky. These rigid `guidelines for behavior’ often conflict with our instinctive reactions. Our instincts often guide us away from the rules, which makes us waver and perception is lost to internal chaos. Humor is quirky insight of straightest of events and normally does not breed in a riled mind – unless we choose to step back and learn to poke fun at our own carefully crafted mental jam.  

Here are some live examples of how humorists perceive from personal lives and how others relate to it.

Gordon had a Cocker Spaniel, a dog that had the cerebral skills of a sack full of rusty doorknobs. His readers came to know her as the dumbest dog to ever get lost on a single flight of stairs. When he would write about her, any reader who owned a dog with even the slightest lick of sense could feel superior and laugh with him and at him for owning such a dog. Those with equally stupid dogs could laugh at their own lives as they saw some of their dog’s traits, in that dumb pet.

“When Pavlov rang his bell, his dog would drool. Whenever anyone rings our bell, the dumbest dog to ever get lost on a single flight of stairs pees. It’s the same concept, just a different end of the dog.”

He wrote once about undergoing that medical procedure that involved inserting a camera into your inner sanctum. Bad enough as that event was to endure, he had a “what if” thought as he wrote about it.

“In actual fact, the camera itself was small enough that it didn’t cause much of a problem. I think the real pain came when he tried to shove up a tripod up there to steady it.”

That’s it.  Just see the world as it is, play around with quirky perceptions and humor yourself.  I’d like to hear about your experience too.

Using silence

June 20, 2007

I like smart people that always find ways to sell something without being pushy.  That tempts me to think of ways of doing some of it myself. I keep reading a lot on that and write some myself.  Sample my earlier pieces here

Recently I read a very insightful post by Jill Konrath on the topic of selling.  It’s a long post, but I would excerpt and edit the moot aspects for the sake of contextual brevity.

All managers would love to but struggle answering the question “What is the one single thing that you or your company could do in the upcoming 12 months that would dramatically impact your sales?”

It makes them stop and think, “Hmm. What would that one thing be? New offerings? More calls? Additional allocation to our marketing budget? Which would have the most impact?”

When they answer you’ll learn a whole lot about what’s going on in their organization, what the big challenges are, the decision maker’s perspective on the issues and solutions and so much more.

But they can’t think of all that in just two or three seconds.

They need much longer to ponder the question, to play around with it in their mind and to sort through their options.

In fact, research shows they need 8-10 seconds to formulate the start of their answer. And once they get talking, they think of more ideas.

If you’re like most sellers, silence drives you crazy. When you’re talking with a prospective customer and there’s a brief lull in the discussion, I bet you jump right in to fill it. When you cut them off at only 2-3 seconds, you lose in more ways than you can imagine.

  • You don’t get the benefit of your good question. You never learn all the good stuff they could be telling you if you’d just kept your mouth shut a little longer.
  • When you don’t learn all this info, it’s so much harder to sell anything because you don’t know how your offering can make the biggest difference to your customer.
  • Besides that, your customer thinks that you’re self-serving and only interested in achieving your own objectives. (Isn’t that what you think when people keep cutting you off?)
  • You don’t establish a positive relationship with the person, so they really don’t want to meet with you again.

And all this happens because you don’t know how to count beyond three.I think it’s a great insight.  The value of silence in selling is rarely talked about. Mostly people focus on what they’re going to say. 

Get Jill’s full post here.  Anyways tell me what do you think.

Getting them on board

June 18, 2007

When managements don’t let you get involved with something that you think you are capable of, but do let someone else deal with it who mucks it up, what would you do?  May be you will carry on for a while.  But if it persists, helplessness gets the better of you and some day soon you will quit in sheer disgust. This has happened with several talented people I know of, who have eventually found their moorings elsewhere and became rock stars.

If you were a hiring manager, who would you rather hire — someone who could deliver the results, or someone who had all of the skills? Having the skills and experience listed doesn’t mean the person can do the work or wants to do it.  If you want to hire superior people, first define superior performance.

Most managers know it’s not the skills and experiences that matter; it’s what the person does with their skills and experience. Lou Adler suggests the use of what he calls – a Performance profile, that provides a handle to identify this important difference.

Some great tips that I found in this post by Marc Andreesen, co-founder of Netscape communication division.  Excerpts –

“I define drive as self-motivation — people who will walk right through brick walls, on their own power, without having to be asked, to achieve whatever goal is in front of them.”

“Driven people don’t tend to stay long at places where they can’t succeed, and just because they haven’t succeeded in the wrong companies doesn’t mean they won’t succeed at your company — if they’re driven”.

“If a candidate has just followed the rules their whole lives, showed up for the right classes and the right tests and the right career opportunities without achieving something distinct and notable, relative to their starting point — then they probably aren’t driven”. And you’re not going to change them.  Motivating people who are fundamentally unmotivated is not easy.  But motivating people who are self-motivated is wind at your back.

“I also like specifically looking for someone who comes from some kind of challenging background — a difficult family situation, say, or someone who had to work his/her way through school — who is nevertheless on par with his/her more fortunate peers in skills and knowledge”. [This is my favorite too. These types have their back facing the wall and would do all it takes to deliver the results so that they can move ahead in life.]

Happy hiring !

Living with no signposts

June 16, 2007

Eve Ensler‘s ideas suggest that today’s career paths, which wind and stop and turn and surprise us along the way, may be better for us once we get used to not knowing what’s ahead. “When you start working with ambiguity and living with it initially, it’s scary because there are no signposts. But eventually it seems to be a much more interesting way of living.

Marci Alboher did succumb to the irrepressible journalist/writer in her (career epiphany) even as she was paid for being a corporate lawyer – what she calls as the “slash” phenomenon. She is a regular columnist in New York Times now and has authored the book One Person / Multiple Careers.

Some excerpts from one of her columns

“If jumping off track once was stigmatized, it now has cachet. The track itself seems to have all but disappeared.

The reasons behind the rising wave of reinventions are many. Corporate job security strikes most people as a relic.

We are living longer and working longer, too, giving us a larger canvas to paint our work/life dreams. We also realize that life is short, so we want to feel good about the work we’re doing. And we’re determined to meet that goal while still paying the mortgage.

One of the reasons this all interests me is that I am both an actor in the career change story and someone who covers it as a journalist.

After nearly 10 years in corporate law, I did what many lawyers fantasize about and became a former lawyer. I took a couple of classes in freelance writing and learned I had a knack for it. I finally discovered an outlet for my itch to chat up strangers and get their stories. I became what I call a “slash,” a lawyer/journalist.

Until it’s no longer right, we need to start shifting again. Because the idea of what makes a satisfying career is shifting. What satisfied us in our 20s and 30s, might not be what jazzes us in our 40s and 50s.”

Can’t agree more with Marci.

“Workers today will likely have no fewer than three careers in their lives, and they will change jobs frequently when young. After that, they will cut back when they have kids, ramp up when they need money, and switch when their learning curve flattens” says Penelope Trunk in The Boston Globe.

In the context of a woman’s midlife, read this. More on the topic here, here and here  

Happy slashing !

Life axioms

June 6, 2007


I look up some motivational quotes often when my chips are down.  Guess you could use it too.

“Stop analyzing life. Just live it. Analysis is what makes it complicated.”

“Activity gets you busy. But productivity gets you results. Activity consumes time. Productivity frees it.”

“Your today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday. You are worrying because you are analyzing. Worrying has become your habit. That’s why you are not happy.”

“Uncertainty is inevitable, but worrying is optional.”  

“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

“Diamond cannot be polished without friction. Gold cannot be purified without fire. Good people go through trials, but don’t suffer. With that experience their life become better not bitter.”  

“Experience is a tough teacher. She gives the test first and the lessons afterwards.”  

“P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S are Purposeful Roadblocks Offering Beneficial Lessons (to) Enhance Mental Strength. Inner strength comes from struggle and endurance, not when you are free from problems.”

“If you look outside you will not know where you are heading. Look inside. Looking outside, you dream. Looking inside, you awaken. Eyes provide sight. Mind provides insight.”

“Success is a measure as decided by others. Satisfaction is a measure as decided by you. Knowing the road ahead is more satisfying than knowing you rode ahead. You work with the compass. Let others work with the clock.”

“Always look at how far you have come rather than how far you have to go. Always count your blessing, not what you are missing.”

“When they suffer they ask, *why me?* When they prosper, they never ask *Why me?* -Everyone wishes to have truth on their side, but few want to be on the side of the truth.”  

“Seek not to find who you are, but to determine who you want to be. Stop looking for a purpose as to why you are here. Create it. Life is not a process of discovery but a process of creation.”

“Face your past without regret. Handle your present with confidence. Prepare for the future without fear.”

“There are no unanswered prayers. At times the answer is NO.”

“Keep the faith and drop the fear. Don’t believe your doubts and doubt your beliefs. Life is a mystery to solve, not a problem to resolve. Trust in it.”  

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that took our breath away!”