Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Shhh ! Your Email is showing !

Sometime back  I was reading about an ongoing research on sending fragrance ( perfume , flowers, food etc.) via the net.  I don't know whether the research will be successful or not, but if it does, it will be a revolution. 

Inhaling a fragrance over the web might be a distant reality, but e-communication is the norm of the day today.  I have worked with many virtual teams in globally distributed models, where I have not met the person with whom I talk several times in a week !  And again, 90% of the conversation is via emails.  

Emails have invaded our lives.  Snail mails have become a thing of the past. Telephone, VOIP, video conferencing have made the world very very small.  All said and done,  technology  cannot replace face to face meetings and conversations as 70% of the communication needs body language. 

But yes, emails can be used to replace some of the body language communication.  And in this blog post, I will try to elaborate on this aspect. 
  • Your email reflects your personality .  How we use words and how we write emails shows the different aspects of our personality.  Extroverts write about fun related words,  An autocratic person writes more of "I", "Me", "Mine".  An inclusive leader will write "we", "our" .

  • Emails conveys the tone . And , similar to a face to face conversation, tone makes a lot of difference, It is not just what you say, but how you say it. You can say "Come here" in various tones which conveys different meanings . Similarly, in emails , you should be very careful since a word here and there can change the tone of the email completely. 

  • Emails reveal a lot . Example, absence of typos and spelling mistakes tell about your conscientiousness.  Grammatical mistakes show poor academic intelligence and  emoticons show your friendliness.  So, be careful !

  • Emails can develop trust . The language you use, the opening line, the closing words and the main body of the email reflects the integrity of the person.  The opening is different for different audience.  You may write "Team", "Dear friends, "Folks" or just "Hi" Hello". Remember, this is important and  should be altered appropriately.  Similarly, the closing . "Thanks", "Regards" etc also convey a lot.  "Yours sincerely", "Humbly" etc do not match with the new era of  business communication.

  • Be to the point and crisp in your emails. If it is a long email and you are asking something from your audience, write what you need from them in the first paragraph of the email. You don't know how many will read till the end. Subject lines are also of great importance.

I don't know whether fragrance will travel on the web or not, but emails are here to stay.  So, tune your emails and see what difference it makes in your business communication.  

And let us wait for the future where , like Star Trek, we can use a machine to physically transport us to anywhere and come back the same way !  And you bet, that is not too far off ! 

READ another related blog post of emails : 5 Situations where emails fail.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Prioritization & Time Management

My friend got the shock of her life the other day when she was chatting with her eight year old daughter - Meenu.  

As usual , she had come back about 8-ish in the evening, and after finishing her dinner, she sat with her laptop, working on the power point ppt which she was to present the next day. Meenu wanted to hear her favourite story of the princess with the golden hair. 

"Mamma .. please tell me the story .. " Meenu pleaded. 

"Sweetheart , I have this important piece of work which I just have to finish ... "

"Everyday you say the same thing... why can't you finish your work in office ?"

"You know that your mamma is an important person ... she has lots of work to do which she cannot finish in office .... so some of it has to done at home, cutie pie!"

Meenu was quiet for a few minutes . Then she told her mother -

"Idea .... ! My friend Pooja also could not finish her work in the class. So, my teacher said that she should not be promoted to the next class ........Mamma, your boss also can do the same thing ... not give you a promotion .... !"

Sometimes , kids have simple solutions for complex problems, solutions - which  touches the core of the issue.  I had a difficult time trying to pacify my friend.   But I think Meenu has touched upon  a very basic issue of prioritization and time management. 

We all know that work never ends. You have to call it a day and close your laptop and leave for home.  And there are days when we feel that though we have slogged all day, we could not achieve any substantial thing today at work.  The problem is in the prioritization of work. 

Suppose you have 10 tasks to complete. Out of that you can choose which is the work which will bring about the most value to the organization. Then choose the next one which will add the most value and then choose two more.  Thats all. Just four tasks.  If you can complete these 4 tasks instead of all the 10, it will suffice for 95% of  tasks and  you will feel satisfied and get a sense of achievement.  Remember the 80-20 Rule ?

Another tip is to "Just Do It".  Sometimes, we get so overwhelmed with the magnitude of a task, that we procrastinate or make very detailed plans or find excuses for not doing it.  But we know that this is a big ticket item and if this does not get done,  you as well as the organization will be in trouble.  In such situations, we should just dive into it and start doing the task.  Whatever we can.  In my experience, I have seen that once I get started,  after a few hiccups, I get into the flow of it.  Then it gets done . Effortlessly. 

In the Time Management quandrants,  the most important quadrant is the second one - important but not urgent tasks - example planning , creating strategies, acquiring knowledge, etc. No matter what, the urgent tasks have to be done .  But most of the times, we ignore the tasks which are important but not urgent and put our energies on the low hanging fruits.  If we can be self disciplined to pick up and do the work which is really important, that will eventually lead to job satisfaction, better performance and a well balanced life. 

I agree that there will be days when we will have to open our laptops after dinner and work.  

But, even then , there will be many days when we will be able to tell  bedtime stories to our little Meenus and have cosy chats with friends and family and have a happy and well balanced life !

Cheers !

Monday, 15 September 2014

Game of Blogs - Roohi

Game of Blogs

BlogAdda’s newest initiative is to #CelebrateBlogging with a series of contests, starting with one called a Game of Blogs. Teams of bloggers take turns creating a round robin story of sorts that they post to their individual blogs.

Team: Blogsters 

Read the previous part of the story  Here


Nowadays Dad always calls me ‘kiddo’.  

I am a big girl now!  I am not a kiddo!  ‘Princess’ sounds still better.  Why can't Dad call me Rhea ? That is the name which he said would suit me better than my previous name Roohi .  Rooi, Rui, the friends of my previous school used to tease me.  

‘Your name is Rui - cotton - white and fluffy - just like you!’

I hated it.  

Jenny aunty calls me Rhea. I like the way she says ‘Rrrhea..’ It sounds so stylish when she rolls her tongue and calls my name.

Jennifer aunty is so smart! When I grow up, I’ll also wear shorts and tee shirts like her.  I love those big round earrings she wears.  And she has so many big rings! I like the red one the best.  She has promised me that she will give it to me if  I write an essay and it does not have a single spelling mistake. 

I don’t understand why Dad doesn’t like Jenny aunty. Whenever she calls him from her balcony, he hurries away and does not even smile at her.

I think Dad misses Mom. Whenever they weren’t fighting, and Mom used to call him ‘Shekhar...’ in her sweet voice, Dad looked so happy.  

‘Tara, I love you,’ he used to reply.

As if I did not understand. A boy and a girl say ‘I love you’ when they are married or they want to marry each other.  The other day, when I was playing basket ball, and I scored 5 goals, my sports teacher said, ‘I love you’ to me. But I don't want to marry him. He is too dark skinned for me.  

I’ll marry someone like dad - fair, with a stylish beard.  Even though he grew his hair now, I prefer the way he used to look.

And I will never fight with my husband . I have seen tears in my Dad's eyes when Mom used to quarrel with him. So what if he did not go to office and earn lots of money like my friends dads. He is the bestest dad in this whole world ! He too will become rich and famous when he writes about someone like Harry Potter.  Just like J K Rowling.  

You just wait and see ! 

Mom was also so smart and intelligent.  When she wore trousers and white fitting shirts with matching heels and kissed me before leaving for office, I loved her flowery perfume.  Dad used to tell me about the important meetings she attends  and how she was the best performer in the office and both of us used to feel so proud of her. We always talked about Mom when dad dropped me and picked me up from school. 
I miss my Mom. Dad says that she has gone far away to a land from where it is very difficult to come back. He says that there is no telephone there.  She is doing some very important work for which she has to stay away from me. That is the reason why Dad brought me here and also changed my name so that she cannot find me.  If she finds me, then she will get disturbed and will not be able to complete her work.  And this is a BIG secret.  I have promised dad that I will never tell this to anyone. 

But I miss her.  

Sometimes,  I want to cuddle her,  listen to the stories she used to tell me during bedtime , eat with her, go to the movies with her and Dad and laugh together as we used to do three years back.  The pink frilled frock which she had gifted me on my 9th birthday does not fit me anymore. But that is still my favourite dress.  

Nowadays, I just wear jeans. I know Dad does not like my short hair, but I do not want to wear pigtails anymore. I am a big girl now.

Today, when Dad comes back, I will again ask him when Mom is coming back. I can’t help myself. I know he feels sad whenever I ask him this question. His face becomes tight and strained.  

But I have to know, don’t I? 

There he comes.  I can hear his footsteps.  The bell rings twice. I know it is Dad, but I will first peep in through the eye-hole before opening the door. My teacher has told me never to open the door without checking who it is.  

And I just know he’ll call me ‘kiddo’ again. He should call me Rhea more often. I feel he does not like my new name.

But I like my dad's new name - Ravi - and I think Jenny aunty also likes it. 

"Hey, Ravi!" She calls him from her balcony , waving the camera in her hand and showing off the tattoo of the cross on her right arm. 

Her red ring flashes in the sunlight. My eyes follow it as she waves her hand. I really want to win it as a prize.

I’ll write an essay on ‘My Mom’. That’s sure to win me that ring.

Read the next part of the story: Here

“Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.”

Monday, 8 September 2014

Teeny Weeny : Twinkle-Twinkle

"Twinkle- twinkle little stars,
How I wonder what you are ?
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky "

During lunchtime, little Pompy went to her teacher.

"Miss, I don't know what they are , but I  know who they are ... two of them are not diamonds .  My uncle has told me - the big one is my Baba and the small one beside him is my mamma ...  I can see them but  ....

Miss , will you please teach me how to  send this  "Missing You" card to them ?"

Teeny-Weenies will spice up the monotony of the leadership posts . Hope you like them.   
 Looking forward to your comments.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Do it like Ants !

One of my favourite place in my house is the big open balcony attached to my bedroom

There is a Jackfruit tree just beside it. The green leaves and the soft rustling sound soothes me. Every morning , it is my ritual to sit there with a cup of Darjeeling tea, enjoying the cool and fresh morning breeze

Today, as I enjoyed my flavoured cup of tea, I saw a line of ants , carrying sugar crystals which I had spilled on the floor .  I  watched them.  Fascinated.  

Have you ever wondered  how ants demonstrate leadership qualities ?  

They are tiny. But they are never afraid to pick up objects which are sometimes bigger than them ! We humans get intimidated by our goals or tasks. Sometimes so much that we are afraid even to start working on them.  We give up without even trying.  But the ants just get on their job headlong.  However impossible their work might look, they just do it. They are not unnerved by the workload !

I saw a team of ants , pull a huge (for them) piece of biscuit, taking it forward seamlessly.  They walked together clockwork precision , in the same direction . They are the perfect examples of teamwork. Together they can move objects sometimes ten times larger than themselves !  

Have you ever noticed that if  for some reason, their work gets derailed (as I did when I swept aside the rest of the sugar crystals near the wall of the balcony), they find their way back and get the job done. I observed how the small little ants crawled towards the wall and again with the same zeal started carrying the sugar crystals. They believe in completing the work, even if they have to face hurdles. They don't give up.  They are committed. They just have to accomplish their task . 

And yes, they save for the rainy day.  They know that everyday they might not get their cheese.  They are well prepared to face the adversity

Isn't it amazing ? 

Can we think and act like these tiny creatures and create a blueprint for success ?

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Teeny Weeny : Waiting

" I am late .... ".

As she hurried towards her usual bench,  she grimaced at the small rip near the hem of  her red dress.

His favourite dress.  It needed mending.

He had promised her that he will be there at 8.30 am.

Twenty years back.

Teeny-Weenies will spice up the monotony of the leadership posts . Hope you like them.   
 Looking forward to your comments.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Teeny Weeny : Anonymous

"I will never see you again .... " He had promised . 

His anonymous facebook profile was not bound by the vow .....


Teeny-Weenies will spice up the monotony of the leadership posts . Hope you like them.   
 Looking forward to your comments.

Incredible story of the Mountain Man

Do you think ONE man is enough to cut a mountain ? 

Is it possible for one person to bring down a 360 feet long, 25 feet high mountain and create a 16 feet wide pass in place of an almost an impassable gap ?

No ...... ? 

Think again . 

Dasrath Majhi , from Gaya district , state Bihar in India, did just that. 

Dasrath eked out a living as a farm hand, toiling in the fields of local landlords on bare subsistence wages.  One day, in the early '60s, his wife Phaguni Devi fell ill and Dasrath set off with her to the nearest hospital.  

Phalguni Devi died on the way.

If only there was no hill blocking the road to the town, Dasrath would have made it to the hospital in time, and perhaps his wife's life would have been saved.

The villagers had to take a circuitous route and travel 19 km to Wazirganj, the nearest district town. This was because the massive 360 feet long, 25 feet high and 30 feet wide sheer rock came in the way of the shortest possible route between the village and the town.

The situation would have brought about a feeling of resignation or fatalism in the average man—as if God had himself put this giant obstacle in the path of his ailing wife.   

Dasrath's response was different and radical, unthinkable and stunningly simple. 

He decided to alter geography with chisel and hammer.

To cut a road through the huge mass of rock.  


The next morning, armed with a hammer and chisel, he started off on a task that was to become an obsession. The villagers called him a madman. 

But that did not deter him. 

After 22 years of back-breaking, single-handed toil, Dasrath finished in the mid-'80s. The mountain had yielded to man.  Now, Wazirganj was just about six kilometres away. The people of Gelaur village  could reach it in under an hour.

In Manjhi’s own words, “What I did is there for everyone to see. When God is with you, nothing can stop you,” 

I will keep working for the development of the villages here so long I am alive. I am neither afraid of any punishment from any government department for my work nor am I interested in any honour from the government

Dasrath Majhi died on 17th August, 2007, at the age of 73. 

But he will be remembered forever as the "Mountain Man". 

A man who loved his wife . A man who thought about others.

A leader, who walked alone and moved the mountain. 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Love Thy Critics !

I love this couplet by Kabir - a great mystic poet  and saint of India (1398 )

"Nindak niyare rakhiye, Angan kuti chawai,
Bin pani sabun bina, nirmal kare subhaiy"

[Translation: Keep your critic close to you. Give him a cottage in the courtyard of your house, because he cleanses your nature without soap and water]

Simple . Yet profound. 

Yesterday I saw a play where the protagonist  the King - welcomed his most powerful critic and asked him to look into his eyes and criticize him.  It was one of the most intriguing part of the play.  

As leaders, we should know that the people who criticize us are our greatest teachers. The situation or people who shred us apart with their fault finding , reveal our limiting beliefs, assumptions and fears.  Just like a good tester breaks the system to find flaws so that the software becomes robust and stable, the same way, these people pinpoint where we are going wrong.  They tell us what is holding us back from becoming the greatest. And ... all for free !

As Kabir said, we should nurture the people who disparage us so that we know what are the areas we need to work on, how we should overcome our fears and how we can climb up the growth chart ! Adverse situation and people cleanses us to become purer, greater and better. They help us shine !

The instant negative reaction to criticism is natural.  It needs a lot of maturity and practice to control this instinctive response.  We have to look deep inside to see why we are reacting. Whenever I am in such a situation,  the first thing I do is take 5-10 deep breaths , focusing on the  air going in and out of my nose. This helps me to stabilize and control my first instinctive and involuntary retort.  Once we practice doing this, it becomes easier to objectively look at pour fears and weaknesses and take steps to shed them ! 

Not all negative criticism are true.  We have to be mature and intelligent enough to take out the grain within the criticism and blow the chaff away !

So, the next time anyone rubs you off,  go and hug them ! Thank them for their valuable gift .  

And as a return gift, become mature. 
And Strong . 
And Powerful !

Read a related post : I Don't Agree

Monday, 4 August 2014

The Other Side

There was a young woman who took great pride in the growth and care of the flowers in her flower garden. She had been raised by her grandmother who taught her to love and care for flowers as she herself had done. So, like her grandmother, her flower garden was second to none.

One day while looking through a flower catalogue she often ordered from, a picture of a plant immediately caught her eye.

She had never seen blooms on a flower like that before.I have to have it,”  she said to herself, and she immediately ordered it.

When it arrived, she already had a place prepared to plant it. She planted it at the base of a stone wall at the back of her yard. It grew vigorously, with beautiful green leaves all over it, but there were no blooms. Day after day she continued to cultivate it, water it, feed it, and she even talked to it attempting to coax it to bloom. But, it was to no avail.

One morning weeks later, as she stood before the vine, she contemplated how disappointed she was that her plant had not bloomed. She was giving considerable thought to cutting it down and planting something else in its place.

It was at this point that her invalid neighbor, whose lot joined hers, called over to her. “Thank you so much! You can’t imagine how much I have enjoyed the blooms of that vine you planted.” 

The young woman walked through the gate into her neighbor’s yard, and sure enough, she saw that on the other side of the wall the vine was filled with blooms.

There were indeed the most beautiful blooms she had ever seen. The vine had crept through the crevices and it had not flowered on her side of the fence, it had flowered luxuriantly on the other side.

Just because sometimes you cannot see the good result of your labour, it  does not mean that it bore no fruit.

So dear friends, always look on the other side before you feel despondent about your lost labour.

Good work never ever goes waste !