GDPR Compliance: I am not collecting any personal information of any reader of or visitor to this blog. I am using Blogger, provided by Google to host this blog. I understand that Google is using cookies to collect personal information for its Analytics and Adsense applications. I trust that (but has no way to verify) Google has incorporated the necessary data protection features in their applications

13 August 2021

Two types of leadership

 These days I occasionally go cycling around South Bangalore. In these dawning peregrinations I come across many different things.

There are two groups of stray dogs that I see occasionally. I am always impressed by their difference.

One group is always calm and composed. It is led by a big male dog, visibly passive and most of the times silent. It ignores most of the 'noise' around it. Passing vehicles, honking horns, cyclists, cows.. nothing impacts its composure.

It never barks but commands a kind of allegiance from the other dogs in the group. All of them are calm and well in control.

But if they perceive real danger or intrusion, the leader is first off the pack, leading it from the front and ensuring that the pack is protected.
 
Looking at the leader, I am always reminded of Dr.MMS. He too was calm and composed almost to the point of perceived as being passive. He learned to ignore the 'noise', all the dirt that his opponents and even those in his party threw at him.
 
He looked pliable but when it really mattered. like during the Indo US Nuclear Deal or handling of the Global Recession, he was aggressive and on top of things. 

The other pack is lead by a noisy and jumpy leader. He is always agitated, always barking and always nervous and neurotic. He seems to believe that noise is the same as action. A car passing by, the entire pack will run after it all barking and yelping, a passing cow is enough to excite the leader.

They invariably bark at passing bikers. But if any biker stops and get off his bike, he and the pack will run helter skelter.

Just like the leader, the pack is also jumpy and neurotic. They seem to perceive that everyone is their enemy and they believe that noise substitutes action.

And one more thing. Since the first pack is stable, they are also healthy. Since the second pack is nervous and jumpy, they are always running around looking for food and get into fights as they encroach the territory of other packs.

The groups are almost identical in every respect. Only difference is the temperament and priorities of the leader of the pack.

27 July 2021

Seven Games People Should Play

In the book 'Games people play', author Dr.Eric Berne talks about the various emotional games people play in their transactions. All the games are harmful to the relationship and weakens it over time. 

This article is the reverse, here I am talking about the various games that people should play to get the best outcome for themselves in the long-term. People take years to learn these and by the time they do, they find that they have already missed the bus.

This article is for everyone who are struggling in their life and their career. It covers almost all of us. These are the advises that I would have loved to get at a young age.

The main benefit of these games is that you can start on these games any time. The results will almost immediately start showing. 

So here we go

 1. Compounding Game: 

This is also  called the 'Consistency Game'. Compounding is the greatest miracle ever invented. In short simple words, what ever you do consistently compounds over time. Even if you are taking a single step everyday, it will compound over a period of time. The trick is to keep doing it everyday. Writing 100 words a day compounds to over 30000 words a year, which is equivalent to an e-book. Considering that a single A-4 sized page is about 500 words, writing one page a day is equal to 5 ebooks in a year.

Imagine that!

Compounding applies to every aspect of your life. 

The problem is that everything compounds. Compounding doesn't care if the habit is good or bad. So choose inspirational goals and habits and be consistent in sticking to the habit. 

And let compounding do the rest.

2. Wealth Game

It is not important what 'income' you get. What matters is how you invest and save the income you generate. It is very important to know the difference between Income and Wealth. Wealth is what you make of your income. If you spend all your income, you will end up without any wealth. The language of income are 'salary', 'revenue', 'wage', 'term deposits' etc. The language of wealth are 'Net worth', 'Portfolio', 'Investment', 'Equity' etc.

You could be earning a million dollars a year and still retire poor. Or you could earn average pay and  retire exceedingly wealthy. 

In the book 'The millionaire next door' the authors point out that American Doctors are some of the most highly paid professionals (high income) in the country, but they are also the ones who struggle to maintain their lifestyle post retiring from their jobs.

3. Now Game

The 'Now Game' can be expressed as 'Act Now'. It is normal to dream about the bright future. You may be planning for higher studies, or would be interested in moving to a new area of work altogether. You may plan to shift to a new place and may dream of buying your own home. 

Whatever be your dreams, the time to act is 'NOW', the present moment. You could sit down 'NOW' to  make a plan to raise money to buy the dream home. You could read up 'NOW' on how to get into your dream university for your higher studies. You could plan NOW, you could prepare for that Certification 'NOW', you could write that article 'NOW', you could even dream 'NOW'.

Don't waste your 'NOW' doing non-value added tasks. Even if you want to watch Netflix, plan for your leisure time 'NOW' 

'NOW' game is even important at a young age since there is an illusion of infinite time availability at that age.

4. Happiness Game

There is a Quantum Physics concept of multi-verse as opposed to universe. Every decision you make takes your life in a different universe that is unique to you. This means that the only thing you need to have is a criteria for making important decisions in your life. That criteria should always be 'Happiness'. You must always take decisions that will make you happy. If you are unhappy with the outcome of a particular decision, make a new decision. Move on and keep moving on. Never compromise on your happiness. 

Far too many people spend far too much time doing things that makes them unhappy. Focus on happiness may often create uncertainty.  You will always be plagued with doubt about your decisions. That is worth it especially if you play the 'Happiness Game' along with 'NOW' game. 

5. Valuation Game

Today is 23rd of July 2021. Today Zomato listed in Indian Stock Market and immediately crossed a market cap of 1000000 Million Indian Rupees. There are about 20 companies listed in the Indian Stock Exchange with that market cap. The funny thing about Zomato is that it is yet to make profits. People are buying the company shares for its potential to generate profits and wealth in the future. 

Valuation is the new game in town.

Earlier we spoke about the 'Wealth Game'.  It is about how you invest your earnings to build wealth. Wealth is generated by your efforts. Valuation goes a step beyond and look at how you are able to build a community of followers. The mechanical part of valuation is to become and entrepreneur and have something to offer that people demand. Beyond that the valuation game is about inspiring people to follow you and spread the word, it is about branding and perception management. 

Amazon did it, Flipkart did it, Apple did it....

So can you.

This is the game you want to be in.  

Please note that if you come out of the 'Income' game to the 'Wealth Game', you have made huge progress. 'Valuation Game' is not for all

6. 'One Step' game

There is this story of a Chinese Emperor who assembled all the wise men in his kingdom and asked them to identify a single wise sentence that will bring both happy and sad people to reality.

After three days they came up with the phrase 'This Too Shall Pass' 

If you are excessively happy and gloating about your success, remember 'This Too Shall Pass'

If you are sad and is focused on your failure, remember 'This Too Shall Pass'

Remember that all the great journeys are made one step at a time. There is no doubt that in your life you will be faced with challenges that may seem insurmountable. These challenges could make you anxious or depressed depending on their nature. If you are working towards a major goal, the challenges could lead to anxiety. 

Whatever be the nature of the challenge, remember the 'One Step' game. Keep focusing on the next step and ignore everything else. You will surmount it in the end.

This too shall pass.

PS: I came to realize the nature of this game after a long time. Late as it may have been for me to realize it, the awareness of this game has been the single greatest lesson for me so far I think.

7. 'Health' Game 

The fifth rule in the article 10 Rules of Writing, author Margaret Atwood asks the writers to 'Do back exercises. Pain is distracting'. 

Health game along with the NOW game are the two most important games in the above list, I think, even though my favorite is the 'One Step' game. Whatever be your potential, you can achieve nothing if you are not healthy. Learn to manage your health by regularly doing physical, stretching and meditative exercises. Stand up often. Drink water often.

This advice is even more important in these days of sedentary lifestyle. Your body is your tool, it is important that you keep it in top condition.

That is it. These are the seven games that people should play to achieve happiness and success in their life.

Best wishes.

06 May 2021

Phase out of Calibri....

Microsoft is phasing out Calibri Font, I am not liking it one bit.

https://www.wired.com/story/calibri-default-font-microsoft-moving-on/?utm_source=pocket-newtab-intl-en 

I remember that for a long time I was a fan of Arial font. It had heft. Much like a Eiffel Tower, Arial font towered over fonts like Times New Roman and Book Antiqua of the same font size. It had heft and a kind of grandfatherly friendliness.

Arial had another advantage that it filled pages. So a normal five pager went to seven pages giving me that illusion of achievement. I liked it.

Microsoft default was Times New Roman. My first task after opening a document was to change from Times New Roman to Arial. I did not like Times New Roman. I did not feel that the font gelled with my liberal philosophy. With its sharp edges and a formal, authoritarian look and feel, it felt like something out of Hitler's Germany.

I had brief flings with other fonts like Lucida, Comic Sans and Tahoma, but I always returned to Arial.

Then came Calibri.

My first exposure to Calibri was while reviewing a proposal when I was working with Oracle. I immediately liked the font.

It was cute and small and rounded and pretty and had rounded edges and a flow that Arial lacked. In front of Calibri, Arial looked tired and boring. Calibri had zest and chutzpah and joie de vivre. Working on Calibri meant that my mind did not have to feel the cognitive dissonance of a great idea covered in a bad font (oh mi gosh, I called you a bad font, sorry Arial). I could focus on making my article 'really' good rather than making it 'look' good. I could add my personality even to formal documents.

Calibri nurtured my soul and lifted my spirits and boosted my creativity. With Calibri, I felt like a new man.

Calibri has been my default font for the last ten years. I have written reams of documents, blog posts, articles, proposals and reports in that font. I have gotten used to Calibri.

That is why the news that Microsoft is switching its default font came as a jolt. It was like a part of me was being phased out.

I have seen the replacement options, they look good.

But they are not Calibri.

28 February 2021

Naive Super By Erlend Loe

Naïve. SuperNaïve. Super by Erlend Loe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book over a couple of days. This coming of age book is simple and easy to read. The author is the protagonist and as a 25 year old, he is trying to understand the meaning and purpose of life. The author Erlend Loe is a Norvegian and this book was touted as Norway's 'Catcher in the Rye'.
 
Most of the book is self-observation, observation of the world around and developing a perspective towards life.
 
The author is highly influenced by the writings of scientist Paul Davies. He seems to have taken a liking to the concept of time. As per scientific principles, time is affected by gravitational pull. The more the gravity, the faster the time moves.
 
This has two implications. One, as you go higher, time moves slower and you age slower. The second aspect is even more profound, there is nothing called time. I mean if the time is different at the bottom of Empire State Building and on top of it, which time is right? Since you can't answer it properly, I mean every meter you move higher the time moves slower, it implies that there is nothing called time.
 
This is a great philosophical question. The author do not discusses this in detail, but it is obvious that this puzzle is something that he spends a lot of time thinking about.
 
Towards the end of the book author visits America and as is wont, that country provides him with some answers that he was looking for.
 
A good coming of age book. (even though the protagonist is 25).

There are two things that impressed me about this book. One is a list of items that the protagonist admires and appreciates. These are definitely the items that he is grateful for. The list is very exhaustive. Some of the items in the list are hammering, sitting on the loo, having someone rub his back, music, friendship, water etc.
 
I have read it a number of times that you must start and end your day by being grateful for your blessings. I never understood this. Till I read this book, that is. I am healthy in general. When I see very unhealthy and sick people around me, I guess I must be grateful for my health. Likewise, I live in my own home, I have a great family, my mother is healthy and stays near where I stay, I have some work to do and something to look forward to when I wake up in the morning, I have clean bowels every morning (I remember the time when I struggled over three years with extreme constipation), have food to eat and water to drink....
 
I mean there are a number of things I must be grateful about.
 
Another list that the protagonist makes impressed me. That is the list of things that he saw each day. He observes and sees a lot of things. Love and pain in the eyes of people, nasty behaviours, kindness, politeness, rudeness, even simple things like a man sitting on the side of the road drinking water from a bottle. When I look back at my day, I can't remember a single thing I saw. Which is equivalent to not seeing anything right. What the author is doing is what is known as mindfulness. Just observing without any judgement. 
 
That is Zen.
 
By the way, I loved the first paragraph. Great start to the book.

View all my reviews
 
Highlighted Quotes
  • Something is going to have to happen.
  • I thought time was time and gravity was gravity. Evidently that’s not the way it is
  • It’s been a long time since I worked up a real sweat.
  • I speculate about making a list of things that excite me today. I find pen and paper, but notice that I am hesitating.
  • I should never have stopped running.
  • For some reason I suspect that I know too much about things it’s stupid to know a whole lot about.
  • An animal is an animal, he reckons. You can’t blame the dog for being ordinary.
  • He is a human being living in disharmony with almost everything.
  • If it’s already nothing, there’s no reason to say it in a more complicated way
  • (The universe) has about a hundred billion stars the size of the sun. These numbers are so absurd that I strangely enough find myself in a good mood. It’s all so immense. I think Paul feels a bit like this as well. There is so little I can do to make a difference. It is liberating.
  • I sit there thinking that I’m a really good guy and never mind space and time and all the rest of it.
  • When the universe is ephemeral, one can easily feel that human existence is meaningless. Why should I do anything at all?On the other hand it is tempting to try and make the best of it. I’m here, anyway.
  • many people are in a position similar to mine. That they know a helluva lot, but don’t quite know what to do with it.
  • They’re strange things, girls. One can’t avoid them. They’re so pretty. And they’re everywhere. There’s something very strange about girls. First they’re not there and everything is a little difficult. But then they’re there, and things become nicer.
  • Americans seem to live according to the simple theory that two is better than one, three is better than two, etc. For example, they believe two hundred dollars is better than one hundred. It’s a cute theory.
  • (He is walking someone else's dog in the park, he says that people will mistake him for a dog owner) Seeing as I’m not a dog owner in New York, that also means everybody else could be something other than what they seem to be. That means it’s impossible to know anything at all. 
  • Everybody is good at something.
  • Presents are important. Little presents are often better than big ones.

23 February 2021

The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns

The Woman in the White Kimono

The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just finished reading the book 'The Woman in White Kimono' written by Ana Johns. What a brilliant book!!! Undoubtedly the best book I have ever read (I have read many). The book is crafted with perfection, with each word like an iridescent Pearl connected by glowing golden thread to form an exquisite Pearl necklace of ethereal beauty.

22 February 2021

The Guest List By Lucy Foley

I bought this book because it was Number One in the Goodreads reader's choice. I guess the book was okay.
 
The book toggles between points of view and chronological sequence like a teenager surfing the web on his laptop with some fifteen tabs open. While I could understand the points of view, they are not actually points of view, but more like description of experiences narrated by different characters, the mixing of chronological future, past and present in dizzying frequency, left me dizzy.

18 February 2021

Book Review: The Joys of Compounding: Author: Gautam Baid

I spent a lot of time reading this book (from January 8th when I started to February 17th when I
finished). There is a lot of curated work - mostly quotes from Munger and Buffett and a lot of advises and suggestions, unfortunately original ideas are few and far between. I wish Mr.Baid had focused more on detailing his experiences, him being an accomplished investor. The book sparkles in the few areas where he addresses his experiences in investing in Indian market.

Mr.Baid had a great opportunity - a confluence of knowledge, experience and communication skills, where he could have written a book on investing in India. The country has evolved significantly over the last twenty years, and Mr.Baid was in the market in almost 15 of them. The last twenty years has seen a mega crash and multiple mini bull markets. There is a lot of human interest stories out here many of which he will be privy to.

That would have been a heck of a book.

Mr.Baid read and referred a number of books and articles while researching this book. The bibliography is impressive. I have read some of the books that he refers in the book, most of them over the last two years. So the only areas that added value to me are his personal experiences. I found the section on 'being an empathetic investor' very useful.

There is no doubt that Mr.Baid writes well. I hope he writes the next book from his heart rather than from his head....

12 February 2021

The Midnight Library: Author: Matt Haig

The Midnight LibraryThe Midnight Library by Matt Haig

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this book after seeing the recommendations on Goodreads. This book was selected as the best book on Fiction Category in 2020. The book starts off with negativity and despair. Nora Reed is a champion swimmer and a philosophy major. Due to various choices she made in life, at the age of 35 she finds herself in despair and depression. As her cat (named Voltaire, after the French Philosopher) dies, she goes into deep depression and takes sleeping pills to commit suicide.

In the interim stage between life and death, Nora finds herself in the midnight library. There she meets her librarian and mentor Mrs.Elm who tells her that this is her 'personal library'. Each book is a story of a different life that Nora could have lived in the 'multi-verse'. She is given an offer that she can experience her different lives. Every time she gets disenchanted with one life, she will come back to the library. As long as she is living her life the clock will remain at 00:00:00 hours. The moment she finds that she doesn't have any more life to live, the clock will start moving and she will die when the clock strikes 00:01:00.

Nora explores different lives In one, she is an Olympic Swimming Champion who became a world leading motivational speaker. In another she is a scientist doing Climate Change Research in the Arctics. While she is a musician in another, she is a philosophy professor in Cambridge or a Brewer in Latin America in others.

In some of her lives, her parents and her brother are alive.They are dead in others.

The book uses concepts from the quantum physics like quantum superposition and multiverse to tell Nora's story. These advanced concepts are explained in very simple language in this book. The book also uses advanced philosophy of Thoreau and Aristotle to describe Nora's life. Despite the liberal usage of these advanced ideas, the reader never feels overwhelmed or bored. 

As an Engineering Student who has studied physics during the graduation, I found the relationship between advanced physics and human experiences very fascinating. In quantum physics there is a concept of 'Quantum Superposition', explained lucidly in the idea of 'Shrodinger's Cat'. In simple terms, it states that tiny particles like atoms and it components remain in multiple states at the same time. They take a specific state when they are measured.

The story says that when a person is in a state of confusion, it is equivalent to an atom existing in multiple states. Every time the person makes a decision (activity is measured), he goes into a specific state. Human life consists of many possibilities. The story of life is written at every minute. Since the story is ever changing and evolving, the only thing you can do well is to use the current moment to the best of your ability and try to take decisions that could take you to your ultimate destination.

It is important to remember that each decision we take has an opportunity cost of choosing one life and leaving many potential lives on the sides.

In the penultimate chapter, Nora pens her learning from this experience. She realizes that the only thing she has in her control is the present moment. It is important to use it well.

I was also fascinated by how quantum physics closely allies with the Indian philosophy of Maya which states that there is no absolute truth. Everything is perspective. At the start of this book, Nora feels that there is no meaning to her life and she is depressed. After spending her time in the library, she comes back to the same life all happy, positive and charged up.

Life is the same, only change is her perspective.

Great book. Learned a lot about my life as well.

View all my reviews

20 January 2021

Book Review: The Secret Life of Anna Blanc: Author: Jennifer Kincheloe

Through 46 chapters, this mastodon of a book flattered to deceive. In the beginning I was rooting for

Anna Blanc, the heroine, I still am, but this book left me disappointed. The sad part is that it has a lovable heroine in Anna Blanc, intelligent, passionate and mischievous. But for most part, her intellect is underplayed and where it is described, the author speeds up the description to get it over and go back to describing Anna's feelings and emotions, much like a kid rushing his homework so that he can go out and play.

The story idea is excellent and had a lot of potential. A young passionate and intelligent girl going after a murderer in the California of the 30's. But that is where the idea stops. The story line is handled in a casual manner.

The story is set in the US of the 20s when woman are fighting for their right to vote. Anna is a rich girl who lost her mother when she was a child. She has been brought up by her strict and loving father (nowhere in the book it is mentioned that her father is 'loving', I think I am attributing the 'loving' trait to sate my need for Gestalt). Anna has to behave like a rich woman and do the duties expected of

11 January 2021

Book Review: The Inner Game of Tennis: Author: W. Timothy Gallwey

Have you ever wondered why, in the movie Matrix, Morpheus kept insisting that Neo was 'The One'? What did he mean by 'The One'?

Well, I did wonder for a long time. It remained a mystery till I read the the book 'The Inner Game of Tennis' written by Tim Gallwey. 

Mr.Gallwey analyses the human mind using the game of tennis as a proxy. A typical tennis player plays two different games on the court. One is the outer game - the physical game that he plays against the opponent. The other is the Inner Game - the game played between two different aspects of his mental self.

The competitors that play the inner game are Self 1 and Self 2. Self 1 is the judgemental, criticizing, part of the personality. Its focus is on finding faults  and pointing out the mistakes made by Self 2. Self 1 suffers from recency effect. It is only focused on the here and now and has forgotten the lessons learned over the life time. 

The real player, who plays the outer game is Self 2. Also called the 'body' or 'intuition', it carries all the lessons that has been learned over the life time and knows how to handle every situation. In a way Self 2 is the real boss. But like a tamed elephant, it has forgotten its power and meekly surrenders to the criticism by Self 1 and hides back in the shell.

31 December 2020

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer and Anne Barrows

The book Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is written as a series of letters between different characters. The book is set in England of the 2nd World War. Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands that Germans occupied from 1941 to 1945. The lead character is Juliet who is the main narrator. The supporting cast includes her friend Sophie, and Sydney, Sophie's brother. Juliet is drawn to the island and to the quaintly named 'Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society',

Juliet is a writer of note. Having lost both her parents when she was twelve, Juliet has grown up to be a self-dependent stubborn lady. Her only collections are her books. She even called off her marriage in the nick of time because her prospective husband wanted to keep all her books in the cellar downstairs. Her books has pride of place in her flat. Unfortunately, during one of the bombings by Luftwaffe, her flat was hit and her collection of books burnt to ashes. Ironically, had they been in the cellar, the books would have survived the bombings !

23 December 2020

Book Review: The Stationery Shop of Tehran Author: Marjan Kamali

Marjan Kamali narrates an eternal love story of teenagers Roya and Bahman set in the backdrop of a chaotic Tehran of the 1950s. The country was young. It had hopes on a democratically elected Prime Minister with modern views to take it forward. The young 'old' country longed for a modern state rooted in the eternal values of peace and progress.

But there is political trouble in the air. While the Prime Ministerwas elected democratically, Iran was ruled by Kings. Known as 'Shahs of Iran' they expected the Prime Minister to kowtow to their wishes But the then Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh refused to do that and on the other hand wanted to curtail the power of the Shahs and make Iran a true democracy.

This was not a stable situation for the country. It was polarized across two factions, one loyal to the PM and the other loyal to the king.

The love between Roya and Bahman blossoms in the Stationery Shop owned by Mr.Ali Fakhri, an old man still young at heart. He facilitates love affairs between young people.

17 December 2020

Book Review: Checklist Manifesto: Author: Atul Gawande

Why do we need checklists? 

There are two groups of tasks. One group of tasks is beyond our capability. We may want to swim across English Channel or win Olympic gold, but those are beyond our capability. 

There are many tasks within our capability. We are unable to do them either due to ignorance or due to ineptitude. 

The problem is that the knowledge available in the world has been exploding recently. It is not important for one person to learn everything. That is the reason why we have experts. 

The complex problems require many experts to work together. As a group they may have the knowledge or expertise. In many cases, however, they make mistakes. 

Why?

In his book 'Checklist Manifesto - How to get things right', author Atul Gawande says that most of the expert tasks are complex and involve multiple steps to be completed in sequence by different experts. If either of the steps are missed or if the sequence is broken, mistakes will occur. Checklists are a way to ensure that steps are followed in a sequential order and everyone is aware of the status.

12 December 2020

Articles that I read in June 2019

14-June-2019

Today I read a good article titled ‘Eight ways to read books you wish you had time for’. This article is written by Neil Pasricha in HBR.org. He makes an incredible point that every day an average person reads about 100000 words, equal to one book a day, through paper, blogs and other online resources.

Neil used to read about five books a year as recently as three years ago. Then he read 50 books and last year he read 100 books.

The article is very insightful with a lot of linkages to other online resources. The eight points are as follows.
  1. Live inside the world of books: Surround yourself with books. Read physical books as much as possible. Do not go for online books since the linkages can take you off-track.
  2. Go red in the bed: Use red light to read at night. This increases the serotonin levels and encourages sleep.
  3. Make your phone less addictive: They are designed to make you want to hold them in hand. Fight the tendency
  4. Use Dewey Decimal System to organize your library: It helps you find gaps in your book list
  5. Solve the ‘Next Book Dilemma’: Use resources like Booktube to make a ‘Playlist’ of books that you want to read. Have a discipline to read only from books that are on that list. Do not put junk into that list. The entry in that list should be well thought out. The books in that list should help you evolve and grow as a person.
  6. Unfollow all news: Political scientist Herbert Simon says that ‘Information consumes attention. A wealth of information leads to a poverty of attention. There are two articles linked here. One is ‘Why you should stop reading news’ on Farnam Street Blog and the other is ‘Five things you notice when you quit the news’ one ‘Raptitude’
  7. Read on Something that doesn’t do anything else. Read physical books as discussed earlier. Let the article do not ask you to click on different links and take you on a rambling journey till you forget where you started.
  8. Talk to local book store owner: They will help you identify books based on your emotional state and needs.
This is a very good article. Loved reading it.

16-June-2019

Today I read another article by Neil Pasricha. The is a companion article to the one by the same author that I had read two days ago. That article was titled ‘8 Ways to read 100 books in a year’. This article was written in 2017 and is titled ‘8 ways to read (a lot) more books this year’. The 8 ways are:
  1. Centralize reading in your home: Prioritize reading in the home. Instead of TV, have books in your main room and relegate TV to the remote room. He talks of the poem ‘Television’ by Roald Dahl
  2. Make public commitment about your reading. Commit to send two short reviews every weekend
  3. Find a few trusted curated lists:
  4.  Change your mindset about quitting: Don’t feel bad about quitting reading a book midway. Consider it as an opportunity to read better books. Neil does the ‘First Five Pages Test’.
  5. Get out of reading news: The shorter choppier nature of the articles is preventing us from going deep into a particular book.
  6. Triple your churn rate: Keep your library moving. Add a few books and throw away a few books regularly. Your library should be dynamic.
  7. Read physical books
  8. Reapply the 10000 step rule. Read five hours a day. Use the hours and minutes hidden in the day to read book. The example given is of Stephen King who used to read while standing in line for a movie and even during movie.
A reasonably good article.

17-June-2019

Read and article by Tim Urban, titled ‘The Tail End’. It talks about how many years / months / weeks / days you got in your live and makes some projections. For example, I am now 56. If I live up to 85, I have about 30 years of life left. On an average I read 15 books in a year which means that in my life span, I am only going to read 450 more books.

I can extend this further. I will watch around 300 movies, write a maximum of 25 more books,

Also as you grow older, you will be losing friends and are not making any new friends.

So cherish the friendships you have.

The key message is Prioritize your life. Do not leave. Plan your weeks. Every new week opens possibilities. Every new week is a blank canvas, where you can plan your greatest accomplishment.

You must make weekly resolutions instead of yearly resolutions.

It is a great idea.

19-June-2019

Today I watched a video by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert Comics, on his tips for writing. The following are the tips.

Tip #1: How do you know that your topic is good: Does it make you feel anything? Match the audience. Write for audience, writer for an invisible friend, especially when writing humour.

Tip #2: Write for the reader, not for yourself

Tip #3: First sentence should evoke curiosity. Adams first sentence is often provocative

Tip #4: Pace and lead the reader. Try to feel and try to be like the reader.

Tip #5: Use direct sentence. Say ‘The boy hit the ball’ and not ‘The ball was hit by the boy’

Tip #6: No jargon, adjectives, adverbs or cliches. Imagine that someone is going to offer 100 rupees for every word that you can remove. There are many words that you can remove. There are many things that you as a writer thinks is important. Reader is going to be removing all these words anyway..

Tip #7:Brevity = Brilliance

Tip #8: Use sixth grade vocabulary. Use simple words

Tip #9: Musicality, percussion. Letters have tone and tenor. The sentences should be musical.

Tip #10: Avoid ugly words like moist, talk etc. Use nice words instead.

Tip #11: Consider Association. They are powerful. However be careful of over-association or wrong association. It is very important to ensure consistency when using associations. Writer should be very careful not to associate a person with ‘Hard as nails’ in one place and ‘Soft as snow’ in another place in the same book. Sometimes people make wrong associations like saying ‘I like babies and automatic weapons’

Tip #12: Use visual language. Check out ‘Mcgurk effect’ for more details

Tip #13: Violate a norm. There should be something about your writing that makes the reader uncomfortable

Tip #14: End clever or provocative

Tip #15: Write everyday. If  you plan to be a writer and not writing everyday, you are not taking your writing seriously.

Adams also has a formula for humour writing. Use at least two of the following six humour dimensions to make a joke, the more the better. The six dimensions are clever, naughty, Bizarre, Cruel, Cute and Recognizable.

If you can work at least three of the above, it is good.

Clever: Play on words

Naughty:

Bizarre: Things that are out of place

Cruel: Like ‘Meisel talked about her husband’

Cute: Kids and animals (Calvin and Hobbes)

Recognizable:

21-June-2019

Today I read a good article by Zat Rana in Quartz Magazine. The article was titled ‘The difference between intelligence and wisdom and how to acquire both’. Author says that wisdom lies in knowing that you are not wise. Intelligence is associated with knowing something and applying that knowledge in a specific context. While wisdom lies in ‘knowing’, wisdom lies in ‘understanding’ something. Wisdom has more dimensions and can be applied in a broader context. 

The distinction between knowing and understanding is important. Knowing is factual. Understanding is more fluid. When you know, you will apply your knowledge to specific context. When you understand, you will apply your knowledge to different contexts. When you understand you see the bigger picture.

Intelligence has ‘specific utility’ while wisdom inspires ‘flexible versatility’. Every time you have a perspective shift you gain knowledge. As a result, the mind changes regards to that specific knowledge. So you will approach that task differently in future.

Wisdom goes beyond. With wisdom you not only learn a specific thing and its association, you learn a broader contextual lesson, which can be applied to different situations. That will come only with understanding. Knowledge is best leveraged when it is connected to other sets of knowledge.

Knowledge is knowing more of the same thing. Wisdom expands on it and links different ‘Knowledge Packets’ together. Wisdom creates the inter-linkages of different sets of knowledge packets for a ‘grand association’.

That is where you consider the nuance and where the respect of complexity comes in. Wisdom is where specialized information finds its flexibility.

In summary, intelligence is an additional knowledge that changes your perspective about a specific set of knowledge. Wisdom is the integration of a new knowledge with the knowledge of an unrelated set of ‘Knowledges’. Just by knowing this difference you are not going to become wise, but the first step is to understand that ‘there is a difference’ and understand ‘the difference.

I am already wise.

08 December 2020

Book Review: Everybody Writes: Author: Ann Handley

There are many reviews of this book. In fact there is even a REVIEW OF REVIEWS of this book which was written in 2014 !

Most people think that they can't write, but that is incorrect. If you have a blog, if you regularly tweet, if you use any form of social media to communicate, then you are a writer. And a publisher to boot. The advent of social media has made us a community of publishers. 

Even when you sent an email, you are putting your thoughts into the screen. That is writing.  

Everybody writes.

That is the premise of the book 'Everybody Writes - Your Go-To Guide To Creating Ridiculously Good Content' written by Ann Handley. It aims to help everyone become a better writer. Communication is the key in this new age. Writing is the mainstay of personal communication. 

In this work-horse of a book, Ms.Handley has put together a number of rules and tools to help anyone to write better. In addition to great ideas, each chapter also contain links to more articles and artefacts that benefit a writer. 

Even though this book is meant as a content writing handbook for marketing professionals, the rules mentioned in this book will benefit every writer.

Don't wait for inspiration to start writing. Writing is a habit like any other habit. Half the work is done by just showing up. Be seated in your chair at the appointed time with a pen in hand and paper in front of you. You will start writing. It is tough in the beginning but with a few successes, you will start enjoying it. 

Writing is also a craft. Just like any other craft good writing also involves a set of rules. There are standard rules - 'Show, don't tell', 'don't use adverbs' etc. In addition there are specific rules relating to the type of content that you write. 

05 December 2020

Book Review: How to Get Lucky: Author: Max Gunther

This is the review of the book 'How to Get Lucky - 13 Techniques for Discovering and Taking Advantage of Life's Good Breaks' written by Max Gunther, the author of Zurich Axioms. The book is divided into two parts; Part 1 contains 2 chapters which lays the foundation and Part 2 that goes deeper into 13 techniques of luck. The book closes with a matter-of-fact summary chapter on  how to use the techniques. 

This book was originally published in 1986 and was republished in 2010. 

All of us need luck to succeed. Just being good enough is not enough. Good luck is the essential component of success, no matter how we define success. Luck is the supreme insult to human reason, you can't ignore it and you can't plan for it. So can we do something about it? 

Yes. Probably more than we think

24 November 2020

How do we find our inner treasure...

Let me ask you something, dear reader. What is common between Da Vinci Code, the Sound of Silence and The Alchemist?

Da Vinci Code (as you know) is a novel written by Dan Brown. It starts off with the murder of the curator of Louvre Museum, Jacques Sauniere, who is found shot inside the museum with a paper in his hand that says "P.S Find Robert Langdon". Looking at the letter, French Police suspects that the murder was committed by the world famous Symbologist 'Robert Langdon'. Langdon is called to look into the case. 

In the meantime Sophie Neveu, a French Police Cryptographer who is assigned to the case informs Langdon that the murdered person, Sauniere was her grandfather. He used to call her 'Princes Sophie' and the P S in the letter was not 'Post Script' as police thought, but it was meant for her. It was a way of the murdered man asking her to get in touch with Langdon.

Langdon and Sophie work on this case and the work takes them all over the world in search of Holy Grail which was considered to be the reason of the murder. After a lot of adventures, finally they realize that the secret that they were looking for was right in Paris in the Louvre museum itself. 

That was Da Vinci Code. Now to 'The Sound of Silence'.

You may not have heard of this beautiful book. This is written by the Japanese author Katrina Goldsaito. This is the story of a Japanese boy Yoshio. While walking in the streets of Tokyo, he sees a 'Koto' player playing melodious music. At the end of the performance, Yoshio tells the Koto player that 'that was the most beautiful sound he had heard'.

The old Koto player tells him that the most beautiful sound is Ma, the sound of silence between words. 

Yoshio goes everywhere in search of silence. He goes to the park and listens to the chirping of birds. He goes to different parts of the city in search of silence, but he couldn't find it anywhere.

Dejected he comes home and starts reading a book. He is so immersed in the story that he suddenly 'hears' the sound of silence. It was there at his home all the time. He was wasting his time outside when 'Sound of Silence' was right there in front of him all this while.

And finally, 'The Alchemist'

The book The Alchemist, written by Paolo Coelho, tells the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago. Santiago has recurring dreams of a hidden treasure that he should go in search of. He talks to an Oracle (Why not SAP, just kidding...) about his dream and the Oracle suggests that the treasure is in Egypt, in Cairo, below the pyramids. 

So Santiago sells his sheep and starts his long journey in search of his treasure. The book tells the story of his multi-year journey as he travels the world doing different jobs till he makes it to Egypt. There his robbed by a group of bandits. The leader of the bandits tells him that the treasure he is seeking is at his village.

So Santiago makes his long journey back to his village. In his village there is a dilapidated church. He digs up the church and discovers the hidden treasure.

That is the book The Alchemist. 

What is common between all the three books is that the lead characters in the books go all over in search of a treasure and finally find that the treasure was always with them. The treasure was right in front of them all this time. Only they refused to look inward.

'They' were the treasure they were looking for.

It happens to all of us. Our entire life is a journey in search of our treasures. We are always looking 'outside' for the treasure. We look for it in our jobs. We don't find them. We look for it in our successive promotions. We don't find them. We look in our boss's approval, our salary, our customer's satisfaction, in all the places that we visit, all the beaches that we go to relax, in the clubs, hotels...

Even in our homes.

But we don't find our treasure. Do you know why?

We don't even know what we are searching for. We are like the blind sparrow, thrashing about our wings in search of something.

So first step is identify our treasure.

Whatever be the treasure that we seek it is inside us. It is us. The treasure is generated by the decisions and the choices we make. Instead of the outward journeys that we undertake, we should start our inward journey. 

But we don't do that. We focus outside. We wait for a god or a messenger to get us our treasure. We buy lottery ticket, we go gambling. We take the 'treasure' at its 'literal meaning'. We don't realize our power or our potential to generate far greater treasure for ourselves.

I am a practicing Hindu. As per our belief system, we are god. In fact we are more powerful than god. We do everything that a god does. We create, we maintain and nurture and we are capable of unleashing great destruction to ourselves and our world.

The prayer that I make everyday is 'Aham Brahmasmi', which means 'I am Brahman'. In our belief system, even gods are in search of Brahman, the most powerful of all entities. Brahman lives inside me, you, everyone. 

Each of us is a god. We are capable of creating great treasures for ourselves and for many others. A businessman who gives a job to 10 people is creating treasures for 10 families. 

So, in summary, the treasure that we seek is inside us. It is us. Instead of looking outward for our treasure, our peace, our happiness, let us create our treasures.

We must always ask ourselves, what is the treasure we seek? How can we create that treasure?. 

Einstein came out with his theory of E=MC2. Considering the mass of an average individual is 80 Kilos, can you even imagine the kind of energy that we have every second of the day? We have enough and more of energy to create millions of treasures for us. And for others.

Lets do it.

13 November 2020

Book Review: Triggers: Author: Joseph Sugarman

This is the review of the book 'Triggers - 30 Sales Tools You Can Use to Control the Mind of Your Prospect to Motivate, Influence and Persuade' written by Joseph Sugarman. This book contains 32 Chapters, Introduction, one chapter for each of the 30 tools and ends with an Epilogue. The book is small-ish, about 180 pages, meaning 5 pages per book. 

The preface to this book is written by 'Joe Girard', considered to be the 'best salesperson in the world' by Guinness Book of World Records. Interestingly I had come across Mr.Girard in the book Influence by Robert Cialdini (read my review here) where his example was used as to illustrate one of the tools of Influence - Liking. Apparently Mr.Girard sent thank you notes every month to each of his customers with the words 'I like you'.  Amazing how the world is small after all.

May not be. Almost all the examples in this book are different variations of how sales persons use the six tools of influence as discussed in the Cialdini book. Maybe there is a connection there that I don't know.

10 November 2020

Book Review: Influence: Author: Robert K Cialdini

This is the review of the book "Influence: The psychology of persuasion" written by Robert Cialdini. The focus of the book is on the psychology of compliance.

The questions that he wants to find answer are, one, what makes a person to say yes to another? two, which techniques most effectively use these factors to bring about such compliance? 

After a detailed research that lasted three years, the author and his team were able to identify six techniques that  the compliance professionals use to get to 'yes'. Author calls them "Weapons of Influence". The six techniques are: 

  1. Reciprocation: The old give and take.... and take
  2. Commitment and consistency: Hobgoblins of the mind
  3. Social Proof: Truths are us
  4. Liking: The friendly thief
  5. Authority: Directed deference
  6. Scarcity: The rule of the few

Dr.Cialdini realizes that the best way to get to 'Yes' is provide answer to the question 'Whats in it for me?", the good old self-interest. This is something everyone knows and he has skipped that one and go on to discuss other techniques that are widely used.

Each of these techniques have a potential to create mindless, automatic willingness to say 'Yes' without thinking. In the age of the internet, when people are bombarded with information that they cannot handle, people choose these techniques to simplify the decision making process. A nefarious compliance professional (salespeople?) who knows these techniques can use them to manipulate their subjects.

Automatic responses to stimuli are common in animal kingdom. A mother turkey responds automatically to a specific sound made by chicks. The reaction is the same even if a stuffed polecat, the arch enemy of turkey, makes a recorded 'cheap - cheap' sound made by the chicks. These automated reactions are known as 'fixed action patters' - these steps occur in the same fashion and same sequence all the time. Ethnologists also find that there are some 'Triggers', specific features known as trigger features, that prompt the fixed action patterns.   

There are two aspects to these patterns. One, they work most of the time. And two, even human beings are not immune to these automated behaviours. For example if we ask someone to do something, we will be more successful if we give a reason. In fact it was not even the actual reason that mattered. It was the use of a trigger word 'because' that mattered. For example the request, 'Can I use the printer now because I have to go somewhere?' and 'Can I use the printer now because I want to print some copies' both elicited similar positive responses.

Fascinating, isn't it.? 

There are three aspects to the techniques being discussed in this book. One is the nearly mechanical way in which these techniques (author uses the word 'Weapons') can be activated, two, the way in which those who know how to use them can exploit the innocent and three, the ease with which the tools of automatic influence work. All that is required is to trigger the stores of influence that exist in the situation and channel it in the right direction. In this way, it is almost like Jujitsu, a Japanese martial art that use the speed and moment of the opponent against themselves without the artist expending a single muscle !!

This is illustrated by Contrast Principle, which affects the relative way in which we see the difference between two things presented one after another. If the second item is fairly different than the first, we tend to see it 'more' different than the first. Salesperson uses this principle when they show the highly expensive item followed by moderately expensive one. Real estate agents use it when they show us a bad house followed by an average house...

The average house look phenomenal.

The rest of the book discussed each of the six rules of influence. Each rule is broadly introduced and then the author goes deeper into the characteristics that make the rule powerful. The next part of the chapter gives pointers on how we can identify and overcome the pernicious effects of the rule and each chapter closes with a field report from a reader of the book.

The first technique of influence is the Rule of Reciprocation. It refers to our need to reciprocate in kind to a favor given to us. By this rule, we are obligated to reciprocate. This rule is pervasive across societies and spans cultures, time and sometimes even acute self-interest. The rule is overpowering. It produces 'Yes' response which would have been rejected in normal circumstances. A person can trigger a reciprocity by doing uninvited favours. This is like forcing a debt on another person. You see this working companies send unsolicited gifts to customers. In gift giving 'there is an obligation to give, an obligation to receive and an obligation to repay'. It is the obligation to receive that makes it easy to exploit. It reduces our choice of people from whom we wish to receive.

Another aspect of the reciprocity rule is that it can trigger unfair exchanges. 

Reciprocal concession is another aspect of rule of reciprocation. We have an obligation to make concessions to someone who has made concessions for us. The concession brought about by this rule is socially beneficial since the party that initiates the concession (who gives in first) knows that their gesture will be reciprocated. There is a technique called rejection-then-retreat which manipulates the concession process. You place a large initial request that you know the respondent will reject. Once it is rejected place a request which is 'smaller' than the initial one. This technique has an astonishing success rate. Note that the 'smaller'  request need not be 'small'. It can be large, but the criteria is it should be smaller than the original one.

Another aspect of the rejection-then-retreat is that it spurs the creation of future commitments. Subjects who rejected a 100 dollar initial donation and paid the concession donation of 10 dollars were willing to register for future donations, whereas those who were asked only for 10 dollar donation did not agree to future commitment. It appears that the relief of having to pay less at the initial request has created relief and potential for further contributions later. One fascinating aspect of studies on this strategy was that the subjects felt responsible for the solution and they also were satisfied with the final solution.

That is not very surprising. Reject-then-retreat approach gives the subjects a sense of control over the process.

The next rule is Commitment and Consistency. In simple terms it refers to our need to behave consistently with our commitments. It is our need to keep our thoughts and beliefs consistent with what we have done or decided to do. The reason why consistency is highly valued is because it is associated with virtues like integrity, rationality and honesty. One advantage of consistency is that it removes the need for analyzing our subsequent decisions. Another reason why we are consistent is that it removes the need for accepting harsh realities. 

The key factor is commitment. Once you commit to something, you are under pressure to behave consistently with the commitment. The examples in this chapter are fascinating. For example the question "How are you doing today?" forcing the customers to answer with "Good" or "I am fine" produced commitment as against the statement "I hope you are fine today". There are many fascinating examples of how Chinese government manipulated American POWs to commit to views favorable to the communist regime. 

The foot-in-the-door technique used by sales persons is a form of receiving a small commitment with a view to larger commitments later. Even very trivial requests for support can get us to commit to big and uncomfortable decisions. The flip-side of this principle is that through small commitments, you can manipulate people's self-image. You can turn an individual to a 'Public Servant', a prospect to a 'Customer' or a prisoner to a 'collaborator'. That is scary. 

Not all commitments alter a person's self-image. For a commitment to do that it has to meet certain criteria. Getting the person to write down the commitment is one such. Writing down a commitment become a recorded document and the individual will find it very difficult to go against it later. This is the internal pressure. In addition, the record will become public and the people perceive that you adhere to the view that you have documented. This creates a significant external pressure to adhere. (The second part was expressed vividly in the Malayalam movie Kireedam.   

In addition to writing down, the other characteristics that make a commitment alter the self image are public acceptance, extra effort required, if the commitment is made as a mental choice rather than if a commitment was made to attain a valuable outcome etc.

The last one is especially interesting. If you own your commitment, you are likely to work in consonance with the commitment. There are many reasons for this. One, it is generalized. If you think that you are a public spirited person, you are likely to behave consistently in a variety of situations. Two, such changes grow their own legs, meaning, he will generate new reasons to behave consistently with the commitment. Even if the original reason for the commitment is taken away, the new reasons will ensure consistency. 

How to say no to this technique? Author says listen to your gut and decide. 

In my opinion, consistency to one's commitment is the most powerful of all the techniques of influence mentioned in this book.

As per the principle of social proof one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct. This works when we are uncertain about the course of action, or when the situation is ambiguous we are likely to look at others to determine the course of action. One fascinating aspect is that in uncertain situation everyone is looking at others to see what to do next. This phenomenon is called 'Pluralistic Ignorance'. 

Another aspect of social proof is familiarity. We tend to act like others when they are similar to us.

This chapter is very difficult since all the examples are very disturbing. Be it the examples of Werther effect or the tragic happenings at People's Temple of Reverend Jim Jones at Jonestown Guyana where large number of people committed suicide, all of them show how potent can the Social Proof be as a weapon of influence. It is a 'Weapon' in the real sense of the term.

How to say no to Social Proof. Just be aware that this phenomenon exist. Do not peg yourself to anything. 

Principle of Liking is self-evident. You tend to say Yes to those whom you like. What are the traits you look for to like people? Some of them are Physical Attractiveness, Similarity (many sales people are taught to 'mirror' the customer), Compliments (even when they are obvious lies), Familiarity (one way to like a song is to listen to it multiple times), Working together to solve critical challenges and Associating oneself with good news (You like messengers of good news)...     

The way to handle this is to focus on the needs and not be influenced by the salesperson.

Ever since the Nazi concentration camps of WW2 and a couple of high profile airline crashes, Authority as a technique of influence has been much studied. One of the reasons it is powerful is that it brings order to chaos and is generally beneficial. In addition, all the religions profess respect to authority - parents, king, teachers, elders - that it becomes a habit in many cultures. Problem is when the instructions are visibly illegal. That is where resisting authority becomes tough. 

Another complexity is that we are subconsciously malleable to 'Symbols of Authority' rather than authority itself. Some of the symbols are Titles, Clothes, Trappings (a Limo or a Lamborghini etc).

How to say no to this? Ask two questions. One, is this a genuine authority? and two, do they get to gain anything from our response? If answer to anyone of them is not to your liking then be careful, ask for more proof etc.

The final technique of influence is Scarcity and the associated urgency. This works on the loss aversion tendency of human beings. People hate losing something. By creating artificial scarcity, they can be manipulated to go for the scarce item. There are two reasons why scarcity is powerful. One, our behaviour in scarcity is generally correct. Second reason is the Psychological Reactance Theory, which says that when something becomes scares our freedom to own it is diminished and hence we desire it more. 

One fascinating aspect of scarcity is that we assign additional qualities to the items that are scarce, probably to justify our need for possession. There are two conditions where scarcity works effectively. One is when the item is moving from abundance to scarcity. It has been observed that most of the revolutions are led by people who were exposed to their freedoms and not by people who never had freedoms. Also not only that we demand items that are scarce, we want them more when there is a competition for that item. 

How to say no to the urge of acting based on Scarcity? First is to realize that the joy of scarcity is in possessing the item and not in using it. So decide if you genuinely want that item. 

Why are these techniques successful? 

One, when we are faced with a decision, very often we only look at few of the information and use these techniques to make the decision

Two, these cues are generally very reliable.

Three, we use these lone cues when we don't have the inclination, the time or the resources to undertake a thorough analysis of the situation.

Four, the last decade has seen an information explosion which finds us left behind. So we are forced to depend on these shortcuts. 

Five, we are exposed to too many stimuli. We travel more, we change more, we have shorter relationships with many people and we have an array of options to choose from. In the light of this our only option (to maintain our sanity) is to ignore these cues and depend on tried and trusted approaches.

In summary, these techniques help us to preserve our cognitive energies (and our sanity!) for dealing with the increasingly information - laden, decision-overloaded environment. 

That is it. We come to the end of this review. A couple of additional points are in order. 

This book was a part of a troika of books that I purchased based on an article I read in Entrepreneur.com All the three books turned out to be real gems. I am a better person having read them. It was fascinating to read how the principles listed in this book are used by marketing people as described by Joe Sugarman in his book Triggers. 

Very enjoyable read....Thank you Dr.Cialdini for this book.

01 November 2020

Book Review: Crushing It: Author: Gary Vaynerchuk

This is a review of the book Crushing It - How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business And How You Can Too by Gary Vaynerchuk. In the introduction to the book the

author says the world of opportunities is changing rapidly than we envisaged a few years earlier. The advent of social media has created personal branding opportunities that we could not have anticipated. We are able to have one on one conversations with our customers. We are able to react to people across the globe. Today people are able to build billion dollar businesses from the basement of their homes. Your personal brand can become your business. The aim of the book is to make the reader aware of the platforms available how how to work on each of them. This book also has tonnes of advice from those who have walked the talk.

This book is both for those with natural born talent and those who do not yet know their talent but want to explore the various options available.

The book is divided into two sections. Section 1 is called 'Get Pumped'. It comprises of 5 chapters. In the chapter 1 titled 'The Path is All Yours' the focus is on facts and data. The author convincingly argues about the shift in consumer focus from traditional media to social media. Due to these changes,  businesses are spending vast amounts of money on these channels. Due to the proliferation of platforms anyone with a passion can make a living out of these media. Anyone who is smart and strategic in using their content can capitalise on this shift. 

Seven Traits for Successful Personal Branding

The focus of this book is for anyone willing to put in the effort in their personal brand. Personal branding starts by identifying specific target audience.

Chapter 2 is titled 'What Still Matter'. There are a few personal traits that matter in the personal branding journey. These are intent, authenticity, passion,  patience, speed, work, and attention.

The first trait is intent. You have to decide why you want to do personal branding. The three characteristics that every successful entrepreneur shares are commitment to service, a desire to provide value, and a love for teaching. Money should not be the motive. You have to care for your customer.

Intent is reflected in your authenticity. Showcase your true self, your work, and passion. Respect the intellect of your audience.

Passion is what makes you enjoy what you do. Spend your time on your passion. The advantage is that passion will keep you going when things become tough.

Passion goes side by side with the next characteristic  patience. Success in the social media journey will take time. Keep your head down and keep working.

While you must be patient in the long term, speed is of essence in the short term. Once you figure out what needs to be done, do it quickly. You have to be always in the 'Do' mode. Do not overthink.

At the bottom of every other attribute lies work. There is no time for leisure in your personal branding journey. Work fourteen, fifteen, eighteen hour days come hell or high water. Every minute must be spent producing content, distributing content, engaging your community, or engaging in Business Development. Do things! Put in hard work. Enjoy it.

The final trait, attention has two aspects. One is attention to the environment. You have to be aware about which are the new social media (Smule?), where are customer's eyeballs going,  what are your customers talking about etc. People tend to underestimate new trends. There lies the opportunity. Keep experimenting with new platforms. Do not get comfortable with the existing ones.

While author does not mention it, in my opinion, other aspect of attention is focus - the ability to block out noise and focus on the task at hand.

Chapter 3, titled 'Eighth Essential' deals with content. Here the author presents a counter-intuitive view. As per him you should start now and let your evolution be your content. Let people see your struggles and the victories. Let people be a part of your journey. Another point is to tailor your content to different platforms. People are in different mindsets on different media. What works for Twitter won't work for YouTube for example. Keep updating your knowledge so that people cannot easily find the information that you provide. Your content must be amazing.

Document your learning process. Let that be your content. Use YouTube Live, Facebook Live and other media regularly to tell your story. Documenting will keep you on your toes. Do not manipulate. Let your evolution be your content. That will give you freshness and enthusiasm.

Putting your progress out there will force you to live up to it. Let world see you up close and dirty.

Approach each message you post from a professional viewpoint. Before every tweet, Facebook post, or YouTube video, ask the question, 'how will this help my business?' If there is no convincing answer don't do it.

Remember to keep moving. Things change for the better if you keep moving.

Chapter 4 titled 'What is Stopping You' discusses about 10 reasons reasons why people are not crushing it. For me the relevant reasons are 'I don't know where to start' and 'I don't have the right equipment'. As per the author, there are three fears that hold people back. They are fear of failure, fear of wasting time and fear of seeming vein. Fear of failure may be a fear of what people will say. Do not bother about other's opinions. Be clear eyed and strategic, be willing to work harder and longer than you ever have and you will surprise everyone. 

Fear of wasting time leads you to losing great opportunities. Exploring different platforms is not a waste of time if you want to build your personal brand. People are scared of visiting time even when they have nothing else to do.

Amazing feature of the book are the examples of who have crushed it. One of the achievers advises you to look at platform and answer the question 'what will make the  users to come back to your page'.

As you gather ideas and execute your strategies, set yourself up for success. Find your self-esteem and make some noise. Show that you care for quality and customer experience. Show that you care for people.

The most inspiring story in this book is that of Mimi Goodwin whose Instagram handle is @mimigstyle. She had suffered from childhood abuse, teenage motherhood, and domestic abuse and came out of it to build a huge personal brand.

The only thing you need to give yourself to crush it is permission. There is an inspiring story of Pat Flynn who set up the website smartpassiveincome.com. His Insta handle is @patflynn. He created an e-book collating ideas from his blog posts and sold it in his website. This is what I had done with my ERP book. Reading that example was very gratifying. If he can take an esoteric idea like LEAD exam and make it work my ERP idea is a cakewalk.

Go deep, go niche and provide real value in the form of information or entertainment.

Section 2, Create Your Pillar, starts with a mandatory task, create a Facebook business page. I have already done that. Check it out

How can one get discovered? There are two ways in which your opportunities will develop. One, by smart use of hashtags and two, by direct messaging - reaching out directly to people and offering them something in return for their attention. The second option is what the author recommends. Collaborate with people and get to work delivering something that they will be proud of. If established influencers see an upside in collaborating with you, they will get back. It is your job to give them reasons to get back to you. Business development this way is hard and hence many people won't do it. There lies your opportunity.

The next 8 chapters deal with eight different platforms - Musical.ly, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Podcasts and Voice–first.

The book ends with a concluding chapter summarizing the ideas discussed in the book.

This is an amazing book. Any great book of ideas should have one feature. After reading the book the reader should ask herself, "The ideas in this book are so sensible and easily executable. Why did I not think of this before?". This books meets that criteria to a T. Have this book in your library. Read it more than once. Follow Gary (@Garyvee on Twitter) and make use of his benevolence as he give you one amazing content after another. 

Thank you Gary. I hope I will be able to live up to your inspiring words.