I ordered a bunch of workbooks on the 15th of April from Toastmasters International. On 17th April it was dispatched. After 20 days not receiving any intimation I mailed Toastmasters. They mailed back giving me all details and a website link stating which showed that my parcel was in the customs.

That was on May 5th. Over the next 15 days I called DHL , toastmasters went to post office. To no avail.

Finally  on 21st May I receive a mail from the assistant commissioners office that I shoould come and get it cleared with proper documents.

Today 28th after 3 visits to the GPO I collected the parcel.

What do I say?

Tomorrow is the  program and the workbooks have arrived . I am glad.

Can’t complain.

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All things Workplace

This Blog is going for a makeover. Expect a new Avatar!

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The Self Control – Button

What would you say – if I were to ask you – In the last one week have you  procrastinated on your key tasks?

or, have exercised lesser than what was good for you?

In case you have then, console yourself that you are not alone.. We all have many desires of ourselves in the long term, but in the short term most of us tend to do very different things.

For instance, have you texted while driving?

You know its dangerous. Accidents happen. It is not as if you start weighing  the pros and cons and then take a rational decison to take the call.

The mobile rings and you impulsively reach for the phone.

What if you had a mechanism – to help you bypass these impulses. What if there was a switch to turn off your temptations and prevent you from doing something bad for yourself?

There is one such mechanism available – Lets give it a name – “The Red Button”.

Let me share an experiment with you. This was an experiment conducted at the MIT in 1974. The experiment involved a Rat and a Pigeon. In many ways it is considered to be a path breaking .

In the experiment a Rat & a pigeon were taught that pressing a green button would mean receivingone pellet of food after one second and a purple button would mean 10 pellets after 10 seconds. During the trials with varying sequences of purple and green buttons – both the rat and the pigeon went for the green button i.e .. they went for “instant gratification” losing out on the much larger reward of 10 pellets of food.

This was much like what we do. We start out on our long term rewards but come across something tempting and go for “instant gratification”.


In a modified version of the experiment a Red Button was provided as an option. The Red Button turned “off” the Green Button. Effectively this was a mechanism to turn off temptation and instant gratification. Both the Rat and the Pigeon – used this optionoften to prevent themselves from getting tempted.

That was a path breaking experiment with two very optimistic takeaways for us –

  • If the the Rat and pigeon can do it maybe we can do it too.
  • And the second is that It is all about designing the Red Button. A bypass mechanism to prevent ourselves from getting tempted.

When we are faced with distractions and temptations with no tools to overcome them we are likely to fail much like the rats and pigeons.  But, if we have a mechanism to prevent ourselves from getting tempted  – our self control contracts – our Red Button – maybe we can keep the distractions in check.

Let me share with you an example , that of guy called Demosthenes.

Demosthenes is considered to be the greatest orator of his time-He used to live in ancient Greece. But when he was in his early years – he used to get railed for the weakness of his voice and bad delivery.He literally got chased from the podium. He decided it was time to improve himself with practice and hard work.  For this – He built an underground study for himself( he was quite rich) for this specific purpose and shaved off just one side of his head – his self control contract – the “Red Button” to prevent himself from coming out even if he desired to do so.  Thus he spent months cultivating his voice and speaking ability.And he went on to become a great Speaker.

Each one of us faces self control challenges in some way unique to us, be it Procrastination, or too much time on Facebook, could be anything.

Without a bye pass mechanism we are likely to fail much like the Rat and the Pigeon The key lies in introducing our own self control contracts – our Red Buttons.

Here are a few examples of Red Buttons( avialble off the shelf) to overcome some typical self control challenges people face –

Clocky the Alarm Clock

Clocky the alarm clock – Mornings it doesn’t just ring an alarm – it also runs around on wheels. So you are forced out of the bed to search and turn it off.

Website viewership Monitor

This website prevents you from spending too much time on facebook or any other website you frequent .

If you happen to come across any such stuff that can help prevent temptation – at office or personally feel free to share. Incase you have any ideas on how to overcome your own self control challenges – I invite you to share them here..

This post is based on a very thought provoking TED Talk by Dan Ariely an expert on Human Behavior.  

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day 2 – munnar

found HRC with some help from the manager. No regrets about having chosen the place.

this is a lovely corner on the road to mattupetty . a club patronized by the Tatas. Was suggested my my sis who visited the place a year ago.

the rain was continuous so we lazed around refreshed ourselves and went to the club house. the club folks were practising for the 15 aug programme so we took up the tt racket and started to play.

watched some squash. chatted with some pre teen boys playing a self invented game with a balloon.

went back to the room and had a large dinner of chana , roti and rice and chicken.

got up next morning around 5ish and took a walk in the rain. not a soul in site and was just a bit scared that elephants would turn up.
later realized that this was a story cooked up by the chef.

came back by 6:30am and played the guitar for a while. it was lovely – having the cuckoo for accompaniment.

to be contnued ….

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Trip to Munnar

12th aug

target was to leave home at 4:00 AM. Put the kids to sleep by 9:30 . I got up at 3:30 even without the alarm.

left at 4:45. a quick prayer at vincent Palloti and off we went.

out of bangalore by 5:30 used the elevated expressway.

u wouldnt belive the the traffic at the tolls

took right at hosur after the flyover on the rayakotta road.

tea stop . Palacode and then to dharmapuri. 66 rs toll. A roller coaster road with nearly five bumps without any markings immediately after the toll. Huge humps. overall a bad road. and costly. on to Salem searching for the exit to tiruppur. totall toll paid 53+41.

on to tiruppur road and stopped for break. around 9Am. annalakshmi. great joint. a very helpful owner /manager. gave us a route to udumalpet bypassing tiruppur and avoiding quite a few tolls.

next chinnamalai – kangayam – palladam.

left at udumalpet. Yelanir near a school – time 1pm.
Chinar forests . Indra gandhi reserve – prayed not to meet any elephants.

paid 50+ 20+20 at the checkposts.

marayoor 2pm.

then the winding curves of munnar hills – reached HRC at 4:30pm .

to be contnued

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Courtesy Basics

Keep your commitments if you cant do so – keep the person you have committed to informed that you are not going to keep the commitment.

If you decide to take an off keep your immediate Boss or colleagues informed and ensure that it is communicated to the person you report to directly or indirectly. You dont need a rule to follow this – it is just plain courtesy.

If you have agreed to attend an interview and decide or are unable to attend the same for whatever reason – inform the recruiter/client.
Basic courtesy.

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The Gap Salesman

Imagine you were a Salesman. You represent a very Reputed firm the products of which Lead the Markets wherever they are sold. they are sold at a premium to the Next Best in the Fray.

so you as a Proud Salesman of this great firm – go and meet customers and talk about all the great Attributes of your firm and its Products and Service. Your brochure Talks about all the Great accomplishments and the many awards that the Firm has recd.

by any chance would there be anything negative mentioned about the company or its products in your Marketing brochure or in your Sales Talk. That surely wouldn’t mean that your Products are flawless or maintenance proof or service proof – whatever.
But, you get the drift.
You as your firms salesman speak the best about your company and its products.

how many of us take that effort to make our Resume to talk the Best about ourselves and our accomplishments. Now hold on – sometimes I come across resumes written in 3rd Person . “He studied in NIT …” He worked in … ” . that not what I mean when I say take a leaf from the Marketing Brochure of your Firm. What i mean is show yourself in the Best Possible light. that means – highlight your accomplishments – get into the specifics of achievement keeping in mind the attention span of your reader and the time constraints.

The resume is nothing but a Marketing document – an “advertisement”. It has to reveal enough in the 10-20 secs span to get a call. that is it.

Do not dwell on your negatives – don’t explain any warts in your resume. the warts can be disclosed during the interview.

So this has to be kept in mind when you are getting your resume ready.Too much info and you are risking a miss.
I come across resumes 5 page long with entire project details. My advice would be – to bullet your projects and discuss details in the telecon or F-to-F interview. Or you could do one better – prepare your project details in a separate document (expanded resume) and hand it out during the interview process. Now that would look really Professional.

Hope I haven’t digressed too far. To recap – short and crisp resumes , period.

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I had the opportunity to be part of a panel for recruiting students for the MBA batch thanks to a friend.

The experience gave me an opportunity to meet a mixed bunch from across the country. Not something that you can do every day or every month for that matter.

The students came with varying levels of preparation – some really stood out in their thought clarity and approach to life. some stood out with their absolute disconnect to reality.

I met a girl who wanted to pursue MBA to setup a service firm in her town – to educate illiterate farmers about cheaper lending options.
she was married with a two year old child. and coming back to studies after a 2-3 year gap. It was not going to be easy. But, some how her goal clarity was appealing.

MBA is a fad nowadays and more than a fad – it has become a minimum criteria for getting many jobs. The bars are going higher and an MBA does make a difference in the start line – provided the student has shown some seriousness in picking up on what has been taught and discussed.

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Job Search – Passive Activity

Job Search is a Passive Activity. Thats a strange term Passive Active – this is because – even if you were actively in search of job – the process itself is relatively passive – with long periods of inactivity. For instance you have pored over all the portals and found a couple of interesting job openings – promptly you got your resume tailored to the openings and shot them off. Now what?
Ok after a day you called up to check if the recruiter has recd your resume – if he had time to go over it – the answer to that one invariably what be a partial yes.

then what do you do> You have to wait for the recruiter to revert with the shortlist – however many times you call and follow up the shortlist wont happen if the resume does’nt suit. And contrary to popular belief the Recruiter isn’t the Evil out there waiting to be a stumbling block in your search for the right job. he is there to help you but he serves a different master.

So, back to the question how do you face this passive periods – periods of inaction.

For a start you should prepare yourself to this.undertand the Job search is time bound and things don not happen in a day.

So plan your search accordingly. If you are planning to move out then start applying for jobs atleast 3 months before the target time. And if you have attended a lot of interviews without any offers – relook at your search process. are your expectations rational?

Key is to not get frustrated with the delays. Because delays are intrinsic to the process and something which you have very little control over.

Hence the term Passive Activity – something which you would do well to remember.

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yesterday attended a talk by an eminent personality

He made a very key observation in response to a question abt employee retention for small firms.

He said that for a small entrepreneur to be able to retain employees atleast long enough to form a core team with some loyalty – he should be growing faster than his employees. And by growth he meant holistic growth not just bottomline. “If you focus only on bottom line growth you will end up with a large bottom” – his words.

bottom line Growth of the organisation has to deserved – by the increased value it brings to the Market place – it need not just be an end in itself. that kind of growth eats into the people employed with the firm.

Another key factor in being to hold employees would be seen in the willingness of the entrepreneur or small businessman to share the the substantial profits with the team whenever they occur. holding on to everything – doesn’t give a great feeling to a the employee.

All in all a great evening!!

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