belief, choice, faith, life, postivity, Uncategorized

This is NOT the new NORMAL – it shouldn’t be.

Over the past 12-14 months, we’ve all seen more than our fair share of articles, news items, blogs etc. etc. all of which speak of the so-called ‘New Normal’. Whether it’s technology companies, education institutes or governments – they all speak of how things have become, and hint that life as we knew it, is not going back to how it was anytime soon.


Every time I hear the phrase ‘The new normal’, my mind starts to question is this really how we want it to be? Is it really normal? I mean, we aren’t even connected to what is going on outside the four walls of our homes, and we are choosing to call all of this normal. This new phrase keeps poking me, punching me – Oh I am not saying, I do not use it, of course, I do, both professionally and in my personal life, But, every time I speak of it, it takes my peace away. Every ounce of me wants to fight this and not accept this as the new normal. I say this because every time we refer to these abnormal circumstances as normal, we imply that we are helpless and there isn’t anything we can do or want to do about it all – we just move on and continue to live our lives holed up in our homes, meeting, talking our near and dear ones digitally – that is just sad!


Don’t get me wrong, the world, humanity at large has adapted to the circumstances we have been dealt quite extraordinarily. From schools to universities to workplaces everyone has adjusted and moved ahead during these testing and unnatural times. But, this belief that life will be like this henceforth, makes us powerless.


Personally, I am quite an introvert and like most introverts, I am not very excited about forced conversations, pretence, and fake social interactions – I like meeting people, vibing with them and having meaningful conversations, but even then I look forward to spending time by myself. However, all this staying indoors doesn’t mean I am loving the ‘me time’.


Now you may be feeling, what is this guy on about really, and what my points is exactly – well, I just think something is not right and that it is far from being normal. We can not lose our tolerance, our willingness to learn from all of this – we should not get tired, we need to look beyond the overhyped news which only instils more fear… instead, we need to see each others humanity, to acknowledge each other and respond like humans.


So yes, let this be a new normal if its means getting rid of global warming, hunger, racism, inequality at all levels, and other social evils – BUT, let this not be the new normal where we have to live holed up, scared inside our houses, where children cannot go to school or play, where we cannot unravel the mysteries and see the beauty that the world is all about.


Personally, this is more like Survival than any kind of normal – Let’s weather the storm to rise and shine as humans again!

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success, Uncategorized

When life gave me lemons…

When life gave me lemons

It was the summer of 2015 when I received my offer letter from a premier B school in Canada, and it seemed my dream of getting my MBA from a top international university was closer than ever. It was June 2015 when my student visa approval came in. Now I was 100% certain that at 35 years of age, I was moving back in to student life. On the 15th of June, I resigned from my well paid job, served my notice period of a month and moved on from the corporate life.

Since I was going to go away for 2 years or more, I decided before I travelled from India to join my university course, a family holiday was a must do. So, my family and I left for a long family vacation to Europe, and this I where it all started….

8 days into our holiday, I got the news that my mother in law had taken ill and she had no real chance of survival – we cut short our vacation and rushed back to India. A day later, my mother in law passed away, may her soul rest in peace! My wife, who is the youngest of her siblings, was very close to her mother as she had lost her father when she was 16 years old. So the sudden loss of her mother made her emotionally vulnerable and she started to go in to mild depression. Realizing how my wife needed me, I deferred my admission to a Jan intake. It was July and a 6 month delay to join my university didn’t seem that bad, but this is when it got more complex. Mid of September, my father had a massive heart attack, the fact that he survived it was no less than a miracle. But, he had to undergo a major surgery, and was advised strict rest for at least a few months. As the only son (I lost my elder brother in 2003), I realized flying away in Jan was not going to happen, in fact going away wasn’t an option at all !! I went ahead and took one of my most difficult decisions ever… I cancelled my admission and my student permit.

Here I was, from the excitement of joining a top rated B school in June, to being without a job and my dream of pursuing my MBA all but over. After already having spent 3 months at home, bored out of mind, I started looking for jobs. Owing to my situation, most jobs offers that came my way expected me to join at half my previously drawn salary and 2 levels lower of where I previously was. I tried to tell myself that it was just a phase and it’ll all be over soon, but no matter how I sliced it, it was degrading. It is a learning experience, right? These lessons will be invaluable to me and help me some way down the road. What else could I tell myself? I felt disappointed a few times. Got mad. Tried to make sense of it. Learnt to shrug off the reaction of people I saw that knew me in my former role. They would stutter and say they were sorry, be empathetic. Those were the kind ones. The rest just stopped talking. It was a lot of process. It made me tired. I knew while my family was stressed, though they always tried their best to be supportive.

And then, I one morning I woke up and made a resolution. I decided that I wasn’t going to let anyone judge me based on my employment status.  I spent the next few days just introspecting, thinking about where exactly did I want to be and what exactly did I want to become. And to my pleasant surprise, I learnt that I really liked myself despite being jobless. It was a wonderful realization to figure out that I had draped and confused my identity with work but once all the distraction faded, I realized that it wasn’t all that bad and I actually was someone really great.

From that day onwards, my life started on a journey of self-discovery.  With my new found free time, I started reading and also started to do some writing.  Reading was something I had ignored for many years and writing started some sort of a chain reaction of self-reflection. I began to be more honest with myself and in turn others around me. I visited places which I had long had the desire to go, like Banaras, Rameshwaram and more. I picked up yoga and meditation from where I left them, something I was earlier too busy to practice, and started seeking out spiritual guidance – which led me to some really wise and interesting people.

I also realized that now I had more time for the people I cared for and love, which had been a huge struggle for me ever since I started my professional life. As my career advanced and began to climb the corporate ladder, I lost track of family and close friends in the process. Sadly, I thought they would understand why I wasn’t around as much; and some of them did understand, but thinking about it at that time, didn’t feel good—it just didn’t feel right. How could I ignore people who stood by me when I needed them the most, and vowed that I was not going to do this anymore.

In spite of my fears that I may end up broke and jobless, I actually setup a marketing firm of my own. Worked hard and did some really good work for my small kitty of clients – learnt some great lessons in management. And then, I met an industry leader who was bright and sharp. He liked my background and  asked me to take a leap of faith and in return he would take a leap of faith on me. Now I’m working for a boss I respect, with coworkers who support me.  I leave work at a decent hour. I’m investing more time on myself!

Though I’m not going to lie: I still have that joyfear feeling. What if I fail? What if people don’t respect me as much? What if, what if, what if? To my fears, I say: What if I never got the chance to live a meaningful life—stuck instead in the monotony of someone else’s template. That’s the scariest thought of all!

I now think about the things that I believe are important at this stage of my life. The people I love are beautiful no matter their outward appearance.  Trying to be a part of something or simply trying to fit in doesn’t really do the soul any good. And material possessions we chase are much less significant than we try to make them. I have actually come out of it with a whole lot of learning and a whole lot of realization, and No, I do not curse my luck at all, for I take it as God’s will and I am pretty sure he has a wonderful plan for me 🙂

Even the fact that I wasn’t able to do my MBA, doesn’t disappoint me anymore. Who knows I was destined for bigger and better things…

So when life gives you lemons, make a lemonade – Do not be put down by adversities in life and always count your blessings!

 

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Uncategorized

Why Marketers Should Use Marketing Automation

So what is marketing Automation? As the name implies, Marketing Automation refers to technology that systemizes and automates marketing for an organization allowing it to market itself on several channels effectively. This technology provides companies a software platform to execute and deliver content for the customer engagement cycle and provides an efficient system to help nurture prospects and suspects. All done in a more streamlined and efficient way.

Great! But how does it help? Marketing Automation can help marketers demonstrate the impact marketing delivers in achievement of company objectives – It can help marketers in many ways by allowing tracking data for leads, automate personal marketing activities, and generate in-depth reports using just one platform. Here are some key reasons to get involved with Marketing Automation.

  • Marketing Automation helps marketers in conversion. According to a study by The Aberdeen Group, companies that use marketing automation see 53% higher conversion rates than non-users, and an annualized revenue growth rate 3.1% higher than non-users of marketing automation platforms.
  • Marketing Automation also answers the problem of attaching marketing $ (marketing efforts) spends to overall sales opportunities that get generated. It basically allows companies to track leads and report on ROI because of its CRM integration. With its lead tracking abilities it is much simpler for marketers to nurture and qualify leads and share across with sales when they are ready.
  • Marketing Automation helps users, without any technical knowledge, in the creation of marketing assets. The system can completely negate the use to employ an agency for creation of material, thereby saving company valuable time and money.
  • Marketing Automation can consolidate multiple marketing tools, help marketers deliver high impact campaigns across various channels and report on the results of all the marketing tools used.

What traditionally would take multiple marketing resources can now be completed using marketing automation software – It saves the company valuable time and money and generates more leads.

Awesome! So who are best solution providers out there and how do they fit my need? With ever increasing digital platforms, their integration and the constantly changing consumer behavior, zeroing on the most useful marketing automation software has become an important decision for marketers and companies. Below is a quick snapshot of marketing automation tools reviews and rankings.

As per the various marketing automation software rankings released in 2014, one thing is clear that they differ with each other when determining leaders. But they are in agreement on a key aspect – Oracle-Eloqua and Marketo deserve to be leaders.

Gartner in its 2014 Magic Quadrant report on CRM lead management platforms names Marketo and Oracle Eloqua as Leaders in the field, while Adobe Campaign, Salesforce’s Pardot, and IBM’s ExperienceOne product line were labeled as Challengers. Forrester on the other hand named 9 most significant lead-to-revenue management (L2RM) marketing automation platform vendors in its 2014 list. According to Forrester Act-On, Adobe, CallidusCloud, IBM, Marketo, Oracle-Eloqua, SalesForce-Pardot, Salesfusion and Silverpop are the top tools. The Chicago-based crowdsourcer G2 Crowd has HubSpot, SalesForce-Pardot, Act-On, Marketo and Oracle-Eloqua leading the way. For its high performers,G2 Crowd tabbed Salesfusion, OutMarket, Ontraport,Net-Results, LeadSquared, Hatchbuck and Genoo. They have a smaller market presence than the leaders.

While Gartner in its Magic Quadrant report for 2014 does not explicitly rank vendors based on their suitability for large enterprise or SMBs, but it does recognize IBM for its appropriateness for large enterprise customers and its strength in dealing with complex lead management processes.

On the other hand Forrester in its lead-to-revenue management (L2RM) marketing automation platform vendors list 2014 clearly ranks vendors based on Enterprise and Small Businesses evaluations.

  • Enterprise – in enterprise evaluation, Forrester determined five leaders and four strong performers
    • Eloqua leads in features and functions – Oracle’s products have been around the longest (since the early 2000s) and have been deployed by many larger enterprises with complex marketing program requirements.
    • Marketo is also a leader along with Oracle Eloqua, which was launched in 2006.
    • Adobe’s acquisition of Neolane puts it in close behind the leaders.
    • Silverpop and IBM are on the cusp of leadership
    • CallidusCloud and Salesfusion are also strong performers.
  • Small and Mid-Sized Business – Forrester’s small business evaluation revealed two leaders, three strong performers and four contenders:
    • Act-On and Salesfusion are leaders. Forrester chose vendors with a solid offering at a low price point. Act-On and SalesFusion fit well here as well.
    • Silverpop, Salesforce.com and Marketo are strong performers. Take price and commitment to smaller marketing teams out of the equation, and these vendors deserve an evaluation based on their strong functional performance.
    • Adobe, CallidusCloud, IBM, and Oracle are contenders. B2B marketers can get the job done with any of these solutions providers. “Given the cost and complexity tradeoffs, it’s likely that small marketing teams or SMBs will choose a different vendor,” Forrester’s Lori Wizdo wrote, “which will most likely be a satisfactory decision for the vendors.”

In the end, remember, content is king and to make your marketing automation software work well, one needs a solid foundation of great content.

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hardwork, self improvement, success

Don’t let your setbacks and limitations limit you…

We all know some people who were plain ordinary at school or other aspects which we often consider essentials for being successful in life, don’t we? And then we come across individuals, successful personalities and others from our known circle who have made it big and we wonder how a flop, a dud or an underachiever made it large. So how do these people, these once ordinary people succeed? I think it is because of their indomitable spirit, their ability to stay at it in spite of their failures, their setbacks and their limitations. Often we will also observe that by being resilient they also gained intelligence over time – experience, growing and learning from our limitations, our mistakes often makes us wiser! The fact is that we all have limitations, we all have also suffered setbacks, but we need to learn from them and move forward instead of dwelling upon them – this will open us to new growth and the many other possibilities.

The key is to attack your limitations and turn your limitations into strengths. And in words of Ralph Waldo Emerson Our strength grows out of our weaknesses.

So what can you do? Here are some things you can tune yourself to do…

  • Be confident – If you want something, stay focused be positive. A lot can change with confidence and a positive mindset.
  • Dream – Set your goals. Unless you know where you want to go, you will end up nowhere.
  • Work Hard – Remember there are no shortcuts. Set your goals and work hard towards achieving them; dreams alone will not take you anywhere – take action.
  • Learn from mistakes and move forward – There will be failures and you will feel disappointed and angry, but channel those emotions to create a renewed energy and get back into action, don’t just moan.
  • Reward yourself – Celebrate your achievements along the way, incentivize yourself. This can lift your spirits and keep you motivated.
  • Keep your family and friends close – Friends and family can be our strongest pillars of strength and support, they can help keep stress in check and motivate us when the chips are down.
  • Always believe – Believe in God, a higher power and most importantly believe in yourself. As Henry Ford said –

    Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.

Never give up – stay at it for you hold the key your success… you are limitless! “Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.” Mary Kay Ash

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Uncategorized

The Joy of Reading

Reading truly is one life’s greatest joys, and it also is one the most essential skills a person can develop in their lifetime. The joy and excitement of opening a book and getting lost into a whole new world created by words and imagination is something to treasure.

I did not enjoy reading very much and way back in school itself I decided to never really waste any time on it. However, a few years back I realized that if I wanted to achieve the goals I had set for myself, I had to read. After having discovered a passion for reading, today, my favorites being motivational, leadership and self-help books.

We live in a world where we are attached to multiple screens, and it can be quite difficult to get yourself to read. – There is an information overload on TV, the internet and we get so engrossed in all of it that we start to enjoy it. Until we reach a point where we cannot take anymore, we do not even realize there is something wrong with us. Reading a book on the other hand can really be very entertaining as well as quite a great learning experience. Reading truly can benefit you in more ways than one, for instance, it can help ease you out. Whether you are under stress or in depression reading can elevate you, cheer you up, motivate you. Reading can relax you, when you get lost in a book you literally escape from all your worries and move on to an imaginary world, this can help you overcome stress. Reading can make you kind, understanding and passionate. A lot of books explore the human emotions and bring out the best via real life stories which we as humans can connect to instantly and this can help us take control of our own thoughts and feelings.

Reading is a much better alternative to your laptop, phone or tablet just before sleep too. The bright lights on your devices actually lead to dry, fatigued eyes and sort of signal your brain that it is not sleep time, while a book calms your thoughts and put you in a relaxed state. The way we read has come a long way too and got mechanized via Kindle or the tablet etc. Personally, I still prefer the feel of paper in my hands. You choose what works for you, what’s important is to enjoy reading, it is a joy that never gets old.

If you have great aspirations remember the quote “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” ― Harry S Truman Most successful people who you can think of, were all readers and there is a great article in the Forbes magazine on ” Why Leaders Must be Readers” click here to read the same

http://www.forbes.com/sites/85broads/2012/08/03/why-leaders-must-be-readers/

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

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Uncategorized

Rules for Effective Email Marketing Campaigns

“Electronic marketing is directly marketing a commercial message to a group of people using email”

– Wikipedia

Now is it that simple? Well, not really right. Email marketing campaigns are actually very important components of every B2B companies marketing strategy. A large percentage of marketers will say that email marketing delivers a good ROI, and most CMOs will say ROI should be primary measurement of effectiveness. But, what email marketing also does is solidify relationships and forge new ones and they also help gather data. In spite of its importance, many marketers still continue to make basic mistakes or fail in their campaigns effectiveness – more often than not it is only a basic lapse in planning.

Here are some basic rules to help setup a successful B2B email marketing campaign for maximizing the ROI.

1. Target Audience and Messaging – Get your audience profile bang on, who is that your are really targeting – Get to know their interests and possible actions. Design the messaging to suit the TA, customize it to your target audience preference – remember emails are not for mere communication but conversations and messaging. Look at ways to starting a dialogue and engage your target audience with relevant and meaningful content. Lastly, avoid self promotion to the extent possible please.

2. Define your metrics upfront – Follow the industry standards, but by all means set your own benchmarks if required. While the usual metrics are important, but go beyond the usual and explore all possible information available. Use your metrics to understand audience behavior and evolve and optimize as you go along. Go beyond just the open and click through rates.

3. Mix it up – Go all out and create different versions using different styles. Deploy your campaign at different times, tweak your communications, change your CTAs slightly. This will help you assess what’s working and what’s not and avoid under performance. Experiment with a A/B testing.

4. Proofing – The best campaign will fail if your email doesn’t reach the intended TA. Check and then double check your messages to identify issues, if any. Check subject lines to avoid landing in the spam folder of your recipient, proof read your copy to avoid typos and spam triggers. It is also a good thing to check the message on multiple platforms.

5. Automate and Analyze – Use marketing automation solutions to automate your campaigns this automatically gives you access to reporting dashboards to analyze results. Most automation platforms or solutions present results in formats which are understandable to everyone in very quick time too. The importance of analyzing your campaign effective is obvious as it helps you ascertain if your campaign is indeed achieving any ROI. if something is costing more than what it is returning, then it is not a good strategy. You can do this as your monitor the campaign and wait till its completion.

6. Develop a long term dialogue/conversation strategy – Build the relationship with your target audience, use the feedback, form data and replies and gain valuable feedback. These are useful mediums to continue talking to your customers. Do not run a one off campaign and let the relationship with your prospects fall apart post that.

And the most ultimate goal of your campaign should be to have your customers come to you!

To sum it up, email marketing isn’t rocket science, but its not that straightforward either. If you are not effectively using email marketing as a tool, then no matter how great a company your are or how great your product is, you are like to stand still not make much progress.

Hope you find this useful.

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Uncategorized

Journey Of A Not So Confident Introvert – The Transformation

When I was growing up, I wasn’t the most confident child and I was quite shy at the same time. I came from a humble middle class Hindu family and the fact that my parents could afford to send my brother and me to a private convent school was a big privilege. Our father worked hard to provide us with all the necessities and for the same reason he went on to work in Germany when I was just 4 months old… I saw him next when I was 4 years old! My mother’s only expectation from us brothers was for us to study well and do well in life, both us brothers didn’t do so well in the former area. And this where the story of my under confident personality begins, a child who had not much faith in his abilities and often shied away from large gatherings of people. The education system I was a part of focused very heavily on one and only one thing ‘Marks’ or grades one achieved, this one thing defined just about everything in school and even otherwise among family and friends. If you were not scoring great marks, well you were pretty much good for nothing. This is something I could not totally get accustomed to, while I was good in studies and scored well till about my 10th standard… there on I lost focus and my grades suffered. If you scored well, it was assumed that you were good at other things too like debates, drama and other stuff. The focus on ‘learning’ was limited, but cramming up books and equations was high. As result my confidence took new beatings almost every now and then. Even the exposure at home was limited, my parents did more than everything they could to encourage us, but there was much competition within family too… we could not compete in marks/grades with our other cousins and hence we were the bad boys of the family. Out parents too had to face insult because of this and on occasions it wasn’t the least bit pleasant.

As I grew older I started discovering that I was good at quite a few things, and most of this happened by chance… I was asked to bowl for a senior in the nets as others were busy and I happen to clean bowl him twice, so suddenly I was on the school cricket team. I opted for table tennis as I knew I had no hope of making it through to senior basketball team, and one day I had to fill in for an inter-house basketball match in which I ended up being the lead scorer… what do you know I was on that team too. After a miserable 11th standard school results, I changed schools and I again discovered it was more than sports I was good at… here I was participating in debates, dances, plays and more!

I started my professional life at 22 years of age and as I was never shy of hard work, I kept learning and growing. As the work began and evolved, my interactions grew and so did my exposure to a whole new dynamic world. I wasn’t just working but I was brain storming, building new plans, executing new projects, making new friends and I was passionate about it all. I was discovering a new me, someone I had kept locked up all these years. Yes, there were set backs and failures, but there was a deep sense of happiness within even then. Each setback actually set me up for a greater and bigger thing in life. And as I changed, the attitude of people towards me changed too, I was welcome in their elite achievers club now, but by then I had made new friends… people who had belief in me and supported me through my troubled times.

I attribute a lot of good things in my life to my life learning’s, my friends and my family the most. Today at 34 years of age I am still discovering a new part of me every day, I am changing as a person, I am evolving every day. And from a shy, under confident young boy, who could not stand on the stage and speak for two mins, I can today present a business plan to a large gathering of senior executives. Back when I was young I could not have ever imagined that I will travel much ever, but today I have travelled to many countries across the three continents. I could barely finish a small hardy boys book and today I have a mini library of books!

And while as a child I was who I was, there was one thing which is true even today… I always had big dreams! I always wanted to achieve and I never ever felt sorry for myself or cursed anything. I had a strong belief that everything will work out just fine one day – and this is the key. As human we give up easily and face away from the sunshine and notice only the shadows. The fact is that some days are easier to face towards the sunshine than others, but sunshine is always there, you just have to try harder during hard times. So keep the faith, be strong and believe in yourself and in your dreams. You are in control of your life and there is a beautiful world out there waiting for you to discover it and discover yourself … Let no one tell you otherwise, BELIEVE! Be passionate, be cheerful, grateful, have lots of fun and work to be best!

For me, there are bigger goals to achieve, new journeys and experiences to be had and in some ways life only just begun and it’s beautiful!

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Dream Big Take Action Work Hard

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams – Eleanor Roosevelt

… and I am a dreamer! As important is it to have big dreams, it is even more important to define your dreams clearly so we are aware of what is that we really want in our lives. Remember Martin Luther King Jr. ‘I have a dream’ speech, such powerful words and so very inspirational. MLK Jr. wasn’t just a day dreamer with random wishes, rather he was very strong and extremely focused on the kind of America he dreamt of. Not just that he devoted his whole life to bring that dream of his into reality.

So should dreams be wishful fairytales?! Well, why not! Unless you unleash the power of aspiration, you may never be able to dream big, instead you may stay stuck with the ‘normal’ all your life. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf perfectly describes this “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough”.
Dreams need to be inspirational and not motivational – the difference being that motivation does not always work in the longer run or forever. Haven’t we all felt demotivated at various stages of our lives and continually trying to work around it or motivate ourselves? Now inspiration can be very different, inspiration is far more powerful, it comes from within and more from the spirit, it connects with our highest consciousness and awareness.

Remember in words of Walt Disney ‘If you can dream it you can achieve it’ however nothing will happen without you taking any action. So continue dreaming, nothing wrong with that, but work hard and stay at it.

Don’t just dream and move on, rather save your dreams, keep them in your face all the time… build a vision board maybe. Define action for each of your dreams, build a long term plan and stay inspired – remember All men of Action are Dreamers!

Always a Dreamer, my dreams keep me going!

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Your Thoughts Can Change your Life!

The thoughts we have and the words we choose to describe them affect everything in our lives, health, money, relationships, success, career… everything! The impact can be both positive and negative based on what kind of thoughts we have.

For some people the sound of something being scratched off a surface is uncomfortable. Imagine this… imagine yourself putting a sandpaper on the board and rubbing/scratching the surface back and forth. How do you feel… uncomfortable right?

How we think influences our emotions. Think of someone or something you absolutely adore, how do you feel? You feel love don’t you? Now think of something you dislike – your emotions change accordingly. Change your thoughts and your emotions follow. You want to relax think of place which has a calming effect on you, a lush green field or the mountains or a beach… now take your time and imagine yourself lying in the lush green field, or sitting atop a mountain or just relaxing at the beach. Feel the wind, the sun, the water.. hear the sounds.. live this experience in your thoughts – end result, it relaxes you.

Your Positive thoughts will lead to positive results and negative thoughts will lead to negative results – It always works!

I am as new to this concept as anyone else, but once I began to understand this I realized how I created both good and bad things for myself with just my thinking – it all tied back in. I mean haven’t we all heard “be careful what you wish for, you might get it” … this holds true in reality!!

We all have many times initiated action on a possibly tough assignment with a set of negative thoughts and we have failed and there also have been times when we have been faced with a near impossible task with a will (thought) to succeed and we indeed have – its is our thoughts which define us, our actions and the outcome!

Every good thought you think is contributing its share to the ultimate result of your life. You are either in CONTROL or out of control and it all starts with your thought! Change your thoughts to change your life!

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Self Motivation

I have always wanted to go out there and prove myself, but I was very shy when I was young, and soon it was clear that I would have to master this if I was going to succeed. My timidity could have easily held me back if I had not come out of my shell. I feel that shyness is very selfish, as it means you are only thinking of yourself.

The ability to tap into your determination is not an innate skill. You have to teach yourself to get up every day and keep going despite odds, by structuring your life and job to make sure you are working towards your larger goals. It is never too late to realize this and irrespective of how early or late you are in your realization, it important to know that we can begin today. There will be tragedies, there will also be delays, sometimes things will be in your control and sometimes they won’t, but what will always be with you is your innate drive to succeed!

If you aren’t good at motivating yourself, you probably won’t get very far. There will always be long nights and stressful days, but you will need to keep pushing yourself – no excuses!

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Arguments and The Associated Negativity

“You Argue a lot” – Haven’t we all heard this from our family, friends and colleagues many times over? Every time I am told this, in one way or another, it makes me wonder, why is arguing so awful? And what is so negative about arguing? If I have a different point of view on something, then why should I not question?

There exists such a negativity about arguments, that people are often told to not argue so much – As if its a sin!

My point of view is that, its is not the arguments that are so awful and terrible rather it is the approach we take in our arguments. More often than not we tend to let our emotions get the better of us each time we get into an argument – we get defensive, our mind gets blocked, and we go through such turbulence that we lose the ability to be logical.

This changed for me after I read Buy*In by John P Kotter. It is a wonderful book that teaches you how to handle attacks, but what it also teaches in a way are short techniques to handle arguments better. Arguments are a great medium of interaction for me, in fact they often lead to some of the most creative thoughts and ideas. Arguments have also helped me break ice with colleagues and friends alike.

Personally I take the Buy*In approach, I encourage people to shoot questions at me while I try and clear them not with lots of logic, but with simple common sense instead. I never try and raise my voice (mostly I don’t) and I listen carefully to the other guy – this really helps my own understanding of the other persons point of view.

So get into your arguments people, but be wise.

And as Margaret Thatcher once said –

” I love arguments, I love debate. I don’t expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that’s not their job.”

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School & College Learning and The Life & on the Job Experience

Does anything you learned in school/College really help you be better at work, or did you learn everything on the job?

Tricky Question eh? This popped just popped in my head while doing some online reading and I was immediately asking myself the same. Well, like almost everyone I too learnt a whole heap of stuff while I was in school, plenty of subjects, etiquettes, sports coaching, the parade and the jing bang, but how much of all that helps me be better at my job? I thought, I discarded, I thought again and by the end of all the thinking and discarding I said to myself that it wasn’t about learning things but about learning itself! What school taught me was how to really ‘Learn’ for if it wasn’t for learning I’d probably not learn anything even on the job. It also taught me to be social, it taught me how to practice, it taught me the importance of friendship and relationships!

We all learn our path by walking on it and while my college learning was non-existent and I can’t say much about that. I have learnt a lot through years of experience on the job, my various relationships, friends and mentors, each of them has taught me a new lesson. The key, I think is ‘Learning’ and the fact that it is a life long process and while a school sets you up for it, learning itself never actually ends after school or grad school or without having gone to one!

Never stop ‘Learning’!!

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Guru – A Spiritual Master or just a Myth!

As the word Guru suggests – gu means darkness or spiritual ignorance, ru means radiance that dispels spiritual ignorance – therefore the dispeller of spiritual darkness is a Guru.
But how do they, the Guru’s dispel darkness? Well, one cannot rid darkness just by switching on a bulb or by the rise if the sun because darkness is actually the absence of light -Light which brings us clarity. In life we all need clarity in every aspect to be able to see things the way they are. So, seeing everything they way they are is Clarity! The Guru brings clarity or dispels the darkness but not by changing us, asking us to be good, peaceful as that would only be temporary. The Guru brings about clarity in us – If we see things the way are and not the way we think they are, then everything will change. Guru does not brings morality to you, but brings Spirituality to us.

How can we find a Guru?
It is serious business to find a guru, but not an impossible task. Finding and accepting the guidance of a spiritual teacher requires that you be serious about learning, and willing to make that learning a priority. There are many kinds of spiritual teachers. In one sense, there’s something we can learn from everyone, so everyone is our guru. On hearing the word guru, we tend to envision a caricature like image: a bizarre-looking old fellow with a long, stringy beard and flowing robes, meditating on distant, esoteric truths. Or we think of a cosmic con man cashing in on young seekers’ spiritual gullibility. But what really is a guru? What does he know that we don’t? How does he enlighten us?
The guru’s business is to see that no human being suffers in this material world. No one can claim that he is not suffering. That is not possible. There are different types of miseries within the material world, and everyone is suffering from one or many of them. No one can say that he is completely free from suffering. We may then ask why the living entity is suffering. The answer is: out of ignorance. One does not think, “I am committing mistakes and am leading a sinful life; that is why I am suffering.” Therefore the guru’s first business is to rescue his disciple from this ignorance.
One may ask whether the guru is absolutely necessary. The Vedas (ancient Hindu scriptures) inform us that he is:

tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet
samit-panih arotriyam brahma-nistha

(Mundaka Upanisad 1.2.12)
In fact The Vedas enjoin us to seek out a guru; actually they say to seek out the guru, not just a guru.

Up until now we discussed the ‘real guru’ and their importance, but now switch over to the present day world. The guru today is like a commodity, finding a guru is not that difficult for they can be selected just like shopping in Walmart and they come in all shapes and sizes! The guru’s are like brands with big marketing departments and huge marketing budgets selling that one break through idea that will change your life forever! These are one’s one should fear and stay away from – for these are the False Guru’s. The Asaram Bapu and Nirmal Baba cases are two of many cases which have over the years shaken the faith of many disciples, caused them grief and left them disgruntled. Any Guru whosoever he/she is, whether Asaram or Vilaasaram can get corrupted! With so much power, money, following and more makes these people think they are God themselves!
And we might wonder why do you need a Guru at all??
There is no ready reckoner to identify a false guru from a real guru, but maybe the below questions which you can ask yourself can help you. If seven or more of the following describes your guru or spiritual teacher, then unfortunately he or she may not be be as enlightened or good for your soul as you would like to believe:

1. States his or her own enlightenment: The wisest masters tend not to state their own enlightenment or perfection for they know that it is both unhelpful to themselves and to their students.

2. Is unable to take criticism: False teachers strongly dislike either personal criticism or criticism of their teaching; they do not take kindly to ordinary unenlightened individuals questioning them.

3. Acts omnipotently with no accountability: Some spiritual communities are run like concentration camps, with guru and his chosen ones acting like Gestapo officers.

4. Focuses on enlightenment itself rather than teaching the path leading to it: It is amazing how much false gurus have to say about enlightenment. They argue their points in the same way that the scholars in the middle ages argued how many angels could sit on the head of a pin.

5. Does not practice what is preached: If a teacher preaches love and forgiveness, then he should act that way, at least most of the time, showing suitable regret for any lapses). If he teaches meditation, he should meditate. If he insists that his followers live in austere conditions, so should he/she.

6. Lives in total opulence: There is nothing wrong with living in luxury or being wealthy. But when that luxury turns to unnecessary opulence using funds that were not explicity donated for that purpose then you are probably dealing with a false guru.

7. Encourages or permits adoration from his followers: Avoid any group that focuses on the “master” themselves rather than the teachings or spiritual practices.

8. Runs expensive miracle workshops and courses: You are unlikely to reach enlightenment after a few weekend workshops with cheesy titles.

9. Takes sexual advantage of his or her followers: This happens much more than many believe. It is not being prudish to include this one because when a follower falls under the spell of a guru he or she is likely to do anything for the Chosen One.

10. Overly relies on slick presentation: Slick presentation can often mask poor content, and so it is important for you to look past the lovely music and video shows at the actual message.

11. Allows his followers to set up a hierarchy of access: A guru must be accessible. If he is not, or if he allows his followers to block your access, then he is playing the role of a king and not a spiritual guide.

12. Presents themselves as non-profit whilst raking in the millions: Often, the false prophet will present her teachings for free, whilst strongly encouraging her devotees to make large donations.

13. Acts like a complete paranoid mad person: If your Precious One acts like a complete paranoid schizophrenic or psychotic then he or she probably is. Run!

Hope this helps and always remember that if Eklavya could make a stone/clay idol his Guru and achieve a level even greater than that of Arjun, then why can’t any one of us?
in absence of a Guru in your life let The Bhagwad Gita be your guru and live by it!! ..
.

*Credit – ISKCON teachings!

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Karma, Action Reaction

Our Karma makes us who we are, it is what differentiates us from other creatures. Every time we do something, say something or think something, all our actions, positive or negative cause Karma. Every person is responsible for his or her acts and thoughts, so each person’s karma is entirely his or her own. It is in the hands of an individual to shape his own future by correctly coaching his present.

Karma sounds like a type of moral judgment. However, it is better to think of karma as a kind of natural law, like gravity or like the saying “what comes around, goes around.”
Hindu philosophy, which believes in life after death, in principle believes that if the karma of an individual is good enough, the next birth will be rewarding, and if not, the person may actually degenerate into a lower life form. In order to achieve good karma it is important to live according to dharma and do what is right.

As Lord Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita:

dhyäyato viñayän puàsaù
saìgas teñüpajäyate
saìgät saïjäyate kämaù
kämät krodho ’bhijäyate

While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment
for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.

krodhäd bhavati sammohaù
sammohät småti-vibhramaù
småti-bhraàçäd buddhi-näço
buddhi-näçät praëaçyati

From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of
memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when
intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool.

The Spiritual guidance provided in Gita explains that many sicknesses, heartbreaks in relationships, and financial challenges are directly related with karma issues. Bad karma is the spiritual debt one has accumulated for one’s mistakes from all previous lives and this life. It includes killing, harming, taking advantage, cheating, stealing, and more. While, good virtue is earned by good service, including love, forgiveness, compassion, peace, sincerity, honesty, generosity, kindness, integrity, purity, and more.

According to the ways of life chosen by a person, his karma can be classified into three kinds. The act without attachment, selfless and for the benefit of others- Satvik Karma. The act focussed for selfish gains for self – Rajasik karma. And the act without any care of consequences and greatly selfish and brute – Tamasik karma.

As preached by Lord Krishna in Gita, the discipline of unattached action – Nishkama Karma can lead to salvation of the soul. Lord Krishna suggested that one should remain detached while carrying out his duties in life.

When a person accepts the concept of karma, and tries to live his or her life accordingly, the effect is certainly not of unwilling acceptance and suffering. But they will srtive to guide their thoughts, words and actions according to positive qualities like wisdom, compassion and generosity.
Importantly, it establishes ethics that are not judgemental.

Based on writings on Hinduism by Mr. S. Das

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Visit to Anfield… My Mecca

After having travelled to 9 countries over 3 continents, I can admit that I have turned into quite a travel addict. I consider myself lucky to have visited some of most beautiful and interesting places. Each country, city and culture I have witnessed so far, has stirred my thinking and taught me something new. The experiences have been quite beautiful and each of these places has so many unique things to offer visitors that makes me want to return to them again.

But, that one place I was itching to visit ever since I started following the English Premier league in the early 2000, was Liverpool. A huge fan of the club since the days of Owen, Hyypia, Dudek, Riise and of course Gerrard, I just to had to visit Anfield one day.

I had never been to UK and didn’t seem I was going there anytime soon. It was the summer of 2012 when we got invited for my wife’s first cousins wedding in London and I thought to myself THIS IS IT! But when we started planning the trip, I gave up hope as I realised there were going to be too many functions and too many relatives on this trip and it had sunk in that I may not be able to go to Liverpool after all.

However fate had other things stored for me, my younger brother-in-law surprised me by booking the entire thing, the stadium tour, accommodation everything! I was touched as he is a die-hard Chelsea fan lol. Sunny didn’t let me photograph him even once inside the stadium, he could not let any of his mates see him inside Liverpool stadium hahaha. This is the only one picture I have of him

A road trip with my brothers it was going to be. Cloudy and rainy the next day, but we were all looking forward to the long drive. We had all been on long drive before but this was different, this wasn’t chaotic India traffic but a smooth ride all along and with a few mandatory pit stops on the way, before we knew it we were in Liverpool.

City Welcome Signage

It was past midnight, but none of us were in any mood of sleeping so after checking in at the hotel, we headed straight out to the city. It seemed most of the city was fast asleep but that didn’t stop us from hanging about and hang about we did, it was a weekend and suddenly we saw people pouring out in the streets… the city was partying hard! Pssst some pics I can’t share here, but here are some pics of the other city sites.

We had been walking around the city for over 3 hours in rains and that is when we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel. The Anfield tour was booked for 8:15 AM and we all wanted to get some sleep. The next morning, having slept for not more than 3 hours we headed straight to Anfield and I could not hide my excitement any longer.. I was going to the KOP!

Going a little mad

Finally inside the stadium and I was going a little insane and a whole lot excited. One after the other we just kept clicking pictures…
A Truly memorable trip, thanks to @Sunnysahdev for arranging this, I Owe you big time bruv.

And now the next one… to see Liverpool live in action @ Anfield.

Enjoy the pics folks…

The Stadium

The Stadium

The Legendary Bill Shankly

The Legendary Bill Shankly

The Front Entrance and the store

The Front Entrance and the store

The Memorabilia Wall

The Memorabilia Wall

Heroes Room - King Kenny and others

Heroes Room – King Kenny and others

Media Briefing room

Media Briefing room

Media Briefing room

Media Briefing room

Players Dressing room

Players Dressing room

The Legend

The Legend

The Visitors Dressing Room

The Visitors Dressing Room

The Legendary This is Anfield Sign to enter the pitch

The Legendary This is Anfield Sign to enter the pitch

Trophies

Trophies

Mancs Eat your heart out

Mancs Eat your heart out

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Fruits of Our Actions – The Dilemma

“You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

In a recent discussion with my wife regarding an important decision, a decision which could potentially have a huge impact on our future lives. I realised, that we are often confused about what action we should take or whether or not we should take any action at all. People from all walks of life, professions struggle to find answers to these questions and more often than not the confusion is based upon the results, the impact of our actions on others and our own selves. And, it’s not always an easy choice to make!

Newton’s IIIrd law of motion states that every action has an equal of opposite reaction and while it applies to motion it doesn’t necessarily apply to life. A lot of people we turn to for advise in our times of confusion give us suggestions based on this Newton’s law. But by applying this logic one has already started to think of outcomes and results, and that thinking has resulted in anxiety, happiness, ignorance etc etc thereby impacting the action itself.

This is exactly what my wife and I had done; we were already weighing outcomes and had slowly started to base our actions on the possible outcomes and not necessarily working on the ideal action itself. We were not only considering the impact on our lives but also the lives of our loved ones… and in the whole process getting insanely confused and unhappy! This confusion did not change that quickly, but with a little introspection we were thinking right again. Today, we are focussed only on the effort, the action … Today we are Not Anxious, today we are not unhappy and today we are not sad!

There are many coaches, books which teach principles to help people overcome this block. Some work and well some just don’t, as the human mind has been conditioned in a manner that unless open it will not accept what it does not want to accept.
To my knowledge the revered Bhagwad Gita offers best advise on all such things. The Bhagavad-Gita is the eternal message of spiritual wisdom from ancient India and goes on to state the below on human actions

karmaëy evädhikäras te
mä phaleñu kadäcana
mä karma-phala-hetur bhür
mä te saìgo ’stv akarmaëi

TRANSLATION
You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.

There will always be dilemma as life never ceases to pose questions, there is a tremendous amount of thoughts that we carry in our heads today and that can hit us badly, there can be a possible emotional chaos. The pressure is huge… Today we need a higher order of consciousness to tackle this dilemma, we need to augment our consciousness and evolve. The Bhagwad Gita can provide that evolution…

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Self Discovery – The road less travelled

The truth of life, he who exists will perish one day!
We all know this, but we are in too deep with our karmi lives to spare much thought about the same. We are always on the move but never sure of where we are actually headed, living our lives with little or no awareness of who we actually are, we live and we die while we live. Just moving around in a circle of daily to-do’s home, work, meetings, social gatherings.. it’s always the same. How often do we pause to reflect, to explore?
It recently came to mind that I want to do more with my life, for myself, for the people around me and the world in general. But I am scared and possibly not even prepared for this trip…
This is my very first attempt at blogging, writing in general and while I have been itching to get started; it is today when I finally write and I realise that it is a powerful and a self discovery tool. Today, I want to venture into new territories and begin life afresh, with new vigour, courage, joy and a bucket list – things to do before I die! My self discovery begins today…
More posts on their way folks, stay tuned.

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Life Choices -We make them, but do they really make us?

Should I quit my job? Should I study further? Should I not? 2015, was a year of some major life choices for me personally.

Well, I did quit my job, but sadly I could not go on for further studies either. Instead, I was jobless for almost a year. Do I look back at the time and regret it? Not really! I had done my due diligence – weighed in the pros and the cons, and it all seemed to line up perfectly tilting for me to put in my papers and take a leap forward.

Our fear that we may make a wrong choice more often than not pushes to not make a choice at all – all too much internal debate!

Over the past few years, I have learned that the ‘Situations’ are never going to be in our control. The ‘Result’ too, will never be known in advance. However, if anything, only and only our ‘Reaction’ to the situation will always be our ‘CHOICE’ to make.

Personally, I feel the more time we spend analyzing the many options, the more confusing it will get, and the more indecisive we will end up being. We need to focus more on the moment, the NOW. We are always coming up some random hypothetical situations and just switch off from the moment – too much time is spent in thinking, lamenting on stuff that probably has not even happened and probably never will, yet we worry ourselves to death.

I, for instance, did my calculations,  made all plans and not much became of it all. My pros and cons were all hypothetical, giving deceptive reasoning to the choices at hand. We are all like this in more ways than one, but were we always like this? Each choice has provided us with learning, a lesson has been taught to us always – and it is not always been a bad one. I am not saying we be rash, certainly not. But, a little bit of spontaneity is probably most essential. What I am saying is that we do not create random algorithms of consequences, and then base our choices on those hypothetical circumstances. Think, by all means, think before you make a choice, but a little less please – you will find joy, I can assure you that. A bit of passion, impulsiveness will add to the journey we are on.

Life, as we know is what happens to us between our Birth and Death. Life is about Choices – Some, we will regret. some will haunt us forever. Some we will be proud of. In the end, if we are happy, then we will know that our ‘choice’ was not the wrong one. After all, what we yearn for most is happiness. Who knows some of our so-called wrong choices might bring us to ‘RIGHT’ places. 

 

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