What We Learn After Being Trumped

When it comes to politics or political affairs, I generally tend to take a more neutral stand. Why? Well, you know how politics is – the government in charge is always right and the opposition is always left (wrong). While from an outsider’s view, no one would be right. Holistically, it’s a group of morons arguing on issues which are not relevant only to divert the attention from the issues which need focus. The tricky bit is for the common man who gets twisted in between.

Often, people in politics are marred by controversies, allegations, and linked to all the bad things you could think of. Majority of times, these hold true. So it becomes very hard for a person like me, who acts on logic, reasoning, and educated decision. Then again, I’ve found myself witnessing situations which would defy all odds. Take for example the current political situation in the US. There was so much noise about the behaviour and policies which the elected president depicted. He was bold, rude, unethical, and what not? Yet, he managed to conjure the magic on people to cast vote for him.

There he is! Sitting in that oval office and making some of the most bizarre policies and carrying out orders, the repercussions for which could be unparalleled in times to come. What baffles me is reaction of people who are out on streets marching and protesting about the steps taken by the new president, in his words to protect the country. Surely, you knew this was coming! Then why in god’s name would you elect him in the first place. It’s only been a week since he has taken oath, and there are talks about impeachment doing the rounds. Seriously?! Like insanely seriously?! Don’t you have any other work than playing this election game? Can you spare the funds, the energy, the time, and everything which goes in to making fool of people; all over again?

It’s a new world for him and things have been bit hasty and bleary, but you ought to give the new president some chance, at least that’s what his party and supporters would tell. Or else take a stand and fight for your rights, well you can try as you will. Either ways, please wake up before it’s too late and start making some informed decisions. If you let these politicians get to you, play you, and manipulate you (mind you which they are awesome at) then you don’t get to complain. Moreover, you can’t win any war alone, so you need to learn to be selfless and caring and really mean what you stand for.

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

 

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What’s The Best Way To Learn?

­­­­­I recently read a story where a pottery teacher put his class in two groups, and asks one group to go through the formal phases of learning: planning, analysis, and so on, while the other group is asked to learn the hard way: learning while applying. In the end, the products from latter are deemed better of the lot. The idea (how I see it) was simple, the more you spend time on doing something practically, the more you learn. When you’re left to do things on your own, you feel competitive, you feel creative, and a sense of achievement runs through you when you accomplish a task on your own. Then again, the formal training gives you that cutting edge, broadens your horizon (knowledge), and increases the scope of your perception.

So… Which is the best way to learn?

Imagine you are taught how to swim at a remote location or somewhere away from the pool, but you wouldn’t be able to swim unless you try it out for yourself. You should be able to feel the water, its pressure, the amount of work you need to put in, and you watch others to learn if you are doing it right or if there is a better way to do it. Then there are people (let’s say bunch of trainees), and they are taught the same things. But, not all of them or even one of them gets it right the first time. Not completely, at least. They only get a hang of it once they start applying it, over and over again. It’s our initial fear which hold us from making that initial step. Information can prepare us for what’s out there, however, it’s limited to factors which the informant has faced or is aware of. There are external factors which are beyond one’s control, are often not well thought of, but have great impact on one’s (practical) learnings; something like knowing when to apply break, how much force to apply, or how to manoeuvre in heavy traffic.

Either you start learning about it or you jump straight in to doing it, the focus should be on continuous improvement. There are different ways of doing things, likewise there are different ways of learning. You do something and have a look at it (analyse or self-assess), if you are convinced then others may be. Then you can discuss with other people and get their opinion (feedback). Self-assessment and feedback can serve the basis of any learning. Most important thing is to take one bit at a time. You lose track of it when you try to over load yourself with information, perhaps while multi-tasking or overzealous learning. Have patience, learn in smaller bits, and let your mind absorb the information; then practice your learnings in routine.

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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11 Management Lessons From Pablo Escobar

Amidst the chaos and the political unrest in the country, a child was born to a poor family; who was soon to become the most wanted person of the time – of course for all the wrong reasons. His was a life which could inspire you, whether you are with him or against him. And, series like Narcos (on Netflix) made sure people get to know the story (well, snippets actually) and never forget this man, who some (in his circle) regarded him as a legend, yet maniac – Pablo Escobar.

There were many factors which provided a cushion for his rise and everything he did. Be it the political environment, the social behaviour of the area, or the natural cover which could have been exploited and used to one’s advantage. Even then, you need someone daring and capable to take the risks and make best use of every resource and opportunity available. Personally, after watching the series, I was taken aback at the audacity and ruthlessness with which he acted and offered “Plata O Plomo” i.e. Silver or Lead to anyone who came in his way.

The DEA agent, Steve Murphy, at one point said, “The bad guys need to get lucky every time. The good guys just need to get lucky once.” He may have been a bad person, because of his illegal activities and un-humanitarian acts, but he did manage to run such a huge empire for so long. At times, his approach was way ahead of anyone’s imagination: it was just wizardly. He impacted so many lives, in good and bad ways, and forced one of the most powerful country like USA to change its policies.

As they say, everyone whom you come across has something to teach you, and in spite of all the wrong doings the man had some lessons which he unknowingly taught us.

  1. Be Bold – Even when he was a small timer and was making a name for himself (you may remember from the initial episodes), he walks up to the police office and tells him that he pays money to every police office in the town and he will be safe … even if he was bluffing, he had the boldness and confidence which would make you think twice before doubting him.
  2. Never Play All Your Cards or Give More Options – All the negotiations started with a Silver or Lead, if the person was too afraid then he would join him or would face the ugly side of it. Rarely, there were times when either of these did not work. And when this happened, you re-assess the situation and act accordingly.
  3. Outline Goals and Work on Them – Since an early age, Escobar wanted to be a rich man and had a goal of accumulating 100 million local currency by the time he was 22. He did manage to accumulate, perhaps more, by the time he was 26. Slipping up or delays are not under your control, but setting up goals and working towards them is. “Imagine you were born in a poor family, in a poor city, in a poor country, and by the time you were 28 years old, you have so much money you can’t even count it. What do you do? You make your dreams come true.” ~ Steve Murphy. Even if you don’t follow it, the importance of planning is unaccounted. Every unplanned or unthought-of action will find its way to come back and bite you when you least expected it.
  4. Tap Into Any Opportunity Early – Every opportunity comes knocking on your door once, we have heard that before and it might be true to some extent. To recognise the emergence of a potential and take the risk to grab it early, makes all the difference between 0 and 100.
  5. Hire People for Their Loyalty, Skills They Will Learn on the Way – Hire people with integrity, who share your vision, and have a desire to work and grow with you. Every person who brings information to you, manages your work, or advices you has a place and value. Never treat them badly. It’s hard to find dedicated people, so keeping them loyal to you would be less expensive when you train them once, rather than training new people every now and then. A great leader is able to identify the individual potential, trains him well, and keeps him close always. One needs to be transparent to people close to him.
  6. Keep Your Team Motivated and Well Rewarded – You only grow when you have people who would put themselves to protect you. But everything comes at a price, even loyalty. If you treat your peers, your subordinates, and people who work with you well, motivate them, and reward them accordingly you would never have to worry about your work or anything else. It’s not the product or machinery who creates wealth and grows business, it’s the people who are responsible for their bit. A single person can’t do it all by himself, and it would be the dumbest thing to think.
  7. Protect Your Family from Harm’s Way – No matter how ruthless you are, you always have a weak spot. Whether it’s your own family or your co-workers, they are all your responsibility. When the going gets tough, you don’t put your family under the bus. A great leader will ensure their safety at every cost. He will stand by his people and not run away to protect himself first. Moreover, he will not let the blame fall on any other person than himself.
  8. Know When to Back-Off and Live on Your Own Terms – Violence or intimidation will not always work. The 1% time when it doesn’t work will be more expensive and problematic than the 99% times it may way or may’ve worked. There are times when external pressure is too much and you are out of options. It’s not advisable to take the bull by the horns, at all times. A great leader knows when it’s time to take a step back and re-assess everything. This is not an act of defeat, this is for the welfare of everyone associated with you. Moreover, it gives you the much needed time to re-plan things, the way you want, with less pressure and distractions, rather than being held hostage to others’ demands.
  9. Never Make Unwanted Enemies, Just to Prove You Are More Powerful – Yes, you have the money, the power, and the people to get things done. Still, keep a tap on whom you are supporting or not supporting. There have been great examples of people who were led to their downfall by people whom they groomed or supported. A great leader does not go around sunk in his pride and arrogance to offend others. Respect, is hardly bought, and is earned through your deeds. Never underestimate others or offend someone to a level where they make it their sole mission to come after you.
  10. Never Give Up – I almost admired Pablo Escobar for the courage he had. At times, he knew his end was near but he never let his fear show up. Just when you thought he was done, he would conjure a trick and disappear to safety. His approach of taking the problem head-on and causing ripples all around had his rivals sweat their pants, for decades. No matter what the situation was, no matter his options, and no matter where he was caught up or what he was left with – he just never gave up!
  11. No One Is Invincible – The moment your position and power gets in to your head, the clock to your downfall starts ticking! Your actions impact others, and you don’t want to be at the other end of the stick when Newton’s third law kicks in hard.

“Geniuses are always branded as crazy.” ~ Pablo Escobar

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There Is A Motivation In Demotivation

#How Managers Can Demotivate Team

After a long period of negotiations the project is won. The plan is put in place, the team is decided, and the work commences. Numerous hours are put in and people work day-in day-out without complaining. Even if they do complain, at times, they are made to realise the importance of the project and criticality from the client’s view. Not everyone is the same, so there are managers who will like to micro-manage their team. There might be many reasons for this, however the most prominent is the fear of being looked upon as less competent or to match up against the expectations of superiors. In few cases, the person really has a twisted mind and has a burning itch to control others.

These know-it-all will quash your ideas as they feel challenged, they will shift blameon you, and pretend to help you by guiding you to do thing their way. In an essence, they need a puppet or a toady whom they can control without making it too obvious. Once they have such people under their command then it’s no more a fair game for others who try to fight it out on the grounds of merit. If someone is blindly following them then they’ve to do something for them in return, to keep them sticking. So, merit goes out of the picture and certain bias comes in to play. The best part is, they will make it look as if merit was the main reason behind their actions. Some other ways in which such peopledemotivate others and spread venomous feelings all around – giving false hopes, making you work against unrealistic deadlines and expectations, and always finding a way to put you down. Their biggest strength is the way in which theymanipulate others to do things and keep themselves out of anybody’s imagination, so nothing leads back to them.

# How To Be A Good Employee

So when you walk in to the office, with all the confidence you could reflect, always keep your head straight and be passionate about your work, yet be humble at the same time. Being ambitious is good but one needs to be respectful towards others as well. Newton’s third law in quite intriguing when applied to one’s life. Your every action will bring along a reaction: like a boomerang. Acquaintance, colleague, or a work friend: they all have their importance in your growth. You’ll be surprised to see how an unconditional act of helping others will return manifold when you least expect it. While one bad deed with dig craters for you. People around you are your best promoters. Choosing the right experience, from previous jobs, and the values which you have learnt from your loved ones help you become what you are or will be in future.

However, there may come a time when you’ll be overlooked and not appreciated, in spite of you rising beyond everyone’s imagination and expectations, always being there in the need of the hour, and efficiently working on every project the organisation puts you in. Situations may arise when you will be dropped for people with less experience. But, there is a learning from every story which takes place in your life.

No one is perfect, so learning should never stop. Sooner or later, you shall find an organisation or a manager who would appreciate you and your work and be unbiased towards you. Your qualities will stand you apart, anywhere you go. As I read in one of the blog, you should acquire the characteristic of a rubber ball in you. When you are pushed towards ground, you let your feelings collect within your body and then you channelize them to bounce back; rather than cracking.

“You can either learn to become like you have been treated or learn to become the exact opposite. At least, have a conscious thought over it and have a pretty good reason for it. Otherwise, it’s not worth the effort.”

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How Not To Work And Get Promoted

We are often faced with people who we think are not good enough, or deserving of the promotion or success they get. We start comparing ourselves with them. And, even after thinking things a million times in our head we fail to connect the dots, and frankly, find no one more deserving than us.

Then again, we all have, at some point or the other, labelled people as technically strong, who really work hard, day-in day-out and have gained the expertise to move to next level. The next in line are people, known as opportunists, who work hard just before the promotion cycle or any opportunity coming their way. Then there are people marked with deceptive skills, also known as cunning, who know the art of getting things done from others rather than doing it themselves. At a similar level, there are some who are rather ingenious and take all the credit for work done by others. Last but not the least, are the sycophants or the yes-boss types who surround their superiors all the time and cloud their judgement.

Amid this mentation and labelling, we never see beyond the walls of our minds which are painted with biased opinions and, to some level, jealousy. Isn’t it obvious… that despite having no technical capability or any other skills, which we thought the person (who was promoted) lacked, he/she did something which we were oblivious to?

As Pat Riley once said, “Being ready isn’t enough; you have to be prepared for a promotion or any other significant change.”

And preparation in this case means doing that one bit, which stands you out from the crowd. Imagine a case where a person gets three things (perhaps a shirt) from a shop for you. The first one gives it to you as-is, just in the bag in which he got from the shop. The second one wraps it in a paper, but you could feel or guess what could be inside. The third one, puts the gift in a box and wraps it nicely with gift wrapping sheet. Honestly, out of these scenarios you would be most interested or curious about the third gift, I’m hoping. In the first two cases, you somehow know what you might be getting. However, in the last case you are intrigued and impressed by the looks of it.

Think of you as a commodity and your skills as features of that commodity. The more sellable or presentable you are, the better chances you have of growth. Everyone, who has been promoted, has either got it because they were good at what they did, or they made others believe they were good at what they did. It’s how things are presented! As I would like to say, it’s not the trade (you are in), it’s the trademark (you have).
Now, I’m most certainly not suggesting that you stop working, but start honing the additional skills, often known as soft skills. Going by the Pareto principle, one could argue that the people (who were promoted) did 20% of actual work and 80% of the time was spent in promoting or elaborating the importance or the amount of the work they did.

Conversely, for every 80% of work one does, he/she should spend 20% marketing about it. This means your work should be made visible to important stakeholders. A few motivation speakers would suggest that you take up any work which involves 20% application and 80% learning. Putting it in numbers would actually be subjective!

“I determine to render more and better service, each day, than I am being paid to render. Those that reach the top are the ones who are not content with doing only what is required of them.” ~ Og Mandino

 


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From Fad To Fade [Part II]: The “e” Which Matters

It’s all about perspective in this fast moving world. Think about The Sims, GTA, or Half Life, or any such interactive first person game. These are not just games people play: they live them. Sitting anywhere in this world, you just need a console and internet to be anywhere, talk to anyone, and do anything you like. Of course within the bounds of the game!

Sometimes I think, is this all because people are afraid to face reality? I wouldn’t dare to stroll around the town or walk in to a bar just to initiate a conversation with a stranger. Fear (of getting beaten up) would be the last thing on my mind. It’s the embarrassment I might face, or the reaction I might get from the other person which worries me. But, with a mask on (virtually), no one would know me. Moreover, the person on the other side will become playful too.

“The fact that all of this was happening in virtual space made no difference. Being virtually killed by virtual laser in virtual space is just as effective as the real thing, because you are as dead as you think you are.” ~ Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless

Oh no! I’m not against the technology or the advancement. In fact, being associated with so many social platforms myself, I have seen the benefits of it. I have been able to communicate with friends whom I last spoke in high school. I have been able to see what others have been doing (status updates), and share with my friends what’s happening in my life too. The important dates are reminded to me, and I can create social events to be shared with a larger audience. Most of all, I have been able to create a (limited) global presence for myself with a scope beyond my imagination.

But… How long can one continue like that. Perhaps, forever! Maybe not! At some point you would need to fill the void which has been created. People will not know how I speak, how I walk, or what kind of person I am. It’s our body language, our daily interactions, our manners and cultural values, and all our subconscious actions which define us. And, I can’t run away from the fact that behind all the virtual medium I’m hiding the loneliness, the urge to be known.

The darkness, which has stemmed within, can only be cured by rambling under the sun, meeting new people (face-to-face) and speaking your heart out, for a change. The limited light emitted from ‘e’ medium will not lead you anywhere. The inclination towards material world is impermanent. What’s lasting is your senses, your true self. So, go out and meet people, make someone laugh and laugh with them, make a connection, create some spark. But, don’t spark the connection, the relation just by sitting behind electronic media.

 

As C.G. Jung has said, “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”

 

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From Fad To Fade [Part I] – Difference Is Just “e”

As far as I could remember, it was during summers. We had just finished the last lecture of the day. I and some of my friends were walking, under the parking shade to avoid the scorching sun, towards the local eatery to grab some evening snacks. Couple of them were talking about social networking site, Facebook or was it Orkut, I can’t remember now. Anyways, the discussion got me intrigued and I jumped in between to ask, “What’s that you guys are talking about?” My friend, almost awestruck as if I belonged to a bygone age, replied… “Haven’t you heard about it?” I felt so down and out of touch with what was happening around me. That very evening I went to my college’s computer lab and created my account on that site. I spent some time understanding the purpose and features of the site. Since then, I have been a member of most of the social networking sites, largely popular around the world.

Years later, I wanted some details and was searching my username, which I was sure I had stored somewhere on my laptop, but couldn’t find it for some time. All I could do was to skim across folders and files, only to find username for every other site than the one I was looking for. Overwhelmed with the data I ran down, I asked myself “Why did I join all those sites?

The prompt answer which I could think of was, “It was a fad during those days” And I didn’t want to be the odd one out amongst my friends. Naturally now, I have a lot of friends in my friend list. But, does that mean I am in contact with each and every one of them on regular basis? I suppose not! The networking site have merely served as a contact book to locate and add (long lost) people to a list which I can refer when needed, perhaps rarely or never. Not to forget the meaningless, well sometimes useful, updates which we share. The number of people commenting of liking the post became an obsession, to level where people started posting status updates varying from “I Just woke up”, to “Going for bath now”, to numerous obnoxious shares.

Nonetheless…The charm, which ones got me hooked to these site for hours together, was fading now. I was starting to realize… the difference between fad and fade was of ‘e’. You must be thinking, “What a fool! He must be really bad in English.” Well… It’s not the grammatical error I’m pointing to, it the mental closure which we have attained due to “e” or “electronic” or the virtual lives we live. We all have loads of friends in our list, but we never speak. We send out smileys over chats, but we have a straight face while doing it. A success or a birthday surprise visit to friend’s house to wish him well has been replaced with a text or picture message, let alone calling up. To peak it all, sitting over dining table people usually communicate with one another over phone (thanks to chat apps) or are busy tapping and swiping (mobile) screen.

So is this “e” thing a bad one?

Continue Reading – Part II

 

Author speaks: I’m not here to change the world; I intend to make an impact on one soul at a time. If you like my work, please press Like, or better yet put a Comment; perhaps a feedback. However, the best appreciation of my work will be to Share this with your friends and your social circles (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, and others).

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There Is A Game Of Thrones In Every Office

game-of-thrones-of-every-office

We all have been there; overwhelmed with emotions and concerns of our family, friends, and neighbours for landing on to a job. The excitement of joining a new (or first) job is priceless. Some do it because they have to (or forced to), while other do it for pure fun; as there long term focus lies somewhere else. Not sure of their capabilities, or what they should pursue, these people are put along with others to learn skills and made to work on the critical project (defend the Great Wall); while facing all sorts of adversities.  Often, they are bullied by their peers (brothers of the Night’s Watch), or seniors for their inability to perform tasks (just like Samwell Tarly or better known as Sam). Once in a while, these people (mostly fresher) are able to pull off a work beyond their imagination. However, their ultimate focus it to become a maestro (pursue masters) and lead a peaceful life.

People like Sam often run in to project lead (like Jon Snow) who protect the team at every instance. Jon, oblivious to the challenges he will have to face, volunteered to join the team out of frustration from previous work, or for making an identity for himself. Despite all the struggles, he is able to make few supporters for himself; people who like his work and thinks he is better qualified to lead them. He knows nothing about management (or the diplomacy required with the job), nor is he aware of his true capabilities. However, he cares for his people and he is able to connect with them on emotional front. Jon can be unknowingly arrogant and naive, and will not be shy to lead his team to danger because of what he thinks is right; against his (unhappy) peers, client UAT team (Wildlings), and client (White Walkers). Somehow, he manages to get help just at the right time.

Every global organisation would have off-shore base (Winterfell) with a project delivery manager (Ned Stark), on-shore or headquarter (King’s Landing) with a client executive (Rober Baratheon) – this is the most sought after position, and the other departments (the remaining Houses). The departments often provide support based on the proximity, or an advantage they may get. For instance, the HR department is like the House of Frey (which rules The Twins and its surrounding lands, controlling the strategically important crossing of the Green Fork); who control the movement of people, or process visa applications. They often weigh their options before taking any action; pretend to support the people in need (like the Starks), but we all know are waiting for an approval from the managers (the Lannisters).

Being an old friend (or protagonist), Ned is forced (at times foreseeing long term gain, or to help with a difficult client) to oblige the king (Robert). At heart, Ned has his best interest for the organisation (Seven Kingdoms) and wants to help Robert the best he can; the trouble starts for him when he tries to find out more details about the processes, and gaps in on-shore ways of working. In order to save, his own team (family at offshore) he falls victim to traps laid by ferocious and competitive programme manager (Cersei), technical manager (Jaime), and others who want to save their secrets, their places, and rule at the on-shore.

If you are able to get in good books of these managers, then you’ll have a sound working environment. Consequently, you may end up like Sansa, or Arya. Sansa (was so eager to go onsite), had no real capability apart from the fact that she was beautiful, and pestered Ned so much that he had to agree. Her luck ran out after reaching onsite because she fails to understand the politics, or the ways of working. She is traded off to different departments/projects, eventually to linkup with her close associates and returns to off-shore. Now her greatest asset is her knowledge about other people, their strengths and weaknesses. Gradually, she learns and becomes bold and starts getting involved in management.

Conversely, Arya never wanted to go onsite but was sent to accompany Sansa. Tempted to learn new skills, she had no interest in matters of management. Her knacks don’t go well with the likes of Cersei and she is made to run away, only to join another firm. Learning from the experiences and loaded with some new skills she makes a comeback.

Morale: There are different people all around us, but their characteristics remain nearly similar. It’s up to us to decide what we want to be, or with whom we want to be. Spotting the friends and foes at the right time can prepare you to keep yourself away from harm’s way. High-born or not, in the end it’s your skills (natural or acquired) which will help you sustain and fend off challenges.

“You need to know it’s your actions that will make you a good person, not desire.” ~ Matthew Quick