Songs


Ok Ok so I had said I will not post for a while but this came to my mind and I just had to post.

Songs are such an integral part of our lives. Usually they fill in a void. When you are doing nothing. When you are driving. Or even when you want to silence the world around you.

In my profession, jingle always played an important role. It became the audio identifier for a piece of communication. Sadly though, now a jingle is just a piece of cacophony. the soul has gone missing.

Similarly, the soul had gone missing from songs for past couple of decade or so (my personal view).

Of late though, it seems to be back. There seems to be a focus on lyrics rather than music created through electronic crap. Over the last 6 months I have heard the songs that teens of today are listening to (having teens in the house is an advantage). While I will not mention songs (avoid getting judged), there definitely is a trend towards putting more into every song than trying to ensure that it gets sold and heard.

Through time immemorial, songs have always associated with the mood we are in. Or is it the other way round? Mood dictating the playlist. There are happy moments, melancholic moments, party, being with friends, road trip. We have playlists for occasions.

Songs and emotions, they go hand in hand. You hear someone listening to a particular song and you can probably figure out the mood of a person. Except if the song is special to that person… something only he/she identifies with.

We all have such songs in our playlist. They remind you of a person, of an occasion with that person, a special moment that was truly yours. Songs that make you yearn for the person. Or a song that you hear and you just want to share. More than photographs, I think songs are what make our memories.

Sometimes the same song can make you feel elated or melancholic. It is all a function of what point you are in a relationship.

For me, songs have always been about nostalgia for a long time. I had stopped listening to new crap. It used to be all about rock (I had written about this in a post called ‘Sunday Evening’). But I have dabbled with some of the new music and I like it (much to the consternation of my daughter. She thinks my generation shouldn’t be listening to these songs!)

Generation. Songs and bands have always identified a generation or a decade. They are a window into the environment that existed in that decade. One can actually travel back in time by just listening to songs from the past decade.

The funny thing about this post is that there was a thought in my head when I started with the post but it totally went missing from my head.

So how about this. Reply  with title of one song that you think is truly you. Symbolises you. Resonates with your current mindset. Anything.

For people on LinkedIn who actually reached this point in the post, it will be a break from all the drivel that you been going through by way of posts 🙂

Words


From the time that human beings moved from sign language to speaking, words have become the most important form of expression. Communication has been the key to the process of human evolution. Sure there have been other factors that have also led to the evolution but communication has been the most important. Most of the inventions would have failed if there was not a communication channel to help reach out to masses.

When it is about communication, can the conversation about advertising be far behind? 🙂

Advertising helped the masses in getting to know new products, new technologies, new ideas. Stuff that was relevant for them. Of course advertising moved from mere information dissemination to more evolved approach of plugging a need gap, creating a desire, making people buy something which had lot more attached to it than pure functionality.

But this post is not about advertising or communication. It is about words. Words that string together to form a sentence. A sentence that communicates what we feel, what we like, what we don’t life, express our point of view.

Long back when there was no internet, no social media, no communication apps, we relied on speaking face to face. For long distance, there was post – Inland letters for regular updates, written pages in an envelope about detailed stuff, love letters, fights, breakups. Everything had a ritual to it. Everything had anticipation. That waiting for the postman to arrive or checking the mailbox as soon as you got home. That first reading of the letter quickly. Then taking time to read it the second time. Pondering over words on the page. Trying to visualise what the person at the other end was feeling when writing. Lovers treasured the letters and visited them over and over. When a break up happened, a bonfire was made of the letters. The letters were burnt but memories remained.

Cut to 21st century. We still communicate. More rapidly than ever before. We type and hit send. And the fact that it is all instant (try this sometime. How long do you wait, how often do you go over what you have typed before pressing send), has meant that we don’t much bother about what the words can do. We don’t pay attention to the language or even to specific words. Words that may cause hurt, anger, love, misunderstanding. There is no crossing out once ‘send’ button has been pressed (of course apps are looking at building a recall feature – high time). The problem is that receiver too reads the messages instantly and reacts instantly. We say people have become more expressive today with all the fancy stuff they can do with emoticons and emojis. I say we have lost the art of communicating. Art of using the right words. Art of pondering over what we really want to communicate.

Back when we used to write, we would go over what we had written again and again. At times tear the sheet if we felt it sounded wrong. There was a clarity of thought. For the sender and for receiver. Not anymore.

Considering that we now ‘talk’ less and text more – love happens on text, proposing happens on text, sex happens on text, break up happens on text… we don’t think too much before typing and sending the message. We do not think of the impact words can have on the person who gets the message. Even when we read the message, we read the words. We do not try to read the intent behind the words. We do not visualise person’s state of mind when he/she was typing out the message.

It is a pity though. For someone who loves words, loves what they can do, it saddens me to see what we are doing to them. Not just in personal communication, but even in the profession I am in. The art of writing. The art of persuasive words has disappeared. It has disappeared because we don’t have the craft. The client doesn’t want too many words. The evolved consumer thinks in terms of number of characters rather than sentences. Thinks in terms of emojis. So we also need to communicate the same way.

We don’t read enough therefore we do not have the vocabulary to express well enough.

This though doesn’t matter so much. We get what we deserve. Of special concern is breakdown of communication between two individuals and that really is the sad part of being in the digital era.

Comfort Zone


We all have our comfort zones and we love them. They provide a sense of security and a walls that keep us away from all the supposed stress and bad things.

We fall in love with our comfort zones so much that we turn it into a fortress. We believe we are protecting ourselves but what we are doing essentially is saying no to a whole lot of things. We are rationalising our behaviour. Stepping out, bringing the walls down takes a lot of courage. We look for reasons not to do so. If we were to toss a coin, we will go through “best of three”, “best of five”…

What is a comfort zone really? The obvious answer of course is everything that makes us comfortable. People, things, products, service, our habits, our culture. You can add or delete to the list but this list essentially forms our comfort zone. We do try once in a while to push the wall on one of the things. Test ourself out. If it works, we will push further. But if it doesn’t, the barriers are raised.

But enough has been said and written about this, so wont go on and on.

Coming to the reason for this post. I have decided to test its limits. I am going to give up on smoking, drinking, non vegetarian food and sweets. People who have read my blog regularly would now my complete love for nicotine and how I look at it. The ones who know me well enough, they know what a big foodie I am and how non vegetarian food is such an integral part of me being foodie! And I do like my beer too. Sweets I have always been partial to desi sweets. Four things in one go. I am really going to test myself. And test the patience of people around me!

So lets see how it goes. I am going to work on the quarter principle. One quarter at a time. Forever sounds like a huge task and I don’t want forever. So breaking it down into smaller goals.

That’s a life lesson by the way. Do not aim for something really big and plan for it. Yes that is the ultimate goal but focus on smaller steps that will get you there. We usually do not do that. We aim for the big goal and create stress for ourselves when it takes time to reach there.

So here goes with my experiment of stepping out of the comfort zone. If this succeeds, there are more things to do. 🙂

 

From :) to :(


First up, inspiration for this post comes from episode 14 of #warikooWednesdays.

So the journey between 🙂 and 😦 could take a moment or it could take a lifetime

These emoticons just represent Happy to unhappy. From totally together to falling apart.

There is a lot that happens between the two emoticons. The initial rush, making you blind to everything but as time passes, the shift begins. It starts tending towards 😐 and then head towards 😦

The strange part is we can see the change, we are feeling the change by focusing on the flaws. We are fuelling the change by pointing out the flaws.

It’s like we want the shift to happen. Self fulfilling prophecy in our head. We are pushing for it.

Now why? Why do we do that? Like Ankur says.. why not live that first 🙂 over and over. Why let things change. There is no law of society or universe that says change must happen.

Ok I get it that nothing stays the same. If nothing stays the same, why should it tend towards 😐 or :(? Why can’t there be different expressions to 🙂 or :)) or whatever the other Happy, cheerful and positive emoticons are.

And no, familiarity doesn’t have to breed contempt. Familiarity must put you in a comfort zone. Contentment. Peace.

There is a reason 🙂 happened. So let that reason be the core to everything. That’s the foundation. Everything else is a reaction to what the environment is going to throw at you. Surely those things cannot be more powerful than the emotion that led to 🙂 if they are, then you have cheated. Cheated on creating the 🙂 moment. You were not honest about it.

This world is now full of emoticons and emojis. We have started bookending conversations with them. Or messages which only have these. Somehow, these emoticons have made emotions shallow and frivolous. If every statement has something hanging at the end, there is never a special moment.

Like I was telling someone the other day, we react to the words now. We just read the words and react. We don’t have the time or patience to read deeper. Read what has not been said. It is not about reading between the lines. It’s about traveling deeper into those words anymore.

We do try that at the beginning. When 🙂 happens. But it’s like that achieved, a box has been ticked. Who then has the time or patience. “If you want to say something, be clear. I don’t have the time to interpret the meaning of what you said.” That’s where the journey to 😦 starts.

Heavy shit for Saturday morning? Or is this :)) LOl ROFL or I don’t know what the emoticon, slang or emoji will be for “this guy is talking absolute rubbish”

But do watch episode 14 of #warikooWednesdays. Ankur has said lot more profound stuff in 5 mins than my long rambling here. Oh and yeah I should end this with a 🙂

Keeping up


It has really been a long long time that I have posted every day of the week. So I figured, let’s make this 5 days in a row.

As the title suggests, it is tough keeping up.

Keeping up with the way the world is changing (yeah yeah am getting old).

It’s tough keeping up with things that matter.

It’s tough keeping up with people who don’t matter.

It’s tough keeping up with expectations – your own and of the others.

It’s tough keeping up with societal mores (increasingly these mores are leading to stress in lives of many people).

What is our aim in life? It’s a serious question.

Strip yourself off the predictable answers about success at work and in relationships and then ponder over the question.

Strip away the usual answers that come to your head about being human or larger good. Strip away answers that come to your head that sound politically correct.

What have you got left? Nothing.

So why are you keeping up with everything that doesn’t really matter in your life? Why are you putting up a facade?

Isn’t it time you really gave it some thought.

50:50


Every decision that you take, either will be a success or a failure. There are no half measure. There is no point in being almost successful. It’s a failure.

Most people, while they want success, they are planning for failure. Looking at all factors to mitigate risks. We do this not just in business situations but also in personal life. We prefer to tread path which involves very low risk or no risk at all. We shy away from tough decisions. We don’t want to get out of our comfort zone. We look for excuses that will help us rationalise our thinking.

I know enough has been said and written about this.

But hey, 50:50… don’t you think those are great percentages??

You could do all the analysis in the world and yet not account for being blindsided by something that you did not take into account at all! That one factor which you were not aware of. Was not even on the horizon as a threat. Similarly that one factor that would have led to immense success but you could not see it and hence chose not to walk down that path.

The point is, you can’t plan for failure and hope for success.

The trick is to play the odds. Either you are a roaring success or a spectacular failure. Either way, you would have learnt something.

So why don’t we take the chance? Fear of failure. Fear of upsetting the status quo. Fear of losing it all that we have right now.

I know I am guilty of not taking risks myself. Well I have, but not when they mattered the most. There is time for a change.

Irrelevant


One moment you are relevant and the next moment you are not. Moment over here is just to symbolise time. The period between relevant and irrelevant can be longer.

What happens in the intervening period? Why do things and people become irrelevant? It’s not just about relationships, whether it is between two individuals, organisation and employees or two business entities, it happens with our possessions, it happens with technology.

The best example of technology that comes to my mind is how pagers became irrelevant so quickly in our country! We were just about getting used to the pagers and then they were gone. Cellular technology wiped them out. But then with technology, that is always the danger. Someone somewhere is always working on making the technology better.

But what goes wrong in relationships? Why does one individual become irrelevant? Why does an employee become irrelevant? Why does an organisation become irrelevant?

In marketing of course, a brand has to constantly stay relevant for the consumer. More so in this day and age where the consumers are evolving way faster than they used to. They are constantly in a state of flux when it comes to not just brands but even product categories. We, as part of the profession, are always finding ways to keep the brand relevant.

So what goes wrong in relationships? Why are we not able to keep ourselves relevant for our partner, for our organisation, for our employees and for our business partners? After all, these relationships are also being constantly battered by the changing environment. Why don’t we invest time (it’s all about time always) in relationships the way we do in our work?

What goes wrong? Why don’t we work on staying relevant? We are not a product or a technology that gets bettered by another product or technology. We don’t have to go through hours of consumer research to understand what’s going wrong, what is changing. It is happening to us. We can feel it. We can sense it. But we just let it happen.

There are enough books about how to keep things going but hell! We don’t read any of them. Books about personal relationships. Books about employee engagements. Books about perfect relationships. But do they work even if we read them. We tend to give up all too easily on another individual, employee or an organisation. Either we become irrelevant for them or they become irrelevant for us.

I don’t know if there is an answer to this conundrum but according to my very cynical view, it is all about money. Money is perhaps a loose term for all things materialistic.

We have become extremely materialistic and money minded. In our head, everything is about ROI. And time of course. Maybe it is also about the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility. Or maybe it is about flatlining. We believe that the time required is not going to justify the returns. The relationship has either flatlined or is on a downward curve now. Our time and effort is better invested in something that we feel is more relevant. So One becomes relevant and the other irrelevant.

We have become selfish. Everything is about us. Our view of who is relevant and who is not. But look around, observe, pay close attention to what is happening around you. Try to invest time in understanding people. People you have started thinking as irrelevant. They make look so right now but will the situation change? When suddenly they will matter. Will there come a time when you will become irrelevant.

Why have we stopped being empathetic?

There is a fabulous serial called Person of Interest. Watch it. In fact binge watch it. In a machine world where the machine and people running those machines decide who is relevant and who is not, there is a group of people who believe in human values. They make it their task to help those identified as irrelevant by the machine. Put faith in human values and emotions. Look beyond the spoken or typed words.

(Image courtesy wikia and fandom)

Ageism 2


Here we go. The article in this morning Times of India talks about it.

With only 7% workforce in over 50 age band, clearly most organisations are focusing on the young ones. After all why waste time on those who won’t be productive!

The talk about retirement age. A lot of countries don’t have a retirement age. But that stands to reason at one level. Unlike India, they have an ageing population. In India, the old had to make way for the new. Repurposing the old (some handful of organisations are doing that) as a concept will take time coming.

It’s what the larger population wants is what drives everything in this country. Witness the politics, vote bank focus is what drives economic policies.

We always tend to focus on the larger number because it makes sense.

I have no problem with that. After all, political parties exist to stay in power, the business of organisations is to increase profits and share value.

But this 7% is going to change in the future. It is changing already but just because the change is happening at an urban level, and when you take in to account the entire population of the country, it does look small so no one is paying attention to it.

But when the larger shift happens, as always happens in this country, we will be totally unprepared and won’t know what to do.

Ageism


This post is sparked by the controversy around Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Also read in the paper today how Virat Kohli is standing by him.

Why is age so important? Why do we believe that just because a person is old, he is not capable. In the context of Dhoni, is it really because he has supposedly become old so his reflexes are dimmed? Is it not possible that he was having a bad day that day? Of course the conversation about his age has been on for a while. Every time he fails with the bat, knives are out. But the moment he scores big, people start talking about how his experience pulled the team through. His reflexes behind the stumps are as sharp as ever. I don’t know how many of you watch the matches regularly, but next time when he is keeping wickets, watch him carefully. You will see it on his face. The brain is constantly ticking. His match awareness shows through. Now is it age or experience? Yes sports is a very physical and fitness is paramount but as you grow older, you learn to balance the two. Experience and fitness. He is lucky that he had Virat supporting him.

But look beyond sports. Ageism has become a concept. Except for India and few other countries, age has become a big factor. The population is old and therefore ageism has become a burning issue.

Traditionally, One has always believed that up to a certain age, a person is considered productive. After that he or she becomes a liability and has to be looked at in a patronising way. To be suffered till he retires. Retire by itself is a concept. Who decided that 58 or 65 or whatever is the age to retire? Of course one argument would be that place needs to be made for new people joining the work force. Hmm shouldn’t you create more jobs for these new people?

Driven by this thinking, there was a time when people would mentally switch off from work and wait for their retirement. It was almost like giving up on life.

But that mindset has changed dramatically. People want to stay productive lot longer. They want to work longer. They keep themselves fit and agile. Physically and mentally. But the problem is, the traditional myopic view hasn’t changed. All employers still follow the rule of defining when the person will not be productive. Hiring is done accordingly.

There are many things that go against older people. “He will be too set in his ways”. “He won’t be in tune with the latest”. “He will be a technological challenged person”. “Health will be an issue”. “He will be slow and will get left behind in the fast moving world”

Start ups started by 20 somethings tend to hire a younger lot. With. Belief that it is the young who is hungry to make a mark and will fit in to the start up culture better.

If you ask me, it is a lot of bullshit.

Couple of decades back, people used to get married at a much younger age so everything used to happen much earlier. By 40-45, a person would have done everything he or she was meant to do in life. After that it was just a matter of time.

But that’s not the case anymore. People marry late, have a focus on what all they want to do in life. Kids happen late. So the responsibilities start late.

Back in the old days, by the time a person retires, his kids had kids. But now the kids are more often than not, still pursuing higher education.

This is the realisation that has made people look for ways to stay fit, stay connected with modern trends. They want to be productive lot longer.

But the world around them wants to scream in their ears that they are old! (Perhaps the world thinks that because of age the person might be going deaf). It is hell bent on putting them to pasture. To sideline. To tell their life is over.

Experience has stopped counting for much. You see, the pace has changed, the way of working has changed and the experience of 20+ years is not going to be relevant. What will this old person know about Digital?! How will he have insight into the millennials and Gen Z minds?!

No issues with that. Everyone takes time to change but Change does happen.

Experience does count. In a rush to do many things at the same time, things are faltering. Lack of experience is showing. A Hardik Pandya will take time to mature. He will need someone experienced to manage the maturing process. That is where experience counts. Managing the process to be successful.

We see 10 things this, 10 things that of people like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or whoever. Notice these things have been tested over a period of time and have proven to be successful. Yes they all started young but if we talk about them now, we talk about what they learnt over a period of time.

In India, with its young population, ageism perhaps won’t be a big topic but over a period of time (after all the population will age too), ageism will become a topic of heated discussion.

Perhaps we should learn from the ‘experience’ of other ageing nations? 🙂

At this point of time, driven by a certain arrogance of youth, this post might sound like a venting of an old man but we all grow old and we all know what Karma is 🙂