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Saturday, February 27, 2016

6 Ways To Make Effective Connects

This week has been super busy but at the same time very productive. We were able to get a lot of work done and what I realized is that if you are really busy, you actually get a lot of ideas to do things differently. On the other hand, if you are not busy, you are actually laid back and at times lazy. 

Here are some of the learning from a very busy week, which, I wish I knew earlier:

That Power point presentation are not the only way to engage people/ make impact

Yes, PPTs are a good traditional way to share information and make a good impact but they are not the only way. There are multiple other innovative ways  that one can use to not only share information but also make a bigger and better impact on the targeted audience. Some of these ways are:

Debates: A discussion forum or platform where people get opportunity to come and share their opinion. A well organized debate helps in more than one way, it not only provides a platform for the participants to come and speak but also becomes an enriching/ learning experience for the audience.

Group Discussions: This is a very effective format when you want to test the ability of your team to analyze a situation completely within a very short period of time. Largely executed in two different forms of (a) Roleplay and (b) Case study. In role play, the participants actually enact or play the role of a specific character based on the given situation. While in case study, they are given a case study and asked to read, understand and express their views. Thanks to Kaumudi Bhat for sharing this valuable information with me.

Quiz Competitions: There is nothing more exciting than to witness a group of talented individuals compete with each other. Quiz competitions organized on relevant topics make a good learning platform for both the participants as well as the audiences.

Speak your mind: Impromptu settings are the most challenging. This is where the ability to think and speak instantly comes into picture. A 5 minute speak your mind workshop is a good idea for people to come and share their thoughts on random topics which may prove valuable to the audience.

Sharing is caring, you can actually multiply your time if you work together as a team

I used to read a lot of books few years back but then for no good reason, I stopped. Few days ago, I was watching a video on Youtube, it was about the importance or value of reading. It really proved to be an eye opener. I quickly realized that I made a huge mistake when I stopped reading books. By not reading, I had stopped a very good external source of information or knowledge for myself. So I asked myself, how do I make up for the lost time? I cannot read more than one book at the same time. So I needed a smart solution. This is how I think the smart solution would work:
(A) Identify a group of people who are interested in reading
(B) Get that group together for some targeted reading.
(C) Each one can read a different book of their choice(between the agreed timelines)
(D) Once the set time period is over, the group comes together and each one shares the summary and learning from the book that they have read during that period.

Effectively, if there are 10 people in the group then at the end of the exercise you get to hear summary and learning from 10 different books. Wow, that's exciting. It is really motivating to see your thoughts in action and even more exciting if the group/ team participates with open mind and heart. Sharing is caring in real world of grown up children.

Biggest secret of Stakeholder Management is Stakeholder Connect

We all manage stakeholders in our respective roles at our workplace. Who really is a stakeholder? Stakeholder is someone who has a positive or negative impact on your work/ project. It can be your team member, your peer, your customer or a key decision maker. So you have stakeholders all around you. Have you ever thought, how to manage them? While stakeholder management is a bigger topic, one important aspect of it is Stakeholder Connect. How connected are you to your stakeholders? How often do you speak to them? How often do you meet them? if they are global stakeholders, do you utilize technology to connect to them via audio/ videos? Answer to these questions are the very foundation of stakeholder management. Here are few suggestions:
(A) It is vital that we identify all stakeholders with respect to our work. No one should be left out.
(B) Identify a way to "Connect" with them in a positive way. 
(C) Develop an attitude of Gratitude and appreciate the good work done by your stakeholders whenever there is an genuine opportunity.

Remember like attracts like, if you make the first positive move there is a high possibility that the other person will reciprocate in the same way. Make a bridge, go connect now!

You may also want to read 23 Email Etiquette Rules Every Professional Should Follow

Sunday, February 21, 2016

How To Get A Green Card?

How to get a Green Card?

The best way to get all the details of the green card process is to visit the official website of the department of homeland security at

In this short article we will attempt to touch upon few of the basic things which most folks want to know regarding green card processing. You may also want to read a similar article on the various USA work visas here: USA Visa Basics L1A, L1B and H1B.

So what exactly is a green card? In a layman term, it is a kind of a permission or legal status or authorization granted to live and work in the United States of America. A green card holder is also called a permanent resident. There are multiple ways or categories in which a person can apply for permanent residency or green card. Most common categories are:
  • Green card through family
  • Green card through job
  • Green card through Status(Refugee or Asylee)
  • Other ways: Green card lottery(Diversity immigrant visa program), LIFE Act, SIJ Status
There are few more ways, you can read those here: Other Ways To Get Green Card

What is the difference between being a Green Card Holder and being a US Citizen? OR Is it one and the same thing to be a Green Card Holder/ Permanent Resident and be a US Citizen?

Having permanent residency, that is, having a green card does NOT mean that you are US citizen. In order to become a US citizen you need to go through the naturalization process. You can apply for naturalization once you meet the requirements for:
1. Continuous residence
2. Physical presence
3. Time in state or a USCIS district
4. Good Moral Character
5. English and Civics
6. Attachment to the constitution

By continuous residence it is meant that you must be permanent resident for continuously five years before you can begin the process(naturalization) to become a US citizen.

Note the use of word "continuous", there are lot of conditions that will come into play if you leave the US for six months or longer. If you leave the US for more than a year and return then the clock may reset and you may need to begin all over again as far as the naturalization process is concerned.

Who gets priority or preference for Green Card processing?

There are eligibility criteria's defined to determine who qualifies for green card processing. You may refer Green Card Eligibility to know exactly what are the eligibility requirements in each category. For those who are going to apply based on the Job or Employment need to know the following employment based preferences(as mentioned on the USCIS website):
First Preference: Priority Workers, including aliens with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers
Second Preference: Members of professions holding an advanced degree or persons of exceptional ability (including individuals seeking a National Interest Waiver)
Third Preference: Skilled Workers, professionals and other qualified workers
Fourth Preference: Certain special immigrants including those in religious vocations
Fifth Preference: Employment creation immigrants (investors or entrepreneurs)
if you have offer for permanent employment then your employer may need to get a labor certification and then file Form I-140, Immigration Petition for Alien Work for you.

You will need to go through CP, that is, consular processing if you are living outside the united states. If you are living in the US you will need to go through the adjustment of status process.

The preferences listed above are also called EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4 and EB-5.

It may also make sense to read and understand How Much Money Would One Save In USA?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

5 Ways To Separate Facts From Opinions

A lot of people around the world get confused while making decisions because they are not able to distinguish between facts and opinions. Most times they assume that the opinions/ views expressed by the people around them are facts and make incorrect decisions for which they repent later in their life. Understanding what separates facts from opinions can have a huge impact on your day to day life.

What is a fact?
Fact is something which is supported by data or evidence. It has objectivity. It is not ambiguous. It is not based on someone's viewpoint. It does not vary from person to person.

What is an opinion?
Opinion is a viewpoint. It is based on observation and experience of people and may vary from one person to another.

Here are five examples which will help you separate facts from opinions in your day to day life:

#1 My Salary is less than my friend's or colleague's salary

Opinion:If you think that your salary is less than your friend's or colleague's salary then this is an opinion not a fact.

Fact: You compare your salary with the industry standard using tools like or and get results based on your experience, skills and location then the resulting indicators are facts not opinions.

#2 Working on a IT support project is not as good as working on a IT development project

Opinion: Based on what is told by your friends or seniors, you start believing that an IT development project in Java or any BI technology or niche technology is better than any IT Support project or Testing project then this is an opinion and not a fact because what may work for your friend or colleague may not work for you.

Fact: First you list down relevant information about your profile: 
(a) You realize what is your interest and strength 
(b) You understand what is your inclination towards technology
(c) You find out the career path and future growth path
(d) You gain experience in various types of work profiles by participating in few initiatives and taking few risks
Once you have done this due diligence then you reach a logical conclusion about the 'Type of Work' you are going to pursue in your career. This will be a decision based on facts and not based on opinions.

#3 These days IT Professionals don't save a lot of money in USA

Opinion: Someone may advise you: These days you cannot save much money in the USA because the cost of living and expenses have increased a lot as compared to 10 years ago. This is an opinion and not a fact because it is not supported by the details/ numbers.

Fact: Suppose you gather relevant figures/ numbers/ data about the cost of living in USA and then make a logical decision that savings may vary based on the life style, cost of living in different states and state taxes then this decision is based on facts and not based on opinions. 
For example, refer article: How Much Can I Save in USA?

#4 Which is better Amazon or FlipKart? or Is One e-Commerce platform is better than other?

Opinion: Most people follow the advise given by their friends or relatives when it comes to Online shopping. This advise is generally based on their own personal shopping experiences. These experiences may vary from person to person and is based on various other factors hence these are strictly opinions and not facts.

Fact: If you really want to know whether is better than or whether is better than then you will need to do the comparative analysis yourself. Most e-Commerce websites offer deals and the best way is to search for each of the sites for the "specific product" that you want to buy. You may also get deals on better shipping rates or better offers on packages deals. So website 1 may sell a product for less price than website 2 but website 2 may sell another product for less price than website 1. One needs to collect all these facts before making any online shopping decisions. Just going by your friend's opinion may not work.

Fantastico Fact: Did you know that has 1000 deals daily, it is available in over 500 cities and 48 countries around the globe.

#5 Jack is a jerk, is that a fact or an opinion?

Opinion: Let's take example of people having opinion(s) about people. If some of your friends think that Jack is a nerd then that is purely their viewpoint. It may or may not be true. They are calling him a nerd based on their experiences or feelings but you should not get influenced by such opinions. All you should do is to be more careful or cautious about your interactions with Jack and find out facts about him.

Fact: Suppose you lend some money to jack and he refuses to return your money then you know for sure that he is a jerk. Another example, if some of your friend produces evidence which is concrete to prove that jack has stolen money then you know for sure that Jack is not a good person. In these cases you are not just relying on the word of mouth, you have enough information or evidence to prove a fact about a person.

Conclusion: Be very careful while making small but important decisions of your life. You may seek inputs, opinions or advice from multiple people but don't get influenced by such opinions which may not be relevant to your situation. Look for facts or relevant information which is dependable for making the right decisions.

If you liked this article, you may also like reading How To Stop Procrastination & Improve Productivity

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Why Say Sorry When You Can Say Thank You

In this article we are sharing some very effective tips that will help you manage your stakeholders.

Treat Everyone like a Customer

Treat all of your stakeholders "equally" as if they are your customers.  It doesn't matter whether the stakeholder is your boss or your subordinate, it doesn't matter whether the stakeholder is your peer or your end customer. Treat them with an attitude of gratitude. Here are few simple things that can have a huge positive impact on the way you manage your stakeholders:

  1. Don't leave any opportunity to appreciate the good work done by any of the stakeholders and be lavish in your praise.
  2. Small things make a BIG difference. Treat the office boys and the security guards with respect.
  3. If you are a manager or a senior manager then don't lock yourself in your cabin or cubical. Make sure you greet and talk to the all the employees and especially your team members on a regular basis. Try to remember their name, it makes a huge difference.
  4. Learn to add value by sharing your experience. You never know who may get inspired by listening to your story.
  5. Find out: How can you make your stakeholders feel better?What does this mean? It means that you give them 5 star treatment each and every time you deal with them.

Use The Feel, Felt, Found Strategy

This is a very old proven strategy widely used by sales personnel. We can use it too while dealing with our stakeholders in day to day interactions. It has three simple steps:
(1) Feel: Here you make the other person believe that you understand his situation "I understand where you are coming from, I can feel it".
(2) Felt: This is where you give him/ her some example from the past, for example: "Yes, I know Mr. X who had been through similar rough experience or Yes, one of my customer felt the same way that you do". By doing this you make the person believe that similar situation had occurred in the past and it can change for better.
(3) Found: "However, later they found that by doing X they can get Y", here X is something you want the stakeholder to do and Y is the positive result they are looking for.

Practice the use of 'Excuse Me' or 'Pardon'

Review your own speech pattern, see if you use the word 'Sorry' too often, try to replace it with 'Excuse Me' or 'Pardon'. This helps you get out of the apologetic mindset. Reserve your 'Sorry' for occasions when you need to offer condolences or when you have genuinely hurt someone's feelings.

Don't Say Sorry When You Can Say Thank You

Develop a habit to express gratitude. This will have immense impact on creating a very positive rapport with all the people you deal with. Here is a fantastico example: 

The way we speak has a pattern, it is mostly driven by our conditioning, the environment or the surroundings in which we have been raised. Most times we don't give much importance to these small things, but in the long run these small things shape up our personality. If we monitor our behavioral pattern and make small changes to our vocabulary/ speech pattern then it can result in great improvements.

You may also like to read: 23 Email Etiquette Rules Every Professional Should Know

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

37 Business Analysis Fundamentals For Beginners

What is Business Analysis? and Who is a Business Analyst?

Business Analysis is a job function performed by business subject matter experts. It involves analysis of existing business processes or design of new business processes from scratch.

Business Analyst is a role performed by a person who is well versed with the business process, policies, operations and functional/ domain knowledge.

The key responsibilities of a BA include:
  1. Understand the business need or business problem and covert it into detailed business requirements
  2. Drive design of business process solutions
  3. Collaborate and Liaise with business and IT stakeholders
  4. Engage from the very beginning/ inception of the project till final delivery and sign off
  5. Provide consultancy on improvement of business processes and IT processes

What is expected from a business Analyst?

  1. Skill and ability to visualize and understand the End to End business flow
  2. Strong analytical skills to understand and break a problem into logical units
  3. Domain expertise
  4. Excellent communication and collaboration skills to lead business discussions and arrive at logical conclusions
  5. Awareness and ability to apply industry best practices
  6. Conversant with business to business and business to IT communication

What are the key day to day tasks performed by a Business Analyst?

  1. Stakeholder engagement
  2. Requirement analysis and creation of business requirements document
  3. Understanding and documenting the "AS-IS" business flow
  4. Process and Gap Analysis
  5. Conceptualize and develop the "TO-BE" business flow
  6. Identify and document known issues, pain points and user experience issues
  7. Create training manuals. Conduct User training
  8. Generate business metrics to support the business case(s)
  9. Secure formal sign offs from stakeholders
  10. Perform business acceptance testing(BAT)
  11. Facilitate user acceptance testing(UAT)
  12. Participate in IT delivery or Go Live processes
  13. Drive business normalization processes post IT Go Live process

What are the key skills of a Business Analyst?

  1. Excellent verbal and written skills to communicate and collaborate
  2. Excellent negotiation skills to drive business decisions
  3. Good working knowledge of documentation tools like Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Visio, Project Planner etc.
  4. IT or System knowledge is not a must, but is a big plus in certain situations where collaboration with IT is required
  5. Project Management knowledge is a must
  6. Status reporting and proactive approach to report risks and issues to the management

What are some of the key deliverable of Business Analysis function?

  1. Process flows(AS-IS and TO-BE)
  2. Business Requirement Document(BRD)
  3. Business Test Scenarios
  4. Business Test Cases
  5. Business Metrics/ Reports
  6. Training and/ or User Manuals
  7. End to end business process view chart/ diagram

It is vital for beginners to understand these Business Analysis fundamentals because it has immense impact on the overall approach they take towards performing day to day activities in their role. At times, professionals with IT background get confused between the roles of an IT Analyst and a Business Analyst. I hope the above details provide enough clarity as far as the Business Analysis part is concerned. We will cover the IT Analyst part in a separate article.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

23 Email Etiquette Rules Every Professional Should Know

Here are 23 Fantastico email etiquette rules every professional should know:

1. The 1st commandment: Never send an e-mail without a subject(sending an email without a subject is a BIG NO)

2. The 2nd commandment: Understand and utilize the BCc field appropriately. Using the BCc field breaks all the email folder delivery rules and the message lands in Inbox. Be careful.

3. The 3rd commandment: Understand the use of "Recall" option and use only when absolutely required. At times, it is wise not to recall even when you realize that you sent an incorrect email.

4. The 4th commandment: Be careful before hitting the "Reply All" button. It should be used only when it is driven by business need and is absolutely important.

5. The 5th commandment: Avoid the use of CAPITAL letters and exclamation marks. CAPITAL letters are used to show anger/ yelling.

6. The 6th commandment:  Do not forget your english lessons from school. Run a mandatory spell check and grammar check before sending any email.

7. The 7th commandment: Always be true to your reader. Your email should provide value and be informative. You should avoid unnecessary long emails with text that does not make sense. Be concise, to the point and precise.

8. The 8th commandment: Avoid writing and sending email when driven by emotion of anger or frustration. If you are really annoyed about any event or person then it is wise to take a break and avoid writing about that person/ event on email. If you cant control your emotions then just draft the email but dont hit the send button. Give yourself more time to cool down. You will not regret about it later.

9. The 9th commandment: Read all emails carefully. Most times the inflow or volume of incoming emails is huge and hence people tend to just browse or glance through the emails quickly. They tell themselves that they will come back to this email later and most times they forget. One way to avoid this is to be organized by using features like "Flag" or "Categories" in Microsoft Outlook.

10The 10th commandment: Act on an email the very first time you receive and open it. Probable actions are (a) You respond to the email (b) You forward the email to someone else for action, that is, delegate to someone else (c) delete the email because there is no action required. If you take any of these actions in the first attempt then you save yourself a lot of time and avoid the hassle of remembering to act on it at a later point in time.

11The 11th commandment: Keep your email box clean. Thou shall follow a routine to delete all unwanted emails from time to time.

12The 12th commandment: Subscribe to only those email lists or mailer aliases which are required for you to do your current job. If you move from one team to another or from one role to another within the same company then thou shall unsubscribe from all unwanted email lists or mailer aliases. This way you wont get any unwanted emails, it saves space and network bandwidth as well.

13The 13th commandment: Avoid sending heavy email attachments on email. Explore other options like file transfer tools or common locations/ SharePoint to upload heavy files and then share URL of the location where the file has been uploaded. Make sure that the intended audience has access to the common location/ SharePoint.

14The 14th commandment: Keep all the required individuals and mailer aliases/ lists copied in Cc. This way everyone is in loop of all important business communications. If you avoid copying the required individuals/ mailer lists and engage in one on one emails then there are chances that you will end up taking ownership of issues or escalations.

15. The 15th commandment: Avoid use of red font or red color to denote/ indicate a problem/ issue.

16. The 16th commandment: Use uniform type, size and color of font in a single email. Use of more than one color is generally avoided.

17. The 17th commandment: Never print an email unless absolutely required. All official email printouts should be shredded/ destroyed as soon as its purpose is served.

18. The 18th commandment: Avoid sending one liners. Emails with just "Thank You" or "Ok" don't make any sense.

19. The 19th commandment: Do not use chat etiquette on email. For example, use of short forms like "k for Ok", "ur for Your", "4 U for For You" are not appropriate on email communication.

20. The 20th commandment: Avoid multiple email exchanges and pick up the phone when necessary. Understand that not all issues can be resolved on email and at some point in time it is wise to discuss on phone or discuss in person. This leads to faster resolution.

21. The 21st commandment: Avoid getting personal on email. Business communications should be done in professional manner. Thou shalt keep privacy and confidentiality compliance in place.

22. The 22nd commandment: Always include a valid signature in your email so that the receiver understands who you are, what team you work for and what are your alternate contact details.

23. The 23rd commandment: Keep an eye on the junk or spam folder. At times few legitimate emails may get routed to spam or junk folder. If you don't keep an eye on this folder then there are chances that you may miss some important email communications.

Following the above tips will have an immense positive impact on your professional rapport.

You may also like to read: 10 Reasons Why Some People Are Smarter Than Others 

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.