This blog has little bit of everything...

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Online Presence: 15 Seconds Of Fame Or Your Personal Brand?

Usage of social media is very different for businesses and individuals. Organizations have their digital marketing strategies in place to promote their content on social media; on the other hand, for individuals, the usage of social media is mostly centered on sharing their personal memories, experiences and feelings with their near and dear ones. Most individuals are able to utilize the social media in the right way but for some individuals social media platform has become an addiction that they can't get rid of. Unknowingly they are damaging thier lives by not knowing how to use the social media in the right way. Here let us look at one such example:

Jennifer is excited today!
Well excited sounds a bit trivial, she is actually delirious with joy. Her mother Maria isn't really sure why her daughter is so happy? Is it because her boyfriend proposed her to get married? Well, that's not possible, because Jennifer doesn't have a boyfriend yet. So is it because Jennifer was just awarded her Ph.D.? No, that's not true either because Jennifer just turned 16 last month, Ph.D. sounds a bit too much for this school going youngster.

Then what is the reason for Jennifer's great mood today?

Would you believe that the real reason for Jennifer's excitement is her latest Facebook profile picture!!! Yes, she posted her latest selfie on Facebook 2 hours ago and it has got her around 247 likes, 38 comments and 19 shares. Jennifer is so happy with the reaction she got on social media that she is monitoring the likes, comments and shares on her profile picture every 10 minutes. This is one example of addiction to social media.

There is nothing wrong with updating your profile picture on social media, the problem starts when one starts chasing fame and false sense of achievement through this medium. The above is just one example of how folks around the world today are engaged on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Quora and some other leading social websites in search of instant gratification and 15-20 seconds of fame. This mad rush for instant gratification does more damage than what appears on the surface. Incidents of people meeting accidents while clicking selfies are common these days. Some people have even lost their lives while clicking selfies. This 15-20 seconds of fame is not doing us any good, it is high time that we become our own critics and analyze how we use social media. Are we in control? Or have we become addicted?

Answers to these simple question will help you find out if you are addicted to social media:

  • Do you post on social media and continuously monitor if people are responding to your post?
  • Do you pick up your phone at night to check time but end up browsing Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter?
  • Do you feel a (false) sense of achievement if your social media post gets likes and upvotes?
  • Do you have an abnormally high frequency of clicking selfies for updating your Whatsapp DP and Facebook profile?
  • Do you follow/ watch content that is not relevant to you in anyways?

If your answer to most of these questions is 'Yes' then be warned, you are either addicted to social media or are about to get addicted very soon.

Here are some suggestions to get in control before it becomes too late:

  • Regulate your usage of social media, that is, fix a time to check your Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter messages. Don't use it every now and then because you are free.
  • Don't follow people or topic that are not relevant to you. This will make sure that you get only relevant content in your feed.
  • Be responsible when you upvote, like, comment or share any post. Note that if you are not responsible in sharing your content then it sends junk content into the feed of your friends and followers.
  • Keep a close watch on your younger ones to see if they are using the social media in the right way. Your younger kids, siblings and friends may need guidance or parental guidance.
  • Don't fall prey to cheap tricks and fast money making traps on the Internet.
  • Subscribe to the right channels and RSS feeds to get the right content delivered to you in your inbox.
  • Install aggregator apps on your mobile, this will save your time and you won't need to install multiple apps.

Social media provides a great platform to build your personal brand. Your online presence and activity help you create your personal brand which has both tangible and intangible benefits. Your followers should be able to get the value by following you on Facebook or Twitter. Realize the power of social media, focus on the long term gain, don't just get hooked to the 15-20 seconds of fame. Number of likes and upvotes are not your achivements, they are just a source of motivation for you to do even better in future. So next time you click a picture make sure you click because it is a great moment to cherish not just because you want to update your profile picture.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

How Being Action Oriented Takes You Way Ahead Of Competition?

Lets face it. Most of us have a problem with being action oriented. Most of us love to tell ourselves: 
I will do it tomorrow or I will do it after sometime or some other day. 

Most of us realize that few tasks are really important for our personal growth. But we always find one reason or another to postpone these tasks. Here are the most common reasons or lies we tell ourselves:
  • I am physically fit, I don't need to exercise daily. I will do it when I need it.
  • I am not yet ready for a job change or role change. I don't want to take additional responsibility as of now. I am happy with what I have.
  • I know this certification is important for me but I will do it next month because the festive season has just started I have guests visiting my place and on top of that I have to attend my cousin's wedding this month.
Even though these are extremely important actions but still we are reluctant to do things for our future. Have you ever wondered why? Let us look at some of the top causes/ reasons:

  • Undervaluing the future. The future prospect looks lucrative to you but is not exciting enough for you to act. In the back of your mind you probably undervalue it.
  • You may also be overvaluing the present. That is the cause of being in the comfort zone. One day when you realize that the current comfort will not last forever, that day, action will happen automatically. Don't wait for that day.
  • Not valuing at all. There is a possibility that you have not even understood the impact of inaction and not rightly valued the future. Probably you are ignorant. For example, look how small investments can grow by power of compounding. How To Make Rs 65 Lakhs By Investing Rs 12,500 Per Month?.
  • Procrastination. You may have the habit of prioritizing the lesser important tasks over more important tasks because the lesser important tasks are more pleasurable.
  • Plain laziness. There is a possibility that you are just plain lazy. You just love to be laid back. This is a difficult fact to face but be honest with yourself, check it out for yourself and fix it on top priority.
So we are our biggest competitors, more than the others the fight is within us to beat ourselves and become the best version of us.

Here are some of the tools/ techniques to get better and beat ourselves...

The reason why I am able to write some of the above points is because I have experienced some of these myself. Here is what I suggest we should do...

Be focused

A very effective way to get productive results is to be focused on one job at at time. Avoid patterns of Brownian motion in the way you think and act. Once you have decided your goal and chosen the path that you want to take then stick to it. Don't make frequent changes in your action plan. If you make frequent changes then there are chances that you may get lost in the path to success.
Utilize Short Spurts
Another idea is to utilize ‘Short spurts’ of energy and passion. Here is what I do…
Push myself to do a little more in my short spurt…
  1. When I go for a walk or a jog. I keep a target and then push myself a little more to go for one extra lap.
  2. When I give myself a target of writing 1 blog post per week, I push myself to write 1 or 2 extra blog posts for the month.
  3. When I am about to finish my work I check the list of pending items and push myself to complete one more additional task for that day.
Pomodoro Technique

As per Wikipedia the Pomodoro technique is defined as below:
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are named pomodoros, the plural in English of the Italian word pomodoro (tomato), after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a university student. The method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility.
Utilize this time management technique to be focused on your task and work on it for 25 minutes without any distraction. You can set a timer to record the time and take about 5 minutes breaks between consecutive pomodoros. While in a pomodoro you can note down any mental distractions/ thoughts on a paper but if the distraction is bigger then you may need to abandon the pomodoro and start over again because a pomodoro is 25 minutes of focused time where you can work on a task with full flow and with undivided attention.

Last but not the least, develop a habit of delayed gratification and try to get away from instant gratification. This will help you plan for a better future. 

The point I am trying to make is, (a) be focused (b) when you know that you are doing well in your short spurt then just push yourself a little more (c) Utilize time management techniques like pomodoro to get maximum results (d) Live life to the fullest, enjoy the present moment but make every possible effort for a better tomorrow. Because even before you blink, today will become yesterday and tomorrow will become today.

Small is beautiful, lets us learn to appreciate the value of small efforts. This will help you become action oriented and be the best version of yourself. Eventually you will be able to finish more tasks than what your competitors do. As a result you will be able to draw that little competitive advantage which you can utilize to stay ahead of them in anything and everything you do.

Remember the quote: Success is the sum of small efforts - repeated day in and day out.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Is Your Business Ready For Disruptive Platform Innovation?

I recently read a message on whatapps which said...

  • Whatsapp messaging killed Mobile messaging(SMS)
  • Youtube killed DVDs
  • Skype killed international calling
  • Amazon killed real shopping in malls
  • Facebook killed meeting friends in real

The points mentioned above are not entirely correct. They are partially correct though. It signifies the fact that what is relevant today may not be relevant tomorrow, today's in demand thing may become outdated after few years. 

Businesses change with each passing day. This has been the trend since so many years now. Let us look at one of key example which stands out.

How the music industry changed?

Record Discs gave way to cassette players/ VCRs

Cassette players/ VCRs gave way to CD ROMs/ Blue ray disks

CD ROMs/ Blue ray disks gave way to USB storage devices

USB storage devices gave way to Cloud storage/ Google Drive/ Youtube etc

What is the resulting impact of these changes?

  • Now you can't run a video library business which gives Video cassettes on rent, instead the customer has options to rent movies online, for example on Netflix.
  • Laptops do not have a CD drive these days, that means the CD ROM manufacturers and CD Drive manufacturers are out of business.
  • Storage space has become cheaper by the day so you can have a 64 GB memory on your smartphone and upload or download video/ content directly from your phone onto a common cloud location for sharing or retrieval in future. That means, USB drive and USB storage devices are getting out of business too.
Another example, Internet TV is a reality now and all the TV channels are now available as apps so very soon the cable tv service providers like AT&T, Comcast, Tatasky, Videocon, Reliance etc. will not provide a cable connection to your home or install a dish on your home. All TV channels will be telecast directly using an internet connection and will be played using a app on your TV set. Television set as a hardware may be able to survive just because it provides a larger screen as compared to what a mobile or tablet does.

What happened in the last few years?

With technology innovations the next big change is seen with the replacement of hardware by software, where possible. Initially I was not able to understand how a software can replace a hardware and then one day I realized that the apps/ software on my smartphone have infact replaced many hardware. Let us look at some of the hardware which have changed their forms:

No#1 Transistor or a Radio used to be a hardware earlier, now it is a software sitting on your smartphone

No#2 Camera (photo or video) used to be a hardware, now it is a software on your mobile.

No#3 Wrist watch too has been converted into a software, ditto for stop watch, alarm clock etc.

No#4 Books/ Newspaper/ Magazines have taken a digital form and with gadgets like Amazon Kindle reading has become a different experience all together.

What is happening now?

Traditional businesses are getting transformed. The world today is moving towards platform based online businesses. Consider this (a) Uber is an example of a taxi service which does not own a single car/ taxi but it still is one of largest taxi service in the world and (b) AirBnB who does not own a single hotel is one of the largest online marketplace that enables people to list, find, then rent vacation homes. These are examples of disruptive innovations.

So what should I do now?

  • Re-look at the business you own.
  • If your business is not on internet, figure out how you will take your business online.
  • If your business is already online then it would be wise to do a quick SWOT analysis(Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats) and figure out how you will sustain or save yourself from disruption. Also look at the opporutnities to disrupt and expand your business.

At last remember, this is the era of digitization and IOT(Internet of Things). If you dont disrupt yourself, someone else will.