This blog has little bit of everything...

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Is Your Smartphone Eating Your Personal Time?

How smart/ stylish/ trendy are you? These days a lot many people think/ assume that their smartness or social status is defined by the type of smart phone they use. Few years ago the social status was defined by the type/ size of house you own or by the brand of car you own. But these days the focus has shifted on smartphones. There is a huge misconception that the brand of smartphone defines your social status. For example, if you have an iPhone you are assumingly treated as grade A versus if you use any other smartphone then you are a B grader or uncool. The smartphone has really smart features, it has replaced your watch, camera, calendar, alarm clock and what not. But if it is not used wisely then it may have an adverse impact too. It is high time that we really re-look and find out if this smart gadget is impacting our personal life in any way.

Let us look at some of the smart applications that are eating into your personal time:


This app has revolutionized the way people connect with their near and dear ones and old friends/ companions. However one needs to really bring in some sanity into the way one invests time in using this app. For example, ask yourself these hard questions:

  • How much time do you spend forwarding jokes?
  • How much time do you spend reading jokes/ forwards is it these really worth the effort?
  • Are you a part of whatsapp groups which are completely irrelevant to you but you have to be a part of those groups due to social pressure?
  • Have you become addict to checking your whatsapp status? or would you do something really fruitful with the time instead of forwarding or reading stuff on whatsapp?

Youtube/ Voot/ HotStar/ Video based Apps

Video on demand apps are an integral part of smartphones. Few years ago television channels were the only source/ platform on which we depended to watch our favorite programs. Those days are gone. Mobile apps serving videos 24/7 have changed the game. However, as a user we need to caution ourselves by asking these questions:

  • How much time am I spending watching the same video content over and over again? Is it really worth?
  • How has this exposed our children/ young generation to a potential threat by providing them open access to adult content?
  • Is it possible for me avoid watching unnecessary videos and instead spend some quality time with family and friends?
  • Is it possible to be more organized by stipulating the time for watching videos?
  • Each family member getting hooked onto his/ her own smart gadget for long hours is a common sight these days. Is this trend going to impact our personal relationships? Are we sacrificing our personal time unknowingly?

Games/ Dating Apps/ Entertainment Apps

A lot of people get addicted to playing games on the mobile apps, others get addicted to dating apps like Tinder. The widespread use of these apps forces us to ask questions like:
  • Are our children moving away from playing real sports on the playgrounds? Are the mobile apps making them sluggish?
  • Is our younger generation falling prey to dating apps? Do they have the maturity to understand the side effects of using such online tools and sharing personal information? 

Some people treat these mobile apps as stress busters, they have a counter argument that there is nothing wrong in using the smartphone apps once in a while. But what they need to figure out is "how to define and control the frquency of once in a while usage" and check whether the continuous use of smartphone is adding to their fatigue level/ draining their energy.

Here are some signals which indicate that you are overusing your smartphone:

  • Your family members(parents/ spouse/ kids) have started to complain that you are always hooked onto your smartphone.
  • You feel restless if you dont check your smartphone every once in a while. 
  • You dont remember any phone numbers by heart, that is, if you lose your phone you will not be able to recall any phone numbers.
  • You have started to use smartphone for shopping stuff which you could have avoided
  • You keep clicking selfies just because you want to update your display profile picture
  • Your phone is almost out of memory whenever you want to download any educational/ learning/ official video or app

While I am writing this post, I am asking most of these questions to myself and still trying to figure out the right way to use my own smartphone. I am not against the use of smartphones but my point is more on the smart use of the smartphones. 

Smartphones have changed our lives in multiple ways, it has changed the way we shop, book tickets, find directions, perform banking transactions, watch movies, watch live sports, connect with our family and friends etc. With continuous innovation more and more smart features will change the way we work and live our lives.

And yes, I have nothing against any brand, I took the example of iPhone just because it is one of the most widely used high-end smartphones these days. But yes, by no means does your smartphone define your social status, so going beyond your financial capacity and purchasing a high end smartphone like iPhone on loan or EMI is plain foolishness.

Everything has its pros and cons so does smart technology. It is in our hand to use the technology and not allow it to eat into our personal time and personal lives. Let us remember that all of us have only 24 hours in a day, smart gadgets are meant to help us utilize this time in a smart way so that we are able to achieve more. It should not be the other way round.

Other good reads:
The Making Of Olympic Champions
15 Powerful Techniques To Pay Attention In Meetings
20 Effective Work Life Balance Tips For Professionals
39 Key Critical Competencies Of Successful Business Leaders
Is The Digital Revolution Going To Take Away Your Job?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What Are Olympic Champions Made Of?

At Rio 2016, Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps became immortal in the history of Olympic games. Rio 2016 may be the last Olympic outing for both of these legends but in the last 12 years both of them have ruled the world of sports in their own ways. They have proved to be the best every single time they walked into the Olympic games. It is evident that they are unbeatable, winning is their habit and it comes to them naturally. Fans around the world are Awe-struck with their consistency. They are real life superheroes who not only add glamor to the sport but also inspire millions of youngsters worldwide to follow their path. They are true Champions.

When you see any Champion of this stature, you are bound to think that they are special. They are god gifted. But is it just the special talent that is taking them to these heights? Or is it something else? Did they become Champion overnight? Did they ever fail? One needs to ask these questions to understand the making of Champions. What are champion players made of? How do they manage to stay at the top every single time they perform? And on the contrary why are some players so inconsistent?

After reading through the success stories of various sporting legends we thought it is worthwhile to share some of the key qualities that Champions players excel at, these are the attributes that differentiate a Champion player from an ordinary player...

It is all in the mind

Champion players dream BIG with open eyes. They set their targets high and work towards a plan to achieve their target. They hate mediocracy. They have the hunger to succeed and be the best in what they do. They first win the race in their mind and then on the ground.

Practice makes a man perfect

Champion players train themselves every single day, the performance that they show in the final or on the field during a match is the result of the hard work that they put into practice every single day. They don't give themselves any excuses, they just practice hard every single day. Consistency is the key to their success.

Mental Strength

Champions have far more mental strength than the other ordinary players. They concentrate and focus on their own strengths and at the same time analyze the strength/ weakness of their opponents. This helps them capitalize on the opportunities with the best of their abilities. They always think success.

Fitness Regimen

Physical fitness plays an extremely important role in the career of every sportsperson. They follow a very strict fitness regimen and have a much disciplined diet plan.

The Right Attitude

They have the right positive attitude towards their game. Champions have a very honest and disciplined approach towards their work. They have a source of self-motivation within themselves. They treat their opponents with respect and never let Ego come in their mind irrespective of a win or a loss. If they lose, they learn the right lesson and come back with double preparation. Who would believe that Usain bolt has lost 100 meters race to Justin Gatlin and Yohan Blake on two different occasions, but he has taken lessons from those races and come back even stronger to win 3 consecutive Olympic gold medals in 100 meters, 200 meters and 4*100 meters relay.

Coaching and Support Staff

What we see on TV or stadiums are the players, but the support staff and the coach work day and night behind the scene to bring the players to that stage. Right coaching and an equally efficient support staff are critical contributors to the making of legends.


Champion players need to make a lot of sacrifices to reach at the top of their game. Sacrifices may be big or small but every bit of it counts towards the end when the sweet fruit of their hard work blossoms in front of the entire world. Indian Badminton coach Pullela Gopichand said in a recent interview that he stopped his ward Pusarla Venkata Sindhu, popularly known as P. V Sindhu, from using her mobile phone for 3 months before the 2016 Rio Olympic games. This was required to keep her away from the social media/ news so that she could concentrate on her game. Not only that he also stopped her from eating ice-cream/ curd which were her favorite dishes. This was essential for her to continue her fitness regimen and eventually the sacrifices paid out when P.V Sindhu won the Woman's Single Badminton Silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Family Support

Other than the support staff and the coach, family members of Champion players play a very large role in their making. Not every player has the luxury or the financial support at home to get best of the training facilities. This is where the support from the family and friends come in handy. The trust and backing of parents, siblings, relatives and friends all contribute in a big way towards the making of great sport personalities.

Ability to adapt to the situation

Unlike others Champions have the tact sensitivity to adapt to the new conditions. They don't let the surroundings, climate changes and location changes impact their game. Sometime they may not get best of the facilities in the new cities or countries that they visit. Sometimes they may also not get the food of their choice but they dont let these things impact their game. They concentrate on the game and ignore the other short comings. They move ON.

Rising to the occassion/ Killer Instinct

Champion players love big stages.  They rise to the occassion and lift their game by putting in extra effort in the BIG contests like Olympics. They have the ability to convert the nervous energy into positive energy whenever they walk to play the finals. They push themselves from within because they want to outperform their own best performance, they compete first with themselves and then with others. Killer instinct and never say die attitude always keeps them on the top against worthy opponents.

Real life challenges are not much different from sports. The points mentioned above are few of the key attributes or qualities possessed by the sporting Champions but these qualities are so powerful that they can help one win in their own game of life. These qualities are not just restricted to sports. If we have the grit and resolve we can become Champions in our own way in whatever we do at work or life in general.

To summarize, here are some famous quotes from the greatest sportsmen which tells you the secret of their success...

Usain Bolt Quotes...

"Don't think about the start of the race, think about the ending"

"The Sky has no limits, neither do I..."

"Some of you guys doubted me. I just had to show the world I was the greatest"

Michael Phelps Quotes...

"If I didn't swim my best, I'd think about it at school, at dinner, with my friends. It would drive me crazy"

"I found something I Love...And Never Gave Up"

"If you want to be the best, you have to do things that other people aren't willing to do"

If you read the above, you may also want to read the below mentioned other blog posts of interest:

How Much Would IT Professional Save In USA
USA Visa Basics L1A L1B and H1B
How To Go Onsite?
Most Valuable Skill For Your Life
21 Important Things To Know If You are Traveling To USA For The First Time
How To Hunt For Job After Career Break
5 Secrets of Salary Negotiations

Thursday, August 18, 2016

15 Powerful Techniques To Pay Attention In Meetings

Meetings are an important part of day to day work in corporate organizations. A lot of valuable time is spent in meetings or discussions, so it is extrremely important that the meeting time is utilized carefully. Meetings are all about communication, not only the speaking and listening skills, but all the eight elements of communication model play a vital role in conducting productive meetings. So first let us understand these eight basic components of a communication model:

Source/ Sender
Communication Channel
Interruptions/ Interference

Now, having understood the above, let us look at some of the key points which will make sure that you get most out of the meetings by being focused and attentive:

Don't be preoccupied

There is a possibility that you may be preoccupied with certain thoughts when you move from one meeting to other, especially when you have back to back meetings. Hence, try to avoid back to back meetings, take a break and gather your thoughts before you move from one meeting to another. Before you join the meeting spend some time to understand the meeting agenda in detail and also have a look at the profile of meeting participants. This will ensure that you are well informed in advance and hence productive during the course of the meeting.

Be prepared to listen

  • If you attending the meeting over phone make sure that you are not distracted by other discussions around you. Try to find a room where you can get audio privacy.
  • You may be a good speaker  yourself but in order to take a discussion to a logical conclusion you need to be a good listener too. Be prepared to listen to what others have to say. 
  • DO NOT interrupt when someone is speaking. Make your point but only when the other person has completed speaking. Dont jump the guns and assume based on half baked information.

Be organized

  • Always carry a notepad and a pen to write/ note the key highlights and action items discussed in the meeting. Asking for a notepad or a pen are not very professional habits. 
  • If you have the habit of noting down the points in your tablet or laptop then ensure that you dont get distracted by emails popping up in your inbox or other important tasks diverting your attention.
  • If you are in a room where there is a large group of people attending the meeting on phone then make sure you are within the audible distance of the phone. You should also ensure that you move near the phone when you speak so that you are audible to the people on the other side of the phone.
  • Speak with a speed that is good enough for the people of understand the meaning of what you are saying. Dont be in a hurry and dont rush through your statements.

Identify and avoid the distractions

  • DO NOT whatsapp while you are in a meeting. You get singled out if you keep browsing on your phone when others are engrossed in a discussion.
  • DO NOT chat over IM(instant messaging service) on your computer while you are attending a meeting. Best way to keep your focus in a meeting is to logout from the IM messaging as soon as you join a meeting.
  • DO NOT daydream, it may so happen that sometime one of the point being discussed in the meeting may divert your thought process and you may start thinking in a tangent. Avoid such daydreaming and stay honest to the agenda and context of the meeting.

How to be awake?

  • If you have a meeting immediately after lunch and you are feeling sleepy then a simple way to avoid sleep is to use something to chew. By continously chewing you keep yourself alert, a chewing gum might come handy.

Don't take ownership of general stuff

  • When there are multiple people attending a meeting there is a possibility that someone may ask a general question which may have an action item associated with it. Be careful. Don't be over enthusisatic to answer and take ownership of something which is out of your scope. 
  • In general, follow the rule of "Count to 5", that is, if you are attending the meeting on phone then before you respond to a general question take a pause by counting till 5. This will give you sometime to think and there is a high possibility that someone else may give the answer in the interim which may help you avoid taking ownership of an unnecessary action item.

Some other basic etiquettes include...
  • Responding to meeting invites promptly(either accept, decline or mark tentative). 
  • Joining and leaving the meeting on time. 
  • Proper delegation of meeting invites to other stakeholders from our own team. 
  • Avoid discussing any items which are not on agenda/ for which you are not prepared.

Going back to the basic elements of the communication model: One needs to be careful about the location/ geography of the sender/ receiver. Once that is figured out then based on the type/ kind/ sensitivity of the message one needs to choose a proper communication channel(in person meeting, phone meeting or tele/ video conference etc.). Environmental and contextual conditions are critical factors which may play an important role in reaching logical decisions. Focus should be to reduce interruptions and encourage healthy conversations with proper feedback loop. Taking all these elements of communication model into consideration will ensure that one meeting doesn't lead to another meeting and help you conduct productive meetings/ drive concrete results.

If you read the above, you may also like to read the below mentioned blog posts of interest:

How Much Would IT Professional Save In USA
USA Visa Basics L1A L1B and H1B
How To Go Onsite?
Most Valuable Skill For Your Life
21 Important Things To Know If You are Traveling To USA For The First Time
How To Hunt For Job After Career Break

5 Secrets of Salary Negotiations

Saturday, August 6, 2016

20 Effective Work Life Balance Tips For Professionals

Have you ever asked yourself this question: Do I have a work life balance? and what answer did you get?

If your answer is a strong Yes then Congratulations! You don't need to read this further. 

But if your answer is..."Umm, I am not sure if I have the work life balance yet" OR
"No, I don't have it yet but I am planning certain things for future" then you definitely need to read further.

Here are 20 effective tips that will help you attain work life balance or atleast get you closer to achieving it in your day to day routine.


  • First things first. Don't run away from reality. If you do not have work life balance be honest to accept it. Once you accept it as an area of improvement next step is to plan for making it better.
  • Planning starts with creating a priority chart. Priority chart is nothing but a list of priorities. Create priority chart for both work as well as life. I will suggest that you create two different charts, one for work priorities and other for life priorities.
  • Once you have these priority charts created, next step is to identify the top 5 priorities from both charts.
  • So in total we have 5 work priorities and 5 life priorities with us now. This makes total 10 priorities.
  • Now, take the remaining list of priorities, that is, other priorities from work and life which are not in the top 10 priorities list. Examine this list carefully and strike out those priorities which are of low importance.


  • Planning has no value without proper executionIn our day to day life, creating work life balance is all about execution.
  • Exeuction will be successful only if our day to day tasks are aligned to the top 10 priorities and we continue to hash out the low priority tasks that we striked out in the planning phase.
  • Next important action is to perform effective delegation. There will be few important tasks that you cannot ignore but at the same time you cannot invest your own time into these tasks. These are the tasks that you should delegate. They can be from either work or life. You need to carefully select these tasks and then delegate to someone whom you trust.
  • Next step is to get out of the unplanned rut and eliminate the non value add activities. There are lot of ways in which we waste our valuable time these days. Some of these are: surfing through television channels without any purpose, chatting or forwarding messages on whatsapp without any need, watching youtube for hours, addiction to mobile app based games or just plain internet browsing without any intent etc. If you are able to stop yourself from getting indulged into these non value add activities then you may be able to utilize that time in a better way for either work or family.
  • Expectations Management is one more key aspect of work life balance. Ask yourself how often do you set unrealistic expectations? When you mean 'No', do you really say 'No' or do you get pressurized saying 'Yes' even when you mean 'No'. At work and home, learn to be real while setting expectations. Don't add undue pressure on yourself by promising certain things which you don't intend to deliver.

The whole idea of planning and execution mentioned above is to get discplined and be organized. When the question of work life balance is popped up most people think it is always about reducing your work hours and increasing your life/ personal hours. Well, it may not always be the case. Based on your situation you may need to balance it the other way, if required.

Practical Tips

  • Balance 8 hours of work with 1 hour of exercise/ work out. If one hour sounds too much, start with 30 minutes, if 30 minutes sounds too much start with 20 minutes but never ignore it. Get this in your list of top priorities mentioned above. Key to success in any task is being consistent/ regular at it. Consistency will only come with discipline.
  • Make sure you plan yearly or half yearly family breaks or family vacations. This has to be timed with the vacation break of your spouse and school break of your kids. Plan it in advance, book the tickets and get your vacation approved at work in advance. Don't postpone it till the last minute.
  • If you have late evening meetings push them to a time when your personal schedule in not disturbed. For example, if your office gets over at 6 PM then make sure you quit the office at 6 PM. Reserve the next 4 hours for your family by going in a do not disturb mode. All evening meets should be pushed to a specific time slot, say for example, 10 PM to 11 PM or whatever time suits you.
  • For folks who travel a lot for their work, discipline and planning is all the more important. Travel may drain your energy levels and eating junk food while on the run may hamper your health too. Be careful. Develop habit of getting enough sleep while in train or flight. Find healthy eating options if you travel to the same cities or places quite often. Drink a lot of water. Use that smart phone as a tool to keep you organized.
  • If you think being organized is difficult then take some lessons from your school going kid. Look at their school calendar/ time-table, they have been taught to be organized from day 1 of their school. They know which note book or work book is to be carried to school on which day. They know the school holiday calendar, parent teacher meeting schedules and timings of other important activities. Remember once you were a kid too, if you have done it once you can do it again.

There is a very tough competition these days for promotions, salary increments, performance bonus and other incentives so lets not fool ourselves that all of that is easy; getting something more or better in life will always come with extra effort and a lot more hard work. Don't hide under the mask of work life balance and confuse yourself with the work and life priorities. Work life balance games are not easy to play. The act of balancing is difficult but not impossible, what you really need is to understand the difference between wishful thinking and self belief. Not everything you wish for may come true but things in which you honestly believe will definitely come true. Creating work life balance is not a priority for your employer/ company, it is your own priority. Take ownership of your work and your life. it NOW!

If you read the above, you may also want to read the below mentioned other blog posts of interest at your leisure:

How Much Would IT Professional Save In USA
USA Visa Basics L1A L1B and H1B
How To Go Onsite?
Most Valuable Skill For Your Life
21 Important Things To Know If You are Traveling To USA For The First Time
How To Hunt For Job After Career Break
5 Secrets of Salary Negotiations