Sunday, March 30, 2008

'Research' on 'trendy spiritualism'

"Youngsters happier with traditional values " - chanced upon this article in The Times of India today. It's an edited version of a "research"  article by a Dr Rosemary Aird in Australia .

The quick conclusion of this research apparently is that "shifting from traditional religious beliefs to self-focused spirituality is not making young adults happier " . Does it mean it makes them unhappier ? That's left unsaid but strongly implied . 

Today most organized religions represent the interpretations of mankind rather than some higher power. Being an active participant in religious activities and believing in God (or a Higher Power ) are not the same thing (while it is always strongly implied to be ) . If people truly believed in God then their life would reflect that faith every moment (at least a lot of moments). Religion would be seen as the medium to God and not as an end in itself . 

For most of humanity religion is strongly introduced into one's life before one has the capacity to understand and make the choice on what to embrace . The journey of questioning and sifting through this 'religious inheritance' to find answers for oneself takes courage . Understandably it rattles the 'religious guard' . Warnings of unhappiness and misfortune abound . When couched as a 'research finding' it appears more credible .

Here's a excerpt from the article...

"This focus on self fulfillment and improvement over others' wellbeing could undermine a person's mental health with many people feeling more isolated, less healthy and having poorer relationships," Dr Aird said.

She said so-called new spirituality promotes the idea that self-transformation will lead to a positive and constructive change in self and society.

"But there is a contradiction," Dr Aird said.

"How can one change society if one is focused on oneself * ?"

How does one impact an external world without first transforming oneself * ? Perhaps the future research of Dr Aird will shed some light on this subject ? 

*Unless Dr Aird's reference was to superficial interactions and physical actions alone . 

The 'research' is clearly biased towards it's conclusions . The edited article in TOI is irresponsible . 

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Brand ?

What’s does a brand mean – quizzed a friend today .

A brand symbolizes an experience that the consumer expects and then subsequently expects – of a product / service / place / person .

The ‘experience’ is pivotal . It’s important to focus and stay focused on the essence and quality of the experience at all times . It’s all too easy to get derailed into focusing on the parts , sum of parts even and lose sight of the whole .

The net has expanded and democratized  the brand universe . Today an artist at Etsy is as much a brand ( to her niche audience ) as is Gucci . It’s also a far more interconnected world where the (regular) experience at a cafĂ© influences our expectation of service from a bank.

In this interconnected , seemingly infinite option world – the ‘brands’ that will succeed are ones that stand for something deeper than the quality of the product /service .In a way the profusion of options is bringing about a situation where honesty , creativity , passion , emotion make a difference rather than superficial , physical characteristics alone ( most of which can be easily replicated anyway ) , large ad spends etc .You can’t add value unless you have values to add.  

Friday, March 28, 2008


"We understand. We will do our best. We can't /won't however assure when xyz product will be delivered / person will visit your premises (for service issues that require a representative to visit and check the product ) / do what you are requesting for / in the time frame you are requesting " .

With a few minor , semantic changes this is the tailored speech that many company representatives mouth when faced with customer calls to expedite something . To a point where one almost expects to have a pointless conversation on the subject with the company representative . While it may say something about the individual - it says a lot more about the organisation . Does the organisation care to provide assurance to the customer and ensure that they meet the promise ? Sure one may not succeed each time . But the customer will appreciate that here's an organisation that cares enough to try .

The general idea seems to be : No promises made = none broken = service .
A lot of companies seem to view installing a phone line and a person to answer the calls as being service . It is perhaps a necessary but highly insufficient condition (by itself) . Without organisational focus , a culture that supports , encourages employees to walk that extra mile for the customer , recognises (or at least acknowledges) employee effort - the communication with the customer ends up being pointless noise .

A huge opportunity for companies who dare to make promises to their customers and fulfill them (most of the time ) .

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


A few months ago I needed a carpenter to complete a project-in-progress ( the 'services' of the architect with zero integrity  and fancy degree from an elite college had to be terminated and hence the 'project-in-progress' ). A young boy who had been in the carpentry trade for a few years was referred by an associate . He came over and spent an entire day to study the pending work and worked out detailed quotes . Eventually that work could not be given to him as we needed someone who could taken on the entire project and not just a part of it . I appreciated the sincerity and detail with which he approached the assignment . And wanted to offer him compensation for it  . He declined stating that this was part of the business and that he would be happy if I could give him work in future . There were some small carpentry jobs at my residence for which I called him . And paid him extra over what he quoted for the work . He asked me if I was giving the additional amount for the earlier quote . Knowing that he would not take it if I said yes I told that this was an advance for some balance work that needs to be completed for which I would call him .

2 days ago he called to remind me that I have paid him some advance . And asked when could he come to complete that work .

It is heartening to see such integrity and work ethic in a world where most folks seem to be scrambling for more while offering less...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Customer has only one gender ?

In an earlier post I wrote that ‘Talent has no gender’ . It seems that for a lot of companies the customer has only one gender – Male

Axis bank (I think it was an Axis Bank ad ) –Tagline  " All men are created equal until priority banking " 

American Express Platinum – all male , macho look and feel to the ads . Communication content and tone that seems directed only to a male audience .

Maruti SX4 – Tagline “men are back”  (from where ? the ad does not say).Women are not expected to buy this car ?

Most airline ads , promotions of the loyalty programs give the distinct impression of speaking to a male customer. 

It is surprising to see the utter lack of communication from companies in these categories that addresses women or (in some cases as listed above) even acknowledges women as being part of the target audience .


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What if...

In urban India the divide between the 'haves' and 'havenots' is growing . Left unchecked this can create a sharply polarised society . Which would be unnecessary and sad . As unnecessary as suffering thirst pangs in a fresh water river . We live in a universe of abundance .
What if each one of us took it upon ourself to make a positive difference to the life of at least one another person . In our personal and professional capacity we have the power to make a difference at least to one individual (if not several ) . Making a difference does not always mean monetary contributions or monetary contributions alone . It could mean helping a not so privileged person open a bank account , motivating / supporting education of a child or an adult , help a person acquire skills that make him/her employable . The possibilities are infinite...