Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Impulse purchase ?

Visited a mall on Christmas week-end . Went to a dept store to make a purchase. The item was located in 3 mins. Billing took nearly 15 mins . Cash counters were not adequately staffed + the usual 'system is slow today' problem .

Retailers put in lot of effort to stock 'impulse purchase' products. The prospect of waiting 15 mins at the cash counter is enough to deter the most impulsive purchaser.

The obscure we eventually see. The completely obvious takes a little longer !:)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Moral right

The NewsHour on Times Now today had a debate on the 2G scam with the usual list of panelists - one from Congress, one from BJP , 3-4 journalists . The Congress guy lamely defended the Prime Minister by saying ' BJP has no moral ground to talk on this issue considering the scam in Karnataka'. The TV show anchor miraculously picked up this brilliant idea and started a volley of questions to the BJP person.

By this yardstick there is no hope for India. Most of the political parties and politicians in India differ only in their degree of corruption. So , they can't ask anything of the government or of each other. Maybe they should sign a peace accord to amicably continue looting the country.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why walk when you can fly ?

Soar beyond your fears

Once there was a king who received a gift of two magnificent falcons from
Arabia. They were peregrine falcons, the most beautiful birds he had ever
seen. He gave the precious birds to his head falconer to be trained.

Months passed and one day the head falconer informed the king that
thoughone of the falcons was flying majestically, soaring high in the sky,
the other bird had not moved from its branch since the day it had arrived.

The king summoned healers and sorcerers from all the land to tend to the
falcon, but no one could make the bird fly. He presented the task to the
member of his court, but the next day, the king saw through the palace
windowthat the bird had still not moved from its perch. Having tried
everything else, the king thought to himself, "May be I need someone
more familiar with the countryside to understand the nature of this
problem." So he cried out to his court, "Go and get a farmer."

In the morning, the king was thrilled to see the falcon soaring high above
the palace gardens.He said to his court, "Bring me the doer of this

The court quickly located the farmer, who came and stood before the king.
The king asked him, "How did you make the falcon fly?"

With his head bowed, the farmer said to the king, " It was very easy, your
highness. I simply cut the branch where the bird was sitting."

We are all made to fly -- to realize our incredible potential as human beings.
But instead of doing that, we sit on our branches, clinging to the things that
are familiar to us. The possibilities are endless, but for most of us, they
remain undiscovered. We conform to the familiar, the comfortable, the

So for the most part, our lives are mediocre instead of exciting, thrilling and

So let us learn to destroy the branch of fear we cling to and free ourselves to
the glory of flight.

From the Book "Why walk when you can fly"

Friday, December 10, 2010


A popular detective serial CID is on TV. It's often entertaining in an amusing sort of way. What's striking is the luxury of linear assignments they enjoy :) They (the entire team ) work on one case only at any time. No calls ever from anyone asking about any other case.

Real life rarely ever offers such luxury. One has to switch from creation to trouble shooting to a whole range of opportunities and imperatives. The ability to do that ease fully is an increasingly essential skill in today's world.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why customer service matters

While on the subject of service some thoughts from an undoubted champion of customer service.

Awesome service

Japan is undoubtedly the land of awesome service. It’s not unusual for a taxi driver to stop the meter if he feels he’s taking a longer route than necessary.

On asking a Muji store associate for the nearest train station location – she pulled out a map book of Tokyo , photocopied the relevant page and then came out 2 floors to the street level to explain the directions.

On a cold and rainy in Tokyo stopped at a cafe en route to collect a sandwich takeout. The restaurant manager invited us to wait inside where it was deliciously warm and comfortable. Served hot tea while we were waiting, added an extra topping to the orders placed. Brought warmth , comfort and joy. Raised the bar for service.

What happens when friendly awesome service is delivered ? The person doing so feels good and empowered. The customer is delighted. Possibly becomes an evangelist/regular customer of that company / store. If the customer is a visiting foreigner it enhances their experience of the country. At a basic human level we seek and appreciate a sense of connectedness. Some things go beyond the realm of business.

Muji is one of the largest retailers in Japan. The cafe is a much smaller business.

Awesome service is possible at any scale of business.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

We or they ?

Visited a dept store today. The service at the counter was good (which was by the brand's team i.e not the store staff). There were 3 cash counters. Only 1 was manned. Resulting in avoidable waiting time for customers. Asked the cashier why don't they operate at least one more counter to service customers. The reply "There is a shortage of staff. They are not hiring enough people". One would have expected to hear "Sorry , we have a shortage of staff".

When a person refers to their company as "they" :

1. Maybe the company has not been able to create an environment where the person feels valued

2. If "they" are the problem then it is less likely that the person will take initiative/responsibility to address the customer's problem.

The "we/ they" problem could be specific to a location or a company wide problem. At whatever scale it exists it is detrimental to all involved - the customer , the employee and the company.

Listen to your team. What pronouns do you hear ?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mall mania

Visited a local mall . These days malls seem to let out the central space for promotions and events. The companies hosting the promotion seem to think the best way to get return for investing in the event is to do so at a decibel level which will reach out to every corner of the mall. What follows then is ear damaging decibel level.

The event at the local mall yesterday was aimed at kids. The health of the children is seriously at risk to be exposed to such decibel levels. The store I was at had glass doors. Yet the sound of the promotion pervaded drowning the sound of the music in the store. It was impossible to browse through other store windows due to the cacophony. This is counter productive for the mall and the stores.

Yours truly asked for directions to the mall office. It was located in a corner of the building. Met the mall manager and shared my views. From her expression and reactions 2 things were clear :

1. This was the first time they (she and 2 other persons from her team ) were faced with the point of view that such a decibel level is a nuisance and a health risk.

2. No visitor to the mall had ever approached them to share such feedback.

In India we see 2 extreme reactions from retail customers - either they will passively endure poor service / quality or they will get extremely aggressive. The mid path of assertive , consistent feedback is seldom adopted.

In many ways we create the environment we inhabit. Pl choose to influence it .

Monday, October 4, 2010


Watched the movie Endhiran. In my book this is def one of the most overrated movies in the history of Indian cinema.

Tortuous songs , a machine getting obsessed with a woman and even trying to figure how to procreate ! At various points in the movie I was wondering how will this movie end ? More importantly WHEN will it end ?

The hype around this movie is unbelievable. Possibly the fan following of Rajnikant sails a theme like this through to box office success. With another actor Endhiran would have ended by now.

If you must watch this movie do so last thing at night so that you can recover with a good night's rest. Or take a leaf from this outlandish movie - get a robot to watch it for you and spare yourself the effort.

The End (of this post).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Noisy newspaper

The Times of India (TOI) today morning literally created a racket.Volkswagen had attached a noisy contraption in the newspaper to play out some message repetitively.This attempt at gaining attention definitely worked as one had to expend effort to shut the device off. An entirely irresponsible campaign by TOI and Volkswagen.

1. A Volkswagen car is not an impulse purchase that people hearing the radio quality,irritating pitch will rush out of their homes to the nearest dealer.

2. A colossal waste from an eco perspective.Metal and plastic that will land in a dust bin even before the morning is over.

3. The fact that a newspaper is irresponsible enough to allow contraptions to be attached to it can open up ideas for groups wanting to spread terror (a point of view spontaneously put forth by several people who received TOI today).From a newspaper that conducts eco campaigns this was least expected. Just because an advertiser is willing to pay does not mean that TOI should willingly go along.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

redesign Design institutes

We are looking to recruit for design and merchandising positions in SoulQuest. Am amused and amazed by the quality of communication from some of the candidates from premier design institutes.Poor communication from a candidate ends their chances at the application stage itself.

Design institutes possibly assume that their sole task is to teach the students about design to the exclusion of everything else. It's not about writing Shakespeare style prose. Students need inputs on :

1. Creating an appealing resume that's honest , confident - I've seen 5 page resumes of students who have just graduated . Few years into a career the resume will possibly become a book.

2. Learning to communicate - over email /phone and sms - in a way that even if they are not selected - at least they leave a favorable impression on the individual / company.

These days there is ample opportunity for students to learn such skills via the internet. However , emphasis by and some guidance from the institute will definitely make a huge difference.

Yet another bandh

There's a bandh across many parts of India today. It is unclear what it will tangibly accomplish other than loss of a day's wages for many and inconvenience to even more. The union leaders on TV this morning were not able to properly articulate what they hope to accomplish. There's definitely a lot of anger about price rise and other issues. They need to be addressed. But a strike of this type is not going to do that.

Look at the way the govt is allowing millions of tonnes of food grains to rot.They are busy trying to save their rear on a host of issues or blaming some group/individual/political party.This type of mind set will be hardly affected by a day's strike.

We really need platforms and the discipline+willingness to engage in meaningful discussions to resolve problems.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Anonymous recruitment agency

A few days ago the phone in my office rang . Someone from a recruitment agency called.

Caller : Can I speak with 'concerned' person in HR ?
(amused ) Me : Go ahead , tell me the purpose of this call .
Caller : We are a recruitment agency.Do you use recruitment agencies to hire for your company?
(curious) me : No , not yet any way
(Disappointed) caller : oh , ok . Thank you

Apparently this company does not believe in creating new customers. They'd rather jump in a swamp where are pitted against other 'recruitment agencies'.

Recruitment is serious business . If the company approaches prospects this way it certainly does not leave a positive impression about their ability to understand needs and find suitable candidates.

Luckily (for them ) I did not get the name of company :)


Watched Inception. DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a thief who extracts information from the subconscious mind of his victims while they dream. Unable to visit his children, Cobb is offered a chance to regain his old life in exchange for one last job: performing inception, the planting of an idea into the mind of his client's competitor.

Inception pretty much seems to be the modus operandi of many businesses. Only that it is attempted on the physically awake. Plant the idea that a fairness cream will make you beautiful, a cigarette makes you look cool , a Merc lets people know you have arrived in life. Unending list of inceptions..rather cocktail of inceptions.

After watching Inception anyone would agree that dreams are tough work :) Let the dreams be yours alone . And not those planted to serve an agenda - of an individual(s) or corporation(s).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Finding inspiration instead of it finding you

One approach to innovation and brainstorming is to wait for the muse to appear, to hope that it alights on your shoulder, to be ready to write down whatever comes to you.

The other is to seek it out, will it to appear, train it to arrive on time and on command.

The first method plays into our fears. After all, if you're not inspired, it's not your fault if you don't ship, it's not your fault if you don't do anything remarkable--hey, I don't have any good ideas, you can't expect me to speak up if I don't have any good ideas...

The second method challenges the fear and announces that you've abandoned the resistance and instead prepared to ship. Your first idea might not be good, or even your second or your tenth, but once you dedicate yourself to this cycle, yes, in fact, you will ship and make a difference.

Simple example: start a blog and post once a day on how your favorite company can improve its products or its service. Do it every day for a month, one new, actionable idea each and every day. Within a few weeks, you'll notice the change in the way you find, process and ship ideas.

Seth Godin

Brilliant post by Seth.

Paul Smith for Apple

Delightful range of products . Paul Smith and Apple are creative brands . Not surprising perhaps to see a Paul Smith range for Apple.

An interesting example for other industries to collaborate on specific ranges.

I quite like SoulQuest - Apple , SoulQuest- Paul Smith:)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rewrite bookstores

I love books and bookstores. In most cities I have visited I almost always visit local book-stores. Kinokuniya and Borders in Singapore are particular favorites. New York , London, Paris, Barcelona , Dubai, Chennai, Hongkong, Delhi , Bangalore , Salem , Jaipur , Jakarta...Even located good book stores in Seoul and Tokyo where I found some interesting English books.

Visited Landmark yesterday . For someone who loves books and bookstores I can't relate with the flea market meets warehouse look that Landmark has come to symbolize. Crossword was never a bookstore with depth. Lately , they mostly have paperback copies of popular titles. I suspect it's more a distribution thing rather than a vision related to book readers.

Wondered if Flipkart has me biased towards bookstores . I realized that there are stores I enjoy browsing . There's a small store in a nearby market where books are stacked from floor to ceiling. Yet , there's a charm about the store that makes me want to brave the rain and traffic.

In book retailing - online offers definite advantages like being able to check related titles , reviews, prices , incredibly time efficient. Brick & mortar stores need to offer something more to draw in repeat customers. That more is not adding clutter to the store in the name product range. Relaxing , delightful , friendly ambience with efficient , personalized service. The competition for a brick & mortar bookstore is not another brick & mortar bookstore.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Leadership is an improvisational art. The game ... keeps changing.
Competition keeps changing. So leaders need to change, to keep
reinventing themselves. Leaders have to be ready to adapt, to move,
to forget yesterday, to forgive, and to structure new roles and new
relationships for themselves, their teams, and their ever-shifting
portfolio of partners.

--Tom Peters

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Onna no hito

Bank of Japan names it's FIRST female Bank Manager in July 2010 . Wow ! It the article was not in the Asahi Shimbun one would assumed it was about Saudi Arabia or some other M.East nation.

Japan clearly has long , long way to go in being more inclusive and supportive of women in the workplace. For a super developed nation their approach to Japanese women is peculiar , perplexing and almost feudal .

Faced with an aging population and declining birth rate - Japanese society and economy needs women to be actively involved . Possibly the need will help whittle away the barriers and attitudes that restrict Japanese women in career choices - especially those who choose to have children.

Jap : Onna no hito English : women

Monday, July 12, 2010


Hindustan Lever should consider a tie up with colleges across India , , . Why ? Since job applicants need something 'extra' to get a job they should help the poor , dark skinned folks who don't seem to get decent jobs despite adequate qualifications simply because of their skin color.

What would millions in this country do if HUL and their ilk did not turn up like the 'fair' knight to rescue them from their 'dark' fate ?

The TV ads of Fair & Lovely (and similar products ) are hilarious when not insulting the intelligence of the viewer. One of the recent ads shows a confident young man in front of an interview panel. The source of his confidence being his 'fair' complexion.

Interestingly advertisers of fitness products have not adopted this route of a fitter person having an edge over other candidates for a job. That would at least make for a healthier India .

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Relationship banking

You realize how far removed advertising is from the reality of some brands when you interact with them.

ICICI Bank's TV ads show a customer visiting the bank for some work . His date of birth is mentioned in the form . The ICICI person notices it and arranges for a muffin with a candle. The customer is visibly touched . And there's a voice over saying something about relationship banking.

If the ad agency did any research they would have figured there's no way they can stretch reality of ICICI's sorry customer relationships to create an ad about ICICI nurturing relationships . So they decided to adopt the fiction route. This hypothesis possibly explains the ad .

In my experience with the bank lately - it seems that have no employees . Let me explain . They have people who identify at best with the department they work with. They have no connect whatsoever with 'ICICI Bank'. "It's a system issue " + " back office has not done the work" +"that is to be done by another dept" are popular reasons for most problems. The bureaucratic way they operate makes Amex look intelligent :)

This is a bank that's ok when everything is functioning routinely . Any deviations - be prepared to spend time , effort and resources in chasing various departments to accomplish the task. In fact , there's an opportunity for someone to launch a 'how to deal with ICICI Bank' service.

Ms Kocchar should worry less about expansion . And worry a lot about where this bank is headed with it's culture.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A bandh of your own

A nation wide bandh has been thrust upon India today. Ostensibly to protest against rising prices. But , really an opportunity for opposition parties to assume few days of spot light. A bandh of this type seldom accomplishes anything . Establishments close - not because they support this form of protest - but because they fear violence. People are against rising prices . But they do not necessarily support protest in this form since :

- it accomplishes very little
- comes at enormous inconvenience and cost

The rising prices affect different sections of society differently . There is a large section on whom the impact of rising prices is very severe - affecting nutrition , education , health care ( even their interests are not served by this 1 day event ). The impact varies at different levels of the socio economic ladder.

Possibly the time has arrived for everyone to do a bandh of their own - ongoingly.

Reduce non-essentials :
Most of us can relate with the ' why did I buy that ? ' feeling at sometime or the other. It could be after a heavy meal at a restaurant or after opening the latest dress you purchased . Take a few mins to list the stuff you purchased that you wished you had refrained from . Carry that list around with you esp when you go shopping :)

An even more radical exercise : visualize that you have a brand new house . What from your existing possessions would you like to put into it ? This exercise can be scaled to any level - kitchen , living room , bed room , study , cupboard..

Reduce intake of processed foods :

Or as Michael Pollan would say 'industrial novelties' . We'll be healthier and richer for having done so.

Grow your own food :

To the extent possible grow herbs , prices , veggies , fruits n your home and community . Besides the cost savings joy it brings is immense . We need to recreate our relationship with food.

Repair / reuse / recycle :

Repair , reuse , recycle the stuff you have. Throwing out stuff that can be repaired adds to the waste and to your cost (of purchasing a new item ).

No , you do not need the mixer with the sole feature of a new blade and fancy shape . Your existing mobile looks great , has more features than you use.

Gratitude outlook :

We notice and mull over stuff that's amiss . In the process ignoring all the things that are so wonderfully right . Family , friends , joy , opportunity , beauty...Gratitude is more about an attitude rather than an occasional response. Thankfulness can enhance our satisfaction with lives in ways that the next consumer product never will.

If this sounds like the recipe for an ascetic life - it's not . It's about reclaiming your life in a consumerist world.

This is not an exhaustive list either . Make your own list . Live it .

Try it .

Friday, July 2, 2010

Amex - call Airtel

Received a letter with the monthly bill from Airtel . The letter is from the COO for Maharashtra giving his email id and that of the Customer Service Incharge for customers to write in if they are not satisfied with the overall experience with Airtel.

This is a HUGE change from the norm of companies keeping senior managers as far removed from the customers as possible.

Call Amex . One will get the impression that their org structure starts with the BPO person who calls and ends with his/her supervisor. For a company that claims to offer 'Platinum' service their systems , culture and approach sometimes makes govt bodies look intelligent and customer friendly in comparison. The lack of coherence in the functioning of Amex can be best understood knowing that they concoct all offerings , procedures in the absence of customer contact and therefore customer understanding.

One hopes that other companies will emulate Airtel is becoming more accessible to customers.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Culture focus

Creative types are being taught business . Brilliant initiative by NY city.

All cities would be enriched by supporting artists .

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sweat the small stuff

Brilliant , thought provoking presentation by Rory Sutherland.

Relevant for organizations / groups / individuals .

The obscure we eventually see . The completely obvious takes longer .

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pantone Hotel

Pantone has opened the Pantone Hotel in Brussels . The color forecasting company has used the format of a hotel to emphasize on color. Superbly non-linear.

Paint companies can adapt this in brilliant ways by doing up public spaces , collaborating with furnishing stores , off beat restaurants , boutiques.


Love the way the green and dried leaves blend...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Instant weight loss

Like the garbage that washes ashore mailers like this get delivered with the newspaper.

Looks like a pic from a tabloid movie magazine . It's the pamphlet of a weight loss clinic . They hope to imply that by signing up for their services you can aspire to look like this. This could possibly have be plausible if it was the ad of a gym that promised to make you work out extensively.

Symptom of the times I guess when everything is desired and promised 'instantly'.

Anyone that signs up for weight-loss based on this ad needs therapy of an altogether different nature.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Visible costs

We would rather suffer the visible costs of a few bad decisions than incur the many invisible costs that come from decisions made too slowly – or not at all – because of a stifling bureaucracy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Quest essentials

All quests worth undertaking ...require audacity. And willpower. (Of course.) And persistence. (Of course.) But frankly, a persistent misreading of the odds.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Received a sms from the mobile service provider sent by the police "Kindly note that mobiles, cordless phones, cameras , water bottles , purses , handbags , eatables , any type of weapon etc are not allowed inside DY Patil Stadium". DY Patil btw is the venue for the IPL final match today.

Wonder if such conditions applied to all the matches and if it was applicable to Lalit Modi and his ilk.

It's better to watch the IPL match at home. And Live Cricket in the neighborhood.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Steel, wood , glass

Indian homes have traditionally used metal vessels and containers to cook n store food. Then along came plastic with it's convenience of being light , colorful , transparent and cheaper for serving and storing food. A few decades later it's abundantly clear that plastic brings with it huge problems of chemicals leaching into the food/water and the larger issue of the non-biodegradability of plastic.

One would imagine that steel product manufacturers would would use this information to inform customers and to market their products . Yet (in India ) in the stores I've visited steel vessel kitchenware does not have any such USP being highlighted. It's just stacked in rows as one of the categories. When in fact steel/metal kitchenware manufacturers can make a compelling case for consumers to completely recast their kitchenware to eliminate plastic. Good for you..good for the planet. (some of the folks dissipating their creative talent in marketing fairness creams can be directed towards helping the steel kitchenware industry )

The water in a steel bottle tastes better , stays cooler. But , steel bottles esp ones that will not leak water when tilted to 80 deg are not easy to find (at least in Mumbai). The best promotion for a steel bottle would be to fill it with water and invert it - conveying quality , convenience , taste and health benefit.

Analogy applies to wood n glass kitchen products e.g wooden cutting board visavis plastic cutting board , microwavable glass bowls instead plastic etc .

Whether or not the steel kitchenware industry revamps it's promotion - pl do shift to non-plastic kitchenware . Remember..good for you...good for the planet.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hot heads...

Hot heads and cold hearts never solved anything.

- Billy Graham

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Choose your ecosystem..carefully

You are the company you keep. Choose and create your eco-system carefully - buyers , suppliers , service providers , team members . Often companies exercise a fair amount of care in building the internal team . But , not so much while choosing clients , suppliers thinking "it's business".

Yes, it's business . It's also your life . In which you spend a fair amount of each working day interacting with the various people in your chosen eco-system. If you choose to work with creative , confident , solution oriented , collaborative people then you can create together in a joyous , respectful way.

Given the inter-connectedness of business the notion of an organization needs to reinterpreted as an extended eco-system which involves your immediate clients , suppliers , service providers. Each performs a critical role in the chain. Trust , competence , shared ideology ,collaborative approach are essential ingredients for success.

Success not just in terms of the volume or value of a business. Joy , satisfaction and meaningful creation are equally critical components of success.


Communication is a multi-faceted thing . The ability to write clearly , persuasively , creatively -is one form of communication that is an important skill in many lines of work in today's world. Even as citizens and consumers we do / should interact with companies , groups , local media , govt etc . In each interaction the ability to communicate clearly is an undoubted advantage in sharing one's point of view. Technical knowledge in one's domain is of limited help without the ability to communicate effectively. I often see people have the passion , the knowledge which they would like communicate. But are constrained by their inability to do to effectively.

Writing is a skill that should be nurtured from school . Creative essays like write a letter to the earth on how you'll care for it , letter to your parent/sibling/ friend on 5 things you love about them , write a letter to your local govt representative - why we need a garden , regulate traffic near the school , write to a specific brand to reduce plastic (kids are incredibly creative . Once they get the context their letters I'm sure can move the Pulitzer panel ).

As I write this post it occurred to me that schools could actually get children on write on issues that impact them and share the letters as an album (incl. online ) with the relevant agencies.

Whether the ability to write effectively was encouraged in school or not - there is no doubt that everyone should invest time and conscious effort to nurture this skill.

Think write about it :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Politicians and fairness creams

Calling designers to come forth and offer their design services to ALL political parties that advertise in public spaces through posters and hoardings. I have yet to see a single political poster or hoarding in Mumbai that is not repelling. Sycophancy and self-aggrandizement ooze through every pixel. If politicians must blow their own trumpet on non/minor achievements at the very least they can do so tastefully. They don't lack the funds to hire quality designers. They certainly lack the taste and the courtesy to spare citizens having to endure the pointless clutter.

These days the fairness products industry is advertising aggressively in various media. They kind of rival the political hoardings in terms of the nonsense quotient. "Become fair and spot-less* in 7 days". One suspects there will soon be a campaign that promises fairness in an hour (possibly for an hour !) . Notice here that I stress on campaign and not the product . That's because no fairness product can do what the campaigns claim to do. As I write this post it occurs to me that folks who create their campaigns for the fairness industry are perfect for politicians to revamp their outdoor promotion . Here's why -

- They know how to bull shit
- They have more aesthetic sense than the politicians

Think about airbrushed ,'spot less' politician wrapped in white halo would be a lot less annoying than a bunch of them jostling for space even in an orange colored hoarding :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Found 3 books on Flipkart which 2 bookstores (one of them being Landmark) I frequent did not have in stock and had no idea when they would be able to supply. I enjoy browsing through books at a bookstore. This has therefore been a category where I've so far preferred to visit a physical store. I must thank the 2 stores for driving me to Flipkart (which a friend had once advised as being a good place to buy books).

The buying process at Flipkart is simple and quick , prices are great . Books above a certain value are shipped without extra charges. This beats braving the afternoon heat to make a trek to the local bookstores , locating the book, spending time at the check-out counter and above all enduring the intolerable decibel levels at the mall.

If the delivery of the books is as great as the ordering - then I'll def be buying a lot more on-line :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Postcard decor

Table tops and nooks can be wonderfully accessorized with post cards and small objects :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


These days we look into a mirror longer and more often than ever before in the history of mankind. The level of reflection is far from being proportional.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bunch of joy..

The flowers that bloom near my window..

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Every day is a new day...

A few weeks ago Sachin Tendulkar scored 200 runs in an ODI match . Great accomplishment. A milestone for him , India and cricket. There have been days when he's not been able to score a single run. The hits are obviously more than the misses for Sachin to be the legend he has become.
Each time he walks to the pitch he doesn't know whether he'll score zero or create a new world record.

Everyday is a new day...

Thursday, March 11, 2010


If I were to be struck by amnesia the one thing I will still remember is my current residential address. In the past one week itself I have lost track of the number of times I have called Airtel re problems in blackberry mails download. Each time they need me to recite my address for verification. I suspect that Airtel has emptied it's coffers on advertising and promotion - leaving no resources - financial or human to offer intelligent service to consumers who call.

When addressing service companies seem to think that an image is the same as the real thing. Just putting up a call centre and phone lines does not translate into service.

The illusion seems to be that the logo is the brand resulting in millions being poured on advertising and promotion. And that phone lines manned by inadequately trained people with no empowerment is somehow service.

Airtel is not alone . Companies across industries keep Airtel company in offering this kind of dis-service.

There could actually be a biz opportunity in a 'service' that helps customers get more out of their interactions with companies :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The opportunity of adversity

The only disability is a crushed spirit.

Aimee Mullins's life is an inspiring example of the power of the human spirit - not only to triumph over circumstances but also in being able to a powerful difference to others through the words we choose.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Peace of Wild Things...

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

- Wendell Berry

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


All businesses today are service businesses. The product is a part of the experience.

A problem in a customer relationship often contains the opportunity to deliver outstanding service to rebuild the relationship and possibly enhance it. As long as the situation is not created due to negligence or apathy most customers are generous enough to forgive an error as long as they perceive the individual / company to be genuine in their remorse and efforts to make amends .

Yet , companies routinely allow a bad situation to become worse by :

- doing nothing
- issuing verbal apologies and doing nothing to remedy the problem
- making lame attempts to rationalize the problem
- seeming to be in some degree of denial about the extent of the problem
- hoping that mere passage of time will induce amnesia in the customer about the incident.

I'm fascinated at how some companies just flounder in the face of a problem - at times compromising a relationship that has taken years to build.

The obscure we eventually see. The completely obvious it seems takes much longer.

Sanjhi Paper Art

Intricate tree handcrafted on paper by an artist in Sanjhi , Mathura . The motifs are cut on paper. The skilled artists normally do so without any sketch or tracing.


Violence , sexism , and general nastiness are biological since they represent one subset of a possible range of behaviors . But peacefulness , equality and kindness are just as biological - and we may see their influence increase if we can create social structures that permit them to flourish".

Stephen Jay Gould

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A new way to fight corruption

A fee based BPO style business to fight corruption . Brilliant and much needed service being explored by Shaffi Mather.

As he aptly quotes his colleague 'We are insane persons attempting an impossible task. Of course , an insane person does not know what is impossible '.

Ideology coupled with the power of an organization and market forces can hopefully pack progressively powerful punches to the monster of corruption.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Use public transport

A lot has been written and debated about Rahul Gandhi's visit to Mumbai and taking a local train to commute. No doubt that he struck a chord with many Indians who are not used to seeing politicans use public transport . And at the same time delivered a (much needed ) blow to the Shiv Sena / MNS who for all their rhetoric on the mythical Marathi manoos probably need directions on how to reach a train station.

All in all , the relative appeal of the Congress points to the adage that in the land of the blind the one-eyed is king.

Tiger , Frog , Elephant...

The animal world clearly continues to inspire Accenture :) By choosing nature photography and photoshop Accenture could have saved millions for themselves and passed on the savings to their clients.

Car chime

A car chime (wind chime sized for a car ) would be a helpful stress buster for the unending car journeys in urban India.

Aromatherapy products * (designed for a car) would be a perfect complement.

* The aroma products for vehicles which I have seen so far in the Indian market have a strong / fruity smell . Must suggest this to Nyassa to develop a range for cars . They have a wonderful range of room fresheners.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Recent experiences at airports in India and other locations had me marveling at the wisdom that goes into devising security checks at airports.

I suppose I should have felt safer knowing that none of my fellow passengers had toothpaste over 100 gms or deodorants over 100 ml . Has it made air travel any safer ? Unlikely . More pointlessly inconvenient - yes.

Healing menu

There are a host of home remedies ease/heal various ailments e.g jeera water , ajwain water for stomach ache , ginger-honey , cinnamon-honey for sore throat etc. The list of simple home remedies in India to alleviate pain and heal is long. They are , needless to say, a better alternative to allopathy.

Restaurants can easily offer a selection of such items as part of their menu . It would be a huge help for folks on the move to be able to get home remedies instead of having to resort to medication. For the restaurants it would be quite easy to put together a list of food and drink offerings. Easy to prepare as most of them involve ingredients commonly used in the kitchen.

Much needed expansion in restaurant menus.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Be Merry :)

Abercrombie & Fitch

Passed by the A & F store in Ginza , Tokyo . At first the loud music emanating from the doorway and the decor gave the impression of a pub. A closer look revealed it was a store :)

Shirtless male models were welcoming visitors . The decibel level inside the building could compete with discos or even a rock concert. The sales staff were a mix of young , athletic looking American and Japanese boys and girls . When the sales staff were not attending to a client there were literally grooving to the music. This seems to be a requirement .

The large murals on the walls were edgy and suggestive . Lighting sharply focused on the clothing stacked from floor to ceiling. The illumination was largely reflection from the lights focused on the clothing and the partly lit floors. (not the best choice of light if one wants to figure how something would look in daylight ). The products looked interesting and well designed for the youth audience. The overall ambience of the store seems to elevate the appeal of the products.

Definitely an unforgettable store. One with sharp focus and appeal for it's target audience. It would not be surprising if it becomes a must visit destination just to experience the unusual environment.

p.s - we watched a janitor on the floor . He was pretty stoic . Grooving to the music was clearly not part of his job description :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sign on a seat :)

Loved this creative display outside a Tokyo restaurant.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010


Happiness is a form of courage.

~Holbrook Jackson

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Audio Design

In a recent visit to a mall noticed the incessant music at a salon . Guess I noticed it especially because it was music I would classify as cacophony. I spent a few minutes at the place . The salon employees work there all day. They have to deliver service to the clients which requires them to be reasonably attentive. A task made challenging in varying degrees by loud music through most part of the day. High decibel is not relaxing for all clients either . Rather than assume that incessant , loud music adds positively to the overall experience - businesses would be better off testing that hypothesis and calibrating the audio environment .

Possibly a business opportunity for companies to develop music customized for a space that measurably enhances customer experience and makes for a saner workplace for the employees of the establishment. The sound/music and decibel level can be varied depending on the time of day and the customer traffic. As I write this post I'm trying to recollect retail spaces in Mumbai that play soothing instrumental music or sounds from nature ( water fall , birds etc ). With the exception of some 5 star hotel lobbies I can't recollect any retail spaces with a positively memorable/soothing/relaxing audio environment.

Done well the audio environment of a space can significantly enhance it's appeal.