Personal Life, Uncategorized

Soaring Desires, Torn Pockets

The Most Memorable Period

The period between final graduation years and entering the corporate world I think are the most memorable. In later years, one always tends to look back with nostalgia at that time.

It’s the time when one has just about wrapped up academic learnings and is gazing at the corporate world. Or perhaps still struggling with the thought of continuing with academics and moving to higher education. Whatever it is, the burden of acquiring that “must- have” MBA/graduation certificate is behind. And the world before you, stretched across the horizon, beckoning in various hues and  colours of the rainbow. And one gets starry eyed and wants to grab the most.

The Dawn of Maturity

It’s also the time when maturity dawns and with it the responsibility that one can no longer dig into the parent’s pockets. So that much desired mobile brand, that yearned for foreign trip, that dream car, is so so elusive. The only way to acquire it, is the hard way -earn it yourself. And compromises need to be made. You cannot have it all.

Satisfying Hunger, Quenching Thirst for Soaring Desires

I recall the days when a movie “stall” ticket at those famous south mumbai cinema halls, were a luxury. Every penny was saved for, counted and accounted.  The cheapest travel mode – train/bus – selected.  The distance from the station was done on foot in trendy Kolhapuri chappals. One such outing saw me with my extremely attractive out-of-town rich cousin, going through a similar phase. So post the movie, with nothing else to do for lack of money, we decided to head back home by bus. But hunger pangs overcame us. I decided to do something about it. So dragging her, walked a huge distance and skipped some bus stops. With the reduced ticket cost, purchase some road side chikki. She could never forgive me for this, but always cherished that trip close to her heart. (Alas, she is now taken the road to heaven!)

Youth also held aspirations and desires for better  brands  and categories, like IMFL (Indian Made Foreign Liquor) but one could ill afford it and compromised with the then newly introduced Government liquor – flavoured with Santra (Orange), Mosambi (Sweet lime, etc). For chakna or accompaniments, a friend’s vacant kitchen came in good stead, where onions and potatoes got fried.

Hunger for hi-fashion brands was satiated with garments from Fashion Street which also served as a hangout, perhaps equalled to today’s malls, sans air conditioning, water and toilet facilities.

Quenching thirst mean a road side sugar cane juice, ordered in 2 halves,because the quantity or volume was higher than a full glass.  Road lessons put to shame  what was earlier studied in theory – The whole is greater than the sum of its parts – making us street smart.

Higher education in terms of post graduate diplomas meant evening classes sponsored by full time jobs, taken up expressly for that purpose.

VFM or Value For Money implied attending sales promotions held at public halls, which took up the entire day travelling by public transport, saving money for the sales.

But yes, those were the days whose memories still linger, which made us stronger and more resilient.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Personal Life

What Makes a Mother?

Half a Century and Counting

I have spent over half a century on this earth, and been blessed with a mother, wife and daughter, amongst other family members, but am not a keen observer of life. It’s just some special moments, which make me sit up and take stock:

  • Of a mother, who despite her advanced age (and mine?), still treats me as her child, though I may have children of my own. This sees her concerned over my every activity, from health to finance to religion.
  • Of a wife, who assists not only in the making of bread but also bringing it home.
  • Of a daughter, who bridges the gap, (if at all there exist one) between mother and wife.

What do they all possess in common? The makings of a mother. It’s really heartwarming to watch a girl at puberty stage itself, getting into raptures at the sight of a newborn infant, with her moans, sighs and awws.  It’s like preparing herself for that moment already.

The Specialty of a Mother

What makes a mother so special? She is gifted with an extra sensory power. She can almost predict any mishap, but alas cannot prevent it. She knows it all before she can be told, can sense the mood of her child, the ups and downs in their lives. How does she acquire this or is it innate? Yes, talking to her own mother, her colleagues and friends is just one source. But the more important source is her own inner self, that powerful gift called intuition.

Motherly Instincts and Premonitions

It is said that even in animals and birds, this motherly instinct is sharp. A mother bird can pick up the distress signals from her offsprings through vibrations across the universe. My own mother present in the same room as us, read in the cawing of the crow, her mother’s demise in another state. In my wilder days, or nights, returning home in the wee hours of the morning was the norm. No questions asked.  One unfortunate night, my metabolism gave way, which saw me literally on the streets, the haunts of the underworld. It was sheer chance that friends rescued  me and brought me home, where it took me days to recover. Somehow this was potential danger and providential escape was sensed by my mother who questioned me days after that, for the truth. It was sheer maternal instinct.

A young mother in an outstation bus stop with a babe in arms suddenly had to console the wailing child. Suggestions and advice from those around her, proved fruitless. The tone of the wailing discomforted the mother, who sensed something unusual. She stripped the child of the nappy only to discover an ant nibbling at the infant’s bottom – the source of the wailing!

Can Science Help?

Thanks to science with prenatal and postnatal trainings, etc a young mother’s life is made easier. How did these mothers succeed in the days of the midwife, when the pains and pangs of labour could not be quietened? All they had to rely on was the signals and symptoms of the body. And intuition. Will advance of science blunt those intuitions over time?

Society today has liberated both man and woman from inhibitions and reservations, unlocking emotions and feelings. A permissive female with multiple partners often times can easily identify the right partner as the father of the child – DNA tests be damned. Similarly it is said that a female through sheer intuition can tell if and which man will share her bed.

I recently met a young upwardly mobile female entrepreneur who admitted to me, that sighting her date across the street, she knew exactly, that he would lead her to the altar. And of course, soon she will be a mother, with all those motherly instincts, intuitions and premonitions, which no science can teach or reveal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Corporate Life

Net-neutrality v/s Free Basics – a False Choice?

My Curiosity Aroused

With the hype of Mark Zuckerberg’s recent visit to IIT-Delhi coupled with the controversial issue of internet neutrality, my curiosity was aroused, rather late perhaps, so I decided to do a little homework on the subject.

Net Neutrality Defined

“The principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites” is how google defines net neutrality. And what happens if I do not have internet facility to even google net neutrality?

Net access, a Moral Responsibility?

Let’s look at FB founder’s take on this. “Those pushing for net-neutrality have access already. Those not on the net can’t sign a petition for access. We have a moral responsibility (toward) people who do not have access”. Sounds good and rational, I thought.

Enter “Free Basics” by Facebook.

This perhaps justifies Facebook’s introduction of Free Basics, or internet.org.  So I went back to google, lol!  Was there a life before google? “Internet.org is a partnership between social networking services company Facebook and six companies (Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm) that plans to bring affordable access to selected Internet services to less developed countries by increasing efficiency, and facilitating the development …” In other words, offering basic low band-width and text services for health, employment and education whereby subscribers can access them free of cost. This will particularly favor and help build developing countries like Bangla Desh, Africa, India, etc. Currently, approximately 15 million people world-wide access such services and once exposed to them, tend to upgrade to full subscribers of the internet.

Free Basics, a Restricted Usage?

Protagonist for Net neutrality, Nikhil Pahwa, has a different story, when he states that FB is creating a “false choice” as free basic users will access FB and its associates, thereby restricting usage of the open web, which goes against the principle of net-neutrality, since net neutrality is all about free access to all sites, without prejudice or bias to any particular site. Certainly a good counter-point to Zuckerberg.

So the controversy rages on…….

Now, if one needs to take an online vote on this, will that be courtesy Net-neutrality or Free Basics?

 

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branding/advertising communications

When the pupil is ready, the master….

I Stop Shooting in the Dark.

After spending decades in mass media, I began experiencing a fatigue and burnout, whilst simultaneously getting introduced to the online domain, which I found enchanting, to say the least. Mass media was like shooting in the dark, but the digital domain, besides being one-on-0ne, offered the high potential of engaging with the audience, which delighted me.

Getting More Exposed to Online.

So I decided to explore this medium a little  intensely, by getting more active on Social Media, content writing, etc. Each channel or platform gave me a glimpse of the other, thus increasing my quest for more learning. I registered for an online course in SM, but perhaps due to my own inadequacies or lack of exposure, did not find it Value for Money (VFM), and so was reluctant to add to my expenses. At the same time, the fire was burning.

Increasing my Network and meeting my Mentor.

Thanks to FB, my network increased and also got virtually connected to different individuals, all willing to lend a helping hand. That is how I first got introduced to Nevil Darukhanawala – as someone who was in need of content writing. Our first meeting was conducted, like many others, in a Coffee Shop, where I explained to him my journey and destination. Subsequent meetings led me to a branding/communications assignment for one of his to be launched Apps. I then discovered that Nevil himself was a digital expert, having learnt and practiced the profession in USA and had recently opened shop in India.

Getting introduced to the School of SEO.

His SEO business experience in India was not up to his expectations, so just recently, in 2015 to be precise, Nevil began conducting online courses in the digital domain. (http://www.schoolofseo.in/). Luckily for me, we did a barter with my content writing. So passionate and convinced is he about this service,  that he actually offers a money-back guarantee!  A student from one batch can switch or catch up with another batch -another unique advantage.

Once Darukhanawala begins, the passion exposes itself in his voice, articulation and gesticulations. So deep is his knowledge on the subject, that at times he gets carried away and tends to drift from the topic, and needs to be brought back to focus -time is not too consequential, but imparting knowledge matters to him.

Unlike many of today’s coaching classes, with just the basic infrastructure, Nevil’s class room is well furnished, with a huge monitor, and more than adequate air conditioning, which one has to at times request him to turn down.

I also “Spott One Consulting Pvt Ltd”

Darukhanawala has the good sense not to restrict himself to just preaching, but also practices. Thus he has some top corporates whom he consults with and conducts workshops for others. Besides, he also offers his SEO services, with a small and dedicated team to a few top corporates, under the brand Spott One Consulting. This ensures he is abreast of the latest trends in the market place.

If my exposure to SEO is beneficial, thanks to Nevil Darukhanawala.

 

This post purports an attitude of gratitude.

 

 

 

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branding/advertising communications, Corporate Life

  A Peek in to the Cyber World of Millennial Teens

                                  

 

Refuel Agency, through Monkey Survey, conducted a study of “Millennial Teens”, aged between 16 to 19 who were born after the introduction of the Internet and Cells. What is it like to have been born in this generation? Some startling and some not so surprising revelations. The survey was conducted with a sample size of 684 teens as recent as June 3 to 9th, 2015. Can they be considered as “non-conformist trendsetters” looking for “instant gratification”?

 

Life becomes miserable without their Top 10 Products.

Besides the Cell/smart phone which expectedly, was on topmost of the list of things that the teens could not do without, surprisingly food, clothes and shoes ranked high in this list. Water, the essential zenith of life stood last at 10! The other items were Video game console, Tablet, MP3 player and Television. To put the items in perspective:

The Topmost Brands in their lives.

When asked to specify brands without which this target group could not do without,  Apple scored the highest, and surprise of surprises, the popular social networking site, which catapulted Mark Zuckerberg, as a household name, stood 10th or more specifically, last!

 

 

A good total of approx. 73% time in a day is spent on gadgets.

When asked how many hours in a 24 hour day they spent on devices, the computer and TV tied with each other at 3.5 hours, and again, (no prizes for any guesses), the good old, (or is it new?), smartphone was declared the winner with almost double the time at a good 6.3 hours! The Tablet was the poorest at 1.9 hours.

Focusing on gadgets that governed the life of Millennial, the Smartphone or Cell stood first at 55% and the TV as expected last at No. 5. The list as ranked:

Cell phone/ Smartphone 55%
Computer/ laptop 18%
Tablet/ e-reader 12%
IPod/ MP3 payer 8%
Television 7%

 

And pray, how does the young adult use the cell?

Again for sheer everyday usage, texting ranks highest at 66% (the contents of the text were not surveyed, but perhaps can be imagined!) Social media, games, camera and browsing approximating 50% each.  Emails and actual were as low as 33% and 24% respectively! (Surprising?)

 

 Does the Teenager make for a good Shopper?

So what does he or she look for whilst shopping? A good deal of research is done by the Millennial with 45% doing price comparisons to ensure the right purchase price. Reading Reviews stood at 44% whilst researching product details at 39%. (Perhaps this justified the 55% of the time spent on Mobiles?)

The Preloaded Browser makes a huge difference

Manufacturers and Marketers may be disturbed to note that 33% of the targeted audience is not likely to change the browser preloaded on their gadgets with a high 67% moderately or highly likely!

 

The Teen is sharp and wary with the browser

They cannot easily be taken for a ride with 70% and 68% of them wary about their security and privacy respectively. 54% considered web page loading speed as important to them. Social Integration featured at just 21%

Looking at Streaming Platforms

When it comes to Streaming Platforms, no prizes for guessing that You Tube scored the highest with 75%. This was followed by Netflix and Pandora with 55% and 39% respectively.

Time spent of Social Sites/Apps

Expectedly, 64% of their time was consumed on You Tube. But here again is an irony, whilst Face book stood 10th amongst favorited brands, 51% of the Millennial Teens time was spent on this site.

 

How “public” is the Millennial Teen’s Life?

65% of them are “very/somewhat willing” to “post something publicly on Social Media” – perhaps accounting for “In a Relationship” or it’s “Complicated”? “Not willing” were 23% and “Unsure” were just 12%

 

                                        

The Social Media used to keep up with the latest in Music, Games and TV shows.

 

With this background on the Millennial Teen, we can be assured the future is bright and exciting! Console

  1. Tablet
  2. MP3 player
  3. Television
  4. Water
  5. Cell/ Smart phone
  6. Food
  7. Computer/laptop
  8. Clothes
  9. Shoes
  10. Video game console
  11. Tablet
  12. MP3 player
  13. Television
  14. Water
  15. Cell/ Smart phone
  16. Food
  17. Computer/laptop
  18. Clothes
  19. Shoes
  20. Video game console
  21. Tablet
  22. MP3 player
  23. Television
  24. Water

 

 

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Personal Life

Too Many Communication Platforms, Too Many Cooks…..

Technology For Communications

Thanks to technology today, various communication platforms have opened up. To name just a few: FB, Linkedin, Twitter, Whatsapp, etc. Not to mention email platforms like hotmail, gmail et al.

In fact there are so many, that one finds it difficult to name them all. And most often users of such platforms, do not really utilise them all. So why be present on them, is a question I fail to comprehend.

Chicken and Egg situation?

Many such platforms like hotmail etc today are even granted official/legal status. And yet, I know many users who do not even open their mails. It’s the year ending, and after emailing my documents to my CA was dumbfounded to learn that my email was not even opened, leave alone read.  Because he receives more than 100 emails per day. So, whose fault?  I needed to then message him requesting him to read his emails! Wonder when I will need to email someone else to open and read my messages! Chicken and egg situation?

Consumption of Resources

And that’s just one of the many disadvantages – leave aside consumption of physical time, mind space etc with all these platforms.

Confusion Worse Confounded

What really takes the cake, is when the messages get crossed! So a message on email meriting  a response, gets responded on messenger, and the messenger gets a reply on email. Utter confusion!

Just For The Records

I presume most communication on messengers or apps, do not get saved or stored. Wonder how disputes, which are bound to arise, due to the various platforms, do get resolved.

Easy Solutions

If only we restrict ourselves to a few communication platforms life would be so much simpler for both, the sender and sender. But then….?

 

 

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branding/advertising communications

Between Decision-maker and Consumer, is the Brand Influencer

The Hunt Begins for a TV brand.

We needed a new TV set. The Samsung LCD went dead on us for the third time in 5 years – but that’s another story, another blog perhaps!

Enter Vijay Sales.

The search for a new TV set first went online and some brands were identified, with Micromax in the consideration set. Then a visit to the Vijay Sales stores, where the family stopped at the TV section, and followed by the salesman. The brands suggested were Videocon, Vise (Vijay Sales self-label manufactured by Videocon), LG, Samsung, and Sony.  Having burnt our fingers with Samsung, the brand did not resonate with us. Sony was way above budget. This prompted the sales guy to push Videocon and Vise. Both came with a 3 year comprehensive warranty.  Price was  affordable. Vise came into brand consideration, but if manufactured by Videocon, they why Vise? Of course our previous experience with Vijay Sales had been good.  However we were not too convinced of the (cheap?) Videocon brand,  so delayed our decision.

Croma enters the Fray.

We then visited Croma in the vicinity. We got drawn to the Micromax set, when the daughter exclaimed, “Micromax in TVs? Thought they were only in cells”. That put an end, before the beginning, for Micromax. Other brands were the same as we saw in Vijay Stores. The sales guy tried pushing Samsung, so I inquired how long he was with Croma. About 3 years was the response. I then related to him my 5-year-old episode with purchase of the Samsung brand at his store, for which he was apologetic. Our past experience too with the service at Croma Stores, was not much to write home about. Strangely, he was insistent that the warranty of Videcon was 1 year comprehensive and extended by another 2 years for service, with payment for spare parts. Vijay Sales offered a different story.

Back we went to Vijay Sales, and confirmed the comprehensive 3 year warranty of Videocon. Having established that, swiped the Credit Card and came home, happy with the purchase, but not necessarily with the brand.

The Brand Influencers!

A little marketing knowledge told me the purchase decision for a brand depended on 2 sets of audiences: The decision maker  and the consumer/purchaser. Brand influencers were a go-between and not given too much consideration.

The past decade or so, has toppled this buying behaviour heels over head. I have always noticed that whenever we make a planned and considered purchase of a durable, almost always we returned home with a different brand. Not necessarily because of lack of homework, but most often due to the role of the third-party or influencer – most commonly the Sales person. Although we are aware that a particular brand is pushed due to better commissions, at the moment of purchase, we succumb to the Influencer.

Now that Social Media helps us connect instantaneously and gain brand knowledge, its role as a word of mouth vehicle and  powerful Influencer cannot be denied. However, the Sales person will always have the last word for our wallet.

 

 

 

 

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