Posted in Fiction Experiments

The Pink Flats


It’s a third time today that I am opening that tempting tab in my browser to peek at this object of desire that has caught my fancy.

I find myself staring at this pair of sinfully elegant, unapologetically feminine Parisian pink flats.

Then my eyes hover over the hefty price tag – surely my overstuffed closet doesn’t need a $450 Gucci shoe. But the mind is wandering and I can imagine this pair going perfectly with that still untouched magenta super swingy skirt which I had never been confident enough to pull off.

A meeting reminder pops up on my screen and breaks me of my reverie. “Ah”, I scold myself – “The PG&E meeting is in 15 minutes and you are lusting over a pair of shoes that you don’t need. Wake up Girl!”.

To give some background, I work at BigRock – an investment management firm.  And yes – today is just another ordinary day. I have an upcoming meeting with a client and there is this lingering sense of anxiety to bat this well.

“Many eyes are on this deal, and if you nail it – the Sales Director role is yours. Just make sure they get the messages right .. and don’t make it seem too much of a hard –sell .. and hopefully, they won’t dwell too much on the terms in Section #4… ”

A constant drone of to-do lists is hammering at the back of my head.., imagining all the ways this meeting can go wrong. And every time there is a blip in this train of thoughts – I am seeking refuge in these pair of Parisian pink flats.

“You need these shoes to be successful!!”  – a chirpy voice screams inside my head.  Click .. click ..click. it would be so easy to buy.

“I’m sorry, but..”, another calm voice patiently explains. ” Remember how you had to give away those Coach boots which were in perfect shape because you realized you had two pairs which looked exactly like the same?”

“But well, you know..” – the chirpy voice pops up again – “Don’t be so hard on yourself,  you’ve been working so hard and that contract that you won last month. You deserve this!”

“So.. On Page#5, don’t forget to mention that we analyze the attractiveness of an asset not only based on its risk, but also on the return potential the asset may bring to the portfolio”  – That one is my BigRock employed thread, urgently entreating to be heard among the other two voices.

“Blah, blah, blah”.. the chirpy voice interrupts again. “Pleated Magenta skirt with a sleeveless white blouse and pink flats with a floppy bow –  now that’s a killer outfit!”…

“Nooo… Too many shoes in your closet, remember?!”. The calm voice seems all flustered and is screaming now.

“.. and the long-term performance goal for this portfolio is to achieve at least 80% of the return of the global stock market” – weakly mutters the BigRock thread again.

The calendar invite has popped up. It is time to join the PG&E call now.  I take a deep breath and flick these voices away as I begin dialing the number…

Hello Everyone, this is Anjali from BigRock Investments”, I brightly announce myself on the phone.

Like I said..  it is just another ordinary day today.

Posted in My World View, Random thots..

Going with the Flow..


Go-With-The-Flow

Everywhere you go, you see people ..and places.. Houses and roads and means of transportation. People going somewhere. Everyone trying to be someplace else, different from where they are now..

And that’s how life is in every part of the world. Everyone trying to do something. Reach someplace where they are not right now..on a constant journey. Which is what makes the wheels turn and our blood flow. Or whatever is the term for making things seem normal and routine..

And the moment you wake up somewhere someday with no place you feel inspired enough to go – life comes to a whirring uncomfortable halt. If you do not have any purpose for yourself – however mundane and insignificant it might be, then there is this evil question which creeps up – Am I doing anything worthwhile at all?

And a gnawing question this is – which follows you around like a hungry puppy and bites you in the hand when you try to feed it with inconsequential answers.

So what can you do to tame this ugly thought?

Go with the flow. Do something that makes sense in that moment. Follow a trail – or create a new one.

Because a river is always more interesting than a pond. New experiences always enrich your life’s perspective and because .. “A bend in the road is not the end of the road…Unless you fail to make the turn.”!

Image Credits: http://ohksocial.com/small-business-growth-go-with-the-flow/

Posted in Random thots..

Idea #9: Never Regret


Meaningful-Picture-Quotes-Never-regret-anything

Do not regret anything that happens in your life. “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way”.

It is the past. Swallowed in the black hole of time. Get over it!.

And quite possibly whatever happened might be for the best. Perhaps it will bring out something good in the future. Perhaps it will make you see things in a different light. Perhaps it will help you live life to the fullest. Perhaps it will help you avoid the mistakes you made in the past. So…

Its OK if you were wrong. Some of the most brilliant things have happened in life when people made mistakes. And then, you couldn’t have been right all the time, could you ? ( unless you are Sheldon Cooper, of course! )

It is OK if you left some things to chance. After all, decision making is much more complex than a binary yes or no. And under the circumstances , if you made some decisions based on information you have at hand, and few others based on chance – you needn’t regret if the chance factor didn’t work out as desired. That’s why they call it chance, don’t they?!

It is OK to change your course mid flight. That’s why in flight navigation systems are there in place! That’s why corporations hold strategic planning exercises.. That’s why management consultants are paid such hefty salaries.

The point is – regret is a non productive emotion. It doesn’t give you any solutions , and can only spawn more non productive negative emotions like helplessness and despair. So if you replace regret with something positive like – Hmm…determination. motivation . experience… enlightenment.. 🙂 ,  you will have something much better to work with!

And now. if you think of it.. The more you analyse, the more you will realize the futility of it all..

“I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations — one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it — you will regret both.” ! ― Søren Kierkegaard

Posted in Random thots..

A Small Lesson in Sales


 Lesson in Sales

To cut a long story short- I recently moved to another country with my family and had to sell off all the stuff at my house  before the move.

So I took nice pictures of everything and put up ads in the classifieds. And started getting flooded with  calls – “Is the Computer table still available?”, “Is the price negotiable?” etc etc..

And although this might seem a cumbersome task, which it was in the beginning, I slowly began to get fascinated by all of it. It was like my own tiny social experiment on C2C sales – selling stuff to people who would actually use it!

And with a well intention-ed scientific curiosity, I went haywire designing my experiment, bundling offers to see how people respond to different options. – “Coffee table free with King size bed”  vs “20% discount on king size bed if picked in next 12 hours”  I even had a pipeline for every item I was selling , trying to find some pattern in the madness!

Here are my observations  – some not-so-random findings from this totally random experiment.

People buy for their own reasons:  “So you’ve liked the sofa. Would you like to take the dining table also with it . I’ll give you 20% off on the bundled price on both” – I used this dialogue on many unsuspecting subjects. Well, they will smile politely, and go see whatever else  you offered them.. Engage in small talk.. Phone a friend.. Take an audience poll.. And then politely decline due to reasons entirely beyond their control- “Err, wish I had more space in my flat”.. “Oh no, I just bought a new dining table!”. Bottom line is – do what you may, people buy for their own reasons. You can’t change that!

Buyers always look for Trust:  Nobody will ever tell you on the face (hopefully!)  that -“You look real shady to me”. But before getting into any transaction , people will always want to know if they can trust you. So they ask questions like – how old is your Refrigerator, did you ever need to get any repairs done on it? And they will believe what you say. So although you might not have any papers to prove any of this- if they trust you then they will still go ahead and buy it from you. And the weird thing is – you really cannot define where this trust comes from. Perhaps it’s a gut feeling, perhaps it’s about your body language, or just a culture where people trust each other. But earning Trust is the foundation of any successful sale.

Bargaining is good for any Negotiation:  Everyone feels good after a bit of haggling. Don’t agree with me? Well.. On the last day of my social  experiment on selling stuff  (adding  an academic zing to it!), a guy turned up for my TV Table. He named half the price I had quoted. Since I was on a deadline to clear everything off,  I agreed immediately . And the expression on his face was that of extreme disappointment. He seemed so upset , as if he had been cheated!.. Which is why – if a negotiation happens and you easily agree to the other party’s terms, then they will always  feel that they didn’t  get a good enough deal.  Ergo,  unless it is grossly appropriate – haggle away! 

But then, generalizations are generalizations after all. Every sale is different, as Sales gurus might say – The deal is in the details!.

Posted in My World View, Random thots..

Idea #4: Procrastination is good for you!


Fine. I’ll admit it.

Since the last two days, I was struggling with the Idea for this week. There were a few possibilities knocking in my head, but they somehow didn’t fit in. Desperate in need for a bright shiny idea, I made fanciful preparations to lure and ensnare it.

You know the regular routine… Turn off the TV. Adjust the lighting. Fix the cushions. Fill the coffee cup. Buckle down to write.

But pushing hard seemed to have the opposite effect. Nothing worked!.

So realizing the futility of it all, I let it go. Picked up a book from my to-read shelf and began reading… It’s surprising that in these moments, Idea #4 struck me.  And ironic as it may sound, it said – Procrastination is good for you!

Well… how many times have you hated yourself for procrastinating? Fussed over details and feared that the sky will fall off if you don’t act soon enough. Lamented on a time atrophied in utter lack of effort.

But then, have you noticed how you get sudden bursts of fertile inspiration after long fallow stretches of inactivity? Or have discovered surprising answers to questions that had simmered in your subconscious, in periods of idleness and solitude.

We consider procrastination to be something evil. The thief of time. The killer of productivity. The scourge of creativity.

But is it really so awful?

Maybe not. It could be a time spent thinking over, sharpening the axe, strategizing! A time getting prepared for all the wonderful things that have been locked in some precious corner of your brain, and required some catalyst to bubble out. A time to witness epiphanies, and assimilate the Eureka moments. A time to realize who you really are, apart from the needy pushy ambitious self that you keep pumping up eternally. A time to wallow in the sweetness of solitude, and the shy answers it brings to your overbearing questions.

If you think of it the other way round, “Procrastination is not the problem. It is the solution. It is the universe’s way of saying stop, slow down, you move too fast”. It is nature’s way of revealing things that you would never have unearthed yourself.

“It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top”!

So the next time you procrastinate, don’t kill yourself with guilt. Look out for those subtle clues that might have evaded your conscious mind.

Did it ignite a spark in you, the seed of the idea which had eluded you all this while? Or a key element in a new path which had always dodged you and deemed impossible. Or did it suddenly dawn that the thing you were pursuing relentlessly all this while wasn’t worth it at all??

Yes, that’s what creators call epiphany… the eureka moment which will creep up shyly to you when you are alone. When you sit down and let it go. When you filter all the noisy channels and focus.

I can hear you asking – Focus on what?

And my answer is – Nothing.

Posted in My World View, Random thots..

Idea #3: Execution is everything!


When you think of Creativity, what are the thoughts that hit you first?

Well, you might consider it as the ability to come up with shiny, jaw dropping, awe inspiring ideas.

But in my experience, the hard part about Creativity is not about coming up with new ideas at all.

And that is the thought of this week . On their own, ideas are nothing. Execution is everything!

Really !??

Well, we get ideas all the time. In the shower.. while shaving, or brushing our teeth. But it’s the guy who walks out of the shower, dries off and buckles down to work is the one who makes the difference. Writes the bestseller.  Outshines in the workplace. Makes millions.

Okay, I agree that ideas are sexy.. fascinating.. alluring – they inspire confidence in us. But they are also a bunch of dangerous, reckless, wild things. They make us overestimate our ability to execute. And that can hit you very hard – as it happened to the 3 guys here.

In early 2003, a bunch of Harvard seniors stumbled on the idea of creating a dating site for the university. They engaged a freshman to program their site. Well, it turns out that the kid they hired was smarter than they had bargained for. He improved on their idea, built a cool website and launched it himself. The new site created a storm on the Internet, and that kid went on to become one of the world’s youngest billionaires.

You guessed it right. This is the story of Facebook.

The point is, can anyone deny Mark Zuckerberg the credit for Facebook’s success?.  He might not have owned the idea, but then, ideas are tied to reality only by execution. In the movie “The Social network”, Zuckerberg famously says – “ If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.”.  Touché!

Friends. Fellows. Countrymen!

The path to success winds through mountains of pain, heartbreaks, heartburns and learning.. And there are so other many factors like vision, talent, analytical insights, passion and most importantly, luck.. An idea is just the beginning!..

That brings us to the next question. Why is understanding this life changing?

Because, if you have a brilliant idea, be sure that this not enough. Brace yourself; you have a long way to go.

And don’t be too upset if someone else stumbled on the same idea as yours.. Execution is everything.. baby!! 🙂

Posted in My World View, Random thots..

The 10 Week Idea Challenge!


How do you feel when you stumble upon something remarkable that makes you sit back and think?

Do you feel fortunate, thankful.. Inspired? Does it suddenly ignite that “Aha!” moment inside your head when you think – “Geez, That’s what I was subconsciously looking for!”..

Do you wish you had known that earlier, so that it could have grown to help you do what you’ve always wanted?

For a while now, I have been observing these memes.. how they develop like tiny droplets and gradually create ripples that grow into giant waves. Yes, I have been procrastinating too (which is why you haven’t heard from me since a while now), and wallowing in happy unhurried explorations on the Internet…

Sigh!.. Drastic situations call for drastic measures. So to push out of my own contended bubble, I have come up with this personal 10 week challenge which will jazz up and swing me into action.  The rules go like this: Every week from now, I will post about a life changing Idea which has influenced the way I think (and could probably change yours!) 

Why 10 weeks? Well 10 is a nice and even and round number, sort of official looking like the 10 commandments. And I’m hoping that in this infinite universe of awesome ideas floating around, I can dig out 10 unique ones which will make our lives richer..

So, what exactly are these life-changing ideas? My own definition goes like this.

A life changing Idea is:

  • Something that transforms the way you think about life
  • Challenges your regular go-to approach
  • Helps you gain insights you would otherwise have missed.

Frankly, I haven’t thought about all of them yet, but am hoping this quest will make me discover many on the way. And yes, John Steinbeck had better be right when he said – “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen”!!

So without any delay, let’s begin with Idea #1:  Start your day like a Rock star!