The last of the human freedoms

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

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Mary Kom: A Life of Lessons

How did Mary Kom celebrate after becoming the first woman boxer to win six gold medals at the World Championships? Sitting on the ringside steps, huddled with coaches, she cried. And the more the crowd cheered, the more the tears flowed.

She is the only woman to become World Amateur Boxing champion for a record six times, and the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the seven world championships.

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A 35 years old woman, a mother of 3, her life itself a lesson: 

IT DOES NOT MATTER WHERE YOU COMING FROM, WHAT MATTERS IS WHERE YOU GOING 

Born to parents who were landless agricultural labour in the state of Manipur in Northeast India, she becomes a legend defying every odd.

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER

Life is not a set of pre-defined rules, you have to write yours. At 35, mother of 3, she is power punches to dismantle any opponent in minutes.

NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS

Her years of hard work, the refusal to give up, pushing every boundary there was. The thrill, the joy of winning, the successes. The Olympic bronze, the 2020 Olympic dream, the unstoppable spirit.

USE EVERY SITUATION TO BUILD YOUR DREAMS

A childhood of hard labour prepared her body for the sport just as well as any fitness training might have. Her own will and aggression carry her through the minefield of politics that any sport in India is. Nimble of foot and pulling no punches, the boxing ring was Mary’s dominion

Mary’s story is one of relentless struggle and unflagging passion for the sport of boxing.

 

10 forms of content that work best for SEO

Search engines have two primary functions: crawling and building an index, and providing search users with a ranked list of the websites they’ve determined are the most relevant. Great Content encourages people to link to your pages and shows Google your pages are exciting and reliable. This leads to a successful SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION  because Google wants to show interesting and authoritative pages in its search results.

Having ranked higher in SEO helps you to gain organic traffic on your website, and the majority of search engines users are more likely to click on one of the top 5 suggestions in the results pages (SERPS).

Here is the type of content that works best for SEO:

1. Blog posts: Blog posts that are updated regularly with quality content and links directing to the relevant information.
e.g. Four roads we call customer service ranks for seth.blog

2. Short-form content and articles: Short, quick and easy read that is well structured.
e.g. Jim Collin’s Piece on Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals ranks for BHAG

3. Long-form articles: Articles that are interesting, informative and well written.
e.g. Nudged: How Brands Can Create a Difference by Using Behavioural Economics (Via souravraina.com)

4. Photo and visual galleries:  Visualisation is easily understood by the brain without making many efforts. Also, recent developments in the technology of reading data from pictures make it irreplaceable content for SEOs.

e.g. Right Hairstyle’s 100 Cool Short Hairstyles for Men/ (ranks for men’s hairstyles)

5. Detailed and information-rich lists of information: There are 1.2 trillion searches on Google every year and many of them are for informational purposes.
e.g. Wearable’s Best Fitness Trackers of 2016 (ranks for Fitness Trackers)

6. Interactive tools and content got some good examples of those.
e.g. Zoopla’s House Prices Tool (ranks for property prices)

7. Comprehensive category landers: This would be like if you search for kitchen designs, how you might land on Houzz’s page of various kitchen designs and that’s really a lander to get you into more content, so it’s not technically a content marketing piece by itself, but it leads you into content pieces or could.
e.g. HGTV’s Kitchen Ideas (ranks for kitchen remodelling ideas)

8. Multi-page guides: things like Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO.
e.g. Bates University’s “Painless Guide to Statistics” (ranks for statistics guide)

9. Data or complex information that is visualized
e.g. CNN’s Election Results (ranks for election results 2016)

10. Video: YouTube or embedded video on a particular page, Whiteboard Friday itself is an example of that.
e.g. Whiteboard Friday itself (ranks for Unique Content)

Psychology of Pricing: The Decoy Effect

Have you ever thought of pricing beyond cost + margin?

Did you ever notice the way you make decisions by available choices?

Did you ever feel curious when a book judged by its compelling cover became a boring read?

Have you ever thought why a shirt is priced at 2999 instead of 3000?

Most of the times we make irrational iterations to justify the rationality of our decisions. Psychology plays a mindboggling part in pricing and many times we fall into the trap of it and end up buying more, expensive or even useless.

Psychological pricing has many forms, and you may come across many such types of things around your local retailers or grocery shops. Just like I bought apples on a relatively high price because of a sticker depicting “High Quality,” only to find them rotten inside. Damn smart street vendors!

The decoy effect is definitely not the only cognitive bias that is apparent in humans.

To understand The Decoy Effect, let’s start with an example:

The Economist is widely known for using The Decoy Effect. Out of the below-mentioned choices, try to choose one out of three offers:

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Many of us will argue that the offer I (left) is the best option. It is cheap to have both the subscription for US$15, which are worth of US$24 (US$12 each). You will suddenly feel that you are making a rational choice with a right amount of deal. Other options seem irrelevant, and you are ended up spending more even if you do not need one or other kind of subscription.

Dan Ariely found in The Economist magazine and wrote about in his book Predictably Irrational but it touches on the concept of decoy pricing or the “asymmetric dominance effect” effect.

Confused?

Let’s take another example: The bottle with $30 tag suddenly becomes reasonable after the introduction of $50 tag bottle.

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i5: What Has Changed in Consumer Decision Making?

Why do we do the things we do? What is it exactly that drives our action? What do we know about our motives? A consumer decision-making journey is not easy to understand. We rarely make rational choices in our lives and our purchases!

The consumer decision journey has evolved significantly over the past decade due to the internet, digital innovation and the subsequent rise of the internet. Consumers are moving outside the marketing funnel by changing the way they research and buy products. Instead of a path to purchase that is traditionally linear, it has become more of a cycle. Moreover, it is not just dependent on products or brand, it involves channels too.

i5 model involves 5 steps of consumer journey: Introduction, Inspection, Investigation, Involvement and Inclination. It defines how a consumer starts its journey by need recognition and eventually passes through various steps to develop loyalty towards a brand or make an exit to explore other options.

INTRODUCTION

Introduction is the first step when a consumer recognizes a need and interprets it for myriad reasons. It includes psychological as well as physiological needs. The arousal of need is triggered by the stimuli (internal and external), stronger the stimuli, stronger will be the motivation to further involvement in the decision-making process.

INSPECTION

In this step, a consumer tries to evaluate his association with brands. The salience or a brand being top of mind in a decision situation is the first critical factor. Any first-hand experience (past usage) with the brand and second-hand experiences (influencers) on social media or directly communicated by the brand. The overall positive feeling created by these experiences will nudge consumers to choose one brand over another.

 

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i5 Model of Consumer Journey was developed by Sourav Raina while he was pursuing Masters in Market Research and Consumer Behaviour at IE Business School, Spain.

 

INVESTIGATION

During the investigation stage, a consumer looks after the channel which suits the most. It may involve convenience, low prices, offers or lock into a loyalty-based program. With the continuous evolvement of e-commerce platforms and comparison sites, a consumer inclines to make a smart decision. Furthermore, the combination of both channels (online and offline) is also in use to decide to purchase. The concepts like “showrooming,” are byproducts of it.

INVOLVEMENT

Involvement is the user experience phase or the period of usage. It is the “moment of contact” of a brand and a customer.

INCLINATION

Involvement creates experience and experience shapes inclination. How well a brand delivered against expectations is critical to developing the loyalty loop, advocacy and repurchase decision. An unsatisfied consumer exits the journey to look after further options.

Nudged: How Brands Can Create a Difference by Using Behavioural Economics

Professor Richard Thaler, University of Chicago, the Nobel Memorial Prize Winner in Economics (2017) for his contribution to Behavioral Economics. Together with his co-author, Professor Cass Sunstein (Harvard Law School) is responsible for developing and popularizing the concept of “Nudging.”

WHAT IS NUDGING?

“A nudge is an aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s Behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not.” (Thaler & Sunstein 2008, page 6)

 

WHY I LOVE NUDGING?

To me, nudging is a compelling idea of doing small & yet powerful tweaks to assist people to make the right choices (which is right for your brand to gain the competitive advantage). I had started using Nudging when I was working for Asian Paints Ltd (Forbes 10 most innovative & leading home-décor companies in the world), a part of my job was to convenience distributors that why we offer the best deals (despite being the most complicated calculations we had in our sale promotions). To re-arrange the offerings most simply and to calculate it in a way a distributor can understand without changing the overall cost. Reference to my experience, I feel that it is one of the most robust processes a person or organisation can use to get the job done. Notably, for marketing and sales people it is an excellent opportunity to learn and put into action. Nowadays, nudging has recently even proven popular with governments around the world. Relying on insights from behavioural science, nudging seeks to improve people’s decisions by changing the way options are presented to them. Interestingly, it does not change the options themselves nor the costs and benefits associated with these options.

HOW WE “NUDGE” IN DAILY LIFE?

Nudging is a widespread phenomenon, and we are tempted to nudge under various circumstances. For instance, I repeatedly noticed many times that whenever I jaywalk in streets (needlessly when vehicles are either at a distance or no traffic), it tempts people to follow the same, even though they were patiently waiting before. In such a way I benchmark a kind of behaviour under given circumstances that people feel nudged to adapt. Moreover, in our daily lives we come across the stigma of too many choices, and thus, it makes us confuse to choose the best for ourselves. Now a day, even choosing a bottle of water is a difficult job, provided the number of choices. But having assisted at various level to make a right decision is nudging.

I, also, wish to share an experiment that I have carried out during my Master at  IE Business School. One of my classmates was so shy to speak in the class, and she was on the verge of losing her participation marks which consist of roughly 30% of the total weight. I spent so much time to motivate her to speak so that she could score better as she was hard-working but very shy to talk most of the times. In one of  CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR classes, I wrote “30%” on a piece of paper and inserted in the back of her “name-plate”. By doing this little thing, I noticed something unusual; she spoke three times in the same class. It never happened before, I have never been able to convince her vocally to talk even once in any class. Eventually, she ended up being one of the best presenters in the class.

 

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HOW NUDGING WORKS?

The fundamental principle of Nudge is that of “liberal paternalism.” The idea that it is both possible and legitimate for institutions to affect Behaviour while also respecting freedom of choice of the consumer, as well as the implementation of that idea. It has the following two key attributes:

  • Firstly, that individuals should be allowed to do what they “like.”
  • Secondly, that the public and private sectors should also be encouraged “to steer people’s choices in directions that will improve their lives”.

For example: “Putting the book at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning mobile phone does not” (just in case parents want their children to use less technology). This is because it will increase the likelihood of children to grab a book to read- for their benefit- but they should be allowed to choose the either.

Nudge works more in a subtle way, and while this may appear inconsequential when compared to more forceful forms of communication, Professor Thaler argues the fact people can be “greatly influenced by small changes in the context”, and, as such, relatively minor alterations to the status quo can “move people in a direction that will make their lives better”.

HOW TO CONSTRUCT AN EFFECTIVE NUDGE?

While nudge is a great tool to change the behaviour of consumers. It is even more critical to constructing it efficiently to maximise its benefits. Following are points that should be taken into consideration while forming the effective nudge.

Incentives: It is essential to know who is benefitted and accordingly whom to be targeted to nudge by offering specific incentives. For instance, consumers do not always notice gradual increases in the prices of their energy bills as a means of attempting them to reduce energy use but may pay more attention if a thermostat told them how much money they would save by turning it down.

Understanding Offering: Understand the type of product or service an organisation is offering and map it in a clear and comprehensive for customers.

Defaults: Setting a default eases the course of action, it helps consumers to choose well among many choices. For instance, setting a default amount to add in the wallet-app help consumers to make a decision easily.

Give feedback: Tell people when they are doing it right or not. For instance, a red-sign on battery indicator in the laptop means to plug the charging, and a green sign on the dashboard of the car is an indicator of the efficient driving skills. People will eventually start taking it a default course of actions, and it can change their habits dramatically.

Expect error: As humans are prone to commit mistakes, an all-around composed framework “anticipates that its clients will blunder and is as excusing as would be prudent.”

HOW CAN BRANDS NUDGE?

Brands now call it “Nudge Marketing.” Compelling consumer to desired in a certain manner by “nudging” them with a market message that straddles the sensitive adjust of not being too delicate and inconspicuous nor being too blundering and strong. In the times when consumers are living in an era in which if overflowed of information, it is getting increasingly difficult for marketers to communicate in such a manner that it would not perceive as “too much” at the customer end, such brands lose their relevance and trust of the consumer. Also, to ensure that consumers can understand the product well and find it easy to use is the most prominent challenge due to time-factor and wide availability of choices.

A brand that can nudge well can win the race. Not just regarding communicating well but being involved with consumers in their decision-making process. Such brands enjoy the high level of loyalty and trust of the consumers. Apple is an excellent example in the context of nudging. The extremely high success of the iPhone and iPad is far dependent on the fact that they are highly user-friendly that both simplify and enhance the consumer experience.  Apple doesn’t rely on the fewer choices but also ensures that the offering should desirably delight the consumer. Thus, consumers place higher trust in their offering and perceive it as a highly aspirational choice. Also, Apple nudges its customer by offering a new highly innovative and fundamentally different device every year, even without being communicated to upgrade (for example from iPhone 8 to iPhone X), customers feel nudged to grab the latest.

The prospect of nudging can also play, a broader role when it comes to corporate social responsibility. With the growing demand for health-conscious and environment-friendly products, brands can potentially nudge their consumers using consumer insights, to change behaviour or habit and to adopt healthier and more sustainable products. It can be ranged from self-hygiene to responsible use of natural resources. In an era when the world is talking about sustainability and customers are looking for healthy substitutes, brands are in a privileged position to be actors of change in society thanks to their daily relationship with consumers in the home and elsewhere.

 

 

 

Brand Storytelling: The Power of Purpose

There is no doubt about the power of storytelling, its fascination and ability to strengthen the recall of a brand.  Humans quickly connect with stories, and it helps them to remember things longer. A story activates parts of the brain that allows listeners to turn the story into their own ideas and experience. However, there is very little empirical evidence exists of their effects on consumer responses. As storytelling is becoming another mainstream mode of advertising, what kind of stories a brand should tell to keep it outstanding and clutter-free.

Should a story be of a fearless rebel or gentle? That depends, which route is imperative and how well customers associate themselves with it. However, there is a risk of polarisation, and lack of purpose can doom the image of a brand. Controversial brands are often quick to rise and fall as they get drown in the tsunami of trends and become out of space.

Amidst a generational shift, Millennials will comprise more than one of three adult Americans by 2020 and 75% of the workforce by 2025. Brands have to re-consider their current positioning and how they can effectively connect with the next generation, as reports suggest that millennials prefer brands with purpose. Purposeful storytelling is the better idea with sharply honing the context of timing. That is what Nike did it with its 30th-anniversary ad.

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The decision by Nike to use Colin Kaepernick as the face of the ad campaign celebrating the 30th anniversary of ‘Just Do It’ reflects a brave move driven by the purpose of “Believe in Something.” Meanwhile, people reacted against it on social media, but surging sales of Nike clearly tell a different story. Nike stood for the purpose of non-violent civil protest as a proud legacy of America, and the world is loving it.

What is fascinating from a marketing aspect is how this one ad has wholly redefined Nike’s brand purpose. How exceptionally it conveyed the message of moral excellence and the meaning of success in the world. Also, it will reinforce Nike’s connect to Gen-Z as a purpose-driven brand to help solve social and environmental problems.

An advice I received from a Harvard professor

I read Professor Bill George‘s Discover Your True North couple of years ago, and it is one of the most extraordinary books I came across. When many talk about idealism and fame in leadership, it talks about Authentic Leadership. Authentic leaders have discovered their true north, align people around a shared purpose and values, and empower them to lead authentically to create value for all stakeholders.  

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Whenever I have to re-discover myself, this is one of the books I go back to meditate and seek advice. As it tells many beautiful things including:

The way you deal with your greatest adversities will shape your character far more than the adversities themselves. Much like iron is forged by heat, your most significant challenges and your most painful experiences present the greatest opportunities for your personal growth.

As I continuously wonder about hatred people spew over social media while criticising every good or bad, concerned or unconcerned. I was curious to know whether it is a good idea to criticise, how should we deal with criticism, is it even essential or is there any right way to present it?

I tweeted a question to him:

Prof , How you see ? Should we avoid it or do it, if stakes are involved. How an can manage such a situation? What I learnt about , he stopped criticising people or things after he realised it is not worth.

Professor Bill George, always humble, replied:

“Constructive criticism is a gift to us as leaders. Those who criticize me have been very helpful in improving my leadership.”

A Teacher Like Her

Whenever she entered the classroom to teach us Marketing, my colleagues at IE School of Human Sciences and Technology (HST) used to hold their seats tight to accumulate every drop of learning she extended to us. We didn’t learn just marketing in her classes; we learnt life-skills, attitude, generosity and much more. Her energy, her statements, her acuteness is marvellous. I am privileged and blessed that I learnt from you, Professor Ana Rumschisky. Your contribution to my life is a grace, and I would never be able to pay this debt ever.

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In India, there is a very popular adage in the Sanskrit language “Matha Pitha Guru Deivam”. The translated word for word, it is, “Mother Father Teacher God”. The meaning of this adage is the greatest truth, and the order in which one should offer reverence. The phrase is a fundamental tenet in existence from the time of the Vedas and beyond and represents the hierarchy in which one should respect these entities.

First comes the mother (Matha or Mata) who gives birth to the child, thereby bringing us as a child into this world. Next comes the father (Pitha or Pita), because it is the mother who knows the truth about the father and she points us to the father. The mother and father then take us to the teacher (Guru), and it is the guru, through his or her teachings, points us to God (Deivam or Devam). Here God represents the consciousness or self-awareness or our real self.

You have genuinely awakened the consciousness and self-awareness in us!

You accommodated a thousand failures of mine, and yet you foresee the other side of mine, which is about to realise. I believe your words as much as I believe in myself. Your everlasting impression on my life will reflect on my leadership tomorrow and forever. I am your lifetime student, and I am blessed of being one.

Your words are a flair of nectar that quenches even the dead morale. Your experiences are rare to learn and practice upon. I bet no one can ever forget your pieces of advice and thoughts. The passion and intention behind everything are crystal clear, and it makes a clear impact with a punto. 

You are not just a distinguished and incredible teacher, you are an amazing human!

 

Long live, Prof Ana. We Love You All! 🙂

10 Months, 10 Things — All About IE

In the past ten months, I persisted 54 Group Projects, 42 Subjects, 11 exams and an unknown number of individual tasks to proudly earn my Master at IE Business School. As someone asked me, “How good IE is?,” and I loftily replied: “how good are you?”

Nothing comes easy and what comes easy has no glory. It was a big sacrifice to leave my job, staying away from parents for so long and keeping a sharp eye on every Euro I was spending. Today and forever, I can proudly announce that I took a bold decision and it is set to transform my life endlessly.

It was not an easy journey at all but I fought well, I survived, and I earned what I deserved.

10 months in the Mecca of Human Science and Technology, and I have gained 10 life learnings:

Go Beyond: You have to push every limit you set for yourself to be successful. Success doesn’t lie where you think it is, you have to go beyond. One step further, and one step more until you’re unbeatable. One more shot, one more improvement, one more chance to be irreplaceable.

I woke up every day to fought the great battles against my own limitations. To push myself beyond what I considered is the limit. I puked, I cried, I made horrible mistakes; that’s how I learnt, and I shall continue to learn all the way.

Collaborate: Edward Everett Hale quoted, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” If I have to sum up my whole IE learnings in one word, it would be, “Collaboration.” There is no force mightier than collaboration. You may walk alone a few steps successfully, but you will never reach far enough, I can guarantee it. I have seen untrained people collaborating and winning, I have witnessed extraordinary people falling apart and losing. People who are not team-players are just not good enough!

Tough Love: Is not it true to find what you love and let it kill you? People often ask me why you love IE so much and I answer them, “Why not to love something I sought with all my heart, what made me strong enough to face any reckless obstacle in my life, what challenged me to embrace difficulties to rise.” As Valeriia Nikolaienko, my philosophical coffee date and good-friend told me that IE made her daring enough to make her hands dirty in any damn thing even she doesn’t know about. Everything seems possible now.

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No Ordinary: We all are born ordinary, but it is up to us to make a choice not to die ordinary. As Nelson Mandela said, “There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” It is not just about life, it is about work as well. There is no passion to be found in settling for the work that is less than the one you are capable of producing. At IE, I entered as an ordinary student, but I walked out with the potential to be extraordinary in whatever I shall do in my life.

Know Thyself: Life doesn’t give us many opportunities to know ourselves in depth, our values, capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. To be a great leader, you must take time to actualise and practice it. To harness the best potential of your team, you must know thyself. It starts with you, to lead with integrity, to set an example that others will follow.

At IE, you should know your strengths to survive on difficult group tasks. To turn your weaknesses into opportunities and become successful. I have seen some fantastic transformations happening around, and it was inspirational to learn from peers.

Work Until It Is Done: At IE you don’t work on your projects until it is the dusk, you work until it is done! Hard work has no replacement but working hard is not enough if you wish to stay ahead. You have to be creative, collaborative and consistent regarding your efforts. The rule is simple, you have to give your 110%. There is a stage when your efforts become your luck. Especially, when you have to compete against exceedingly best people around. Define your luck with your work.

Re-think, Re-evaluate, Re-design: Challenge what they call the best, the best is yet to come. Re-think what is prevailing, re-evaluate what are the standards, re-design what should be optimised. IE is entrepreneurial, we reject what is consistent, we reject what is mediocre.

Learn Forever: You should only stop learning when you die, I wish there would be the scope of carrying some books to the grave. A minute of free time after IE experience drives me crazy, I crave to make every second worth of learning something new. Never let anything to stop you from learning every day, it should not be a need, it should be a deeply ingrained habit.

Diversity is Love: 31 students in a class representing 26 nations, it was a dream come true. We built our own nation, a nation of nations. A neverending bond defined by love and gratitude. If I write my story about these flawless people, words will fall apart. Let me hide those tender feelings into the safe of my heart forever because few things can never be expressed but to be felt, eternally. All I do, to love you, MRCB O2.

Time Flies: As my friend, Paco said in his closing ceremony speech, “It was the year that went with the lightning speed.” We were so busy with work that we never realised that our golden days together at IE are over. That’s life! Nevertheless, we are IE family forever.

To end this note, I wish to reiterate an excerpt from my INFLUENCE AND PERSUASION assignment:

“Add value to seek value. Everything that is considered the best is scarce.” Sourav Raina  

……..so is IE Experience.

 

IE Forever!