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.”

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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!

 

Why is learning more important than grades?

When I got the admission call from IE Business School, it was a dream come true to study with extraordinary colleagues in one of world’s best business school. Soon I realised it is not easy to be a part of the best place; you have to sacrifice all your comfort to get going, to perform and to climb the Gaussian curve. Everything is designed to drill down the abilities of students to perform under pressure and not to break down during extreme stress which I call “Puking Moments.”

Many highly intelligent people are poor thinkers. Many people of average intelligence are skilled thinkers. The power of a car is separate from the way the car is driven.” – Edward de Bono

The war of grades became so fiercely that the advantage of diversity, lifetime friendships and sense of collaboration got overruled. Sooner, I realised to be a part of the race that ends where it starts and not doing well means resentment and depression. Having mixed grades in the first term motivated me to go for better grades in the second term, and I scored the best possible grade in all four subjects for which the results are declared as of now. To introspect and justify grading, I went through the subjects again and realised that I completely missed the learning in a subject for which I was graded the best, and it was self-depreciating to defend my knowledge versus my grade. All the way, I found that I just tricked better to score a good grade and it does not reflect my intelligence all the way in this matter.

“Grades measure your performance in school, while intelligence measures your performance in life in general.”

Good grades make you feel nice, but at the same time, they give us an illusion of being intelligent and proficient in a subject and bias our point of view and process of learning. Whereas learning generates intelligence and intelligence measures your performance in life. We lose too many talented people by defining intelligence through exams that are wholly inadequate and constricting. Your education may become outmoded in next five years, but your attitude, your connections and your learnings will be lifelong. Remember, nobody gives a damn about your marksheets more than YOU during an interview. As my program-director at IIM Calcutta said during the closing ceremony, “These certificates are just pieces of paper, you yourself hold the key to your success.”

Organisations need leaders, collaborators and team-players who can build it together to last. Afterall, competition is not about building through copying others but to improve your offerings to stand-out and become a source of inspiration. As Zen Shin said,

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.”

 

Event: Branding building in the age of cognitive overload

Since Professor Richard Thaler has got Nobel in Economics for his theory about “Exuberance is Rational,” it is sort of introspection for me to sit and re-look the concepts of marketing I know. I always perceived myself as an irrational customer, that’s why I was reluctant to pay the maintenance fee for 1 year at CR7 CRUNCH when I am about to use it for 9 months. Yes, Eli (MRCB Partner in crime) found it weird, and I kept my point explaining the concept of rationality.

Prof Thomas Ramsoy did answer my question in a beautiful way that how important it is for managers and academicians to collaborate and work to achieve the purpose of grabbing “attention” of customers in the times of cognitive overload.

Neuromarketing is indeed a beautiful invention of cutting-edge technology to analyze what a consumer never shares. It indeed tells us how a consumer “behaves” in a particular situation without even consciously intended to. Learning about the brain always makes me inquisitive that how capable it is, thanks to my association to positive psychology.

It was an informative session from an eminent professor, who is also the founder of Neurons Inc, revealing the exciting facts about brain and how it is targeted in the world of marketing. In a race of seizing the pie of a customer’s market-share, how brands end up without even getting noticed.

There is no tunnel with a single way, while the time is limited and the customer is impatient. It is the matter of a couple of seconds, in which customer makes its purchasing decisions. Challenge is to focus on direct emotions, not just liking.

Nevertheless, there is a lot to learn for marketers from Neuroscience, and it is the time to “re-search” the subconscious!

Tough Love

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If continued working with Asian Paints, today I would have completed 6 years of professional journey. It is wonderful to be at IE and starting a new adventure with hugely talented & phenomenally diverse bunch of people on earth. Sometimes, I can’t even believe that it is happening and yes, it is profoundly happening now.

Starting the first day at Segovia, a World Heritage Site by UNESCO,  is famous for its cathedral, alcázar castle and its aqueduct. It is also renowned for its Romanesque art and many other outstanding buildings, including monasteries and convents. One of these convents, the Convent of Santa Cruz la Real, is currently the headquarters of IE University campus just outside the city walls in the Eresma River valley. A 12th-century building which was personally commissioned by Queen Isabella, whose figure sculpted in wood appears praying together with her husband.

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The Dean, Mr. Lee Newman commenced his powerful speech about IE’s believe in dynamic learning in a continuously changing world, and infusion of “Change is attitude” DNA among its students. To “TOUGH LOVE,” and strive to bring out the best possible; (H)umanly, (S)ocially and (T)echnologically. It was already quite clear that it is going to be a tough year ahead. To challenge the limits and GO BEYOND.

IE is not traditional, and it is never going to be, it is the Business School of today!

It is the place where technology and humanity meet to create remarkable scientifically proven facts. It is amongst few places on earth where women outnumber men, where the student to faculty ratio is unbelievable, where the whole world studies in a country.

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Precisely, IE School of Human Sciences and Technology is the home of 357 meticulously chosen students from 67 nationalities, who can speak 32 languages, who represent the world’s best organizations and possess the capability to become the future ambassadors.

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IE demands better than the best! You work after you are done with your work. Every day begins with a challenge to give the best shot. I heard that people start in nice suits and end up in Jeans and T-Shirts. That’s TOUGH LOVE!

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…..till the next BLINK, proud MRCBian! 🙂

 

 

 

How “Market-ing” is Evolving in Digital Era

As the market-ing entered into the digital era and thus continuously evolving its concepts. Marketers have to re-look and re-arrange the strategical inputs to co-create the whole thing. Unsurprisingly, marketing has adopted the process of digitalization at its best to understand and connect the customers, thereby creating the superior value propositions.

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In the digital world, communities are the new segments & brand-advocacy is the new customer-loyalty. Customers are socially connected and they find themselves in a better position to believe the recommendation of a stranger rather than organizations. Such communities serve as a medium of the noiseless decision-making process and refrain from falling into the trap of luring advertisements. Today, consistently communicating and maximising touch points do not necessarily translated into the desired results. On the other hand, a calculated attempt of winning a customer can result in a better return. With increasing mobility and connectivity, this is the challenge that marketers have to come up with.

In the era of traditional marketing, customer loyalty was somehow considered as customers retention and “word of mouth” was restricted within a group or area. The term is now evolved as “Brand Advocacy,” to let the customer endorse a product or service in a better-connected world and this is crucial to the success and failure of the product or service. Its importance increases with increasing trends of communities and especially when it is unlikely to influence the decision-making process of today’s customer.

It brings a change to the earliest and widely used framework to describe the customer buying process is AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action). Derek Rucker has proposed a modification of AIDA that he calls the four A’s: aware, attitude, act and act again. Four A’s further modified by Philip Kotler: aware, appeal, ask, act and advocate, to make them more relevant in connectivity era. The terms, “act again” & “advocate,” clearly signify the target area of marketers.

 

Young & Productive: Focus in Social Disruption

Speaking to young minds is an exceptional experience, fiercely energetic and eager to learn. They unusually figure out the directive path with steak eye & always curious to question. It happened to be at Lovely Professional University last month while speaking to around 400 grad students.

Today the world is evolving in an entirely different way. While it is modified to interact socially with the personification of digital, emotions are reshaping. Bombardment of over-information has kept people busy and ignorant to what really needed to learn and what should be avoided entirely. Just feeding our mind with overload doesn’t mean to be a worth of knowledge. It is the biggest challenge for gen-next how to organize the information and filter it as per its significance. Posting on Facebook about changing the world doesn’t help, apart from ‘virtual contentment,’ which is a new kind of disguise.

To push forward and challenging the status quo needs conventional but intelligent approach, books are still brilliant regarding information dissemination and logically reason the process of thinking. The Internet is helping disastrously, not because it is bad, but it has made to engage people smartly in a useless way and to make money out of it. I, somehow, find it better to disengage uniquely by uninstalling social media apps and login via laptop only. Just to keep a smartphone nearby, decreases the efficiency of a human brain by 10%.

There is a lot more needed to change the world, and the good news is we, all, are blessed with the ability to do so. Figure out, what is really important and how should it can be achieved & how really it is going to contribute to making a difference. Start it with a random act of kindness and develop the ideas of future, involve everyone without distinguishing, read WHY NATIONS FAIL by Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson.

Relying on others fail people more frequently than to get up and take the baton of responsibility, to put more than required and constantly. There is no innovation yet so effective, to make a human more capable against his willingness to dream and work hard to achieve.

P.S. Blog is not aligned to my core profession but human-factor is the basis of existence.

Depressed? Go, Exercise!

 

People talk about physical benefits of exercise but it is as good for mental health & emotional stability. Whenever I feel over-burdened and depress, I prefer to rush to gym, it is an antidote to fatigue & miraculously helps to stay happy & cheered-up. While we are so busy in our lives with lot of work & life related stress, it is highly recommended to spare at-least 40 minutes for exercise. Whatever we may do; whosoever we are, it’s great to exercise.

Exercise is good for mental health 

Exercise changes the structure and function of the brain, improves blood flow to the brain, feeding the growth of new blood vessels and even new brain cells, thanks to the protein BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF triggers the growth of new neurons and helps repair and protect brain cells from degeneration. It may also help people focus, according to recent research. It’s linked to less depression, better memory and quicker learning.

Exercise makes us happy 

Countless studies show that many types of exercise make people feel better and can even relieve symptoms of depression. Exercise triggers the release of chemicals in the brain—serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, dopamine—that dull pain, lighten mood and relieve stress.

Recovery from a major illness

People with different chronic conditions, from Type 2 diabetes to heart failure, should excercise. That’s new thinking, because for decades, people with certain diseases were advised not to exercise. Now scientists know that far more people can and should exercise. A recent analysis of more than 300 clinical trials discovered that for people recovering from a stroke, exercise was even more effective at helping them rehabilitate.

 

Exercise should be like bathing, if you can hardly skip it any day.

 

 

Note: The blog-post is based on an article published in TIMES Magazine

 

How Sugar Industry Dodged Its Social Responsibility

To mark profits is preponderant task of survival for any industry. Many times it gets obliterated, in silence, the concept Social Responsibility and left unnoticed for decades. Success of an industry depends upon its offering and how ‘sweetly’ people perceive it. In marketing terms, how well the behavioral changes are induced to attain the favorable disposition.

The sugar industry of America had an idea for its people, if persuaded, to shift dietary habits towards low fat. To remain healthy fat would have needed to be replaced with something else. Thus, an opportunity to spearhead a paradigm shift of three folds in per-capita sugar consumption.

The biggest threat that sugar leads to obesity and it had to keep in check by manipulating the facts. To derail the discussion, the sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to play down the link between obesity and heart-diseases and promote saturated fat as culprit instead. The internal sugar industry documents, recently discovered by a researcher, at UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA suggests that the dietary habits and recommendations were largely overshadowed by the sugar industry for last five decades. It ultimately became public opinion and consumers dutifully obeyed. The documents reveal that the sugar association paid three Harvard scientists to publish the malfeasance study that minimize the link between sugar and heart disease.

People replaced steak and sausages with pasta and rice, butter with margarine and vegetable oils, eggs with muesli, and milk with low-fat milk. But instead of becoming healthier, they grew fatter and sicker. In 1950s, just 12% Americans were obese whereas in 2000, it surged to 35%. In case of UK, it is even more terrible. Only 6% Britons were obese in 1980, today, two-third of Britons are either obese or overweight.

The conspiracy of projecting the different angle is widespread. Many organizations are indulged to makeover the grime as gold. In 2015, the New York Times obtained emails revealing Coca-Cola’s sponsored researches aimed at minimizing the effects of sugary drinks on obesity. Recently, the associated press obtained emails showing how a candy trade association funded and influenced studies to show that children who eat sweets have healthier body weight than others.