As a parent, the last few months have involved running around schools (20+ schools in all) for my child’s school admission. The whole experience has had its share of highs and lows, ups and downs, disappointments and highlights, surprises and shocks, observations and lessons learned – In terms of my baby’s performance, In terms of our own performance as parents and of course in terms of the changing face of schools and educational institutes!
But the entire experience also made me realize that Marketing is such an important and integral element of a school. After all, From a school’s perspective – How well you market your school determines how many parents admit their kids into your school, and that adds to your top-line. After all, all schools / educational institutes are commercial enterprises at the end of the day!
In this post, I am sharing some observations, lessons and learning’s from my personal experiences:
* Marketing Initiatives from schools appear to depend on the following parameters:
(1) How old / new the school is? for e.g.: Newer schools are more aggressive in marketing and promotion (You can see them everywhere especially during the Admission Season – On posters, banners, newspapers, flyers, etc. etc.). The older / more established schools rely mostly on the powerful word-of-mouth referrals which get them new students every year
(2) The Brand Image the school has. for e.g.: Is it positioned as an elite school for elitist society? Is it a school for the middle-class parents? Does it have a legacy / great achievement to boast of? Does it have an alumni which have done the school proud? – A lot of the marketing collateral and positioning is usually centered around this!
(3) Marketing Budget which the school is willing to invest – which is a function of the owners / trust / management of the school, and their “mind-set” / views on the importance of marketing
* Almost all schools (old / new) have “beautiful-looking” web-sites. I must say some them were really impressive, in terms of their philosophy, visuals, achievements and the user experience. And most of the web-sites have such wonderfully written text. And trust me, if I share the “text only” version of these web-sites, you can never say which text belongs to which school. So much for differentiation!
The other observation I made (rather sad to state this) is that if you see the web-site and then visit the school, you will be in for a complete shock because of the disconnect in how the schools position themselves on their web-site, and what they actually are! So much for initial disappointment!
* The newer schools focus and market way too much on infrastructure, modern facilities, and very “materialistic parameters“. Should there not be more focus and rigor on “education” in ways it matters to an individual and society at large?
* The “front-end staff” (those interacting with prospective parents) were always smiling, nice and undigestibly sweet (almost as if it were their wedding, and they were posing for photos the whole time) – especially in the newer schools (Read as schools which had more supply than demand). In other schools (Read as schools which had more demand than supply), the “front-end staff” were rude, indifferent and cold in their interactions with prospective parents (probably there’s no better way to deal with infinite demand and the same questions day-in and day-out)
* Most schools spoke about “Holistic Education” and the emphasis on Studies and overall student development. It’s good to see the emphasis on academics; as well as overall child development – And I do hope that schools focus on both aspects in the “right spirit”. Though from my interactions, it appeared that “academic rigor and focus” was way down in the priority list for many schools! In my view, “academic rigor and focus” should be one of the top priorities for any school. I mean “How many parents send their children to schools with the primary aim of getting them to ride a horse? or play golf? or getting them to sit an an A/C environment the whole day?”
* Surprisingly, not a single school I visited ever spoke of a subject called “Moral Science”. When I was a student, Moral Science was a mandatory subject everyday for 30 minutes – From 1st standard to 10th standard. In today’s day and age, would it not help to touch and discuss topics / subjects dealing with moral values and have it integral to the school curriculum?
Just my thoughts, what do you think? Leave a comment to let me know
During the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to interview several potential candidates for hiring against a specific job opening. Most of these candidates had an overall experience of 3 to 6 years ; and in their own assessment / as per their resume – They have the required technology knowledge, skills, expertise and experience to qualify for the specific job opening.
Unfortunately, when I interview them , I find HUGE GAPS.
If I had to summarize the key areas where the gaps were evident, I’d list the below areas:
(1) Gaps in “What their Resume said” and “What they said” : Let’s be clear! For starters, if you are applying for a job opening, your resume should be updated (up-to-date) and reflect what you are actually doing / did! So if your resume said something, and you say something else during the interview process – There’s a good chance that you’ve filled the interviewer with a ‘seed of doubt’. And once this doubt is planted, its hard to regain ground!
(2) Gaps in Communication : A glaring issue is on the basic communication skills of the candidates. Its common knowledge that majority of the interviews would typically start with the interviewer asking you to share details about yourself and a summary of your work experience. Suprisingly, about 80% of the candidates I interviewed were not able to articulate even this clearly! Giving them the benefit of doubt (And the fact that they may be tired or nervous or that many of us find it hard to speak about ourselves), moving on to the technlogy questions. Again! There’s a huge GAP! I don’t know for sure if they don’t know the answers, or they are not able to articulate. But here’s what I do know – A lot of work is required in the “Oral Communication” aspect
(3) Gaps in Technical Knowledge : Again if you apply for a job posting and claim to “know” a particular technology, you should “know” the basics in theory, and be able to explain what you know. Unfortunately, a BIG GAP in knowledge as well!
(4) Gaps in the understanding of their own past project experiences : This I find very suprising and interesting. I’d assume if someone has worked on a particular project, he / she should be able to explain atleast questions like “What was the problem you were trying to solve for the client?”, “Why did the customer want to do this project?”. After all, if anyone is working on a project and building a “technology solution”, there has to be a “problem to solve” – Right? And if you’ve worked on the project, would it not be natural for you to find out “What the REAL problem is?” – Even out of sheer curiosity? Sadly, most of the people I interviewed did not know the big “WHY?” of the project! And had spent years working on these projects! A big GAP again in my view. Technology is an enabler to solve problems, but if it is making you blind to the problem itself – Then something is really WRONG here!
(5) And the biggest GAP is the Gap in Expectations – What can I say here? Interview is barely over, and comes the list of expectations which go like “I want to go onsite as soon as a I join” – yes! sure : provided you have the skills that are required for onsite (read as communication skills, technology knowledge, relevant experience). “I am expecting an X% salary hike” – yes! sure : provided you demostrate during the interview process the value you bring to the table. “I want to lead a team” – yes! sure : provided you demonstate you can lead a team
Welcome to the Interviewers World! If you thought taking an interview was easy, No – Its NOT! Because everytime you say Select / Reject – You are in some way influencing / impacting / affecting someone else’s career, someone else’s life..
And with so many GAPS that exist, its somewhat easy and yet so hard to take that final decision…
What’s your view on this subject? Leave a comment to let me know..
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. BY Steve Jobs
The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. BY Albert Einstein
Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting. BY Edward de Bono
The chief enemy of creativity is “good sense” BY Pablo Picasso
Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity. Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better. BY John Updike
Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun. BY Mary Lou Cook
Creativity defeats complication with simplicity, overcomes fear with empowerment, and discovers order by achieving balance. BY Michael Rawls
Being a working mother is no easy task… Every day comes with its share of endless round-the- clock expectations, ups and downs, challenges, surprises, joys and sorrows, good bad and ugly, unanticipated / unexpected events / activities, challenges, exhaustion, moments of self-doubt, wonder, awe, guilt, etc. etc. etc.
Simply because every working mother has to deal with several “mini-projects” as I call it on a daily basis
Project 1 : Kids (A to Z)
Project 2 : Work / Career
Project 3 : Food and Cooking
Project 4 : Husband (Yes! A full time project)
Project 5 : Friends
Project 6 : Home Maintenance
Project 7 : Family
Project 8 : Self
Project 9 : Miscellaneous / Others
Just listing it down exhausted me! Then imagine how exhausting it would be for anyone to manage every single one of them, every single day!
The bottom-line is really this:
- You are primarily accountable and responsible for all / most of the above (In most cases)
- You can plan all that you want. But a lot of things are beyond planning – In fact, beyond your control (For e.g.: Kids not well, You fall sick, A last minute deadline at work, An extremely urgent official “life-and-death” call which the spouse has to take!, A natural calamity, etc etc etc.)
- You can really take it one day at a time in terms of execution! At least till your children are somewhat independent!
And ever since I became a working mother myself, I have often wondered if there was a magic mantra to aid any working mother. Something which
- Gives you that extra energy
- Gives you “Me Time”
- Makes you more productive
- Makes you “clear-headed”; no matter what situation you are in
- Keeps you emotionally balanced
- Gives you those much needed extra-hours
- Makes you look good / younger despite your age / stress-level
And the good news is this – From personal experience, I’ve found one “MAGIC MANTRA” which can truly make a DIFFERENCE for a working mother; at least in addressing all the points listed above..
And that is regular practice of Yoga and Meditation.
Everyday practice of yoga and meditation for 30 – 40 minutes has enormous benefits from all dimensions – physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual.
Here’s what I realized as the key benefits of the practice of yoga and meditation:
- You get that extra energy simply because of the improved blood flow and oxygen circulation in your body
- You get a few minutes of “Me Time” ; just for yourself and to yourself – Time of calm, peace and quiet
- You end up being more productive. Personally, I’ve found that my productivity almost doubles on days I practice yoga / meditate ; and hence you can actually “gain time”
- Your head is a lot clearer; and you can handle high-stress / pressure situations at home and work; and make decisions better. After all, stressful / pressure situations are a routine part of everyday parenting!
- You are more in control of your own emotions; and this is extremely important for a working mother. Else you can go on an emotional roller-coaster ride every single day!
- Last but not least, you get a wonderful body tone, agility and glow on your face / skin – which every women / mother truly loves
If you’re interested in learning more on how yoga can make a difference in your life, hop over to my post on 12 Most Promising Outcomes of the regular practice of yoga
In conclusion.. Looking back at my own life – Ever since I became a mother myself, I have a new found respect and admiration for all working mothers.
No matter what you do
No matter where you live
No matter what else you do
If you’re a working mother
Hats off to you
What is the magic mantra that has worked for you? Would love to hear your views… Leave a comment to let me know
Originally published here
What I love about the blog?
(1) Seth published a post on his blog almost every single day.. And for that one reason, I truly admire him as a blogger
(2) Posts are short (I personally love short posts) and easy to read & comprehend (I love that he simplifies his articulation so that anyone can understand the message); and are usually filled with wisdom / food for thought – which can keep you pondering for the rest of the day
(3) The user experience on the blog is good – Readability of content and navigation is easy
(4) The general design of the blog, colors, fonts and format is great; and of course Seth’s photo which says “Click on my head” always brings a smile to my face
As a reader, do I wish something was different on the blog?
Absolutely nothing I could think of..
If you’ve not visited Seth’s blog, you should start following today
And I’ve intentionally kept this post short – Inspired by Seth Godin
A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. —Lao Tzu
The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. —Max DePree
Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. —Jack Welch
A leader is a dealer in hope. —Napoleon Bonaparte
A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. —John Maxwell
Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position. —Brian Tracy
Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes. —Peter Drucker
The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority. —Kenneth Blanchard
A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position. —John Maxwell
Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems. —Brian Tracy
As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others. —Bill Gates
Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out. —Stephen Covey
Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal. —Vince Lombardi
Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. —John F. Kennedy
Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better. —Bill Bradley
There are three essentials to leadership: humility, clarity and courage. —Fuchan Yuan
Yesterday (14 May 2013), I had the opportunity to conduct a session on “Corporate Innovation” to a diverse audience (3 to 10+ years experience). It was an interesting, and interactive session. The one strong view which was echoed from the participants was that there is VERY LITTLE INNOVATION happening at the ground level within most organizations!
Sharing below the key messages from my session
Overview to Corporate Innovation
- Innovation has evolved from “Nice to Do” To “Good to Do” to “Must Do”. Innovate to survive
- There is no “universal / standard definition” of Innovation
- Innovation within an organization can happen at any time, at any place and from anyone. Innovation can occur at any level within an organization – from entry level to executive management
- Innovation can be of technology, process, business, delivery methodology, product or user experience
- What the wise have to say about Innovation. To read a set of interesting Innovation Quotes, click here
- Focus of Corporate Innovation is how to “Simplify” / “Solve problems” / “Make things easier and better” / “Improve efficiencies” for internal (employees) and external (customers , partners, suppliers, vendors) stakeholders. Of course, corporate innovation initiatives focus on “Reducing costs” / “Improving Revenues”
* Innovation Life Cycle : Every innovation typically follows a life cycle as depicted below
* Importance of Corporate Innovation
- Getting employees to “Think”, “Learn”, “Reflect”, “Experience”, “Comprehend” and “Apply” : Build a culture of innovation
- Key Differentiator ; Competitive Advantage in the market
- Additional “Revenue Potential” ; Non-Linearity
- Better Customer Engagement
- Market Positioning & Thought Leadership
* Lessons from my Corporate Innovation Journey
- There are three distinct phases in the Innovation Life Cycle and each requires a different mind set
- Your idea need not be unique; How you position your innovation makes all the difference
- The Business Plan is just a baseline plan
- When you start the GTM [Go-To-Market] activities can make all the difference
- The first customer is the most crucial in your journey to success
- Corporate Innovation should be a priority from the top
- Internal communication and collaboration is critical to succeed
Extracted from paper published in the IIMB Summer Magazine (2012)
Innovation is the creation of the new or the re-arranging of the old in a new way – Michael Vance.
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower – Steve Jobs.
Innovation is the central issue in economic prosperity – Michael Porter.
Innovation is not the product of logical thought, although the result is tied to logical structure – Albert Einstein.
Innovation by definition will not be accepted at first. It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations, monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by an organization. This requires “courageous patience” – Warren Bennis.
Innovation is the process of turning ideas into manufacturable and marketable form – Watts Humprey.
Just as energy is the basis of life itself, and ideas the source of innovation, so is innovation the vital spark of all human change, improvement and progress – Ted Levitt.
Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it – Steve Jobs.
“The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.”— Dr. Linus Pauling
I’ve been actively writing (as a part of my post-graduate studies, through my blogs, at work, as a part of publications, etc etc etc ) for the past 5+ years. As I write more, I have also started to read more.. They both go somewhat hand-in-hand.. And as I read more, I am more aware and conscious about the writing styles of different authors; and also my own writing style…
In this post, I have listed down the key factors which may influence one’s writing style – This is purely based on my observations, analysis and inferences!
(1) Your self-confidence
(2) Your view of the world (in general) – Good, Bad, Ugly
(3) Your past – Experiences, Life
(4) Your future outlook of life – Optimistic, Pessimistic
(5) Why do you write? – For yourself or for others
(6) What does “Writing” mean to you?
(7) Your basic personality / nature
(8) Your view on “sharing” – Writing is one form of active sharing
(9) Your educational background
(10) Your language skills (Command on the language) – You can write in any language!
(11) Your age
(12) Your culture
(13) Your upbringing
(14) The writing habits of people you know (friends / family / others)
(15) Your reading habits
(16) The reading habits of people you know (friends / family / others)
(17) Your immediate living environment
(18) Your teachers / mentors – especially during impressionable / vulnerable years
(19) Your inner network – friends / family
(20) Your self-discipline
(21) Your creatvity
(22) Your observation skills
(23) Your imagination skills
(24) The times (era) you were born in
What’s your view? What do you think influences the “writing style” of an individual.. Leave a comment to let me know