Category Archives: Branding

Online, Digital, Social – 9 Insights from the lens of a Marketer

A few months ago, I was in conversation with the CEO of a multi-billion$ global consumer goods company. One of the topics of discussion was around online, digital and social strategies that the enterprise was embarking on (yes! They are  some-what “old school” in operations even in 2014 and as I learned there are so many companies who are NOT ONLINE, NOT adopting DIGITAL, and NOT really SOCIAL – and many are successful with impressive growth targets), and the conversation got exceptionally interesting when we spoke about the below questions:

  • Is there a boundary between online, digital and social strategies?
  • Does business strategy drive online marketing strategy?
  • Does digital drive social?
  • Does social drive digital?

The questions stayed with me..

A few days later, I was in discussion with another entrepreneur friend who runs a successful manufacturing unit which has a diversified business portfolio of apparel manufacturing and agricultural machinery. He was planning to launch a social campaign and again had some basic questions

  • Is online marketing necessary?
  • Digital / Social marketing – What first and What second? Why?

And then a few days back I had the opportunity to connect with a high-end fashion designer who again asked me the same question?

  • Should I do social? Which social channels?
  • Should I have a digital marketing strategy?

All led to long long long conversations and some interesting insights. Before I get into my views, I did some online research on the basic definitions.. Sharing snippets I found relevant:

Online Marketing (or Internet Marketing) refers to a set of powerful tools and methodologies used for promoting products and services through the Internet. Online marketing includes a wider range of marketing elements than traditional business marketing due to the extra channels and marketing mechanisms available on the Internet.

Digital Marketing refers to any marketing delivered via an online platform or involving an interactive response channel including mobile. Digital marketing is: Building awareness and promoting a brand or product using all available digital channels

Social Media is the social interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.

Without much ado, let me now share my key insights from the lens of a marketer

(1) Business Strategy should drive the Marketing Strategy; and Marketing insights can drive Business Strategy For e.g: If your business strategy is to provide a portfolio of products and services to your customers, your marketing strategy should be aligned accordingly. And if your marketing insights indicate that your customers want you to add a new service, then your business strategy should be open to the consideration

(2) Marketing initiatives should ALWAYS be based on marketing objectives

(3) Online, Digital and Social Media Marketing are marketing channels and a marketing strategy. The boundaries blur. Below is a conceptual view

Online Digital Social

Online Marketing examples include web-sites, blogs, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing), online ads, e-mail marketing, online Press Release (PR)

Social Media Marketing examples include leveraging social media platforms like Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn for your marketing and promotional activities

Offline Marketing examples include print ads, Press Release, Direct Mail, Telemarketing, etc.

Real-world Social Marketing refers to marketing through ‘real-world’ social interactions and conversations at events, word-of-mouth publicity, etc.

(4) It is (near) impossible to show quantitative ROI (Return on Investment) for every marketing initiative – specially for Internet Marketing initiatives. In marketing parlance, the qualitative ROI can be subtle, long-term and not directly attributable. Below is an good way to showcase ROI

ROI

[Src: http://www.infographicsshowcase.com/roi-on-internet-marketing-services-infographic/ ]

(5)  “No Money Marketing” is often misunderstood. It is NOT about ZERO $ marketing spend, but optimally leveraging marketing channels coupled with creative marketing strategies to have maximum customer reach and impact in line with marketing objectives

(6) Social and Digital – What comes first? : It depends on your business, and your understanding of social and digital. I know of companies whose digital strategy drove their social media marketing strategies, and I know of companies whose social strategy drove their digital initiatives. Suffice to say, the digital world and social world are closely coupled and if you do one, you (or / and the ecosystem you’re a part of – like partners, customers, community, suppliers) also make inroads into the other. In most cases, Social Media Marketing is a sub-set of Digital Marketing.

(7) The choice of which social channels to use depends completely on your social media objectives and where your customers are. Don’t do Social because everyone is doing social and because it is the new buzzword. Do it because you believe it will add value to your business and marketing

(8) It is better not to start social media initiatives if you don’t have a long term plan, management commitment and the “right brains” behind your social initiatives. Too many companies start and stop too soon, and that impacts your brand negatively

(9) Digital and Social are evolving and will continue to evolve. Everyone is learning, so be open to learning, failing and course-corrections. That is the only way to succeed.

What do you think? Leave a comment to let me know…

How to fuel your creativity? – Here are 20 ways..

Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity” – Charles Mingus

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, the just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while” – Steve Jobs

Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people” – Leo Burnett

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will” – George Bernard Shaw

The “creative genius” is in different states for each of us
For some it is perpetually active :)
For some it is seldom active
For some it is dormant
And for some it is asleep :(

In this post I am listing 20 easy ways to fuel / spark / re-kindle your creativity. I have personally tried all of these and they work!

  1. Do nothing for 30 minutes a day. Just lie / laze around and let your thoughts flow. You will be surprised at the impact this has over a 1 week period!
  2. Dream – Yes! Day-dream :). There is something about dreaming which sparks better creativity
  3. Take a walk “ALONE”
  4. Disconnect for 15 minutes with the electronic world (including mobiles, TV, internet, Google, Twitter, Facebook) – Refreshingly liberating and aids significantly in “creativity”
  5. Listen to music
  6. Talk to someone you love (parents, friends, siblings, children, spouse)
  7. Look at the sky for 10 minutes (especially early morning or evening) – I don’t know why! But this always helps
  8. If you’re a right handed person, use you left hand for 15 minutes a day. In 1 week, you will experience the difference
  9. Indulge in physical exercise – Run, Dance, play a game, do whatever to get your heart pumping and hormones flowing!
  10. Meditate
  11. Read something you’d never usually read
  12. Watch a program you’d never usually watch
  13. Learn something new (For e.g.: Cooking, A new language, Art, Ikebana, Puppet making, make-up, yoga, photography, etc.)
  14. Laugh – Indulge in anything which makes you smile
  15. Sleep – Sleep is the best medicine for so many things, and can solve many a problem (no matter how complex or complicated)
  16. Think about the HAPPIEST moment(s) of your life – There’s something about a good memory which sometimes sparks the best creativity
  17. Look at old photographs
  18. Re-live the “good old days” in any way you can 
  19. Take a shower
  20. Your turn. And be CREATIVE :)

Have you tried any of these? Did they work for you.. Leave a comment to let me know

T for Thought Leadership..

There are some buzzwords which will not go out of fashion in the business / corporate world. “THOUGHT LEADERSHIP” is one of them. When I first heard the word more than a decade ago at the start of my professional career, I was in “awe” as the word sounded important and impressive.

My first thoughts were “Don’t we all have a zillion thoughts zooming in our minds every single day, so what qualifies for thought leadership? How can anyone demonstrate leadership with their thoughts? Who decides that it is thought leadership? How does one demonstrate thought leadership?
With time and experience, I found these answers. Today, “Thought Leadership” is an integral part of my professional responsibilities.
And here’s the thing|
1) It is still in vogue to be associated with this “T” word or / and have it in your professional resume
2) It is still important and impressive to an individual / organization

According to Wikipedia, the term ‘Thought Leadership’ was coined in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman, editor-in-chief of the Booz & Co magazine Strategy & Business, and used to designate interview subjects for that magazine who had business ideas which merited attention

Thought Leadership is simply about becoming an authority on relevant topics by delivering the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience.” By Michael Brenner

I think Thought Leadership is many times about asking the RIGHT QUESTIONS too. In fact many times the questions are more important than the answers – as they get one to think and provide the direction for your strategy and plans.

Thought leadership should be an entry point to a relationship. Thought leadership should intrigue, challenge, and inspire even people already familiar with a company. It should help start a relationship where none exists, and it should enhance existing relationships.” By Daniel Rasmus

I fully concur with this definition. The only thing is that very many times “Thought leadership” is incidental or accidental, and consequently so are the relationships which is possibly and probably not a good space / place to be in for any business.

According to a Forbes article,
A thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.

A thought leader is an individual or firm that significantly profits from being recognized as such.

I agree with this view. The most challenging part is to become a Thought Leader, or the big HOW? I’m not so sure if Thought Leadership always results (directly) in increased profitability. It can – provided it is marketed / positioned well, and reaches the right audience / reader.

Wikipedia says that “Thought leadership is often used as a way of increasing or creating demand for a product or service. High tech firms will often publish white papers with analysis of economic benefits of the product as a form of marketing”

Agreed! It is really about putting your voices and views in the marketplace and promoting it on multiple online / offline channels that your prospects view.

Why is Thought Leadership important today?

Simply because it is a competitive marketplace and every individual / organization has several thoughts on a periodic basis. Establishing “continuous leadership” on your thoughts is a direct testimonial to the kind of team that you have and a clear ‘market message’ that nurturing and sharing these thoughts is important to you / your team and your organization. Thought Leadership can sometimes be your one and only “key differentiators” in the GTM (Go-To-Market) Strategy. Hence it is imprative for organizations to build, nurture and demonstrate “Thought Leadership”

How to demonstrate Thought Leadership?

With your content. With you communications. With your conversations (online / offline)

Who should drive Thought Leadership?

The beauty of Thought Leadership is that it

Integrates with a SME (Subject Matter Expert)
Integrates with content and social media functions
Integrated with marketing functions
Integrated with Leadership

And so it really is a collective collaborative constructive responsibility of an individual / team / organization to showcase / demonstrate Thought Leadership over a period of time.

And lastly who determines it to be “Thought Leadership”?

This is a tricky one since it depends on who is the addressable market for your offerings / solutions / services / products and who is the (potential) target customer. What may be “Thought Leadership” to one may not be “Thought Leadership” to another. The point is that there should be an “industry / community / group” of experts who “publicly” ratify a thought as “Thought Leadership”…

Agree / Disagree? Leave a comment to let me know

Recommended Readings
What Is Thought Leadership? 5 Steps To Get It Right
What is a Thought Leader?
How to become a Thought Leader?

Being among Twitterati – What it takes and what it means?

First the good news..

The team at SheroesIndia wrote a post on “Must Follow Woman Influencers on Twitter” . It was a pleasant surprise to feature in that list among august company like Tanvi Gautam @tanvi_gautam , Ankita Gaba – @ankitagaba , Lakshmi Rebecca @lakshmirebecca , Kalki Koechlin @kalkikanmani , Gul Panag @GulPanag , Meeta Sengupta @Meetasengupta and Kiran Manral @KiranManral

The post starts off with “There are tons of women on Twitterati making their mark. SHEROES list down a few Indian women who are impacting the space in a massive way“. Being included as ONE among 20 Indian woman is indeed wonderful. I do follow many of them on Twitter, and I know that they are doing their bit and best to make a difference in their sphere of influence with their tweets.

Personally, this is the second time I feature in a list among Twitterati. The first one was in 2012 when Dr Tanvi Gautam create the first ‘epic list’ of 50 Indian Woman to follow on Twitter

Her list in her own words was about “A dedication it to all women thought leaders from Asia, not just from media and film, not just the corporate world but all the ones that are making a difference in their own way.”

Even today, the list is as relevant as it was 2 years back because the women from that list continue to make a difference in their own way. Some of the women who find a mention are
Kiran Bedi ‏ @thekiranbedi
Sairee Chahal ‏ @Sairee
Sania Mirza-Malik ‏ @MirzaSania
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw ‏ @kiranshaw
Sagarika Ghose ‏ @sagarikaghose
Azmi shabana ‏ @AzmiShabana
Anupama Chopra ‏ @anupamachopra
Rashmibansal ‏ @rashmibansal
Barkha dutt ‏ @BDUTT
Jessie Paul ‏ @jessie_paul
Naina ‏ @Naina
Sucheta Dalal ‏ @suchetadalal
Rujuta Diwekar ‏ @RujutaDiwekar

Being featured amidst such amazing woman was indeed a a great honor and a humbling moment. It makes you happy, get attention (both in the real world and virtual world) and is extremely gratifying. Being in the spotlight makes me happy. Recognition is a great motivator in Social Media and in life.

Interestingly both the lists have several common names too!

But that’s not what this post is about? It is about my views on Why such lists are important? Why these women find a spot on these lists? And what it takes to be here?

So first.. Why such lists are important?
(1) They bring together in one place some awesome women so anyone can follow them, read and hear their views, opinions and perspectives on one / many subjects. I know I’ve connected with many of these women and learned immensely from their tweets / personal interactions
(2) They put ‘women’ in the spotlight and that is extremely important because it motivates, it inspires, it sets an example to more women
(3) They enable fostering networks and relationships amongst women and that is indeed a powerful force to reckon with – which can be the catalyst and harbinger for the cause and voice of many women’s issues.

Why these women find a spot on these lists?
(1) They are genuinely inspiring in what they share and do – Just follow them, and you’ll know why they’re on that list
(2) They are genuinely trying to make a difference with their words / tweets and shares on Social Media
(3) They are passionate about specific causes – And continuously support them

And what it takes to be here?
(1) Time - In today’s day and age, the most precious asset is “time”. And any serious Twitter / Social media user would know that being active on Twitter takes time and energy (which many times comes at the cost of letting-go many other things in life – specifically if you are a woman!), especially if you intend to be on Twitter for the long haul. Almost all these women are regular, active and serious Twitter users, so they are giving it time, focus and attention
(2) Willingness to share and speak up – Almost all these women are not shy to honestly share their life experiences, personal stories of success or failure, views, opinions, perspectives on one / many issues. So they speak up and share when given the opportunity, and that only helps the cause of women in terms of inspiration and bringing to the fore-front many critical and real issues
(3) Positivity - Again almost all these women are extremely positive, optimistic and hopeful (most of the times) while being conscious of the realities of today – especially in the context of women’s issues, empowerment and endowment
(4) Value - At the end of the day, Twitter is a free social media platform. While being free to use, any Twitter user has complete freedom to choose whom he / she will Follow / Unfollow. So your tweets should be of “value” to anyone who is reading, and almost all these women continuously share valuable content / tweets

And yes, before I forget another pleasant surprise came my way a few days back. The kind folks at Femspiration sent my way a #FemTribute .
FemTribute
As I sign-off, I’d like to say Thank you to all those who create these lists, and to all the women who continue to make a difference in their own way , in their own sphere of influence!

What do you think? Leave a comment to let me know…

Colors, Marketing and Colorful Marketing

This week at work has been a lot of creating marketing assets and planning an integrated marketing campaign. Suffice to say, it was busy and I don’t know how time went by.  The one point which was much debated and discussed was COLORS!! :)

I can’t emphasize the role importance and significance of colors in any communication, and more so if it is a marketing related corporate communication. Colors can be the one and only reason why you and I read something or not, why I feel or think something after we read a specific communication. I guess it is the same for you..

So on my (delayed) post for this week, I’m going to share with you some of interesting and insightful points on the “world of colors”.

ONE COLOR can MAKE IT / BREAK IT.. Agreed?

 

The Psychology of Color

by Dehahs.

 

Color Psychology in Logo Design

Additional Readings

http://www.colormatters.com/

 

Social Media Marketing Mistakes – Are you making these too?

Social Media is everywhere. In the morning news, in the paper, in the bus / train / car, in the clothes, in the phones, in the here and there and everywhere. Almost everyone I know thinks Social Media is the new age God / Goddess if you will. The mantra (or myth) is that if one embraces Social Media, then it is one step in the right direction, specially in a business context.

And yet, so many companies make some very fundamental social media mistakes. So what are those mistakes that i’ve heard or seen. Are you making them too? Read below to figure it out

(1)    I hear about Social Media buzz, I sparingly use Twitter / FaceBook, I can speak about Social Media without sounding like a fool.. BUT I don’t REALLY UNDERSTAND Social Media. Please go take a Social Media 101 class

(2)    I’m sure Social is key for my business because everyone else is doing Social. Really? Please re-think

(3)    I’m sure that Social Media Marketing would be effective for my business, but I’m not really sure who my customers are and if they are active on Social Media. Really? Go check how you’re making money. Once you know your customers, ask / find about their social media presence

(4)  I don’t know if Social Media is right for my business. Read the article on   How to determine which Social media fits your business

(5)    I don’t really know what and how to measure on Social Media. Go figure

(6)   I need to hire a very social person to handle my Social Media business. No! Virtual social is very different from the real-world social, and they can be at two ends of the spectrum

(7)   Social Media Marketing is free. No! It takes time and Time is money, remember?

(8)   Spending lots of time on social media means I’m doing it right. Quantity and Quality are two different things right?

(9)   Social Media Marketing is about putting someone all the time on Social media. Oh! No not really! They should be doing the right things on social

(10)  It is better to be in Social Media and do something than not be on Social Media. Hmm.. Well debatable! But if you’re there, you better do something right. If you get it all wrong, then you’re better off not attempting Social

7D Ladder to Achieve Your Goals in Life

Do you have goals?

Do you want to achieve them?

Do you know how to get there?

Hmm.. Well.. If you’re looking for some guidance, then this is the post written for you based on all the I have observed and learned in my life…

 

 

 

D1: Discover your goals for life

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” BY Albert Einstein

Discovering your goals is the first step to get there. And discovery can sometimes take a lot of time, effort and also support from those around you. But discovery is really the process in which you think through what you want to achieve. For e.g.: I would like to write more often can be a broad goal that you discover for yourself

 

D2: Define your goals in a clear and concise fashion

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”  BY Bruce Lee

The next step is to precisely define what you really want to achieve. The more specific you are, the better are your chances in reaching your goal. And the best way is to define SMART goal (Simple Measurable Action-Oriented Realistic and Time Bound). For e.g.: I will publish one blog every month of this year is a good target to start off with for any blogger

 

D3: Design a plan to achieve your goal

A goal without a plan is just a wish.” BY Larry Elder

Once you have defined your goals, design a realistic plan to achieve your goal. I emphasize on realistic as you need to be cognizant of your current commitments, circumstances and constraints; and model a “personalized plan” factoring all of these. For e.g.: I will wake up at 6 AM and write for 30 mins on Tuesdays & Thursdays; as I need to reach work only by 9 AM.

 

D4: Develop your skills and everyday routine in line with your plan

To reach any goal, you usually need to develop new skills on some areas and also possibly hone and enhance skills on some areas. The best way to do this is to integrate specific tasks into your everyday routine. For e.g.: Let’s continue with the goal of writing. Every writer needs to read continuously to hone their writing skills. So one specific action plan is to set aside 15 mins everyday (say during lunch time) when you will read diverse articles from diverse authors. Not only does this reading enable you to become aware of writing styles, but also increases your own knowledge base on one / more topics.

 

D5: Be Dedicated in doing what you have to do when you have to do it

Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”  BY Paulo Coelho

Next and very important is that you need to be personally dedicated towards achieving your goals. If this means that you make some sacrifices and choices to achieve this, then so be it. But be dedicated, sincere and put your best foot forward to reach your goals.

 

D6: Be Determined to achieve your goals

know what you want, work to get it, then value it once you have it.” BY Nora Roberts

The road to any goal has its share of ups and downs. And what will make the difference in helping you reach your goals is usually how determined you are. So stay focused, objective and positive; and when things get rough and tough – be a little kind on yourself, but never lose sight of your goal.

 

D7: Dream about your goals at every opportunity you get

Reach high, for stars lie hidden in you. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.”  BY Rabindranath Tagore

One of the most important dimensions to achieving your goal is to dream about it at every opportunity you can. Dream the moment .. Create a visual memory .. and live the dream everyday. Before you know it, your dream will be reality and your goal will be well achieved..

 

On that note, Dare to Dream BIG; and work towards achieving your GOALS in LIFE!

Asking for Help: Are you an A+ on a D-?

STRESS” – That 6 letter dreaded word! Stress can be the cause or / and effect of many a physical ailment, emotional upheaval, mental discord and dissonance, financial turmoil, and lack of a social life. Stress can be the one single cause that prevents many of us from doing our best in life. Stress can be the cause for many of us to stay awake all night. Bottomline, stress can be manifested due to several things in life, and stress has many manifestations in our lives.

As I observe, converse and interact with working women (especially working mothers) in India, I find that they are probably and possibly the “most stressed out” profile of people. The sheer diversity and complexity of issues women deal with on a regular basis is mind-boggling. Issues from demands of the workplace, office politics, marital discord, extra-marital affairs, new age parenting and dealing with the children of today’s era, self-confidence, sheer anxiety of dealing with every-day operations (the house-help, the cooking, the home maintenance, etc.), exhaustion and health issues, dealing with expectations of family / extended family, lack of “ME” time, financial woes, depression, etc. After all being a working woman does come with its share of challenges. Click here to read the multi-dimensional issues that she deals with.

As I look back at my own career and life, I strongly believe that 2 things can help the cause of “working women” / “working mothers” to deal with stress.

1)      Learning to say NO. Click here to read my earlier post on this

2)      Asking for help

In this post, I’m going to share a few tips and pointers for working women based on my personal experiences.

Refusing to ask for help when you need it is refusing someone the chance to be helpful.” BY Ric Ocasek

1)      The easiest way to get help is to ASK for it

Don’t be shy asking for help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, it only means you’re wise

A lot of us find it hard to ask for help. I speak from experience here! I don’t know if it is due to our culture, upbringing, education or just the way we are wired. But I used to find it very very hard to ask for help. Until I became a mother. I then realized that it would be impossible to survive without help. So I asked for help. I used to feel very uncomfortable initially, but I learned over time. Today, I don’t think twice.

So, the important take-away

  • Be clear about what exactly you want help for. For e.g: “I need help at home in the morning” V/S “I need help from 7 AM to 8 AM to help me with cooking
  • The easiest way to get help is to ASK for it
  • Sometimes the best way to ask for help is to understand “how to do it”, and “to get it done”

2)      Too much help is not good either

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.” BY Audrey Hepburn

 While asking for help is great, I know of too many women who ask for help for everything under the sun. To the extent that they just cannot do even basic things themselves. I know of women who don’t know how to draw money from an ATM or even women who don’t know where and how to buy vegetables! That is not good either. Simply because when you try and do something yourself, there is great learning in the experience. And with learning comes growth and self-confidence

So, the important take-away

  • Think before you ask for help. Answer honestly whether the reason you are asking for help is due to lack time, lack of ability or your habit of asking for help

 3)      Professional Help is fine too, nothing taboo about it

We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” BY Ronald Reagan

A lot of us are uncomfortable about hiring professional help for many things. Reasons range from lack of awareness on the kind of services in the market, to it being the first time you are asking for help, to that is just not the way it was always done. As an example, most Indian homes go through the annual house cleaning exercise during a festival like Diwali. It takes time, effort, can be exhausting and many times you’re not happy with the outcome. Last year, we hired professional cleaners for the job. They did a fantastic job and the house looked “brand sparkling clean and new”. It came at a price we were willing to pay. We wondered why we had not done it before. Check this interesting link on Life as a Service. There are so many interesting services out there, and so many service models which provide help.

So, the important take-away

  • Be aware of the kind of services in the market for different things. Read, speak to people and share your issues / solutions.
  • Be clear on how much you are willing to pay for a service

4)      Self-Help is the BEST HELP

To help yourself, you must be yourself. Be the best that you can be. When you make a mistake, learn from it, pick yourself up and move on.” BY Dave Pelzer

So, the important take-away

  • Before you ask for help, try doing it yourself
  • Sometimes, the best help you can do to yourself is to find effective ways to “do things. There is no need to re-invent the wheel for everything! Someone somewhere has done it before. Try to re-use the approach / methodology in your own context
  • Sometimes not to help someone is the best help

So as I sign-off, I leave you with a few questions…

Do you ask for help? NEVER? Hmm.. You get D-

Do you ask for help? ALWAYS? Hmm… You get D-

Do you ask for help? Sometimes based on the need / situation? Great! – You get A+

Can you do better? Worth a thought and a comment :)

Originally published here

Why will anyone read a blog? Here are 15 good reasons

One of the main reason why any blogger publishes his / her posts is to be read. With the explosive growth of blogs, and the mind boggling volumes of content available online I many times wonder why will anyone read a blog – Be it my blog / your blog?

Here are 15 good reasons:

(1) I know you and hence would like to read what you have to say

(2) Because of who you are. You are famous / on the way to the top, and I want to know more about you and be part of your journey in some way

(3) I’ve read you before, and I’ve liked what you had to day

(4) The blog title you chose was awesome! I just had to read it

(5) Someone shared the link with me, and I stopped by to see what this is all about

(6) I’m interested in the topics / subjects you write about, and hence stop by to learn / read more

(7) I had time on hand, and your link showed up. I clicked, randomly

(8) I admire you and want to be like you some-day. If not one-o-one time with you, following your blog is the next best thing for me

(9) I feel like you are speaking to me – so relevant, and contextual. There is some connection here!

(10) I can’t explain, but your words touch deep within

(11) Google / XYZ Search engine recommended you :)

(12) I get answers to my questions

(13) I exercise those gray cells up within when I read your posts

(14) I just feel good reading them. Your words are poetry to my soul..

(15) Just like that!

Why do you read a blog? Why do you read my blogs? Leave a comment to let me know

Love Thyself? Learn something new

Let’s start with questions | Are you 30+? When did you last learn something new?

Some of you may respond with all your wisdom by saying “everyday” as there is learning in every experience, and every day is a new beginning. Indeed that’s true.  You can learn from people, observations, interactions, reading, mistakes, emotions, thoughts, actions, events, conversations, social media (FaceBook, Twitter, et al.), books, food, movies and life itself. It all depends on your thirst for learning, your ability to assimilate and absorb the lessons from everyday experiences and internalize these learning’s.

Some of you may respond with silence.

Let me now modify the question | Are you 30+? When did you last learn something new ‘formally’?

The vast majority would respond with a silence. This was my response too last year. Looking back at my own life, after I completed my management education at IIMB way back in 2006, I’ve not really formally learned anything new!

Here’s the thing | For many of us who are 30+, you are somewhat settled into things and an everyday way of life. Life pretty much revolves around work / career and family / friends. There’s really no time for anything else – especially if you are a woman or a working woman or a working mother!

Being a working mother myself, I was no different. However, the silence bothered me for a long time and I decided to take action. So here’s what I did. One, I enrolled for a paid professional technical certification exam. This meant intensive reading, learning something new and a tough examination to crack. Thankfully, I cleared and that enhanced my knowledge and resumeJ. That done, I registered for a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) on Social Media Analytics. Being online and self-paced with only an end date to meet, this was again a great learning experience for me.  The good part was that it also had an online assessment and I was awarded a certificate at the end of the course. Lastly, I took up a structured course on “Creativity”.  And I loved it!

The whole practice of “formal learning” has been a wonderful personal experience over the past few months [apart from the fact that it also inspired this post :)]

So what did I learn from all these experiences?

You learn because you really want to learn – Up until you are 30, you mostly learn because you have to learn and because you don’t really have a choice. But for most of us after 30, formal learning actually becomes a matter of true personal choice. So you can learn what you love and what you really want to learn. And there is immense joy and great personal satisfaction in learning a subject you are deeply passionate about.

One of my closest friends wanted to learn a musical instrument formally for years but it just never happened. Now in her mid-30’s, she is well settled in her career and life and decided to take this up. So she enrolled into one of the best music institutes in the world to pursue her quest for this learning. At this phase of life, you can afford to fund your own learning and you may be able to afford the best-in-class teachers and best-in-class institutes. Looking back at my own life, I can definitely say that learning from the masters in any field is truly unique and  an unparalleled experience. And if you can afford it, then it is worth your time and money!

There are so many things to learn – Whenever I speak to my peers and friends well in their 30+’s about formal learning, many of them ask me “But what to learn?” followed by “How to learn and Where is the time?”. I had these questions too. But as I discovered over the past few months there are just so many things you can learn “formally” based on your personal interest, even after you turn 30.

 Let me list down things you can learn (apart from the things you need to learn for your career / work) – Cooking, Driving, Painting, Photography, Doing make-up, Puppet-Making, Pottery, Baking, Dancing, A musical instrument, A sport, Yoga, Aerobics, Calligraphy, Sketching, Caricature, Writing, Programming, Stoy-Telling, Marketing, Social Media, Public Speaking, Communication, Personal Grooming, Management, Magic, New Languages, Designing, Technology . You name it, and you can learn it – both offline / online. For e.g.: 10 years back who would have thought that the common Indian could learn dance from Madhuri Dixit. Today, you can from her online dance school Dance With Madhuri.

 Another childhood friend of mine has always loved art and paintings but never got around to take this up seriously. Now that she is well into her 40’s, has teenage boys who are independent and is the Vice President of an international bank, she dedicates her week-ends to her art-work. She has a home tutor who teaches and guides her in her learning process. When I recently saw some of her paintings I was blown over! Each one of them was a true masterpiece.

 There is value in formal learning – The best part of “formal learning” is you actually learn within a stipulated time-frame. So your knowledge base expands and your comprehension of old and new things is significantly increased. Of course, you can informally learn lot of things, and I don’t discount it at all. But for many of us in this phase of life, the challenge is that we start with great gusto and are just not able to keep up with the informal / self-learning for an extended period of time even if we are deeply passionate about the subject. So if you learn formally you are more focused and do make/ take out the time .The icing on the cake is that if you are awarded a certificate of course completion that is definitely a feather in your cap.

 Now I know that value is personal and subjective, and to each his / her own. But there is something else that I do know for sure – Formal learning can add value to your resume, to others perception of you and most importantly, to your own perception of yourself. All three matter and do make a difference in the long run.

Learning provides opportunities for building new friendships and networking – In your 30’s, I can’t decide which is harder – making friends or keeping friends. Both have their issues and challenges, and many of us let-go of friendships and after a point we wonder who our friends really are!  

One of the best things about formal learning in your 30’s is that you get to meet and interact with new people who have an interest in a common subject. So you can build new friendships and networks due to a common passion.

Last but not least, you feel good when you learn something new. Like the runner’s high, there is a “learner’s high” – I speak from personal experience here. You just feel happy, energetic, positive and really really good when you learn something new. After my first innings of my learning high last year, I have made a formal list of things I want to learn in the future, and I am pleasantly surprised to find the list size is increasing by the day! Honestly, I am fine if I learn one thing at a time or even one thing a year.  But what I know for sure is this – I do want to be a lifelong learner.

And if this post inspired even one reader to learn something new, then that would be the best return gift in writing this!

Happy Learning. Learn, Laugh, Love – It is one life to live!

Originally published here

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