Category Archives: Writing

What working women can learn from productivity in ants?

A few days back I came across an infographic titled 7 Productivity Lessons from Ants. Packed with wisdom and insights, I loved reading it. Refer below to the details.

7 Productivity Lessons from Ants

7 Productivity Lessons from Ants

Source: http://visual.ly/7-productivity-lessons-ants

As a working mother, I’m always looking for ways and means to improve and enhance my productivity. After all, we are trying to do things as quickly and efficiently as we can every single day. And honestly, whenever I see or read or think about ants, I almost always go back with a lesson. They are small, hard-working, focused and do what they have to do!

So based on the wisdom from ants, and my own experiences, I am sharing a few points in this post. These are not about how to excel at the workplace, but really about how to maintain a balance between the expectations and demands of your professional life and the expectations and demands of your personal life. I’m not an expert in this department and I’ve not figured it all out. It is work-in-progress for me, but I do have more than a decade of experience of things that work and make a difference. I only strive to share what has helped in my journey this far with a hope that it may help you – sometime, somewhere

So without any further ado.

Focus – on the things that matter

Look around you at anyone who achieved anything in life – and you will see one defining characteristic. That is FOCUS. Focus is important for anyone in life, but more critical if you are a working woman.

a. Be focused on what you need to accomplish at work for a day, week, month, quarter, year. Keep your eyes on the end goal and objective. In between, even if you deviate, that’s OK! But make sure you come back on track as soon as you can. The best way to do this is to write down what you need to accomplish for a specific time horizon, and look at it at the start of every single day. That will ensure you are on track, at least as you start each day!

b. Be crystal clear on what all you need to do as a part of your personal life (in terms of things to do at home) and for yourself. Identify what is absolutely essential, and let go of everything else. Either outsource or delegate or just let it be. In the long run, many trivial things that you are stuck up about (in terms of your thoughts, time and energies) are really not worth it. For example, I used to be a stickler for a clean, well-organized house every single day, and anything below my expectations was not acceptable. Over time, I realized that this was taking up a lot of my time and energy, taking me away from what I really wanted to do and it really did not matter to others .With time, I relaxed my own benchmarks and go easy on myself. And when I do embark on a house cleaning exercise, it is usually time-boxed.

c. Give undivided time and attention to the task at hand and make sure you complete it. Say NO if and when you have to say NO – To people, friends, distractions, phone calls, TV, Social Media, the spouse, the boss, mummy, spouse, kids et al. The sooner you learn to say NO, the better for you.

Most importantly, as they ants do – focus on one small thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a working woman’s boon, but for things which need to be done really well – Do it one at a time.

Build your team and collaborate

As a working woman professional, you will realize that the sooner you put together a good team to help/enable you at home, the more effective and productive you will be at work. What I really mean by this is to build and nurture a team within the 4-walls so you can be the best possible you at work. From experience, I can say the following are critical members in your core team:

Your maid/helper/cook – will always be on the No. 1 spot. Trust me, you really cannot be a working woman and have this wrong!
Your spouse – needs to be highlighted because he plays a critical role in what you can do at home and work. This usually determines how far your career will go! It is for a very good reason that Sheryl Sandberg says, “The most important career choice a woman makes is who she marries“
Your family – especially your mom, your mother-in-law and your kids
Your friends
Your neighbors

Most importantly, as the ants do – recognize that you will go farther if you collaborate as a team.

Develop a routine that works for you

I can’t emphasize this enough. Suffice to say, create a routine that works for you. Stick with it. And see the magic unfold. It seems very simple and logical. But for many working women, it takes years of experience, many, many failures and serious introspection to come up with the right routine. And once you do, everything falls in line.

As a working woman, you should have the following routines planned out – a daily routine, a weekly routine and a monthly routine. Among other things make sure your daily routine has time for eating right and healthy, catching up on the news and general reading. Make sure your weekly routine has time for exercise, doing something you love (‘ME’ time) and speaking to one/two people in your friends and family network. Networking is critical in the long run, and many working woman lose out here. Ensure your monthly routine has some time to learn something new. Constantly learning, re-skilling, cross-skilling and up-skilling is the need of the day. This can/should include professional learning.

Most importantly, as the ants do – follow a routine to become more efficient and effective.

Communication

Make sure you communicate things that need to be said in a clear and concise fashion – at least to those who play a critical role in your life. Be sure to express clearly what you really want and expect from them – especially your core team at home. Be real and reasonable on expectations from others. And most importantly, say it, and listen to what they have to say.

As a working woman, I’ve burnt my fingers many times by assuming they know. They DON’T! Be it your maid/domestic helper, your spouse, your kids, your boss, your team – assume they don’t know till you clearly call things out for them – in terms of what you will do, and what they will do. And what is non-negotiable! Many times I assume they are OK; many times, they are not OK. So make sure you listen and pay attention to what they have to say. It makes all the difference.

Lastly, to communicate clearly you need to be clear in your head. That clarity usually takes time to get, but it is well worth your time. Be clear in your mind. Be clear in your words.

Most importantly, as the ants do – focus on communicating right and to the right people. And yes! Listen. Communication is two-way.

Stay Positive

Being a working woman is not easy. Being a working mother is tough. I speak from experience here. As working professionals, many women face gender discrimination, workplace bullying, harassment, slow-paced career progression, questionable compensation, unsupportive workplace environment and outdated policies. They are the realities of the environment and ecosystem one is a part of. And there is no easy way to survive, and no magic mantra to thrive.

And yet, every single working woman I’ve met or known has to be positive if she is to have a fair shot in her career. So stay positive and be positive. Read positive messages/books/blogs, speak to positive people and think positive.

Most importantly, as the ants do – Look ahead into a great future.

Set Deadlines

The beauty of a deadline is that there is a line drawn, and the bane is that the line dies somewhere before we get there! So the universal truth is that most deadlines are really not deadlines – they end up just as moving line! As a working professional, it becomes critical to define what a deadline means to you and then set some deadlines – for your own well-being. For e.g., at work, it is important to set deadlines around how long you will stay at work on most days (critical for your personal safety), how soon you will complete tasks assigned to you, how fast will you be able to demonstrate your value, etc.

Similarly, at home it becomes critical to put deadlines around phone conversations and general chit-chat/gossip, TV time, bed time, social media/FaceBook time, etc. Each of these deadlines if consciously defined, and judiciously worked towards will ensure success in the long run.

Most importantly, as the ants do – bring on board your advocates, your allies and your brownies before the storms.

Division of Work

Does this need explanation? Especially for things at home – identify what all needs to be done to keep your house going: cleaning, shopping, home maintenance, cooking, paying bills, etc etc. And then, divide the work or delegate the work – to family, friends or anyone else who can help you. The sooner you figure out the art and craft of division and delegation, the more productive and successful you will be at the workplace and in life!

Most importantly, as they ants do – clearly define the roles and responsibilities. Share it. The sooner people know what they have to do, chances are they will do it sooner than later.

These are some of the points that worked for me. What has worked for you? Leave a comment to let me know.

 

Originally published here

Blogs come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime

When I entered the blog-o-sphere years ago, I had no idea where that would take me. Suffice to say, I just took the plunge – There were no real expectations, no real agenda, no real goals. Just some time at hand, an open mind, curiosity, an interest in reading, a laptop, an internet connection and The English language :)

I started reading blogs for a reason. Somehow somewhere I continued reading blogs through the seasons. And today, reading blogs is an integral part of my life, and I guess it will continue for my lifetime (If I have it my way!). Reading a blog enables me to learn, travel, get answers, ask questions, grow, watch others evolve / bloom / blossom, see the world with a new lens, make me feel that I’m not alone, give me clarity of perspective and most importantly, experience life through others experiences

After about 2 years of reading others blogs, I started writing my own blogs. Again, for a reason. Somehow somewhere they extended to a season. And then many seasons. Today, my blogs area an integral part of my life, and I guess it will continue for my lifetime (If I have it my way!). Writing a blog enables me to learn, express myself, get answers, ask questions, emote, connect, grow, share, see the world with a new lens, gain diverse perspectives, truly comprehend things and possibly leave a social media legacy

And I strongly believe that Blogs comes into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime..
When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each blog.

When a blog comes into your life for a REASON . . . It is usually to meet a need you have expressed. A blog can assist you through a difficulty, provide you with guidance and support, aid you emotionally, socially, intellectually, financially or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are! They are there for the reason you need them to be.Then, without any wrong doing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, you lose interest in the blogs. Sometimes it is forever, sometimes it is a hiatus. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, and the work is done. And now it is time to move on.

When a blog comes into your life for a SEASON . . . Because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.A blog brings you a purpose, phenomenal clarity of thought, an experience of peace, platonic connection(s), sometimes financial benefits too or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done or even thought of. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season. And then the bond is severed. You take the lessons and move on.

LIFETIME blogs and bloggers teach you lifetime lessons; things you must build upon in order to have a solid foundation for life. Your job is to accept the blog , love the blog from your heart, have an open mind without judgment and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and experiences of your life.

All the blog-o-sphere is a stage
And all blogs and bloggers merely players
They have their exists and entrances
And each in their time play many parts

Inspired and based on the original words
“People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.”
People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON . . . It is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are! They are there for the reason you need them to be.Then, without any wrong doing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered. And now it is time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON . . .Because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

What about you? Have blogs come into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime.. Leave a comment to let me know

Blogging can change your LIFE! – Give it a CHANCE today…

2008 was the year I entered the blog-o-sphere; primarily as an avid blog reader. In 2009, I created my first blogs in which I used to write occasionally – Of course, my blogs were private. In 2010, I shared my blogs with my inner network of friends and family; and received very encouraging feedback. After this initial response, my blogs went public in 2010 and so started my blogging journey.

Its 2013 now – Almost 3 years since I embarked on my blogging journey as a blogger. During this journey, I have published 1000+ posts on my own blogs (public, restricted and private), and have published several guest posts in site of global repute on a diverse set of topics.

So, really what is blogging to me? My blogs are the canvas for my words. Words which stem from dreams, thoughts, observations, analysis, learning’s, conversations, view-points, outlook, views, emotions, perspectives, achievements, mistakes, failures, lessons learnt, comprehensions, experiences and conclusions.

As of date, I run two popular blogs:

(1)   VERVE : The Quintessence of my Life – Which is my personal blog and covers a broad range of topics around Life, Creativity, Parenting, Relationships, Human Experiences, Emotions, etc.

(2)   Nischala’s Space, Thoughts and Expressions – Which is my professional blog in which I about topics of professional interest which revolves around Social Media, Marketing, Leadership, Innovation and Strategy.

In addition to the above, I also publish guest posts in several reputed sites of global repute.

Blogging can transform your life in more than one way. Once you start actively blogging, you will see many aspects of your life can change drastically. Physically, you become more aware and observant of the world around you – Simply because you need things to write about on your blogs, and most bloggers typically draw in from real-life experiences. Emotionally, you will feel more balanced and happy; because you get an opportunity to express your emotions through your blogs. Intellectually, you need to think to write a blog – So it provides good exercise to the “gray matter” in your brain. Socially, it can help you build new networks and connections with like-minded people, and also interesting people – Whom you would otherwise never have known. In some cases, it can also elevate your social standing in select circles. If you are good in blogging and consciously work on blog monetization, it can add to your personal finances. And of course spiritually also, blogging can help you re-connect with yourself!

So it really has the potential to touch impact and influence every facet of your life.

Personally, there have been several positives. If I had to list the top benefits and life skills which are enhanced along my blogging journey, they are:

  • Blogging enables you to be a lifelong learner
  • Blogging enhances your self-discipline
  • Blogging enables you to prioritize better
  • Blogging helps you truly understand a subject; The best way to understand any subject is to teach someone about it or to write about it
  • Blogging enables you to hone and refine your written communication skills
  • Blogging enhances your “thinking skills”
  • Blogging helps you accept and deal with compliments and criticism in a better way; It makes you open to feedback
  • Blogging compels you to improve your personal time management skills
  • Blogging makes you dream; and dreams are vital to the journey of life
  • Blogging give you a new-found respect for every other writer / blogger; and a new-found respect for your blog readers

In conclusion, I’d like to say that Reading and Writing can be your two best friends in life. And the blog-o-sphere can enable you to do both – So why would you not extend your hands in friendship to blogging?

At the end of the day, a blog is really a creative piece of art. And a blogger (is like an artist) who need to be true to his / her blog-art.

Blogging can change your LIFE! – Give it a chance today….

Happy Blogging and Have a Great Day!

Originally published @ here

How Social Media can really help Writers / Bloggers?

As a writer / blogger, I have found Social Media to be a blessing! Be it Blogs, FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. – They all prove to be invaluable for any writer..

So How can Social Media really help a writer / blogger?

1) Research

One of the best ways Social media can help any writer / blogger is for research. Research is an integral part of the writing / blogging process; and most writers / bloggers spend time in active research on the internet. Searching in Blogs, or on Twitter using specific Hashtags, or even simply following an expert on a specific topic on Twitter can significantly simply your research process and reduce effort!

2) Inspiration

Most writers / bloggers need a periodic dose of inspiration to bring out the best pieces of creative output. We all have different triggers / things which inspire us, and Social Media provides it in abundance. The only pre-requisite is you should know what kind of things inspire you (quotes, pictures, emotions, others experience’s, etc.) and you should know the fastest way to get your dose of inspiration on Social Media. trust me! Its there everywhere – Blogs, Tweets, Pinterest, etc. etc

3) Ideas

Many times, a write / blogger needs ideas – On the topics to write about, how to articulate, how to take the story further – And you just can’t seem to move ahead. Again, Social Media can come to your rescue. Sometimes reading totally unrelated articles fuels your imagination (I don’t know how the brain wiring works, but it does!) and propels your forward, Sometimes reading a tweet gives you food for thought, Sometimes a picture / infographic does the trick, and sometimes it is a blog post which gives you that killer idea! Sometimes it is your own past Social Media activities which trigger new ideas  and thoughts :)

4) Easy access to samples of other writers / bloggers

Many writers / bloggers like to read samples of what other writers / bloggers have to say. It can be for very many reasons – To get exposure to alternate styles of work, to gauge audience sentiments, to figure out tips, tricks and best practices of the trade, or simply because they enjoy others work. Again, Social media provides easy and instant access to sample the work of other writers / bloggers

5) Promotion & Marketing

Sharing your blogs / writings has never been more easy, efficient, quick and global as it is today. Any blogger / writer can share their work at the click of a button. So Social Media can aid significantly in Promotion & Marketing

6) A Social Network

Writing / Blogging are lonely activities. It is just you , your thoughts , your words and your tools (Whatever hardware and software and systems you use!). So many writers / bloggers do like to have social interactions with others – After all, it is a basic human need! And the best part of Social Media is you can converse at any time you wish to, and with anyone who is willing to converse with you on any Social Media channel (Be it Twitter, FaceBook chat, etc etc). This virtual social network sometimes is a blessing for most writers / bloggers.

7) Writing / Blogging Groups and Communities

The other good thing about Social Media is the presence of online Groups and Communities. They exist on almost all channels (FaceBook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, Google+, etc.) and are formed by individuals who have common interests on specific subjects. Such groups usually share knowledge, information, request for reviews, provide feedback, support, encouragement and many times, also help in Promotion & Marketing of your work. You can join one / many such Groups and Communities, based on your personal interest, the time you are willing to invest and the personal value you see from them. But if you join the right Groups and Communities, you can benefit enormously by learning and interacting from fellow writers and bloggers.

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

What influences your “Writing Style”?

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

Books Books Books – My personal favorites!

World Book Day or World Book and Copyright Day (also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Days) is a yearly event on 23 April, organized by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright. World Book Day was celebrated for the first time on 23 April 1995. [Src: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Book_Day ]

On the occasion of World Book Day, I wanted to write a post on books which are my personal favorites. After all, Books can be your best friend for life, if only you extend your hand in friendship!

I started reading as a hobby rather late in life.. But once I discovered the magic and beauty in the world of books, I invested significantly in buying diverse books from diverse authors, and voraciously read them. Like they say, Diversity is the spice of life – And this is so so TRUE for books.

The other important observations / discoveries / realizations that I made about books are as follows:
* At what age you read a book makes an ocean of difference in what you take away from the book and how it can impact / change your life. If you read a book in your teenage years it can influence your thinking in unimaginable ways. The same book if you pick up well into your 30’s – you already have amassed a range of personal experiences, which can greatly influence your book take-aways.
* If you like the first book you read from any author, chances are you will end up reading and buying all their subsequent work.
* There are many benefits of reading. Personally, the top one’s are – They enable you to learn, open your mind and world to dreams, options and possibilities that you never knew existed.

So coming back to why I started this post… Well listing below my personal favorites.. Looking back at my reading journey, I think when I read these books made all the difference in my life – And hence they figure on this list..

(1) Mutation BY Robin Cook
This book opened me to the world of Medical Science and Genetics in a way that I could never imagine. Till date, it is one of the best books I have ever read. Excellent story, very well written and above all, it takes you to a world which many of us cannot ever imagine. The book was written in 1990, and I read this book for the first time in 2000. And I fell in love with the subject of Genetics after reading this. Over the years, genetics as a field has evolved significantly and it continues to be a fascinating area for me to read about!

(2) The Other Side of Midnight BY Sidney Sheldon
I loved this book for the excellent story telling skills. While the focus is on the life of 2 women who fall in love with the same man, the book beautifully brings out a range of human emotions which can transform your thinking, your values and your life when in LOVE! A powerful story with powerful characters, and unthinkable actions which drive human behavior. Again, looking back I read the book in my teenage years, and the story stuck in my memory!

(3) The KiteRunner BY Khaled Hosseini
This is by far one of the BEST fiction books I have read till date. While the book has elements of history, war, politics, migration, – the overarching theme is around human relationships. Some of the most important lessons that the book re-inforced are below
(a) that there are very few people for whom we can do anything anytime anywhere – No preconditions, No questions, No thoughts – Just pure action. The underlying emotions are usually love, fear or respect.
(b) Some bonds can never be defined – They just exist. And there is uniqueness in the beginnings, in the evolution and in the conclusion…. Or there is never really an end.
(c) Division and Discrimination are all in the mind.
(d) Honesty is a great virtue. You need courage and strength of character to be honest & stand up for honesty

(4) Jonathan Livingstone Seagull BY Richard Bach
What can I say about this book which simply makes you realize how it is OK to be different,and non-conforming to the masses. That is when you truly discover your calling in life.

(5) Man’s Search for Meaning BY Viktor Frankl
I read this book when I was looking for some answers to deeper questions of life. This book provided insights, perspectives and views from someone who had truly experienced the highs and lows of life. Not too many people experience true highs and lows, but those who do end up TRULY understanding the deeper meaning of life – And this book captures the essence and wisdom from a man who has lived it all!

(6) All I needed to know I learned in Kindergarten BY Robert Fulghum
A classic which focuses on things about life that many of us tend to forget as we become adults. And the most important lessons of life are the most basic one’s, those that we learnt in kindergarten

(7) The Secret BY Rhonda Byrne
An excellent book with a powerful message on the “The Law of Attraction”. The basic premise of the book is that whatever happens to you in life is really a function of what and how you think. And I can vouch from personal experience that it’s TRUE!

(8) Outliers BY Malcolm Gladwell
The book opened my eyes and mind to data, facts and information which was truly interesting. And I personally loved the writing style as the book tickled both the left and right brain :). And all of Malcolm’s books went into my Reading List!

That’s all for now.. What are your favorite books, and WHY?

No, it’s NOT OK to Steal other’s CONTENT!

Ever since I started blogging and writing, I have experienced others generously stealing my published content (be it blogs / papers, etc.) and passing it off as their own, without as much as a reference, link or acknowledgement to the author or the published source.

At every single instance that has come to my attention, I have always left a comment / written to the concerned person; and in most instances they apologize and remove the content from their blog. The fact is that “Every single piece of writing that I have authored has a part of my mind, heart, soul, sweat and blood; and I am PROUD of it. And YES! I am EMOTIONALLY connected to my writings! So I really don’t appreciate anyone stealing my writings – especially since they are of value to me!

But the most surprising and shocking discovery came a few days back when a senior business leader of global repute from a 100Bn$ enterprise published a blog post in his name which was picked up “verbatim” from one of my writings – Something which took me almost a year to conceptualize, write, edit and publish! Something which was truly novel and demonstrated “industry thought leadership”. My first reaction was of shock! I mean, “How could he do it?” – Someone of his stature, I am sure he knew the significance and implications of his act !

Fortunately for me, he had posted it on a community blog which was owned and moderated by an independent third party entity, so I wrote to the owner of the blog. I also left a comment to his post, to which the author promptly responded stating that he had authored it way back in 2010; & he also very EXPLICITLY mentioned his professional designation as an indication of his power and authority! I mean first you STEAL content, then you claim OWNERSHIP for something that is NOT YOURS, and lastly, LIE about it in PUBLIC! – All under the purview of the fact that because you are a senior and powerful business leader in a large multi-billion dollar enterprise, you can GET AWAY with it!

This was PLAGIARISM!

ACCORDING TO THE MERRIAM-WEBSTER ONLINE DICTIONARY, TO “PLAGIARIZE” MEANS
to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own
to use (another’s production) without crediting the source
to commit literary theft
to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source
In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else’s work and lying about it afterward.”

Moving on, fortunately for me – The blog owner did a detailed analysis, and was in agreement that the post was indeed copied from one of my original writings, and hence deleted the post. Thank God for that!

During this entire episode, I was also surprised to see the reactions of friends and colleagues. Most of them failed to understand “Why I was so upset about it?”. Some said “Forget it. Not worth your time!“.. Some said “Ignore it. He is too powerful, so let it be“. And some even laughed and said “You should feel happy that a senior business leader is passing off your writings as his own. It means that you’re writing good stuff!”. Honestly, I did not know what to say or how to react.

Also, I did some research on the issue, it appears that stealing content is a common challenge which plagues several blogs / bloggers. Most bloggers have accepted this reality of the blog-o-sphere; and have found ways to deal with it – Ignore it. OR Leave a comment. And a rare few actually get on to head-on legal battles. For most, it’s just NOT WORTH IT! They’d rather invest their time in creating new content. And rightly SO!

Ending with LESSONS LEARNED
(1) No, it’s NOT OK to Steal others CONTENT! If you must use it, acknowledge and give a reference to the original source / author. It hurts the author / writer, and if found it can be a serious “black mark” to your public brand image / character
(2) Value is personal and subjective. What is invaluable to you, may have no value to someone else. To Each his / her own ; and that’s OK
(3) Be GOOD on Social Media. As it is there is so much BAD and NEGATIVITY in the real world, Do you really want to carry that to Social Media as well? Here is a post on Social Media Etiquette 101 : The Basics that could help!
(4) And if you are in POWER, you can’t get away with EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME! At some point, one has to pay for his / her KARMA!

Recommended Readings / References
Just because it’s not illegal, does not mean it’s RIGHT
What to do when your online content is copied?
Know your digital rights – Blog Etiquette
plagiarism.org
How to file a DMCA take-down notice?
Copyright FAQ’s

So, have you experienced anyone stealing your online content? How did you handle it? Do you have a view on the issue? Leave a comment to let me know!

Nischala’s BEST posts of 2012

It’s 31 Dec 2012. The last day of the year. And as I look back at my blogging journey, I can definitely say that it has been great – A lot of blogging (200+ on my public blogs and 150+ on my private / restricted blogs – So on an average that is 1 post per day right through the year!), a lot of learning, A lot of experimentation, A lot of improvements, A lot of happy and proud moments, A lot of milestones reached, A lot of new personal records set and yet a long way to go…

In this post, I am listing the BEST posts of 2012 – In terms of the writings, in terms of the response and more importantly in terms on my personal favorites

Sharing it so that you can read them again or check them out in case you missed them before – Listing them below in two broad groups – LIFE and SOCIAL MEDIA & BLOGGING; and in random order

LIFE

33 Lessons of Life No School Really Taught Me

12 Choices to Transform Your LIFE

12 Most Life-Molding Basics YOU Should Invest In

What it means to be a MOTHER?

Can a SORRY undo everything

Nischala’s Blog-o-Rendezvous with Prof D V R Seshadri

Nischala’s Blog-o-Rendezvous with ANGELA MAIERS

12 Most Promising Outcomes from the Regular Practice of Yoga

Can simple everyday rules at home change your life?

The 5 Distinguishing Traits of a Prosperous Woman

What is the most important QUESTION?

What is the most IMPORTANT Career Choice a Woman makes?

What really drives human behavior?

SOCIAL MEDIA AND BLOGGING

AEIOU Reasons for you to Blog

Why you should wear the 6 Thinking Hats on your blog?

Understanding the Hype Cycle of a Blog

The Biorythmic Cycles of a Blogger

9 KEY Reasons for you to READ

12 Most Compelling Reasons for your to Write

The 10,000 Hour Rule

A few weeks back, I read the book “Outliers : The Story of Success” BY Malcolm Gladwell – One of the most interesting and thought provoking books I’ve read in the recent past. One of the key points in the book is that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to achieve excellence in anything – Be it programming, music or art.

I guess we’ve all heard that “Practice Makes a Man Perfect”, but no one really put a number to the practice efforts..

Somehow the thought continued to linger on.. I pondered about my own life and about the lives of people I know who achieved excellence in their sphere of work / art or any skill… Did it really take 10,000 hours to achieve excellence..

Well… I guess YES and NO.. Simply because I think it all depends on how broadly your define the “skill” and how specifically you define “excellence” – Both of which are not so easy to do! Of course there are several other factors specific to an individual, the environment, etc – which influence the final outcome of your efforts…

But everything constant, does it really take 10,000 hours of dedicated practice?

Let me take a few examples:
I don’t think you need 10,000 hours to make the perfect cup of tea (And again perfection is fairly subjective); But I can vouch for the fact that it can probably take 10,000 hours to master cooking

Again, I don’t think you need 10,000 hours to figure out how to put your baby to sleep; But I can vouch for the fact that it can probably take much more than 10,000 hours to achieve some level of mastery on parenting

Again, I don’t think you need 10,000 hours to write a perfect blog post; But I can vouch for the fact that it can probably take as much as 10,000 hours to publish a good book – You need to reach a different level of self-awareness, comprehension of writing process, literary literacy and “understanding your audience”.

Now let’s do a quick Math
10,000 hours translate really to
2 hours per day for 13.69 years
4 hours per day for 6.84 years
6 hours per day for 4.56 years
8 hours per day for 3.42 years
10 hours per day for 2.7 years

Hmm.. I think these number explains a lot of things.. Like
Why does it take most writers at least 3 years to get their first book published? (From idea to shelf)
Why does it take any parent at least 3 years to feel comfortable about parenting?
Why does it take anyone at least 5 years to get their PhD?
Why does it take most bloggers a few years to find their niche in the blog-o-sphere?
Why does it take several years for organizations to figure the right Social Media strategy?
Why does it take very long for most of us to get it “right” on Twitter? (Twitter started in July 2006)
Why does it take any singer / musician several years to achieve complete control on their voice?
Why does it take any gymnast several years to even be considered for the Olympics?
Why does it take any actor several years to find their “niche” in acting?
Why does it take any chef several years to get a Michelin Star rating?
Why does it take any pilot several years to fly the Air Force One?
Why does it take any photographer several years to click that one magical perfect picture?
Why does it take politicians several years to be elected as critical representative of the state?
Why does it take anyone several years to be the CEO of a large organization?
Why does it take anyone several years to be the Dean on an educational institute?
Why does it take couples several years to find the “perfect equilibrium”?
Why does it take several years for people who embark on their spiritual journey?
Why does it take anyone several years to get perfect in oral communication?
Why does it take several years for you to find your soul-mate? (Because you are working on being perfect and so is your soul-mate I guess!)

SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU NEED TO HIT THAT 10,000 HOUR MARK TO ACHIEVE EXCELLENCE in your SKILL..
And yes! One you get there – Then the sky is the limit to what you can achieve..

NOTE: Above are based on my observations, and there could be deviations / exceptions as with everything else in life

As I did my research on this, I came across

1) An interesting and divergent point of view on this titled as ““Paradox of Skill – Why greater skills lead to more luck

2) An excellent inforgrahic which captures essence of the 10,000 Hour Rule brilliantly. Sharing the same below.

10000 Hour Rules
[Src: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/08/14/malcolm-gladwells-10000-hour-rule-visualized-practice-makes-perfect/]

Nischala’s Blog-o-Rendezvous with PREETI SHENOY

About  PREETI SHENOY
Preeti Shenoy,  named among one of the top five authors in India by CNN-IBN, weaves magic with her words and pictures.  An extremely talented and versatile individual, her Twitter bio reads: “Best-selling Author, Artist specializing in pencil portraits, Poet, Yoga-Buff, Ex-basketball player, Blogger, Dobe-owner, Nature lover, Ted speaker and a Mother.
Her interests are as multifarious and diverse as her several academic degrees which include an internationally recognised qualification from UK in portraiture. DNA has described her as a ‘Keenly observant mind’ and Times of India describes her writing as ‘Excellent story telling skills’.  There is simplicity in her writing that appeals to the inherent good in all and her positivity and ‘Live life to the fullest’ philosophy finds a large number of takers, who follow her very popular blog.
Her second book ‘Life is what you make it’ was among the top selling books of 2011 in India and her third book ‘Tea for two and a piece of cake’ which was released in February 2012, continues to be on all the best-seller lists, having sold more than 25,000 copies within two months of its release.
Her pencil-portraits are life like which strike you with a realism that take you aback. She is also an avid card-maker and a poet.  She has written for publications like Times of India, Readers Digest and many more. She has worked with under-privileged children teaching them English and Math. She has worked with several schools conducting workshops on thinking skills and creative crafts.
She says  “Life is short. Follow your heart and chase your dreams. And yes, they will come true.”

And if you’ve read her earlier books, here’s some good news. Her fourth book titled “The Secret Wishlist” is due to for release shortly. You can pre-order this book by clicking here. Not only do you have a chance to get a personally signed copy of the book from Preeti, but also a 30% discount. You can also follow the FaceBook updates for the book here.

 THE RENDEZVOUS
A couple of weeks back, during a random online browsing activity, I accidentally came across Preeti Shenoy’s book titled “Life is what you make it” – Something about the title compelled me to buy the book. I finished reading it in one night. Then I read her other 2 books “34 Bubblegums and Candies” and “Tea for Two and a Piece of Cake” all of which are National Bestsellers in India. After I finished reading all the three, I learnt that she also blogs, so naturally I visited her blogs. I liked her writings (both books and blogs) simply because they were simple, easy to read and written straight from the heart!

So I sent her a request for the Rendezvous and she immediately replied with a “YES”!

In this rendezvous, we discussed about Preeti’s journey into the world of writing and some nuggets about life which she strongly believes in.

Nischala: Hi Preeti. Firstly, Thanks for your time. It’s great to connect with you!
Preeti: Hi Nischala. Thanks for this

Nischala: So Preeti – Firstly, Congrats on the success as a writer. From what I read, all your books are national bestsellers and are doing very well!
Preeti: Yes! Thank You. They are all indeed doing well. Touch wood!

Nischala: So let me start this rendezvous with how your writing journey started?
Preeti: I have always been a writer. From childhood, I have written several short stories and poems – Many of which have won laurels and have been published in journals / magazines, etc.

But looking back, I think the big push for writing came only after I lost my father. In order to deal with this loss I started writing – Writing primarily for myself and more as an outlet for my thoughts and emotions. Writing kept me busy and almost was therapeutic to help me deal with a difficult and vulnerable phase in my life. So I started posting my writings on a blog anonymously and I was happy to see that my posts were very well received. The big boost came when a radio show in the US picked up a post of mine for the “Perfect Post” Award. The traffic and reader base increased significantly after that.

I then started writing more seriously and in more respected publications like Reader’s Digest, Chicken Soup Series, Times of India, etc. One of the main reasons that I took up writing seriously was because it kept me busy and helped me deal with the loss of my father. So I wrote about things which I believed in or which I was passionate about – like life, relationships, animals, bikes, dance, art, etc. I think there are more than 60 articles of mine published in various publications.

And at the same time I received a lot of comments and suggestions urging me to explore writing a book. And that’s how my first book “34 Bubblegums and Candies” was born.  It’s really a compilation of little stories from my life and some of these were already published on my blog.

Nischala: That’s an interesting journey. So looking back, what was your happiest and proudest moment as a writer?
Preeti : As a writer, my happiest moment was when my first book came out. Also when my second book was named among the ‘top books of 2011’. And honestly I write because I enjoy it; and so it has been a happy journey all along.

Nischala: Wow! Congrats. I guess there is something special about the “firsts” of anything in life – Especially your first book . I also see that you write regularly on your blog and also have been able to publish 3 books in the past few years. From my understanding, they are two different worlds. So, what is the key difference between a blog and book?
Preeti: That’s correct. I started blogging in 2006 and since then I try to blog regularly.
Blogs and Books are two different worlds simply because in a book you need to have a storyline, characters, a setting, dialogue, etc. And more importantly there has to be a central theme to your book. While in a blog, you can write about anything you want and publish it! And every blog post can be a separate theme.

Nischala: That’s interesting! So moving on, you have also given a TEDx Talk very recently. How did that happen? And what was the key message? How was the experience?
Preeti: I have given two Ted X talks –one at Symbiosis Institute for Technology and management Pune, where I spoke on creativity in daily life and another at Ted X Sona, where I spoke on ‘5 lessons for growth’.  Both talks were very well received. The experience was great.

Nischala: Preeti  -This is the first time I am talking to you. But in this brief interaction, you sound so positive about everything. So how do you manage to stay so positive?
Preeti: Hmm… Well that’s something which a lot of people say to me. See I think I am generally a happy and contented person in life and it manifests in my interactions with others. I believe that for everything in life you do the best you can in whatever situation you are in. And if things don’t work out the way you wanted, deal with it and move on.

Nischala: That’s a great attitude for life. So what do you think anyone can do on a daily basis to feel positive, happy and alive!
Preeti: Well, there are no universal answers. But here’s what I do and it helps me a great deal.

Do something you love everyday – It can be reading or art or listening to music or meeting friends or watching a TV program – Whatever it is, set some time every day to do what you love. You will be surprised at how much difference it can make in your life.

Laugh – Do something fun that makes you laugh – It can be that you read a joke or watch a cartoon or just fake a laugh. But laughing regularly definitely has a positive effect on your overall well-being

Nischala:  Thanks for sharing these practical tips. I am sure that if anyone did the above regularly, it will have a positive impact on their lives. So, as we conclude any message that you’d like to conclude with?
Preeti: Live life today, Follow your heart and Live everyday
There is joy in little things that you can do every day. Most of us rush from morning to night in doing a zillion things, and we don’t stop to appreciate the beauty and the magic of the world around us like smell the flowers, enjoy our meals, spend time with people we love and care for, etc.  At the end of the day, life should be about what makes you happy and contented. And if you figure this out and know how to get there, then you will end up happy and contented every day of your life.

I truly believe that life is short and so very unpredictable. I am saying this because I have experienced up close of personal what it means to deal with the demise of those who mean the world to you.

And what I learnt from all these experiences is that it is important to focus on living well and being happy today. Finally when you go, you don’t take anything with you – especially not money. And what you leave is memories for others and how you impacted their lives.

I was not like this 5 – 7 years back. But as of today, this is something I believe in and execute every single day this way. So I live life to the fullest today, enjoy every single day and am happy and content at the end of the day. That’s what really matters.

Nischala: Thank you so much for this rendezvous.
Preeti: Pleasure is all mine. Have a great day!

How did you like this rendezvous? Leave a comment to let us know..

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