What adds to the Power Quotient of Online Social Communities?

I started this year (2015) with one thought – To do one thing which I have never done in my life before. As January zoomed by, I pondered and wondered over what I should do? It was during a random browsing activity that I came across an article by Sheryl Sandberg, FaceBook COO in which she encouraged women to create peer support communities to help each other navigate through the complex maze of managing work and life.

I thought to myself – “Why not try creating one such group? I mean I’ve never done it before in my life, and it made complete sense to me”. Simply because I personally feel that working women could significantly benefit from a “closed and trusted” group of women we can fall back / count on. And I’m not talking about “friends” here. But really a diverse, balanced well-meaning support community of women who are a sounding board to face the good, bad and ugly that life throws at you. Because from personal experience, I can say that it is no easy piece of cake for most women at work – And we all need to help us tide through the choppy waters is an acknowledgment. Or appreciation. Or re-assurances. Or validation. Or just knowing that someone is there with you. Or a neutral perspective. Or a judgment free zone to share what they really think and feel! Sometimes we need a cheer-group, and sometimes catalysts to push us on. Or a nudge that It’s all going to be OK. I speak from experience here.

So, I went ahead and created an online LeanIn circle, and as of date we have a vibrant group of some diverse, amazing and accomplished women from all over the world. We also had a real-world meet-up and it was wonderful to meet these women in person. Again, it is the first time that I have actually taken relationships from the virtual world to the real world.

On the personal front, as a mother – I am part of an online school mummy group which we use to share any questions / answers / information / insights / perspectives around the growth and development of kids. What I learn from the conversations and interactions with mothers in this group is invaluable. The one unifying bond is a commitment to invest in the growth of our kids, and that has cemented a foundation of mutual trust and respect in each other. Again, I’ve never even met some of these mothers in my life, and yet whenever I am in doubt / have a question, I post it there and someone always responds in a few minutes.

Also over the course of the past several years as a mother, I recognize the need to have a local support community of mummies, so went ahead and created one a few months ago. Again, the lessons and information we share and learn from each other is awesome – Things like summer classes for kids to suggestions for pediatricians, etc. are shared. Again, this group is very diverse – so we have doctors, entrepreneurs, mummies with corporate jobs, educators, stay-at-home moms; and this diversity only enriches the group.

Going down memory lane – For the past 2 years,I have been a member of several online groups, and have immensely benefited from many of these connections and conversations. And now as the owner of several online social communities, I can say one thing for sure – THERE IS POWER IN ONLINE SOCIAL COMMUNITIES. I have witnessed scenarios when community members have offered well-meaning life changing advice to each other, helped each other tide through difficult times of physical, emotional, mental, marital, parenting and financial distress. I have also seen live cases of a community supporting several social causes with the sole aim to make a positive difference in the world. However I have also observed that there are many communities which really go nowhere. They start with full gusto, but after some time – they get dormant! And die a natural death!

So, I couldn’t help asking myself the big WHY? Why is it that some communities die a slow and natural death, and some continue to thrive and get powerful with each passing day?

In this post, I am sharing my views on what matters for an online social community to thrive?

What is the purpose of the community?

It is fascinating and interesting to observe what brings random unknown strangers from different walks of life together to create a community. It could be anything – like where you live, your gender, your role as a mother, a love for reading, writing, music, dance, entrepreneurship, etc. Whatever it is – a common interest brings people together. But what keeps a social community alive and kicking is shared goals / vision of the future. So, the key question is “What do you want to do together?”. For e.g: Do you want to help each other achieve your fitness goals? Or do you want to share your blog posts so others can read? Whatever it is, it should be clear; and spelt out. Else, a group will not really go anywhere!

What are the rules of the community?

For everything in life – from kindergarten to a corporate job there are some ground rules, and abiding by those rules are key for order, progress and peace. It is even more important for online social communities – since you are interacting with people you don’t really know, and your words and views can affect someone else’s thoughts and emotions. So define rules, and if members don’t follow the rules – better to remove them from the group. One dirty fish spoils the whole pond!

Who is the owner of the community?

The best analogy I can give to being the owner of a social community is that of the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of a company. That is where an individual’s values, personality and leadership style come into play. As the community owner, how one nurtures a community, and helps the community navigate the path towards a shared vision / goals plays a key role in what the group evolves to be.

The everyday engagement level within the community

This is possibly the most important part in what determines the longevity and life of any online group. Let’s face it – We are all busy, trying to do a zillion things in life. So, to catch our attention – anything needs to interest us and engage with us on an individual / personal level. Hence the communities which stay alive longer and get powerful over time are those which are better engaged. And engagement is really a function of the diversity of the members in a group and getting people to share, connect and support each other in whatever way they can.

Those are my views. What do you think? Leave a comment to let me know…
First published on LinkedIn

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Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
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When Mr. Amitabh Bachchan speaks – What you can learn by listening?

Mr Amitabh Bachchan

I recently saw a video interview with Mr.Amitabh Bachchan and found it an enjoyable watch.

The interview conversation stayed with me long after I saw the video, and I wondered Why?

Was it the voice?
Was it the words?
Was it the person?

Was it the articulation?
Was it the legend?

Over the years I have come to believe that oral communication in general, and public speaking in specific is both a skill and art –  Something which I admire deeply in people who are able to do this effortlessly almost always! I have a hypothesis when it comes to verbal communication – People usually listen to you because of who you are (your name and any associated fame), where you come from (your life story), what your speaking about (the topic), how you speak (the power of your words, delivery style and engagement with an audience) or your relationship with them.

In my life, I’ve heard several people speak in public (from CXO’s / business leaders, to politicians, to religious gurus, to motivational speakers, to teachers / professors, etc) and have been in awe with the prowess and power of the oral word in some of them. Outstanding speakers compel you to listen, create an instant connection with you, and captivate your mind and heart that you are fully consumed with what the speaker has to say.

In my personal view, Mr.Amitabh Bachchan is an outstanding speaker. Almost every interview of his that I’ve heard, I’ve given my full attention to listen to what he is saying. I always believed it was because he was Mr. Amitabh Bachchan – The Bollywood legend. But when he had my ‘close-to-whole-hearted attention’ when I was tending to my howling babies (Yeah! If you’re a new age parent, you’d know exactly what decibel level I’m talking about here :) – I knew that the reason was much beyond his name.

So in this post, I have tried to list down the reasons why I believe that Mr. Amitabh Bachchan’s voice and words stand out. And possibly lessons for many of us on how to improve oral communication.

(1) Find your ‘voice’ 
Find your ‘voice’ – both literally and figuratively. This one stands out in all of Mr. Bachchan’s communication. His deep powerful baritone is so unique that you cannot miss it and it almost instantly draws your attention. Agreed that not everyone has a gifted voice, but we can all try to find our personal voice which really highlights the uniqueness of who we are, and find ways to make it shine amidst the noise.

(2) Speak slowly
Again, in an era when everyone and everything is rushed, I find it refreshingly wonderful to hear someone who talks slowly. The more I listen to Mr Bachchan – the more I am convinced that there is beauty, clarity, charm and power in talking slowly. And the more I think about this, I realize that the best speakers almost always speak slowly

(3) Use simple language
I’ve never heard Mr.Bachchan speak and thought I don’t understand what he is trying to say. Never. Never ever. That’s a skill, That’s an art. That requires clarity in thought. That requires power over a language. That requires comprehension of what you want to convey. That requires one to be a child at heart and child-like in your mind, which is tough for most adults who find solace in embracing complexity – in words, in thought and in articulation. But here’s the thing | The simpler your communication, the easier it is – for you to say it and for them to get it!

(4) Pause / Breathe before you respond
A pause / deep breath before you say something is one of the most effective ways to get your thoughts around what you really want to say. That is absolutely essential in today’s age where it is so easy to misinterpret anyone’s words

(5) Tell stories, Your personal stories – There is power in story-telling
Storytelling is a powerful tool to share your message, and it is for this reason that storytelling is one of the most popular methods used to communicate with children. And Mr.Bachchan almost always tells a story (many times a personal tale) to give a message and convey his point of view.

(6) There are many ways to answer a question – A smile,  silence, A question, A gaze all work!
The purpose of conducting any interview is to ask questions. And in very many videos I’ve seen, Mr. Bachchan has responded with an answer, or a smile, silence, a question or a gaze.Again, all very effective oral communication strategies when you are addressing a large audience, and excellent ways of saying what you don’t want to say :)

Those are my lessons. Have you learned any communication lessons by watching Mr.Amitabh Bachchan speak? Leave a comment to let me know

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Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
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Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
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Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

Men v/s Women | Color Choices and Preferences

Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” said John Gray. In my personal view, Men are from Mercury and Women are from Pluto” – I say this just to highlight the differences is how men and women differ in very many things – Be it what we see, how we interpret things, what we understand and take-away from the same situation, how we are naturally wired, our preferences / likes / dislikes, etc. The list is endless.

As a marketer and communication professional, very many times I need to decide on the colors to use in different communication. From experience, I know that the colors make a lot of difference in how a communication is received. And hence, I was particularly interested when I came across the below infographic on how men and women view “colors”. Though dated, it highlights some key insights.

Key Take-Away for me was “Blue reigns supreme” – and it is no wonder that almost all the large brands use blue generously (For e.g: FaceBook, Twitter, IBM, Intel, IE, etc.)

[Src: Kissmetrics]

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Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
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Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
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Infographic | What to do before you click “PUBLISH” for your content?

 

Before You Click Publish

Via Salesforce

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
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Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Directory of Best Indian Blogs, Alltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes 20 Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

Infographic | 10 rules that make an infographic cool, effective and viral

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist : Huffingtonpost India | Business2Community | WomensWeb | Sheroes India | PeopleMatters | YoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous
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Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes 20 Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Mention in | “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Mention in | “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in | “Are entrepreneurs born or made?

Infographic | Video Marketing Trends for 2015

Videos are the new content hero, and video marketing is probably the hero’s vehicle to achieve ‘stardom’. Many marketers struggle to create videos that deliver the desired impact.

Following are critical for video marketing success

  • 1) Defining the objectives of creating a video content
  • 2) Finding who is the target audience and their customer persona before you define the video concept
  • 3) Finalizing a video concept – What is key is that the concept in unique / novel, interesting / catchy and has a wow factor. Humanizing the video so it brings out an emotion in the audience is important
  • 4) Using the right resources / tools to create a video
  • 5) Promoting the video

And as I was browsing for how to create compelling video content, I came across the below infographic which provides good guidelines on video marketing trends. Hope you find it useful

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist : Huffingtonpost India | Business2Community | WomensWeb | Sheroes India | PeopleMatters | YoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Directory of Best Indian Blogs, Alltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes 20 Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

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

Questions to ask and answer for yourself

There is power in questions. The right questions. Questions which make you think, reflect, introspect. Questions which push you out of your comfort zone, which burst a few bubbles, which show you the real picture, which make you understand and realize many things.

Asking the right questions to yourself come sometimes be the best gift you give yourself. Simply because when you ask the right questions, your thoughts are channeled in the right direction.

As I look back at my own life, some questions have been eye-openers for me.. Some have changed my outlook to life.. And many have changed my life.

In this post I’m sharing some of those powerful questions with you in the hope that they compel you to introspect and internalize life’s many lessons.

1) Am I doing things that I love?

If you are doing things you love, then great. If not, then you probably would give one of the following reasons –Circumstances out of my control, Other Priorities, Unplanned / unexpected situations, Never ending Constraints, Commitments to be honored, Personal Limitations. Well, do remember that every human-being anywhere on this earth (either today or generations ago) had / has one / many of the above at one / many phases in life– So you are not alone. And yet, some people always find or make the time to do things that they love. Maybe you need to just squeeze in that little time to do things you love or make a vocation of the things you love. Doing things you love will almost always make you happy. Even if it is for 10 minutes a day. For some this joy comes in reading, for some in writing, for some in watching TV, for some in sleeping, for some in creating something worthwhile.. Whatever it is.. Discover.. Make time for it. and Do it! It makes a difference

2) Am I learning enough?

Learning is a very important dimension to personal growth and development. It does not matter what you are learning, from whom you are learning, how you are learning, how much you are learning – But what’s important is that you learn consciously and invest some time and effort regularly to learn new things. If in your own assessment you are not learning enough, then it’s important to identify what you want to learn and set aside time on a regular basis for learning. I honestly believe if you love yourself, you will make an attempt to learn something new regularly. Try it and see for yourself if you don’t believe me

3) Am I content with the current state of my overall health?

The fact is that your overall state of health and well-being will determine the quality of your life today and tomorrow. Hence, it is imperative that you take time to invest in your overall health and wellness. In reality, you know your state of personal health the best, and hence you would be the best judge. If you are not content, then it’s time to ask yourself what is it that you need to, want to do and should do to improve it?

4) Am I really happy with myself?

Another very profound question – But the answer to which can sometimes be a revelation to you. Simply because you try to make everyone around you happy; and end up unhappy with yourself. While it is great to make others happy, it is also important that you invest in your own happiness. So do mull over this and see if you need to change one / many aspects of your own life

5) Am I spending time with those who matter to me?

Again, time is one of your most valuable personal assets. So use it wisely, and ensure that you earmark some time periodically for those who matter to you – It can be your family, friends, staff, acquaintances, colleagues, soul-mates, etc. But sharing your life with those who matter strengthens relationships and does wonders to your happiness quotient

6) Am I living life to the best of my potential?

You are endowed with infinite potential – Some you are aware, some unexplored and some ignored. But if you ask yourself this question again and follow it with Why? Why Not? – You will get the answers. Not just a Yes No kind of answer, but more importantly answers which will enable you to live life to the best of your potential

7) Am I happy with the current state of my immediate living environment?

Your current living environment – be it at work or office or anywhere else affects your thoughts, your energies, your productivity and your creativity. So make sure it is clean, well-organized and the way you want it to be – to get the best out of yourself

8) Have I made peace with my past?

Many of us tend to hold on to our past; and how ever hard we try we are unable to let-go. And in life it’s important to let-go and make peace with your past – especially the negativity. Just accept it and release the baggage  (Easier said than done, but it is not impossible!). Of course, it is wise to take the lessons along. And then focus your energies on the present and future

9) Am I giving enough?

In life, you give some and you get some. Most of us tend to receive more than we give. In the long run, it’s important to give – To friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers, an unknown face, a needy soul, someone less fortunate, another living being.

And what can you give? A smile, an advice, a thought, a good deed, an idea, a motivation, an inspiration, time, knowledge, support, a shoulder, a ear, a helping hand, a life lesson, wisdom..

10) Am I really experiencing life?

Are you really experiencing life – Love, Laughs, Romance, Tears, Cultures, People, Heart-breaks, Passions, Rainbows, Disappointments, Failure, Trials, Experiments, Cuisines, Technology,….. In the moment.. In this moment… And are you making the moment count? Because the more open you are, the more your experience, the more you enjoy and the more fulfilling life is…

Those are my questions for the day? What are your questions? And what are your answers? Leave a comment to let me know 

And just I was about to Publish this, I came across an excellent infographic titled “The Self-Reflection Manifesto” : 101 Questions to ask yourself. Truly powerful questions, right? Now read and answer for yourself

The Self-Reflection Manifesto

Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.


Originally published here