Monk and the monkey

At work, I’m bombarded with texts, notifications, and calls. Constantly. So the mind jumps from one thing to other without finishing anything sharply. And just before sleep, we have so many unfinished businesses rolling in the mind making it restless. Wake up tired to beat the next day. This loop continues. This I call it is the life of a monkey. Jump from one thing to other, eat till it is tired and sleep till some alarm comes.

Imagine a monk. A monk is conscious of his breaths. And understands that there is space between stimuli and response. And monk meditates and eats for energy.

Monk or monkey, in which direction our lives should be?


That four extra seconds

You are looking down. Always. On your phone. Even when the love of your life is with you.  Even when a friend is there whom you are meeting for many months or even a special team meeting where people have come from different locations just to see each other and connect.

You don’t get time to acknowledge their presence, appreciate their gesture.

More dopamine on phone leads to less attention to reality. More notifications mean less you are noticing outside. “Oh no, do not say like that,  I really love them. It is just that I’m occupied on phone”, we say.

When you speak, look at their eyes. When you look at the phone and not at them, it simply means, I’m bored or I do not care. We use the phone as a tool to escape the slightest awkwardness or deviation from our expectation. Confront it. Like a leader. There are hidden gems in those moments to make others feel they are important. Do it. Like a leader.

You only want that 4 extra seconds to make the other person feel special. 

From narratives to numbers

While I was buying books crazily on Amazon, its algorithm suggested me to buy ‘Big Data The Essential Guide To Work, Life, and Learning in the Age of Insight’. It came along with the rest of so many books I casually ordered. And this book was in my last preference for the reading. After many pages of reading, I started reading it again from the first page by giving more attention, not just casual reading. It is not a book on data science. It is a book on the human mind. How we relied on the brains heavily biased by fear, greed, impatience and several cognitive biases to take decisions which mattered our life, economy and the world as a whole.

It only takes a Google search to find out the list of cognitive biases humans hold when they encounter life decisions. Here is a Wiki list for your reference.

So far our tools for decision making were intuition, human judgment, past experience, faith or even fake news! 

Data science says let the data speak louder than your cognitive biases.

Advanced data science models are helping companies to take fast decisions much more sensibly based on real-time data analysis. Humans are irrational. We need the help of data to make sense of this world. Data makes an illusory world into reality.  Hard truths we avoid. Unpleasant facts we ignore. Brutal facts we hide. All this would come out of the big data analytics.

We will move from narratives to numbers. Stories to data. When it comes to decision making. 

Content relevance and resonance

I was listening to a fascinating interview with Yuval Noah Harari in the Bloomberg’s Soundcloud before I was going to sleep. A 52-minute gripping audio interview with tonnes of insights. One of the ideas which struck me is the difference between intelligence and consciousness. He says, “Intelligence is the ability to solve problems, whereas the consciousness is the ability to feel things. There is a world of difference between the two. ”

In digital marketing, we talk about content relevance. How much the algorithms of social media is able to understand the content which is relevant for you would be found out based on your past pattern of engagement. It is possible when the machine learns your preferences. But what matters really is the content resonance. It is about how we emotionally feel for the content and resonate with it.

Relevance in content is an intelligent thing. Resonance needs understanding the pulse of matter. For that, you need to deeply understand how people feel. Just like how intelligence and consciousness are different.

Relevance can be machine driven. Resonance is human powered.

English, Math and Coding

After some years, I went for a PTA meeting at my 10 yo son’s school. It was a tough review of children’s scorecard by teachers. They appeared friendly and professional to the parents. I was casually observing how the parents are seeing this act of their children being reviewed. They appeared nervous and anxious leading to almost exhaustion. High school children had no glow in their eyes and movements were almost like crawling. The parents and teachers are making a big deal of what they wrote in a condensed exam which lasted two hours.

A walk in the school – obviously brick and mortar, made me realise that such institutions are so unapologetic for what they are doing to the people of the future. We are suppressing the innate talent and pushing conventional syllabus to our children. When we have so much of smart learning resources available on the internet, we still depend on the traditional ways. Archaic, non-personalised and tiring learning systems.

I agree on 3 things what we essentially need – English, Math and Coding. 

English is the language to learn all subjects.

Mathematics is the language of numbers.

Coding is the language to build products.

Rest everything can be learnt using these 3 fundamental things. All thrust on it.  And develop curiosity. That would fuel our children. 

Let go or be dragged

Growth is the most exciting word in the world of digital marketing. Not 20% annual growth. 10X growth is what excites people. And delivering that growth can’t just happen with tactics. It needs an obnoxious level of work to make it happen. It won’t happen when we are happy. It happens when we hate what we are going through but still enjoy the work.

I read a Zen saying while I was going to sleep. It made me think for more time and this blog is the result of that. It says: Let go or be dragged.  Isn’t it profound? In the world, we are obsessive about patiently staying back wherever we are in the name of ‘never ever give up’ – it leads to dragging an unpleasant thing longer than it deserves. Quitting is better than crawling. Failing is better than moderate success.

The growth hackers of the new world believe in the philosophy of – either we do it, or not. Nothing in between. There is no mediocre love, business or life. Live with passion. Blow every moment to 100x. By being mindful. If you are failing, make sure you are not diluting that pain with any holidays or drugs. Let the brain feel it. Rightfully perceived frustration is fuel for massive action.



Internet is human

We started GreenPepper Digital, a digital marketing agency, five years ago, it was a relatively a new business idea in India. Our team framed an idea for the digital transformation of traditional businesses. The tagline was ‘Internet is Human’. The idea didn’t strike well with our clients as it looked like a philosophical idea. We ourselves could not comprehend the idea fully though we came up with this unusual tagline.

After working with hundreds of clients in areas like design, web, social, videos, search, content and advertising – we now deeply understand what we mean by ‘internet is human’. The numbers we see in Google Analytics or Facebook insights are humans, they are not mere numbers – they are people in real life visiting your web page, liking your Facebook post or engaging with your content. They are real.

While reviewing the digital numbers with clients, many of them ignore the signals we get from the audience because we do not see 99% of them in real life. There is ‘no skin burn’ in digital for traditional businesses. So they take it lightly. For internet businesses, every signal from the internet is important – be it a Google review, a Facebook comment, a Twitter grievance or even silence of the audience. Every signal matters. They discuss it. And do something to improve it. These are feelings and sentiments about your customers’ experiences translated into digital feedback. Real-time sentiment monitoring and analysis has become a huge task for digital marketers of large brands. Listen to conversations, they are real. They are hidden figures with the treasure of insights. They are human. 


Strangers give you quality business

A road expedition, I took along with my friends early last year named fancily as The Great Indian Footprint made us realise one thing – random acts of kindness exist in this world abundantly. In the 41-day road trip, we met with hundreds of people, across 12000 kilometres of the journey across India, which is supposedly an unfriendly terrain for roadsters. It was a humbling experience. Strangers are beautiful people, they are purely unconditional and is willing to help. In India, you can treat your friend rudely but not your guest – in the name of Athithi Devo Bhava ethos. So being a weak acquaintance can get you far better hospitality than being a close friend (mostly you are taken for granted).

Coming to business, let me put a question to you: What percentage of your customers were strangers just before they paid for your product or service? How many of your acquaintances, friends or relatives gave business to you?

In business, trust is built through reviews, a good website or a word of mouth reference from someone who used our product or service. Their perception is sharpened by the value specific agenda not by who runs the business. That way, as Jack Ma of Alibaba, says, how much ever you sell your products to your friends or relatives, they feel you are earning from them, not transferring the value. More than strong ties, your weak tie matter. Because they are not biased. As the old adage says, familiarity breeds contempt. And our brain loves novelty, not necessarily loyalty all the time.



Reputation makes you a slave

Reputation makes you a slave.  Because then you have to protect it. You are stressed when it is affected. You do anything to keep it. You desire for more. And all these trap us.

As humans, we long for social approval, validation of inner circles and sometimes even outer circles. The bonds we keep for life gives us courage and at the same time bondage because of their set expectations about us. What you create to build a business or to do something which you really are not can create stress. If you are a CEO, you can’t be a DJ, even though you are good at it. We compartmentalise people – like we add a tail in their names when we save their numbers in our phone. We categorise others quite superficially. Just like a Twitter bio or a Linkedin headline.

If you are too worried about your reputation it is time to pause and reflect. Once in a while, destroy it – to feel good and liberated. That can break the boring pattern and can bring freshness to your theme. Non-conformists are the people who do real things in this world.

Tailspin: When I told this idea to my sister, on my way home from the office – she asked me – isn’t it what Rumi (The ancient Persian poet and Sufi mystic who lived in the 12th century) said? My answer. “there is nothing unsaid in this world, we are only discovering new ways of saying.”

After all, sisters are difficult people to crack! 🙂


Law of averages is not for the average guy

After seeing a Linkedin post of Jaseem, a dynamic CEO of an iconic explainer video company, WowMakers – I decided to write about Law of Averages and how it impacts whatever we do.  In one of his LinkedIn posts, he explains how he writes posts every day on what he encounters at work and the learning from it. While doing posts regularly, one of the posts got viral (almost 100k views and thousands engaging with the post). This happens in all the work we do. It is not because that post is exceptional, not undermining the quality of the post or the compounding of skill in writing a shareable post. It is all about doing things regularly. It is a marathoner’s gain. 

The more you do something, the more chances to hit the gold. When you scatter the energies it never happens. So as Gary Vaynerchuk, that insane internet superstar, says – If you love making videos, don’t count your YouTube subscribers every day. Keep making good video content. Make 100 videos. You will see the magic. It is not wishful thinking or gambler’s fallacy. It is the power of compounding and patience in super action.

In the world of instant gratification, this is a hard game for many. 95% of people leave what they do just before the miracle. They lack the willpower to stay, do it – again and again till it strikes the jackpot.

In this world of too many opportunities which can distract you from what matters, sticking to the game requires tremendous stability.

This is the essence of ‘Law of Averages’ though technically in Wikipedia terms it looks like this.