December 28, 2005
No wait! The award rightfully goes to the inventor and not the invention, but who invented scissors? Jump on the cyberspace highway and you find out that scissors are credited to the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Leonardo Da Vinci, and who knows who else can be googled and yahooed? So, I am going with the most likely true story...
Invented around 1500 B.C., scissors are the creation of the ancient Egyptians. They were excavated from ancient ruins. Interestingly, these scissors were made from a single piece of metal... no double cross blades pivoting around a fulcrum like we have today.
Then around 100 A.D., the ancient Romans invented the double cross blade a.k.a. - the modern scissor. It comes in different shapes and sizes, even folded and specially designed for left-handers like me. Sorry, Leonardo... will have to write about one of your inventions next time. Check: Wiki: Scissor
November 2, 2005
The long awaited moment arrived on May 16th, 2001 with the entrance of the Dalai Lama onto the San Francisco Opera House stage. He touched on topics such as, compassion, happiness, anger, and hatred. He explained the benefits of positive actions and the drastic impact of negative emotions and actions. It was brief, but it was powerful enough to send me propelling onto another dimension and thirsting for more.
Over the next three days, in the midst of thousands of others who filled up the Mountain View Amphitheater, I listened to teachings from The Heart of Wisdom Sutra. The Dalai Lama provided an overview of Buddha’s teachings and Tibetan Buddhism, then moved on to explain form, emptiness, perfection of wisdom, and impermanence. I sat mesmerized as he elaborated on, form is empty, emptiness is form. Blending humorous stories into his teachings, he further captivated the audience who responded with cheers and laughter.
On my fifth day of journeying to another dimension, the Dalai Lama’s teachings focused on Medicine Buddha Empowerment. He performed ceremonies associated with taking the bodhisattva vows and seeking refuge in the Seven Medicine Buddhas. Prayers and offerings were made, but to hear the masses recite mantras together was most empowering. I could feel compassion and happiness in the air and wished for them to linger on. Ultimately, I departed back to my previous dimension repeating the Dalai Lama’s words, “My religion is simple, my religion is kindness” and I can still hear the soothing echo in my ears.
October 21, 2005
The hostess smiles and takes us to our table. Then curiosity gets the best of her so she asks, "Where are you from?" as if to imply that non-Japanese looking people should not speak Japanese.
"We are from Zimbabwe,” my cousin states confidently, patriotic passion poring through her body language. The hostess raises her eyebrows in disbelief and expresses her mistrust with a couple of head nods swung left to right.
Before she can verbalize herself, my cousin jumps to explain, “My father is a white European who moved to Zimbabwe a long time ago. He met and married my mother there.”
“Oh, okay!” the hostess says, indicating she now finds our ethnicity a bit more believable and probably true.
At dinner we were from Zimbabwe, at lunch we were from Mongolia, and at breakfast in a little coffee shop we were from Romania. Around the world in 12 hours and we worked hard to convince people into believing us! I love this game. Try it sometime, for it is a lot of fun.
In reality, it is no longer strange to wear a certain face and be from a non-face-matching nation. For starters, I know of an ethnic Indonesian man from Holland, an ethnic Japanese woman from Norway, and an ethnic Punjabi Indian man from Germany.
Common ground? None of them have lived in their face-matching nations and solely follow the culture of the nation they were nurtured in. They acculturated even though they still fall under the category of minority in their homeland.
Our planet is one big multi-ethnic ball of people, and who is to say who is from where just by looking at their face, huh? Think about it – what does an American look like? What is the face of a Londoner like? White, black, brown, green, purple...? Tomorrow, I shall be from Venezuela... because it sounds exciting!
October 12, 2005
Nothing! Yes, nothing. You got all green lights and now a red light. Why? Sorry 'dear job candidate' but you are not technical enough, not senior enough, not junior enough, not product oriented enough, not service oriented enough, not engineeringly inclined enough, not sales minded enough, not old enough, not young enough... enough, enough, enough!!!
You don't fit here and you don't fit there, you just don't fit anywhere! One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish... but you are not a fish at all, you are a different species on the wall. Your species won't be given a chance, to prove yourself, to grow, to enhance. Sad but true, what is a non-fish to do? How bizarre, how bizarre!!
So, do you jazz up or jazz down your resume? Throw in or throw out buzz words? Talk big or talk small at the next interview? As a drastic measure, maybe you should scrap your current job hunt and seek employment in a totally different field - serving coffee, cleaning horse stables, clicking a cash register, coaching a kid's soccer team, chopping trees...? All respectable jobs, but just not in the field of your choice.
If you can't find Middle Ground, a place where you are neither this not that, or can't find a company that is willing to take a risk and hire you in the hope that you will adjust yourself accordingly... you are going to be putting aside years of experience and education to go chase a new career. Scary? For some. Is your glass half empty or half full?
September 11, 2005
I flew from San Jose to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and drove north about 60 miles to Santa Fe. It was night time and I couldn’t see much on either side of the highway besides towering mountains in the distance. I wished I had taken an earlier flight so I could have at least caught the sunset on its way down. Having missed the light, I decided to reserve time for Albuquerque on my way back to the airport.
Santa Fe, high up there at about 7,000 feet is dotted with historic landmarks and host to a number of art and cultural events. One that attracts the most visitors is the Indian Market. Held each year around mid-August, this event includes 1,200 artists from about 100 Native American tribes, visited by over 100K people. I just had to be part of this show. Parking downtown would definitely be a headache, so I asked the hotel manager if I should take a taxi or bus. He directed me to a mall near by from where special buses were being operated to shuttle art lovers to and from the Indian Market. All I had to do was walk a bit and then enjoy a short ride through Santa Fe right into her downtown. Smooth mode of travel.
We were dropped close to the Plaza; the place where things happen in downtown Santa Fe. The last time I saw so many Native Americans at one gathering was when I volunteered at a Pow Wow in Minnesota about 15 years ago. Getting lost among the natives and beautiful art was delightful for my senses. Booth to booth I wandered, talking with artists about their work, tribe, and occasionally telling them a bit about myself. “I am from California by way of Minnesota by way of South Asia by way of Iran and a lover of Native Americans.” Oh yes, that is a mouthful to digest and usually brings a laugh followed by more questions!
Different events ran across the center stage at various times. If I had been elected judge of the Clothing Contest, I don’t think I would have been able to render a decision, because each costume was more colorful and detailed than the next. Then, stepped up a Mohawk artist who recited his poetry. It was realistic, humorous, and wrapped around a catchy rhythm. I enjoyed talking with him afterwards about his poetry and art work, and also his tribe located in the New York state area.
Some wild birds have been saved from extinction, but there are others who need our help. Making a mini donation, I got my picture taken with a live Bald Eagle. Note: this is New Mexico, but the backdrop for the photograph is Colorado. Rocky mountain high, no worries and close enough. At least the bird is alive and real. The stare emitted from her eyes and the sound echoed from the flapping of her wings is beyond powerful. It made me a bit nervous having this huge creature sit so close to my face and near my shoulder. Awesome all the same.
Some other fun experiences include: walking through the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) museum, chatting with the ‘stop scams department’ ladies and also the ‘authentic native art’ ladies, eating an oily Navajo burger, hearing a native rock band with a female lead singer/guitarist strumming away “who do you love…?”, and then watching an amazing artist dressed in bright yellow perform the hoop dance… juggling a bunch of hoops over and around his body to the rhythm like clockwork. I learned a lot about the Pueblo Peoples of the Rio Grande Valley and made it my mission to visit some pueblos.
On a nice sunny day, I drove about 70 miles north of Santa Fe to the city of Taos. What varied terrain along the way! The eyes take in anything from a 3D view all the way to a many dimension view, but it is so powerful at a certain point you can’t make out how many dimensions your eyes and mind have just absorbed. The reds, browns, and yellows reflect back a multi-palette of hues literally bouncing off the walls of your cornea. No picture, painting, nor postcard can capture the view and do it justice. You just have to see for yourself.
During my first visit to Taos, I had the honor to chat with a Taos Pueblo elder at the pueblo. He told me some things about his WWII experiences. Five of his many years were spent serving in the Navy around the Far East. He stopped short of India. I joked with him about the ‘real’ India region where Christopher Columbus was supposed to land and how Native Americans have been incorrectly labeled Indians and Natives. I added, that now with the many Indian-Indians in America we have Indian Americans and American Indians. We laughed, but this can become a serious issue if discussed in detail. I saved it for another time. Interestingly, over my travels, I found many tribe members who prefer to be called, Native Americans versus Indian. Better yet, they like to be referred to by their tribe – Navajo, Zuni Pueblo, Hopi, Apache, and such. Sounds good to me.
The drive up and west from Santa Fe to Los Alamos is also past gorgeous terrain and lands you right in the heart of the city where the A-bomb was created during WWII. Walking through both, the Historical Museum and the Bradbury Museum was an awakening experience. From Native American art and history represented throughout New Mexico, in this city you are transported to science and technology – old and new. Native Americans farmed here for centuries, then came a boys boarding school for wealthy families, and then the Los Alamos National Lab took over and has since expanded. The entire LANL area is restricted, but we are allowed to drive around it to get to the beautiful forest areas. Atomic creation and natural creation under one roof – very ironic.
Close to Los Alamos sits the Bandelier National Monument, a park over 32,000 acres in size, and its main attraction is, Frijoles Canyon. Centuries ago, the Anasazi Pueblo people lived here in natural caves and also built homes near by. The water, plants, and animals of the area sustained them. I chatted with some park rangers and went for a walk along trails. Climbing up wooden ladders and stepping into some actual caves was a fun experience. The zillion bats and their mess wasn’t fun though. They live in the higher caves and I could smell them from afar. ‘Anasazi’ means ‘ancient ones’ in Navajo, and as I stared at the caves from inside and outside, I pictured them standing there as they did thousands of years ago, before America was America.
I drove through all kinds of areas in and around Santa Fe, from the rich to the poor. I see it as a city of financial contrasts – extreme poverty to tremendous wealth. Before I embarked on my journey, I flipped through a book about the exquisitely decorated houses of Santa Fe, but I could not find them. Then it occurred to me, to stop by the Opera House. After all, for the most part which social class listens to opera? Probably not the Native Americans on the reservations. So, there you have it… around the proximity of the Opera House close to the Tesuque Pueblo, I found homes decorated on the outside and inside with art galore. Colors bright as the sun and sky, painted onto brown pueblo-style adobe walls and windows, just like in the picture book and also eye candy, but in drastic contrast to Native American residential areas I visited.
If you venture a little south out of Santa Fe to the non-touristy areas, you land in places like Cerrillos and Madrid. Tucked away and yet close to urban areas, here is where I met and chatted with Harley-Davidson biker-types. I lost count of their tattoos and almost bought a bandana to blend into the club. Besides bikes, there are horses and horse ranches in the area. You can horseback ride across the beautiful landscape where you are an amateur or a professional.
Dropping by Santa Clara Pueblo on a week day, I came across residents going about their daily business. The post office is a major meeting hub and filled with boxes, so I gathered that people mainly have PO box addresses in this area. I also visited the tribal offices from the outside, as they were not open yet. Each pueblo has a Governor’s Office. Everybody waves and nods to greet you as you drive or walk by, even if they have no clue who you are. This happy behavior resonated across every single pueblo I visited and made me feel I was in a truly welcoming community. There is no fakeness about it, just pure genuine warmth.
Espanola sits north of Santa Fe and on route to Taos, bang on both sides of the freeway and the Rio Grande river. A sign read, “This way to the visitor’s center” so, I followed it and found this huge building with just two people in it. One was cutting the grass outside and the other cleaning the kitchen. They told me, the place is used as a rental for parties and functions. I got some tips about the region and a guidebook, but it was strongly suggested that I drive another 45 minutes north to Taos if I wanted to see something substantial. So, off I went to Taos for the second time briefly stopping to check out San Juan Pueblo from a distance.
There are dozens of shops around the main Taos Plaza filled with Native American goodies. Up till now, a lot of art work had caught my eye, but I had not bought anything. I wanted to buy pieces 100% authentic Native American and preferably sold by the artist him/herself. Then I found a Navajo run store with a decorated Native American medicine horse figurine and my eyes lit up. The lady said, it was her display piece and refused to sell it. However, she called three other stores to find the same horse. The final one had it, so I rushed over there and bought it.
Being ecstatic about my purchase didn’t last long. As the lady placed the box into a plastic bag, I noticed a tiny sticker on bottom which said, “Handcrafted in China” and I was horrified. I asked if it is made in China and was told, that it probably wasn’t and that only the box is made in China. What? The box is made in China? I am not falling for that! So, I made the lady take the figurine out of the box, flip it over, and there again was a “Handcrafted in China” label. I wanted to return it, but there was a big sign with “No returns No refunds” in front of my face. I am still fuming. For the rest of my travels I made it a point to tell lots of people, specially Native American people, about this story. I will not buy Native American art made in China and neither should you – period!
Hear this amazing fact – there is only one authentic Taos Pueblo owned store in the entire Taos Plaza shopping area. It is small and I found it by chance. Before I could ask if anything in there was made in China, the lady told me that they are a native owned tax free store. Yes, thank you! I spent ages chatting in there about authentic art, Taos Pueblo traditions and ceremonies, and got detailed information about each artist represented there. They have only 100% authentic products – wooden dream catchers made by a young Taos Pueblo boy, leather and horse-hair talking sticks made by a Navajo artist, cedar and stone pipes made by a Taos Pueblo artist, and much more. The experience was definitely eye and ear candy for me.
While roaming around beyond the Plaza, I visited the Kit Carson museum. Carson was a trapper, Indian agent, guide, and soldier who lived here. I also chatted with different Euro American people who settled in the area between 20-30 years ago. Most own the expensive galleries and enjoy the quiet rural life. I overheard an elderly lady complain about her having to type a lot and that it was hurting her fingers and eyes. I jumped in to suggest, that she get a text scanner or voice activated software. She seemed a bit stunned and then called me, a Computer Whiz. Far from it… just a Silicon Valley gadget and technology enthusiast. We all had a good laugh and she went off to act on my suggestion.
North of Taos one can drive on a route called, the Enchanted Circle. The entire area is a huge ski area. No snow at this time, but I imagined people zigzagging down snow white slopes and getting a thrill. I stopped in a small town called, Questa, but couldn’t find much to do there besides admire the surrounding natural environment and the many horses and cattle standing around.
Downtown Santa Fe is simple and very charming. The Plaza is a central point around which, like at Taos, there are stores and art galleries. A building called, The Palace of the Governors, lends its front porch to specially selected licensed artists who display their goods every single day. Not interested in expensive art galleries which primarily cater to wealthy Euro American retirees, I bee-lined for the artists directly.
It was great fun chatting with numerous artists about their work, daily lives, tribe, and much more. All were glad to explain in detail how and why they put together their pieces. They insist you hold it, touch it, see it in the sunlight, and ask more questions. So, I did and once again, I was delighted to see 100% authentic products handled directly by the artists – sand paintings, colorful bead dream catchers, storyteller figurines, various pottery, turquoise and silver jewelry, and artwork galore.
Being a sales/business development person, it was interesting for me to watch some of the artists haggle. They are too nice and mellow. I quietly watched one lady give in repeatedly to customers. At one point, she dropped her price from $250 straight to $150 and the buyer still would not buy. He probably thought it strange. I felt impelled to rescue her, so during a quiet moment I jumped in to suggest a different sales strategy and gave her some sales pointers. She laughed and earnestly thanked me. I hope she made some money by the end of the day.
On my way to Albuquerque, I took a slight detour and visited the Santo Domingo Pueblo. No ceremonies were underway, just another average day, so I got to be a non-tourist… something I strive to be. I bought a delicious home-made burrito from a resident, chatted with some pueblo people, wandered around the residential and plaza area, and then went on my way south to the Sandia Mountains.
The Sandia Pueblo people own a huge casino which sat in my path, but since I don’t fancy gambling I bypassed it. Further east, you can ride the Sandia Tramway – the world’s longest aerial tramway, up to Sandia Peak at an altitude of over 10K feet. What a spectacular view of the Cibola National Forest, Albuquerque, and miles past it! Sadly, I didn’t see any bears or bobcats, just plenty of squirrels and birds. I was told we get an 11K square mile panoramic view, but my eyes saw natural beauty and wildlife in views beyond 3D and multi-D.
In Albuquerque, I met a young man from the Zuni Pueblo. He had a small push cart on which he sold key chains, figurines, magnets, and such items – all made in China or Taiwan. Oh yes, I told him my “Handcrafted in China” story and we had a good laugh followed by a serious discussion. He was proud that the Zuni Pueblo members number over 11,000 and comprise the largest pueblo in New Mexico. Besides that, they are different from the other pueblos, in language and cut away from the Rio Grande river. We chatted about their history and current conditions, and I learned interesting first-hand information. I promised to visit his pueblo next time and I will.
In conclusion, there is a lot more to share regarding my trip and I could go on for pages, but I decided to jot down key experiences. Please note, that there is nothing New about New Mexico and definitely nothing Mexican about it either. I haven’t dug into the history to find out how they named this state, but I hereby rename this magnificent natural beauty-filled state – Eye Candy. Let me know your thoughts and ideas.
August 30, 2005
July 24, 2005
Hallo... in May 2003 I heard Dr. Albert-Laszlo Barabasi on National Public Radio and was very eager to learn more. I bought his book "Linked" about the Science of Networks, an absolutely fascinating field I have been exploring for over 2 years.
While reading the "Rich Get Richer" chapter, I grabbed a piece of paper and jotted down what you can see in the image above (sorry it is not clear) and the example below. I rushed home from the coffee shop, and being a visual person, drew it all out on a PowerPoint slide.
Later on, I finished the chapter and saw what I thought the author had missed. Information about networks evolving and such. Silly me for jumping ahead, but I decided to send my theory to him anyway. I was keen to share it. Dr. Barabasi informed me that my theory was "cool" and added some comments.
HERE IS MY THEORY...
The rich get richer, then the nouveau riche come along!
Realignment Network Theory: A Hubbing-Dehubbing Process
1. two nodes link
2. senior node becomes popular
3. senior node becomes a hub
4. new node comes along
5. other nodes attracted to new node now a new hub, senior node de-hubbed
6. senior node dies
Website Hubbing-Dehubbing as an Example:
A poetry website comes online and advertises itself. Other websites are attracted to it and create a link. Soon it becomes a hub. Several months pass and then a new poetry site comes online and advertises itself. Other sites test it out and find that it provides better graphics and richer content than the old poetry site. Websites shift their loyalty and the new poetry site becomes a hub. The old poetry site is dehubbed and eventually dies. If it is able to drastically transform, it can be a hub again.
Do read "Linked" and check out all about the Science of Networks via:
Albert Barabasi's Website
Mark Newman's Website
Center for the Study of Complex Systems - UMich
The Center for Complex Network Research
July 21, 2005
Where do you tip on this scale, huh? I found this image on the net, and my being a non-supporter of various psychological tests that categorize and compartmentalize people, I am sharing this with you. Depending on how you answer psych tests, you come across as for example: too aggressive or not aggressive enough, or too much of a risk taker or risk devoid. Point being, such tests provide inflexibility. The bad news - some companies still live in the dark ages and make such tests mandatory for potential employees. They will not even meet with nor speak with the candidate until the psych test has been cleared. As social beings we tend to present ourselves differently in-person, so the candidate you evaluated on paper might not be the one sitting in front of you. Dozens of barriers are instantly broken down the minute people interact face to face. I think companies should get rid of the psych tests and look at the Big Picture. Instead of predicting my potential over a multiple choice exam, predict it over cup of coffee! Give it a try...
June 14, 2005
KG said, "And here is to... All Animals Are Equal, But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others!"
Just as our glasses clinked I laughed and said, "What? Some animals are more equal than others? That doesn't make any sense."
"George Orwell. Animal Farm. Haven't you read 'Animal Farm'?" KG asked in a surprised tone.
"I know of George Orwell and '1984' but not this one," I replied.
KG smiled and said, "Get it, read it, and let's chat!"
I did that night, because I just had to know why and how some animals can be more equal than others. About three years have gone by since I first read it and it opened my eyes to the truth, that we can be equal and yet not equal in the same society, country, workplace, and planet.
Recently, I reread 'Animal Farm' and it still rings true. Communism was a failure. Socialism is unreal. Dictators stand for themselves. Democracy is beautiful, but sadly, no pure democracy exists anywhere. There will always be a Napoleon (leader) and his gang versus a gullible helpless underclass (all the other animals on the farm). Rules will always be tailored to suit the reigning regime.
Wait - 'always' sounds like such an extreme word and I don't like extremes, so I want to FREE Animal Farm! March in there, re-educate Napoleon & Co. and specially all the other animals, help them come up with democratically agreed on commandments, make sure success has been achieved for the long term, and walk on to the next farm to repeat my mission. Idealistic? Big Picture Thinking? Out of the Box Vision? Pragmatic? Maybe not given the right conditions, huh?
A suggestion regarding Orwell's --- Animal Farm - "Get it, read it, and let's chat!"
June 2, 2005
Good 'ol Snoopy! A long time fan of Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Friends, I was thrilled when I got to meet the cousin of cartoonist, Charles Schultz. He showed us students the stars and planets, and I had never seen them so close to Earth. Also, was excited to be the Tour Guide for the Mall of America which houses, Camp Snoopy. All Minnesotan fun!
May 13, 2005
When will those mis-management folk understand that it is and was the salesPERSON who made the customer bring in the business? Trust me, it was not some love for the company or its other salespeople shoved at them now. Heck, it says so right in 'Sales101' and here are some basics from the top of my head:
1. People buy based on how they are sold and how comfortable they are made.
2. The seller sells based on what the buyer needs, not what the seller wants to sell.
3. Seller and buyer form a relationship, trust is a catalyst.
4. A good salesperson can sell anything to anyone.
5. Many professions are 'just a job' sales is 'more than a job' - oh yah!
On a different note... we salespeople of the mega salesforce should question how those mis-management folk got to become sales management in the first place?! It sounds like they bought their way in rather than earned their way to the top. Whatever the case, without Sales101 and your key salesPERSON, you ain't sellin nothin buddy... not now... not ever!
Check out: Selling Power Magazine
Well, let me tell you... it is tough being a left hander in a right handed world. We are an accident prone people. Door knobs are placed on the wrong side, so we struggle to open and close doors. Scissors are a major dilemma to handle and it is difficult to cut straight. We get bruises, scrapes, cuts, and burns all over the place if not careful.
Statistics from somewhere say that, 1 in 10 is a left hander. So, we have to adapt to the other 9 right handers. Buy Left Handed Products... scissors, garden tools, coffee mugs, pencils, notebooks, etc. and stay accident free!
The best news is... Left Handers are in their Right Minds according to those who have studied our brains - left brain right brain stuff. Hey, that makes me happy and glad to know it! Check out: The Left-Hander Syndrome.
April 6, 2005
What makes humans different from chickens? We have been told, a higher level of functioning and brain power differentiates human-kind from animal-kind. Okay, so then why do humans roast (a.k.a. hurt) humans all the time? Well, they don't literally throw them in a grill like in the image here, but humans find ways to roast each other. E.g.: politics, corporate world, at home, at work... I am sure you get my drift.
Perhaps we should call humans who roast humans, 'chickens'? However, the word 'chicken' connotes a 'coward'. So, by logical deduction we deduce => Humans Who Hurt Humans = Cowards. Makes sense? Not quite.
Well, a coward is one who shows fear in the face of danger or pain. In this case, the chicken/coward/human instills pain on the good human, which leads us to deduce => Cowards Fear Pain And Cause Pain. Makes better sense now, huh? After all, it is all about logic and semantics rather than about humans and chickens! Bottom line: don't cause pain to fellow humans.
April 3, 2005
I must admit, it was the first time I watched women play college level basketball. Sadly, I never even attended any basketball games while at college nor at university. My last exposure was with friends shooting baskets for fun and prior to that, being on our high school basketball team. The latter was a serious adventure at the time, but ended in 11th grade.
The Rutgers' Scarlet Knights is made up of a team of college women. The film follows them through their trials and tribulations on and off the basketball court. A key figure and major inspiration in the film is coach C. Vivian Stringer. She definitely has put a positive dent in women's athletics and changed the outlook for the better!
Oh yes, women are getting into the NCAA and professional team sports! We have seen them in tennis, swimming, golf, squash, and other individual sports, but now it is time to see them in action and shining as part of a team sport. Viva women in soccer, baseball, hockey, and basketball!
March 30, 2005
Enjoyed your article, “George W.’s Naiveté” (M. Faiz Rehman, Nov. 12) and found myself nodding in agreement as I recalled my own encounters with those who haven’t the faintest idea about geography beyond their borders. Before I set foot in America, I was well prepared to expect questions, and I felt I was on a crusade to destroy all the myths and re-educate my college mates! After a while, it got tiring and a group of us decided to print t-shirts for the International Students with 10 questions on the front and their 10 respective answers on the back.
Unfortunately, we never got around to that mission due to financial constraints; however, we did print and sell a t-shirt with a world map and some slogans reminding our geography-deficit colleagues that a world beyond the US of A does exist. That was our mini-crusade!
Many moons ago, my father was on a flight to somewhere and seated beside an American businessman - a famous chap from a famous company, definitely not your average Joe from the barnyard. The American was amazed that his foreign flight companion knew the state he was from in the USA and even those around it. The American challenged the foreigner to name some other states.
Without hesitation, he named every state in the USA and even all those provinces and territories up in Canada! World geography was something he had learned in grade school. The American admitted he could not name all 50 states, and he regretted not being taught world geography at school, but he enjoyed his business trips to Asia and was eager to learn more about this part of the globe.
Those who seek political office should know for a fact, that they will be walking into the face of world affairs and dealing with their counterparts virtually on a daily basis. It is deplorable that politicians such as George W. are confined to politics that perhaps do not extend beyond their shores.
Maybe a few sessions at the games, “Diplomacy” or “Trivial Pursuit” will shoot up their IQ - Information Quotient. My college mates don’t need it, the businessman on the flight does not need it, but if anyone needs to be up on world geography and affairs, it is definitely that sole politician who will head and control a world power!
EZINE = Pakistan Link
March 6, 2005
The 'Cry-Baby Ad' as I call it, makes me lean away from a product. I don't want to hear why Tide detergent is better than Cheer, or why Post cereal is better than General Mills. I would rather hear the positives and strengths of a product, than the negatives of a competitor's product. I want to hear what XYZ product can do for me and how it stands out of the crowd, without dragging the crowd into the equation and through the mud.
After a little Consumer Psychology research on the net, I found a solution: Expansion Advertising - wow! The research of Wansink and Ray studied 3 types of expansion ads:
1 - Noncomparison ads simply state that a target brand is a reasonable choice for the target situation ("Use Arm & Hammer Baking Soda as a refrigerator deodorant").
2 - Product comparison ads associate the target brand with the target situation by positioning or comparing the target brand with another product that is already associated with that situation ("Eat Orville Redenbacher Popcorn as an afternoon snack instead of potato chips").
3 - Situation comparison ads associate the use of the target brand in a new situation with its use in a more familiar situation ("Special K breakfast cereal is as good at snack time as it is at breakfast").
Conclusion: Situation Comparison Ads were found to be more persuasive and they encourage the consumer to focus on the benefits of the product. Oh yes, this is how I like marketing marketed to me!
February 22, 2005
Yes, that is right - never hire family! Please note, this advice is based on my personal professional experience and has nothing to do with my family business, of which I am not a part of and shall be reserved as a different story for another time.
Hiring family makes bad business sense. Why? Well, you can't get rid of them when they don't perform, you are forced to give them a salary raise and promotion despite their not delivering, they argue with you till you give in, you feel sorry for them, they make you look bad in front of other employees, you have to cater to their whims and cries, and worst of all... despite the business downfall, you have to attend family functions with them for the rest of your life!
You might ask, "What about trust?" Yes, we all want to work with people we can trust and feel comfortable with and the first instinct is to go with family. Wrong! Not wrong because family cannot be trusted, they should be and there should be a strong bond between family members. Wrong because once you mix business with pleasure or business with family, you have a concoction for disaster.
Strange thing is, even though I grew up around a red-tape, bribery-filled, money-under-the-table society, I am a solid proponent of the merit system. Oh yes, if you work hard, you deserve the credit and not someone who happens to be a relative of the boss! So, rule number one in business... refer to the title of this blog.
February 16, 2005
It all started with a monkey who was fed peanuts in an Italian lab. Each time the monkey reached out for the peanut, a certain neuron fired in the brain. Then one day, a lab technician reached for a peanut in front of the monkey (I guess he was hungry) and the same neuron fired in the monkey's brain! Did you get that? The monkey did not move, but his brain mirrored the action. It was as if the monkey actually reached for the peanut himself.When we watch a game of basketball, we feel and behave as if we are playing the game. We move with the players, calling out cheers and jeers, we feel their pain when a foul is called, and we feel their happiness when a goal is scored! Our brains mirror it all and the mechanism is just amazing!
To learn more about Mirror Neurons or watch the program online go to NOVA - Science Now
February 14, 2005
This weekend, I went to purchase a scanner and the checkout lady insisted I purchase insurance for the next two years. What? Are you kidding me, two years of insurance for a gadget that will be obsolete perhaps before the end of 2005? No way! The way technology is heading, a scanner model 5 times as good will be out in the market in no time.
Guess what? My attitude and my approach to technology is the problem, accordingly to a certain study. I constantly experience a phenomenon psychologists call, "hedonic adaptation." In a nutshell, the new gadget comes out, I buy it, I get bored, the next model comes out, I buy, I get bored, etc. I am not alone, most of us behave this way. Gosh, society made me a hedonist?!
Check out MIT's Technology Review - January 2004, specially the article "Technology and Happiness." This magazine as a whole is one of the best I have read!
February 11, 2005
"Oh wow, it that a skipping rope?" the question shouted in my head while my eyes must have appeared larger than normal. I stopped the boring treadmill and made a bee-line for the skipping rope. Taking it in my hands, I found some empty space and proceeded to jump. 1, 2, 3... 28, 29, 30! It felt delightful and brought back childhood memories long misplaced.
The rediscovery of the skipping rope has set me on a different exercise track. It has also given me something to think about... why pay $25-$100 per month on a gym membership, when you can buy a $5 skipping rope that cuts the mustard just as well? Maybe we have been spoilt by the jacuzzi and sauna, huh?
January 26, 2005
Why? When I think of MLK, I think about... Civil Rights, and am very grateful that we live in a time where civil rights, civil liberties, and all those wonderful freedom principles are the norm. Maybe that is a bit of a stretch, as we humans need more of an open-mind, but at least the roots have been grounded and ideas such as equality have been explored.
Yes, we are grateful for the presidents and glad they were born and guided America, but celebrating President Lincoln's birthday isn't that appealing to me. I would rather take the day off on MLK Day to walk down memory lane and retrace the steps to freedom. We have come far in this expanding yet shrinking world and there is further to go.
January 19, 2005
Imagine a futuristic dinner invitation... "Come on over for dinner! I live in Sector 4, Muddy Fluid Lake, Titan, Saturn, Milky Way which is a few planets away from Venus. Oh and by the way, you will be several years older by the time to get to my house for dinner, so let's make an appointment now and don't forget to wear your super warm down jumpsuit!"
Check out: NASA on Saturn
January 13, 2005
An American scholar went to Japan and met with a zen master, who was also famous as a calligrapher. He asked the master to write down the best wisdom on a scroll for him to take back to America. The master took his paint brush and drew a Japanese character on a scroll. The scholar asked him what it meant and he replied, "Attention." So, the scholar said, "Okay, but what does it mean?"
Then the master took his paint brush again and painted the same character next to the first one. The scholar got a bit irritated and said, "I can see that you have written Attention Attention but please understand, that I have to take it with me to America and explain this wisdom to those in academia, so what does it mean?"
The master again, took his paint brush and wrote the same character for the third time. By now, the scholar was very irritated and said, "I can see Attention Attention Attention, but what does it really mean???" So, the master turned to the scholar and said, "It means, simply Attention, pay Attention."
January 5, 2005
Then he says, "Give up? A door is not a door when it is AJAR! Get it? Ajar as in - a jar! As in a cookie jar!" Yah, he got me there, so I decided to change one of my mottos from 'thinking outside the box' to 'thinking outside the jar'. Cookie jar, jam jar, peanut butter and jelly jar, it does not matter, just outside the jar. So I am off to be creative and explore the unknown. Are you outside the jar yet?
January 3, 2005
January 2, 2005