Sunday, July 31, 2011

On practice

Practice is about tolerating your own ugliness before you turn into a gem.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The myth of confidentiality of ideas

On a lot many occasions, when I am asked for ideas or suggestions/advice, I find myself holding myself back. On many other occasions, I am sharing ideas left, right and center to many people's surprise. Near and dear ones even alert me on occasions when I go overboard talking about my ideas.

And my experiences so far lead me to conclude that the idea that 'there is merit in keeping ideas confidential' is a misplaced fear. And like many conclusions we come to, there are some exceptions to this conclusion as well. People share a hell lot of ideas on certain idea-sharing sites. But there are many - I suppose, majority - who don't.

I categorize ideas into two types:
  • talking-dependent ideas
  • doing-dependent ideas
Mind you, 'talking' also means 'doing'. Out here though, 'doing' excludes 'talking. :) You get the drift.

What do I call a talking-dependent idea? It's an idea which doesn't demand any significant change in the physical set-up (for once, consider 'software code' as physical). So that means a 'doing-dependent' idea is one which demands a significant change in physical set-up.

If you share some marketing communication ideas, it might be fairly easy for people to pick it up and run with it on their own. And that happens. But share an idea which implies birth of a new business model and you'll see how often it gets picked up.

Does that mean 'doing-dependent' ideas cannot be 'stolen'? Of course, can be. But the chances are slim, very slim.

I reckon a 'doing-dependent' idea would get 'stolen' if all of these conditions are met together. The person stealing the idea:
  • has domain expertise
  • has and is willing to risk his time and money on something that isn't his own 'idea'
  • is intelligent and reads all that's in between the lines
  • is energetic
Just 4 conditions but they are 'big' conditions to fulfill, all at the same time.

Is your idea 'doing-dependent'? Go, share! Chances of hitting the ears of a supporter are greater than those of a stealer. :D

Friday, July 29, 2011 - a very useful service

It's simple. It's quick. Probably, it will turn out great. As soon I submitted my complaint, I received a call. And the man sounded enthusiastic and assured.

Most importantly, in a country full of disservice and distrust in the official channels of justice, it's the kind of utility/service needed for a long long time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

On death

Death shocks. It is such a finality. The dead person is no longer doing anything, so your consciousness cannot be distracted; it might dive into memories but it cannot be distracted. And, sooner or later, you wouldn't know but you would be propelled out of that window of memories.

I wonder if relationships can be pronounced dead when the protagonists - who were once a part of the relationship - are alive. Perhaps the fact that the other person is alive and doing something always has the potential to pique your curiosity, to distract you or to make you go through some obnoxious emotions.

It is strange but sometimes death (of the other person) could be a far better balm for an aching heart. No, of course, to wish the other person's death isn't the suggestion. But it's a comment on the nature of death. 

Sometimes, just the awareness - that your consciousness can feel distracted by those you were involved with earlier - could be liberating. Perhaps it could help you to consider the other person dead and to live as if the other person is dead. That is, until you inadvertently stumble upon him/her again. When FB, parties, social occasions, events, arenas of public entertainment, media-presence etc bring him/her back into your consciousness.

So? Live out the bout, what else! And, better than that, train hard. Real f***** hard! So hard that you almost nearly die.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Nautanki | Gym

--- 8 -- 8 ---

Want this doodler to doodle for you? Write to sidsoni at gmail dot com

Source of inspiration

Only that which isn't or distant, inpires.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Visual-of-eye marketing

Unfathomable, isn't it? Silly too, no?

It isn't for no reason that the phrase is 'word-of-mouth'. And it's regarded as the best form of marketing.

Do people have the ability to spread the message visually? If they did, we would be a world of visualizers and painters. And perhaps would be spreading visuals looking into each other's eyes :D. Or perhaps would be sketching/painting the whole day to communicate with each other. And yet the obsession with the way a 'logo' looks!

Trying to understand the clients' obsession with 'logo'

Ever since getting into the sphere of consulting for brand communication, I've observed clients' fervent interest in the development of logos.

Most often we would pitch for offering branding/marketing strategy and we would find the client obsessing over the logo! And on many occasions we wouldn't convert the pitch into a sustained engagement because the 'logo' didn't 'look' good or the client couldn't 'see' a lot of creativity. It seemed strategy is mumbo-jumbo (yeah, market has the power to render every strategy a mumbo-jumbo but it helps to chart out one as a reference point nonetheless) and logo is everything.

Fundamental questions arise.

So what is a logo? From my observation, of the way it is understood by clients, a logo is the visual symbol developed to represent the brand.

Arising out of this, the important questions are:

Was 'logo' actually meant to mean just that - a visual or a symbol? The answer is an emphatic, "No!"

And if the above-mentioned answer holds, why has it really come to mean just a visual symbol? What are the origins of 'logo'? Wikipedia gives a heavy-duty account of 'logos'. I'll paste the first few lines here:
Logos is an important term in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric and religion. Originally a word meaning "a ground", "a plea", "an opinion", "an expectation", "word," "speech," "account," "reason," it became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus (ca. 535–475 BC), who used the term for a principle of order and knowledge.
The explanation on Wikipedia continues:
In ordinary, non-technical Greek, logos had a semantic field extending beyond "word" to notions such as, on the one hand, language, talk, statement, speech, conversation, tale, story, prose, proposition, and principle; and on the other hand, thought, reason, account, consideration, esteem, due relation, proportion, and analogy.
Despite the conventional translation as "word", it is not used for a word in the grammatical sense; instead, the term lexis (λέξις) was used. However, both logos and lexis derive from the same verb legō (λέγω), meaning "to talk, count, tell, say, speak".
If I were to condense the above explanations (selectively presented here from Wikipedia), I would say the simplest definition of 'logo' is 'a word'.

By the way, 'logos' is now a term slightly differentiated from the word 'logo'. Wikipedia also has a description of 'logo':
A logo is a graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition. Logos are either purely graphic (symbols/icons) or are composed of the name of the organization (a logotype or wordmark).
I am curiously and extremely surprised how is it that 'logo' came to acquire the meaning of 'a symbol/a visual representation'. One would kill my surprise by first attributing the epithet 'stupid' to my question (or perhaps me as a person as well!) and then giving me the answer 'branding'.

Answer accepted. I am interested in knowing what is it in 'branding' that has made people accept and believe so commonly that 'logo' is 'a symbol or a visual representation'. What is the phenomenon? How did it unfold?

My sense is that people's sense of visual beauty overpowers all other senses on a great many occasions.

If sign-boards on many a little traditional sort of shops are still something to go by, it wasn't that important earlier for a shopkeeper to post a visually beautiful sign-board as long as there was a sign-board with a name written on it. Then, someone must have tried to differentiate or present his/her shop in a better manner. He/she must've got the shop-name rendered in an artistic manner and the ball rolled. Rolled with such ferocity that it obliterated the 'word' and 'the importance of the word' from the common consciousness. :)

Important point is that when, and ever since, 'the word' got overpowered and the visual has dominated, all - meaning, opinion, reason, strategy, et al - that 'the word' helped capture got suppressed too. Long live strategic consulting. Long live 'the word'.

Just a reflection of the common perceptions about a 'logo' and the phenomenon I've tried describing, this post - thrown up in Google search - is titled "Beyond Words: Do Logos Need Words to Market Themselves?" (Mind you, am not mocking the person who has posted this question.)

You will always talk in words. You will always describe something in words. You will always write in words. Even to describe a visual you will use words. And the best of thoughts get spread through words. And the best of plans get communicated through words. The thing that sticks and slips on the tongue is the 'word'. Not to say that visuals do not have a role. But words are a necessary condition. A primary condition. The bricks, the frames, the walls, the strings on which the visuals get hung.

Disclaimer: The depiction is this post is based on my experiences and might not be a universal phenomenon. :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The cost of adventure

depends on the type of adventure sought.

One is to earn money out of whatever and then spend money climbing the geographic hills and mountains.

Another is to do what you like and climb out the phases of pennilessness to make money, and then do more of what you like. It isn't as linear as the word 'climb' suggests. It isn't as linear as this blog-post is. :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Staying fit

The line below the title of this blog says, "Siddharth Soni moved out of Mumbai in search of a fitter, flexible life. These snippets chronicle his journey."

However, I am not sure if I've shared a lot on staying fit. Honestly, in all these years I've tried all sorts of things to stay fit. While I've been regular in trying different things - running, cycling, weight-trainig, gymming - I haven't been regular in doing any one particular thing.

One thing that has bothered me all this while is the need of gadgets in every sphere of life, including working out / exercising / attempting to keep myself fit. So while in a typical attempt to fill my time with book-searching on Amazon using Kindle, I chanced upon this! YOU ARE YOUR OWN GYM by Mark Lauren.

While I used a gadget to find this book, you don't need any gadget whatsoever to do what's recommended in this book. In the last few days I've tried a lot of these exercises and I've had so much fun; partly coz I don't have to deal with gadgets.

And then add to this, Mr. Soumik Nandy shared a few links on bodyweight exercising to consolidate my interest. Seems now I am set to stay regular; at least I have a belief that I can stay regular.

Typically, we feel it's better to work out under supervision but my problem is that supervisors typically haven't mastered supervision. So our waiting for 'supervision' yields very little at best. The way things are illustrated in this training bible, I doubt one would need a lot of supervision anyway unless of course one is suffering/has suffered from some serious physical complications.

Try it. The book might change you for good.

Friday, July 15, 2011

How to improve vocabulary?

After every session on Verbal Ability, I am flanked by students asking me this very question and in these exact words.

On different occasions, I try explaining them in different ways. In simple words I should summarize my recommendation in this manner:

By diving. Deep. Really deep. Into a subject.

What does that have to do with vocabulary? Besides, how does one dive into a subject? And what does it mean, the word 'subject'?

Subject is any definable interest. Yes, there are things which aren't defined on occasions. Or at least, definitions exist but not in one's awareness. So, the starting point is defining as one thinks fit or right. Architecture is a well defined interest. 'Finding patterns' perhaps isn't but it could definitely be one.

Vocabulary (as in, words) doesn't exist in isolation. One doesn't speak in single words. Words are used as parts of sentences which in turn are nothing but contexts. And contexts are nothing but shaped by 'subjects'. Cricket is a subject and the context could be the India-England Test Series. There are words which are specific to Cricket and Cricket only. If you want to talk Cricket, most likely you are going to converse in words meant to understand and express Cricket as you understand and see it. Diving deep into Cricket would mean that you know what each word in the context of Cricket means.

I wonder what 'hitting in line' would mean to a person who doesn't watch Cricket. Or a 'leg glance'. Or the words 'steered towards third man'. And if an entrance-test is skewed towards Cricketing contexts, I am sure this candidate is going to find it rather uncomfortable negotiating the questions.

So, is diving into one subject sufficient? Not really. The more number of subjects one dives deep into, the broader his exposure to different words is. And after a while, the magic happens. Suddenly, the words which earlier seemed very specific to Architecture naturally seem to be a part of Cricket and the words specific to Cricket suddenly seem to be a part of Fashion and so on...

Is Vocabulary not a subject? If you 'study' it, yes it is. But if you are just trying to remember words and their meanings, probably it's akin to diving in a well without water. Most likely you'll land on a mixture of sand, pebbles and rocks!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lean Beast

One of the things that has kept my life interesting for the last 2 months. The longest ride has been 45 kms so far. With company I might go farther.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ant in a bowl, am I?

When I read stuff like this, I feel like I am an ant in an opaque bowl covered with an opaque lid.

And when I think that others don't even bother to read stuff like this or rather don't bother to read anything, I feel they are ants who just aren't aware that they are in an opaque bowl covered with an opaque lid. Actually, there is also a species wherein the ants are ferocious but blind.

So, I've to decide now. Opaque bowl or blind ants? Opaque bowl gives me hope. Curing blindness would need a doctor. Where's God?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My first encounter with the leeches

I knew this would happen one day.

I went to the International Air Cargo section of the Ahmedabad Airport yesterday. Since this is the first ever import consignment for my new venture, the clearing agent asked me join in the process of jewelry evaluation alongside the customs' officials.

It would be an understatement if I were to say it was an ordeal. Sure it was an ordeal. It was also a muted call to support Anna Hazare's and Baba Ramdev's campaign against corruption. (While on this, I find it strange that no government seems to position itself on 'eliminating corruption' in spite of acknowledging Anna Hazare and Ramdev's demands. Probably, politicians do not feel they have the ability to rid this country of corruption. In which case, it is clear how close we are gonna get in the near future to finding any 'effective' solutions.)

Back to the ordeal.

I wait for 4 hours before I am summoned to check the consignment.

The customs guys open the bag. While checking the stuff, the man says, "Oh! This is the cost. What will be your price? Double?" Smirks! The men standing around also chuckle - perhaps to support the man's innocuous sounding question.

A higher ranking official, on his round of inspection, picks up a couple of pouches.

"This is what, silver? You are importing this?! You will sell this here?"

"Sir, we are trying it out. Let's see how it works."

"India is exporting all this and you are importing??!! Strange!"

I wonder what kind of conversations are going to ensue. He moves on.

The guy continues checking the stuff. Takes a half an hour break. Comes back. Picks up pouches. Checks at random. Keeps three pouches separate. Once done, turns to me and says, "I will take one pair (of earrings) from each of these designs."

I am lost for a couple of seconds. Fumbling for appropriate words, I blurt out, "Why would you do that?"

The clearing agent interjects, "I will explain, I will explain later."

I keep mum.

When we go out, I just quiz him about the incident. The guy says, "First consignment hai na, ek de dena. Teen toh nahi chalega par ek de dena."

After a few mins, the agent puts in his request! "Please keep one pair of earrings from that no. 40 design and also a matching pendant. Take the costs that you've incurred but leave out the profits!"

Well, there's a lot more to the story. If I combine this with the over-all infrastructure, arrangement, cleanliness and the lewd jokes and inuendoes floating among the people around, it would be nothing better than depressing.

It's a different world. One which is the sucking the world of enterprise hollow. Some more some other time.