[5-Bullet Tuesday] This Is How You Grow!

Hi All,

Here’s your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Tuesday”, list of things I’m enjoying or pondering.

Quote I’m pondering —

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”- Muhammed Ali

Video I loved watching —

TEDxSpit Video of Eisha Chopra. In case you’re wondering who’s Eisha Chopra, she was the supporting actress in the movie,“Neerja”.

In this talk, Eisha talks about her first lesson in Feminism from her Dad!She was an eight year old then.

This speech struck a chord with me and I recalled that time in school when my own Dad was temporarily out of work. One day, ourEnglish teacher, Mrs. Ohri, asked children to stand up one by one and share what their dad’s and mom’s did.

Perhaps, she wanted to give a nudge to the children to start conversing in English.

Most children told their Dad’s profession and that their mom was a “housewife”. That’s how it was back then in 80s.  Men worked and women mostly stayed home.

When my turn came, I stood up and said something that got the entire class and the teacher laughing.

In my broken English I had said, “My mother is a teacher and my dad is a housewife!

Everyone laughed and I was the butt of jokes for weeks after the incident.

Looking back, I realise there were many jokes I had cracked:

  • The obvious one: that I had used housewife for a man!
  • That: how can a man ‘not work’?
  • … even though his wife ‘worked’!

There was no respectable term for a man who wasn’t working, even though there were plenty for a woman who wasn’t working – home maker, house wife or just the lady of the house!

Feminism is not about woman versus man,it’s about woman equals man!

Trick I learnt to GROW—

Shuttl. Cult. DropBox. What comes to your mind when you think of these companies?

Well, chances are that you got a link from your friend to subscribe to these apps. They told you the benefits and how they’re loving it. Then, you subscribed.

No wonder then that these little known organisations until recently are so popular today having grown exponentially in no time.

The marketing technique they used is called the Viral Loop.

For example, Dropbox users who love extra cloud storage (at zero cost), are prompted to “Get More Space” by inviting their friends to use Dropbox as well.

This has worked incredibly well, creating an army of customers working tirelessly to grow these companies; an army that grows in size as each wave of new referrals sign up.

And while it gives these companies greater returns, it also saves them of the massive advertising costs.

Now before you share a referral for Cult Fit, ask yourself this question: in whatever I’m doing, can I consider creating a viral loop?

What I learnt –

Top 3 recommendations for standing out in the corporate crowd:

  1. Spikiness – being a jack of all and a master of “some” trades
  2. Your Network – how strong is your circle
  3. Consulting skills – your inter-personal skills

Behavioural nudges I’m trying –

Don’t ever say “Have a good day!” to your  dear ones.

That’s because this statement is moving you away from being a driver of your day to a victim of hope.

Instead change it with, “Make it a good day!”

See how this changes their “day” in a few days.

As for yourself, never say, “I have to do this.”. Instead, say, “I get to do this.”

Need I tell you the reason?


If you like this post, then show the love by sharing it with friends and family. The best part of writing a blog is the discussion that follows, so do register your thoughts and views below.


 

3 Free Chrome Extensions that Read Browser Text

People are different kinds – ones who absorb best through reading, ones who prefer the audio instructions and then the visual types who understand most through animation or videos.

Then there are also my type – We just don’t want to grow up. Still want someone to read us a bed time story before we go to sleep. Mom’s reading to the grandchildren, wife’s got better things to do in life, but thankfully there are the following tools which happily read out the text from the browser without making a fuss about it. These are all free to be used with Chrome, and my favorite among these is SpeakIt.

Goes without saying, this is a great tool for children also who would prefer someone reading stuff out to them. I particularly enjoy playing and replaying the blog or article for better understanding of the content. This is an aspect where reading usually isn’t that enjoyable, and besides it can harm the eyes. So, tune in guys:

SpeakIt

SpeakIt is a simple TTS (text to speech) tool. Kids highlight text in Chrome, click a button, and listen as the words are read aloud. This extension can read in more than 50 languages. Kids can adjust the speaking pace and select from a few voices. A similar TTS option on Chrome is Voice Instead.

Price: Free

Read Mode

Read Mode removes visual clutter from web pages to make them easier to read. It eliminates ads and animations and converts web pages into simple black-on-white text articles.

Chrome has a few variations on Read Mode that your child may want to try. For instance, Reader View also converts pages into text, and lets kids change the font and font size. And with Easy Reader, kids can select one section or part of page to view as reader-friendly text.

Price: Free

OneNote Web Clipper

With Web Clipper, kids can save anything from the Internet to OneNote, Microsoft’s note-taking platform. (Microsoft applications like OneNote and Word can be used in Chrome and other web browsers.) This allows kids to use Microsoft’s Immersive Reader to read text aloud from web pages. They can also look up word definitions and control the spacing, color and size of text for easier reading.

Price: Free

What’s Your Message For The Newbies?

I was recently invited by USMS, IPU to deliver a talk to the new batch of MBA students. Here is my script, my message to the future generation, as they get ready in preparing for their corporate and entrepreneurial dreams!


It’s been 17 years since I passed out from this college – USMS, GGSIPU.

However, the memories are still fresh and intact of when I had scanning through the GGSIPU MBA entrance results list. That white ink-jet printout which was pasted on the display board outside the old Kashmere Gate campus auditorium.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had made it. My rank was 23!

I felt elated, after all I had finally made it to an MBA college, it was going to take me one step closer to my dreams.

There is so much I want to share of the experiences and learning I have had from that day till now.

I was wondering how do I convey it all. I decided to give it a shot to describe all I want to say in just one word. While it is very challenging to do that, I was able to come out with a word – The word is Believe.

Believe in yourself and believe in that everyone is here to support you achieve your dreams.

You are here to be ready to be leaders of tomorrow. These 2 years will enable you with everything that is needed to succeed in this disruptive business world. The college has world class lectures, it’s facilities are state of the art, and the course content is absolutely suited for you.

But we human beings are full of doubt. We will doubt that I just said. We will want to challenge that, question that and doubt that instead of believing that.

It is said in the corporate world that your career is 90% your own responsibility and 10% your Manager’s.

But people often forget that. They blame their managers for a bad appraisal, for not understanding their aspirations and on goes the list.

But does it help them. In my sixteen years of work experience, and I would be lying if I said I haven’t made that mistake myself, but I have never seen that approach working ever.

Similarly, at college, we need to remember that too – My career is 90% my responsibility, and 10% my support group’s – This support group includes your lecturers, your peers, your seniors. They are all here fully committed to help you. But you have to remember that the responsibility still lies with you.

That will change the game for you. This is a transition period for most of you, a transition from a student life to a corporate professional one. Enjoy this transition, while sitting on the driver’s seat, after all it’s about you, your career.

But don’t you ever feel alone. We are all there with you on the passenger’s seat. Your teachers. Your seniors. Alumni members.

We’re want you to succeed. We want you to reach where you have to go. We will guide you, encourage you and provide you all the tools and resources you will need. You just have to believe in your driving skills, and in your passenger’s rich experiences.

Here are my own apprehensions from the time when it was my Day 1 into an MBA college. Some of you may be able to relate with it, and I hope this will act as a starting point to bringing up your questions for me:

I THOUGHT I DIDN’T KNOW ENOUGH: After these many years, I have realized that one can never know enough. The mantra is to make daily habits that increase our knowledge a little bit every day.

Most of you know the compounding effect. Small daily improvements over time lead to stunning results.

Instead of reading through the mainstream newspaper which is nothing but masala, I made it a daily habit to read MINT and ET for thirty minutes. I started ‘getting it’ in about 3 weeks.

THE FEAR OF BEING FOUND OUT: Most CEOs suffer from this fear. They think that they are not really any superior than anyone else in the organization. They fear that people will get to know this soon.

We also feel that – I made it to the college by fluke. I should mind my business and not talk or interact much otherwise, I might be found out. It will be embarrassing.

To this, I would quote what Steve Jobs said, “You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

My mantra is to run closer to your fears and embrace them. It may be extremely difficult, but at the end of it, it is most fulfilling.

UNSURE WHERE I WANT TO GO: We have very vague idea of where exactly do we want to go – I want to become an entrepreneur one day, and take up a job the next day. Try something out of the ordinary, something disruptive today, and something stable, less riskier the next day.

It’s so confusing. May be I want to become a lecturer. We have that feeling all the time.

The good news is that the rules of the corporate are changing. Organizations are encouraging that, becoming more open to that. What used to be called “Corporate Ladder” is changing to “Corporate Lattices”. Being a Quality Manager, becoming a Trainer and then moving to  Project Management stream is fast becoming a norm.

Taking a some steps forward, then sideways, even backwards in order to find out what is it that I really want to do is far more worth it than taking up a job that you don’t love.

Failing fast is the keyword these days.

Let me just conclude by saying: Have faith. Believe. Best wishes.

You are in the right place. You will succeed.


That was my message, and now, I want to hear from you.

Do you agree with what I shared? What would be your message to the newbies? 


If you like this post, then show the love by sharing it with friends and family. The best part of writing a blog is the discussion that follows, so do register your thoughts and views below.


 

[Platform] Facebook Share button on the WordPress site throws an error

The Send and Like buttons work alright, then why not the Share button?

“App Not Set Up: This app is still in development mode, and you don’t have access to it. Switch to a registered test user or ask an app admin for permissions.”
 
Try, try, try and try again. Sleepless nights. Nothing works. I check in Facebook for Developers that the APP is actually enabled for Public. Can’t get a handle around why is it still not working.

Eureka moment: I realize that the App ID that appears on the URL that opens when Share is clicked has an App ID which doesn’t match that of my Application. If I manually change the App ID to the one that appears on the Facebook for Developers site, the share functionality works fine. Now, it boils down to how do I correct the App ID that shows when the button is pressed.

After All: This problem has boggled my head for too long – several days. Finally, I figure that this is a bug in the plug-in I was using (plug-in called ‘Facebook’). I found another very simple and useful replacement  (plug-in called: “Social Ring“). It works pretty smoothly (‘malai’ in local lingo). Not only does that let me share and like on facebook, twitter, google+, but it also lets the user save content (blogs) as PDF! Not only that, it will even allow emailing, and printing the blogs.

However, I still can’t get rid of my older ‘Facebook‘ plug-in since it is somehow connected to the LIKE US ON FACEBOOK widget that appears on the top right of my posts. But that’s alright, I can live with two plug-ins.

Problem solved, and I can sleep tight at least until the BUGs bite again.. Ciao!

Do You Have a Home Base?

Sometimes the best place to learn something is the School of Hard Knocks.

I say that because we’ve all heard the good stuff about taking a back up or setting up your own platform instead of relying on others. And yet, we usually realize this only when we experience a laptop crashes or when a seemingly nice website eats up our blogposts!

Truth be told. I have had a laptop crash and lost all my data. It couldn’t be recovered no matter how much I offered to pay or how much time I invested. What hurt the most was losing the personal files – Tanav, my son’s baby pictures and our honeymoon diaries.

Since then, I have all my important documents and pictures backed up on Cloud. If my phone dies or laptop crashes now, it wouldn’t hurt as much. I will, at most, lose only a day or two of data which was yet to be backed up. Google Photos compresses the files when it stores it on Cloud which means the quality is not as good. But I can live with that. At least, the data is there when I need it.

In fact the only photos from that time which I could get back after I lost it to the computer crash were the ones which were shared on Picasa.

While I have learnt my lesson about keeping a back up, I still had to learn the hard why the importance of a home base i.e. using your own hosted platform for writing your blogs.

There are sites that offer a plethora of good features – 750words for instance – and they help you get your act together as a writer. Some of them are reliable as well but it’s nothing when compared with your own site!

Some of you may be thinking Linkedin, Facebook, Google Docs. These are reliable, you’d argue. Perhaps more than your own site. Besides, the world is here and so it’d be a lot easier to share your ideas here.

Well, you never know. Yahoo is a living (or should I say dead) example of how sites can die a slow death. There are others which have gone off suddenly or started behaving erratically. Another such example from Google world itself if Orkut. Remember? These seemed impossible to fall apart once. But they did.

Even if they don’t fall apart, you never know how they might decide to use your data. You are not in control once you give your hard work to someone else.

The worst that can happen to you is that you may lose it all. Like it happened with me. In my last Platform blog, I wrote about a site called Morning Pages. I hadn’t used it in a while, but after having written a blog about it, I decided to use it for a couple of days. In fact, I wrote my dreams (literally, dreams) there so I could reflect on them and get to understand my self and my fears better (step one in overcoming them).

But boom, after a couple of days, I wanted to see what I had written and it was all gone. There is no place to go to look at the archive of ones blogs! I searched all over and googled as well. Nothing helped.

I went back to the landing page which looked all prim and proper.. until I scrolled down a bit where it casually mentioned this:

Shutting down the forum: We’ve decided to shut down the forum, as it was rarely used, and seems to have attracted the attention of a lot of spambots lately.

We invite everyone to use our Github repo instead for reporting bugs, asking questions, submitting pull requests etc.

Holy crap! And what about my work? Please give it back to me. If you are shutting it down, then do it. Why are you still letting people fall in to writing only to end up realizing there is no way to get it back? Please.

This is just venting that I cannot do on Morning Pages. They don’t have a place for me to write to them. So, I am doing it here. On my home ground.

And if you think your audience is on Linked in or Facebook. Then you can always put a link to your blog on these platforms. if you’ve written something that’s worth it, people will read it. They will also come back to your site and register if they see value in what you write. You can create an email list of your customers to serve them better. Can you do that with someone else’s platform?

You can’t afford to build your house on a rented lot. - Michael Hyatt Click To Tweet

Question: Are you convinced that you should have a home base for your platform? If yes, what steps will you take to get started?


If you like this post, then show the love by sharing it with friends and family. The best part of writing a blog is the discussion that follows, so do register your thoughts and views below.


 

 

Tools to Nudge You To Write Daily!

I have been a HUGE fan of 750words.com. Have used it for a long time and have been looking to find something similar to embed in my WordPress site. It works. It nudges me to write 750 words daily. It may not seem a lot, but when I don’t write a words for days together, I so realize how worth the little magic is.

In the quest for looking for something similar, I stumbled upon this free WP plug-in: Editor Colors on Word Count. It changes the background color when you’re writing depending upon the number of words you have written. You have the ability to change the count after which you want the color to change.

This can be done from Settings->Editor Colors on the WP Dashboard, after the plug-in is installed.

Well, to be honest, I am still not settles with the idea of using this plug-in as a replacement for 750words. If anyone is an equally die hard fan,  lets partner and create something for people like us. I am not savvy with creating WordPress plug-ins alone but we can do something about it.

750words.com creators, sorry don’t want to act mean to use your idea, but seriously you have got me hooked to it so much that we do need a WP plugin for it. Perhaps, you can create one, charge for it if you have to. But yes, its needed.

Till then, lets try to get used to this. But the problem is that it doesn’t have the ability to close the day’s writing and push the user to start the next day’s like 750words does.

There is one more option that’s available (non WordPress, i mean). It’s Morning Pages. I guess that’s free unlike 750words which lets you use it for 1 month for free and then charges a nominal amount each month ($5).

But if you ask me, there is no comparison between 750words and Morning Pages. 750words founders keep enhancing it with features and keep gathering feedback from the users. That’s simply amazing!

One of the best features of 750words is that you can use a tag for adding a special meaning (metadata) to a word.

For example, if I want to compare how I felt over last month on a scale of 1-10. All I need to do is write the following in my daily writing:

OVERALL-FEELING: 7 (or whatever I think it is each day)

At the end of the month (or at any given time), 750words will let you see how you did over the time period in a graphical manner. This is such a powerful thing.

Here’s what I used as the measures that I used, which I believe will help me over time :


Metadata you’ve entered (from 750words.com)



If You Can't Measure It, You Can't Improve It. - Peter Drucker. Click To Tweet

Drucker means that you can’t know whether or not you are successful unless success is defined and tracked.
 
Oh Gosh, this article was meant to be to introduce to you this plug-in as an alternative for 750words. But see, the more I wrote the more it became clear that I am still so much in love with 750words.
 
This page has just turned green (indicating that I have crossed 500 words. That gives me a little bit of comfort.
 
I will leave you on that note. What tools and plug-ins do you use to encourage you to meet your daily writing tools? Would look forward to hearing from you.

If you like this post, then show the love by sharing it with friends and family. The best part of writing a blog is the discussion that follows, so do register your thoughts and views below.


 

 

Make Your Site Look More Pro using a “Favicon”!

I am surprised that some of the best sites haven’t realized the importance of using a Favicon. 

This small icon is definitely not a big deal at all, but it surely makes your site look very professional.

Isn’t it the little things that make the big difference?

What is a Favicon?

favicon (ˈfavɪkɒn,ˈfeɪvɪkɒn/) plural noun: favicons

an icon associated with a particular website, typically displayed in the address bar of a browser accessing the site or next to the site name in a user’s list of bookmarks.

I see it missing on www.robinsharma.com at least at the moment (see picture). Will pass this blog along to Robin so he gets it fixed soon.

(For the uninitiated, Robin Sharma is one of the top leadership gurus and one of my favorites.  I have read all his books and loved “Who Will Cry When You Die” the most.)

Pic 2: Closer Look. Is Your Site Missing One?
Pic 1: Look Closer. Is Your Site Missing One?

 

Adding a ‘Favicon’ for Your Site:

  1. Create/ Select/ Choose a picture which you want to have as your Favicon.
  2. Convert it into 16×16 pixel .ico file. I used this link to convert it online and download the .ico file.
  3. Name of the icon has to be exactly Favicon.ico. No other name will work. (A step I missed, so take note. Good news is that the online convertor names it as this by default.)
  4. Place this file in your hosting server’s root folder. (I think this will work only on self-hosted sites. If you don’t have a self hosted site, you may hae some other way to have this but I doubt if it will work.

That’s it. You’re done!

Open you site and see the cute little icon (:Favicon) appear on the address bar of the browser.

Check out mine. Isn’t it cute?

Plug in content from WWW using “Press This”!

Want to share references from the Web along with your own review with your audience?

You can use the “Press This” WP feature to do so.

Truth be told, I found this feature accidentally.

I had often come across this seemingly promising feature PRESS THIS under SETTINGS->WRITING in the WP Dashboard.

However, it is not very intuitive, at least not to me.

I found some the enclosed WP support link somewhat useful but still had to use ‘trial and error’ way to make it actually work for me.

Hence, I spent a few minutes to make it easier for others. Basically, all you have to do it drag and drop the PRESS THIS button from WP Dashboard directly into your Browser’s favorites. (see picture)

press-thisOnce you have done that, you would see Press This on your favorites.

Now, you can select any image, text on any site and publish in your site for your audience.

You can also of course include your own summary (like I am doing here!. This particular blog including the reference links and text below, is my first one where I am myself using Press This).

Reference: Press This provides a lightning-fast way to grab text, images, or video from any website and post it to your blog without ever visiting WordPress.com. You can also use Press This to quickly share a link on your blog.

via Press This — Support — WordPress.com.

Are You Building Your Platform Toolkit?

If you’re serious about building your platform, then building your toolkit as you go is almost as important as your content. Trial and error or ad-hoc tools will only take you so far.

You could refer to the resources pages / suggestions that experts in the Online publishing world give such as Michael Hyatt, Pat Flynn. As far as I am concerned, I have found the following tools extremely helpful in building my platform. Best part is that most of these resources are free to use or at least try.

  • Freemake Video Downloader – Easy way to download your favorite Youtube clips as an audio or video.
  • Free Sound Recorder – Excellent quality voice recording of any length in MP3 format.
  • Debut Video Capture Software – Another one of my favorites to capture the computer screen, make home videos and convert recordings into other formats.
  • Facebook Cache Refresh: Shrug off that sticky cache from Facebook before you share your blog-post on Facebook.
  • ZAMZAR: Convert documents and PDFs into music files (MP3 and other formats) without the need to download software
  • NOZBE: Best way to keep track of your To Dos.
  • FEEDBURNER from GOOGLE: RSS Feeds and Email Subscription Management.
  • Audio Joiner: Lets you cut and join MP3 audio files.
  • Analyse your Blog’s HeadlineCheck your headline before posting your blog. Get a score and recommendations!
  • 750WordsI started blogging using this site. I recommend it for those who are getting started to take up the trial version.
  • Wordle: Create your own word cloud!
  • Trello: Agile Scrum based Project Management tool. Let’s you manage multiple projects and product backlogs!
  • YOUTUBE to MP3 converter: Works specially well for long (I was successful in converting a 6 hour video) Youtube video to audio conversions.

Question: What other tools are you using to build your Platform? Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.