Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Short is Sweet

June 16, 2008

(reproduced from The MondayMorning Memo)

Newton published his famous Second Law of Motion in 1687 and got all the credit for it even though Shakespeare had made the same observation back in 1603. It was in Hamlet that he said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

In other words, impact is equal to mass times acceleration.

Let me connect the dots for you:

1. The size of an idea is its mass.
2. The shorter the sentence that delivers the idea, the greater its acceleration.

How big is your idea? How quickly can you express it? These are the factors that determine the impact of what you say.

Capture a big idea and express it in few words.

This is the opening paragraph of a famous website about persuasion:

You want more revenue. More revenue requires more people taking action. But people only do what they want to do. You have to give them what they want in order to get what you want.

That wasn’t badly written. It contained a big idea but let’s see if we can tighten the word count and accelerate the impact:

Want more revenue?
Revenue requires people taking action.
But people only do what they want to do.
Give them what they want.
They’ll give you what you want.

All we did was:
1. Eliminate 1 appearance of the word “you” to turn an assumptive statement into a question.
2. Eliminate 2 appearances of the word “more.”
3. Eliminate “You have to” to open with a verb, “Give.”
4. Break the long, final sentence into 2 short sentences.

Impact was accelerated by cutting seven words and trading five long sentences for six short ones.

“Waste not, want not.”
“Give me liberty or give me death.”
“Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.”

Ever notice how short phrases hit harder than long ones?

Mother’s Day

May 12, 2008

Mother’s Day, another ‘day’ imported from the US has begun to gain currency in India in recent times. Though, in principle, I am against dedicating a Day for our mothers who need to be respected and loved every day and every moment , I still had this thought.

How many people celebrate Mother’s Day and how many Valentines’ day? Everybody has a mother, but not necessarily a girlfriend/wife or boyfriend/husband.

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Swami Vivekananda – ‘The first manifestation of God is the hand that rocks the cradle.”

Horizontal Thinking

May 12, 2008

(reproduced from an article from Monday Morning Memo)

We are taught every subject in a vertically, narrow and deep manner. And the deeper one plunges into the subject, the narrower it gets. Specialization.

1a. Liberal Arts
1b. Literature
1c. Spanish Literature
1d. Spanish Literature of 1492-1681
1e. Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)
1f. Don Quixote de La Mancha by Cervantes (1605)
1g. Symbolism in Don Quixote

And then you write your master’s thesis:

1h. Sancho Panza as a Figurative Symbol in Don Quixote de La Mancha

Our educational system has taught us to value vertical, deductive reasoning. This is why our logic is so often binary: if-then, either-or, right-wrong. This is the logic of technology.

But vertical thinking is most powerful when augmented by a horizontal viewpoint since the lateral perspective will often spy answers that lie outside the vertical path.

Horizontal thinking will recognize a pattern it has seen, even when that pattern was observed in a completely unrelated field. (The cognoscenti will remember this technique as Business Problem Topology.) This “pattern recognition” often allows the horizontal thinker to correctly predict an outcome from what appears to be too little information.

Intuition is unconscious, horizontal thinking.

“Some people are unhappy about lateral [horizontal] thinking because they feel it threatens the validity of vertical thinking. This is not so at all. The two processes are complementary, not antagonistic. Lateral thinking enhances the effectiveness of vertical thinking by offering it more to select from. Vertical thinking multiplies the effectiveness of lateral thinking by making good use of the ideas generated.”
– Edward DeBono, author of 62 books on creative thought.

Purely horizontal thinking is known as daydreaming. Fantasy. Mysticism. The purely horizontal thinker has a thousand ideas but puts none of them into action. He or she sees the big picture and all its possibilities but has little interest in linear, step-by-step implementation.

Purely vertical thinking leads to compliance, conformity, and a false sense of knowledge. (False because it’s often just memorization in disguise. The student knows what to do without understanding why.) The purely vertical thinker is a nit-picker, a legalist, a tight-ass.

The healthy mind is capable of switching from vertical to horizontal thought and back again.

Problem solving is horizontal thinking adjusted by vertical analysis. But the implementation of that solution will require step-by-step, vertical action modified by horizontal adjustments as the need arises.

Read his books and you’ll recognize Lee Iacocca as a horizontal thinker who implements his ideas vertically.

Iacocca sees patterns, then takes sequential action to accomplish what he has seen in his mind.

“When you stop to think about it, most of the great companies of our times began as upstarts – little Davids taking on big Goliaths.” – Lee Iacocca, Where Have All the Leaders Gone? p. 159

Horizontal thought is how Iacocca rescued Chrysler from the brink of disaster. It’s how Peter Ueberroth organized the wildly successful Los Angeles Olympics and generated a surplus of 250 million dollars. It’s how Amazon.com and eBay came to be. It’s how the Prius and the iPod were born.

Srivyal Vuyyuri (www.sphoorti.org)

On Speaking

May 8, 2008

The ability to speak is what sets human beings apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. Speaking is a very important part of our social intercourse. The manner in which we speak or not speak determines the quality and the depth of our relationships in any social milieu.

The manner in which people speak determines what they are, and that is how most of us judge people. Rahim says

Crow and cuckoo look alike from a distance, but we make out who is who only when they open their mouth.

In Raghuvamsa, Kalidasa says,

“Conversation is the antecedent to any friendship.”

When our speech has logic and meaning, people will listen to what we speak. An empty word without its meaning is worthless and there can be no meaning without a word in the first place. In fact, Kalidasa begins Raghuvamsa with

“To bless me with the ability to derive the pertinent word and its meaning I adore the Parents of Universe, Paarvati and Parameshvara, who are like an inseparable entity of sound and its sense.” This shows how it is necessary to speak what exactly we mean and speak with a meaning.

Since, we human beings are so fortunate to have the gift of speech , we should exercise this ability with discretion and responsibility. The ability to speak is a double-edged sword. Speaking is how we take all that wisdom and experience in our heads out to the world. The spoken word connects our intent and actions. People win bouquets and brickbats because of what and how they speak. People who speak well are adept at building friendship with new people and consolidating the relationship with existing friends.

The Rig Veda says,

Just as groats are sieved to refine them, our words should be refined by our heart and soul. In such thought out words does Goddess Lakshmi stay. In simple words, our fortune is a function of our speech.

Suaveness in speech is as important the meaning and logic. Again Rahim says,

Speak well with everyone, it radiates happiness all around. This is what mesmerizes all, so eschew any harsh talk.

Kabir too says the same thing, in different words.

Speak in such a manner that you yourself are lost in it, it showers bliss of love & peace on you and the entire humanity.

In the Ramayana, there is a classic anecdote that demonstrates how good conversation skills lead to a great relationship. When Hanuman meets Lord Ram for the first time on the outskirts of the Kishkindha forest, Rama gets impressed by the way Hanuman speaks with complete relevance.

Delegated by Sugreeva who is desiring friendship with you two, I have come here and by name I am Hanuma. I am another monkey (Vanara) and his minister, the son of Wind-god (Pavan).

Lord Rama gets charmed by the tone, tenor and essence of what Hanuman speaks. Lord Rama tells his brother Lakshmana:

‘See how excellently Hanuman has spoken. He did not utter a single irrelevant and insignificant word nor did he omit an appropriate word. He has not taken more time than was necessary to express what he wanted to say. Non-dissonant is the tenor that he spoke in and can never be forgotten.’

What we speak shows our knowledge, how we speak shows our personality. It enhances respectability to an individual and at a macro level, helps in projecting and protecting one’s culture.

Bhartrihari sums up the importance of speech in these great verses:

केयूराणि न भूषयन्ति पुरुषं हारा न चन्द्रोज्ज्वलाः
न स्नानं न विलॆपनं न कुसुमं नालङ्कृता मूर्धजाः ।
वाण्येका समलङ्करोत्यनुदिनं या संस्कृता धार्यते
क्षीयन्ते खलु भूषणानि सततं वाग्भूषणं भूषणम् ॥

“Armlets don’t adorn a person, nor necklaces like moon aglow;
Not baths, colognes, not hair well-styled, not even flowers white as snow;
Only speech adorns a person, well-refined and sounding clever;
Jewels wear out and lose their value; good words help one shine forever.”

Don’t be afraid to need someone

May 6, 2008

Most of you must have listened to this beautiful song from Jurm (Vinod Khanna and Meenakshi Sheshadri)

I’ve come across a song “Inspiration” by Ian Van Dahl, it gives the assurance being sought in the song above.

When your dreams are lost and blown away and
You need someone to make your day
I’ll be your inspiration
I’ll be your inspiration

If there comes a time your hope is gone and
You need some help to carry on
I’ll be your inspiration
I’ll be your inspiration

‘Cause when you look into my eyes
You can see there’s no disguise
Don’t be afraid To need someone
You don’t have to be alone
Don’t be afraid To need someone
You don’t have to be alone

Srivyal Vuyyuri (www.sphoorti.org)

Indifference

May 5, 2008

Indifference by Pearl Jam

I will light the match this morning, so I won’t be alone
Watch as she lies silent, for soon light will be gone
Oh I will stand arms outstretched, pretend I’m free to roam
Oh I will make my way, through, one more day in…hell

How much difference does it make
How much difference does it make…

I will hold the candle, till it burns up my arm
I’ll keep takin’ punches, until their will grows tired
Oh I will stare the sun down, until my eyes go blind
Hey I won’t change direction, and I won’t change my mind

how much difference does it make
how much difference does it make..
how much difference…

I’ll swallow poison, until I grow immune
I will scream my lungs out till it fills this room

How much difference
How much difference
How much difference does it make
How much difference does it make…

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All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing – Edmund Burke

Srivyal Vuyyuri (www.sphoorti.org)

रास्ता रोको in Ramayan

May 5, 2008

We have been seeing many people and political parties stage Rasta Roko’s, rallies, hartals etc. to attract the attention of the public and government authorities towards their problems. This causes a lot of inconvenience to commuters and pedestrians. We have also heard about the protesters not sparing even ambulances and other emergency services.

And more recently, there are people who climb up high-rise buildings and towers threatening to jump and kill themselves if their grievances are not addressed. Worse, even the governments are calling for state bandhs, bringing normal life to a grinding halt.

In Ramayan, Maharshi Valmiki writes about an instance of Rasta Roko by Bharata, Lord Ram’s brother. This anecdote gives us a very important insight.

While Bharata was away, Lord Rama is banished to forest for fourteen years by King Dasaratha on Kaikeyi’s request. Upon his return, when Bharata gets to know about this, he gets furious with his mother Kaikeyi. He vows to bring back his elder brother Lord Rama to Ayodhya and leaves for the Chitrakoot forest where Lord Rama has been spending time with Sita.

Even after a lot of persuasion and request to return to the kingdom, Lord Rama does not relent and plainly refuses to go back to the kingdom. Vexed, Bharata squats on the ground, saying that he would not move until Lord Rama agrees to his wish and goes with him back to Ayodhya.

इह में स्थंडिले शीग्रम कुशानiस्त्र सारथे

आर्यं प्रत्युपवेक्ष्यामि यावन्मेन प्रसीदति

“O, charioteer! Spread speedily the grass on the ground here for me. I shall remain facing my illustrious brother till he gets propitiated (and grant my request).”

If anyone lies down across the entrance of a house and blocks the entrance, it means that all the members of the house are taken hostage. It’s a way to insult and inconvenience people staying in the house. Though in legitimate cases where our rights are in jeopardy, this tactic can be employed. but nobody should resort to this for unfair gains or cause harm to innocent people.

Lord Rama clarifies: नतु मूर्ताभिशिक्तानाम् विधिः प्रत्युपवेशने -Your tactics are for the weak and the meek to employ, your act is not befitting a warrior.

He exhorts his younger brother to give up his protest and return to Ayodhya. Bharata reluctantly follows his brother’s advice and gives up his protest.

It is thus clear that the methods that should be used by aggrieved sections to fight for their legitimate causes are often being grossly misused by every Tom, Dick and Harry.

Srivyal Vuyyuri
(www.sphoorti.org)