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1 Who Killed The Business

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Source: via uber humor

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How was a king, preoccupied with affairs of the state, reluctantly giving time for listening into just one slokha (verse) ended up ‘buying’ a hundred thousand of them and more?

Read on to find more about this unparalleled feat of communication skills and story-telling!

Sage Vaisampayana came to Raja Janamejaya to teach him Dharma through Mahabharata (the epic) as written by sage Veda Vyasa.

The occasion:

Sarpa Satra

The Raja, a descendent of the Pandava’s, was performing Sarpa Satra, a sacrificial ritual designed to exterminate all living naga’s (serpents), to avenge the death of his father King Parikshit at the hands of Takshaka, the naga (serpent) chief.

While the sage was quite intent on narrating the story, the Raja rejected his proposal outright saying he was too busy for such stuff.

This did not dampen the enthusiasm of Vaisampayana. ‘No problem. There are 18 Parva’s (sections). I will just narrate to you only one Parva’.

Janamejya pushed him back: ‘Sorry, Sir, I have no time. I am very busy as you can see’.

The sage did not give up, ‘One chapter?’.

The Raja was curt now, ‘I repeat myself, I’m quite occupied now.’

The sage was the embodiment of patience. He insisted, ‘Won’t you permit me to tell you just one slokha from the one hundred thousand couplets?’.

“OK, Ok. That is fine, just one slokha, Sir. Hope that would not take too long. Please go ahead”, said the Raja.

Vaisampayana did not miss the opportunity. He began:

Dvaavimau purushau moodhau duryodhana­ dasaananau
Gograaham vanabhangam cha dhrishtvaa yuddham punah punah

Meaning: Here are these two fools, Duryodhana and Dashanana (Ravana, the 10-headed). Even after witnessing Gograhana and Vanabhangam, they went to war again and again (and finally to their demise).

Now this piqued the interest of the Raja: ‘I don’t understand head or tail of what you’re saying, Sir.’

He wanted to know why Duryodhana and Ravana were fools…what was the story behind Gograhana and Vanabhanga, why was the fight over mere cows (this didn’t seem right), etc. etc.

A bit of explanation is in order here:

Gograhana (seizing of cows) refers to the episode told in Virata Parva (fifth Parva of Mahabharatha) wherein Arjuna successfully retrieves all the stolen cows after defeating Kuru army, at the end of their period of exile. Vanabhangam in Ramayana refers to the destruction of forest Ashoka Vana and the great arson of the impregnable Lankapuri by Hanuman after his tail was set on fire in Ravana’s court.

The sage responded to the Raja’s mounting curiosity reciting slokha by slokha, all the time drawing the once-reluctant Raja deeper into the epic.

When the sage was finally done with his captivating narration, the Raja had listened to all of 125,000 slokha’s of Mahabharatha and 24,000 of Ramayana as well!!

Let’s pause here and go back to the innocuous slokha to see what it packed to hook the Raja so inexorably despite himself.

And herein are also the lessons for today’s honchos in corporates, teachers in pedagogy, leaders in politics and preachers in religion, all fighting for their audience’s ears.

Well, looking at the slokha,

  • It is very short and crisp – a mere two lines with 10+ words.
  • Does not make general statements like ‘Dharma always wins…’
  • It refers to some significant and very specific events and their protagonists that cannot be dismissed as a trifle.
  • The incidents are drawn from two different epics to show wider applicability of the points being made.
  • The protagonists are renowned kings like the Raja himself, immediately establishing a parallel and relevance. And one of them was an ancestor from his own family tree.
  • The events are ones where exemplary courage was displayed under difficult conditions, attributes that readily appeal to the warrior Raja.
  • The slokha is poised so tantalizingly at a point in narration, one had to find out what happened after and before.
  • What and why things go wrong always hold more interest than when things go right.

So, folks, that’s it. You may now want to revisit your elevator-pitches and stories.

As I’m signing off, I know I’m leaving a few ends loose here yet like…you’re curiouser about whatever happened to Janamejaya’s Sarpa Satra finally, did all the serpents perish in the sacrificial fire, why did Takshaka kill Parikshit, etc. etc. Regretfully I must leave you to your devices to find out (and you now how).  I’m no Vaisampayana!

Ha, Ha, in for a penny, in for a pound!

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Sources: With many thanks, extracted and enhanced from quora.com/profile/Krishna-Koundinya-2, tamilandvedas.com, Wiki and Velukkudi Swamigal’s upanyasam on Vidhura Needhi

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman this week issued a decree allowing women to drive for the first time—effectively ending the Gulf kingdom’s status as the only country in the world to ban women from driving.

A number of auto advertisers quickly jumped on the news (politics aside, they were surely happy to see an immediate spike in potential users of their product). But none did so quite as cleverly as Ford.

SA VW

SA Nissan

SA Ford

In a tweet yesterday, the automaker posted an image of a woman’s eyes in a rear-view mirror, surrounded black rippled material that’s evocative of a veil. “Welcome to the driver’s seat,” says the copy.

The beauty is in the simplicity—an advantage the Ford work had over competing efforts from brands like Nissan and Volkswagen.

It’ll be interesting to see how these are perceived by the local culture. Nissan perhaps has a reason for its non-visual ad? Unfortunately, can’t read its tag line in Arabic.

 

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Source: adweek.com, pictures from twitter.com/EricTrager18

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From Seth Godin:

” 

And we just had a winner

The local market has a sign that says, “There was a $500 Lotto winner here…”

A cursory knowledge of statistics will help you see that this doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make it more likely or less likely that they’ll have a winner today or even tomorrow.

And yet…

And yet sales go up after a big win. And to veer to the tragic, when a friend is struck with a serious disease, we’re more likely to go to the doctor.

Because proximity is truth.

The truth of experience, the truth of immediacy, the truth of it might just happen to me.

That’s why the media has been such a powerful force, because it brings the distant much closer.

And why small communities of interest and connection are still the dominant force in our culture. Because people like us, do things like this.

This throws up interesting possibilities and directions for designing online experiences,

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Extracted from an interesting short piece by Christian Madsbjerg is the author of SENSEMAKING: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm:

Silicon Valley needs to get schooled

Silicon Valley is getting antsy. It’s been awhile since we were collectively wowed by the next big thing. The iPhone is ten years old. Uber is eight. The problem isn’t a lack of ideas. As engineers keep breaking new ground, it seems like anything will be possible soon. Why aren’t more of these technologies breaking through to our everyday lives?

What Silicon Valley is missing is an understanding of people—what is meaningful to them, the way they live their day to day lives, what would make a difference for them on an ordinary Tuesday in Phoenix or Shanghai. There is a dearth of deep, nuanced cultural knowledge

From my experience working with major corporations, I would say that technological advancements are only half of the picture. Knowing how to build things is great, but if you have no idea for whom you’re building them—how these inventions will connect with people’s aspirations and challenges—you will fail, no matter how many coding geniuses and data scientists you employ.

If you, like me, are a reader of great novels, you know that almost visceral sensation when you come to understand the world of someone else – the suffering of an Afghan woman, enduring abuse and horrendous conditions to spear her loved ones, or the drab misery of life as an IRS clerk in middle America, someone who had always imagined his life would turn out differently. Literatures—like in-depth journalism, plays, music, art, and even activities like cooking—can put you in the shoes of people unlike you in profound, empathetic way. But the importance of these activities is under attack from the big data-mindset that has invaded both Silicon Valley and many of the world’s biggest corporations.

Spend a few days immersed in a great novel by Tolstoy or with the work of Greek scientist and poet Ptolemy and one is forced to acknowledge that nothing is ever entirely disrupted nor is anything ever completely new. Learning does not function independently of what has come before, but rather in dialogue with it. If executives at Google had taken some time to contemplate this fact, they might have avoided the disastrous rollout to their Google Glass product in 2014. The technology itself functioned just fine. In a narrow Silicon Valley perspective, Google Glass might be considered a successful technology. But when does a piece of technology ever exist independent of a world, a societal structure and culture? Yes, the glasses “worked” but did they belong? Google Glass wearers were dubbed “Glassholes” and people shunned Google Glass wearers at social events. Silicon Valley may have new technology, but in this instance it failed at the much larger challenge of understanding how people relate to one another.

When we use a skill set based in the humanities to understand the world, we gain insight into these deeper issues. And these are the factors that actually drive business forward. Let’s return to China: one by one, the world’s biggest and most cutting edge Silicon Valley companies—Yahoo, eBay, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, and, finally Google—have attempted to develop a meaningful market there. They have come armed with all of the best technical knowledge along with plenty of cash and intellectual property. And yet, today, Internet market leaders in China are still local: Alibaba, Baidu and TenCent.

Technical superiority is a very small part of this story. Limited by their “Silicon Valley” state of mind, American companies simply had no feel for the nuances that made the Chinese marketplace different. With a deeper immersion into the lives of Chinese consumers as well as into their literature, history and religion, technologists might have grasped the more subtle differences between professional and personal network building in Chinese society

When we stop valuing culture, we become blind to the very opportunities that drive “world changing” technology to mass adoption. The greatest challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century are cultural, not algorithmic. And the greatest tools for the study and understanding of culture exist within the wealth of theories and methodologies that make up the humanities.

To those of you with a liberal arts degree, I say this: your skills are essential in today’s world, and more companies need to recognize that. To those of you with a STEM degree (or who never bothered with college in the first place), I would say: pick up a book or two every month. Go to plays. Travel and immerse yourself in a culture unlike your own.

Without a deep, empathetic understanding of other people, turning that good idea into the next big thing may prove elusive.

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The original article may be read here.

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I was camping in a fairly large house, well maintained, surrounded by a number of flowering trees and plants, home to countless birds that treated us to a melodious cacophony announcing their morning foray and home coming in the evening. It was time for the trees to renew themselves – service staff came in the morning and again in the afternoon to sweep off the leaves copiously shed by the tress on the front-yard.  The flowering plants however were still abloom. At times on my touch, a bee would startle me flying out from deep inside the flower.

For one who has lived all his life in Mumbai flats (apartments) where one cannot take ten steps without hitting a wall, one’s auditory nerves constantly assaulted by caw’s of those sullen crows and bark of stray (and house) dogs, this was an overwhelming experience. The spacious front-yard was where I took my mandatory morning and evening walks, my senses enjoying the sights and sounds around.

Get the picture?

The only blot on the scene was the rubble piled up near the neem tree at one corner of the house in the front.  The house owner had not cleared it intending to reuse it in future possibly for patching up parts of the yard.

Yesterday morning, walking near the neem tree I saw a splash of red dried up on the debris. I had not seen it before. Clearly, someone, possibly one of those tradesmen called in for some repair work, had used it as a spittoon after chewing a paan (betel leaf + lime + arca nut shavings + whatever). Unfortunate, but true, in this country one may freely spit in public or even common spaces, but never so within a house. But the perpetrator saw it differently – if the corner was good (?) to pile up the rubble, no one minding, it was ok for him to spit over there.

The ‘Broken Window’ syndrome playing out!

Broken_windows,_Northampton_State_Hospital

From wiki: ‘Under the broken windows theory, an ordered and clean environment, one that is maintained, sends the signal that the area is monitored and that criminal behavior is not tolerated. Conversely, a disordered environment, one that is not maintained (broken windows, graffiti, excessive litter), sends the signal that the area is not monitored and that criminal behavior has little risk of detection.’

A few broken windows, at times even one, left unfixed for some time is a trigger or invitation for many more, if not all, to be broken.

Much is written on this syndrome as a subject of study under criminology and urban sociology.

Outside of crime, the phenomenon may be observed in many other contexts: projects, product development, organizations, communities and even in personal life.

When a project manager leaves unfixed the first infractions on time deadline, quality issues or team indiscipline…, the first window is broken. His team reads it differently. It’s very likely he would, to his grief, witness many more ‘broken windows’ before long on his way down and out.

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Source: wikipedia

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to make it as easy and pleasant for the folks.

KRBlog A T and T Transaction

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