Friday, November 14, 2008

Effective Communication #5 - Help Realize the Meaning

Did you hear this story of two builders? - Out of the two builders one always used to feel frustrated because he keeps doing the same task of breaking stones and the other one is always excited and feels good because the stone he breaks could help building this church. The second builder knows how his job is part of a bigger task giving a whole different meaning to what he does.

While communicating, make sure that you make people realize how they are part of a grand scheme and how their contribution helps the cause. This would automatically motivate them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Effective Communication #4 - Do the Homework

If you want to get a quick response from other party, never ask open ended questions like "We have this problem what should we do?". You are not likely to get response from the person quickly since this puts the burden on him to think and come up with an answer. Instead if you do some home work and ask the question like "We have this problem and I see two options: option 1 and option 2. I would prefer option 2 because of efficiency and less risk. Do you agree?". I'm sure you will get the response immediately. Why? Because you eased the burden on him with your homework so there would be some goodwill to respond immediately. And the other reason is the answer could be as simple as Yes or No. That's an easy choice to make!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Effective Communication #3 - Give Heads Up

Have you ever asked someone for a task to be done and faced a lot of resistance? Here's a secret to avoid that resistance that I learnt from my five year old son: give heads up. Tell them that you are going to talk about a new task in few minutes or few hours depending on the enormity of the task. Changing what they are doing now and to start focusing on something else rattles people. So give them a sense of security by giving them some time. This also helps you get away from conditioned response you typically get from people in this situation.

For example, when I ask my son "let us go take bath" he would throw all the tantrums to stop it. But if I say "let us go take bath in 5 minutes" he would happily agree for it since he thinks that he still has some time to enjoy!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Effective Communication #2 - Know the Purpose

In any formal or informal communication, it is very important to know the purpose of your communication to make it effective. The tone and content for FYI conversation would be totally different than resolving a conflict and it would be totally different for making personal connection. Knowing the purpose also helps you not to stray away from the main purpose saving time and energy.

There could be situation where the conversation extends beyond the purpose. If that happens you can always ask for continuing at different time or place.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Effective Communication #1 - Make them Feel Good

I heard this interesting tidbit few years ago that is still chiseled in my mind. If you want to stop your talkative wife who talks a mile a minute don't shout at her or put an apple in her mouth but just say "Honey, you look so gorgeous when you are silent". This is pretty effective but the same technique may not work for everyone. The point is, for your request or message to be effective, you have to make them feel good.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spiritual Master for Clarity

When you are in trouble you want to know how you can get out of this. If you know many ways to get out of the mess, you want to know which one is better. Even when you are happy you have too many questions to answer like what should you do with life?

Question pops up all the time. I have taken arduous path of seeking answer to some of the basic questions. I found a guru who has answer for all my questions. I had a chance to meet Swami Paramahamsa Nithyananda when he was in US. Since then I have read his articles, books and listened to his discourses.

The best thing about Swamiji is that he talks in layman's language. He addresses very common problems faced by human beings and gives solution. You can check out this YouTube video playlists to get a glimpse of Swamiji's discourses.

These are some of the questions answered by Swamiji:

  • How do we make sense of the incidents happening in the World?
  • What is the purpose of human kind?
  • How much we should give to charity?
  • Which God should we choose for praying?
  • Why so many people are getting sick?
  • How to be fearless?
  • How does our mind work? How can we use it to rejuvenate our body?
  • How to live spontaneously?
  • Can you get attached to enlightenment?

...and much more.

There are lot of reading materials in his two websites: Dhyanapeetam and Nithyananda.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Who would you give your best hour of the day?

In my post Tips to start stress-free life! I had a section about "Sanity Time". This is basically the time you give to yourself everyday to plan ahead, read, meditate to connect with your self, etc. Warren Buffet's Lieutenant, Charlie Munger, made a good comment which falls in line with my concept of sanity time.

...I would sell the best hour of the day to myself in order to improve myself. Only then would I sell the rest of my time to my make a man of yourself, you need to work at it.

So choose best hour of the day just for yourself. Doing this everyday would definitely bring marked difference in your life!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Making sense of senseless action

Have you ever done something that prompted this response from others "Pure Stupidity!"? Most of the time this happens because people don't have access to your thought process. And sometimes it is really pure stupidity! I have run into similar situation last Christmas that I still remember vividly.

We planned a trip to Monterey Bay for Christmas weekend. On the way we stopped by Olive Garden to have our lunch. It was a pretty good lunch, I think we were completely lost in the food. We paid the bill and started our trip happily. On the way (when I came back to reality) I realized that I didn't pay the minimum acceptable tip for a good service. Rounding off the final figure had been my focus all the time while paying the bill after eating(My friend keep telling me that just double the sales tax, but I'm not yet used to this technique). What made me feel even worse is that it was Christmas eve. I really really felt bad about this incident. I was wondering what I can do now to rectify this? I can't go back just to pay few dollars of tip. Lot of other thoughts and traffic swept me out of this dilemma for rest of the day.

The next day, we went out for lunch again in Monterey Bay in a fine restaurant overlooking the bay. Lunch was not bad at all and the service was good too! The thought of not paying good tip for previous day's lunch was still lingering in my mind. This time I wanted to be more careful about tipping. Suddenly I had an impulse to pay 30% tip and I did without thinking through it further. My wife was screaming "What are you doing?".

I had to explain her the previous day incident. But she still couldn't make sense of these two seeming different incidents. It was a very simple decison for me. I wasn't happy about something I did before and I had two choices: forget it or do something. I chose "do something" option. Again I had two choices: do it now or do it later. I chose "do it now".

I believe that every choice we make in everyday life should uplift our thinking and consciousness. I was sure that the choice I made definitely uplifted me. I think the Universe can handle rest of the details!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tips to start stress-free life!

Feeling Stressed?

Do you ever feel frustrated because you don't get enough time to do important things? And how many times do you feel overwhelmed because you have to do too many things in too little time. I had many instances in my life when I was in this situation blaming everyone else and everything else for my misery. How do I managed to use time better to lead organized and happy life?

Why do we have time crunch?

When I was a single I had lot of free time. In fact I didn't have a clue on how to spend all my free time. At that time I developed few habits like reading news from all the news outlets, watching TV, checking emails every few minutes, shopping, etc. Then I continued these habits when I got married and then became a dad (Old habits never die!). We hardly look at how we spend our time and if the task we are spending time on is really important. We never prioritize things if life situation changes. For example, I was a news junkie when I had lot of time. I was still trying to be news junkie even after I had two dependents to share my time with. It never struck me that I needed to do some adjustments because of these life changes. I tried few time management tools to get myself organized but nothing worked. Looking at the "to-do" list would make me tired. After a long struggle, bickering, fighting and spending sleepless nights I felt that it is time to take charge of my life. I read quite a few books, talked to few friends and listened to successful people. I managed to balance life where I could spend time for myself, spend time with my family and at the same time do justice to the work I do.

Some Thinking and Prioritizing

The first step for effective time management is to know what is important in your life. How much time you want to spend for your work, how much time for the family and yourself. How much time you want to spend to pursue your passion. Some people go one step further to set goals in life. When you set goals in life you can eliminate all the tasks that doesn't contribute towards the goal. Don't get scared when I talk about goals. You can always start with small achievable goal. But remember that goals have to be very specific. It could be like "earn $1 million dollars by the age of 40 so that you can spend rest of your life raising kids". This way you are linking your specific goal with your value. If you set a goal like "to lead useful life" it is equivalent to not having the goal. I have seen few people who know the purpose of their life. The very reason they are born in this earth. This would be the more ideal case since you know very clearly where you want to spend your time.

Monitoring Your Time

The second step is pretty easy once you know what you want out of your life. You find out how exactly you spend your day everyday. Be conscious of the things you are doing everyday so that you can eliminate the things that doesn't contribute to your goal in any way. For example, if your goal is to earn million dollar, probably you won't spend time watching TV. Once you eliminate the unimportant tasks, it frees up lot of time which you can redirect towards your goal or purpose. In my case I found that I'm a news junkie. I spent nearly 2 hours everyday reading news most of the time same news in different news outlet. Once I became conscious of it, I made sure that I don't waste time on it. Other examples could be spending 3 hours everyday in traffic, spending lot of time for shopping that you don't need, checking emails every few minutes. The more important thing is be conscious of the things you do.

Sanity Time

The third step may not make sense to some people but it played significant role in making my life more organized and stress-free. It is giving time to yourself. I could do it by getting up early in the morning so that I can get two uninterrupted hours. I use this time to plan the day ahead, for reading books, for morning exercises, etc. By doing this I never felt that I don't get time for myself even if I spend rest of the day on work or with family. This is one thing that helped staying sane through out the day.

In Conclusion...

At anytime, if you feel that you don't have time, the best thing to do is take a break and relax. To know what is important and what is not, you have to be sane. By following these steps I realized that time stays long enough for those who use it wisely. A priceless quote on time: Time is free, but it's priceless.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Developing a Successful Stock Screening Strategy

A while ago I had this post about free stock screening tools. I use these tools to create a shortlist of stocks to do further research. The important questions you need to answer before creating the stock shortlist is the criteria you want to use for stock selection. I came across this useful website(Mechanical Investing) that gives you the screening criteria used by various successful investors. Another cool thing about this site is that it has hyperlinks (uses MSN stock screener) with pre-filled criterion so that you don't have to enter it manually. Check it out!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Money Saving Tips!

Here's some very simple money saving tips. You don't have to struggle to follow all the tips at once. You can start with the easiest first then as you taste success move on to next tips. Enjoy!

20 Things The Millionaire Next Door Does NOT Do

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How to stay focused in Now?

Beautiful Nature

If you are into reading self-improvement books you couldn’t have missed The Power of Now book by Eckhart Tolle. I won’t put this in my list of simple and easy to read books but the concept presented in the book is really powerful. I read it few times to fully understand the concept.

In this interview Tolle was asked how we can stay focused in present moment and here’s his answer:

One thing we can do is to notice the little things all around us, paying attention to details such as the birds in the trees and the flowers in the garden or the park—just notice the beauty everywhere, even the smallest things. To notice seemingly insignificant things requires alertness. That alertness is the key. It is the unconditioned. It is consciousness itself. Another helpful practice is to watch the breath, and breathe consciously. If we are paying attention to our breath, we cannot be thinking of anything else at the same time. Our attention is in the now moment and not on our worries about yesterday or our plans for what we will do next week. We are just breathing, not thinking. Because the practice of breath meditation takes us out of the activity of thought, it is an effective way to awaken.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Most Readable Blog?

Simple and effective message for all aspects of life is what I'm trying to deliver in this blog. I came across this article that discusses "Readability Index Calculator" that would scan the text of your blog to find out how readable your posts are. Hunter, in his blog, already scored some popular blogs to get a score. Check it out!

Out of curiosity I tried to get a score for this blog and here's what I got (Reading Ease score: 60; Grade level: 9):

Method used: Flesch-Kincaid (English).
Flesch-Kincaid Grade level: 9.
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score: 60.
The Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score indicates how easy a text is to read. A high score implies an easy text. In comparison comics typically score around 90 while legalese can get a score below 10.
The Flesch-Kincaid Grade level indicates the grade a person will have to have reached to be able to understand the text. E.g. a grade level of 7 means that a seventh grader will be able to understand the text.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Zen of Blogging

If you are an aspiring blogger, still trying to figure out what to blog on or having self-doubt having your own blog, you must read this. It is a free eBook, here's the link:


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Get Some Laugh

The polical climate is too hot now with all the talks about race, NAFTA, SD, Wright, etc. Instead of reading real news, I started reading articles like this.

Good for a laugh!