Ads - Made for Men

Friday, October 28, 2005

This post is dedicated to V. There are some ads for women (all the mushy mushy senseless ones). There are ads for kids. And then there are ads for men. Well not intentionally made that way but you acknowledge that it is a guy thing. It appeals the men psyche so much that they would go to any lengths to make the entire household silent to watch those.. There have been some ads in this league before but the recent two are of a totally different class...They have raised the bar in advertising. They are epitomes of creativity.

Bajaj Avenger DTSi - I feel like God.

Honestly, it took me a while to understand and relate to the ad. A man is riding the Avenger on a mountainous terrain (Ladakh ?). As the ad progresses, there are flashes of incidents form the past like his shouting father, a drop of blood on his cheek when the barber shaves, the potholed roads. And you hear him say :

I forgive my father
I forgive my boss
I forgive the Government
I forgive my barber
I forgive them all
Because I feel like God.

This is huge. Bajaj Avenger DTSi makes him forget and forgive ? Well I don't know if Avenger is so good that you can get into a state of Nirvana, feel at the top of the world. But one thing is sure - this ad will ensure a high volume of sales! Feel like god after watching the ad? You can see the ad here.

Tata Safari Dicor - Reclaim your life
This one was much easier to relate to. The success behind this ad is its music - mesmerising flowing high and low in succession to match the mood. The ad starts on a depressing tone with these images
(A man in a boardroom meeting gazing at the lashing rain on his windows).
(A pregnant lady in a hospital lounge dreaming of an airplane)...
(A man in a parking lot)

The music suddenly turns upbeat and here comes the voice ..Reclaim your life. The sense of control that brings in is a inspiration. There is a striking chord that appeals to you instantaneously. Watch the video here.

Or is this just about the man and the machine (or the beasts) ?

Compensation: How much is enough?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

You hear people cribbing about their salaries (compensation and benefits) all the time. The rat race just doesn't end. There is always some Foo or Moo earning more than you. These are good times for India and its time we accept it. Thanks to Offshoring and outsourcing. There is a huge market for services. Though McKinsey reports indicate that there is a far greater supply than demand, I have changed three jobs in the past 6 months. (Ok! Don't raise your eyebrows now. We'll come to that later).

Probably there is a shortage in quality supply - supply of talent. In line with my principle of anonymity, these are fictitious names to the organizations I have worked with. Compensation increases have been to the tune of 50%-70%. I was shocked (in a good way ofcourse). It was time for some reality check to see if one is really worth so much.

So I did a little bit of survey to find out if the compensation packages are really skyrocketing and is this a trend. What got me thinking was if Bangalore was going to pay such high compensation, then we would soon lose out on the cost advantage as rightly indicated by McKinsey's report. On an average, one can expect a raise of conservative 25-30%

On switching jobs for generalized expertise such as specializing in Java or .NET. For niche markets like product or domain expertise, the compensation increase is quite high. I have seen many people accepting offers that give a 60% increase and then renegotiating for a 100% increase. I mean seriously...
Honestly, a demand for 15L with 4 years sent my temper flaring! So how much is enough?

On to my next question on changing jobs. There are some instances that I've known where people switch jobs every year to get a raise. 7 years, 7 jobs. Westerners are known to dread Indians for this. How much time should you spend on your current one before switching if you don't have a valid reason? I won't go into the definitions of valid now. I was told that too many jobs in too short a time makes a resume bad. The recruiters know it and the hiring companies know it. So why do they hire you then despite knowing you won't stay for long looking at your history. Despite that you are offered a handsome package. Why? I don't have concrete answers. Is it because attrition is accepted, is it because there is a lack of talent or is it because there is so much of demand?

Your opinions?

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From Sahara to Siberia

....come experience it all in the eight hours within the four walls of the workplace. For free! Ofcourse it would be sans the reindeers and ice of Siberia and sandstorms / antelopes of Sahara. But I assure you will feel the heat and the cold. A'right I'm exaggerating but you get it..It is funny to see people wearing sweaters and jackets on a bright n sunny day to work. And sweating profusely after a couple of hours ....that gets me worried if we might witness a show.... And its not just at one place..I have heard many of my friends complaining too about their offices. Why can't they get the a/c temperature just right?

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The Bose Experience

Monday, October 24, 2005

Bose is synonymous with the quality of Sound. Once a dream, it turned into a reality two years back when we bought the Lifestyle 12 model (part of the LifeStyle Series) at Framingham, headquarters of Bose Corporation. LifeStyle 12, a now discontinued model comprises of 5 cube speakers, a music center and a hide-away Acoustimass module.

After two years, we finally set up the Lifestyle 12 system this Saturday. We have set it up once before for a couple of hours. Honestly, the sound generated is too much to bear in a modest 10*15 size living room of an apartment. You would only do it if you wanted to get in trouble with your neighbours! The present living room is just about the ideal size for it. We got a pair of Sony speaker stands to place the surround cube speakers on it.

Why Sony stands? A funny incident happened couple of months back. V visited the Bose Outlet at Bangalore to purchase the original stands for the cube speakers. He asked for the price and the beautiful lady at the counter said "Rs.10,000 Sir". confident that he was mistaken, he repeated "I don't want the speakers. Just the stands." And she replied with a sarcastic smile, "Yes, Sir. The stands cost Rs.10,000".

The stage was all set to turn the system on. 5:00 p.m. And the power went out for 2 hours. Damn! We waited and switched it on at 7:00 p.m. The experience cannot be described in words. It is amazing feeling to hear music on a Bose. You can almost hear every note, every pluck of the guitar, every faint sound. The first CD we played was the test CD. It takes you through a series of steps to ensure all the
speakers are connected properly and such. As part of the CD was "Rain King".

She's been lying
I've been sinking
And I am the Rain King

Hey, I only want the same as anyone
Henderson is waiting for the sun
Oh, it seems night endlessly begins and ends
After all the dreaming I come home again...

Satisfied, V got up. Switched off the lights, closed the doors. Played FreeBird - Lynrd Skynrd.

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be travelling on, now,
'Cause there's too many places I've got to see.

We were mesmerised by the music. A Saturday well spent.

Bose has introduced a relatively inexpensive CineMate system in India. Priced at Rs.32,000 it should be a steal.

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Notes to Myself

Decisions, decisions? It was time to make a decision again. I had two choices on Saturday. One decision to be made. Company X. Company Y. To quote David Russell's words , "The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn." Saying no to one and accepting the other. It was difficult and I was choosing one over the other, dilly dallying between them every other hour. Confused in the head. Cursing myself for putting myself in a spot so frequently. For when I was choosing one over the other, it was only the favorable aspects that were visible to me.

I do not regret or judge that the decision I made a month back was a wrong one. From all the variables available then, I did what I did then. I did not have a choice then. This experience has taught me not to rush into anything before weighing all the factors and the consequences.

To help us make a better and informed decision this time and not question myself a month later and most importantly to stand by what I decide, we took a piece of paper and listed down all the pros and cons of both the choices. We refrained from getting influenced by intuition or guesses. The most critical thing that helped me was to get my priorities straight. Getting a good perspective of our long term plans. I might not have all the answers to the "what ifs" but I want to be committed! I have acknowledged that in part "hodophobia" (however ridiculous it might sound) was driving me to choose company Y over X. I'm working on it by distracting myself / playing Su DoKu and it has helped me immensely.

It is hard when everyone raises an eyebrow over your decision. It is demotivating and I think "what was I thinking?". I don't want to do that anymore. So this post is a note to myself to go back to my pros and cons sheet when in doubt in future. There is the human tendency that provokes one to get consensus for all the decisions. Getting the tag of "Ms. Right" and not being called "Ms.Unethical Unprofessional". This is not possible always and I have to understand that. It is frustrating and hard today but I will live through it.

Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.

Digging Deeper into Squidoo

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I gave the Squidoo concept ( it is still a concept to me as I haven't seen the application) some more thought. This is a sequel to yesterday's post - Squidoo. A lens or a mirage. And just to clear the air, I respect Seth Godin a lot. I want to support Squidoo but there are still some unanswered questions bothering me..

1. I still don't get one thing. why wouldn't people use Wikipedia for expert opinion on a subject. Wikipedia offers an unbiased view on a topic.

2. LensRank - This concept completely loses me. Isn't this analogical to PageRank? So how would it ensure that the "best lens" on a topic isn't necessarily by a person who has the most connections? And this person might not even be close to an expert.
The networked people ...
And if it is not expert opinion, then why Squidoo, why not Google?

3. What I would also like to know is if there is a master list of categories such as Advertising, Books, Photography under which you can create a lens. You can damn well guess what would happen if there isn't one?

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Squidoo. A lens or a mirage?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Seth Godin launched his new online company called Squidoo recently. With little or no knowledge about the product, I waited anxiously for its announcement as my friend Harper worked as a summer intern on this "secret" (sssssssshhhhhh...) project. But I'm disappointed, atleast for now. Lets see why...

What is Squidoo?
Before digging deeper into Squidoo, it is important to understand what a lens is. A lens is a single webpage that highlights one person/group's opinionated view on a subject or topic or ideas. A webpage that points to other websites / blogs /wikis (sources of information) that the lensmaster(person creating the lens) thinks is important to him/her. For instance, a lens on Formula 1 will (or should) tell you the races for next season, driver's contracts, stores selling Formula 1 merchandise and such. Or to see Tom Peter's Lens on all-time great books.

Squidoo helps you build lenses. Squidoo becomes a window through which other's can see your views!

What are people saying about Squidoo?
Interestingly, for a couple of days after Squidoo's announcement (it is not yet released), articles on Squidoo did not offer any user's personal views or insights. Part of the reason is beta testing invitations weren't sent out until this Monday.
The early birds were simply re-quoting Seth by extracting sentences from the e-book - Everyone is an expert. Few examples are Squidoo, Seth Godin on Squidoo and Squidoo Beta. Quite a few interesting comments and heated exchanges here.

As you can see, there are mixed reactions.

Why Squidoo?
Every product has to have a purpose. A mission. A goal. Seth does a good job of defining what Squidoo's purpose is in Squidoo organizes lenses. We host them for free. We make them easy to build. In short, what MT/typepad or blogger is for blogs, Squidoo is for lenses.

Squidoo, in principle, is a co-op that will earn $ for you and the links that appear there. The trick here is only lens that are ranked high by the proprietary algorithm will attract traffic in the first place.
So are we not falling in the same SEO trap as with Google?

Would I Squiddo?
It is definitely not synonymous to asking "Would I google?". Atleast not yet. I haven't recd. a beta invitation. So it remains to be seen
if it can really go beyond the marketing air surrounding it. So I don't know if I would Squidoo. Only time and its acceptance and usage will tell.

To quote Seth, "If you can't describe your position in eight words or less, you don't have a position." I am eager to know "why one should Squidoo" would be described in eight words.

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Su Doku

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Early 2005, newspapers in India started publishing a puzzle called Su Doku in the supplement sheets. Its popularity rose quickly and you can find morning commuters attentively pouring over one. su Doku, a Japanese Game, is a logical number placement puzzle. It consists of a 9*9 grid (9 rows and 9 columns). The grid is further grouped into 3*3 sub grids. The idea is to fill in the empty square boxes with numbers so that every row and every column has the numerals from 1 through 9. No number should be repeated in any single row or column or in a sub grid.

The grids come with some numbers randomly placed. The complexity of the game depends on the numbers already present, number of eliminations required to fill an empty square and such. On an average it takes about 30 minutes to complete the grid. For instance, if 2 adjacent sub grids have the number 6, then the 3rd one should not have 6 in those horizontal rows. So they are eliminated.

what is nice about the game is that it requires no mathematics, just logic! I have been doing it for the past 2 months and I just love it. You can try too at TimesSudoKu or WebSudoKu


Alonso does it for Renault at the Chinese Grand Prix

Monday, October 17, 2005

If last weekend's Japanese (Suzuka) Grand Prix presented a nail biting finish, then this weekends' Chinese (Shanghai) Grand Prix was no less. By crossing the chequered flag first, Alonso completed this season in style. The silver lining to Alonso's win was the constructor's title for Renault. After all, that was the big enchilada for Renault at Shanghai.

Montoya's exit mid-way through the race was a huge disappointment for McLaren who stood a good chance of clinching the constructors Trophy. They were our personal favorites too. Kimi is a classy driver. From starting 17th on the grid to finishing first on the race or overtaking on the last lap to clinch the title, is the sign of a real champion. I mean who does it?

Cruising at over 300 Kmph, Alonso's cool-headedness and determination to make it amidst 2 safety car periods is worth talking about. But I do believe that Fisichella had a lot to contribute to Alonso's victory. At the start of the race, he so selflessly tucked himself in between Alonso and the McLaren duo Raikonnen-Montoya. Now that's Strategy and team work!

Personally happy for Ralf Schumacher who took a somewhat improbable third place with a brilliant pit-stop strategy. Think of wreckage and the last 2 Grand Prix(s) come to mind. Karthikeyan's wreckage was the worst this season. And somehow Shanghai

I'm glad this season is over for 2 reasons. For one, we don't have to put up with Alonso's wins. Secondly, see M.Schumacher struggling with his not-in-shape Ferrari. One T-shirt in the crowd read "Schumacher, who?". If you are thinking that our loyalty towards Ferrari has shifted, then you have got me all wrong! All the unbroken records of the past 5 years held by Ferrari-Schumi have been broken this year. That's sad.

We will have to wait another 6 months for Ferrari-Bridgestone-Schumi to make a comeback. Won't we? They can do the magic all over again!

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Reading Corner : Articles For the Day

Friday, October 14, 2005

  1. The CEO's Path to the Top: How Times Have Changed I liked this quote in the article - "Skills and capabilities open the doors, not degrees".

  2. Presentations on The Talent 50 and Presentation Excellence Tom Rules as always! Call it good or bad but I have developed a habit of judging executives by the presentations they make. I went through a day long induction program yesterday. It was quite an ordeal to drag myself to work this morning! I love these presentation tips by Tom. I feel you can lose the audience in a minute if you pull a long face and mutter the words "Lets be passionate about work".

  3. Games managers should play --
    Game theory can help managers make better strategic decisions when facing the uncertainty of competitive conduct. If you don't change your game to gain advantage, one of your competitors will.

Economic Divide. A train ride

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Pune Railway Station. 18:00 hrs. Destination : A Pune suburb. Mode of Transportation : Local Train.

At the ticket counter, I request for a first-class ticket. The ticket collector looks at me for a few seconds, states the price and on second thoughts says (in English), "I think you should be with the ladies in the ladies compartment. Take a regular ticket." I follow his advice and duly march towards the a bench on the platform where a few ladies are sitting.

18:10 hrs. The silent platform suddenly is buzzing with activity. College students discussing the day's highs and lows, white collar workers whining about their bosses, blue collar workers resigning quietly after the day's work, low wage workers squatting on the ground and above all this noise hawkers shouting loudly selling chat (read: junk food), biscuits luring prospective customers.

18:15 hrs. The loud speaker announces that the local train is on time and is expected in a few minutes. People get up and move towards the edge of the platform. Boyfriends bid goodbye to girlfriends.

18:20 hrs. As the train pulls in, it sends a shiver down my spine. As a kid, I fell from a moving local train close to the platform and was lucky to come out alive. Since then, I have a train phobia and avoided traveling by one for many years. When a express train zips past at 80 Km ph or one pulls into the station, I shudder looking at the moving monster. Thankfully, this local train pulled into the station very slowly.

If you are seeing one such train for the first time, you could get a heart attack and die in shock. The train was overflowing with people, some were hanging out of the door with a iron handle standing in the way of their life and death. Before the train stopped, people disembarked (well, jumped) out so adeptly that they have done all their lives. It was a shock but then this is INDIA. Anything and everything can happen if you can't find your way through a country with over 1 Billion people.

Once the train stopped fully, everyone was pushing one another to get into the bogies. The trains stop for 30 seconds at every station. No fancy doors. If your feet slips, you could be on the tracks counting the last minutes of your life. I was behind not pushing anyone. Apparently, the people behind pushed me and with the natural force I got in. Once in, I found a few inches to keep my feet and myself in balance.

Despite warnings from acquaintances refraining me from taking the train during the peak hour which it was, I took the train. Thanks to my driver who called in sick. You might ask what was I thinking? Honestly, I don't know and wasn't sure quite what to expect. But I'm glad I did it because ---

The scene inside was a representation of the real India. Ladies of multicultural, multilingual background from the middle and the lower segments of the society chatting away with no strings attached. Discussing their festival plans, discussing work, college students talking about guys.

It was a slap in the face. The India IT has made us forget. Bangalore and Hyderabad is not India. That is the India the world knows about. As we gloat in our status having lived for the past few years in the comforts of plush offices/residences and commuting in a chauffeur driven car and shopping in malls and vacationing in foreign destinations and huge disposable incomes, the IT generation is leaving their past behind. But the past hasn't vanished. It is still a reality for some.

This is the true face of India. According to a recent McKinsey report, an estimated 695,000 people are employed by the Indian IT and business-process -outsourcing industry. Sure, it is a large number. Interestingly, it is a meager 0.0695% of India's population. These 695,00 odd people are the envy of the rest of the Indians. Our older generation toiled hard but couldn't make it big. There is a huge economic divide and you can sense it in the railway stations. Be adventurous and go on one yourself!

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Cubicles/Corner Offices - a distant dream. My new job at a "cyber cafe"

Thursday, October 06, 2005

My new job is very exciting. Tabbed browsing for 8 hours is harder than real work. Or is it? The temporary "Office Space" has no cubicles and thank god no corner offices either. I was fishing for an appropriate term for this open space when a coworker commented it resembles a cyber cafe. Cyber cafes in India are Internet Browsing centers where people with no internet access pay money and browse for a fixed time. Typically, it is a 10*10 space cramped with 10-15 desktops. Privacy, huh?

I'm not complaining. I'm having a great time doing what I enjoy the most. Reading and loads of it and all kinds.

When to leave that first tech job has evinced keen interest on Slashdot. It is an overwhelming account of a fresh grad joining a startup firm getting fired within a year offering advice on when to quit. Too inexperienced to offer one citing all the wrong reasons! The comments are more interesting than the article itself.

It happens only in India ....

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A good ole' friend wisely remarked "Any transition is difficult." when I switched jobs in April. This transition to Pune has been significant in more ways than one. And a lot harder. New place, no friends and no job for a month was not hard to cope with. But the traffic and the daily commute is SCARY. I'm not kidding. The 40 KM ride to and fro is a drive thr hell. An unfortunate traffic incident involving us about a fornight back has made me very paranoid. Every time our driver overtakes someone, I'm sitting on the edge of my seat squeezing it tight and applying brakes in the air as though it would have an effect. Lane discipline and traffic rules are unheard of here. Last evening was quite funny or was it?) We were stranded for a couple of mins..thanks to the 20 buffaloes parading through the center of the road. 2 of them happily brushed the car too. Welcome to India!