The Curious Case of also-rans

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The world has always been obsessed with the winners, outliers, front runners that it fails to gain wisdom from the others in the race who signed up not to lose but to make a difference.

Back when we were kids, we were used to hearing these words whenever we lost in a competition.

“Participation is most important. Winning or losing does not matter “

But somehow as we all grew up, the scales shifted only towards winning and participation did not matter anymore.

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There are tons of insightful articles focussing on how one should appreciate the process and not the results in order to achieve more success in work and life. Yet we are keen on unraveling the purpose of everything from the winners.

Take the performance of the Indian contingent in the recently concluded Olympics Rio 2016 for example  – We were so proud that PV Sindhu finished with the Silver, Sakshi Malik won the bronze medal, Dipa Karmakar attempted the life-risking Produnova missing a medal by a whisker. Yes they are heroes of our country and they deserve every award or recognition that comes their way.

Not many know about Manish Rawat – Indian race walker who completed at the 13th position in the finals ahead of some of the best race walkers in the world – including 4 former world champions, 3 Asian champions, 2 European champions and even 2 Olympic medallists. He registered a final timing of 1:21:21, less than a minute behind the bronze medallist.

What’s more interesting here is that he was a waiter and the sole breadwinner of a family and yet he woke up and practiced race walking in the eerie hours of the morning.

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There were very few articles about this hero and I am sure when Manish Pandey plays in the next edition of IPL and scores a century or two, our mind will think of him first when we think of the name “Manish”

Most of the winners have stayed winners not because they beat the rest of the world but they beat their personal best every single time.

For so many upcoming startup founders, a round of funding is what it takes to be on the winning side. For the investors who did that, the next round is what it takes for them to be on the winning side and this goes on. On the other end, there are bootstrapped startups that are silently making waves and keeping their paying customers happy but their stories are not what you come across every other day.

” There are thousands of untold stories of unsung heroes in every game because a podium finish is what is keeping them away from inspiring the world “

As millennials, the more we unravel the stories of also-rans the more we can experiment, fail, do it all over again and enjoy the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Travellers’ guide to Thailand – Phuket and Krabi

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If you are looking to travel to Thailand for your honeymoon / just a vacation, you must definitely read this. I had recently visited Krabi, Phuket for my honeymoon and here goes some useful information that will save you some money and time and make things better.

Before the Trip :

If you are traveling from India or the list of countries mentioned here, you can get your visa on arrival. So just carry your passport and tickets to the airport.

The currency in Thailand is Baht and the visa charges are 1000 baht per person. Make sure you take recently taken passport size photos of the size 4 cm vs 6 cm.

Plan your trip months in advance and you do not need a travel agent to book your tickets. You can save a lot by doing it yourself here (Personal favorite).

My tickets were booked with Air Asia. Though it was a highly economical carrier, my friends who had flown through Thai Airways had great things to say about the hospitality and the food offered on-board.

Tourists’ Paradise :

An entire country that thrives on Tourism.  Almost every person whom you meet has something to do with the Tourists. They are super courteous, very helpful and they understand and speak English to an extent.

The hotels that we stayed at had a fully functional tour desk. Not just the pamphlets / leaflets and a person who distributes it and tries to sell you packages that you might not need, but they have a person who is friendly and asks what you want and plans things for you perfectly.

Don’t be surprised if the same person who booked your tour becomes your chauffeur and takes you to the tour himself.

So I would recommend not to book through a travel agent and trust on the hotels that you stay in. If the hotel that you stay does not have a tour desk, worry not as you can find a lot of travel agents outside the hotel walking around trying to sign you up for tours.

The hotels that we stayed at offered early check-ins once the rooms were ready. The standard check in time is 2 p.m but I remember checking in even at 10.30 a.m. They did not charge anything extra, though.

Few hotels may request you to deposit 1000 or 2000 baht as a caution deposit that’s refundable. If you are running low on cash, give your credit card number and they will swipe it only if it’s necessary. This will definitely help you if you are running low on baht.

Phuket : 

Phuket is a beautiful rainforested island of Thailand. Patong beach in the town of Patong is one of the most happening beaches in Thailand.  It has restaurants and eateries dotted alongside the roads throughout the place.

There are nice shopping places just opposite to the beach and there are dozens of resorts close to the beach that gives you stunning views to wake up to.

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These sticks aren’t spicy as it looks but tasty and it’s piping hot and it’s very cheap too. Buy a few sticks and keep munching when you walk.

Banana Pancakes

Banana Pancakes

 

These pancakes freshly prepared has banana inside and honey and milkmaid over it. One of our best finds on this trip and the best part was you can get this everywhere in Thailand.

There are at least a dozen combinations with Bananas, Mangoes, and  many other tropical fruits. Tourists’ love it and you can find one every 200 meters or less.

Don’t be surprised if people start yelling namaste while you walk. I guess there must be a lot of people traveling from India to Thailand that most of the restaurants have discounts for Indian foods and it’s written on the boards outside. Indians and discounts go together and they know it.

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We had been to Trick Eye Museum in Phuket and for people who are great in photography, you can capture amazing pictures here with 3D paintings. Ask for the city map at the hotel that you are staying and they will hand it to you after marking the hotel in the map so that even if you get lost, if you hand this map to the tuk-tuk /  taxi they will bring you back safely.

This map mostly contains ads from the places and the famous food joints nearby. That’s where I found the Trick Eye museum.

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Probably the only place I could beat the shit out of Hulk. The entry is 500 baht per person and if you are going as a group, you can make use of many group scenarios in these paintings and it will definitely be something that you will be laughing about even after years.

There is a beautiful street called Soi Romanee that is close by to the Museum. You can get down from your cab and take a walk in this street which is such a lovely place to be if it’s raining. And yes when we were there, it was raining. That explains the umbrella.

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There are shops that sell souvenirs of Phuket and Thailand in this street and once you come out of this street, you can find a beautiful Buddhist temple

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One of the must visit tours from Phuket is the James Bond Island tour.  Depending on the fee you pay, you can either take a long tailed boat or a speed boat that will take you to these islands.

The tour had two parts – We had a stop over at Talu Islands where we placed our belongings in a cruise guarded by the tour guys and we can take canoeing trips into the limestone caves.  Once you are settled in the canoe, there will be a guy from the cruise asking you to smile and he will click a picture of you guys using his SLR.

Our Long tailed boat

Our Long tailed boat

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If you would like to see more pictures of Canoe tours here in Talu Island click here.

The guy who canoes you will quickly identify your nationality and speak something that you can relate to. When you are an Indian, he starts with Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Dharmendra, Hrithik Roshan and you smile. I wasn’t going to tip him unless he says Rajnikanth which he didn’t mention by the way.

Then he guessed that we were on our honeymoon which was a no-brainer. And quickly he pulled a leaf from his pocket that had a heart cut out of it. He asked for my phone and took pictures in this way.

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Just when I was thinking that this guy was scoring high on customer experience, I saw almost half a dozen other canoe guys pull out the same kind of leaf and taking pictures of the couples who were on their canoe. It was an organized surprise for all of us. When he dropped us at our canoe, he asked for 150 baht for the highly darkened, low light picture of us inside the carefully cut leaf frame. I gave 20 baht to him for safely bringing us back to the cruise and he got it happily. I got reminded of this negotiation scene from Horrible bosses 2.

Once you are done with the trip and get back to the cruise, there will be a big table with a framed picture of you when you got on the canoe –  yes the one that they took before you started your trip. They sell this picture for 150 Baht which you can say no thank you if you had taken a camera along for the trip which we did. They give you plastic covers inside which you can keep your phones and wallet and take it along with you for the canoe trip.

Then the James bond Island, famously called so after the movie ‘Goldfinger’ that was shot here.

James Bond Island

James Bond Island

 

This iconic scene

This iconic scene was shot here

 

Krabi 

We took a ferry ride from Phuket to Krabi that was totally worth it. There were many westerners  who took sun-bath on the deck of the ferry. It was a 2 hour journey and we reached this beautiful place – Krabi.

Krabi is nested on Ao Nang beach and it has so many resorts closeby.  We stayed in Krabi resort and we absolutely loved it there.

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Just opposite to the beach is the night market as seen above. There are a good 400 stores selling souvenirs, clothing, accessories and more.

There are a lot of Indian restaurants as well.  A dinner for two comes to around 300 baht after discounts. Almost all the restaurants had discounts on Indian food and Pizzas / Pastas.

In Krabi, our travel agent had signed us up for Four Island Tour. But we decided to explore the other places nearby. We spoke to the Tour desk and found Emerald Pool and Hot water stream were must visit attractions.

After a 1 km walk through a pathway bridge laid carefully through a dense vegetation, we reached the pool. Naturally created pool amidst thick trees. The water is around 4ft deep at some places and 5ft at others. The main challenge is to get into the water unhurt as the space surrounding the pool is super slippery. There are stones laid to aid you but the stones are feeble and can get you hurt. There are no safety lockers inside and so you need to put your stuff in your bag and leave it on the trees or below.

Once you find a way to get into the lake, then its wonderful to swim and have fun with family and friends. Beware of the rocks and stones on the bed which might hurt your legs when they catch you offguard.

Emerald Pool

You can find more pictures of Emerald Pool here.

Next on our list was Hot water stream. It did not involve a long walk like Emerald Pool but it was again nested deep inside. Maybe these paths were in place to build up the suspense and when you find the attraction, you go wow.

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The sign said not to sit down, so I lied down.

The sign said not to sit down, so I lied down.

Hot streams have a relaxing effect attached to it and it was definitely one of the best moments that day. Surrounded by dense vegetation and around just a dozen more people nested in their respective spots, this was an awesome experience.

Tips : Be quick to fill in a spot as soon as its empty and there are limited spots with good leg room.

Four Island Tour :

There were two famous tours listed everywhere in Krabi. One was the 4 Island tour and the other was Hong Island tour. We chose Four Island tour because it was 4 ( instead of 1 – simple math)

Our first stop was near Chicken Island.

That's the Chicken Island

That’s the Chicken Island

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A life Jacket, a tube to breathe into using the mouth and glasses – that’s all it needs

 

We had no clue the trip included a short snorkeling experience. For starters, you do not need to know swimming or be a part of a long training program for snorkeling. It was super exciting to drop down from the boat into the waters. The waves were slow yet powerful enough to take me around and away from the boat. The moment I took a sneek peek inside the waters, I could find thousands of small fishes in varied colors going around inside minding their business like nothing’s new.

Snorkeling near Chicken Island

Snorkeling near Chicken Island

 

Our next stop was Tub Island. It was a very small island with a short stop over time. Families that had come with kids had a great time chasing the waves. The high light is the island on the other side connected to this and during low tides, one can cross and go to the other island.

Our next stop was Poda Island. This is a considerably bigger one and we had our packed lunches there served by our tour guide. We were given an hour’s time to relax and it was a scenic beach and you can recollect a lot of duet songs shot here. The island has a lot of casuarina trees that offered shade.

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Our last stop was Phranang Beach. Suitable spot for hill climbing enthusiasts. The waves were fun and unpredictable. Set aside a big mountain that had a small cave temple for the local princess was the major attraction.  And then I saw the sign board that defined the word Phranang for me – it meant Princess.

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Tips to Remember :

  1. Pack as many packs of Lays or chips that you like from India. You will do a lot of walking around and if you are planning to buy Lays there, you will find flavors like sea weed that can put you off.
  2. If you forget the point no : 1 and if you are already there in Thailand, look for super markets like 7 / 11 that have a lot of variety and the costs are also cheaper when compared to what you get in tourist spots.
  3. All the super markets have ovens and packed food. You can find pastries, burgers, chicken rice, sandwiches all stacked fresh in the super market. And they heat the same and give you if you ask them. This will come in handy if you are running low on cash / or planning to save some baht for shopping during the last few days of the trip.
  4. Most of the street thai food had fish sauce added and it might make it taste weird at first.  But its pretty easy to stay away from owing to the smell coming from the stalls.
  5. If you are planning to get souvenirs from Thailand, the best place to get them would be Bangkok. I would shortly share one blog post about the places we visited in Bangkok and the shopping experiences.

This post has gone longer than I expected and thanks for reading. You can reach out to me through comments if you need more information.

5 Types of Articles you can stop reading this 2016

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Most of us have a very strong and unshakeable belief that a sizable update or improvement in our life is just an article away.

This results in us following a lot of similar pages on Facebook that have many (guest/ghost)writers churning out similar articles every other hour.

Here are 5 types of articles you can avoid reading and save some time. The best part is that it is easily identifiable. Thanks to the titles.

  1. 5 or 7 or 9 Productivity Apps that will make you smart        

Every time I click on these kind of articles, I would be hoping to find the next big mobile app used by Innovators / Early Adopters to maximize their potential. Instead I find apps like Evernote, Wunderlist, Trello etc that are used by millions since the Jurassic period.

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If there is a path breaking app that people are finding very useful, I am sure they would recommend it to the world through their social channels because its pretty hard to find an unusual and non-popular app that’s extremely useful.

2. X books you should read before you turn X                            

Substitute X by any number above or equal to 20, you will get this article. This is tailor-made for fast readers. If you complete one book per month, you would need a good 2 years to complete the list.

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Sometimes its very hard to complete certain books and we quickly jump to more exciting titles that we find in the workplace or elsewhere. This means before you turn x, its difficult to read x books.

Other avatars of the title : “ X books X person wants you to read before you turn X “

An intelligent alternative would be to use an app like Blinkist that feeds you the books in small parts.

Note : If you are voracious reader, these articles are good for you

3. X Character traits the millionaires have in common              

If you are looking to unearth highly confidential secrets of the millionaires, you are in the wrong place. You will read a long article again about vision, focus, courage, big thinking, thirst for learning and books (not again).

I am sure you know what goes into each of the above mentioned words. Here you go. I saved you a lot of time. Didn’t I?

If something works for millionaires, it does not mean that it would work for you too. If there is one thing that has made a significant difference in the lives of millionaires, it is hardwork .

Other avatars of the title : Replace the word ‘millionaires’ by smart people or emotionally intelligent people or entrepreneurs.

4. 10 careers that pay you like crazy                                          

If you are already a few years into your professional life, this article would not be encouraging as your area of interest may not be featured here.

Even if you are planning to master what’s needed for one of the featured careers, there is a very high possibility that by the time you are game for the job, the promising careers have changed because of the market volatility and of course the new articles.

So unless you are a student, this article about the career choices will confuse you like crazy. Stay calm and learn more in your current line of activity and that will pay rich dividends as improving oneself genuinely is not a everyday thing.

5. 10 signs you are meant to be/ born to be / soon to be an Entrepreneur                                                                                  

Let’s say you fearlessly take risks, think smart, lead the pack, love making money, see yourself differently — so they say you are meant to be an Entrepreneur.

Instead the things to be taken into account before taking the plunge into Entrepreneurship would be

                                                                                      Willingness to start from scratch, financial stability to support you for a few months, a good idea on how and what you are selling, a trustworthy team and the competition in that sweet segment.

If the above things are met, you need not wait for the signs. We live in a decade that glorifies entrepreneurship in a strange way and makes us feel that it is the only way to go.

There are millions of intrapreneurs engaged in assists to Entrepreneurs. But when the time is right, they will score one for themselves. And its not something that has to be rushed into.

How to make the most of Sales Rejections?

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So you are a passionate Sales professional who reaches out to potential customers to try and sell your amazing product / service.

You build interesting conversations, get to know their strengths, understand their needs and you feel that your product is a perfect fit for them and you also see the positive signs all along the way that things are moving as per your plan.

And then, you hear the shortest but the most disappointing word ever – ” No ”

Firstly “No” is the not the end of the road. There are two types of “No” s

1. Permanent No

It may be due to the following factors

a) They do not have the funds to buy your product

b) They do not need your product

What should you do now?

Rather than being disappointed with the whole exercise, here is something that you can do. Tell them you understand their decision and express your genuine willingness to help them in case they have any queries or questions in the future with regards to your line of activity.

Also seek their permission to send curated case studies that would help them to do better in their business. These case studies or tools or techniques should be in line with your business.

For e.g:  If you are in the business of selling animated videos for marketing, share with them the case studies of how certain global brands have innovatively used videos for their reach out campaigns.

It need not be your works but still it is a useful resource that would come in handy when they plan to increase their marketing spends sometime in the future.

You can send such articles once in a month or in a quarter. This activity is sufficient for the No to turn into an opportunity in the near future.

2. Temporary No

This can be due to the following factors

a) They are working with someone already on the same.

b) They do not have the funds to engage with you immediately.

c) Lack of interest

Now this is an interesting situation. There is nothing to be disheartened about in this scenario as this is similar to a treasure hunt. You are already en-route and you will strike gold very soon.

What should you do now?

The major difference between this and the previous situation is that you know a lot of information about the prospect – his likes, his company and his upcoming requirements.

Based on these you can create a custom follow up campaign spanning across months that will lead you to the treasure chest. This should be very customized depending on the factors as mentioned above.

Let’s take the same example of selling animated videos for marketing. Now let’s look at what can be done when the following factors come into play.

a) When your lead is working with another vendor for their video – You can wish them good luck and after a considerable amount of time touch base with them and ask them whether the video is out. They would share the video and most likely ask your feedback as you belong to the same industry and you can provide your genuine feedback.

b) When they do not have the funds to engage with you immediately – Try understanding their budgets for this task. Mostly they would be open to share their planned budget for this. When they do, check if it would be feasible for your firm to take it up at that pricing. If yes, you have a deal and if not you can always try arriving at a number that works for both of you.

c) When you smell lack of interest – It is best to wait and be in touch with them. Identify their competitor and if they use your product/service  or something similar, you can gain their interest by letting them know.

Conclusion

A “NO” not always means “Next Opportunity”. You can be patient and convert the “no” into a “yes”

You can connect me with me on LinkedIn here

 

Lessons learnt from World Champion Public Speaking 2015 Runner-up DTM Aditya Maheswaran

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In the past four years as a Toastmaster, I have had the opportunity to listen to some of the greatest speakers of all time. A few weeks back, I was a part of a Toastmasters Division level conference. We had around 700 registrations for the event that included 20 humorous speech contestants and 20 evaluation contestants. The icing on the cake was the keynote by DTM Aditya Maheswaran who was the 1st runner up at World Championship Public Speaking 2015 that was held at Las Vegas.

In most of the events, the keynote sessions are talks given by eminent speakers about the topics that are close to their heart followed by a few questions from the audience. But here we were in for a surprise. He asked us to shoot questions and assured us that he will answer each question from his experiences and learnings.

DTM Aditya Maheswaran - Keynote

DTM Aditya Maheswaran – Keynote

 

Let me share a few questions and his responses to the same.

Q : What is the one thing that should be included in my speech to make it world class? What makes that difference between a good speech and world winning speech?

A : Its really very simple. Always concentrate on what message you want to drive home and what impact your speech must create in the minds of the audience. If you have figured that out clearly in your speech, the rest is easy.

Think of what you can leave the audience with rather than what you can should include to make your speech better.

Q : How do I become better at Toastmasters?

A : Toastmasters is an amazing platform where in whatever you do here will make your life better everywhere. This helps you to become greater at work, life and much more.

Q : When I give a bad speech, I get disappointed and become very reluctant towards giving my next speech. How do I overcome that?

A. The only place where you can fail and fail successfully is at Toastmasters.

The only time you need to feel bad is when you feel you have not given your 100%

Q : How can I make the most of being in Toastmasters? 

A. Let me ask you a question. I take everyone of you to a beach and ask you to bring water from the sea to me, how much of water can you bring?

(Random answers : 1 litre, 2 litres, 10 litres etc )

The amount of water that you are capable of bringing back from the sea totally depends on what you carry along with you to fetch the water. It can be a small glass, a large jug, a bottle or a bucket and depending on that, your quantities vary.

Similarly how much you can take back from Toastmasters depends on what vessel you bring along to take that.

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It was one amazing session where words of wisdom were shared in abundance and I am sure every Toastmaster would have thought about his first step into Toastmasters and how it has been fruitful ever since.

Coimbatore Toastmasters with Aditya Maheswaran

Coimbatore Toastmasters with Aditya Maheswaran

 

DTM Aditya Maheswaran, World No : 2 of Public Speaking 2015 would be here with us @ Coimbatore Toastmasters for the very first time on November 14, 2015

You can follow this page for more details.

Emergence 2015 @ Coimbatore – August 1, 2015

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Its been almost four years since I became a Toastmaster and the journey has been amazing so far. Thanks to the awesome people who I make friends with and work together, the ones who mentor me on my strengths and weakness and every new Toastmasters who walk in to the club with something to share.

For the first time, we are having an Officers Training Program and Emergence 2015 @ Coimbatore. The best part is it is not just for Coimbatore but it is for Coimbatore, Trichy, Madurai, Salem and Virudhunagar.

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Its an excellent initiative from the District 82 to extend their support and mentoring to the remote clubs and we have grabbed it with all our hands. We have District officers coming in from Chennai, trained Trainers who will take us through the roles and responsibilities of the office bearers.

Coimbatore is known for its hospitality, weather, water, Mysurpa ( I can add on ) but very soon, it will also be known for Toastmasters movement helping people become better leaders and communicators.

We cordially invite all the Toastmasters to experience Coimbatore, learn, share and network with the like minded folks around because at Toastmasters, you will find the chosen few destined to be your friends or partners in crime. There are so many examples.

So what do we have in store?

  • Officers Training Program
  • Judges Training Program
  • Contest Management
  • Tips to become a better Humorous Speaker
  • How to Evaluate like a pro
  • Club Success Plan
  • How to start a new club

Also inviting my co Area Directors from Division G – TM Sunil Baffna, TM Lavanya Adapala, TM Jerald, TM Vejey Subash and our beloved Division Director of Division G TM Vikram Nagaraj.

Also gracing the event is TM Pravin Mani, Division Director of Division D. Special welcome to Toastmasters Leadership Institute’s chair – DTM Guruprasad. Also a big battalion of Toastmasters from our very own Trichy headed by the Area Director TM Mythily Ramanan. Trichy is making waves in Toastmastering currently.

And drumrolls please – Presenting to you the youngest ever District Director of Toastmasters International – District 82 Director DTM Sastharam Ravendran.

Venue :  PSG Institute of Management

Time : 8.00 am onwards to 4.30 p.m

For more information, contact Agilan – OTP Chair @ 9942380787