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February 16, 2016

A fo Attitude " When the things get tough - the tough get going" published in THE HANS INDA on 31-01-2016

A For Attitude “When  The Things Get Tough – The Tough Get Going”

A for Attitude. The first quality that everyone talks about is Attitude. Oxford dictionary defines attitude as “A settled way of thinking or feeling about something”. Frequently I have heard interviewers say “Oh the candidate was great but does not have an attitude”. Attitude is that intangible asset that needs to be brought to the table. When the things get tough, the tough need to get going. Life as it is very tough and one needs to look at the positive side of the issue.

There are two types of people. When a boss asks for a work to be done the first candidate says “what is the work?” and after knowing the work, volunteers to do it. The second candidate volunteers first and then enquires about the nature of the work. No prizes for guessing who has a better attitude about life and his job.

Once there were two friends. One of them was an optimist and the other was a pessimist. Both had hung up stockings on the Christmas Eve. The next day the pessimist got a packet of fresh milk and he was very sad. The optimist had his stocking full of cow dung and he was very happy. A mutual friend wanted to know the reason for their strange behaviour. The sobbing pessimist blurted out “Oh the milk is fresh today but by tomorrow it would get bad”. This man was trained to look only at negative things in life. He is an eternal worrier. He would keep on worrying and make the life of everyone around him miserable. 

The confident optimist said “Fine it is cow dung. I got cow dung today and the cow will come tomorrow”. This man looks at the positive things in life. He has the right attitude. Same as a sales man who was beaming as he was falling out of a multi-story building. He was falling from a 25th storey building but was sure that he would be saved before he crashes onto the pavement.

There are lots of nay sayers around. There would keep on discouraging us and telling how the things can’t be done. Nothing ventured and nothing gained. There is everything to win and nothing to lose. Attitude is a thing that takes us places. Impossible is a word found in fool’s dictionary.

Having a positive attitude in the workplace is imperative. Work would present many problems and only those people are employed who know how to solve them with a positive attitude and with a smile.

People like to be around other people who are cheerful, work oriented and not around people who are grumpy and keep complaining. No work is too small or too insignificant. As the author of “How Starbucks saved my life” says in his book (based on a true story) “I wanted to be the best restroom cleaner in entire America”. The author Michael Gates Gill a Director in a famous advertising agency in New York is forced to work as a low paid barista in Starbucks coffee shop. Desperate to please his boss the author cleans the rest room so well that his boss appreciates his work. Very inspiring indeed!

There is a beautiful sequence from the “Darr” the Hindi movie. A cricket match is in progress. Anupam Kher is sitting right in front of a TV, dressed in cricket gear from top to toe, urging the Indian team to play better. He says ''karna padta hai yaar, India ko kabhi bhi meri zaroorat pad sakti hai!'' Translated it means I have to be prepared, Indian cricket team might need my services at any point of time. If the call comes, I want to go immediately. Even though said in jest, that is attitude. The best way to respond to the recriuter’s question “when would you like to join?” is “immediately”. The world is looking for people with the go getter attitude.

1. The advertisement that symbolifies attitude is the ad for Edelweiss brokerage services. The advertisement shows many ways how can’t stops us from achieving our true potential. At the end of the advertisement the t is simply knocked out from the can’t and it becomes Can, Once it is CAN the world becomes a better place to live. Cry and you cry alone, laugh and the world laughs with you. A positive attitude changes everything. Key word for the search “Edelweiss Brokerage service ad”.

2. The second video clip is that of Derek Redmond in the 400 metres finals in the 1992 Olympic Games. It is widely believed that Derek would win the race. Mid-way through the race Derek breaks his hamstring. He is in terrible pain. His race is over. All the training had been wasted. Sobbing in pain and disappointment he continues to hobble. A man rushes out of the stand. He is Derek’s father. He tells his son to stop and says “you don’t need to do it” Derek says “I have to”. “okay” says his father “then we will do it together”.

Hand in hand both father and son struggle towards the finish line. Right at the finish line Derek’s father leaves Derek to cross the line by himself among thundering applause and standing ovation from the spectators. It is not always about winning; rather it is about the spirit and the attitude. It is about the participation as much as about winning medals. This clipping brings a lump in the throat but makes us happy to watch with the grit and determination of Derek. Key words for the search “Powerful Inspirational true story...Don't give up!”

Primer of the New Series "The magical Journey from A to Z - A Game changer " Published in THE HANS INDIA on 26-01-2016

 "The magical Journey from A to Z - A Game changer" Published in THE HANS INDIA on 26-01-2016 

Ask degree students to recite ABC and most would be able to recite them without difficultly. And with a smile on their face. Ask the same student about something very basic in their subject and they would struggle to come out with logical answers. The question “how is that you are able to remember ABCs taught more than 15 years ago and have already forgotten things taught in the last year” stumps them and they are speech less.

That is the power of learning through music and dance. What we leant in innocently stays indelibly printed in our mind. This series strives to imprint your mind with the ABC of qualities needed to be successful. And the qualities are simple to remember. So simple that any one should be able to remember them and recite just like the ABC!

This series has been a work in progress for more than two decades and a half. Very early in my academic career I had realized that teaching is all about inspiring, being up to date and being as interesting as possible for the student. The first aim is to attract. Once the seed of interest is planted the plant of knowledge would sprout by itself. Rather the student will learn by himself. Inculcate the interest and let him explore and find out things for himself.

During the seventies and the eighties the interviewer was expecting subject knowledge and passable soft skills (Communication, body language, team building skills, group dynamics, attitude etc) from a candidate. The opening up of the economy and of the service sector has unleased new challenges and new forces.

Knowledge has become passé. Anyone with a smart phone has access to an enormous vault of knowledge. So much so that rote memorization of number tables has almost disappeared. Students rely on technology for queries so much that the smart phone has become an extended arm in itself! In the changed scenario, soft skills have become omnipresent and the order of the day.

The paradox is most institutes do not teach soft skills. It is up to the students to lean the nuances. A new employee not having soft skills is seen as ‘raw, wet behind the ears, sheep lost in the woods or in simple terms as referred to in Hyderabad as a red bus traveler’ Red bus traveler being a simpleton who travels by the red bus (rural) service operated by the travel corporation.

The soft skills needed to succeed in the real world include good communication which includes spoken communication, (verbal), Written communication, non-verbal communication (body language), good behaviour, good attitude, proven leadership qualities, ability to be a part of the group, and many others.

The transition from good to better to best has to be deliberate and well thought over. The need of the hour is to have model citizens who can propel India into the forefront of development and prosperity.  Into a bright future where that we all can proudly say “yes I too have contributed, in a very small way”.

As mentioned we all remember the English alphabets without any strain and the alphabet are deeply entrenched in our memory. So I hit upon an idea of developing a series where I could identity 26 qualities that a good student, a great manager and the best human being should possess.  And all the 26 qualities are words in English starting with the letter A, then  B and so on.

The qualities choose are necessary and quite frankly hygiene factors. Hygiene factors being factors that if present are not noticed and appreciated but if absent the absence is noticed and commented upon, in many cases adversely. Case in point being the attribute of punctuality. If a person is punctual it is taken for granted, but if the same person is late and tardy, the same would noticed and he/she would get a reprimand.

Next I hit upon the idea of driving the message through using the audio visual media.  I chose the media of television commercials. I am fascinated by TV commercials. They are magical, small, sweet, and pack quite a punch! Oh yes then can be irritating, repetitive and in the face! They are easily available and accessible (thanks to YouTube). They can tell a story dramatically, appealingly and in a very short duration! A story well told,   is difficult to forget.

Once the attributes have been identified the process of selecting a suitable advertisement/movie clipping to explain the attribute was undertaken. I will explain the advertisement and detail the importance of commercials/clipping. Great advertisements like the hostel advertisement, Cadbury cricket advertisement too would be discussed. Cadbury’s cricket advertisement is a 60 second encapsulement of the 3 hour 40 minute saga of a movie – Lagaan. The storylines are the same!

I would start with the letter A and would take you through a magical journey till the letter Z. Young readers should collect all the 26 articles. They would get dual benefits, the first being the excitement of collecting the news articles and filing them for future reference and the second and the most important being the internalization of qualities that might be the difference between a winner and an also run!