Sunday, July 5, 2020

How to Get Others to Change Their Mind - The Orphanage Chap

There was this loud announcement on a loudspeaker in the colony - longer than usual - so it caught my attention. Normally vegetable sellers or sofa repair guys go around the colony in a vehicle fitted with a loudspeaker and prerecorded messages (or even someone announcing their wares and services aloud live). They move from one apartment block to another, making quite a din when they are around. Normally it lasts some ten or fifteen minutes and then they move away.
Pic courtesy - Satish Nargundkar

But this was going on for longer. When I stepped out to see, I heard an announcement from a van that it was from some orphanage and they were collecting food, money, clothes etc. It did not sound very appealing so I went back in. In a while,, I heard someone shouting at the gate and went to see who it was. One long-haired chap was there asking for donations. 'Money, clothes, food,' he said. I shook my head and came back in. He left.

Shobha and Anjali asked who it was and I told them it was this orphanage collecting stuff. Anjali asked if they were taking clothes. I said they were. She said she had a pile of clothes to give and went in to get that. By the time I walked out, there was another man on the road near the van, with only a stump for his left hand. I nodded to him and asked if he would take clothes of 11-12-year-old children. He said their home was for 15 and above and mainly for the disabled. I told him I had clothes for younger children, girls especially. He looked unsure. I started to go back in.

'I'll take it sir,' he said. I knew he was still figuring it out as he was talking to me but he was planning to do something with them. 'Sure?' I asked.' 'Yessir,' he said. There are children also.

As I handed the clothes over he asked, 'Sir ca you donate some money too sir?' he asked. 'My immediate reaction to monetary donations is No. I was already calculating in my mind that I had already given him the clothes, why give him money too? I was already thinking of greed, usage, receipt etc etc. when he came with a creative line.

'Even one rupee is fine sir,' he said. 'We will take one rupee also sir. Just give us one rupee sir.'

That stopped me. One rupee I can easily give, in fact, I could give twenty. I knew that there was thirty rupees lying on my table and headed for that. But he had already unlocked that giving part in my head with that 'one rupee is fine sir'. Instead of giving that thirty rupees I opened my wallet, took out a hundred rupee note, and gave it to him.

Never have I seen anyone do this so beautifully, completely disarming me with his 'one rupee' entry barrier, He understood my uncertainty, insecurity, bought me to level ground with that offer, and then forced me make a rational call. He made me secure, got past my croc brain and hit the sweet spot. It's the smoothest sales job I have ever seen. Fantastic. Thanks my dear friend, it's great learning for me. Wishing you well in your collection drives and hope to see you again soon.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Ayyappanum Koshiyum - Movie

2020. Director Sachy's last movie. Biju Menon and Prithviraj in lead roles as the adamant cop and the influential ex-soldier, who are out to get one another. It's long as it stretches beyond 2 and a half hours but the conflict is kept on the razor's edge. Lovely writing and dialogue and a wonderful piece of work by Sachy who passed away on June 18, 2020.

Ek Doctor Ki Maut - Movie

1990. Tapan Sinha's movie based loosely on the story of Dr. Subhash Mukhopadhya who pioneered the second in Vitro fertilisation int he world, just 67 days after an English physician did. Harrassed by the West Bengal government and the Indian government, he committed suicide in 1981. Dr Mukhopadhyay was the doctor who pioneered India's first test-tube baby in 1978, a recognition which was given to him when Dr. Anand Kumar who was credited with the achievement in 1997 discovered this fact and duly corrected the error.

Pankaj Kapoor plays Dr. Dipankar Roy who is conducting research on curing leprosy on his personal time at his personal expense and is making significant progress. He dedicates ten years of his life and when he makes a breakthrough, a well-intentioned journalist prints the story which catches the eyes of other jealous members of the fraternity to move to discourage and discredit him. But Roy has his band of loyal supporters too.

Pankaj Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Irrfan Khan, Anil Chatterjee - it flows like a breeze. 

Punch Drunk Love - Movie

2002. Romantic comedy. Adam Sandler. It's a different level of neurotic.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Only When I Larf - Len Deighton

Three conmen - Silas, Bob and Liz - are brilliant at conning people. Silas is older, an ex-military man who worked under Liz's father's command in the war, Bob is a self-improvement, archaeology buff who loves books and is fully into himself and Liz is besotted with the suave Silas. Bob is besotted with Liz. The first caper is conning some medium-sized businessmen looking to earn 78% return on investment and then they head from America to London.

In London they narrowly escape with their lives in a caper involving some African country - the war minister they are dealing with is taken home in a box - while they're let off with a warning. By the time of the third caper, Bob wants control instead of being second in command, Liz is tiring of Silas, so they did it differently. Liz and Bob play main lead, Silas is the secretary, whom Bob taunts all the time, and they pull off their final caper. Everyone gets what they want in the end and the group pretty much splits up.

The story goes forward from the perspective of the three protagonists in every chapter which was an interesting device. The con jobs sound very credible. Deighton's dialogue brings the subtle nuances of each character out vividly. Thanks Vinod bhai.

Dev Bhoomi - Movie

2016. Victor Banerjee is Rahul Negi, returning to his home in Garhwal after many years of self-imposed exile in some foreign land. His return is not welcome as his brother tells him his father never forgave him, nor has he (the brother). Anyway. we can make out something is wrong with him as he gets bouts of unsteadiness. We figure out slowly that he fell in love with a low caste woman, couldn't get married because of society, attacks the village head and runs away. The village head survives, the girl loses it and nothing much happens. He finds a purpose in the end and donate shi earnings to the school which was burned down by some villainous types.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Book Review by Sridhar Neelam

Soon after I posted Sridhar's list of books to read along with his interview about books in my blog, I shared the link with our mates from the MBA class. Among the many encouraging words that we recieved from our friends, there was also a request from Bijju to Sridhar, asking him to review a book that he liked. The '7 Habits..' sits right at the top of Sridhar's list and it took him less than half an hour to review the classic, explaining lucidly the 7 habits, analysing them and making them relevant even to the layman. Clearly Sridhar has read the book many times and I remember him mentioning in the interview that he referred to it every once in a while to see if he is on course and how he compares. Here then is Sridhar's succint yet comprehensive review of Stephen R. Covey's 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.'


Book Review - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people
Sridhar Neelam

The 7 habits of highly effective people are the practical manifestation of universal principles like fairness, equity, honesty, integrity, quality, etc. The author believes that there are universal principles which govern the outcomes of every action. No matter what you believe, these principles determine the outcomes.

Another way of looking at these habits is to see them as a means to move a person from dependence to independence and on to interdependence. The author believes that interdependence is a far greater virtue and is the underlying principle that governs the functioning of the world. He illustrates that belief in independence as a human goal is like playing tennis with a golf club! An instrument not suited for the game!

The 7 habits are codified as:
1. Be proactive
2. Begin with the end in mind
3. First things First
4. Think win - win
5. Seek to understand then strive to be understood
6. Synergise
7. Sharpen the saw.

Be Proactive
These 7 habits have to be viewed sequentially with first habit leading the way.
Covey exhorts that proactivity is the primary habit which in turn engenders the formulation of the succeeding habits. Proactive behaviour presupposes that the response to any stimulus is not based on emotions but based on predetermined values to which one holds accountable to. He is thus “responsible “. A proactive person is one who holds himself accountable to a set of predetermined values.

Begin With the End in Mind
Begin with the end in mind is the next habit. Only a proactive individual will be able to develop the habit of this highly intuitive habit. Just as we have a destination and the route in our mind the author expects each of us to chart his own course to a well thought out goal. He illustrates this habit with an imagery in which one is invited to attend his own funeral and eavesdrop on the comments made by the mourners. Covey urges us to determine one’s long term goals based on what one expects to hear from the mourners- wife, children, colleagues, friends etc. and then embark on the journey to achieve these ends.

First Things First
The third habit comes into play once we have the long term goals in place. Structured short term planning template is discussed in this chapter. Covey postulates that we all have multiple roles to play on a daily basis. For example a woman may see being a mother, wife, doctor, daughter, sister etc as some of the roles she plays. Each of these roles can be visualised and compatible goals can be set for each  role. Thus when a man conducts himself in the short term he will have to prioritise his activities based on the inter-se primacy of the goals.

Taken together these three habits constitute “private victory”- a victory over moods and emotions in subordination to predetermined values or goals.

The next three habits tell us how to achieve “public victory “- a victory in interpersonal interactions with others.

Think Win-Win
Habit 4 is that of “Think win-win” which is a prescriptive paradigm to view interpersonal conflict where both the contestants are vying to get the better of the spoils. Win- lose and lose-win are seen as adjustments which are inferior goals while lose-lose is not at all an option. Win-win process starts with both parties agreeing to explore options which are more beneficial to both than what each of them would have got by thinking win- lose. The mindset that underlies win - win thinking is termed as “ abundance mentality” - there’s enough for everyone- as compared to “scarcity mentality” which  presupposes that there is only a limited amount out there and the winner takes all leaving nothing to the loser.

Seek to Understand, Then Strive To Be Understood
Seek to understand, then to be understood priorities listening to others over talking. The author states that the listener should carefully understand the emotions and the logic of the person to whom he is listening. Only when we know both will we be able to respond effectively to the other person. After listening with an intent to understand, the individual must seek to be understood with equal effort. Preparing an effective presentation must have three components- ethos, pathos and logos. Ethos is the essence of the reasoning which includes the credibility of the presenter. The next part of the presentation must bring out the emotional aspects of the argument. Logos is the final part of the argument.This part of the presentation focuses on the logical arguments in favour of the proposal. Covey stresses the need to follow this sequence of argumentation while making a presentation.

The sixth habit is that of “Synergy”. Covey states that all the earlier habits serve in cultivating this all important habit. Synergy is a situation when one plus one can become three, or eleven or zero. This is dependent on the quality of the relationship between the two entities or individuals. If the understanding between the two individuals is excellent, then together their output is manifold to that of what they would have produced individually. The essential concept Covey propounds is the need to “Value our differences “. He urges us to respect this dictum and encourage another viewpoint before taking a final view. He postulates that difference in viewpoints after seeing the same data is not logical but psychological. Each one views things not as they are but as he is i.e as per his own upbringing.

Sharpen the Saw
The seventh and the final habit “Sharpen the saw” enjoins us to improve ourselves on all 4 dimensions. Physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects. Proper diet and exercise for physical renewal; reading classics for the intellect; the emotional dimension is renewed when we practice Habits 4,5&6 in  interpersonal behaviour and meditation and prayer help us renew the spiritual dimension on a daily basis.

Thanks Sridhar for sharing your review. It may be a good idea for you to give a talk based on the book, with your own experiences and examples, since you have imbibed its principles so deeply. It could benefit many and change their lives.

As for the book, I believe this book must be owned by everyone and the 7 habits practiced. Definitely a book one must read. Also an apt gift for those you love. So, to practice the first principle, proactively go and get a copy, for yourself or for someone else you love.