Friday 28 December 2012

Sleepy students and early morning class !


Today morning when I met first year student in lift, she was not active as one should be.

I casually asked, so do you have class now?

And she cribbed - yes, this morning 0900 class is bad. And it was not good, even when it was at 0930 last term. We normally jump to conclusion that oh they spend night in futile stuff like movie, Facebook, mobiles, parties and crib in morning.

But still it made me think!

I have normally morning class once a week and I can sense they are drowsy, sleepy and not that alert in the class. They keep up popping in the class even after scheduled time. What I found (thanks to Google) is that ‘darkness hormone’ melatonin is the cause behind it.  The level of melatonin reaches high earlier as people get older. Thus for your faculty who is in his late 40’s or 50’s (or more!) this melatonin begins its effect at 10 pm, while for students – who are not so aged, the same melatonin shows its effect at 1 am.

Moreover when you keep your mobile at fingertips, browse Facebook, pumps up caffeine this further disturbs your sleep cycle at night. 

Irrespective of hormone or behavior, lack of sleep surely leads your behavior to moody, impulsive, and you show  poor performance in academics. I am proponent of  early morning routine and myself trying to go back to it with New Year resolutions round the corner. I hope students also should learn to strike a balance in their night-activities and morning-routines. Here are some useful tips to start with. 

I too try my morning classes to be more participatory and action packed , rather than mere lectures !

Your thoughts, suggestions and comments are welcome. 

Image source: http://www.com.cuhk.edu.hk/varsity/0401/Periscope/school05.jpg 

Monday 22 October 2012

On being a teacher ...

I attended  Gurucharan Das's  "India grows at night" book release function by BDB Book club.

I liked his style and picked up his "Difficulty of being good" for reading.

It is lucid and brilliantly written book. It uses Mahabharat - its characters, and the various dilemma they face in dealing with the ethical questions. Most appealing aspect of the book is the way author brings his learning from the stories to the ethical dilemmas that we face in our day to day life. Most importantly - why be good ?

To make his point across , he narrated the story of primary school teacher , published in "Times of India" in 2005. In his own words ,
..  a man who has bicycled 32 kilometers each day for the past twenty years without missing a single day of school. Because of his commitment, as well his ability to inspire students, a surprising number of his former students went on to become hugely famous.  When asked about the roots of his motivation, he answered, 'Teaching is my dharma,'..
I could not locate the original story online. But it is riveting. I can sense from my own experience and can see around that the teachers who do their work as "dharma" or "swabhaava" - are touching the life of their students.

Question that is more pertinent is - can this "calling/swabhaava" be nurtured in first place ? if yes , "how can we nurture this".  It is more riveting - when the same book points to the 2004 research of Michael Kremer of Harvard university along with world bank members that ,
One in four teachers in our government primary schools is absent and one in four, although present, is not teaching. Thus one in two teachers out of roughly 1.5 million primary school teachers is not doing his/her job.
If we repeat this for graduate and post-graduate teachers ,will the results really change to opposite side of spectrum ? Hence nurturing the calling for teachers - will be important question !.

(Image source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gurcharan_Das_%28as_on_26-Sep-2012%29.jpg )

Wednesday 8 August 2012

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Importance of re-writing speeches





Speech re-writing is very important condition for successful speech.

Toastmasters Competent communicator manual also emphasizes the drafting of the speech.


Andrew Dlugun ,a famous toast-master also emphasized this point in his multiple blog posts on speech writing.

Inspiring and motivating speaker , A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, who won the hearts of millions of Indians by his visionary speeches had following comments in his recent publication Turning Points.  This also underlines the importance of draft versions of one's final speech. (Emphasis added)

... Preparation for the speech normally began well in advance. We would generate a theme, then would seek information from multiple departments and also try and get the international picture on the subject.  We would send a questionnaire to experts. Then we would collate the information. The speech would go into numerous drafts. It was not unusual for there to be ten or more drafts. The R-Day speech in 2004 ,for instance, had its theme on smiles on billion faces and went through ten drafts. The focus was on values. On 14th August 2005, the theme was energy independence. The speech went through fifteen drafts. One of the highest number of drafts was, of course, for my speech to the European Parliament on 25 April 2007. This went through thirty-one drafts.
No wonder that Kalam's speeches enjoys not only popularity but also coveted place in the heart of Indians. This really makes one to think on the efforts that we are investing in our own speeches.

Reference:
 1) Image : Wikimedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AbdulKalam.JPG
 2) Quotes : Turning Points, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam , 2012, Harper Collins, page 45, 

Thursday 19 July 2012

Perils of higher Education !

Unemployment vs. Education level. (Ref-1)
The times of India article mentions , "Higher your education, harder it is getting a job" .

So true .

The data in the article is converted in the bar-chart for the want of better presentation.

So probably we have one more reason for not going for higher education, and the figures are startling in rural regions. This is unlike the other countries where higher education normally fetches the better opportunities.

This is like a high-light on the recent news article that says - seats for engineering and MBA schools are vacant - as there are more number of students than seats.

Points to really ponder for stakeholders in higher education. 

Ref-1 : Data is picked up from the times of India article : http://ow.ly/ckFfY

Wednesday 18 July 2012

"7 Habits" : A Management Guru Stephen Covey - passed away.

Stephen Covey , The author of the best seller "7 Habits of highly effective people" passed away.

I hooked to  this book ,when I just passed out of engineering college. Since then I kept visiting this book , as well as the workbook and his website often. In my opinion if one is allowed to pick up only one self-help book , one should pick up "7 Habits" . No wonder it is best seller for many years and the author is regarded as a management guru for well known established firms.  Though he had other books to his credit, 7 habits is the best of them all.

7 Habits is wonderful book. The habits rests one on another, they are interlinked. The book has whole ecosystem of workbook, website, audiobooks and training courses based on it. So for every taste of learning style , there is serving resource.  So get "7 Habits" on your priority list this year for further development.


And ,may his soul rest in peace.



Ref: Image Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stephen_Covey_2010.jpg

Saturday 9 June 2012

Personal Branding : Some useful resources



Personal branding is when you take charge of your career.   It gels well with protean careers or boundary less careers. You want to take charge of your career.  Your commitment to career progress takes primacy than your commitment to the Organization.  Personal branding helps in standing out of the crowed. It helps individuals in showing how will he contribute value to the job in hand than his peers.  There are varieties of resources available on Personal branding and it is worth considering as option to advance one’s career. 

Web Resource:


Books: 

  •  Quick advice on Personal branding : Free online PDF to download : Visit .
  •  Tom Peters : The Brand You   [ Amazon Link ]
  • Keith Ferrazzi : Never Eat Alone [ Amazon Link ]
  •  Dan Schawbel : Me 2.0 , Build a Powerful brand to achieve a career  Success [ Amazon Link ]
  •  William Aruda : Career Distinction : Stand out by Building your brand  [ Amazon Link ]

        Image Resource:  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Main_careers.jpg 

How to sale yourself ?

The following speech I made for my toastmasters project-7.  Project was targeted at research skills and using the relevant data to drive , convince audience about your point of view.


Objectives of Project as mentioned in the toastmasters manual are :
  • Collect information about your topic from numerous sources.
  • Carefully support your points and opinions with specific facts, examples, and illustrations gathered through research. 
As I was working on use of Social media for personal branding for newcomers at my b-school. I decided to use the same subject for the research. And here is my speech.





Toast Masters good evening. 

So let’s talk how to sale  oneself in the market. 

Confused? Oh sorry, I am not talking about Slavery of 18-th century, but about the Job-market.  

This talk is about Personal branding.  Personal branding is all about standing out in the crowded, tough and difficult job market. It’s all about placing yourself in the better bargaining position. 

We know corporate brands like Apple, and we have product brands like i-phone, similarly there are personal brands. For example look at Amir Khan. (Talk on grape vine says he received  3 Cr/episode of Satyamev Jayate). See how carefully he had nurtured his persona, image and how he is cashing on it – in the job market of celebrities.  What you see there is Personal branding at work. 

But it’s not only celebrities; anyone can use personal branding.   Today’s talk is about two aspects of the personal branding.  One is why you need it and second how to use social media in promoting yourself. 

Even in the booming Indian growth story, Job market is really tough. Given our 1 Billion plus population, it is going to be that way always. One rough estimate says that for every job posted, sometime there will be as high as 45 applicants.  Naukari dot com, India’s most popular job site and 5th most popular website has as high as 25 million users  (May be active/inactive) and another data points they have around 9 Million active users  and everyday 14,000 resumes are uploaded on Naukari.  Irrespective of the real figures, facts remains that Job Market is really crowded. 

You may think this is true for fresher’, but things are more difficult at top.  We have this typical pyramid structure in organizations. So as you go higher, number of job openings will reduce, further there will be more/tougher scrutiny of your profile.  One blog posting mentioned some top-notched firms’ rejects as high as 94% applications.  I know a friend of mine, a unit head – had taken a break and now searching for a job for almost one and half year. And he is no-where even near the selection process. 

Surely the picture is very challenging – as it is really difficult to even cross screening and reach the interview stage.But don’t be afraid, one way to increase your chances passing the screening process is Personal branding and using Social media. It’s all about self-image and self-promotion. 

For example FB – Face book has almost close to 47 Million users in India, 4% of total India’s population but 35% of total online population is on FB.  Another site Linked in has 13 Millions of Indians on line. It is 2nd largest online popular site in India.  FB has more concentration of youngsters (18 to 24 group), but its sheer size compels your potential employer to look at your profile on FB.  That is not the case with Linked in – which is purely professional hang-out place.  Employers not only check your educational and workplace background. But use it judge your network, asses your references and understand feedback on you. 

So how do you really use them? 

First and most important thing is – use your good quality, professional head-shot as a profile picture. Not some funky avatar.  Research shows that visitors are more likely to dig at your profile if it has a photograph.  A step closer to your dream job. And if you want to leverage brand - use same photo on your FB, twitter, Google profile.  More face time is likely to lead them to hear you.  And get a call for Interview.

Leverage your strengths, by contributing to the groups, discussions. Follow the thinkers, leaders in your area of expertise. Join the professional groups/clubs.

If you are eying for a top job, you surely need expertise in the functional area and in your Industry. 

 The best way to showcase your expertise, your work, achievements and contributions in the area is to use Blog.  Well developed blog will have a good and importantly relevant readership. For instance you can show-case your communication skills by posting your Toastmaster achievements; you can keep writing about your strengths in presentation skills, you can keep writing, critic great presentations and public speeches of TED on your blog. And People will start recognizing you as a sincere follower in your area of expertise. They will follow you on twitter, connect with you on linked in and will be your friends on FB. This doesn’t happen over night.  It is the whole ecosystem that matters.  You need to keep working at it slowly, diligently.  Amir Khan hasn’t developed his brand in a day – nor can you do it.  

 So start at it early and Toastmasters you will reap the benefits of personal branding in the job Market.



Disclaimer: The data or figures I have used in this speech is just figurative, though I have used online , web-based resources for collecting the figures, I have not verified the figures or claims. I simply used them to support the relevant parts of my speech.

Saturday 2 June 2012

Unanticipated Consequence of Productivity tools !

PCMag has interesting article on productivity.  Opening of the article has interesting comment.
Has anyone noticed that the computer revolution has turned its focus from improving productivity to wasting time on trivia?
Isn't it what is termed as unanticipated consequences ? .

For instance :
  • Email's were suppose to save our time. It consumes so much time, that Intel had toyed up with  no email days .  French firm Atos  has even extreme stance of "Zero email" .
  • Message overloads from desktop notifier, email, smart phones is triggering attention deficit trait.
  • Some time back , IIT's had instituted restrictions on internet uses as they found that it hampers the student performance.
As Tablets , i-pad are scheduled to enter classrooms, they will support teaching and learning ,but also will have different kind of challenges for teaching fraternity.  So if you have encountered any of them so far, do post in comments....


Friday 6 April 2012

How to decide whether the job is great ?





I wanted to enter academics, and that is the reason I applied for research program at XLRI. The interview committee tried to probe, why I want to switch to teaching community from a comparatively high-income career. I think my answers convinced them.

But the question still keeps lingering in my mind. And often, I hit new theories , that convinces me again and again - that yes it is one of the best choice I made for myself.

You have the best job in the world, if you have inner inspiration to do it. And this inner inspiration, a mental state to a specific job is the result of three critical states. First, is the job purposeful, meaningful, second, whether the job gives you sense of ownership, and lastly do you see the effects or results of job.

A model in Organization behavior gives you five hints to look at the job aspects, and conveys whether the job has these three critical states so as to make it intrinsically motivating (ref. 1).

First is variety of skills, abilities that job activities demand. It is rightly said that teaching is one forth preparation and three forth theater. There is so much variety in teaching. Presentation, effective speaking, persuasion, motivating, and coaching, mentoring, thinking about innovative and new ideas to make lively classes the list is endless. No wonder they call teaching as a performing art.

Second is task identity, whether the task is whole identifiable. In majority of cases faculties are fully responsible for course design, choosing textbooks, delivering and even assessing the courses.

Third is task significance, how much impact it is making in the life of others. Teachers are always regarded high in Indian society. If we consider typical MBA curriculum, learning “people skills” are of paramount importance to any manager, whether his specialty is materials or finance. So no wonder Organizational behavior (area of my specialization) is one of the most important subjects for all MBA’s.

Forth is autonomy, the extent to which one can decide routine details like scheduling, process etc. Now within one’s own class, teacher has full autonomy about what sequence of topics to follow, how much time to allocate to individual concepts and use of variety of pedagogical tools to teach them.Thus giving him the sense of ownership of the class.

Fifth and last is feedback on his/her performance. Though there are formal channels available to students to give feedback. Faculty gets this feedback instantly. As soon as he is half-way through the class, he can figure out, where the students are with respective to the topic he is teaching. Whether he is convincing or confusing?

So next time you are thinking of any job , check where it stands with respective to these five parameters.

- Image source : http://vafamilyconnections.com/images/good%20job.jpg

- 1 : Theory refereed here is : Hackman and Oldham's Job characteristic Model.