Lessons from My Attempt to Re-Claim My Weekends

Lessons from My Attempts to Reclaim my weekends by Mukesh Gupta

 Situation

One of the constant complains that my family has with me is that I am obsessive about my gadgets. Even when I am on a holiday or during the weekend, I obsessively go for the gadgets and if it is not checking my emails, it is to check my twitter feed or my Facebook feed or my LinkedIn or my blog stats or my podcast stats or WhatsApp groups or something else. But they complain that I keep reaching for my phone or my iPad for something or the other.

I am sure this is a common phenomenon in most of our lives.

We now live in a world, where we not only carry our work in our pockets, we almost carry our entire world in our pocket, literally. I can work (emails, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, etc) or read (books, blog posts, messages from family, friends, relatives, distant relatives, etc) or listen (music, podcasts, audiobooks) or watch (movies, TV Series, Documentaries, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc) and do this on a weekday or a weekend or while standing in a que waiting for our favourite Starbucks coffee.

I am trying to become a better husband and a better father and so want to address this complain that my family has of me. So, I did what all of us do – go online and google about how to avoid spending all of my time on the phone and on these apps.

Advice, That Didn’t work for Me:

I got the same advice almost everywhere I read:

  • Delete the apps on the phone. Force yourself to check your social media only when you are on your desktop. So, I did that. But wait, my time on the phone did not go down. I started using the browser on my phone to start accessing all of these functions.
  • Block internet on the phone for specific times. Unfortunately, this seems like a good idea, but I don’t think I was ready for this drastic a step, so did not help me.

And some other advice that I got online but that did not work. I do a lot of reading and for my podcast have interviewed some of the brightest minds in the world. So, I thought, let me imagine and re-visit what I have learnt in all my reading and from the experts that I have either interviewed myself or listened to being interviewed by someone else.

Learning – Behavioural Insights to the Rescue

When I reflected on my learnings, I realised one thing

  • Either I build the self-discipline that is required for me to disengage from my phone and the internet so I can be with my family
  • or I eliminate the possibility for me to be able to access the phone completely. Okay, at least for most part of the day.

The choice became a binary choice – a choice between managing self-discipline or managing my environment.

The Choice – Finally

I have made the choice. I think it is easier to change my environment rather than changing myself. While my wife doesn’t agree with the choice (she thinks that I can not continue to avoid working on my ability to control myself and my behaviour and that at some point in time I will need all that will power to be able to do the right thing without being able to change the environment).

I think that she is partially right, I do need to work on building my will-power in certain situations, but then I don’t want to leave my attempt to becoming a better father/husband to a later time in the future.

So, I decided on the following course of action:

  1. When I reach home, I take a few minutes before getting down from my car to check all my feeds – twitter, facebook, linkedIn, whatsapp groups, blog stats, podcast stats, official emails, personal emails and anything else that i need to check and respond to.
  2. When I am done, I switch on the call-forward facility that my network provides to forward all incoming calls to my wife’s phone.
  3. Then I switch off my phone and put it in my bag, out of sight.

While the experiment is new and the results are only a few days old, I can report that this really works. I still have the urge to reach for my phone, but since it is not available readily and requires me to take a special effort to go and pick it from my bag, switch it on and then check my feeds, I have multiple decisions to make and at each decision, I need to think if this is really something that I want to do.

As a lot of behaviour scientists have found in their research, once you make something difficult to do, the chances are that you will not end up doing it. You might procrastinate or in some case, decide that it is not worth the effort to do that action. I am a living proof that this theory works really well.

The first few days that I have done this, I did not reach out for my phone till the time it was for me to go to bed and of course, I needed my phone then as it also functions as my alarm clock, I know, I need a new alarm clock so I don’t have to take my phone out of the bag, till next day when I get in to my car to go to office.

Question that I need to answer is the following:

Do I have the will power and the self-discipline to ensure that i do these on most days?

As they say, wives always have a way to get their way and are almost always right.

So, I am off to working on my self-discipline and will-power muscles so I can build them strong enough to be able to continue my work towards becoming a better father and a better husband.

Conclusion: 

While we all need to continue to develop our self-discipline and will-power, we can always bring in the change that we want by controlling our environment and eliminate the need to exert our precious will-power muscles on these tasks.

We consistently under-estimate the power that our environment has on us and on our behaviours. I would like to leave you with one thought or a question –

“Have you created your environment by choice or has chance determined your environment?”

If it was chance, I would urge you to take control of your environment so that it enables you rather than constrict you.

This is a sure way to reclaim your evenings and weekends for your true connections – family and friends.

PS: If you do try this as well, do share your experience with me.

A small request:

If you liked what you read/heard, I would request you to head over to my patreon page and become a patron for the blog/podcast. You could do so by contributing anywhere from a single dollar to about 1000 USD depending upon how much you like the blog/show.

Think of it like the following – I will bring thought leaders to your door step and in return all I am asking is for you to spend just enough to get a cup of coffee for the expert that is in your home. 

I would like to keep this podcast ad-free and need your support regarding the same. You can also find some very interesting artists whom you can also contribute for.

I myself support James Victore as a patron. If you are an artist yourself, consider becoming a patron for James as well or even set-up your own Patreon Page here.

25 Insanely Interesting People I Came Across in 2014

25 Insanely Interesting People

One of the goals that i had for 2014 was to discover new people and learn from new sources. I must say that I was fortunate enough to discover these people online and learn so much from them.

So, here is a list of some of the insanely interesting people that i came across in 2014. I do hope you will find some of these people and the great work that they are doing interesting enough to start following them.

  1. Bernadette Jiwa: She has a great blog called “The Story of Telling“. This is one of the best blogs that i have come across from a marketing perspective. She has a unique gift of sharing marketing insights by the way to telling short, sweet and interesting stories. I hope I am able to convince her to be a guest on my show sometime soon. Follow her work if you think you are in the business of telling stories (which is what every brand does, right?)
  2. Dan Rockwell: I discovered Dan accidentally and have become a big fan of his posts on leadership. He has a unique way of writing in lists and is to the point and hits your gut as a leader. You must follow his work if you are in a situation where you have to lead people or if you aspire to be a leader someday.
  3. Paul Castain: I was part of his Sales Playbook group on LinkedIn for sometime but I really discovered him when I was looking for thought leaders in the field of sales management. He brings with him so much positive energy and tongue-in-cheek humor that it is impossible to ignore him once you get to know him. He was one of the earliest guests on my show. You can listen to the awesome conversation we had here. I had also recommended his podcast on my podcast recommendation earlier this year.
  4. Jeffrey Baumgartner: I was part of his newsletter for sometime but I really got to know him and his body of work when I interviewed him for my podcast. He is quirky, funny and creative, all at the same time. If you are interested in Innovation and creativity as a topic, you should check out his Report 103 newsletter. He was on my show and his episode is one of the top 5 downloaded episodes on my show.
  5. Mitch Joel: I started listening to his podcast “Six Pixels of Seperation” and I must say, that i have learnt so much about marketing. I had also recommended his podcast on my podcast recommendation. He was kind enough to agree to spend time and record an episode for my show. The same is in post-production and will go live shortly.  He is insightful, articulate and interesting at the same time.
  6. Gary Veynurchuk: I discovered Gary late and once I found him, I just couldn’t have enough of him and his brand of marketing. He is not only insanely interesting, but witty and smart at the same time. I totally get it when he says that “Marketers ruin everything” and is a big advocate of the good old  ‘Hustle‘. I do hope that i can host him on my show sometime soon. If you are a business owner or a marketer, you must follow him and his work.
  7. Meron Bareket: I discovered Meron by accident as I stumbled upon his podcast “Inspiring Innovation“. Since then, he has become a friend, guide and mentor. I have learnt everything I know about podcasting from him and his course. He was also one of the first guest that I had on my show. He has a clarity of thought and purpose that I am jealous of.
  8. Srini Rao: I found Srini Rao from the Unmistakable Creative also through his podcast – Unmistakable Creative. The variety of guests that he brings on his show is simply astounding to say the least. Can you think of a show that has hosted a Bank Robber, an olympic coach (high performance trainer), someone who rode a bike from Berlin to India and yet connect them all for his audience. He is Unmistakable in his work as the Unmistakable CEO.
  9. David Burkus: I found David when I was looking to host someone who could share a lot of information about the topic of Innovation/Creativity. He is insightful, articulate, witty and intelligent at the same time. If you are interested in the topic of Innovation and Leadership, you should definitely follow his podcast LDRLB (called Leader Lab). He has also written the book The Myths of Creativity. He was on my show and we had a great conversation about his book. You can listen to the episode here.
  10. Anaggh Desai: I have been following Anaggh on twitter for the past couple of years. However, I got to meet him and know him a little bit this year as he agreed to be a part of my podcast. I was blown away by his knowledge about the service industries and his thoughts on how brands should be thinking and acting in the marketplace. He is the only person I know of who tweets insightful nuggets about people whom he interacts on twitter every year. I must admit that this post is also inspired by his current list which you can follow using the hashtag . He has a loyal following on twitter which is really high on engagement. If brands need to learn how to be social on social media, they can learn from him and his tribe of followers. He was on my show and you can listen to the same here.
  11. Shane Parish: I am a big fan of the Farnam Street blog that Shane maintains. His ability to gleam all the insights from some of the best books ever written and to summarize it in a way that people can not only understand the key premise of the book but also be intrigued enough to go and buy the book. If you love reading books, you must subscribe to his blog. I do hope to have him on my show sometime soon.
  12. Devdutt Pattnaik: I discovered him through a YouTube video where he was talking to a bunch of startup founders about the Indian mythology and how it relates to running or managing a business. I find his work to be very interesting as he covers and converges two of my most interesting topics in a way that i have not seen any one else do. He is inspiring, practical, knowledgable and creative at the same time. If you are even slightly interested in the mythology and lessons for business from mythology, you should definitely follow his work. Hopefully, I should have him on my show soon.
  13. James Altucher: I got to know James by stumbling on to his blog. Then I started listening to his podcast. Then I bought his book – Choose Yourself . I am blown away by his honesty, courage and his ability to fight back from disasters to becoming successful again. To a certain extent he has redefined what it means to be authentic and successful for me. He is in his inimitable style, prolific, authentic and smart at the same time.
  14. Scott Jordan: I found him accidentally on YouTube in a video which he was using as a Press Release. The more I researched about him the more intrigued I became. He founded and runs one of its own kind apparel company – ScotteVest. In my opinion, he is the epitome of hustling to succeed kind of entrepreneur, a rare breed indeed. He agreed to be on my show. The episode will go live sometime soon. He has the presence of mind and clarity of purpose that is critical for success for any entrepreneur. His ability to create news worthy content is really phenomenal. Follow him and his company for the remarkable product that they have created and as much as the phenomenal culture that they have built within their organization.
  15. Howard Moskowitz: I came to know Howard while listening to an episode of Mitch Joel’s podcast and asked him to be on my show. I am blown away by the knowledge that he possesses, the kind of work that he has done, the impact his work has had on our world. Malcolm Gladwell dedicated an entire TED talk to the work done by Howard speaks for itself. Despite all of this, his enthusiasm for his work is un paralleled. The episode featuring him would be the first episode of my show in 2015. You can have a sneak peak of the unedited recording of the conversation here.
  16. Kevin Roberts: I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the insightful blog posts that he writes. His blogs are easy to read & highly insightful. Follow him for the simple yet profound blog posts that seem to arrive (at least for me) when I needed them the most.
  17. Vivek Muthuramalingam: I stumbled upon the work of this Doctor turned photographer by accident when I saw his work exhibited at one of the galleries in Bangalore. I instantly liked and respected him for his work. He comes across as a shy photographer, but beneath that exterior is a great photographer and an even better story teller. I will be recording an episode with him for the show shortly.
  18. Pat Flynn: One of my goals this year was to explore and create a passive source of income and when I was looking for ideas, I stumbled upon Pat Flynn and I have never looked back. I listen to every single podcast episode that he puts out. I love his honesty and the single minded focus on his niche and his audience. He is interesting, curious and honest in a way I have rarely seen. Follow him if you are looking to creating a passive income for yourself.
  19. Michael Hyatt: I don’t remember who introduced me to Michael’s work but since I did, I have fallen in love with his work. His podcast episodes are interesting, insightful and full of practical tips that we can implement in our lives immediately. Follow him if you are looking to succeed in life and not just in business.
  20. Todd Henry: I was blown away when I read the book Die Empty. Since then I have followed the work of Todd and have never been disappointed. He talks about the stuff that it takes for us to be creative on demand, which is a key skill in the knowledge economy that we live in. He is fast, creative and full of practical advice. You should follow him and his podcast if you are a creative and are on your way to success.
  21. Mike Michalowicz: I have been a subscriber to Mike’s blog for the last couple of years but I really discovered him and his work this year. He is not only a great entrepreneur, author (Profit First, The Pumpkin Plan and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur) but a great story teller. His energy and enthusiasm is contagious and his insights on entrepreneurship is simply mind-blowing. He is funny, witty, insightful and interesting, all at the same time. He agreed to be on the show and the episode will air shortly (you can check out the unedited conversation here). If you are running a small business and are looking for solid advice & practical tips on how to grow your business and its profitability, you must follow his work.
  22. Daniel Kahnemann: I had heard about Daniel Kahnemann and his work being used as a reference in many books including “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely (i did not include him because I have read almost all his work in the past couple of years). However, I truly understood the significance of this nobel prize winning author when I listened to his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow“. I was just blown away by the comprehensiveness of the book and the insights that was shared in the book. If you are in the business of influencing decisions made by others, you MUST read his book. I would be really lucky to host him on my show.
  23. Dan and Chip Heath: I first came across their book “Made to Stick” and was so blown away that i had to buy and read all their work (Switch & Decisive). I have since become a big fan of their approach of writing a book. They have simple exercises at the end of chapters which helps you not only understand the concepts but also practice them. I do look forward to hosting them on my show sometime soon. You must check them out if you are in the business of influencing people.
  24. Marie Forleo: I found Marie through one of her YouTube videos and have since become a big fan. Her videos are not only informative in the sense that they give practical advice on succeeding as an individual but are extremely well produced. She herself is witty, funny, extremely good looking and intelligent, all at the same time. Really love her tweetables in every video. Her ability to have fun while doing important, life changing work is what I have learnt from her.
  25. Bill McDermott: Though I work for SAP and he is the CEO of SAP, I never know about him as a person. I did not know about his career, the choices he made and the principles or values that he lives by. Reading his book Winners Dream, not only inspired me to dream big but also reinforced my commitment to the company he is leading. I now seem to know & understand his decisions much better. I do hope that i am able to work with him directly sometime and interview him for my show sometime soon.

This has been a very difficult list to put together as this year has been a year when I looked outside of my regular comfort zone and my little circle of friends and influencers to broaden my horizons and understanding.

I must say that Podcasts on iTunes, Audio books from Audible and YouTube videos played a big role in me coming face to face with most of these great people. Having a podcast (Pushing Beyond the Obvious) also helped a lot to get them to spend time with me so that i can not only read/listen to the content that they create, but also to know them as a person. That has allowed me to not only relate to their work better but also understand the context of their work.

I do look forward to continuing to follow and consume the great content that they put out but also look forward to discovering new, insanely interesting people in 2015.

IF you have a recommendation about someone whom I should follow, please share the same here as a comment and i would be really grateful to you. Also, if you think someone has influenced you a lot in 2014, it would be great if you could share about them here as well. If nothing else, this will be a public statement of gratitude for them and their work.

 

 

Social Media strategies for business


There has been a great hype around social media and how businesses can benefit from them. 

As with everything else, one needs to decide the purpose for which the business wants to use social media and how will it measure the impact on business. A few strategies that have worked well are:

  1. Social media sites as an additional sales channel: Providing specific deals for a specific period for customers who follow your posts on the social media sites (could be twitter, facebook, linkedIn or any other such sites). Dell has been highly successful in using twitter to get additional sales by creating offerings specifically tailored for its twitter followers. You can follow Dell Outlet @ http://twitter.com/#!/DellOutlet.    
  2. As a marketing channel: Businesses can use these social media sites to get the word out on all the marketing efforts. These sites can serve as an alternate advertising medium for reaching out to customers. Businesses can inform their followers on socail media about various marketing activities. In this case, these social media websites become another option to reach out a specific target of people. Artists, especially musicians have been using social media sites to successfully market their concerts.
  3. For prospecting & business development: There is a wealth of information available on the social media sites about your prospects. Use these as tools to reach out to your prospects and start the business development process with them.
  4. As a tool for increased customer engagement and interactions: One of the most important use of social media that has become really popular and successful is to create customer fan pages and allow the customers to interact with each other over your product/service. Businesses can also use these to gather direct or indirect feedback (by tracking what is being said about your product/services) that can go as inputs to your product managers. Tata DoCoMo keeps searching for tweets mentioning them and reach out to customers who mention them (http://twitter.com/#!/tatadocomo)
  5. Brand building tool: Businesses can use these tools to build a brand image for themselves as a socially responsible business. For example SAP uses facebook to showcase activities that they do as part of their corporate social responsibility (http://www.facebook.com/pages/SAP-Corporate-Social-Responsibility/125855600791778).
One can employ multiple strategies to exploit the full potential of these tools. However, as in any case, this is just another medium to engage with your customers. So, all care should be taken to ensure that your customers do not get irritated with junk or spam.

Also, each activity that one does on social media should have a core purpose and also a pre-agreed KPI to measure the success of the activity.

Businesses that tend to benefit from these tools tend to understand that these are long term commitments and are serious about the usage.