Saturday, October 30, 2010

Making a Difference

Making a Difference
“Don’t fail to do something just because you can’t do everything.”

You’re probably familiar with the starfish story, the one about all the starfish that had been washed up on the beach during high tide only to be left there in the sand to die as the tide went back out.  A young boy playing on the beach recognized the fate of the starfish and began to methodically pick them up one at a time and toss them back into the sea.  A man who had been observing the boy approached him shaking his head.  “What’s the point, boy, don’t you see there are thousands of these starfish lying along the beach?  There’s no way you’re going to make a difference.” Undaunted, the boy replied to the man as he tossed another starfish into the ocean, “Yeah, but it made a difference to that one.”   

During World War II my grandmother committed herself to writing letters to servicemen stationed overseas, primarily to those who at one time had been students in the Sunday school class she taught.  Now, my grandmother’s letters were no small feat.  They were labours of love, written in her small handwriting on multiple pages front and back and often times around the edges.  In them she would share news from home, stories she remembered about that person’s family and childhood, and offer words of encouragement and inspiration.  Each letter she composed represented hours of tedious work.  Yet, I doubt seriously that my grandmother’s letter writing made much of a difference in defeating Hitler and saving the world. But I am pretty sure it made a difference to each one of those servicemen who received them, maybe to some it made ALL the difference.   

Too often, I’m afraid, we find ourselves overwhelmed by the challenges and problems that exist in our lives and the world around us, becoming paralysed by the enormity of it all. We’re like the man observing the boy on the beach tossing starfish back in the sea.  “What’s the point?” we ask ourselves.  “Surely my little contribution won’t make any difference.”  Oh, but it does!  In fact, for some it might make ALL the difference. 

So . . . “Don’t fail to do something just because you can’t do everything.”     

By The Numbers

My son and I really enjoy the television drama “Numbers” on Friday nights. It’s a thinking show where a genius FBI agent applies complex mathematical methods to solve crimes. I cannot vouch for its realism, but it seems really cool. So, it got me thinking. Why not share some interesting numbers (minus the complex calculations) with you? Take heart – no math degree required here.   

1 – Thought, word or action can change the world.   

We each have the power to create a positive ripple, affecting many people many miles away. We can change the world of those around us. This also creates a powerful ripple effect inside each of us – it feels good! As Zig Ziglar says, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”   

3 – Hours of reading per day that Zig Ziglar still invests to this day!   

A reader is a leader.   

8 – Years the average person spends eating during their lifetime.   

Learn to quit managing your time… and manage your attention.   

10 – Positive customer experiences required to counteract a single negative customer
Service Where it Counts provides practical tips for front line service excellence.   

28 – Years the average person spends sleeping over the course of a lifetime.   

Hey, that’s not all bad! Learn to Quit Moving… and Be Still.   

45 – Percent of those who read an e-newsletter who read it from start to finish.   

That’s why I try to keep ‘em interesting!   

52 – Years old when Ray Kroc founded McDonald’s.

It’s never too late to start working on your dream!   

55 – Percent of web users who will watch a video (up to 30 minutes in length!) from start to finish.   

If you cannot make it through this newsletter watch my You Tube channel.   

65 – Percent of workers report receiving no recognition for good work in the previous year according to a Harris Poll.   

We do more for those who appreciate us. So, challenge yourself to sincerely and specifically recognize at least three positive contributions each day (i.e., “Hey, Jack, great tie!” does not count). I know you will see the difference in your team’s discretionary effort if you take
70 – Percent of New Year’s resolutions that fail within a month.   

Focus x Competence x Passion = Adherence (our ability to stick to our plans).   

100 – Percent of the time that someone who perseveres will win.   

Sticking to It has practical tips to help you consistently execute your plans. Babe Ruth said, “It’s hard to beat a guy who never gives up.”   

50,000 – Screaming girls I was with for my 22nd wedding anniversary.   

My wife and I took our family to the Jonas Brothers concert, which happened to fall on our anniversary!   

Infinity – People who help us succeed along the way.   

Success is not a solitary achievement. It is achieved with the help of others along the way.   

Until next time, one million good wishes! 


Mouth and money

Mouth and money
There is infinite wisdom in old sayings. Put your money where your mouth is, is one such useful advice for all politicians who habitually put their mouth where money is. The idea of a right to food in one of the hungriest nations is good. However, as we have said before with respect to other such “rights” handed down in India, any legal binding on government must be matched by its capacity to deliver. Without that capacity, rights and laws remain on paper, generate legal activism and, worse, public cynicism. Hence, to carry conviction about the proposed food security legislation, prepared by the National Advisory Council, state governments have to put in place a public distribution system (PDS) that can deliver food to those who need it and seek it. India’s PDS remains patchy and geographically skewed — more prevalent where it is less needed and virtually absent where it is most needed. The proposed legislation makes access to subsidised food a legally enforceable right for about 75 per cent of the country’s population, much of which is undernourished. In a break from the past, it does away with the categorisation of households as antyodaya (poorest of the poor), below poverty line (BPL) and above poverty line (APL). Instead, it proposes just two broad categories — “priority” and “general” — for the sale of subsidised food. While the priority households will be entitled to 35 kg of foodgrains per month at Rs 3 a kg for rice, Rs 2 for wheat and Rs 1 for millets, the general category will get 20 kg at less than half of the minimum support price (MSP) of the respective cereals.

Ironically, the proposed law, in fact, reduces the scope of the PDS since it is not universal like the existing PDS is in theory. The benchmarks for fixing prices of different foodgrains meant for the general category households will be the MSPs of these grains and not the actual economic cost of the grains to the government which is generally far higher as it includes post-procurement market levies, handling, storage and transport costs. This would effectively mean substantial lowering of the cost of foodgrains (read higher food subsidy) for the non-poor from the present levels. Apart from such inherent problems in the proposed law, the Union Minister for Food and Agriculture, Sharad Pawar, has raised valid doubts about the government’s ability to procure, stock and supply the required grains to work the system, especially given stagnation in output and productivity in recent years. A food security system based on imported food would be disastrous, taking India back to the era of “ship to mouth” existence. Hopefully, these issues will be addressed and the government will not willy-nilly put the cart before the horse, so to speak (another wise sayin

The ABC’s of Love

The ABC’s of Love

Psychiatrist Louis B. Cady of Evansville, Indiana, gives us the ABC’s of love as it relates to our children.  When I read this I knew that I wanted to share it with my readers.  Enjoy!
Accept your child–not as perfect, not as a “model,” but as a basically good kid.
Be there!  You can’t be absent all the time, nor can you show your interest or love for your child if you aren’t present.  Be there for football games, dance recitals and the like.
Care for your child.  Even when s(he) messes up!
Discipline; don’t punish.  It takes “guts” to discipline; it only takes a “wimp” of a parent to let kids get by with anything.
Expect the best: Generally, you’ll get what you expect (bad or good).
Family–the centre around which the child’s life should revolve.  School, friends and games are the “planets” which should circle around the “sun” of the family.
God/Spiritual – pick yours carefully; there will ALWAYS be a “god” of something in your and your family’s life.  Make sure it’s a good one.  This doesn’t mean you have to be a  ”super-Christian” or go to church seven days a week.  It DOES mean that you must instil some sense of spirituality, moral order, and ethics in your child.
Honesty–the bedrock of good character. Make sure you demonstrate it by example.
Interest–in your child.  If you aren’t interested, the friendly local drug pusher will be.
Joy– in raising children, watching them develop, being a part of their lives, seeing them turn out as wonderful adults.
Kindness–in discipline and relationships with your kids.  Avoid harshness or punitiveness.
Listen!  Frequently, YOU are wrong.  You are a parent, not God, and certainly not infallible.
Motivate–don’t intimidate.
NO to negativity!  Be positive!  Any dummy can be negative about things that anyone else does, especially kids.  Look for the good in your child and emphasize it.  Things that are focused on and emphasized get bigger and stronger.
Open to questions and concerns of your child; be open to examine your own actions and motivations, as well.
Practice (makes perfect); you can mess up, and you don’t have to be perfect.  Just don’t make a habit of it.  Learn from your mistakes.
Question; interact–your child will not always tell you unless you ask and demonstrate interest.
Reason with your teenager; don’t demand or command arrogantly when there is a disagreement.  If you must, discipline, but not until you have attempted reason.
Say your feelings–your child is not telepathic.  It’s also important to frequently “say” your feelings of love and affection.
Touch–your child with hugs and kisses. Hugs are appropriate for virtually all ages. Don’t be embarrassed, and don’t get out of the “HUG HABIT”!
Unity–as a family.  Don’t allow splits or divisions to develop between warring “factions.”
Value your time together–you won’t have it forever.
Wonder at the priceless gift of your lives together–you will value it more and do more with it.
X marks the spot for your treasure: the home and your family.
You–the critical person who must show your efforts, caring, affection, interest, honesty.  Don’t wait to respond; INITIATE!
Zero— the serious problems you will have in your and your teenager’s life if you follow these principles.

Based on his research and practice, Dr. Cady believes this alphabet of love will make a positive difference in your child and your relationship with that child. 


First-aid for Burns - Have a safe Diwal

Here is wishing you a safe Diwali. India sees the maximum number of burn accidents during Diwali. Here is a ready reckoner just in case there is an accident near you. Your quick action can save lives and alleviate suffering for people around you. Remember to keep a bucket of water close by when lighting crackers.

Burns destroy skin, which controls the amount of heat our bodies retain or release, holds in fluids, and protects us from infection. While minor burns on fingers and hands are usually not dangerous, burns injuring even relatively small areas of skin can develop serious complications. If you think a burn of any type is significant, do not hesitate to call an ambulance immediately.

Here are the first aid steps for treating a burn.

STAY SAFE! Do not let the rescuer get burned trying to save the victim.

Cool the burned area with cool running water for several minutes. DO NOT overcool the casualty; this may dangerously lower the body temperature.

DO NOT remove anything sticking to the burn; this may cause further damage and cause infection.

DO NOT touch or interfere with the injured area. DO NOT burst blisters.

DO NOT apply lotions, ointment, or fat to the injury.

Gently remove any rings, watches, belts, shoes, or smouldering clothing from the injured area, before it starts to swell. Carefully remove burned clothing unless it is sticking to the burn.

Cover the injury with a sterile burns sheet or other suitable non-fluffy material, to protect from infection. A clean plastic bag or kitchen film may be used. Burns to the face should be cooled with water, not covered.

Ensure that the emergency service is on its way. While waiting, treat the casualty for shock. Monitor and record breathing and pulse, and resuscitate, if necessary.

Three Rules for turning Stress into Success

1. Accept the Unchangeable:

Everything that has happened in your life to this minute is unchangeable. It's history. The greatest waste of energy is in looking back at missed opportunities, lamenting past events, grudge collecting, getting even, harbouring ill will, and any vengeful thinking. Success is the only acceptable form of revenge. By forgiving your trespassers, you become free to concentrate on going forward with your life and succeeding in spite of your detractors. You will live a rewarding and fulfilling life.  Your enemies, on the other hand, will forever wonder how you went on to become so successful without them and in the shadow of their doubts.

2. Change the Changeable:
What you can change is your reaction to what others say and do. And you can control your own thoughts and actions by dwelling on desired results instead of the penalties of failure. The only real control you have in life is that of your immediate thoughts and actions. Since most of what we do is a reflex, subconscious habit, it is wise not to act on emotional impulse. In personal relations, it is better to wait a moment until reason has the opportunity to compete with your emotions.

3. Avoid the Unacceptable:

Go out of your way to get out of the way of potentially dangerous behaviours and environments. When people tailgate you on the freeway, change lanes. If they follow you at night, drive to a well-lighted public place. When there are loud, obnoxious people next to you at a restaurant or club, change tables or locations. Also, be cautious of personal relationships developed via the Internet. With the massive number of individuals surfing the net, the number of predators increases in like proportion. Always be on the alert for potentially dangerous situations involving your health, personal safety, financial speculation and emotional relationships.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Paid news a big threat to democracy.

  Paid news during elections has become a big threat to democracy. Even as politicians are guilty of subverting democracy, media houses are entering
    into clandestine deals with candidates and political parties.

    THE report of the Press Council of India's (PCI) Committee on Paid News needs to be appreciated. The problem is not new. Anyone with money or power - high net worth individuals, corporations, powerful trusts in health, education and so on, and people in power - always had some degree of influence. They could control advertisement revenue flows to a particular media house.

    There is also a natural reluctance to take on the rich and powerful. For instance, Professors from a leading Business School in the US say in private that it is not advisable to expose the dealings of some of the big corporations in India. Here we look at only one aspect of it - paid news during elections.

    The phenomenon existed for at least a decade, but recent exposures by the media and the PCI's detailed report show the extent to which it has spread.

    We ask three simple questions. What are the roots of this problem? How does this affect good governance? What if anything can be done about it? The roots of the problem are clear. Both the media and the political system need money. On the one hand, there is intense competition in the media with hundreds of newspapers, magazines and TV channels. They are under pressure to earn profits. Some of the reporters, journalists and editors are also exposed to temptation when money is offered. Beyond individual corruption, media houses are entering into clandestine deals with candidates and political parties.

    On the other hand, elections have become a very high stakes game as candidates and parties pour in huge sums of money to ensure a win. There is a proliferation of political parties, spending more and more money to woo smaller and smaller vote banks. For a fraction of what they spend on wooing voters, they can buy some sections of the media. The roots are, therefore, in the intense competition and complete commercialisation of media and politics. This was inevitable, and the trend was clear for several years. We as a society did not sufficiently anticipate how big the problem would become.

    The impact of paid news during elections and its long-term implications also need to be clearly understood. Debates on paid news seem confined to the English media. The majority of voters in the country are exposed to the Indian language media. Selected candidates or political parties are built up by the media. Political parties or their leaders own newspapers and TV channels. In this situation, there is a good chance that voters are influenced.

    While we can debate the extent of money involved and its influence on the eventual outcome, the real question is: what kind of governance can we expect from someone who wins using dubious means? They are either the rich and powerful, or people who will stop at nothing to further their ends. Once in power, they will use it to recover their investments, and to manipulate the system in the interests of those who support them.

    High stakes, high investment elections have become the norm. Big money was perhaps always ready to accommodate those in power, a few honourable exceptions apart. But now they find that the balance has tipped - they need not humour those in power. Those in power are now eager to humour them.

    Big money is also flirting with directly entering politics instead of merely manipulating it from behind. This is a dangerous tipping point in the life of a nation, and we have reached it. In a two-part nation like ours, with India and Bharat on different sides, the implications are not difficult to see. On the one hand, politics will increasingly become populist, with more subsidies and concessions to vote blocks. That is because we have a very fragmented political system with small vote banks, and those in power often do not have the stamina or political strength to tackle the real problems of the country. They find it easier to build vote banks.

    On the other hand, there will be further sell out to corporate interests. This is not to paint the entire corporate sector as greedy and manipulative. But sections of it are definitely putting pressure on governments to bend rules, get tax concessions and get new laws passed. We will also see bigger and bigger mega projects coming up (that is already happening) involving huge sums of money. If the government cannot pay for it, we will use the PPP (Public Private Partnership) model, with some deals clearly favouring the investor over the consumer.

    Large-scale scams periodically hit the headlines. And the recent Commonwealth Games is only a case in point. Behind all this, the problem of black money will further spiral upwards. The real danger ahead is whether we will end up tarring the moral fabric of our society itself. In short, paid news contributes significantly to bad governance.

    Tackling the problem of paid news is not easy, and even if we succeed, the nexus between money and power will not entirely go away. One radical solution is to change the structure of media from a profit-making one, to a not-for-profit model, either as a society or trust, much like educational and religious organisations.

    There is also a crying need for more credible, honest media houses that are independent of big money and power. The Press Council of India's detailed report also has some excellent suggestions, and we need to consider them seriously. It includes an enforceable code of conduct, complete and transparent disclosure of paid news, inclusion of the electronic media under the PCI's jurisdiction, disclosure of all interests and share holdings of the media house and its owners, and strengthening the Election Commission to tackle this issue during elections. With the political system and the judiciary under a cloud, we cannot afford to soft-peddle the issue of media reforms.


I just walked out of a nice, new restaurant where I enjoyed a delicious meal.  The food was fairly priced, magnificently prepared, and effectively presented by a friendly waiter.  He was prompt and business-like and did his job extremely well.

Obviously, that is the kind of experience we all hope for when we walk into a restaurant.  I'm happy to say that in this particular case it got even better.  The young man who waited on me added one last touch which was very important and is seldom done: I paid with my credit card and when he came back and presented me with the receipt to sign, he again smiled pleasantly and said, "Thank you very much, Mr. Ziglar.  It's nice to have you with us."

Question: How much time did it take for him to learn my name by reading it on the credit card?  You probably will agree it took no time, and yet in most cases when I pay by credit card in a restaurant, the wait person will simply say, "Thank you, come back again, and have a nice day."  Little things really do make a difference.

It is my conviction that if the wait person will always look at the name and, when they present the sales slip to be signed, just say "Thank you," and then call the customer by name, I can guarantee that not only will it benefit the restaurant, but the chances of the tip being larger will go up. In the incident I described above, that's exactly what happened.  I added 10% to the tip.

I'm constantly amazed that owners and managers of all businesses don't train their people to call the person by name. It definitely makes the customer feel good and will be a factor in bringing them back to your place of business.

"where you sit is also important."

To be honest, I could have started this column with "where you sit is also important."  The reality is that where you sit influences where you stand, but where you stand has a direct bearing on where you sit.  Let me explain.

In our business and governmental world, each one of us is influenced by the position we occupy in the organization as to how we will feel about certain projects that are brought to the decision table.  For example, the research and development department and the sales department like to spend money to develop new products.  On the other hand, the accounting department would probably feel that, in view of the economy, they should be more cautious in investing funds which might not produce a return for a long time.  That's where the decision-making process is so important.  All factors have to be weighed and analysed as to the long-range best interests of the company. Once the facts are in, the decision has to be made and that decision will affect the entire company.  That's the reason input from everyone involved is important.

It's also true that where a person stands influences to a very large degree where they sit.  Research very clearly indicates that people who take a stand for what is right, build on an ethical, moral base and stand on principle, are the ones who end up in the upper echelons of business.  When you put these two factors together, it simply means that the person of integrity (and, obviously, experience and ability) is going to be the one who is most likely to end up making those all-important decisions about the best place to put the company time and resources.  It's still true that the best way is the right way, or the right way is the best way.

"There is only one person who is capable to set limits to your growth:

One day not too long ago the employees of a large company in St. Louis, Missouri returned from their lunch break and were greeted with a sign on the front door. The sign said: "Yesterday the person who has been hindering your growth in this company passed away. We invite you to join the funeral in the room that has been prepared in the gym."

At first everyone was sad to hear that one of their colleagues had died, but after a while they started getting curious about who this person might be. The excitement grew as the employees arrived at the gym to pay their last respects. Everyone wondered: "Who is this person who was hindering my progress? Well, at least he's no longer here!"

One by one the employees got closer to the coffin and when they looked inside it they suddenly became speechless. They stood over the coffin, shocked and in silence, as if someone had touched the deepest part of their soul.

There was a mirror inside the coffin: everyone who looked inside it could see himself. There was also a sign next to the mirror that said:

"There is only one person who is capable to set limits to your growth: it is YOU."

YOU are the only person who can revolutionize your life.

YOU are the only person who can influence your happiness, your realization and your success.

YOU are the only person who can help yourself.

Your life does not change when your boss changes, when your friends change, when your parents change, when your partner changes, when your company changes.

Your life changes when YOU change, when you go beyond your limiting beliefs, when you realize that YOU ARE the only one responsible for your life.


According to a study I read, the way we look has a direct bearing on our paycheque. Employment data from 7,000 adults was analysed. Interviewers divided the group according to looks and then compared what those working similar jobs in each category were paid. Those who were below average in appearance earned less than those rated "average." Those who rated average earned less than those who were rated "above average."

Appearance includes many things. The style and neatness of your clothing, the shine on your shoes, the crease in your shirt, your choice of colours, and a host of other things affect your "appearance rating." The way you fix your hair, your make-up, and all the elements of your personal grooming make a contribution.

However, the biggest factor is the smile on your face, followed closely by your attitude and sense of humour. A good sense of humour and a positive attitude are particularly important as you move into the upper echelons of business. The reality is that people promote people. Evidence is solid that when everything else is equal, we will promote the person we like versus the one about whom we might feel either neutral or negative almost regardless of their skills.

The question is, who do we like? I believe you'll agree that the people who are pleasant, cheerful and optimistic are easier to like than the ones who are inclined to be dour and even negative in their approach to life.

It's also true that the cheerful, optimistic person is going to get more done and will have more cooperation from his or her fellow workers than will the negative individual. It's a practical matter that employers seek those who "fit," get more done, and are pleasant to be around. So let your "Sunday best" appearance include a smile, a great attitude and an easy sense of humour.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why should we deeply care about our inner feelings?

Eyes and ears that seek evil, tongue that craves to malign, nose that enjoys the foul, and hands that delight in wickedness—these must be totally avoided. Whoever has any of these must correct them immediately. Or else, one’s future is bound to be disastrous. The wrongs of the five indriyas (senses) will result in the destruction of the five pranas (vital energies) and the killing of the five koshas (sheaths of existence). Of course, the senses yield momentary pleasure and joy but, as the saying goes, “senility lies in wait.” Sensual pleasures bring about great grief quite soon.

Why is it critical to have an open mind with everyone?

It is quite a common occurrence that stories of the Divine are narrated and heard by gatherings of thousands. But Jnana (wisdom) can be achieved only by placing complete faith in what is heard. That faith must result in a cleansed mind, a pure heart.  Whoever listens to the Lord's narrative and imbibes the nectar therein with a heart bubbling over with yearning for the Divine, with unshakeable faith in God, they will attain constant joy and Self-realisation. This is beyond the realm of doubt.

SOCH VICHAR: What is the nature of our minds?

SOCH VICHAR: What is the nature of our minds?: "The mind is engaged in two activities: alochana or planning, andsambhashana or dialogue. Both these follow different lines. Planning is inte..."

What is the barometer of the path chosen by the intelligent?

Liberation is the realisation of awareness, achievement of oneness with the Divine. Each and every living being has to attain this consummation, this goal - the Brahman. That is its true destination. Some day or the other, the urge to win release from the shackles of grief and joy, and the bonds of “I” and “mine” will awaken and emerge. The path that is taken then inevitably leads to freedom (moksha). Seeking that path is the sign of the intelligent person.  Instead of this search, when one considers the objective world as all-important and feels drawn toward its charm, life is barren and is of no consequence.