Sunday, September 26, 2021


 Over a period of more than a year after work went online, most of us professionals have reasonably figured out routines that works. But the adjustment to the new way of working isn't limited to routines, it is also about embracing new modes of communication and skills.

I was quite fascinated on reading about the concept of 'Digital Body Language' in Erica Dhawan- Author, Digital Body Language 's book by the same name.
The premise of this book is that humans rely on body language to connect and build trust, but with most of our communication now happening from behind a screen, traditional body language signals are no longer visible. The new signals and cues like how an email is written, liking a post, using emoji, responding promptly etc. have replaced traditional body language

In summary, Digital Body Language is so incredibly relevant now, something that cannot be ignored. Of it's many constituents, writing skills especially have become quite important in the digital work era.

Like building any muscle, one must constantly hone writing skills to positively augment one's Digital Body Language. How does one nurture writing skills ?

There is a plethora of advice/books available on this subject but i quite liked the ideas shared by David Perell here

Summary of key ideas included in my sketchnote. My favorite points:
1. Painters look at lots of art, musicians listen to lots of music, and writers read all the time. Read to collect ideas and get inspired.
2. Learn from the writers who inspire you. Study their tricks and imitate them. Paradoxically, imitating them will help you develop your own style.

How do you build your writing muscle ? Do share your ideas in comments.

#communication #writingskills

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 One of the most influential artists of 20th Century, Pablo Picasso, once admitted that he would not have delivered on some of his best work had it not been for another craftsman from France- Henri Matisse. Matisse, in turn, also felt the same about Picasso.

Picasso commented, “No one has ever looked at Matisse’s painting more carefully than I; and no one has looked at mine more carefully than he.” Matisse acknowledged Picasso as a partner on his march toward modernity, and borrowed from Picasso’s style.

Though they were rivals, both Matisse and Picasso leveraged their presence to make each other better.

Whether we like it or not competitive relationships show up naturally at work.
Is it necessarily a bad thing ?

Jenny M Fernandez, MBA, 费 珍妮 and Luis Velasquez MBA, PhD. in their outstanding Harvard Business Review article titled "5 Relationships You Need to Build a Successful Career" ( mention that:

"When used correctly, it (Competition)can serve as a motivation to hone and improve your skills and lead to improved performance, breakthrough ideas, and a greater drive to get things done."

They go on to further outline 5 relationships that one needs to build a successful career. They are:

1. The Mentor: Think of a mentor as the north star that will keep you on track when you’re feeling lost at work.

2. The Sponsor: You are not going to ascend in any organization without a sponsor.

3. The Partner: finding a partner is similar to finding a co-founder. You want a person who will fill the gaps in your working style.

4. The Competitor: The idea is to win, not win over.

5. The Mentee: “If you want to master something, teach it.” At work, having a mentee serves this purpose — it allows you to be the teacher.

Have included the summary of the rich perspectives shared in this article in my sketchnote. Would highly recommend reading through it.

Which of the work relationships resonate the most with you ?

#leadership #careers #workrelationships

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 The ongoing Tennis Grand Slam, French Open, is jinxed in a way. Quite a few top players had to leave the tournament. Notable among those- Roger Federer and Naomi Osaka.

Roger withdrew due to injury concerns post his 2 knee surgeries.

Naomi pulled out after taking a stand against press conferences as a source of anxiety and stress for her.

Summarizing in 2 sentences, the learnings for us professionals-
Listen to your body. Listen to your mind.

Out of these, imperfect mental health is often referred as an invisible illness. An invisible illness is the one that does not exhibit externally visible signs or symptoms. In my opinion, Naomi displayed an extraordinary courage and self-awareness to acknowledge her mental health condition in public and took action. Most of us professionals, in the daily hustle bustle of life, go unawares on these issues or simply choose to ignore the signs our mind is giving us.

How do we minimize the mental health issues ?
Utkarsh Rai is his phenomenal video- Covid-19 VACCINE for MIND, one Jab for MENTAL HEALTH gives a refreshing perspective, and conveniently applicable solutions to minimize the mental health occurrences.
Would highly recommend going through this ~5 min video.

In summary, Utkarsh refers that "In the last 1 decade, voice traffic has grown mere 88% but the data traffic has grown 14000% as per Ericsson's data". The ubiquity of the data traffic has led to changing behaviors in humans. We have started to text more, talk less. And this behavior change has led to emotions being bottled up (sending emojis is not equal to sending emotions) causing the mental health issues to implode in recent times. He makes a welcome suggestion (and offer strategies) to pick up phone and talk more than simply choosing to text.

My summary of this insightful video with sane advices in the sketchnote below.

What do you think ?


#mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness

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Till early 2000s, Britain had a pretty ordinary performance (by its own standards) in Cycling events at Olympics. By then, it had just won 1 Gold medal in 76 years. But by 2008 Olympics, Britain won 7 Gold medals on offer in track cycling and repeated this performance in 2012 Olympics.

What really changed ?
One, it was leadership. Dave Brailsford was appointed as a head of British cycling in early 200Os.

Second, was an approach that Dave introduced. The approach was called as 'The aggregation of marginal gains'. It came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.

Two examples (among many) where Dave applied this principle:
1. Hired a surgeon to teach athletes about proper hand-washing so as to avoid illnesses during competition. The team didn't shake any hands during the Olympics.
2. To gradually improve athlete's sleep cycles/postures, they brought our own mattresses and pillows.

The whole idea was to think small, not big, and adopt a philosophy of continuous improvement through the aggregation of marginal gains. More than perfection; focus on progression, and compound the improvements. It allowed team to search for improvements everywhere and they found countless opportunities.

Can you apply the aggregation of marginal gains at work ?
Of course, you can. It takes a bit of a contrarian approach of thinking small, finding micro-opportunities for improvement, and being patient while allowing the improvements to compound. I call this contrarian approach as this approach shuns instant gratification thinking (that's at the root of many problems professional's face today).

How can you learn more ? I have included summary of 2 books in my sketchnote which i found relevant in this regard. Atomic Habits by James Clear and One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer

Do share your thoughts in comments. #kaizen #atomichabits #leadership

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 Did you know that Sleep and Rest are not the same thing. We often try to fix lack of energy by getting more sleep — only to end up still feeling exhausted.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith ~ Work-Life Integration Strategist in her TED talk unshackles many such myths about rest.
She looks at the concept of rest in a holistic way suggesting that there are 7 types: 

1. Physical: Passive physical rest- sleeping and napping. Active physical rest -restorative activities such as yoga, stretching.

2. Mental: Schedule short breaks to occur every 2hours throughout your workday.

3. Sensory: Plan off-screen time. Intentional moments of sensory deprivation. Close your eyes for a minute in the middle of the day.

4. Creative: Turn your workspace into a place of inspiration by displaying images of places you love and works of art that speak to you.

5. Emotional: Have the time and space to freely express your feelings and cut back on people pleasing.

6. Social: Surround yourself with positive and supportive people.

7. Spiritual: Engage in something greater than yourself and add prayer, meditation or community involvement to your daily routine.

Catch the summary of the talk my sketchnote but would urge you to spend ~9 min to listen to it. More than ever the concept of rest needs to be understood and inculcated in today's times.

Embrace holistic rest and help yourself do the best work you can.

(This sketchnote is a replug. Resharing, simply because it's need of the hour and the positive messages needs to be amplified) #mentalhealth #rest #wellbeing #productivity #personaleffectiveness

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 In his book, "Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs", Apple Inventor Ken Kocienda narrates a relatable story.

Ken was disappointed at not been given the managerial position after successfully delivering Safari browser project. He got an offer from Google. At this stage, his VP reached out to him and understood what made him tick and assured that he wouldn't want Ken to leave. Though there wasn't any managerial positions open at that time, he got in a new project (about making Web email work with Apple mail, which had the visibility at Steve Jobs' level).

During the execution of the project, he was faced with a typical technical issue where he wasn't able to place the cursor at the right place when the user chose to reply via HTML. On surface, this seemed like an easy problem but deep within, it had various nuances that needed to be taken care of. Feeling struck, he reached out to his old manager (who over-looked him for managerial position). He suggested to seek guidance of 2 of the senior colleagues, which helped him solve the issue.

In the hindsight, his manager could have simply let his ego overtake himself and not helped him or his VP could have chosen not talk to him. None of these situations happened.

Unlike most technology decisions where you have a right answer and a wrong one, communication and people do not operate with a binary mindset.

When it comes to people, there are far many variables at play least of which are motivations, emotions, personal situations, backgrounds, context under which they are operating.

Great communicators exhibit exemplary emotional intelligence. They show situational awareness, they show empathy and maturity in not letting their egos overtake them.

What is your take/experience ?

On these lines, sharing my sketchnote of the thoughts shared by harsh goenka over twitter #communication #emotionalintellegence

My Sketchnote:

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