Lemon and Life

When life gives you lemons

You are supposed to make lemonade. Now that’s a supposition.

Unfortunately everyone gets these lemons, asked or unasked for. It’s like they are in great demand in the Nature, I mean the metaphorical one.

Well, I too got, and keep getting. In my case it seems like there is a constant steady supply of lemons. I guess before I was created, Nature probably had an X-amount of lemons allocated, rather reserved, specifically for me. Well, that I guess can’t be undone. Too late. So all I got is to be creative in handling, or say, managing these lemon shots.

Ok then, what do I do when one is thrown/shot at me? They are generally not gracefully handed over. They just hit you. Bang and there you go.

Well, no point throwing back. It can hit someone else and that someone else’s response is not in my control. The person may choose to remain silent, or may opt to throw back the same lemon or orange or watermelon, no clue. The impact is directly proportional to the distance and the angle and the size of whatever the person selects to throw. I think that is not a pleasant scenario.

Next, I can choose to ignore, and then what? The lemon decays, from sour to bitter to forget-it situation. Again, not a pretty scenario. Sour is still better than bitter or the decayed version.

What more, make lemonade? Yeah, an interesting option—from plain sour to sour-n-sweet or sour-salt-n-sweet. The control of taste is up to you. And the control comes with learning. You may not get the right taste at the first time. You get to right my making a few mistakes (or may be many) and then never repeating those again. Combined with a lot patience and practice. Later, once you have mastered the skill, you can make the drink more interesting by adding other ingredients to suit your taste, mood or that of the people served (can be target audience if it is work related.)

Pie or Tart are some other options. But as of now, I am not into cooking (that much). Hence, lemonade and its variants suit me just fine.

As a kid I loved playing lemon and spoon. Interesting race it was. I use to win a lot then. Balance, vision and approach play a significant role if you want to win that race. Lemon can fall, spoon can slip, you may fall and get hurt, teeth may hurt (even break), tongue may feel odd, mouth may go numb and so on and so forth. Then I did not realize its significance in my future. I think Nature was training me in some sort. It was like, “Listen kid, you and lemon go a long way, so…get set go!” And I still play lemon and spoon mentally before deciding on finally making the lemonade. It helps in creative thinking or design thinking on why and how and what and where and who and when. I can now manage lemon and spoon and lemonade, all simultaneously.

Over the years, I have made Lemon my best friend. Good source of Vitamin C, enhances immunity and adds taste to my life!

So yeah, that’s the story of Me and Lemon.
Now, Me and Melon…I got to explore that section…someday in future I may write on Melon and Life!
No. Not played Melon and Spoon and I don’t plan to either.

Till then, take care. Enjoy lemonade. And Stay Safe.

BTW: In the image, it’s Lemon Tang. I told you. Design thinking!

LemonAndLife_AshuBlogs_Panoramaa

…Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

‘Me’dical Writing, and the journey begins…

More than once, I have been asked to guide on a career as a Medical Writer and why I chose this field. It is difficult to address each and everyone’s query as some are on Messenger, some on Email, some on LinkedIn, etc etc etc. Therefore, I have decided to write a piece on the topic so that it is easy for me to reply all queries just via a link, and those concerned, get the answer.

Let me begin with my journey, which is incomplete without giving a background on how I decided to opt for Medical Writing. This one is going to be a long write up. Have patience.

Part-I: Me vs The Universe

It starts post HSC (High School – Science: Year 1999), I completed my graduation in Alternative Medicine—Bachelors in Homoeopathic Medicine and Surgery (BHMS) from SCMPH Medical College, Vile Parle, Mumbai. It is one of the best Homoeopathic Medical Colleges in India and I think even in Asia. The plan was to do MBBS and try to be a surgeon; but the Universe had other plans for me, I guess.

In the year 1999, MH-CET, a common entrance test, was introduced. Prior to this, admissions to medical colleges were based on High School 12th Grades gross percentage for the subjects Physics-Chemistry-Biology (PCB), may be Math (M), English and Hindi/Marathi were considered for overall aggregate percentage. It was PCM was for engineering admissions.

Well, back to the year 1999, at home, I got the permission to study but in Mumbai City, my residence city. And hence based on my MH-CET rank and also that I took admission in the second round1, I landed up taking admission in a medical college at a distance of 30 minutes via road from my house. It was then one of the two (alternative) medical colleges in the Western Suburbs of Mumbai. Rest all medical colleges (Modern Medicine and/or Alternative Medicine) then were situated in South Mumbai, also famously known as the town side.

Post completing BHMS, I wanted to pursue a post graduation in Medical Science but not an MD in Homoeopathic Medicine. I wasn’t prepared to go into full-time clinical practice. In 2005, I enrolled for MSc in Clinical Research (ICRI-Mumbai affiliated to Cranfield University, UK). Why? Because it was a revision of Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Surgery & Medicine for me, and the course covered Pharmacology, something which is missing in BHMS syllabus, ideally should have been covered or else a student’s knowledge on Modern Medicine gets limited as it is left for self-study. Plus, MSc in Clinical Research gave me insight into the Clinical Research domain. Now, in the last term of this two-year program, I decided to be a Medical Writer as that suited me best rather than be a Clinical Research Coordinator or Clinical Research Associate or Data Expert or other career options which the course offered.

Despite being one of the best students, I could not get job though campus placement. My bad luck is pretty high in life.  I never get anything without struggle. You will find me and the Universe in a perpetual state of argument without coming to an understanding. What it offers, I don’t understand. What I want, I am never offered.

Nevertheless, I started looking for a job in the Newspaper and on Job Portals, and somehow the Universe was a little kind, and I landed up with a job of a Medical Writer in Mumbai. But there is a twist here. The job was not in a Pharmaceutical Company or Clinical Research Organization (CRO) as I had hoped, but in an Advertising Agency. My planning is another thing which the Universe never approves. No clue why.

Since I was a fresher with no published article with my name or byline, or any formal training in Mass Communication, there was no negotiation for the salary. What was offered I took and what was offered was significantly low (very very low that took care of my travelling via public transport and simple food expense. I stayed with and still stay at my parents’ home. Not out of choice, more so because of so-called societal norms, of which, I am not a big fan but my mom thinks otherwise, always did and will continue to do so, I guess) in comparison to my peers who got job through campus placement. Well, they were the lucky lot.

And that’s how I got my first job as a Medical Writer in a Healthcare Advertising Agency, in the year 2007, after 8.5 years of post high school education with a salary that just did not justify the years spent in academics.

Part-II: Destiny? Choice? Both?

Now, what I did as a Medical Writer in a Healthcare Advertising Agency? Answer is both Medical Writing and Copy Writing. So it was medicine combined with creativity to send the message to the target audience. Healthcare ad agency has Pharma Companies, Medical Device Companies, Hospitals, Diagnostic Centres, Nutritional Products, etc as clients. So I was ideating, writing and editing very scientific copy as well as creative lines/copy for product/service promotion. In short, I was Design Thinking right from my first job–a term that I came across only three years back during MBA sessions.

The work was either B2B – Business to Business or B2C – Business to Consumer communication creation. I had to write catering to both of Business Systems here. If the client brief was clear, then the copy gets approved very quickly. Unfortunately that was and is almost never the case. Therefore, be prepared to work on one brief for at least 3 to 5 times if you are a fresher. Your copy gets rejected till the client approves, which you are to ensure as each client is important business that brings money to your agency and hence your pay. Well, honest answer, each rejection tames your ego because your best idea is trashed and so is a bit of your ego. It was a good ego taming exercise. You have to work very closely with the Copy Writers, Copy Editors, Proofreaders, Creative/Graphics Team, Digital Team, Printers, Vendors, Client Servicing Team, Product Managers (if the agency has that department), and occasionally, ‘The Client’. Also, the working hours depends on the project deadline. If you want a sharp 9 am to 5 pm job and weekends free, then I doubt this is the right choice. There are times when the team works overnight and throughout the weekends to ensure the deliverable is on time, especially during Product Launches and other Events.

My creative side got a boost here. I was a good Medical Writer and not-so-bad Copy Writer! I got a decent appraisal post six months, which allowed me to eat once in a while in a good restaurant but again on splitting-bill basis. Paying the entire group bill was still a long way to go.

Next job was in a website company – a Healthcare Website as a Medical Content Developer. It was in 2008, and I got 100 percent raise. Not bad at the time of economic recession. But my previous pay itself was low, so this wasn’t great amount, but I was grateful. I could pay the entire food bill if I was in a group. The office was closer to my residence saving the travel time. Universe was a little kind this time.

What I did here? Well, I was leading the team, other writers were freelancers. Writing was solely B2C. The copy had to be website user friendly, means it was supposed to be scientific but written in easy understandable language without a reader getting tangled in medical jargons. It was good learning experience. I was introduced to Blog here as there was a Company Blog and posted on it. And hence, I decided to have my own blog. So yes, I am blogging for 11 years now! It was job low on stress, 10 am to 6 pm, alternate Saturdays off, nothing to complain.

I completed a short-course in Creative Writing from XIC, Mumbai and enrolled in MA English from SNDT Women’s University (Distance Education) to help me polish my writing skills.

Next 2010, I got job in Infomedia18, a part of Network18, as a Senior Features Writer for two B2B Magazines – Modern Medicare and Modern Pharmaceuticals. This was a breakthrough for me. Network18 is a big brand and that on my CV, I was happy. Pay was ok. Not great. Still traveling public transport, with may be once in a month cab drive from home to work place (Western Suburbs to South Mumbai). Otherwise it was either railway or BEST bus or both. Oh yes, now I could afford to buy branded garments and accessories. A few, not many. Earlier, I never entered these stores or mall. Window shopping is not me. I either shop or not.

I worked here for one year. I am glad I got to work as a correspondent, a journalist and a writer, all at once. But I think I wanted more than this. I enjoyed one year. I got to travel to three cities – Hyderabad, Chennai and Goa. I loved interacting with team members from other cities and other organizations. Attending press conferences, events, field visits, interviewing experts, reviewing books/products—all was a new experience as I have to be attentive in each of the above mentioned events because I was expected to file post event article. It was a good break. However, I had to move on.

Next, year 2011, I joined the Corporate Communication Team of Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH)—one of the leading hospitals of Mumbai. The same year, I decided to appear for Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam. It was my last chance to give the exam as there is an age limit. And I appeared with one month of preparation. I was sure I wouldn’t get selected. But I wanted to eliminate the ifs-buts in life. To live with an-if or a-but is difficult. So it is best to know a- yes or a-no so as to live at peace. Well, it was a No. But I had a job in one of the best hospital in the city. I was Thankful to the Universe.

Pay, not great2. I still did not have a formal degree in Mass Communication. Neither did I have a Business Administration qualification. And I was still in my second year MA English as I took one year break to appear for the UPSC exam. But, I couldn’t complain. The hospital is at a walking distance from my house. So it saved money on travelling, which I spent on buying more of branded clothes and accessories. Not a wise decision, I do realize that now. A penny saved is a penny earned. I am gaining that wisdom the hard way. But I was happy! 🙂

Working hours, same as any corporate organization—9 am sign in, but there is no fixed time for signing out. All hospitals work 6 days in a week and on Sundays it is mostly working again as all conferences are weekend events. I am grateful that I got to report to the decision makers and every reporting was a different experience in itself. I worked here for three years—three years of rigorous working and three -years of learning-learning-learning so much that the knowledge gained is something I will carry forward throughout my career.

What I did as a Corporate Communication professional? Well, here it was Corporate Communication + Branding. Basically, we were a team of four and we functioned as an In-House Advertising Agency + PR Agency + Media Buying Agency + Digital Team + Internal Communication Team. Yes, each in itself is a job description, we did it all and we made a very versatile team. For me, it was a job balancing between writing and coordinating, both internal and external communication. In sort, now, I was a Design Thinker and a Project Manager.

I completed my MA English and a Post Grad Diploma (PGD) in Project Management from S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) while working at KDAH. The Senior Management and HR team were very cooperative when it came to pursuing further education. Universe blessed me here. The organization was becoming my comfort zone, and for some reason, comfort zone isn’t a great feeling.  I know it is strange but so is the case with me. And therefore, it was time to move.

Next job was a mere coincidence that happened in 2014. I was to join a healthcare advertising agency again, but I landed working with Wockhardt Hospitals Group for the launch of their flagship hospital in South Mumbai. Now, this was something I have never done before and wanted to see where I stood. It was my first job on paper that had dual reporting. I was reporting to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Chief Information Officer (CIO). I was a part of the Marketing Team responsible for the PR (Media Releases, Press Conference, etc.) and also responsible for an IT Project and Digital Content. A very unique experience. A chance to apply my project management skills to the fullest extent. A successful launch. It involved coordination with many agencies and vendors. A hospital launch project is something one should experience if you are a part of hospital sector.

Pay was ok2. My shopping continued. I traveled more often in cab (often, not always). Thinking back, overall, it was good. I was doing my Mass Communication from Xavier Institute of Communication (XIC), Mumbai now and I got permission from my seniors and the HR team, which meant a lot considering that I was in the system for only six months.

Year 2015: Another coincidence. I was to join a foundation, but I took the other offer – Brand and Communication Lead at Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai. Pay was ok 2. I added ecommerce to my buying list. Yes I know, my shopping list just keeps getting lengthier. Not a wise call.

Once again, the hospital is located close to my house that equals to less time spent travelling = less stress. Travelling in Mumbai can be very stressful if you reside at a distance from the work place. A job close to your residence is considered as a blessing.

Then, the hospital was in aggressive marketing mode as it was the after phase when the Operations & Management (O&M) was overtaken by the new management team. I was a part of the new team, not the trust employee. Here, I saw how to balance between the union and non-union employees. A very big learning lesson. Here, communication strategy may be the same as in other hospitals, but the tactic has to be different. Many emotions, many sentiments. All need to be balanced. But I had a wonderful experience working with all the professionals here, union or otherwise. Well, I had applied to various MBA programs and I got selected for PGPMX (equivalent to MBA) at the Indian Institute of Management Indore (IIMI). Once again, the Seniors and the HR were considerate and I was given permission to attend the college on weekends. But now balancing between academics and almost seven days working was challenging.3 If not at work, I was to be available on call, and college has some decorum to follow, plus assignment deadlines to meet. So I had to take a break from an extremely busy corporate life to a life of a Consultant, much relaxed. Another spin from the Universe as this wasn’t the actual plan.

Part-III: Medical & Marketing Consultation

From 2016 onwards: Presently, I am a Consultant to various Marketing, Communication, Branding, Advertising & Strategy Projects. Mostly healthcare, but I have also been part of projects from other sectors like NGOs, Education, Real Estate, Start-Ups, Fashion, Finance and there is ample to add to this list. I am working on it.

So yes, I started as a Medical Writer, then Digital Content Lead, worked as a Journalist, spent five years leading the Hospitals’ Branding & Communication Teams, and now, a Marketing Consultant. This journey equals to 12 years of working and educating, simultaneously. Not an easy journey, but not a very difficult one too.

In every new job, I got to utilize the training gained through an additional academic qualification that added more quality and value to my existing work experience and technical skills. I won’t call my professional life a total success yet, but I don’t think it is a failure either. An attitude of gratitude helps me sail through difficult phases. Universe, hope you are listening/reading, whatever!

Medical Writing in a Nutshell

I would like to describe Medical Writing as:

  1. B2B: Business to Business. Very scientific. Full of medical jargons as the audience is expected to be well-versed in the medical field. Research and Evidence Based statements. Relevant Citations to be given wherever required. Citations should follow standard norms. Care should be taken that proper referencing guidelines is followed or else the article is subject to plagiarism. Some examples would be a Chapter in a Medical Text Book, Research Papers and Published Magazine Articles with industry expert quotes.
  2. B2C: Business to Consumer. Easy language yet no deviation from the fact. Audience does not understand medical dictionary. This needs to be kept in mind while writing. You can make it creative, add statistical data, images, videos, etc. Facts have to be from relevant source (and mention the source). Copy pasting can lead to copyright issues. Hence, one should be very careful while creating content. Examples would be any healthcare website that gives basic information on disease and its management or any lifestyle or fashion magazine that has an article on healthcare and wellness.
  3. C2C: This is a type that has more to do with the advent of social media. Say for example, someone is asking a disease related question on a forum and the other person is answering to that query. Now, what is important is that the answer has to be evidence-based. One wrong reply and you never know who is reading, what age the person is, and if the answer is not medically and scientifically sound, then it can create massive problem to some life. Hence, it is best the questions are replied by experts – not necessary a doctor, the person should be a qualified expert in that field – say a PhD or other relevant medical qualification. It is always best to visit your treating doctor to get a prescription. Online medical content is just to create awareness, and its application is not accurate when it comes to making a diagnosis or in actual disease management. Clinical Examination by a doctor plays a crucial role while coming to a diagnosis. This is something one cannot do online. So please, all readers, visit your treating physician for the right diagnosis, treatment and follow-ups.

Now, the approach to writing will differ based on the communication medium– Print or Digital, Paid, Owned or Earned Media, etc. I will describe that in detail may be in another post. Also, while creating content, try to focus on the 6 W’s – Why, Where, When, Who, What and How. It simplifies the content and makes it more reader friendly.

And when I say ‘Content’, I do not mean only writing pieces. It can be Research Paper, Ad copy, Ad campaign, Audio Visual, AV Script, Ad Script, Movie Script, Movie, Film, Video, Image, Animated Images, Website, Social Media, Blog, Vlog…anything and everything that sends a message to the readers/audience.

Those who are interested in my work, the following are links to some of the magazine issues that has articles published under my byline. All articles, by all authors, in every issue are worth reading irrespective of the year it was published. Highly insightful and applicable even in the current setting.

Magazine Links:

AshuBlogs_Panorama_MedicalWriting


https://issuu.com/infomedia18/docs/modern_medicare_january_2011 https://issuu.com/infomedia18/docs/modern_medicare_february_2011 https://issuu.com/infomedia18/docs/modern_medicare_march_2011
https://issuu.com/infomedia18/docs/modern_medicare_may_2011
https://issuu.com/infomedia18/docs/modern_medicare_april_2011

Thank you for your patience. Hope this helped.

Note:

1 In 1999 when MH-CET was introduced, there were three rounds for admission then and all the candidates, who has cleared the entrance, had to travel to Nashik as the MUHS University was then shifted from Mumbai to Nashik—a city at a 3  to 4 hours road way distance from Mumbai. If I would have waited for third round then I would have wasted 6 months, which means next batch, but probably would have got admission in Mumbai or Navi Mumbai in MBBS or BDS as many of my batchmates with lower ranks got. However, it was the first time for admissions through an entrance test and people were confused, with no one guide. The Internet then was slow and there were no smart phones. Also, the decision was influenced by the fact that my family had just shifted to Mumbai in 1996 after my father’s sudden death and we were still grieving. Until June 1996, I was a student, a proud student, of MES Indian School, CBSE, Doha-Qatar. Post this, all my education, which is very extensive, is from academic institutions situated in Mumbai, India.

2 Pay in the Indian Hospital Sector is low in comparison to other sectors. It is pretty much similar to the NGO or Foundation pay. Slightly higher may be. But not a wow salary. However, be it economic high or low phase, hospitals are always functioning. So yes job security is high. Plus an employee may get some Health Check Discounts.

3 All academic programs which I completed while I was working were either Distance Education or Part-Time Weekend Programs. A Hospital Functions 24/7-365 days. So balancing work and academics is not easy.

– Ashu Bolar
Email: ashubolar@gmail.com
LinkedIn: https://in.linkedin.com/in/drasmayousuf

SingleTON: Vadodara, Gujarat

What is SingleTON?
Single TravellingOverNight 🙂

My first write-up on SingleTON was on the Goa Trip. And here comes another shot stay trip, this time is Vadodara, also known as Baroda, Gujarat, India.

Destination: Vadodara
Days: 2 days, 1 night
Travel via: Indigo Airlines

Venue: A business meeting so the stay was pre-arranged.
Food: Gujarati Thali – One must just not miss it!
Cost of a car tour for Vadodara: A 4-hours Ola ride cost (between 4 pm to 8 pm) was about Rs. 850.

Places Visited:
1. Laxmi Vilas Palace—a beautiful palace, indeed. The entry ticket for the Palace is Rs. 225 per person for Indian Citizens. I could not visit the Museum as I reached late. One can only visit the ground level of palace and the surrounding gardens; higher levels of the palace are not accessible to tourists.) A section of the Palace is open for holding events, as I was informed. A good location for destination wedding! It will appear a very royal wedding.
2. Sursagar Lake, the aerial view (when departing the city in an airplane) is just mesmerizing.
3. The Local City Bazaar; it is the first bazaar I have come across in India so far, which has a men’s section and a women’s section, very famously known for Wedding Shopping, so I was informed.

What did I buy?
This time it was farsan (snacks) and sweets—a trip to Gujarat and not buying the local delicacies, oh that can’t happen. My stop points were the famous Penda Shop—Pendawala Duliram Ratanlal Sharma in the city bazaar and Jagdish Farshan (Waghodia Road). Vadodara Airport has Hidesign and The Bombay Store Outlets—good collection.

And now, it’s time for some City Glimpses…

Until my next SingleTON, Have A Great Day!

….Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

SingleTON: Goa

What is SingleTON?
Single TravellingOverNight 🙂

For now, that is what I could think for the ‘TON’ in the word Singleton. In future, if my grey cells get creative, I may change the full form of the acronym.

Well, this section is on my short trips in India. It may-may not be an overnight stay, but for sure it is on a short vacation.

Destination: Goa, India
Days: 4 days 3 nights
Travel via: JetAirways (then it was operative. Now I would opt for Indigo Airlines)

Venue: Lotus Beach Resort, Benaulim, South Goa
Cost: Stay is Affordable in October-November as it is off-season. Very Affordable if you happen to be an Orchid Hotel member (I was, so got discounts on almost everything plus had utilized the member discount coupons for stay.)
Breakfast: Inclusive with the stay. Basic but good. (South Indian Menu, Eggs, Milk Shakes, Fruit Juice, Corn Flakes, Bread, Butter, Jelly, Tea, Coffee, Milk, etc.)
Food (Lunch/Dinner): Delicious

Cost of a car tour for North Goa: 10 am to 6 pm around Rs. 3000 (Please negotiate! I think I could have done better here.) Car/Cab cost from Goa Airport to Lotus Beach Resort would be some where around Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1200. Pre-Booked Cab/Taxi is expensive than private car. But safety is priority. So choose wisely.

Places Visited:
1. Big Foot Museum (It has got a gift shop inside which is worth visiting for souvenir shopping. Entry Tickets between Rs. 50 and Rs. 100 for Indian Citizens. I don’t remember the exact amount.)
2. Casa Araujo Alvares
3. Basilica of Bom Jesus
4. Fort Aguada
5. Benaulim Beach (A candle light dinner at Roger’s on the beach is a great experience and they serve very good sea food. I do not drink alcohol, so can’t comment on that. But Mocktail was good. That I remember. Food for two may cost Rs. 1000-2000 depending on what you order.)

What did I buy?
Good question. Important question when it is me, who likes, correction here, loves to shop. Zantye’s Cashew Nut packets, Bebinca,  Jute Bag, Maxi Dress, Floral Chappals, Anklets (from sellers at Benaulim Beach; Remember to Bargain) and Mario’s Picture Frame (There is an outlet inside the Goa Airport in case you miss the Mario shops in the city). Goa Airport has some interesting outlets of Brands — books, jewellery, souvenirs, and more.

And now, it’s time for some Goa Glimpses…

Big Foot Museum

Casa Araujo Alvares

Basilica of Bom Jesus 

Fort Aguada

Lotus Beach Resort

Random Clicks

Until my next SingleTON, take care and keep reading!

….Ashu Bolar

 

Game Theory

The first time I heard the term ‘Game Theory’ was in Microeconomics Class. An interesting concept.

Now, that is the definition I got on typing Game Theory in the Google Search Bar.

Game Theory_AshuBlogs_Panoramaa

In case the image is not visible then the definition is…

‘The branch of mathematics concerned with the analysis of strategies for dealing with competitive situations where the outcome of a participant’s choice of action depends critically on the actions of other participants. Game theory has been applied to contexts in war, business, and biology.’

Hmmm, the words that appear important to me here are:

  • Analysis
  • Strategy
  • Competitive Situations
  • Outcome
  • Choice of action

Speed of action is also significant, which is missing in the definition.

When this subject is discussed in the class, it starts with the Prisoner’s Dilemma. A crime has happened. The (suspected) criminals (two people) are arrested but on interrogation they deny their involvement. Now, the investigating officer has got a job to do. Confession has to be made. Justice has to be served. But how?

Sometimes, it is easy because either the criminal is not smart enough or there is a strong witness or evidence. In this case, the prisoners have no choice but to cooperate. No cooperation means there both the prisoners get punishment. Cooperation from one prisoner means it is a bad news for the other. Cooperation from both means both prisoners get punished but the law may be a little less harsh on them.

If you want to know more on Game Theory, you can visit the article on Game Theory on Investopedia or Game Theory in Economics at MBA Crystal Ball.

There are many other websites and books on this theory. The above mentioned links are for easy understanding for those who aren’t familiar but would like to know its application in Economics or Business Management.

But what can an investigator do in a crime scene where there has been a crime, someone is dead, the body and related stuff are carefully discarded, criminals think they have tied all loose and have the capability of doing so, have strong alibi with no strong evidence to link and no witness to speak? Criminals are free as birds, but there is someone grieving over the loss of a life yet is helpless with the investigation files closed and buried among many other cases.

If you want to understand this Game and the application of Game Theory in such a scenario, then you must watch The Invisible Guest, a Spanish crime thriller film.

Game Theory_InvisibleGuest_AshuBlogs_Panoramaa.jpg

It is on Netflix with English subtitles. Badla is a Bollywood remake. I haven’t watched the Hindi Film so I cannot comment. But the original movie has a very interesting script. So I think.

If you happen to watch, do share your views as comments.
And here is the link to the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epCg2RbyF80

…Ashu Bolar

 

 

Crazy, yep crazy it is!

“I know that you work very hard for that wife and child right there. I know you are real good at your job and that you take care of this company and you do things that they’ll never know about, that they’ll never appreciate. So, you’re very proud, right? But you’re scared. You’re scared because you’re dispensable. You’re scared because you know that, more than likely, one day, you’re gonna be replaced by somebody younger, somebody cheaper, may be even by an app.” – Sandy Patterson

An App? Ouch. You can’t even curse it or compare yourself with and feel superior as you would do if it was a human substitute. No space for blame game either. Crazy, indeed.

Those are the words spoken by the victim Sandy Patterson posing as Mr. Harold Cornish (his ex-boss) to the Account Processor while attempting a credit card fraud under guidance of a con artist Diana Budgie. Movie: Identity Thief, available at Netflix. Fun movie. I like both Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy.

Crazy_IdentityThief_Panorama

Identity Thief Movie Trailer links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8ZI0H3_tdU and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uO12W35DpsQ

Well, coming back to the quote. Yes, that makes a lot of sense. Today it is possible to be replaced by an app. It is human competing with intelligent automation and bots. Not a pleasant picture. Unfortunately this is the reality.

However, it has always been survival of the fittest. Natural selection. I doubt if bots fit in the Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Not unless they reproduce, which is as of now, pretty much unlikely. This could be good news to our species depending on what we choose now and what we adapt to.

Something to think about, something that is discussed a lot in management classes these days and something to which we may need a creative solution to ensure a happy survival and selection. Scientific inventions always had pros and cons. May be by focusing on pros and taking care of the cons well in advance, we may not end up being as scared or insecure as we may be now. Interesting topic, subject to further discussion.

Till then, if you get a chance, do watch the movie, and it has one of my favourite songs…Crazy’s what they think about me, Fitz And The Tantrums – The Walker; Official Music Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGBLlFMn9Xc

And there you go with the lyrics (Lyrics Source: https://genius.com/Fitz-and-the-tantrums-the-walker-lyrics)

Ooh, crazy’s what they think about me,
Ain’t gonna stop ’cause they tell me so,
‘Cause 99 miles per hour baby,
Is how fast that I like to go.

Can’t keep up with my rhythm
Though they keep trying.
Too quick for the lines they throw.
I walk to the sound of my own drum,
We go, they go, we go, hey yeah yeah yeah…

Oh, here we go,
Feel it in my soul.
Really mean it, mean it, so go,
Gotta feel it, your heart, it takes control.
Really mean it, mean it.

I wake up to the city of angels,
To see my name headlining the coast.
They say I’m a walking dreamer, baby,
If I stop they would make the show.

Can’t keep up with my rhythm,
Though they keep trying.
Too quick for the lines they throw.
I walk to the sound of my own drum,
We go, they go, we go, hey yeah yeah yeah…

Oh, here we go,
Feel it in my soul.
Really mean it, mean it, so go,
Gotta feel it, your heart, it takes control.
Really mean it, mean it.

Oh, here we go,
Feel it in my soul.
Really mean it, mean it, so go,
Gotta feel it, your heart, it takes control.
Really mean it, mean it.

Everybody walk.
Everybody walk.
Everybody walk, walk, walk.

Oh, here we go,
Feel it in my soul.
Really mean it, mean it, so go,
Gotta feel it, your heart, it takes control.
Really mean it, mean it.

Oh, here we go,
Feel it in my soul.
Really mean it, mean it, so go,
Gotta feel it, your heart, it takes control.
Really mean it, mean it…

And I am humming the tune 🙂

Happy thinking. Happy reading!

…Ashu Bolar

Back to the Beginning

There are various kinds of addictions. Addiction is considered unhealthy. But in my case I have some not-so-bad addictions.

One of which I have recognized is the constant desire to learn and improve as a person and professional, which makes me a lifetime student, and thus, I keep enrolling in various programs, courses and workshops.

And this week, I was back to one of my favourite institutes, SPJIMR, to attend MDP on a very unique topic ‘Employer Branding – pathway to becoming a great place to work’. I have almost 12 years of experience in Marketing, Branding and Communications, which is also supported with relevant academic qualifications. However, during my academic years as well as in real life, ‘Employee’ plays an essential role in the growth of an organization was taught, cases revolving around employer-employee relations were discussed, how employees are responsible in creating a great customer experience was also talked about—but how to achieve this wasn’t a major focus. It is there somewhere throughout, mostly dispersed, but I never came across a dedicated session on Employer Branding that solely focuses on valuing employees, who are The Essential (not-the-forgotten) Stakeholders and The Brand Ambassadors of the organizations, whether they are working with the organization or have moved on to next phase in life but with good memories.

Attrition has increased in almost all the companies across sectors. Why? Easy answer is –“It is the millennial attitude.” But is it? And if so, then why? It is said – “People leave the manager, not company.” And the boss, in most cases, isn’t a millennial. Something to think about.

Employees are the face of the organization, more so, in the service sector. I belong to healthcare industry, hospital to be precise. Right from the time a patient makes a call to book an appointment to the time he/she sees the doctor, the patient interacts with a series of hospital executives…

  • The person from customer care who took the call for appointment confirmation
  • The security who checks all the visitors entering the hospital premises
  • The liftman guiding the patient to the respective floor
  • The registration team providing patient with the hospital card
  • The billing unit on the cost details
  • The nurses interacting with the patient
  • The assistant doctor taking the case brief
  • The treating doctor advising the patient towards right treatment management
  • The pharmacy person dispatching medicines

Broadly, these are the Hospital Employees a patient and/or the patient caretaker will come across in any first time OPD (Out-Patient Department) visit to any Multispeciality Hospital. Now, each one of the employee mentioned above probably is an expert in his/her job, but is his/her functioning aligned with the organization’s (hospital here) vision-mission-values? And by this I don’t mean the HR team talking on Vision-Mission-Values in the induction session; what I mean is its actual percolation across the hierarchy.

And if they aren’t and if there happens to be an incident (imagine in a hospital where each patient, each life matters), which fortunately (for the customers as they will be aware) and unfortunately (for the organization) goes viral on the digital media, then who is to be blamed—the Employee, the Manager, the HR team, the Board or the Entire Management System? Again, something to think about.

In this two-day workshop, many such aspects were discussed, and I understood on ways how Brand Equity is to be created by including all the employees, and not excluding or overlooking or taking any one of the employee for granted.

Employee Value Proposition is not something we aren’t aware of in the corporate world. However, it is something that needs not just to be preached, but practiced. Well, it is a matter of time, the sooner a company realizes and recognizes the need for Employer Branding, the better are its chances of growing, however this time, not just with innovation and aggression, but along with compassion and positivity.

Interesting subject. Great faculty team. Interactive batchmates. And goes without saying, a known and a good Management Institute.

Some quotes that stayed with me post the session…

“Life is precious, but too short. You can’t take anything with you, but you can leave a lot of meaningful things behind.”

“Within the company, collaborate. Outside the company, compete with the competitors.”

“Learn-Unlearn, from time to time.”

“Employer Brand + Employee Experience = Brand Strength —> a competitive advantage, a POD (point of differentiation) in Marketing Parlance.”

“Creating Moments That Matter. Making Employee Experience a beautiful journey in the company.”

“If you want a better brand image, it is best to start with a better brand reality. Self analysis, self reflection and walk the talk kind of leadership.”

“Good employee journey maps are one which has stories.”

Yes stories, I hope there will be some good stories about me and my firm someday.

To hire talent and to retain talent are two different things, and each requires great effort and investment of resources, time being the leading resource. It is easy to be on the other side and criticize a boss, but it is difficult to be a boss and not to be criticized.

So I think, and will try my best to be a better leader everyday…

…because it is a new beginning, everyday…

…and everyday is a good day to create some good memories, some good stories.

Glimpses from 26-27th Feb 2019…

Group Picture Credit: SPJIMR LinkedIn Page

For further information on MDP at SPJIMR, please visit: http://www.spjimr.org/mdp

– Ashu Bolar

Bistro 1

Yet another new addition to the restaurant-zone at the BonBon Lane, Seven Bungalows…and a good one!

My favourites…

Prawns Dynamite…a real dynamite!

Basa with Herbs and Couscous

Loaded Potato Wedges

with Orange Basil Mojito!

Price for two around Rs. 2000 (for no alcoholic drinks)

Nearest Stop: Versova Metro (Andheri-West, Mumbai)

Some Bistro Moments…

…Ashu Bolar

 

Worth a try!

IIMI Plexus Conclave

Alumni Meets, a very interesting concept. You meet and greet professors, senior and junior batchmates, peers, friends, once-upon-a-time/ongoing frenemies, batch-competitors (read rivals), some good characters, some annoying-species. But all in all, it is a great networking opportunity.

I have been lucky in life to be an alumnus associated with many academic institutes, but this year, for the first time, I attended IIM Indore PGPMX Alumni Meet scheduled on Saturday, 24th February 2018 at IIMI Mumbai Campus and Park Hotel, CBD Belapur, Navi Mumbai.

The event initiated at IIMI Mumbai Campus with the inauguration of PGPMX (Post Graduate Programme in Management for Executives) Batch-9 followed by PGPMX Alumni interaction with the IIMI Director, Prof. Rishikesha Krishnan and Professor Kajari Mukherjee, Chair – PGPMX, IIMI.

There was an interesting and informative session (as always) on ‘Indian Economy – the present and the future’ by Prof. Ganesh Nidugala, Faculty – IIM Indore. He is the favourite economics professor of almost everyone. I doubt if anyone could have taught International Finance as best as he did – at least to me – because being a medical graduate, and yet I understanding International Finance means some great job done!

Professional Trainer’s Team from SAS Institute enlightened the alumni with a bird’s eye view on Business Intelligence & Business Analytics through application of SAS. Technology can do miracles. And every data narrates a story. Connect the two and one can be a modern day magician.

Later in the evening, at Hotel Park, all participants experienced an ice-breaking and engaging Plexus Conclave – thanks to Dale Carnegie Training Team for all those intersession activities! The conclave had two illustrative sessions by IIMI Faculty members – Professor Abhishek Mishra and Professor Omkar Desai and two intriguing sessions by Industry Guest Speakers – Mr. Sushil Borde, Head, Reliance Innovation Leadership Centre and Mr. Tushar Pradhan, CIO, HSBC Global Asset Management.

And the evening concluded with photo session, all alumni receiving a box containing Indore Sweets and Farsan, as well as a handy IIMI branded Leather Organizer, and of course, all of us relishing a delicious dinner.

Thanks to Sanjay Gupta (PGPMX-1) for all the coordination and to the IIMI Student and Faculty teams that contributed in making this event a success.

Some glimpses from the event as below and more can be read on the webpage: https://www.iimidr.ac.in/news-events/first-pgpmx-alumni-meet-and-conclave-plexus-held-at-mumbai/

Looking forward to Plexus-II…

…Ashu Bolar