A man’s got to do what his health needs him to do

I had been noticing myself pant after climbing just a flight or two of stairs. I couldn’t last 5 minutes carrying my 3-year old niece and the routine sprints to the almost-departing train were not as easy as they were a very few years ago. I knew the Pillai-machismo was at a decline, but the final straw was when my Foosball partner decides NOT to say my play was a little rusty, but instead figured that I was “growing old”! I know I’m not in the best of form, slightly slack on reflexes, but having someone (much older by the way) say you’re greying, is well, really sinking that shark-toothed dagger deep into Pillai-machismoism.

But yes, it had been over 3 months that I played at the Foosball table and it showed, especially on a new table I hadn’t laid my hands on. A year ago, on a good day, I could beat the top-rated foosball player but as I play today, I feel like I’m under some evil spell, unable to stop that mischievous, conniving ball between my clumsy players (I play defense). I’m almost suicidal when I remember the days we’d won many games without the opposition even scoring one past me!

So what next? Play more, practice and get back in form? Nope. Nop Nope. Foosball is conquered land. We’ve kicked some balls there already and I’m sure I can get back on top. I’m more concerned about my health (even if that means I admit my Foosball partner has a point). I really envy my past self when I used to run 3 kilometers every morning and do 50 press-ups at one stretch. Coming to think of it, there were a lot of things I was good at until today’s workaholic-me happened. Later that.

I’ve got to get back to those healthy days, piece by piece.

Actually, everything’s going great in life and the only piece missing is some dedicated time for the health department. We’re expecting Junior Pillai and the wifey’s with her parents for a few months, we’re moving to a refreshing new office, I’ve got a team that I can depend on like the day can depend on the sun rising, and the best of all – colleagues who love Football and Table Tennis, my two favorite sports. Added to all that, a brand new room and Table Tennis table right at office! (Hands rubbing in excitement)

table tennis room

So, I say, stop the sobs, stop the type, out the arms, do the do.

table tennis racket, socks, towel, glucose!

(pack of glucose and towel for extra effect to match a friend’s photo that had a racket and a headband)

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The biggest mall in the world!

Ladies and Gentlemen, India has arrived. Forget the tallest Burj Khalifa or the famous Petrona Twin Towers. India unveiled on Saturday, a mall as big as Switzerland, Singapore and Poland put together.

Phoenix Mall


I wonder who worked on that Phoenix websitepage! Was it a no-clue, external content writer, or was it a drunk one-man website manager? Or maybe it was the SEO guy who thought “acres” was a better bet than “sq. feet”!!



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On Android? Here’s your best ‘year in review’, in pictures.

It’s that time of the year again – the end of the year. For the superstitious, some will have believed the end of the world too. But here we are, me on my only blog post of 2012 (shame!) and you sharing some of your 2012 reading this.

The year started out very lucky for me with an AWESOME stay at Orange County Coorg, but 2012 ends not as enthusiastically as it started. Quite some reasons for the low feeling but the worst came today. December 23rd 2012, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, retires from cricket One Day Internationals. Over a sixth of us humans must’ve felt the pain, in different intensities depending on how much of a fan you are. And it gets unbearable when you realize that we’ll never see an official last ODI match with Sachin Tendulkar. I bet no stadium in the world can hold the number of people who’d come to see that anyway.

Hell I’m sidetracking! Before this post becomes some semi-eulogy (the man is still playing in tests don’t forget!) let me quickly get to the matter of this post. For all those Android mobile users who’ve enabled the “Instant Upload” of photos, here’s your best pictorial “year in review”. Sign in to your Google Plus profile and click on photos. It opens with all your Instant Upload photos. Don’t panic if you’re here for the first time, the photos are all private and unshared by default. All those photos you’ve ever taken on your phone, lined up in chronological order, await your eyes – bet you’ll have a lovely time like I did! I’m sharing just a little of my unpublished 2012 captured over the phone’s camera.

By the way if you are using a smartphone, it has to be Android. Unlimited photo and video uploads over Google Plus with your Instant Upload enabled.

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How can Google Adwords approve this ad!?!

My anger & ‘flabbergast-edness’ slowly reside as I type this out. Did the advertiser do this on purpose? To get that “who’re the idiots who made this ad?” reaction and finally get the ad to bring in the visitor. You think someone can actually risk looking so stupid in exchange for visits? I hope the smart/stupid guy doesn’t have a typo in the URL to send the visitor to – and I pray Google does not employ retards who approve! I left the “www.directdialogs.com” unfudged in the image – they’re anyway trying so hard for visits :)

typo-filled adwords ad

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Onam – Facebook is where to advertise.

Did you know that Onam is a ten-day affair? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onam. Lekshmi says it’s more than 10 days (she should contribute at Wikipedia!) and that the season spans over a month. No wonder that the August edition of the afaqs reporter had a cover page takeover by Manorama Online, a good one month in advance of Thiruonam (September 9th).

August issue of afaqs reporterThe ad copy claims Malayalees will be on their website during Onam and that theirs should be THE website to advertise on during the Onam season. The site will definitely have the biggest gathering of Malayalee eyeballs but apart from their regular website visitors, I doubt they will have seen any spike in visitation during Onam.

From the many Facebook updates I see, the Malayalee was certainly on Facebook wishing everyone and checking out what everybody’s up to. A restaurant owner in the USA should be on Facebook to get all those “I am craving for an Onam sadya” updates converted to happy customers; customers who’d easily come back knowing our craze for good avail/ porota beef roast/cappa meen curry!

 Wishing us all a very happy, prosperous and blessed Onam season.





simplest Onam pookolam!

pookollam at home

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Biz Manager to Chief Strategist

I’d posted my thoughts on how SLAs can be used for differentiation and positioning and towards the end of that post I’d invited all and sundry to hear out my idea on a business model centered on the SLAs.

Well dear friends, I made it big. XYZ had discussions with me over the past five months (that’s why no posts on my blog), they bought my idea plus took me on rolls as Chief Strategy Officer. From a Business Manager at Sify.com, I am now a CSO with a huge bank balance and very busy executing my business model. Until it’s all running well and profitable, XYZ has understandably asked me to be mum on the happenings – so until later, wish me luck!

For you who’ve dropped jaws/ in doubt/ gone beyond the image above, I am allowed to dream and hope, right? Like from the brilliance in Shawshank Redemption: ‘hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

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Mohanlal – golden star

No I’m not talking about his unquestionable acting prowess (strictly read acting as only acting without the bollywoodish attachments of muscle-dance -sunglasses!). This is about Mohanlal being seen so much in TV advertisements, especially those having to do with gold. Sitting 10 minutes on any Malayalam channel you are likely to catch one of below advertisements:

  • Malabar Gold (jewellery house)
  • Manapuram Finance (financing institution specializing in loan-against-gold)
  • Kerala Grand Shopping Festival (fest. with 101kg of gold to be won)

So in one ad you have Mohanlal recommend that you buy Malabar gold and a minute later you have the same man advising you to pledge your gold to Manapuram and avail easy loans! The other day I saw a reality comedy show make a joke of this too.

The latest news is that Asianet’s awarded the ‘golden star’ to Mohanlal – is that because of the many ‘golden’ advertisements? Lalletta can I manage your endorsements? I have zero experience but I’m so sure I can do a better job!

Celebrity endorsements gone awry – a classic case from our very own Lalletan

Mohanlal says buy gold

Mohanlal says pawn gold!

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Ten signs you’re losing your friend to the Internet

Today it’s not just parents complaining about their children spending too much time on the Internet. I also find myself complaining, over myself! While I consciously try ‘internet-insulating’ myself, here are a few warning signs I’ve come to realize. See if you can relate, add more if you’ve better ones. PS: Some characters or incidents mentioned are inspired by real individuals or happenings; so blame not, stop not your pointing fingers :)

  • Your friend forgets his bank account’s online log-in credentials and many times unknowingly keys in Facebook/Twitter credentials on just about any log-in screen
  • He knows what his latest online friend and/or his pet had for dinner last night but doesn’t know that his next-door neighbour’s not been there at home for over a week
  • He takes his own sweet time to reply to your mail but you get his mails/messages/tweets asking you to ‘like’ his blog page, join ‘x’ group, see his latest blog post etc.
  • He tweets more frequently than he’d CTRL+C or Google search
  • He is ‘now friends with’ some individual from the other side of the globe whose name is awfully similar to a new virus you read about yesterday (ok, maybe now your friend might learn, but no, you then see his tweet “thanks @virus-name for being my 1000th friend”!)
  • He resorts to Facebook/Twitter to ask ‘friends’ out for a movie rather than simply call/walk up to and ask. Worse still it’s done over a public announcement: “I’m going for a movie, which one of you can I pull in”
  • He wouldn’t be there for your gang’s lunch-out but you’d find many of his tweets saying “had a great time at yesterday’s tweet-up
  • Your soft-spoken, polite friend is suddenly using F and A words in status updates
  • You know it’s crossing dangerous levels when your friend’s mom, whom you’ve never met, is requesting friendship in Facebook but she’s not Facebook friends with her child, your friend! (Mom’s probably investigating child’s online escapades)
  • I like this last one because I see it everywhere: your friend’s suddenly a Subject Matter Expert sharing a dozen links a day on some complex topic. All without giving credits to the news source. And the best part, sharing links even without reading them
  • Number eleven for my wifey :) Your husband’s knowing and writing ‘Subject Matter Experting’ points above while you’re working it out in the kitchen getting no help at all

Let’s meet more often offline.

It felt so great the last time I met my school friends. We chat and Facebook whenever we can but nothing beats the energy and excitement of a physical meeting. Put in a few drinks and fried chicken and you are set, not to ever look at your watch but instead be reminded that you are needed somewhere else by some suddenly very intruding (hey that’s your mom!) phone call. Tweet-ups are cool but let’s just first meet-up old friends please.

Take care.

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SLAs – for differentiation & positioning

I’ve been wanting to blog on this for some time and after reading many related posts in the recent times, I decided I had to get this off my chest. We all know of Service Level Agreements – those contractual bindings a service provider and his customer lay out as they seal their buyer-seller relationship. The SLAs when seen from the two angles: for the customer it’s a document that ensures he gets a “minimum” guarantee on services and maybe a compensation if this is not met, while for the service provider he sees this as opportunity to defend himself against any litigation that could happen (he is not sued for millions).

How many times have you come across words you cannot understand in these documents? SLAs today are just communication between the legal departments of organizations and are not really referred to unless something huge really happens that involves failure and costs.

SLAs to differentiate

There’s definitely a lot many better ways of using SLAs in today’s businesses –right from the very business model incorporated to the way market differentiation & positioning is done. What you would you think of a company that sends you its SLA doc that just has on it, in bold:

We promise to work our a** off to give you our 100%, here’s our CEO’s number if you think we’re not delivering

With the above, for those customers really bothered on what’s being done to ensure top services, add a whole section on technicalities involved – failover mechanisms, back up processes, state-of-the-art facilities bla bla. But no complicated “ifs”, “buts”, percentages and small text. Being upfront and convincing of sincerity goes a long way to winning over the customer’s faith than numbers and percentages. Something to the lines of this is what I read at http://www.feld.com/wp/archives/2010/03/the-best-sla-ive-seen-in-a-while.html.

I had another idea on a radically new business model centered on SLA and number of customers. I ran this through a few friends and they seemed pretty convinced. I’ll put that in my next post, any service provider willing to listen before I go public ;) ? My really long shot at some sweet money!

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You have to be the First-Announcer in the Internet age

Whether to purchase or otherwise, most of us reach amazon.com when we try searching for a book on the internet. Barnes & Noble too has an online bookstore but certainly not as popular as Amazon’s. And today as we know it, Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world doing sales (~19 billion!) about three times as much as the closest competition Staples.

Ok, that’s what many of us know. Did you know of a site called books.com? This site (now redirects to Barnes & Nobel site) was there on the internet selling books two years before Amazon was started by Jeff Bezos. Charles Stack, books.com founder, apparently was an ‘inside guy’ more interested in building an infrastructure than promoting a business. The price for being an insider guy? In 1996, Stack sold his business for $4.2 million while a month later Amazon was able to mop up a staggering $32 million in its first IPO!

Stack lost out because he did not let enough people know about his site. He had a two year headstart over Amazon and yet he was not able to own the online retail market at least for books (even with a killer of a domain named books.com!) In today’s internet age, one barely has a headstart. Somehow word gets to the competition and the so-called first-mover advantage is hard to realize. Imagine having spent a lot on R&D, successfully seeing the release and working of a great feature, not having this publicized and the very next year your competition does the same feature but makes more news of it and before you know it they’re touted the pioneer, cutting-edge, industry-leading blah blah.

If you are innovating, make sure you let your market know; else you could actually be signing off your hardwork to competition. Make sure to be the first-announcer and constantly follow up with your marketing and PR departments!

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