Saakshi Nagpal

Being Confident – My learning from Toastmasters.

Hie ,

How are summers going ?? 🙂 🙂

Last week , I completed my Competent Communicator along with  Competent Leader certification from Toastmaster manuals. Happy me 🙂 , I am just 9 month old with this programme .

Below is my project 10 from Competent Communicator manual : Inspire your audience.

My dear fellow toastmasters, I still remember my first speech. Those who have given their Icebreaker will be experiencing a sweet smile on their face and those who are still planning to give will experience goosebumps. Mine was a bit different. I thought I was dead sitting on the chair waiting for my turn. Fortunately or unfortunately mine was the first. I gave my first speech at Area Level Humorous speech competition representing our club at Adobe systems  

Before the competition, when I was bothering myself with the questions like ‘Can I do it?’ ‘ What I will do if I go blank?’ ‘Do I have the confidence, that I can make it?’ Our Mr President come to me , and ask to volunteer for Vice President  Public Relations role.

I was like uhh !! you can’t do this to me. I am the kind of person, who can work till late will never crib but interacting with entire organization and always being upfront to create a buzz ., this is just not me. I am the person who needs to be dragged to parties and then needs  some solitude to regenuate. I am not a social butterfly.  Now I am grateful , for the confidence Mr President has shown in me. 

From that day till today, the club meetings are like  weekly lessons. Thank you for all your support and guidance through the journey of learning till date. I can feel the brand new me J within me.

Lets think again, aren’t those questions scary ? Most of us , including myself try avoiding such questions b’coz deep down we have some or the other kind of fear of unknown. It can be driving, swimming, singing, dancing, public speaking or socializing.

I fear of social gatherings, no please don’t take me as an introvert or something it’s an area where I just don’t feel comfortable.. Comfortable of mass?? NO may be lack of confidence to communicate with the strangers at a personal level. I am well read , well travelled ,  enough to carry on any conversation except stock exchange and cricket !! But still … ahh !! I just can’t do that. I literally get cold feet.  Being socially inactive, my motivation was at a decline.

Finally I took charge of myself, coz , I was sick of this feeling, it was always a herculean task to approach someone and say “ hello , whats up , how u doing ? “ .  One fine day, there was a circular in my mailbox asking nominations for membership of an internationally recognized public speaking and leadership club. I at once nominated, without giving second thought or even looking at the cost. I nominated myself. I never had stage fear. In fact  I was the head girl of my school, a regular figure on stage not only b’coz  my mom can see me and hear me performing but b’coz I love the feeling of being here on the podium and addressing people. I can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but I go insanely awkward in groups and specially when I have to initiate any conversation, so I joined the club to exploit myself. Exploit b’coz in my heart I was confident that I can do it. As they say ‘no pain no gain’ my moto was ‘ if it doesn’t torture, then it doesn’t matter’.

The fact that here in Toastmasters, there is no one to judge you  or score you , here we all learn in a mutually supportive, positive learning and non threatening  environment. This means fewer chances of embarrassment and also a good opportunity to interact and socialize. Now the fear of public humiliation did the trick. Result, I am here , regained the lost self esteem projecting the much desired confidence .

This was my part of story. But one question has the power to either make it or break it – Do you believe you have confidence?

They say change is the only constant thing in life. I believe Change is other definition of life. With my year long journey with Toastmasters, now I accept that change is the only truth of life. To accept the eternal truth, one needs to have confidence and confidence in plenty. The confidence should be like a solid, which even when challenged will never backed down. The confidence should be your armor against all odds.

So, from where will we get this confidence? And when we find it , will this confidence remain with us ?

It’s a myth that confidence is a state of mind which is built by a constant thinking. The fact is confidence is within you, it’s in your heart; it’s in your belief.  Confidence creates a positive vibe around us and spreads too.  Don’t tell me you don’t try certain dance steps from Dance India Dance at home , don’t tell me you stop yourself singing in bathroom, don’t tell me  you  don’t try your hands at your favorite cuisine at home. No matter how absurd you may have performed it gives you a certain sense of happiness and satisfaction. A feeling of being ‘too good’.    

So, clearly you have the desire, take a step forward show confidence in yourself and just do it. Who knows the world around you may feel proud of you.

You love to dance, dance with your friends, feel the spotlight on you. You love to sing, then why in confines of your bathroom, don’t you think that echo ruins the melody? Call your buddies for Sunday brunch, have fun , someone may like the food and ask for tips!! Try it out

Find confidence in whatever you love to do to overcome the fears you always desire. It may not be easy because in reality, the world behaves in such a way that makes a vicious cycle revolving 360-degree without any clue. You may have fought with your fears and gave a shot but in the end, found yourself back to same place.  It must be very hard.

Most importantly, it is your confidence that tells your true worth no matter where you are and what you might be doing. Confidence is a treasure which boosts our  morale and helps in keeping us focused towards our dream despite of all odds.

And if you are thinking how to retain this confidence (I know it’s fragile) ,then have a TEAR in your eye.

Try , Enact, Analyse , Reform.

As I have been practicing this via Toastmasters, though I will be completing CC this afternoon , I don’t want to stop now. For me the fun and learning has just begun! so having said that I am confident that  I have inspired you enough to come forward and present your icebreaker , what you all need is just the CONFIDENCE and let it oozes out from your pores.

Let me know your take on this.

Keep Talking,

Saakshi

Life is what you make of it

Coffee bean on transparent background. Better ...

Coffee bean on transparent background. Better resolution version is to come. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hie,

Got the following story in a mail, feel like sharing with you all. Indeed a big life lesson from a small simple incident.

Here it goes ….

A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee…You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up, She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ‘ Tell me what you see.’

‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, mother?’

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

‘Which are you?’ she asked her daughter. ‘When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling.

Live your life so at the end, you’re the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

May we all be COFFEE!

 

Keep the spirits high,

Saakshi

What do you expect from life ?

Hie,

How are you doing today ?

Fit and Fine !!

Do you breathe heavy after climbing 5-6 flight of stairs?

When did last time you took Medical help to keep yourself active and agile?

Stats say India’s life expectancy is 65.77 years for males and 67.95 years for females . Women live more than 2 years 🙂  probably to take into account the additional time they need to spend in bathroom in front of mirror :).

Life expectancy – We all understand the term to mean the average life span of a group of people. But I’m here to talk about a bigger idea ….

Ladies and Gentlemen – what you expect from your life.

A decent 5 BHK flat , actually several in few exotic locations, Samsung Galaxy S III, Audi in the car park, unlimited Spa and Sauna coupons, a beautiful relationship to bank upon , a calm and serene family environment. A grossly upper paid white color job, where your hours will be so much, where your responsibilities will be so much.

That is what is expected of you.  And if you successfully manage to live up to it, it will be an awful waste. Trust me.

They say aim high, dream higher, the outcome will be unparalleled to those average people who don’t even put efforts to plan.

I say, Close your eyes , ask few questions to yourself :

Who are these average people?  – Your Parents ?  Friends ? Spouse ? Neighbors ? Colleagues ?  in – laws ? Cousins ? Siblings ?  ………

What are your aims and dreams? and most important

Who is deciding them for you? – Raise your hands if you and only you are expecting such things from life, without the pressure from ‘average people’.

The eye opener.

How many times you have been concerned about your pulse rate not inches on your waist? Every day you see chunks of human beings running to and fro at a breakneck speed trying to overtake each other as fast as they can, so that they can ‘afford’ their lives a way better than ‘average people’.

“Her husband wants her to join gym, coz she is not size zero as  Kareena Kapoor .”

“We started together, and are at same designation , how come he owns such a high end car”

“They are flying to Kathmandu for summer break, I won’t settle for less than Singapore. ”

“Hey kid, you have to score more than Rohan in Class XII result.”

Ain’t you guys  tired of all this ? I am sure; no one wants to live life according to boundaries set by so called ‘average people’. Then, why don’t we make our own goals, create our own expectancies. Burn our midnight petrol and achieve them.

Life is like an  artist’s canvas. Feel free to create your masterpiece; section by section in the simplest way you know, use as many colors as you can , it will come out to be neat and beautiful.

* Terms and Conditions Applied – Life has no eraser and size of the canvas is not known.

Just paint your dreams as if your life will be over today. At this point of time (I believe majority of the audience is above 20 yrs) you all have grown as tall as you can be, you look probably the best that you would be ever looking, you are physically the fittest you could be in your entire life .

This is as good as it gets, it is all downhill from here. Who knows?

You have got everything you need for life. Then why want set of expectations form some average people ??

I will leave this podium, you all will get busy in your work, tomorrow when you will wake, and the cycle will be the same , I request you to please give a thought again –   What did YOU expect from life ?

PS : My toastmasters speech today 🙂 and very well received.

Regards,

Saakshi

Why ? few things I don’t understand !

Hie,

These days, I am bit lost …so many things going around that I can’t understand why? Needless to say in a random order, I am just confused 😐

  1. Who gives water to my bamboo plant (beautifully placed on my desk) every day? Who ever do so, I appreciate your help but please have mercy on it and do not fill water till top!
  2. Why women are the biggest enemy of women? Can even other women claim to understand women? Do we have to be Sherlock Holmes!
  3. Why the hell they have said – Rs 86 as a new poverty line in India? Insane !
  4. Why do we have a bad hair day on the day when we look pretty? 
  5. Why twitter make trends like Sonakshi Sinha’s forehead ? Dear twitter , you don’t have to behave like insensible evil brained Indian politician. Please. 
  6. I just don’t understand Stock market / mutual funds / credit cards – for me it would be better to invest in Gold/ PPF / Fixed Deposits / Infrastructure Bonds . I prepare a budget sheet , use debit card , I know I am old school ..but  this is how I manage to keep myself safe and secured 🙂 
  7. Hype created for ‘ Race for President’. The first person of India !! Instead of choosing any popular guy , can govt. select a person who is not just a pre programmed low efficient machine to sign papers. With no offence , I just want to make a point that , please don’t delay  few highly urgent and important decisions for exceptionally long years eg  Kasab , for what  ‘type of’ mercy they are waiting to take decision.  Hang him.                                                                                                                                                                                          We need a leader who has a sensible rational logical analytical mindset and capable to act. 
  8. Gender biasing , India is an orthodox country where women are considered as inferior , no matter  if they are educated &  independent ,even if our President is a women , we face loads of unwritten and unsaid DON’Ts.  almost every other day.   Okay ,  we are born and bought up  in such envt , but still can’t understand why  ??? 
  9. Why do women have mood swings? 
  10. When will I be able get rid of these dark circles? 
  11. Fascination of play station/android games . No points for guessing  – I don’t play. 
  12. Why do people lie , when they know that I am very much aware of their lying ?
  13. Why do I cry , when I can’t hold my anger ? Good for the other party , I just can’t shout or show tantrums ,I  remain silent and isolate in my den and at times cry … Notes to self – Improve and let it go. 
  14. Why didn’t Enrique replied to my tweets on his birthday 😥 
  15. Why did I left that awesome bag just because it was way to expensive at Janpath , last year ?  Women , I swear !

Well guys , I believe I won’t get answers to these WHYs and on a honest note , I don’t care much (except few). I am not frustrated , its just the phase I am going through (probably  bad luck days). Never mind.

How are you doing ?

Love,

Saakshi

Titanic : 3 lessons for a Business Analyst

Some make it big.

Some make it legendary.

Some make it an epic failure.

Titanic , the tragic ship becomes the inspiration of many books, movies , remake In 3Ds. Titanic (the movie) was the first english movie I saw chupke-chupke on cable TV, its charm has totally mesmerized me. The sinking scenes made me cry. Being a kid (I would be in 6th standard) I learned how to act at the time of crisis, how to keep updating our decisions sensing the need of the hour and how to keep your cool. (Of course , how to stand on the deck of ship *wink *wink )

I managed to watch Titanic 3D three times since it’s release and thought the learning can be extended to any domain.

Here are the 3 learning’s as a Business Analyst (BA) from Titanic.

1.    Oh yeah , I know it all 🙂  

The mighty and glorious Titanic was believed to be ‘unsinkable’. For that reason, it did not carry the required number of lifeboats. This was one of the biggest causes of loss of life on the ship. The belief that the ship was unsinkable ultimately led to disaster.

Lesson for BA : Your experience and knowledge (read as assumptions) are so powerful that they directly affect how you think, learn and work. When you believe something to be correct, you act in accordance with that knowledge (assumption). Ours is a world where people don’t know what they want and are willing to make us go through hell to get it. Identify, challenge, figure out loop holes and move beyond any assumptions that could ultimately spell disaster for you.

2.      Overconfidence is Catastrophic

Overestimating the capability of the Titanic led the captain to make several perilous decisions. One such decision was to abandon the safety drill of lifeboat practice in lieu of a recording a faster sailing time to New York. Another such decision was to increase the speed of the ship, even though a neighboring ship had turned off their engines believing that the waters were treacherous.

Lesson for BA : Invest good amount of brain and time on effort estimation. Follow work break down structure and project plan religiously. Make the team be on same page and try to maintain a journal titled – lessons learned. Keep reviewing the status and the problems faced. No project can succeed without management support. The best sort of management support is the kind in which management doesn’t find out about the project until it’s a success.

3.    Address Limitations

The creators of the Titanic feared nothing. They had built a ship that could overcome the major weaknesses in ship design that caused so many ships to sink in the past. But the ‘mathematical certainty’ did happen 😦

Lesson for BABeing able to design workarounds we can do magic !! We can push our limits and deliver a better, more flexible, robust software product and please the customer, but still there is always a scope of ‘out of scope’ features pouring in. Be specific and clear about these, and address them well in time. Save your well toned neck 🙂  No matter how much you say it to be a demand problem, it’s a technical limitation, accept it. There is always a room for beta version or next phase of release

 

Source : This article is highly influenced by the original one at http://www.greatmindsinspire.com/5_Life_Long_Lessons_that_we_can_Learn_from_the_Titanic/Default.850.html

Hope you all agree with me. Have some more learning / suggestions, please drop in 🙂

Saakshi

Customer Delight

Our organization’s Quality Policy which is displayed on our workstations right in front of our eyes says ,

We aim to be preferred global service provider for IT related services, by consistently delighting the customer and setting industry best practices.”

Yesterday was like any other day until I read our Quality Policy again. The word ‘customer delight’ caught my attention. And the immediate reaction was – when did anybody ever get up in the morning and think “Cool! A new day for upsetting customers”. Apart from the Devil himself, No body.

Hey  dreary warriors of service industry ,

 Like most of the companies our organization also uses the NPS – Net Promoter Score as the customer loyalty metric. I am working on 6 projects and yesterday for the month of March I received emails announcing that I had scored the perfect 10 in 4 of them, One customer gave me 8 (which was not too bad) but what me really mad was that I got a blank entry in one. I can understand that he was having a busy day , but so much so that he missed my NPS entry :

Customers awarding me 10 must be delighted. Customers giving me 8 must be satisfied and the blank entry, I would say they are not loyal.

Let us learn some dictionary meanings  

Satisfaction – the contentment one feels when one has fulfilled a desire, need, or expectation. 

 Delight is, to take great pleasure when your expectations are exceeded. 

 Loyalty is having the feelings of allegiance. 

These three simple words have a slightly different meaning, but all have a significant impact on the attitudes and behaviors of customers. Clearly, satisfaction is the minimal requirements to play – to truly develop a loyal or at least a return customer, one must go beyond satisfaction to delight.

When I was a little girl, I used to get upset whenever I had any fights with any of my friends. I would show tantrums and skip dinner. It was my dad who took me out for walks for soothing and yet wise words. Being an obedient daughter I used to listen to him carefully and absorb all that. In return he always delighted me with a candy bar. I never had expected that. Same is with our customers. Customer expectations are typically not very high. Give them 2G they are happy unless and until they know about 3G. Our job is to surprise them with what they were not even expecting. Now the question that arises is – how do we do that?

The NPS scores , the perfect 10s, respectable 8 and a blank entry  made me think about this golden rule , (on second thoughts, looking at the gold prices today) let me call it a Platinum rule.

 DAD 🙂  yes inspired from my DAD , my hero.

DAD stands for Discover Act and Delight.

Discover – Whenever you want to delight your customers you will have to first discover their expectations or needs. Only then will you be able to fulfill them or exceed them. Now how will you sense your customer’s expectations; clearly it is not an easy task. You should always strive to cultivate your dynamic sensors that will help you discover them clearly. Pay attention to your clients’, they give you various hints via mails, on phone calls.

If somehow it doesn’t work, then it is the time to change the shoes , be the customer of your own business. This will help you identify where your business is falling short on creating customer delight.

Do you serve your customers with an A* attitude? Or do you service them like YOU are doing them a favor?

Discover yourself.

Act – you got the customer’s expectations. It is time to act on it, not just to fulfill it but to exceed it. Service industry is a competitive world. You need customers to return with business. What you will do then? Give them options, that way it’s easy for customer to decide want they want and what they don’t rather than leaving them wandering.  Think what else you can provide them!

Promptness is a virtue.

Delight – Inform customers of your intent to evoke customer delight.  Asking help actually strengthens the bond, it does not weaken it. Make this message a part of your campaign from the very beginning. And when you achieve it make sure it is acknowledged. Customers may not know what exactly they want but they have a pretty good idea of what they like and dislike when confronted with it. 

 Take advantage of that.  You might learn something.

My dear warriors of the service industry, a bit of engagement, a bit of loyalty, a bit of consumer delight is all that we want.

To conclude let me quote a Poster which we see in our office everyday

It says

Customers are too good to lose, let’s make them (^ MORE THAN) happy.

 

 

PS : This is my toastmasters 7 th project , which I also delieverd in International Speech contest and won second position.

 

Regards,

Saakshi

The Expert Enough Manifesto


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Ladies manifesto


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This is your life.

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The Passive Agressive Manifesto

 

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