It is the Journey not the Destination

April 4, 2016

Today’s world is of instant gratification. We do something and then expect an immediate result from that effort. Or at least we expect something in future, preferably in the near future. We tie our happiness to the outcome, and thus our entire focus shifts from the journey to the destination. That’s how we train our children too – “finish your homework and then you can watch TV,” or “if you get good grades, I will get you the latest model of iPhone.” And that’s how we work in the corporate world, which lives and dies by quarters. If the quarterly results are good, the stocks go up. What if, I say, perform to the fullest but let’s not get hung up on the results? Pretty dramatic! Most of the times, our results are directly proportional to our efforts but there are always times when it is not. And that’s just fine.

We work hard and smart because we want results. But often we see that even when we give our best, the results are not as per our expectations. Yet, we feel satisfied and happy – because, we realize that we enjoyed what we did; we were in the zone; and there were factors beyond our control that dictated the outcome. Many a times, we lose track of time when we are fully engrossed in whatever we are doing. Whenever we give our 100% to an effort – with our full attention, with our full being and presence, with passion and enthusiasm – we seem to enjoy our work. We look forward to our work. We are, in fact, enjoying the journey without thinking about the destination. We are happier! And that’s what the life is about – being happy.

When the results are not to our expectations, we feel dejected, disappointed and even depressed. And why not? We had all the right intentions and efforts in completing the work, so what’s the harm in expecting some monetary or non-monetary returns from it! Right? Not really. The Newton’s law of action and reaction does not always apply to real life where there are many factors that can move the outcome from ideal to less-than-ideal. The sooner we realize this, the better it is for us to accept the outcome.

Especially, when we associate our ego with our efforts, any outcome less than ideal feels like a thorn in our lives. We expect and hence, we get dejected. For example, sometimes even our most sincere and earnest advice gets rejected or ignored by our near and dear ones. We get hurt. Our ego then responds to the situation by choosing to “not care” anymore. But actually, we do care and want our advice to be heeded. Somewhere deep in our egoist mind, we want that person to fail and come back to us for guidance because they did not lis

ten to us the first time. The sooner we realize that our role and contribution is over when we delivered our sincere effort and the fact that the results are not in our hands, the more at peace we will be.

We are in a happier place, when we give 100% to our efforts and then let the universal forces decide the outcome. More important is to live with the principle of, “I don’t mind, what happens.” Let’s get detached from the outcome of our efforts and just put in our best every time. Let’s be open and accepting. There is always a reason, why some things don’t happen the way we want it. We may or may not come to know of that reason. Let’s focus on “how” instead of “why” or “why not”. Let’s be happy rather than being just successful.

I Don’t Mind, What Happens.

July 2, 2015

These words are from a well-known spiritual leader from India – J Krishnamurti. Through these words, he shared his life’s learning with the world. This one sentence has lot of meaning behind it. And since the time I have come across it, I have embraced it as part of my being. The following is my interpretation of the profound saying.

To begin with, these words from J Krishnamurti do not indicate any carelessness or arrogance. Hence, they should not be interpreted as, “I don’t care, what happens.” This saying also does not teach you to remain inactive and non-responsive to things, as they happen in your life. These words don’t ask you to be insensitive to what is happening in the world. And the saying does not teach you to suffer through your lives, because of others’ actions and words.

On the contrary, J Krishnamurti understood the secret of being happy in life. He shares his experiences and wisdom through happinessthese words and teaches us to rise about situations in our lives. He teaches us to be non-judgmental for people around us and to be detached from the materialistic world – both from people and things. And he is asking us to be aware and open in our lives to people and situations so that we start responding rather than reacting to life. In other words, he is asking us to live our lives objectively rather than subjectively. Very profound!

I use this great teaching in my professional and personal life. I wrote this saying on my office white board, to constantly remind of this wonderful saying and its underlying deep meaning. This saying reminds me to be happy, content and thankful, during all ups and downs of my life. If there is something happening in my life that is not of my liking, it reminds me to remain detached. If I get praised for my contributions, it teaches me to keep my feet on ground. If someone leaves this material world for the higher worlds, it helps me accept the cycle of life and death with calmness. If I notice others’ unfavorable actions and behaviors, it helps me cope with the grief without holding any grudges. It teaches me to do take responsive (rather than reactionary) actions, so that I continue to learn from my mistakes, improve my actions and grow as a soul. It constantly reminds me that I have a larger purpose in my life than worrying about petty egoistic issues, and that my life is of limited duration and I must live in the moment to make the most of it.

I encourage all my readers to absorb this great teaching and make an effort to live it. If you successfully soak its learning in your lives, you will be much happier. If you do, great! And if you don’t, know that you are still evolving. And evolution is a good thing.

3D Printing is here to stay…

February 8, 2015

The adoption of 3D Printing or Additive Manufacturing (AM) is on the rise. With over 100% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for 3D Printer Shipments, the market is taking 3D Printing lot more seriously than before.

3D Printing is different from the traditional manufacturing, which can also be described as subtractive manufacturing. In traditional discrete manufacturing, one takes a larger piece of raw material to cut, bend, shape, press or perform some other action to get a finished component and some scrap. Most manufacturing systems are designed to manage this process to reduce scrap and increase quality, hence lower rejections/waste. Traditional manufacturing also relies a lot on repetitive manufacturing and as volumes increase the cost per unit production decreases to deliver profits.

3D Printing

Traditional Manufacturing

Design Complexity

Mass Production

Speed to Market

Choice of Materials

Waste Reduction

Manufacturing Large Parts

3D Printing is lot more like injection molding used in the Plastics and Rubber industry, where material is infused together with heat, adhesives or binding agents to produce a finished component, with literally no wastage or scrap. There are many 3D Printing technologies in practice; however, each has its shortcomings preventing mass production and wider usage. However, very complex designs can be produced using 3D Printing. And there is literally no tooling needed for 3D Printing, which typically is 95+% of the manufacturing cost (in case of injection molding). And as the technology improves, we expect 3D Printing to deliver higher speed, more robust and long-lasting output. Today, very few metal component-producing options exist for 3D Printing, but expect a change in its technology to go beyond plastics and into metals.

3D Printing impacts pretty much all aspects of the manufacturing supply chain,

Design Phase – 3D Printing is widely being used today for prototyping. CAD designs are fed directly to the 3D printer and within hours a complex revision of the design is produced for approval. This reduces lot of back-and-forth during the design phase. Decisions are being taken in fraction of time as compared to today’s traditional ETO enviroScreen Shot 2014-08-04 at 6.44.13 PMnment. In the A&D industry, this ETO phase could span years before a design is finalized.

Build Phase – With literally no tooling needed and no wastage, 3D Printing is capable of producing varied designs one after another, with minimal human involvement. There is less of machine operation needs. Most 3D Printing technologies are capable of producing near-finish quality component, which might need brushing, polishing or light scraping. Industry today is utilizing 3D Printing for mass customization to deliver finished products to consumers at low cost and high personalization. Examples of mass customization using 3D Printing are, teeth whitening molds, hearing aid ear buds and more.

Deliver Phase – 3D Printing is altering the supply chain for manufacturers and is moving manufacturing closer to its users. The need for warehousing and shipping 3D printed component has reduced to zero in some cases. Military is using 3D Printing for spare parts production at the battlefield. Navy is using 3D Printing for emergencies instead of flying a spare part in the middle of the ocean. Space stations are experimenting with 3D Printing, so that they can perform minor repairs as they wait for the next airbus to arrive.Gartner 3D Printing

While 3D Printing presents lot of opportunities for the manufacturing industry, its adoption has been a bit slow. It has its own limitations, as large parts cannot be produced using 3D Printing. The produced material is still not of high strength. Cost of production is still high to justify mass production. CAD designs need skilled operators. However, in 2014 Gartner estimated that 3D Printing in Manufacturing Operations is entering the Trough of Disillusionment area. It is only a matter of time (3-5 years) before 3D Printing crosses the chasm and becomes a mainstream solution. In summary, 3D Printing is here to stay. It is a trend that we all need to pay close attention to.

Being Human

January 31, 2015

We are human beings. And we are not perfect. We are on a journey to improve as a person, every day of our lives. And as we acknowledge and accept imperfections of life and people around us, we are to achieve one of the important purposes of our liveHuman Beings – to overcome our biggest fear or folly, our Achilles heel.

This one big thing could be any shortcoming that we have, including lying, stealing, anger, depression, egoistic behavior, needy nature, lust and dependency on others. This one big thing could also be the fear of heights, closed spaces, water, fire, darkness, flying, standing up for oneself or others and more. As humans, we strive to improve with every opportunity we get and do overcome many of our shortcomings, but this one big thing takes the most energy and time from us. Funny thing is that we kind of get used to living with it. Sometimes this one big thing starts defining our very being.

We need to identify that one big thing in our lives. It should not be difficult. Our life revolves around it. Let’s not be defensive about it. And let’s make a conscious effort to slowly overcome it. It is not going to be easy. It might take years. More important thing is to recognize the shortcoming and be aware of it. It could be a slow painful process but it is worth it. After all, it is the purposes of our lives too!Our Life

Circumstances will always drag us to this one thing again and again. Let’s change our circumstances. Let’s avoid company that induces that behavior. Let’s make new friends or find peace with the existing ones. I am fighting my own fear/folly in my life and really hope to overcome it one day. Hope we all do.

 

Right or Wrong – A lifelong dilemma

January 2, 2015

Often we ask ourselves, whether what we are saying or doing is right or wrong! I want to congratulate you for asking that question. However, the next important question is – how can we tell?!! What looks right to us could be wrong in that situation or for the person in front of us. After all, right and wrong are two sides of the same coin. This dilemma stays with most of us for most of our lives.

Right or Wrong

Right or Wrong

I had the opportunity to ask this question to a saint of the modern times – Shri Shri Ravi Shankar ji. I asked, “how can we differentiate between right and wrong?” And Guru ji responded to this question in the simplest yet most profound manner. His answer has become part of me and will continue to do so for life. He said smilingly, “If by doing something you experience a short-term loss but a long-term gain, it is the right thing to do. And on the flip side, if by doing something you experience a short-term gain but a long-term loss, it is the wrong thing to do.”

Is that it? As simple as that!! Indeed!!! Let’s try and apply this principle to some aspects of our lives.

One day, we feel lazy and choose to doze off for an extra half an hour. That extra half an hour could lead us to rush through to the office. We might have to speed up on the highway and in the back of our minds; we are constantly hoping that the police do not give us a speeding ticket. With everything else going on our lives, that extra burden on our minds is unhealthy. Is that short-term gain worth our health or peace of mind or the risk of getting a speeding ticket! On the other hand, if you are not feeling well or are tired and can better manage your schedule at the office, do take that extra 30 minutes rest. Because by forcing yourself to get to a meeting at 8 am, you can further aggravate your sickness and that might mean having to stay away from your office for the next two to three days. Is that short-term gain of being on time to the office worth our health! Short-term gain = long-term loss.

On the flip side, you do get late in waking up one day. And as you are driving to the office, there is an old man crossing the street and you stop your car to make sure he reaches safely on the other side. You get further delayed, but the smile on that old man’s face has made your day. You feel good and generally happy. Another alternative could be – to be on time to the office, you woke up 30 minutes earlier. You made sure that had enough time to get ready and get to the office for that meeting. You chose to sacrifice your thirty minutes of sleep that day for the peace of mind you needed in the meeting. Short-tem loss = long-term gain.

Right or Wrong

Right or Wrong

If we follow this simple principle in our lives, our lives will be much better. You will notice that you have fewer regrets in life, because you did the right thing at that time even though it meant facing an adverse situation. Isn’t it what we come to the earth for – to face our demons, learn from those experiences and grow our souls!

Fate and Faith

November 26, 2014

We don’t get everything we want in our lives. There is an old saying in India that goes as follows (transliterated) – “no one ever gets the entire world, sometimes they don’t get the sky and sometimes the earth”. While the saying takes extreme examples to show how we lack something of importance in our lives, it does very clearly state the fact that people generally don’t get everything in their lives. And this applies to people of all factions, races, colors, monies and geographies.

Poor crave for money and comfort, while rich crave for love and peace. Those who are alone seek a companion, while some look to get away from worldly matters. Couples with no kids wish for a young one, while those with kids wish for their successes. People are generally not happy with at least one of these factors – surroundings, jobs, families, means, distances, weather conditions, and the list goes on. FaithFate

People try to cope with their longings in different ways. But really there are two ways one can co-exist peacefully in this world – fate or faith (often both). Fate and faith have their roots in our societies for thousands of years. We don’t understand everything that happens to us. And we ask – why is it happening to me? While there is no satisfactory answer to this universal question, fate and faith provide the most comfort to people. Origin of fate and faith arguably comes from opposite ends of our planet. Fate is more of an eastern philosophy and way of living. While, faith is more from the western world.

Fate has its root in karma and reincarnation. Fate let’s people accept their now with an understanding that this is meant to be. Whatever is happening to us, it is because of our karma in this and our previous lives. And until that karma is repaid, we will continue to have something lacking in our lives. There is a ray of hope that one day the things will be better. Due to the acceptance of now, there is a general contentment with life. We must make sure that this contentment does not grow into laziness and submission and we must continue to build our good karma for future.

Faith has its root in religion and the existence of a universal supreme. Faith let’s people accept their now with an understanding that this is a test of our beliefs. Whatever is happening to us, it is because we are precious human beings and we should learn to grow in our lives. Faith is generally associated with miracles, or at least an expectation for it. There is a ray of hope that one day the things will be better. Due to the acceptance of being loved, there is a general contentment with life. We must make sure that this contentment does not grow into passive aggressive behavior and we must continue to pray and act in good faith.

An old Indian fable goes as follows – a small bird was sitting on a branch in a jungle. From far, she sees the angel of death. The angel looked at the little bird in a meaningful way, enough to scare the bird. Bird’s friend, a swan, offers to take the little bird to the top of the mountain in a cave. The plan was great! The little bird got off at the mountaintop and the swan flew away. The moment the little bird entered the cave; the angel of death was waiting for her. The angel said, “when I saw you at the foothill earlier, I was wondering how you will reach the mountaintop in such a short time. You are supposed to die in this cave and your time is now”.AnswersAhead

Fate might explain this story by saying that it was meant to be and bird’s fate drew her to the cave. Faith might explain that your work on this planet is done and it was God’s miracle that the swan brought you here. Both provide comfort for the dying bird. Both are right in their way and one can take solace in either or both of these belief systems.

“There is no meaning to fate, if you don’t have faith” – Swetha Dhanagari

 

Follow-the-Sun Targeting

December 30, 2013

For online advertisers, it is important that they understand their target users better, so that they can design their ad campaigns accordingly. For example, advertisers must understand how users use different devices (PCs, Tablets and Smartphones) in a day. And then target these users to increase chances of interactions with their ads.

ImageUsers in the US follow a pattern in their device usage. Early mornings, as they get up, they look at their smartphones more than any other device. I can relate to that behavior, as with half open eyes, first thing I look at are my emails, messages and notifications. 🙂

As the morning starts, there is considerable increase in the use of PCs – that’s when either they are working (home or office) or browsing for news/products, after the kids have gone to school.

During daytime, the use of PCs continues while there is an increasing usage of the tablets and smartphones. People like to use their smartphones while standing in line for coffee, lunch, or during commute.

At around 5 pm local time, the usage of tablets just takes off. This is when kids take over the family shared device, and adults find a downtime in front of the TV with their tablets next to them.

Somewhere around mid-night, while smartphones are still being used sparingly (last minute email check!), the use of PCs and Tablets dies down considerably.

ImageThe usage across devices varies a bit, based on the demographics (age and gender). Studies have shown that 66% of online adults move across PC & mobile platforms every day. Use of mobile devices has increased so much that 51% of all online time is spent on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). In summary, PCs dominate daytime usage, tablets rule evenings, and smartphones are constant companions.

By designing online ad campaigns that reach users cross-device, targeting specific devices during specific times of the day, can result in more chances that the ad gets viewed. Hence, more chances that users interact with ads, thereby delivering ROI for advertisers. Advertisers need to make sure that they have a story to tell to users, irrespective of which device they see their ads on. One would want to ensure that users are not inundated with ads from the same advertiser, across devices such that the ad impressions no longer correlate with its ROI.

Care must be taken to not completely eliminate a device from the mix, but increase the weightage of device for the ad delivery based on time of the day. For example, one could book more impressions for tablets from 5 pm to 10 pm, while stress more on PCs from 7 am to 5 pm. While targeting people with 50 plus age group, who switch between PCs and mobile devices equally, a focused campaign for PC during the day and mobile devices during evenings might return a good ROI.

Note that follow-the-Sun targeting does not guarantee an ROI. This approach caters to the device time. However, other factors such as brand factor, overall messaging, creative appeal, rich media interaction, ad placement, ad size, ad behavior, ad experience, ad frequency, ad responsiveness, and other targeting attributes play a key role in making an online ad campaign a success.

Happy targeting!

Source: http://advertising.yahoo.com/blogs/advertising/infographic-demographics-cross-screen-jumpers-195441755.html

Content Clasification = Better Monetization

August 15, 2013

In my previous blog, I had discussed the what, why and where of content classification as well as how it bringsWebsite-Monetization more value to a Web publisher’s inventory. In this blog, I will discuss how a publisher can create more value by keeping the content classification dynamic and granular.

Content classification can be a one-off activity. As a publisher you can go through your entire published site and determine the what, why & where of the content, and come out with a list of content topics that represent your content. In such cases, you will tend to define high-level topics and broader categories for your content. If your advertisers are looking to target based on such broad categorization of sites (for example, travel, entertainment, sports, etc.), then this one-off categorization process of content works just fine. On the other hand, if the advertisers are looking to target specific granular content categories such as pages with information on retirement plans for seniors or hybrid cars with electrical option, then you need to have content classification as an on-going activity.

As you know that most online content is not static. As content changes, you need to make sure that the content classification also stays current & relevant. Depending on the nature of the content of your site and the extent to which you want the advertisers to value your site for advertisement, you should look to automate the content classification process either through an in-house initiative or with the help of a 3rd party company that specializes in content classification. There are specialist 3rd party content classification companies who have developed advanced algorithms to crawl online content, differentiate the ad content from the actual page content, determine the overall page quality signals, classify each page as brand safe or not using various criteria, and provide content categories for those pages to advertisement buyers for targeting & filtering purposes. Depending on the integration mechanism with these 3rd party technologies, the content categories can be as close as near real time, allowing advertisers to make more relevant & timely offers to online viewers.

As a publisher of the content online, it is in your interest to have your content classified comprehensively, accurately, and make it available for monetization. At the same time, you may want to choose which buyers have access to content categories for their campaigns, thereby creating value through a selection process. You may also want to put a cost structure in place so that you attract those serious buyers who value the content and the quality of the viewers that frequent your sites. One big side advantage of content classification is monitoring the overall health of your site. Once you know your content down to page level including the user-generated content (UGC), you can continue to control & improve quality of your content, thereby providing a quality user experience. A win-win situation for all – you, viewers, and advertisers.

Content Classification – The What, Where and Why of Targeting

August 3, 2013

As a Web publisher, it is in your interest to help advertisers reach viewers of your Web site with precision so why-us1that they can better connect and engage with those users. Online advertisers use various methods for reaching the right audience on the right places and at the right time. For example, they have used user’s online activities including browsing history, searches, social interactions and online purchases to uniquely understand online users and then present them with their product & services at relevant times and appropriate sites. Depending on the outcome of active discussions going on around Do-Not-Track (DNT), advertisers might have to lean towards other alternative ways to reach their desired audience – content targeting being one such option. Note that content targeting does not replace audience targeting and in fact, they complement each other very well.

A publisher can accurately classify the content of their online presence. This will let the advertisers combine both audience & content targeting to zoom in to just the right users for their products & services at the right places. Content targeting defines the what, why and where of the user.

For each page that the publisher maintains on its Web site, it can determine “what” the page is about. What are the users looking for when they come to this page? For a blog writer, who specializes in say social media marketing the answer is simpler than a general news page containing news articles that constantly change and there is no simple way to classify general news in few content categories. For a site that sells residential real estate, the content topics are easier to define than a site that has tons of user-generated content, with a plethora of content topics. Knowing what the page is about will help a relevant product/service provider match users’ interest with their marketing message/offer for higher engagement.

A publisher can also establish “why” the users are coming to each page. Are the users looking for information, and hence researching & reading about topics? Or are they looking to provide their opinion/share their thoughts with the world? Are the users buying/selling goods and services on that page/site or are they watching videos to entertain themselves? Knowing why the users come to a page and how they are interacting with it, will help a relevant product/service provider match users’ activities with their marketing message/offer.

A publisher can also expose the location (URL) of a page for targeting so that the advertisers can know “where” the users are coming to. If an advertiser has seen better engagement and results from its previous campaigns on certain pages, it would want to repeat that success by targeting users of that page (and similar other pages) in its campaigns.

As a publisher of the content online, it is in your interest to have your content classified comprehensively and accurately so that advertisers buying ad space on your Web site know exactly what your site is about. Later we will discuss whether this classification is a one-time job or an on-going activity. We will also discuss the situations when it is not easy to identify the topics of a page.


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