Trust love, one more time. ~ Maya Angelou

Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time. ― Maya Angelou (April 4 1928 – May 28 2014) 

Today marks a sad day in the global literary field as a prominent author and a huge inspiration to readers like me passed away. Yes, I’m talking about Maya Angelou, the famous American writer. I have always been inspired by her writings and her optimism.

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The lines quoted above are among my personal favorite. I first came across these lines as a marketing student studying about how customer experiences register with customers, and why it is important to create memorable moments for them. But these are true for life in general as well — for when you remember a person, most of the times its is because of the way they made you feel though you hardly ever remember the exact things they said!

Maya Angelou – Rest in peace, power to you and your words! Here’s another one. Source – Mashable.

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American Airlines.. Engage, React, Respond

This post is about American Airlines and I am attempting to analyze the reasons behind the brand being among the Top 10 in Headstream Social 100 Brands Report 2013.

The report studies three social platforms for every brand – YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I had a look at the American Airlines’ social channels and its online activity.

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What did strike me about American Airlines instantly when I started browsing through its various channels, especially on Facebook and Twitter, was the amazingly and insanely high level of engagement with the online followers. The tone of communication even online is friendly and human and not as expected totally stern, monotonous and professional language.

The level of interaction with followers is kept high by frequent polls, contests and quizzes on their Twitter and Facebook page. Another amazing aspect of American Airlines’ online marketing is the way in which it relates to the customers by making them a part of their branding strategy. There are pictures of real customers and not actors having a good time in their lounge / taking wedding photographs in the lounge and during many memorable moments showcasing how American Airlines has touched the lives of many customers. This one here is really touching.

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https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151709835601078&set=a.357237131077.161299.7003656077&type=1&theater

The one specific that touched me was picture of a small child who lost his soft animal toy an owl on the flight. The attendant found it and the little one’s smiling picture was featured. It is definitely a win-win relationship for both the customer and the brand. Author Maya Angelou said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

As per the guidelines, I didn’t go through the ranking methodology of the report 🙂 After carefully, studying the social presence of American Airlines – trying to do as much hair splitting analysis as possible – I had a look at the methodology for ranking and the KPIs across each of the social media platforms. Not surprisingly, response time taken by the brand to reply to user comments and response rate i.e. no. of posts / comments replied to by the brand were significant engagement factors for Facebook and Twitter. Other than the standard ones like no. of views, like / dislike ratio, subscriber base, fan / follower growth rate, mentions etc.

And this totally makes sense because a social presence is not about just talking – for that there are traditional forms of marketing. Listening, reaction and response are inevitable aspects of marketing online. Great Learning..
P.S.: What followed after the post when this post was auto shared to my Twitter profile – instant response from American Airlines! 🙂 Amazing online engagement.. see the conversation snapshot below
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Smart Technology..Stupid People..??

During one of the classes on the Squared Online program last week, Aiden mentioned the shocking statistics “57% of people talk to people more online, than they do in real life.” This did force me to think and reflect back upon my own social behavior both online and offline. Though I am in love with the digital world and internet marketing, the reason I am trying to make a career out of it.
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Everyone of us have read articles on how Facebook is making people narcissist i.e. someone in love with themselves. Whenever I read such articles I used to think, “Oh! That’s for the teens and my social behavior is totally under control.” But there have been days when I talk to people more online, be it Official Messenger Tool at workplace, or Whatsapp, Gtalk, Facebook Mobile Chat on my smart phone. And that really makes me wonder, Do I really have a social life? Like Brian Solis mentions on his TED video “I love my social life!” after he enacts a day in his digital life.

One of the Social Media Pet Peeves (Yes, there is a term already :O ) I can easily identify of my own is online checking in of my location when I’m in a really happening place, and some of my friends present with me physically do get irritated by this behavior. Thankfully, I am not among those aspiring photographers who capture everything on their smart phones.

The fact that social media is changing our psychological behavior can’t be denied and sometimes we may not be even aware of our own behavioral change. This is scary! And being a millennial, I can’t even imagine how the future generations are going to behave like.

P.S: Do watch the TEDx video of Brian Solis if you haven’t..I’m a huge fan of his! 🙂

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Believe in you..

Belief is a loaded word! Belief or faith carries a huge weight in our lives.

The whole world revolves around belief, the belief in the greater goodness and the hope that good times would embrace us in future. As much as we talk about living in the moment and enjoying each day to the fullest, the truth is – the strong belief of a better tomorrow drives that strength to carry on and face each day with a smile knowing that failure or bad news may just be a day away. It won’t be wrong to say that our believes pretty much guide our lives.

I may be a hardcore and shameless optimist, self-proclaimed philosopher and the queen of wishful thinking! But everyone has those grey moments of self-doubt, when you question your own existence and the rationale behind your beliefs. When every single development around you tells you that it was all wrong in the first place. (yeah, you can definitely tell I am having those self-doubts again 😛 )

Learning not to believe once your belief fails you, is not a sign of strength. To believe again knowing the risks, therein lies the thrill. Never stop believing!!

And till your belief comes true, you can pretend that your ship’s not sinking.. love this song from Pretty Woman soundtrack.

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Happiness knows no bounds..

Real happiness doesn’t know any boundaries of reasons and it needs no explanation. It lies within oneself and finally, all comes down to the “glass half full or half empty” attitude in life.

More often than not, in life all of us have reasons to smile, more than one or two or three reasons. It’s incredible though how happinessconveniently we choose to ignore these reasons, even forget them and focus on what we don’t have. The “have nots” in life will always outweigh the “haves”. It’s the simple ‘law of scarcity’ in economics!!

In the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic, the main character justifies her impulsive buying behavior saying, “When I shop, the world gets better, and the world is better, but then it’s not, and I need to do it again.”  Anything that seems out of our bounds and limits is desirable. Amazing as it is.. the jubilation of attaining that – what is desired – is short lived and fizzles out, evaporates in thin air. Now you know why I always say, Life is “funny” all the time. 🙂

The traditional mindset that happiness always inter-relates with a reason is not false, but it is definitely not for the long run. We don’t realize the amount of time, effort, energy we give up on waiting for happiness to knock on our door – that car I never had, the branded shoe I couldn’t buy, the job I am planning to take up, and the list is endless. Real happiness lies in smiling at simplest joys of nature and life, not worrying about how tomorrow’s gonna look like. If one can do that everyday of their life.. then you have lived fully, each and every moment of everyday. Some wishful thinking that is, huh!!

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But hey, we all are work in progress! And most of us even in our busy schedules find out a reason to smile at something completely irrelevant to us, or simply appreciate nature. It’s not too hard! Agreed that happiness without a reason, is easier said than done – an idealistic scenario. Even as I write this, one part of my brain simply can’t stop thinking about the current impending concerns of my life. The demons inside us come back to haunt us sooner or later.

“The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.” – George Bernard Shaw

I find a lot of debate going on about this particular quote by GB Shaw and whom he considered or portrayed as superior in this statement. The ‘drunken man’ is ‘happy’ because he knows no tomorrow and ‘believes’, but is illogical and irrational at the same time considering his inebriated state. While, the ‘skeptic’ is more ‘sober’ and rational. This is the general belief. I have a different take on this! A ‘believer’ is ‘happy’ as he is an optimist and refuses to acknowledge that his belief would fail him. (Simply, discarding the believer because it equates with the drunken state of mind is not acceptable to me.)

More often that not, that belief is what would make everything fall in place – however, the means to achieve may differ. I am not propagating here that we start believing life is a fairy tale. But we can definitely believe that we can make it to be one, in our own way. Reality is far more interesting than a fairy tale.

Confident..seriosly?

The word confidence makes me slightly nervous, for I have never really understood its meaning. Yeah alright, I know the dictionary meaning which probably is the state of being certain about one’s actions, decisions, etc.

But when someone wants to know if I am a confident person, or if I am confident about an idea, decision..well, it makes my heart sink a bit. What if, I am wrong at the end! Yeah, now you know.. I get intimidated easily, at least in my mind if not on the exterior. But so do most of the people, don’t they! (At least, my experience with the world so far tells me that.)

Everyday we live fearing the consequences of our own decisions on our future, or others around us. Everyday we have to put on a tough and smiling exterior to show the world that we are confident, when inside we have no idea what’s gonna happen the next second. At workplace or personal space, any decision that you take ain’t gonna come with a guarantee.

Everyday we fear that others might realize that we have absolutely no idea what we’re doing and that we’re gonna be exposed. For me, I constantly live dreading the day when someone with a lot of might will tell me at my face,“Bugger off kiddo, you are a good for nothing, brainless idiot.” And you know what, the amazing part is it may have happened to me already a couple of times, although the words used were different but more or less meant the same thing. (I am not making a very good impression here, am I! :D) The point to be noted here is that I survived and I am proud of it, not so much proud of being brainless though.

The other day I was discussing with a close friend of mine on how important it is to believe in yourself and where does that belief come from. Well, over the years I have realized that self-belief is a divine and special feeling, that moment when you know that you’re gonna be in the safe zone no matter what! For me personally, that self belief comes from my worldly knowledge and experience so far, engaging in general good practices, being sincere and apolitical. After all, there is no unselfish act and you can expect good for yourself when you’re good. That’s where my teeny weeny confidence comes from, if you would ask me. Nevertheless, unfortunate incidents of being exposed may still happen. (Blame it on your Karma 🙂 )

“Be brave, take risks! Nothing can substitute experience.” ~ Paulo Coelho …… That’s another way of looking at it. The thought of learning something new and trying something different should make one more confident in daily lives. But there’s a catch to it, especially when you don’t want things to go wrong, in case the decisions can be life changing ones.

Just remember, everyone is sailing on the same boat and is equally vulnerable and scared to death inside. So when people tell me I am a brainless idiot, I know what’s really going on inside them and smile back.“The best part about realizing everyone is faking it, is that you get to stop faking it yourself. Now, that’s something I am really good at.. Being Genuine! 🙂

“Everyday I fight for all my future somethings
A thousand little wars I have to choose between
I could spend a lifetime earning things I don’t need
That’s like chasing rainbows and coming home empty
And if you strip me, strip it all away
If you strip me, what would you find
If you strip me, strip it all away
I’ll be alright
Take what you want steal my pride
Build me up or cut me down to size
Shut me out but I’ll just scream
I’m only one voice in a million
But you ain’t taking that from me..”

When I started penning this post on confidence sometime back, I stumbled upon this beautiful piece written by a fellow WordPresser featured on Freshly Pressed. Some of the ideas in this post are inspired from her post. What my 20s Taught Me: Everyone’s faking it

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North Star..

What started as a mere time pass, became a full blown obsession over a period of time. I am an ardent fan of the homicide series Castle and truly admire the humor element which has kept me hooked on to it, considering that murder investigations at times get so creepy and serious.

After watching the dramatic season 3 finale where Kate was shot which made me cry (whom BTW I truly adore, wish I could be like her strong, fearless and so pretty all the time), expectations where very high from season 4 finale. But whoa.. what was that!! Season 4 finale made me cry too..(you might say I cry easily watching such scenes)..but I really loved the season 4 finale and it became my favorite from the entire 4 seasons, so far. Castle and Kate finally kissed, but Kate also resigned from NYPD 😦

The highlight of this episode was Alexis’ speech. “There are some people who are so much a part of us, they will be with us no matter what. They are like our solid ground..our North Stars!!” This post is dedicated to all my north stars who will come to know I am talking about them, when they read this. 🙂

This is my favorite scene from the entire 4 seasons.. Don’t know what’s gonna happen in season 5! Surprise me, guys!! 🙂

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It’s choice..not chance..that determines your destiny.

They say that our life is defined by the choices that we make. The wrong ones, the good ones, the perfect ones, the brilliant ones, the unexpected ones. We are what our choices make us to be!! That kind of puts too much pressure at times, especially when we know that the same choices are life altering ones for our own self.

Steve Jobs once said in his famous Stanford speech, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.” Is that the trick? Is that how its done…. What if I am making the wrong choice? What happens next..? The irony is that I will never know unless I try the options. I have lived long enough to realize that not trying any of the options might leave me wondering forever for the rest of my life about how it could have been, what could have happened!!

Life is funny, ain’t it! When it’s not moving, we complain. And then when it moves too fast, we still complain! I guess humans are a messy lot.

All of us have heard this time and again that life is short, but that’s one hell of a truth, life is too damn short!! And that’s why our choices, steer our lives.

“Nothing goes as planned
Everything will break
People say goodbye
In their own special way
All that you rely on
And all that you could fake
Will leave you in the morning
Come find you in the day..

Everything will change.
Nothin stays the same.
And nobody here’s perfect.
Oh but everyones to blame…..”

Obsessed with this song!

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Truth is out there…. on the internet!

If you would shut your eyes and pretend not to see, hear or bother about what’s happening around you, it would still happen, it would still be the truth and the reality that you would so like not to be there. Rather if the truth or the reality discomforts you so much, isn’t it logical that you do something about it and change it. Well, only if our politicians were this logical.

This week started off with the unfathomable ire of Indian government against the social network giants worldwide. The reason being that some people in the government can’t take criticism in a good spirit and they have so much of free time that they read each and every post about themselves on Facebook, Google or other blogs. Gosh, now we know why the government is so dysfunctional and is working at a snail’s pace. Only if the people in the govt. understood that life is not a popularity contest, rather its about the way you do your work and change the world around you. Well, the govt. is definitely changing the world for us by making it even more difficult due to inflation, scams and corruption. Therefore, shouldn’t these and numerous other existing issues of the nation be concentrated upon, rather than the govt. behaving like a teenager and complaining about its popularity on Facebook!!

Another way to look at this is aren’t we going the China way in curbing the freedom of the media and internet, and is this justified!! Then why do we even call ourselves democratic, for the way the govt. has behaved in the past with some of the anti-govt. processions doesn’t normally happen in a democratic set up. If you would ask me, I feel the Indian govt. is behaving like a mad bull, desperately trying every move to save its face, popularity and gather support but quite opposite happens every time it does so.

What I am quite curios about is what comment or post exactly hurt the Congress govt. so much!! Is it the sea of information available on the internet about the Gandhi family, starting from secrets of Indira Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi’s Italian stories or Rahul Gandhi’s passport name!! Wasn’t much of it known to the public even earlier, if not all.

The point I am trying to make is that it doesn’t really matter to the public who are they governed by, if the governance is good. Its plain professionalism at work, if you are really good at your work no one would really bother about what you are doing in your personal space or have done in the past. The greatest example to prove this would be the infamous Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky affair, where Bill Clinton accepted his mistake and was also re-elected for the second term not only because he was honest about his mistake but also because all that US citizens expected from him was good governance!