Stoicism

Thousands of years ago, in Athens, a bunch of people followed this haggard, dark-skinned philosopher called Zeno of Citium. He delivered lectures from the porch of a famous Athenian site, Stoa Poikile (Painted Porch).

Zeno, although a rich guy, chose to live the life of an ascetic. His journey into the world of philosophy is an interesting story in itself. After surviving a shipwreck, he went to a bookshop in Athens. He loved the portrayal of Socrates in Xenophon’s book called Memorabilia.

Zeno’s search for a teacher like Socrates led him to a famous Cynic of his time, Crates of Thebes. Zeno became of pupil of Crates and then went on to learn under other famous philosophers of his time. Eventually, based on his years of study, he started a school of philosophy of his own.

Initially called Zenonians, his followers were later known as Stoics (derived from Stoa). This philosophy is today known as Stoicism.

Most of his lectures and teachings have been lost to the sands of time but some of his students managed to make notes and few of them survived.

Zeno divided his philosophy into three parts:

  • Logic
  • Physics
  • Ethics

Stoicism evolved and refined over the next few centuries. What we study as Stoicism today, though still based on Zeno’s teachings, has changed quite a bit. I hope to explore more on this topic in my eventual posts.

A lot has changed in the world since Zeno started teaching Stoicism, but surprisingly the teachings still hold.

Stoicism boasts of some famous students and followers over its long history (more on this later).

Much has been written and discussed about Stoicism. A simple online search will lead you to thousands of articles, books, social media posts etc. on this topic.

I stumbled upon Stoicism when I was looking for a framework for my life. Stoicism immediately resonated with me. I still am a novice and have a lot of learning to do, but I believe that Stoic thinking is an indispensable tool for me.

I suggest you take a look at Stoicism and decide if it can be a practical approach to living for you.

Why automate?

Remember the last time you were frustrated to do something repetitive at work? I do. Nothing drains energy like a boring, repetitive task.

Too much productive time is lost in doing things that can either be delegated, automated or deleted.

I am a big proponent of automation.

What is automation?

Automation is the process of letting a system do a task or set of recurring tasks with little to no involvement. Usually, you define and set up automation one time and it runs at pre-defined times.

How does it help?

Once you set up a process to run on automation, the tasks happen on their own. This frees up time for you to focus on activities that produce maximum impact for your business.

One should spend more time doing things that produce more income, instead of being busy with tasks that could have been given to a robot.

You cannot expect to compete with the same old methods.

How do I get started?

You do not need to be a technical person to get started. There are many tools available in the market that can provide you ready-made automations. The market leader is Zapier, of course. It is one of the oldest and has built integrations with thousands of software available in the market.

There are some new entrants such as Pabbly Connect that are more pocket friendly.

But not everything can be found in these ready-made tools. Sometimes, you need to get custom tools built to automate your business.

Less is more

Studies after studies have found that people who focus on too many things at a time usually fail at most of those.

Our brain is a very busy centre of activities. Obviously, the top priority is usually to keep the body alive. Followed by a hundred other decisions we have to make each day just to get by.

And then, there is this barrage of information that is thrown at us every day. This only makes the situation worse.

Unfortunately, we have limited amount of time and energy. The human brain just cannot afford to focus on too many things at once.

The only solution to being effective is to do reduce the number of things and to do them well. Focus on what is important.

As counter-intuitive as it may sound, you achieve more if you focus on fewer things.

Less is more.

First to mind

Which of the following products has a better chance at success?

  • Product A with no recognition.
  • Product B with some recognition.
  • Product C with great recognition.

Logically, you would choose Product C.

What if I change this equation slightly and tell you that Product A has superior quality compared to Products B and C?

Does this change your answer? Do you now think Product A has better chances at making more sales than Product C?

Human beings make a lot of decisions every day. Not all of them hold equal importance. In fact, most decisions are made unconsciously. We don’t have time and energy to give each decision equal amount of brain power. The human brain likes to take shortcuts when it can. Our brains have evolved that way.

This means, no matter how cool your product is, unless my brain has registered your product and your product is among the first my brain recalls, chances are I will never purchase your product.

Unless Product A runs great campaigns to educate their market why they are better, they have lesser chances at success.

First to mind usually wins the market.

Ten Movies

In response to Dhivya’s tag, these are 10 movies that impacted me in some way or other. The challenge is to post 10 films without mentioning name or context.

I would not say these are my all-time favourite films (some are), but these are what came to my mind when I thought of films that I might want to add on this list 😀

In no particular order.

How to do an effective BNI Feature Presentation ?

So it is that dreaded time in your BNI membership – it is your turn to do the feature presentation.

You have been visited by the Ghost of your Presentations Past and the fear has completely enveloped you. Or maybe you are cool as a cucumber and you are just here casually reading this (you liar!)

Let me tell you that it doesn’t have to be an 8-10 minute slot from hell. With a little preparation, you can have an extremely successful feature presentation. You can turn this into a very profitable opportunity.

WHY ?

Before we get into how to do an effective BNI presentation, you need to understand why you are doing it.

The goal is simple : generate referrals.

You have to educate your BNI chapter members how they can spot referrals for you. This is the only reason you do a presentation in BNI.

CONSTRAINTS

Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world where everyone has all the time in the work and is waiting for your pearls of eternal wisdom.

You need to remember the following constraints :

  1. TIME
    • Your time is limited. Do not try to cram as much as you can into this short time period.
    • Remember the goal : More Referrals, not most words. You are not here to win a speech competition.
  2. ATTENTION
    • Human attention is a very rare and valuable resource today. So how do you capture human attention ? Stories. They are easy to remember and connect with.
    • People remember stories not facts.

DEVELOP YOUR CONTENT

  • Pick ONE vertical or product or service (preferably one that is easy to refer and that generates more profit for you). We want to use the time and attention of our audience on a focused topic.
  • Explain what this product or service is in as less words as you can. Don’t get too technical and show off your knowledge. Your goal is not to put maximum number of people to sleep.
  • Now the most important part – stories. Write down two to three stories with Client/Company name, showing how your product/service solved a problem. Talk about the benefit your product/service caused. Don’t get into a lot of detail and especially don’t get too technical (or too emotional – this is not your drama society)
  • List down at least 4-6 specific asks. If you need help identifying specific asks – use Google, LinkedIn, Facebook or ask your uncle who knows everything about everything 😉

Use the above to write the content for your Feature Presentation. Yes, on paper. It is easier to do the next part if you have it on paper.

FINAL STEPS

  • Once you put it all down, read it aloud. Slowly and clearly.
  • Time yourself. You have to finish the presentation within the given time. Otherwise, it looks very unprofessional and it shows you did not prepare.
    • If you are overshooting, be ready to strike out parts of your presentation.
    • If you are finishing the presentation and still have time left, see if you can add some meat to your stories.
  • Practice. Followed by more practice and then a little more.

Now you are ready. Have fun presenting !

The Bicycle Thief

The Bicycle Thief (or Bicycle Thieves) is an Italian film (Ladri di biciclette) made in 1948.

If you haven’t seen this film, I urge you to see it. It is easily one of the most touching and beautiful films I have ever seen.

First, a disclaimer : I need to make one thing very clear. I do not understand or know the nuances of film making.  I am not a film maker, film critic or a film connoisseur or a good writer. So If you are looking for a more eloquent or technical analysis, you should stop reading now.

So what is the film about ?

Antonio Ricci is among thousands of unemployed men in post-war Italy. Jobs are hard to come by. The film starts when Antonio gets a job offered, which is sticking advertising posters on walls around the city. The job has one simple requirement – A Bicycle. Unfortunately, Antonio doesn’t own one. He had sold it sometime back so his family can eat. His wife Maria sells off the Dowry bedsheets just so that Antonio can get his Bicycle back. The Bicycle is the only way Antonio can ensure his family doesn’t starve. And as fate would have it, the Bicycle gets stolen on the first day of Antonio’s job. What follows is the search for the stolen bicycle which eventually leads to the highlight of the film, the climax.

What makes this film special enough to force a non-writer like me to write about it?

  1. The Climax. It hit me hard.
  2. The Setting. This film is set in Post World War Rome. Unemployment and Poverty is rampant as usually is after a large scale war. The setting although set in a specific period of time, feels timeless. The issues are timeless. The characters are timeless.
  3. And that brings us to the third special thing about this film, The Characters. Simple everyday, ordinary people. Some having more bad luck than others. It is easy to love and identify with the characters of Antonio and his son Bruno. (I have to add here that most of the actors, including the lead, in the film were first time actors. Their inexperience shows in places).

Sometimes, people take away something from someone without realizing how much it could mean to the person losing it. I do not want to say much and spoil the film for you. See it.

The Bicycle Thief (or Bicycle Thieves) is one of the best films I have ever seen. After reading around about it, I realize many others seem to share this feeling. Time and again, this film has been chosen as one the Best Films Ever Made and is usually on top of that list.

I am sure this film has its faults. There are definitely things that could have been done better. But sometimes Masterpieces are Masterpieces because they have flaws and yet manage to make impact. I am sure there are lot of flawless and perfect art pieces that never managed to stir a feeling in the heart and mind of the beholder.

Again, see this film.

The End

Standing at the edge of the cliff, he was contemplating. Was this the end? It was supposed to be different. It was never meant to be this way. But there was no denying, it was this way and it was bad.

His friends had always warned him against this. They told him not to fall into this mess. But he could not stop himself. He was blinded. How would they understand? He had always been lonely. He needed someone.

But now it became messy. She said the same things everyday and worse yet, he heard her say the same things to one of his best friends.

He should have never trusted her. But, he was helpless. Her voice was like music to his ears. No one had spoken so nicely to him ever before.

He felt betrayed. His heart was filled with hatred and frustration. He had to end this, right now.

To hell with this bloody, virtual girlfriend iPhone app. He deleted it and went home.

The Meeting

There is so much commotion around me.

 

Standing at the railway platform where we usually met, I remember the last time I saw her. She was crying out in extreme agony; she could not bear the pain. I had to let go of her. I was helpless.

 

Today, I am here to meet her — three months after her death.

 

As I wait for her to come, I am seeing my dead body being removed off the tracks.

 

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This is my first attempt at writing. I know it is bad .. but, I am a learner 🙂
The above form of writing is called a 77 Fiction, where we write a short fiction story in 77 words or less (title length not included).