Browsed by
Category: Social Problems

When Your Toughest Conversations Are the Ones You Have with Yourself

When Your Toughest Conversations Are the Ones You Have with Yourself

The negative voice in your head wants something. It wants to be heard. It needssomething, too: a bit of compassion and friendly reassurance. When you provide these, the conversations with yourself start to go a lot better. Instead of silencing or denying that inner voice, respond to it. Here’s how it sounds:

  • Lousy talk! “You know what? No one hits it out of the park every time.”
  • Why should they listen to you? “Some will, some won’t. All you can do is your best.”
  • Why didn’t you prepare? “Focus on the present moment. Your experience will see you through.”
  • You’re a fraud. “Almost everyone feels this way. Breathe deep and get on with it.”

Source: When Your Toughest Conversations Are the Ones You Have with Yourself

In Primates, Calorie Restricted Diets Prevent Disease, Improve Longevity | Big Think

In Primates, Calorie Restricted Diets Prevent Disease, Improve Longevity | Big Think

The idea that calorie restriction might extend the human lifespan goes back to the 1930’s, when lab workers first noticed that rats who didn’t get as much food as their brethren tended to live longer. Since then, similar studies have shown consistently that calorie restriction prolongs the life of certain organisms such as yeast, worms, flies, fish, and even mice. The increase is significant, in some cases up to 40%. So does it work in humans? We don’t know yet. Where this research got stuck was with rhesus monkeys.

Source: In Primates, Calorie Restricted Diets Prevent Disease, Improve Longevity | Big Think

Precision Farming, or Can a Cow be a Sensor?

Precision Farming, or Can a Cow be a Sensor?

riverOver the weekend, I had a chance to read an excellent book called “A River Runs Again”, by Meera Subramanian. Written in the “sandals on the ground” journalistic style, Subramanian uses fluid prose to document her travels across India and her interviews with various people and entities.

However, this is not just another book, listing the environmental and social issues faced by a developing country. The difference in this book, which is divided into sections based on the Five Elements–  air, earth, water, fire, and ether – is the real life stories of positive change being brought about by organizations and individuals – from conversion back to organic farming to creating a vulture aviary to bring back the Parsi Sky Burial ecosystem…

Though not explicitly stated, these change agents are using technology as a growth enabler – which brings us to “smart farming”. There has been quite a bit of work done around ” smart farming” or “precision agriculture“. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) predicts that the global population will increase to 9.6 billion people by 2050 – and 70% more food needs to be produced to feed that population. Precision agriculture tries to use existing technology like GPS, sensors, big data, IoT and analytics to optimize the crop yields. Even the farm animals play a part, with embedded IoT sensors to reduce the carbon footprint. It does not imply automated farming by machines, but helping the farmer’s gut instinct with intelligent decisioning.

Graphic_Japanese_Farming_v5-01As the author of a report on smart farming states, “I would like to highlight the fact that the aim should not be ‘industrializing’ agriculture, but make agriculture more efficient, sustainable and of high quality. We should not look for revolutions. We should look for re-interpretation of the farming practices through use of data-centric technologies. And this re-interpretation should be placed also within a new vision of rural areas.”

There was another article recently which talks about venture funding for companies using advanced data collection and analytics in agriculture. A good example they give is that of a machine, which can “visually characterize each plant through real-time image capture and processing, use algorithms to determine which portions of the plant to keep and precisely eliminate the portions of the plants that are unwanted.

Their Zea product enables high-throughput, field-based phenotyping. Using computer vision, Zea counts plants, measures plant spacing, builds canopy height distributions and measures key physiological parameters — all based on imagery. In our minds, this is machine learning at its finest…”

The demand is there, and technology is available now. The piece which is missing is to make the technology accessible and affordable for those who need it the most…

 

Three ways why a Salesperson is a Monk and a Warrior

Three ways why a Salesperson is a Monk and a Warrior

warrior_monk_concept_art_by_spikeddrink
Concept art by Christopher Stoll

“Sorry, we selected the other vendor…”

That is a phrase every salesperson has been told multiple times – and every time, for most salespeople, it leads (or at least it should!) to emotions like disappointment, guilt or intense introspection. So why do we continue in this profession, versus something which can provide a steady, predictable income and emotional balance?

As part of the sales journey, most salespeople try to go through training, or at least read some of plethora of material available on good sales strategy. After over fifteen years in sales and sales management, my opinion is that “cookie-cutter” sales training is ineffective – it should be more customized based on a person’s psychology. However, there are some good books based on research, which can provide pathways.

One such book I was perusing inspired the title for this post: Warrior Sales Monk: Heart of a Warrior, Soul of a Monk, Mind of a Professional by Todd Zaugg.

Sales, they say, is one of the oldest human professions. Everyone is selling something – looks, emotions, products – but don’t call it selling…maybe call it the “art and skill of persuasive communications”. As Zaugg quotes, “Selling is the art of influencing people to do what is in their best interest”. Then what is the connection of a salesperson to a Monk, who by definition is a person who dedicates their life to service and contemplation, or to a Warrior, who is a person specializing in combat or warfare?

Zaugg’s research showed that top-performing salespeople exhibited characteristics of part-Warrior and part-Monk. History shows that most successful warriors, from Samurais to Special Forces, were committed to a higher purpose and had the courage to charge into situations fraught with potential of failure. The Monk’s main traits are empathy and service. Combine the two, add a higher purpose than hitting quota, and you have an unbeatable sales machine…

So how would I characterize the three ways one could use the Monk and the Warrior in them to be a better salesperson?

1. Believe in the Cause: Why are we selling? Because we know that people have a need for the product or services you can offer. Why are you or your company best suited to satisfy that need? Make sure you believe in the answer to that question, because that will drive the level of perception and trust of your customer. In addition, believe in your definition of success – which comes back to why are you selling?

2. Believe in Yourself: Be positive. Failures are part of the job – take each of them as a learning experience. Everyone has traits of being a Warrior and Monk – which part and how much of each trait you develop and channel will shape your personality, passion, and selling style.

3. Believe in Experiences: Every moment in our personal and professional life is trying to teach us something. The ancient Chinese treatise, Art of War by Sun Tzu, states that “…strategy was not planning in the sense of working through an established list, but rather that it requires quick and appropriate responses to changing conditions. Planning works in a controlled environment; but in a changing environment, competing plans collide, creating unexpected situations…”. The environment around us is changing at an unprecedented pace – how can we satisfy the customer’s needs while believing in the cause and being aware of the changing landscape?

As Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances…”. If your chosen profession of sales is the play being enacted on this stage, it is up to you to define how well you act the part…

Why are companies focusing on Millennials?

Why are companies focusing on Millennials?

17MILLENNIALS-master180It’s yet another play in the millennial mania that is overtaking all manner of businesses, and seems to be getting more obsessive by the day. Not since the baby boomers came of age has a generation been the target of such fixation.

But this has a 21st-century style of urgency — with 24/7 micropandering, psychographic analysis, a high-priced shadow industry of consultants and study after study. (A few from recent days: how luxury brands can connect with millennials; what millennials think about restaurant loyalty programs; and which emotions most influence the purchasing decisions of millennials. Answer: anxiety and empowerment.)

Read more…

9 Powerful Life Lessons from Studying with a Monk

9 Powerful Life Lessons from Studying with a Monk

MonkInteresting observations…

One which is related to my field:

3. Real wisdom in life comes from doing something and failing.

Prior to starting meditation, I used to get upset when I’d try something and fail.

I’ve been in sales since I was sixteen. I remember going to work and getting so angry with myself because I didn’t get a sale. If I ever got rejected, I’d get upset with myself, and I’d want to quit my job. But I just keep failing over and over—until I became good at it.

I remember, when I first started doing meditation, I ran into several problems. For example, at first it was difficult to calm down; but if you stick with it, its gets easier and easier. I tried for only a few minutes, and then every day, I added more time onto my meditation.

When we struggle, we learn about ourselves and what we need to do to become stronger.

Read more…

 

Google, others take on human trafficking using big data tools

Google, others take on human trafficking using big data tools

 

Google, others take on human trafficking using big data tools.

Data analysis, image recognition and mapping programs are helping anti-trafficking nonprofits not only locate victims in real time, but predict their victimizers’ next moves. Going into 2014, the companies and their partners are exploring how to share information to develop global prevention strategies based on traffickers’ behaviors.

Palantir’s software, which sifts volumes of unrelated data for meaningful connections, is key to many of those efforts, including speedy response to victims who call hotlines. It instantly pulls information from disparate sources such as license plate numbers, online ads and cellphone records to locate trafficking victims and connect them with help.