Sleep: A constitutional pastime,If you constantly strive to give more than you get — you will come out the winner.
We had a chief of the treasury benches some years ago, a man held in great respect by his party and even political rivals, who had mastered the art of taking micro naps between every three or four words. In a way it worked. People would get glued to the eye-closure rhythms, and twice the attention would be drawn to anticipate the next few words that would be let out. Whether this came out of a trick or compulsion is still not settled, but people often call him one of the foremost Prime Minister orators.
The constitutional validity of sleep as a fundamental right may still be debatable. Does the precedent set in the recent judgment confirm a law, or does this allowance need a backbone of legislation. We shall come to that after “Mota Maal” and “Blackmail” political strategies are settled in their true interpretation in terms of a contentious national audit. This is a stronger democracy. No comparison to the overpublicized American “Tea Party” clubs!
One Martin Luther shook America with his, “I have a dream”.
Here is a freer world that allows you at least one dream a day as a fundamental right, but to be aptly modest, one may say a “fundamental pastime”!
Instead of fearing your competitors, embrace and collaborate with your competitors. What you learn will far out weigh what you offer.The following is an easy 10-step formula to profit from your competitors.
It was a first-year neurology seminar. The topic was “sleep”. Somehow sleep seminars are always a challenge for residents due to the immense experiments and hypothesis on the topic, and the propensity of all this data downloaded in a go, to induce sleep in the audience. I wanted to beat that. But there were risks of talking light in otherwise grim academic departments. Grimness is still understood in medicine, as a sign of discipline rather than dullness. I started by stating three important facts on the phenomenon: 1. Sleep constitutes one-third of our lives on average. Point taken. 2. At any given time, one half of the world is asleep. Made sense. Now statement No. 3. “Sleep is the commonest Indian pastime …”. An ambivalent hush, a giggle, and the beginning of a wrinkle on the HOD’s forehead. The statement was not complete. I wanted to open the topic my way, knowing well that a week’s suspension was almost a certainty. Statement No.3 was now completed, once the hush settled, “… sleeping alone is the second commonest”. Thereafter it was all about terminology, sleep studies, data on video recordings of snorers, people with seizures, etc, euphemistically called “sleep labs”. The suspension and reprimand did come, but let me come to some recent facts commented in Law.
Sometime ago, a case in the apex court on the police high handedness on the sleeping crowd at Baba Ramdev’s first conclave was fought on the grounds that sleep was a fundamental right. It was infringed upon by the police, and thereby the Lordships passed a stricture on the law-enforcing authority. As courts, by nature of interpretation of theme of law are sympathetic to the common man, the petition could have been argued on so many aspects, and still the court’s sympathies would have been the same.
Last week, Hon’ble Chief Justice SH Kapadia, brought up the topic, in one of his public lectures. He raised the question if “sleep” can be put down in print as a constitutional right and guarantee as singularly and as stand-alone an assurance as the right to speech, or the right to follow one’s religion. He was perhaps pointing to the fact that though the court was obliged to dispense justice the way it did, the precedence set on the premise that “sleep was a fundamental right of an Indian citizen” could have repercussions in unimaginable ways that only posterity can reveal. The petitioners could well have managed an identical judgment on many other grounds as injury and breach of peace by a state agency on a peaceful sleeping crowd, and dozens of ways of describing torture to the psyche, of which the Indian lawyers have devised thousands of pathetic statements, that no legal brief is ever complete without compiling the first four pages on the types and degrees of mental ruin the client has suffered, even if they forget to fight the case on the “the point of law”.
Imagine if the “Society of Insomniacs”, (if there isn’t any, one can be registered in less than a week), starts demanding state-funded medications for restoration of their dreamy states. For the sort of population we have, perhaps petrol prices will have to be jacked up again to bridge the deficit. I believe “snoring” in extreme cases has been cited as a valid reason for divorce, but not without showing a haggish-looking spouse with dark circles under her eyes, who dozes and falls off the witness box even before the cross examination begins. It is a different matter if His Lordship himself gets into a temporary slumberous state in post-lunch sessions, in hot summer afternoons, under squealing ceiling fans!
The most slumberous of our citizens who are routinely seen napping in public gatherings are the politicians on the dais, waiting for their turn to blabber, politicians again, in either House, though the “elders” have been spotted exercising their rights more often. Embracing discretion, I would refrain from commenting on those in the Chair, so as not to denigrate the dignity of these power houses of democracy.
Dignitaries invited to inaugurate science conventions, which certainly include medical conventions, are obliged to reclaim the front row, and attend at least the first talk. The “power point” is a great relief to keep their fundamental rights protected. They just have to anchor their elbows on the arm-rest, turn the head towards the speaker, and effortlessly allow the eyelids to drop as the lights are dimmed. Not to blame. Sleep-wake cycles are light dependent by the release of a hormone called melatonin. Thirty minutes later some neuronal rhythm is restored. They are escorted out by the chief organizer as the crowd claps, only to enter another inauguration an hour later, beginning with the patent, “It gives me great pleasure …” Most certainly, back to the seat it gives comfort, pleasure and slumber again.
1) Inserts: Most of your competitors will have some sort of physical product they send to their customers. Often, they do not contain any promotional materials. Offer to either buy “space” where you pay a flat fee to ride along with the delivery of their product or do a revenue share where you do not pay a flat fee but rather split any revenue generate from your promotional piece.
2) Have lunch: Take your competitor to lunch. Do not start the lunch by bombarding that person for answers. Rather get to know them and engage in casual conversation. Once your competitor is comfortable with you, the information will fly.
3) Form an association: This is a great way to get together a few times a year and discuss the state of the industry you are in. By collecting dues, this enables you to bring in experts in related areas from marketing to product development. This does not have to be a physical gathering, rather a virtual one. Make it a teleseminar so that all your members can attend.
4) Start a newsletter or magazine: By starting an newsletter and/or magazine (print or digital), it allows you to get your competitors’ message out to your audience, which of course is a win for them. And it gives you free content — a win for you.
5) Accountability partners: Use your competitors to keep you on track. If you are in the same industry and on the same level, from CEO to marketing director, chances are good that you have had similar experiences and can help each other with realistic timelines and project expectations.
6) Joint Venture: By promoting each other’s products via email, you are able to make money, get new customers and leads and obtain valuable R&D. But most importantly, you are able to serve your customers better. Face it, creating good products takes a lot resources and time. But promoting your competitor you are giving your customer something you are not supplying while adding to your bottom line.
7) Become your competitors’ customer: So many entrepreneurs make the mistake of asking for comps to subscriptions and products. You should actually buy your top three competitors products. This gives you an inside look at EXACTLY how they treat their customers. Learn everything you can from this. If you think they do something great — emulate it. If you are offended by an action and you are doing the same thing, well now you know you need to change and improve that action.
8) Social Media: Be their PR agent on social media. If you received a great newsletter issue from them, post it on Facebook. If you received great customer service from them, tweet it.
9) Conferences: Invite them to speak at your next conference. Companies make this mistake all the time. They are afraid to put their best customers in front of their competitors. But the reality is by not doing this you are doing your customers a disservice. Regardless how knowledgeable you are and how good you are at what you do. You cannot be everything to everyone. And some of your customers just may resonate with your competitors more. Don’t be afraid that your customers will jump ship because they won’t. What they will do is thank you for having the insight to invite that speaker.
10) Visit their office: By scheduling a trip to their office you get to experience the culture. Something that cannot happen over the phone. You can set in on their meetings, talk to their employees. This single act changed the course of my career when I was much younger. Watching how more experienced leaders interacted with their team members helped me become the leader I am today.
Now, all of the above action items only work if you are willing to reciprocate. Don’t ask if you can visit a competitor’s office if you have no intention of letting them visit you. Or do not ask them to contribute content to your newsletter if your answer to them would be, “I just don’t have the time.”
If you constantly strive to give more than you get — you will come out the winner.
As many companies, including Microsoft, seek to increase sales, they continue to add more clutter. Seth Godin, best-selling author and entrepreneur, writes “once you overload the user, you train them not to pay attention.” This holds true in the case of the Microsoft Store, because once the shift is made towards chaos and clutter, it becomes really hard to go back to a simpler experience. “More is not always better,” he explains, “more is almost never better.”
The fact of the matter is that Microsoft is not in a good spot. It is lagging behind the two leading consumer electronics companies in tablet computing and smartphones. The good news is that Microsoft understands its flaws and situation. Opening a store may turn out to be a step in the right direction for the company, only if the consumer experience is simplified and communicated more effectively. Until then, it will remain uncool.At the end of the day, it is simplicity that sells. In a world that is becoming more technologically advanced and saturated with choices, people are going back to the basics. They are looking for clean and simple products with a pleasant customer experience. The Microsoft store does not offer that.