October 2, 2013

In Life There's No Script — #10Lessons by Arif Khan

10 Lessons by Arif Khan
On September 28, 2013, I had the opportunity to revisit my alumni at MS University of Baroda. It was a last minute planned trip for attending our alumni reunion evening at Baroda. As I had the whole day's time with me, I decided to spend it with young minds at our University. I scripted 10 points on my iPhone the previous night and at morning just before getting off the train made a quick presentation with 10 one-liners. No gas, no long talks, just 10 lessons that I've learnt in the last 10 years since I came in Final Year B.Sc.

I presented the #10Lessons first to a batch of 45 TY B.Sc. Botany students with whom I had a great interaction. That was all I planned for but as things turned out, I ended up presenting this presentation at Biochemistry and Zoology Departments and till now I've presented it 10 times to audiences of various kinds totaling to approximately 250 students. Today, I'm sharing my #10Lessons here and you'll be my 251st. I hope you find it valuable and take it ahead by sharing among your social networks. (Thanks!)

Updated (11:25 PM IST, October 28, 2013): In less than 24 hours, this presentation got featured on slideshare's homepage and the next morning it trended on slideshare!

#10Lessons Transcript:

Today, I'm going to share 10 lessons with you that I've learnt in my journey ever since I left University. There's nothing exceptionally new and most of the things you already know. I'm just putting all of them at one place here and some of you would be able to easily relate with them. These 10 lessons will also give you a glimpse of me, the person who I am as I practice all of them every single day.

  1. Be yourself, come what may. Tweet 
    In your life, you'll come across many situations both ups and downs but whatever happens just be yourself. Your name is your identity and you have imbibed values from your parents, friends, society, organization and nation - never let that go as people recognize you for whom you are and what you stand for. Whatever happens, just be yourself and never give up.

  2. Set your priorities and focus. Tweet 
    Today, we all live in an interconnected world where it's so easy to share knowledge and communication at one click. It's not the same as it was at our time as kids. So, you should set priorities early in your lives. Decide what do you want to become after careful and repeated discussions with your close family members, friends and others who can guide you well. Once you have prioritized to achieve something then after that you should just focus, focus and focus to make it happen.

  3. Think, ask, innovate. Don't be shallow. Tweet 
    When we were small, we were always told that we have to score 10 out of 10. But, did that mean that those who scored 9, 8, 7, 5 or 3 were bad students? No. It could be that they were perhaps not strong in that particular subject but it certainly didn't mean they were dumb. We all have just learnt to recite and recite our way up. Today, this doesn't help. If you really want to do something start thinking and ask questions like why does a plant breathe out oxygen?; how does wireless signals work?; etc. Once you ask, then you gradually come up with some innovative solution. Not, innovation doesn't mean that everyone will make a flying care. Innovation can be the smallest of improvisations that you do in your daily work based on observation and experience. In all this, don't ever ask questions for the heck of it and to create an impression. It looks good while you're in school but trust me, once you're working outside, people do notice you. Ask questions when you genuinely have a doubt and don't just be shallow and waste everyone's time.

  4. Be crazy, be the guy who solves problemsTweet 
    In life, always be crazy about one thing that you really want to do, achieve, build or transform. It really helps in channelizing your passion into an actionable force which can do wonders! Steve Jobs thought that half of the QWERTY keypad on phones is a waste and therefore he came up with this crazy idea of completely removing it and replacing it with something which we all know as touch pad today. What was the result? Today, the iPhone is the most popular smartphone worldwide. Also, when someone asks you what do you want to become and people reply that they want to become a CEO of so and so company - that is not what you want to be, that is your final destination. If someone asks me what do I want to be known for then my straight answer would be "I want to solve problems". Now, as I'm in digital marketing so obviously I'm talking about problems in this area and likewise you will mention for your field. When you consistently stand up and solve problems, people do take a note of it and one day you'll be called for that big opportunity over qualified individuals. You know why? Because not everyone can solve problems, that's a big skill to develop from an early age. Do it.

  5. Work to contribute, not to impress. Tweet 
    When you're at school or work and are working in a team then always put the team before yourself. Never do something to impress someone and take credit alone. Work, because you genuinely like what you're doing and contribute to the overall business objective. Sometimes, you may not get credit for something that you initiated or where you put a lot of effort but don't let yourself down. Ultimately, good work does get recognized and creates a long lasting impression as a trustworthy team player. You will find that your colleagues feel more free to walk up to you and talk about almost anything and that's quite a big thing as when you need them, they'll be the first to lend you a helping hand.

  6. Add value at work, to those around. Tweet 
    This is something that I practice by heart and comes naturally now. Whenever you're working, make sure you do something different then last time so that you're adding value. Don't just end up doing the same thing again and again as that will take you no where. And while you improvise at your work, make sure those colleague around you also get benefited from the project. You can always look up to them and ask "Hey, I think you got stuck at this last time. Would you like me to help you?". The moment you start adding value to those around you, your own learning curve goes upward and people trust you more as they find real value through your presence.

  7. Welcome failures, never face rejections. Tweet 
    One of my favorite lessons here. In life, be open and welcome failures. Open and stretch your arms. Here, let's say success is the right arm and failure is the left. In the end, both are just different directions on the scale. Failing is never a bad thing as long as you quickly learn from your mistake and bounce back to achieve something even better. Along with this, never stop experimenting or trying out new ideas just because of the fear of facing a rejection. Learn to take risks at work, otherwise you'll never be able to take your company to No. 1 by introducing new practices first. Learn to think ahead of time and overcome possible failure by simulating the possibilities in your mind. Make it a habit and see how this lesson can be the most valuable of all. Try.

  8. Do what you love and give back. Tweet 
    In life, do something that you really love and want to do. Once you do get an opportunity, consider yourself a little lucky and make sure you do that job like no other. I love digital marketing and I try to do new things with a lot of passion and commitment. Likewise, find your calling. And, once you have become the smallest of something, learn to give back. You don't have to wait till you become the CEO. You can go back to your school, college, university at any point of time and just interact and share your learning with students. Not many do it and when you do - they do value it. For them, that's a big thing really and trust me the spark that you see in their eyes can give you immense satisfaction.

  9. Stay honest. Dream. Do. Live. Fly. Tweet 
    Stay honest. There are no two views about this. We all get a lot of short cut options but if you are honest and make it a habit then good companies do recognize you. A lot has been said about this and I won't add much here. Dream - you should dream a lot as whether it becomes true or not, it does give you a new perspective about several things. And, once in a while if you dreamt of something that you really want to accomplish, then just do it. Remember, in all this don't forget to watch that Friday movie with your friends and don't forget to take out your parents on a Sunday night dinner. You can work and earn a lot but if you forget to live, then it's all a waste. Time, will never come back and therefore live as much as you can. Finally, when you achieve success then it's perfectly fine to fly, i.e. have a small celebration with your closed ones. Enjoy yourself because you deserve it.

  10. In life there's no script, live in the moment. Tweet 
    And, the final lesson is that in life there is no script. As we grow, we see that what we course our own journey every single day. Rarely, does one have a linear career path as one would have planned 10 or 5 years ago. Today things are changing so fast that you simply can't exist on predefined scripts. You have to learn to live in the moment. Practice it so that it starts coming to you naturally.

I hope you found the presentation and these #10lessons valuable. Do share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below. I leave you with some early tweets around these lessons.

Tweets — Before the presentation:

Tweets — Feedback after presenting to students:

Tweets — Presenting next day at Barcamp Mumbai #BCM12

Now, let's get back to work.


August 9, 2013

Eid Mubarak! — Celebrating with family, sewayein and #ChennaiExpress

Today is Eid-ul-fitr in India, the biggest festival among Muslims which marks the ending of the holy month of Ramzan where one has to fast for 30 days along with observing Islamic rituals. For me, this month reinforces discipline in me as we have to follow a specific routine right from dawn till dusk. My friends ask me how do I manage to fast the whole day? Don't I feel hungry and thirsty? Well, I've always said that it's in the mind. It's your will which comforts you during the fasting hours which doesn't make it feel like a burden as it may appear to many.

August 4, 2013

Design is the new maktion - Unveiling the New M!

Hello once again! It's been a very long break here at maktion, and my apologies for not being able to blog as I had too many commitments to fulfill during this while. But, every night I did remember maktion once in a while and tried to push myself only to get distracted by twitter (you'll know what I mean if you blog and are active on twitter!). Nothing wrong with that but off-late I've been reading a lot of good stuff around my interest areas, some through blog posts, curated articles, or even from the tweets of the knowledgeable folks I follow and admire. It's like a lot of really good ideas popped up in my head in the last two months and I haven't blogged a single post. Shame, but then blame it on the iPhone I bought in May! *chuckles*

May 27, 2013

My first iPhone — loving it is easy!

Finally, she has come home. Our family's first Apple baby - the iPhone 5. I've been waiting to upgrade my current HTC Wildfire phone for quite some time and after evaluating all the flagships I had in mind, i.e. the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One and LG Nexus 4, I came to the conclusion that iPhone 5 is the best fit for me, at least for now (I've discussed the reasons below). Apple says, loving it is easy. And it really is as soon as you hold the iPhone in your hands. I can't describe it in words as it's a completely out of the world feeling and there's no second thoughts that the iPhone is a brilliant craft of technology and design aesthetics which Steve Jobs started in 2007. I am a big advocate of everything google, android but now it's time to embrace Apple as in my old age I don't want to end up saying that I never used an Apple product, otherwise my grandkids will question me big time!

May 19, 2013

Infographic: The complete history of #socialmedia

History was one subject which fascinated me back in school. I really enjoyed reading about the various civilizations, countries, eminent personalities, world wars, independence, science & technology and much more. Skimming through history tells us what has been tried in the past and what were its implications. Imagine if some of those folks like Newton, Gandhi, Einstein, Crick came back to real life and see how much the world has evolved improvising on their contributions to mankind, how delighted they would be. Not that it matters, but it's always pays to know a little background about the products, services, their evolution and about the company you're working work in order to understand the context and contribute significantly in-line with the business priorities.

May 15, 2013

Behind the banner - how digital ads are served?

Have you ever wondered how the digital ads that you see on any website show up? Does it not amaze you that those ads appear in practically no time, sometimes even before the web page has completely loaded! And then what about those Cleartrip and Flipkart ads which more or less connect with what's been on your mind for some time - noticed them? The world of online ads has grown a lot since Google introduced text links as one of the first AdSense units. Apart from text ads, there are the display ads, link units, video ads and mobile ads. Even if you're not someone from the digital field but have been blogging for some time, you would have been exposed to these ad units through your blogs dashboard. Next time when you login as admin, pay close attention.

May 12, 2013

I drank milk, cleaned my house and had good food. Happy Mother's Day!

Whenever I sit and think about the best days of my life, I can only visualize those moments from my childhood where my Father, Mother, Sister and I were together. Whether it was over the morning breakfast table, or going out to shop, or celebrating Eid or when our parents dropped us to school in our Maruti 800 car — every moment where we shared responsibilities, happiness, joy and sorrows together was special for me. I never realized it back then but now when we have grown up and moved away from our parents for work, I often remember these moments when I'm travelling back to home, or sitting near the balcony or when I'm at the beach. These moments flash in front of my eyes and I cherish them close to my heart. They will always be the best days of my life.

May 4, 2013

Twitter CEO @dickc's inspirational speech: Be bold. Make courageous choices. Be in this moment.

Two years back I gave an alumni speech to 1000+ students. I still receive emails from some students seeking guidance, asking for opinion and other curious questions that a girl/boy would have at that age. In my speech, I emphasized that in their journey they'll come across some very successful people and while it's good to admire them for who they are, it's also important to learn from their story and to know how to get there. Ask questions like "How did that guy reach where he is today? What did he do in his early years? What choices did he make? Was he passionate about something?" Every self-made person who's successful today was once just like us with his/her share of difficulties, curiosity and accomplishments. They've worked hard, followed their passion and are real-life examples of success. Learn from their story.

May 2, 2013

Bill Gates welcomes Warren Buffett on twitter, real-time opportunity for @CocaCola

May 2: Today, five years of professional life passed just like that but did some meaningful work, met some of the finest people and learned along. I'm thankful to those who stood by me and bore my crazy ideas. Back in 2008 when I started working I knew the fundamentals of Marketing, the 4 P's, etc like any other B-school grad. But, throughout my entire study period I've been fascinated by the web and have observed it from close quarters. Today, a lot has changed and it's the era of real-time marketing, i.e. on the go! If you can't think fast and write short, then you're certain to miss out in the big game. Twitter helps me exactly here. It allows me to think fast and identify unseen patterns which can be connected to make some sense, at best a story.

May 1, 2013

How to win twitter contests? Be yourself!

April has been an amazing month of sorts. What started off with winning the GOI's hackathon prize ended up by notching a few twitter contest prizes. Now what are these? In simple terms, Twitter contests are a range of activities which facilitate engagement between brands and individuals in form of contests on twitter. There are several types of contests, the most popular ones being replying to the question with a dedicated hashtag, retweet & win type and then photo contests. While there are many posts on how to run a successful contest, I am going to share how to win them as I've seen both sides of the coin. I've handled several twitter prize contests and have also won some in the past, 3 to be precise in the month of April 2013 itself! The secret to win is BE YOURSELF. That's all!