It’s an ever & over connected economy, but, we have never been more lonely!

The barrage is non-stop. Requests for connections. Another feather in the cap. Another vanilla metric to flaunt your social standing. Another ‘virtual friend’.


The legendary Greek Philosopher Aristotle once said, “Man is by nature a social animal, an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual.” He said this because human beings live in groups whether they are smaller like a family or larger like a city or country.


And that precisely is the reason why societal interventions seem to be dominating the discourse when it comes to offering solutions to foster connection, often to the exclusion of more individual ones. There are myriad theories about why we are struggling to connect, and just as many proposed solutions.



According to Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, the United States is in the throes of what he recently labeled a loneliness “epidemic”, with nearly one in four Americans over 18 say they often or always feel lonely. Things may not be very different in other countries.


Findings at the intersection of neuroscience and psychology suggest that feelings of loneliness are a biological signal, a clarion call to remind us that we need other people. That being said, there is a theory that runs counter to the default. Without the crutch of social connection, what we, as individuals can do to alleviate the situation- most of them are frictionless and non controversial- like engaging with nature or woods( if our modern day cities have them), physical exercise, one on one cognitive intervention and such like.


Mind you that this is not a prescription asking you to plough a lone furrow but a reconciliation to the fact that we need the best of both worlds to fight this ‘ epidemic ‘ via a personal as well as collective approach.


As we all know, it takes nothing to join the crowd, but, you also have to go ahead, even if no one goes with you.


” Alone is a state of being or body, whereas loneliness is state of mind “- Invajy


As I conclude, may I tempt fate and ask you to take a look at this article in BrandKnew about the power of emotions.



Words Worth!

Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity.


“Words, like nature, half reveal and half conceal the soul within.”


“Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become, in the hands of one who knows how to combine them “!


We take the stage. The spotlight is on us. There is a great opportunity calling. Our words- it can connect, engage, open up possibilities, create progress. With the audience. Or, our words- could severe, distance, delink us from moving things forward.


Just an arrow that has left the security of the quiver cannot be retrieved, as is so with our words. So measure our words, use them for respect, by respect and with respect. Love is life in search of words, and words are wings that lift us, break us, join us, melt us, like rain.


The person in front of you keeps the door open for you as you enter behind her. You say ‘ Thank you ‘ and she responds by saying ‘ No Problem ‘. Nothing wrong with that. Except, that it may convey that the good deed she did of keeping the door open for you was a huge hassle but she did it nevertheless. A better expression of words could have been ‘ My Pleasure ‘. After all, she had a choice, and she chose to do this work precisely so that it could have an impact on someone else, in this case you. The story we tell ourselves about the work can be fuel for finding ways to do it better.



If culture and community are the bedrocks of our existence, then hospitality and connection give them the wings. Words are like loose canon. You can choose your words. But you cannot choose the effect they can have on people.


To quote from some wisdom of the past- ” Don’t use words too big for the subject. · Words are sacred. · Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit— YOU choose “.


May I direct you to this article from BrandKnew that just may dovetail into what I touched upon above.



The Status Quo trap!

There is no place more comforting than the domicile called ‘ status quo ‘. As is, where is, comforted by impasse, numbed by inaction, distanced from initiative and delinked from responsibility.


Status quo is very powerful, way more than we can imagine. And left to our own devices, many of us would fail to go where we hope to.


The one place that defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status is ‘ bureaucracy ‘.


But, the riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quoRonald Reagan once quoted ” Status quo, you know, is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in ”.



Change doesn’t always mean progress, but the status quo isn’t always the best result either. It is merely the most convenient. And in the modern, scalable industrial complex, convenience is the quilt that blankets logical reasoning, initiative and taking that leap of faith.


Faith can be made a willing accomplice. And self belief a reassuring ally. Progress and forward motion happens when individuals and organizations decide to adopt a posture of possibility. When they take the leap.


Are we enabling not just ourselves but others too to embrace possibility?


It may be useful to give this blog post on ISD Global the once over!



A ROM COM Called ” Meritocracy “

Merit might seem like a ROM COM, but there is merit in talking about it I guess.


Meritocracy is our social ideal, particularly among good liberals. Equality of opportunity, but not of outcome.


To this day, the origin of the term meritocracy is widely attributed to the British sociologist Michael Young, who used it pejoratively in his book “The Rise of the Meritocracy “. For Young, merit is defined as intelligence plus effort.


The triumph of meritocracy as a social ideal was a turning point in human history. Before the Enlightenment, most societies were elaborately stratified- be it England‘s hierarchy of king, duke, earl, viscount, and baron, or China‘s imperial order of Emperor, heshuo qinwang, duoluo junwang, duoluo beile, and gushan beizi. In these regimes, the vast majority of people- peasants, servants, slaves – had little hope of bettering their station.


Many philosophers like John Locke, Charles Montesquieu and Jean Jacques Rousseau in fact questioned the idea of an unelected elite. On the eve of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine boldly proclaimed that ” of more worth is one honest man to society and in the sight of God than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived“. In Paine’s view, power was the gift of the people rather than the divine right of the monarch.


Meritocracy raises the returns on talent by ensuring that individuals are free to contribute and succeed, whatever their social rank or personal connections. That said, its troubling that bureaucracythe world’s most ubiquitous social structure– systematically undermines the cause of meritocracy. A recent survey in the Harvard Business Review had 76% of big company respondents saying that political behaviors highly influence who gets ahead in the organisation.  Though in theory bureaucracy is a ranking of merit where those with exceptional abilities get promoted over those are less accomplished. But, in practice, organisations rarely come even remotely close to achieving this idea.


It is said that it is more honorable to be raised to a throne than to be born to one. Fortune bestows the one, merit obtains the other.


That is the great danger of meritocracy: the people who reach the top of the system are precisely the people who have most completely identified with the system and its demands, creating a vicious circle preventing any actual change. It is no accident that conservatives tend to employ the rhetoric of social mobility so readily, as social climbers generally do not ask questions about the ladder.

— Adam Kotsko



As I conclude, may I direct you to read this article in BrandKnew where Bridgewater Investments Founder Ray Dalio talks about Investing in Idea Meritocracy



Know your NO; and Yes, Please Use It!

“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.”


“It’s only by saying NO that you can concentrate on the things that are really important ”, said Steve Jobs. There are a lot of occasions when we actually want to say no, but we end up saying maybe, which in a lot of situations later migrates to an unconvincing yes.


Don’t leave anything incomplete – and NO is a complete answer. And when articulated with authority and conviction, does not leave any room for negotiation.


On the one side of saying no are the risks associated with it- coming across as negative, offending someone, being a party pooper, risking relationships or even putting our own reputation on the line.


But the flip side of it is that it gives you empowerment, distills the wheat from the chaff and gives us greater agency in our lives.


When we say yes to something, we are saying no to something else. 

It’s a double-edged sword. People are super anxious about saying no because they are concerned about damaging relationships with the yes harming their own reputation. There is a way to address that apprehension. In her book, ” The Power Of Saying No ” , Vanessa Patrick ( Professor of Marketing at the Bauer College of Business, University of Houston), introduces what she calls “empowered refusal,” a way of saying no that’s rooted in one’s identity, values, priorities, and preferences. “An empowered no,” she says, “is about us, not a rejection of the other person.
This notion of empowered refusal is really interesting because it’s one vehicle through which we can claim and publicly state our values. So, a “don’t” is different from “can’t.” And that helps us be definitive, helps us set clear set boundaries, and reduces the likelihood of pushback. So that’s very useful.
That being said, as we all know, you do come across people who refuse to take no for an answer- no pun intended. We have to deal with those pushy askers. One such way is to lean on technology. Research shows that we are 33 times more likely to say yes to a face-to-face request.
You know, sending no by email is much easier than repeating your no face to face. Sometimes, all it takes is an emoji with a thumbs-down sign, and that communicates no more than words can. All of us certainly feel more comfortable with a refusal that is virtual than one that is in person.
You have a right to say no. Most of us have very weak and flaccid ‘no’ muscles. We feel guilty for saying no. We get ostracized and challenged for saying no.
It is simple to say no when your priorities are in order. Learn the art of saying no. Don’t lie. Don’t make excuses, don’t over-explain yourself. Just simply decline. Saying NO means you know your limits.
” When you say YES to others, make sure you are not saying NO to yourselves.”- Paulo Coelho







Space Wanted!

” Space: a continuous area or expanse which is free, available, or unoccupied “.


When used as a noun, space would mean the unlimited or incalculably great three-dimensional realm or expanse in which all material objects are located and all events occur.


We have articulated the physicality aspect of space above.


But space also intrudes into the recesses of our mind, the digital footprint that we seek and perennially leave behind, the environment in which we work or create and live in and many such other.


Giving yourself space and time can actually lead to the birth of more creativity, better creativity, and some of your best work.



It would be worthwhile to have a gatekeeper who can sieve who or what you allow into your space– are they intrusions, distractions, irritants or are they inspiring and elevating?


If the idea is to do deep work, the kind of work that matters to you and brings you content and fulfillment, be careful of your environment and what you let in.


Just as we mind our head, mind your space!


There is a fourth space in our lives and you can know more by accessing this link



Go Luck Yourself!

In short, Luck’s always to blame..


It’s good to be cognisant of this saying about luck..


” You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from. You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help. Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck “.


Nothing is a mistake. There is no win or no fail. Everything is MAKE. Betting on lucky isn’t nearly as productive as simply establishing a platform where you can benefit from the occasional arrival of good fortune.


Life is full of luck, like getting dealt a good hand, or simply by being in the right place at the right time. Some people get luck handed to them, a second chance, a save.

Luck might not be a strategy, but setting yourself up to be lucky might be. The luck as tactic can be a workable tool if you are bringing in your deep work, resilience, showing up and shipping out and be on a perennial path of exploration and discovery. If you maintain that consistency, chances are high that you would get lucky more often than not. But that is very different from the default mindset that there is a correlation between past behaviour and lucky outcomes.


If you show up with good work and generous action, again and again, sooner or later something that appears to others to be luck will appear. So, go for it!


I urge you to read this article on Relentless Optimism in BrandKnew




Questioning the questioning !

It is said that knowledge means to know the right answer but intelligence means asking the right question.


The truth is we are born with a natural desire to question everything and be curious, but along the path of growing up many of us lose that desire.


Know how to ask. There is nothing more difficult for some people, nor for others easier“- Baltasar Gracian


Most of us would have experienced this at school or college. Your teacher or professor midway through the class asks ” Does anyone have a question? “. Nine times out of ten, no hand would go up. The professor has reconciled to the fact that she is doing an excellent job of explaining the material and secretly patting herself on the back.


Looking at our performance in the exams, nothing could be further from the truth which is most of us did not understand what was taught.


A better way for the professor to reframe the question would have been ” Given how complex the topic is, I am sure you would have plenty of questions. This is a great time to ask them “.


This nudge would go a long way. More hands would go up and more questions will get asked.


Does anyone have a question? ” was not the smartest of questions in any case. Most of us would pride on our ‘intellectual ability‘ and the last thing we would like to do is come across as dumb in a class full of peers by asking what may potentially be a stupid question.

We have perfected the art of asking stupid questions even outside the classroom. Take your HR Managers’ appraisal session and the first question you get asked is ” Everything going well? “, which leaves most people with no room to segue into what ideally should be an honest feedback. A better version that will elicit an honest response( the very purpose of an appraisal) would be ” What are the challenges you are facing at work ? ” and you open the floodgates for relevant feedback.


When we reframe a question—when we change our method of questioning—we also change the outcome.


Werner Heisenberg, the brains behind the uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics, had it right: “What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.”


In an always on, expert run, industrialised economy, the pressure | expectation is to be the person who is sure, the one with all the answers. Do you think someone who has all the questions is more valuable? 


I encourage you to take a look at this throwback article from BrandKnew 



Knott Do-able? Or Do-able?

Doorstep at-your-feet delivery, touch screen inspired command and control at our fingertips, the increasing absence of humans in any interaction with an organisation( and therefore the superfluousness of our emotions) and many such in our zeitgeist has made us the sacrificial lamb at the altar of ease and convenience.



In the school industrial complex, we were taught compliance from an early age. Non compliance equalled failure, mind you, we were made to believe that. In order to amplify compliance, people in authority have instilled in us not just a fear of failure, but worse, a fear of fear.



The diktat going around is that of ease and convenience. And the freedom from the fear of failure. A fear of weakness only strengthens weakness. You are only adding fuel to the fire. Fear of failure is a mental virus that stops us from taking risks and trying things in life. It tells you a scary story. It says you are not good enough, and things will turn out terribly bad.



Eloise Ristad put it beautifully ” When we give ourselves permission to fail, at the same time, we give ourselves permission to excel “.



The reason it’s hard to push ourselves, even when there’s no external downside of doing so, is our fear of fear of failure. That feeling, the feeling of insufficiency and doom, pushes us to seek the comfort of compliance instead.



Easily do-able is the default whereas great work be it for enterprise, art, music, literature, new inventions etc stem from us allocating our time to things that may not work.



Failure. The perspective would be to see it as a lure( to create or make things better) rather than see that as a speed breaker.



An interesting throwback on failure can be witnessed in this article from BrandKnew about ” What Designers Can Learn From The Museum Of Failure (Yes, It Exists) “.


It’s good to remember that ” fear is a reaction, creativity is a response ‘.




Can You Pull Off Modesty as a Social Strategy?

Modesty is showing restraint in the appreciation of oneself and of one’s qualities.
In literature, modesty is unpretentiousness in the expression of feelings.
Modesty is the color of virtue.
There are several explanations going around but the above is a reasonable summa summarum of what modesty is. We get the message.
Impressions matter in life. Whether it’s a client meeting, an office get together, a first date, a job interview, how others perceive us, can define or destroy our goals. That being said, in a team setting where cooperation and collaboration is the rote, display of luxury items be it watches, bags, shoes, cars or any such could actually be a party pooper. Especially if they are done with the intent to enhance and communicate social status.
Recent research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology ( Deborah Small | Alixandra Barasch | Shalena Srna) says that when an individual uses luxury goods, the person is perceived as someone out to boost his|her own social value and hence selfish and a poor team player. As a result, they are less likely to inspire cooperation or be chosen by others for their teams. By contrast, in competitive situations, the same ostentatious person is often favored over more modest rivals.
Yes, The Devil indeed wears Prada. ‘ Conspicuous consumption ‘ was a term coined by Sociologist Thorstein Veblen in 1899 to describe people acquiring luxury goods and services not just for their superior quality but also as a visible sign of their wealth and status. 
Status is a potent weapon for determining and influencing consumer behavior and the pursuit of status is highly valued in cultures that are characterized by hierarchy and tradition. This is the consumer insight that is leveraged by brands like Louis Vuitton or Burberry and the insignia display of LV or the Plaid is used unabashedly. Ostentatious consumers tend to be seen as more arrogant, less warm, and even less moral. The Devil Wears Prada is fictional but the association between luxury spenders and emotional frostiness is very real.
Context has a big role to play here. Name dropping, fancy clothes etc would be helpful in winning negotiations but where teamwork and cooperation is the call of the hour, modesty is a better approach.

The same Sociologist Veblen also coined the term ” conspicuous compassion “. Status signalling is not just about overtly displaying wealth or career success. It can come in the form of green credentials, altruism, being a rebel or a contrarian, or being cool, depending on which circle you are seen in and want to influence. 

Being sincerely modest is not easy, because there is a great temptation to fall into falsehood. The playwright Prosper Jolyot de Crais-Billon (1707-1777) said: “Of all the virtues, the one which, in the world, always seemed to me to succeed least to the one who practices it, is modesty.” While the poet Pierre Reverdy (1889-1960) added: “The best thing about modesty is the intelligence that must be deployed to stick to it“.
There is a very close link between modesty and humility, but the line is a fine one. It would be tempting to see modesty only as a social convention, while humility would be truth in itself.
So, if status signaling is the intent, pay attention to contextModesty Blaise anyone?
Tempted to offer a link here to an old article from BrandKnew on The Braggart’s Dilemma: How to Promote Yourself Without Being a Jerk “.