Knead the Need: Move the Needle!


You step on the accelerator and the speedometer needle moves.  The expression ‘ moving the needle ‘ was inspired from motoring. No prizes for guessing that.


In a distraction obsessed world, the biggest skill that we can acquire or improve on is to keep, retain and control our attention. It’s one thing not to fall prey to distraction and another to find the best use for your time, attention and effort. That is based on what is of the most significance to you. It is a calling that you will begin to recognise- focus, attention & effort on something that will actually ‘ move the needle ‘, to take things from where they are, to where it ought to be.


Pardon me for stating the obvious. The whole world is in constant motion. The earth moves, the clouds move, the waves move and we too must move. Move and reach the destination of your choice.

The three Ps will help us find our needle its vein. A physical goal, a personal goal and a professional goal. Together they achieve balanced productivity and regardless of what is going on in your life, if you accomplish these three things every day, you will move the needle in your life.


Most people set goals at the start of a new year. With a clean slate and fresh start, we’re optimistic, excited, and enthusiastic about the possibilities that lie ahead. But then reality sets in.


It’s harder than you thought it would be.


You don’t feel like you’re making progress.


Through no fault of your own, the world is in disarray (Pandemics, civil unrest, economic fluctuations, job loss, ruinous relationships etc.)


The goal you wanted to accomplish feels so far in the future or so far out of reach. You figure: why bother?


Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, don’t worry. You’re not alone.


The best way to be where you want to be a year from now is to do something today you’ll be glad you did-Seth Godin


And it doesn’t have to be something big.


We underestimate the impact and potential of starting small and taking consistent action.


By breaking any endeavor up into the smallest manageable parts, you make visible progress, increase your motivation, and gain momentum.


Maybe you want to write a book, build a business or start a podcast. Writing elaborate business plans and conducting extensive research might make you feel productive. But these activities won’t necessarily move the needle forward.


The paradox of designing the future is that what you get done today is the only thing that matters. Tiny actions pile up and amass to something big and awesome.


If you need it, knead it. Move it. Move the needle.



The OPOrtunity Cost!


Though phonetically the OPO in the above caption does sound like the name of a mobile phone, do take that call at your own risk.


It’s easy to get curious about what OPO can be. There are various expansions in slang, business , medicine and everyday life.


OPO in business can translate to Optimum Positioning Opportunity, in the sense it becomes almost a competitive advantage.


OPO in the world of medicine could be Organ Procurement Organization.


OPO could also stand for Open Procurement Order.


And in everyday slang, OPO is simply Other People’s Opinions. And do people have them????


The above out of the way, let’s get down to what I am driving at.


In our case, the pecking order of OPO reads somewhat like this: Optimism to begin with, bring on the pessimism in the middle to moderate and ascertain and go back to optimism late in the piece.


Often times we ourselves get in the way of getting something started. That is where optimism comes in, as without that, the journey to something new, something better and the world of multiple possibilities wouldn’t come about. Believing in what you are about to do does not guarantee success, but a lack of belief can surely prevent it.


Once we hit the road, open the bag of pessimism, that bag which contains questions. Play devil’s advocate. Dig holes. Use the fine tooth comb. Evaluate. Is it misplaced enthusiasm? Raise the bar. Hold yourself accountable. Let the jury be out(standing)!


The above accomplished, call your friend back. Suggest you keep it on speed dial. Optimism. Look at progress not just outcomes. And progress requires the courage to move ahead despite the inevitable obstacles and speed breakers. To quote Ryan Holiday‘s book title ” The Obstacle Is The Way “. Perfection is an illusion. Showing up and shipping out is not. Iterations can happen. Enhancements and making things better will follow.


Optimism is a tool that, if used wisely, it brings enthusiasm, inspiration and hope to projects that benefit from them.


And pessimism is a tool as well–it can help you with budgeting, scheduling and other projects. If it works for you, that’s great.


It’s not that optimism solves all of life’s problems; it is just that it can sometimes make the difference between coping and collapsing. Optimism is a force multiplier.


Pessimists are usually right and optimists are usually wrong but all the great changes have been accomplished by optimists “- Thomas Friedman.



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!



Curiosity Skilled The Cat!

Curiosity is that strange human trait that got us out of the cave, across the globe, and onto the moon.


A trait that has led to communication and  collaboration.


“Why” has the X factor! So, start with why!


Albert Einstein quoted that a mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size. All research, come to think of it is ‘ formalised curiosity ‘.
Doubt and inquiry are the two pillars of progress. Contrary to public perception. The things that pique your curiosity aren’t random. They will point you to where you need to go. There is a toss up between ‘ chasing happiness ‘ and  ‘ following your curiosity ‘. Learning a new musical instrument, going hiking or tapping into unchartered culinary exploration, maintaining a journal, going white water rafting.. anything unfamiliar that you can try your mind and heart at..can all take us out of the default and deliver a new , happier tomorrow. The GPS to get there is inside us. It won’t throw up on Google search.
There will always be reasons for coloring inside the lines you have drawn for yourself. It is heartbreaking to leave the cocoon of certainty and comfort and embark on a path never trodden. To step into the alien, unknown, where all things that never existed are created. One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries to comprehend only a little of this mystery every day.
Curiosity could be a lust of the mind, so give into that lust. As Ian Leslie put it so succinctly ; ” Curiosity is unruly. It doesn’t like rules, or, at least, it assumes that all rules are provisional, subject to the laceration of a smart question nobody has yet thought to ask. It disdains the approved pathways, preferring diversions, unplanned excursions, impulsive left turns. In short, curiosity is deviant“.
Let’s move on. From Intel Inside. To Curiosity Inside!

So, what’s your story? I am curious to know.



Why 5% > 95% ?

No. The arithmetic may not look right. Contrarian and defies established norm. Yes.


But, dare I say, this is the new math.


A lot of our attention and effort is spent and invested in trying to onboard the laggards and the lurkers.


And it done by dumbing down. Offering more incentive. Creating urgency. Re-posting. Hustling to see if they would take some action.


Certainly not worth it.  And very frustrating for anyone who leads.


Progress operates on a different GPS. It has a different route to take.


Wouldn’t it be great if everyone who says they are a contributor | supporter | fan | contributor | member | long-term customer showed up..


..then huge things would begin to happen.


The 95% who lurk and remain non-committal will almost always lurk. Thats okay.


The energy and the emotional labour has to go into the 5%. The place to focus on. 


Because when their persistent, consistent and generous action begins to add up, change happens. And that may bring the lurkers along. And who knows, even activate them. They will catch up when they need to.


The chasm will get bridged at its own pace. And that’s perfectly fine.


There’s nothing wrong with the laggards and the lurkers. Remember, they are potential action-takers.


But for now, our focus, action, respect and gratitude is for all those people who are already showing up. And shipping out. Which is the 5%!


So, let’s stop falling over ourselves to dumb down. Average it out. Trying to appeal and please everyone and anyone.


When you seek to engage with everyone, you rarely delight anyone. And if you’re not the irreplaceable, essential, one-of-a-kind change maker, you never get a chance to engage with the market.


So, seek your MVA(minimum Viable Audience). This would be counter to what are taught (or expected to learn) in the ‘ School of Capitalism ‘ , but this is the simplest way to do the work that matters, impacts, changes and leaves an inspiring legacy.


Now you know- Why 5% > 95% ?



A question of questions!

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”: Voltaire 

Question is defined as a sentence or phrase used to find out information, insight or intelligence.

We may have all experienced this. You are checking out of a hotel room after a few days’ stay. The lady at the checkout counter politely asks you ‘ How was your stay? ‘ And this question seems not to have changed over the years across time zones and continents. And in most cases, a polite yet non committal answer evolves  ‘ It was good ‘ (even though the stay may not have been).
What if (question?) we are asked ‘ What could we have done to improve your stay with us ? ‘ . The energy and the dynamic changes completely. Rather than go on auto pilot mode and offer the default response, you are buoyed by the keenness of the hotel staff to improve the guest experience and you end up offering honest feedback. The answer may not give them exactly what they want to hear. But it will give what’s valuable for them to learn.
As the old proverb goes ‘ Better to ask a question than to remain ignorant ‘.
What if Obvious Questions collide with Contrarian Answers? It’s a discussion worth having. When smart, committed people disagree about the answer to a question, it’s a question worth pursuing.
Progress or outcomes? There is no toss up- its got to be progress. Ditto with questions.
HR reviews could have better progress and responses if employees are asked ‘ What challenges are you facing now ? ‘, as that question presumes that challenges are the norm, not the exception. Rather than ask ‘ Are you facing any challenges?’ , when most will say no. They might fear that their admission will be seen as a weakness.
Good insights, contrary to popular wisdom, don’t come from a smart answer. They come from a smart question.
” We awaken by asking the right questions. We awaken when we see knowledge being spread that goes against our own personal experiences. We awaken by seeking answers in corners that are not popular. We awaken when we see popular opinion being wrong but accepted as being right, and what is right being pushed as wrong “- Suzy Kassem

One Picasso A Day?

If one were to ask what is the most loyal thing in the world, it would be the ‘ bodyclock‘. Time after time, day after day, it never lets you down in waking us up. I guess, that too, is a creature of habit.
Being an old schooler, waking up and writing down the ‘ to do task list ‘ of the day is de rigueur. And on the rare occasion, the list falls shy of occupying a full A4 page, disappointment gets writ large. After all, ‘ Men are from Mars ‘. And Machiavellian abilities for Herculean tasks are expected to go hand in hand. How remiss!!
We have been hardwired to think that working is productivity. But, is productivity working? After all, the map is not the territory. Nor is noise, the signal.
Distraction is the only constant “. How things have changedIn an on-demand, 24/7 society, where distractions cost millions of people relationships, health , peace, productivity and profitability, it’s time to pay attention to what matters most.
We are living through a crisis of distraction. Plans get sidetracked, family and friends are ignored, work never seems to get done. And that in the wake of first love and passion being firmly put long ago on the back burner, be it music or sport, travel or discovery, reading or writing..not worth it.
To create extraordinary lives, we can (re)learn to “unplug” from the constant barrage of disruptions and “plug in” to the tools, strategies, and mindsets that will allow us to harness our attention to reach our highest potential. 
You sit down at your desk to work on an important project, but a notification on your phone interrupts your morning. At home, screens get in the way of quality time with your family. Another day goes by, and once again, your most important personal and professional goals are put on hold. Story of our distraction fueled, notification driven lives.
If we can prepare ourselves to be as indistractable as possible, zero in on distilling the vital few from the trivial many, and be prepared to look in the ugly mirror, we can stop running on the treadmill of mediocrity. Not just that. With high focus, extreme prioritization and unflappable emotional labour, we can all get to producing our ‘ one Picasso for the day .’ What do you uniquely do that matters the most? After all, you can only do one thing really well at a time. SIP by SIP. Engage in some Mutual Fun!
Most big, deeply satisfying accomplishments in life take at least a few years to achieve. This can include cultivating a loving relationship, writing a book, getting in the best shape of your life, raising a family, building a business, and more. A few years is a long time. It is much slower than most of us would like. If you accept the reality of slow progress, you have every reason to take action today. If you resist the reality of slow progress, five years from now you’ll simply be five years older and still looking for a shortcut.
Where’s your paint brush? The canvas and the easel awaits. And your version of the Guernica.
So, time to offer a serenade to life, in all its terrifying and transcendent uncertainty, sung in ink, watercolor, and wonder.